Sunday, September 25, 2005

Plain knitting

Wanting repetitive, not-too-challenging, comfort projects during these days, here are a couple things (not all...) I've been knitting. These are all in-progress, pre-blocking pictures.

From The Great American Aran Afghan, I've started the "Aran Sweater" square by Susan Rainey, using Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool. The sweater still needs the sleeves and neckband knitted.

One of the reasons I chose this square was to practice the combined knitting technique I learned in Annie Modesitt's class. I especially wanted to see how evenly the stockinette stitch came out. I was quite pleased—again, this is pre-blocking.

Another project I pick up when I want to knit while watching TV is a hemp shopping bag, using All Hemp 6 and a pattern from Lanaknits. There are only two pattern rows for the body of the bag.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Finished Knitted Lace

This is the first piece of circular knitted lace I have made, which was a birthday gift for my mother. Except for beginning it (see previous entry), it was a very enjoyable piece to knit. (Click on pictures to enlarge.)

Pattern: Knud II
Pattern from: Kunststrik II, by Sonja Esbensen
Finished size: Just under 14 inches in diameter
Thread used: DMC Cordonnet Special; 100% cotton; size 30; color Ecru; almost 2 balls, 197 m/20g each
Where purchased: Book, thread, and some needles at Velona Needlecraft
Needles: 1.5 mm (U.S. size 000 or 3/0) in 3.5 inch Inox double-points; 8 inch Addi double-points; 16"/40 cm HiyaHiya circular; 20"/50 cm Addi Turbo circular; 24"/60 cm Addi Turbo circular. Also, for final cast-off round, 1.25 mm Susan Bates steel crochet hook.
Started: Early August 2005
Finished: Mid-September 2005
For whom: My mother

What I learned: This type of project is great summertime knitting, portable, and a nice balance of excitement (can't wait to get to the next pattern set), concentration when establishing a new pattern, and "conversation" knitting when going around the plain knit rows.

The most difficult part was casting on. It took many attempts to finagle eight tiny stitches on four tiny needles and successfully knit a couple rounds without a) the stitches slipping off or b) the needles and stitches twisting and not being able to tell which way to straighten them. The small needles helped. (I've since learned that knitting needles in small sizes and lengths can be purchased through miniature doll house furnishing suppliers.) Also, leaning on my elbows and forearms on my bed with my legs tucked under me so that I could lay the knitting on the flat surface of the bed was the only posture in which I finally managed to get the first rounds going.

Next time I will try a method Larry told me about, Emily Ocker's cast-on. (The method is also described in the introductory notes in Folk Shawls by Cheryl Oberle, pp. 12-13.)

Additionally, I will try obtain all the needles I need from the same brand (Addi). There is a difference in size amongst the brands that does make a small difference in the tension or gauge.

I cast off by crocheting two stitches together and then making two crochet chains before picking up the next two knitted stitches.

The pattern components of the doily are quite simple: octagonal swirl; knitted diamonds and eyelet diamonds; purl rows; and two sections of feather and fan or Old Shale.

After casting off, I sewed in the ends, including trying to tidy up my cast-on attempt. Then I soaked the doily in cool water and Woolite, rinsed it, and rolled it in a towel to squeeze out the extra water. Then I pinned it out on a towel. I didn't use a template to make sure I got perfect circle, but I think it came out OK. The picture below is a little more true to the ecru color than the pictures I took outdoors above.

Knitting in Danish was accomplished by: using the English translation of the symbol chart that came with the book (or available here in .pdf); looking up words in Knitting Languages, by Margaret Heathman, published by Schoolhouse Press (although I don't see it listed on their Web site at the moment); and consulting a woman from my church who speaks Danish and who loaned me beautiful knitted lace pieces her sister knit in Denmark.

Starting Circular Knitted Lace

Excerpt from entry originally posted August 1, 2005

Knitting again

After not having worked on a knitting project for a couple months, this weeekend I picked up the needles again, or rather, had the needles sawn in two and then started knitting.

3.5 inch needles

I had bought a lace knitting book, Kunststrik II by Sonja Esbensen at Velona's sometime back. But trying to cast on and knit eight stitches with size 30 thread distributed on four size 000 (1.5 mm) slippery steel 8" double-pointed needles was impossible for me.

So, unable to located 000 needles in a shorter length, I ordered another set of 8" needles and brought them to Berg Hardware, a wonderful old-time hardware store where they still price everything with handwritten tags. They cut the needles into 3.5 and 4.5 inch lengths. The ends are a little rough but worked OK for getting the circular pattern started until I could manipulate the full-sized needles.

8 inch needles

Lesson learned, however—the needles should be the same brand. The Inox needles I had cut are slightly thicker than the 8" Addi needles, enough to see a difference in the tension.

(This project won't be finished because the thread I used is too heavy for these needles. But it was enough to show me 1) the shorter needles help to get circular lace patterns started and 2) I can figure out Danish patterns!)

Monday, September 12, 2005

Fingerless Gloves

From an entry originally posted November 15, 2002

Fingerless gloves

Pattern: Basic Women's Fair Isle Fingerless Gloves
Pattern from: Knitting Fair Isle Mittens & Gloves: 40 Great-Looking Designs by Carol Rasmussen Noble
Wool used:Filanda Extrafine 100% Alpaca, heather taupe color (# 32 / 452). I'm hoping I can make both gloves with just one 50 g. ball, but because I'm only using one color, I'm not sure if one ball will stretch quite far enough.
Where purchased: Temple City Knit Shop, Temple City, California
Needles: Addi bamboo double-pointed U.S. 0 (2.0 mm) for cuff ribbing and hand; U.S. 1 (2.5 mm) for ribbing for partial fingers; and U.S. 2 (2.75 mm) to cast off partial fingers.
Started: November 2002
Completed: February 2005
For whom: Me
What I learned: How to make seamless (partial) fingers on two needles, knitting with a third needle. Also, it is important that the knitted partial fingers are not too tight or else they cut off circulation to the fingers.

I tried out the glove last Sunday when I was practising the piano before church. It really helped keep my right hand warm and nimble in the not-quite-heated church. However, now that the weather has warmed up so much, I'm not in a hurry to knit the left-hand glove.

(This was a very difficult picture to take. I had to hold my 35 mm camera, which was extra heavy with the flash, in my left hand twisted around so I could press the shutter button.)

Egg Cozy

Originally posted November 12, 2002

Grade 4 project

At boarding school, beginning in Grade 1, we had two handwork projects each term, one knitting project and one sewing project. Every Saturday morning we'd meet at the house of the teacher assigned to our projects. We worked on our handwork throughout the week, except we weren't allowed to work on it on Sundays. After "Handwork" we had "Library" and then a few prep periods. In the afternoon we went swimming and played down at the river. (I recently came across some school pictures, including the swimming pool and play area by the river. The pictures were taken before my time, but not much had changed at the school when I was there in the 1970s.) Then in the evening we were shown films. I loved Saturdays!

Eventually, I will take pictures of as many projects as I still have. I know I've lost some along the way, e.g., the yellow smocked nightgown and the blue dress with the hand embroidered bodice. As a start, here an egg cozy I knitted in Grade 4 (I think):

Egg Cozy

Started & Completed: ~ Grade 4
What I learned: How to make pom-poms

Oval Knitted Lace Table Cover

Originally posted November 12, 2002

Handwork documentation

Well, I got my roll of film back, so here goes. Eventually, I want to put up a separate page with my handwork projects, similar to Wendy's, but ever so much more modest. But Wendy is an inspiration and role model: she does beautiful work and she finishes projects. (Please note that some of my documentation categories are similar to hers, e.g.)

Oval Knitted Lace Table Cover

Pattern: Knitted Lace, Fluted Design with Eyelets
Pattern by: Mrs. Mae Young
Pattern Source: "Trimmings," in PieceWork magazine, January/February 1996
Thread used: DMC Fil D'Écosse; Cébélia; 100% cotton; Size 10; Color Ecru
Where purchased: Thread--Mariposa, South Pasadena, California and Michael's, Pasadena, California; Satin smooth brocade cloth--Velona Needlecraft, Anaheim Hills, California
Needles: Clover Takumi Bamboo double-pointed U.S. 1 (2.5mm)
Started: 1996?
Completed: November 2002
For whom: M
What I learned: How to block knitted lace from the instructions in Second Book of Modern Lace Knitting by Marianne Kinzel and from Judy Gibson's knitted lace blocking photos and instructions. (I also learned about Velona Needlecraft from Judy Gibson's site.) From the helpful woman at the Bearly Stitchin quilting supply store, I learned how to make patterns from freezer paper (available in grocery stores, e.g., Reynolds brand). You iron sheets of freezer paper together (iron on the non-plastic side) to make as large piece of paper as you need and then draw a template or pattern on the non-plastic side. You can then iron the pattern onto the back of the fabric (again, iron on the non-plastic side with the plastic side against the fabric), cut out the pattern, and then peel off the freezer paper.

The Bearly Stitchin woman also told me about foam-core poster board, which is available at art supply stores, and which can be used for blocking. I bought a 32" x 40" x 1/4" piece for $3 - $4, and it worked really well. I used a Sharpie water-proof marker (again, Judy Gibson's suggestion) to draw grid lines for blocking an oval shape. Because the board doesn't absorb water, the lace dries more quickly. The board is lightweight yet sturdy and, therefore, very easy to move from the floor to upright against a wall or from room to room. And it's very easy to reposition the pins multiple times as needed.

After I washed the knitted lace in cold water with Woolite, rinsed it, and then rolled it in a towel to absorb the excess water, I used T-pins to pin out the lace.

The next challenge was to figure out how to attach the lace to the satin material. Abbreviated version of a long story: the tailor at the dry cleaner I use sewed the piece together so that it is reversible. I was quite pleased with her work, although it's not perfect as the photo shows. However, the piece does look better in real life than in the photo and when it's properly ironed. Originally, I had wanted to complete the entire project myself, but after searching for ideas on how to put it together (the pattern is only for a piece of knitted edging, not for how to make it into something), I ended up having someone else finish it. Next time, I will look for a place that specializes in finishing handwork if something is too complicated for me to do well. I will also instruct them not to iron the knitted lace part.

Finally, here is the thank you note I received from M. On the one hand, I'm embarrassed because I know the gift isn't perfect; on the other hand, M writes such elegant notes.
How can I adequately express my deep appreciation and reverance for a gift of such consequence and intrinsic worth? I am awed by your thoughtfulness and the beauty and substance of your handwork. I will indeed treasure the beautiful lace and hold dear the kindness, talent, generosity of spirit, and good thoughts with which it was wrought. Thank you....

Projects List - 1st Edition

Originally posted January 6, 2004

Knitting projects list

Yesterday afternoon I catalogued my knitting projects and stash of yarn. The stash is not very large or interesting. But some of the knitting projects have gone unfinished all too long. Here is a listing by order of how long I've (not) been working on various projects:
  • Project: Baby Blanket
    Started: 1986
    Pattern: Leisure Arts Leaflet 397 Baby Wrappers!, "Eyelet Lace"
    Yarn: Bernat Sesame 4 100% wool in "Baby Green"
    To finish: Sew one garter stich border to main blanket; knit second border and sew; knit top border.

  • Project: Baby Sweater and Hat
    Started: 2001
    Pattern: Sirdar 3071
    Yarn: Sirdar Snuggly Baby Care Cotton Blend DK, baby blue color
    To Finish: Complete button placket; sew to body of sweater; sew on buttons.

  • Project: Fingerless Gloves
    Started: November 2002
    Pattern: "Basic Women's Fair Isle Fingerless Gloves"
    from Knitting Fair Isle Mittens & Gloves: 40 Great-Looking Designs by Carol Rasmussen Noble
    Yarn: Filanda Extrafine 100% Alpaca, heather taupe color
    To Finish: Mark thumb of left hand glove; knit about an inch and a half to the fingers; knit the partial fingers.

  • Project: Faroese Shawl
    Started: Summer 2003
    Pattern: "Barbara Shawl" in Stahman's Shawls & Scarves: Lace Faroese-Shaped Shawls From The Neck Down and Seamen's Scarves by Myrna Stahman
    Yarn: Brown Sheep Cotton Fine (80% cotton, 20% wool), white "Cotton Ball"
    To Finish: Need to find my place in the pattern; have knit about 12 inches down from the neck—the rows only get longer and longer.

  • Project: Black & White Jacket
    Started: Fall 2003
    Pattern: "Atherton" from Jean Frost Jackets: Fabric, Fit, and Finish for Today's Knits
    Yarn: Euroflax 100% linen, black; Ornaghi Filati Mohair, off-white
    To Finish: Have completed about 13 inches of the back; soon to start decreasing for the armholes.

  • Project: Baby Layette
    Started: Fall 2003
    Pattern: "Rose" in Baby Knits from Dale of Norway: Soft Treasures for Little Ones
    Yarn: Baby Ull Dalegarn, pink
    To Finish: Start decreasing for armholes on sweater; knit second bootie; sew together first bootie; knit hat.

  • Project: Assorted Barbie doll clothes
    Pattern: From Knits for Barbie Doll by Nicky Epstein
My first goal is to finish the top three projects, soon! I've started with the fingerless glove.