Wednesday, August 31, 2005

In the Studio

Scarf, variegated abaca, sequins, seed stitch

I think I finally was able to capture the glint of the sequins in this photo. They've been a source of real delight and experimentation. With this piece I put one black cup sequin on each side of the scarf within a patch of black stitches. It doesn't make sense to try to wind a thread through all the knitting between black patches, so I have made an individual loop of stitches for each pair of sequins, making sure that one will show on each side of the scarf. With seed stitch there's not an RS and WS. I had a passing urge to add hot pink sequins to the pink patches, but I've resisted. I'm not sure I'd recommend the abaca fiber due to its tendency to spring off the needles. It's more stiff than linen before it's washed, so very rascally to knit. I haven't washed it yet, but I've seen a swatch that's washed and it becomes beautifully soft. I knitted this with a size 9 needle, so there's a lot of knitting. The swatch I saw was knitted with a much larger needle, and although it was lacy, I didn't like the sparse look of it. This is still somewhat lacy, but more substantial. It'll look more like fabric than merely string, IMO. I can imagine this scarf being a smashing accent for a black outfit.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Yes, I chose this book because of the cover.

I'm glad I did. I like the size of the "Knitting on the Go" series by Vogue Knitting. I also like the fact that they stuck this crochet book in the series. I believe there are a few more crochet titles, but I like this one the most. The scarf on the cover is well worth the price of admission, IMNSHO. But there are also other gems inside. For those of us who think that crochet design is ugly for the most part, this book offers some way cool scarves. I go more for very good illustrations in a book rather than trying to pick apart the directions. This this book I found the directions to be clear as well, an added bonus.

Here's the whole cite:
Vogue Knitting on the Go: Crocheted Scarves, by Trisha Malcolm, 2004, Sixth&Spring Books, ISBN:1-931543-42-9; 88 p. $12.95

Monday, August 29, 2005

In the studio

Shawl, mixed fibers, seed stitch

I have my doubts about this one, and I think it's because my motivation was out of whack. I let my color choice be dictated by a desire to use the blue "yarn". I do need to find a project for this yarn, which is a paper yarn, folded and wrapped with a rayon strand. This project is one I have to think over again, and I may rip it out and start over the next chance I get.

My knitting was interrupted with reading all six Harry Potter novels in a row, starting last weekend. Whew!! It was a good break. Now I'm taking up the knitting again and seeing what calls out to be finished.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Total crap

I was browsing around a JoAnn store in Florida recently in order to get some basic supply or another. I don't usually go for JoAnn stores but go for the locally-owned shops that I'd rather support. So I'm looking around in the knitting section and I notice a couple knitting gadgets. One is a little elaborate thingie with a handle that cranks and produces an I-cord. It's like the knitting knobby only the mechanical crank turns a set of four hooks and it does the knitting. The other is a set of four rings with pegs on them that go from about four inches in diameter to about twelve inches in diameter. They are pretty much big knitting knobbies or knitting Nancies as some might call them. I had them in my hands, and then I put them back. I was flying home and didn't need more junk in my luggage.

When I got back up here in upstate New York I was lured back by curiosity and a love of gadgets. Together they totalled about $30. I set up the little crank thingie by threading the yarn through, turned the crank, and it broke off in my hands. So then I got out one of the rings and threaded it. After about six or seven rounds, I realized that not only was it really heavy and very awkward, but if I wanted to put it on a table so that I didn't have to hold it in my hands, once the tube started getting longer, I wouldn't be able to put it on a table, I'd have to hold it. So much for the gadgets. I took them back the next day.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Karen Allen and machine knitting

For years I assumed that machine knitting was just yukky, and there was nothing anyone could do about it. A few issues ago, Vogue Knitting International in vol 22 Winter 2004/2005 featured movie star Karen Allen because she's a knitter. I thought the article was weird because of the way they made her pose for photos, but I also thought the knitting was *eh*. It was all machine knitting.

So last weekend I'm strolling around Great Barrington, Mass., because it's one of those towns that I like to visit. There's a shop right there on little old Railroad Street with Karen Allen's name on it. Karen Allen's knitting was in the windows. Karen Allen was inside. So well heck yeah, in I went. I have to admit I was wrong wrong wrong. The photos in the Vogue Knitting issue simplly did no justice at all to the work. Karen Allen has mongo talent. Her machine knitting is definitely fine craft. Yummy, scrumptious. I wanted everything in the shop in the worst way. She has used fabulously soft, suitable yarns for the machine. She has created designs that show off the sophistication possible with a machine in the right hands. Her color choices are lovely, and she's not hung up on one thing but is obviously exploring colors and textures like crazy. She also teaches, so if you want to learn machine knitting from the best, Lorre Bob sez get yourself to Great Barrington and sign up.

Friday, August 19, 2005

In the studio

Scarf, nylon and polyester, garter stitch, size 13 needle

This has been fun! Each row is 13 knit stitches, so it sails along. The first stitch of each row is a purl-wise slip stitch and that makes a nice selvage. The fuzziness is like nothing else I've done - I've got enough of these yarns to make another scarf and I'm trying to figure out what I want to do. I think making lengthwise rows would also be fun. I figure about six to eight gold rows and the same number of purple rows would also be sort of wild and fuzz-o-rama like this one.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

In the studio

Scarf, all wool, twisted stockinette stitch

This is the Colorado Wool company "Vail" yarn, and it shows the twisted stockinette stitch beautifully because of the very smooth way it has been spun. It took me awhile to love the "Vail" yarn, but now it has captured my heart because of the weight and the beautiful way it shows off a pattern. It is currently about as cheap as dirt at Webs. I love this intarsia long stripe design and will probably use it more, with different stitch patterns. I happen to love the twisted stockinette too, so I'll looking around for ways to use it again.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

In the studio

Scarf, wool and nylon, garter stitch

I've gone to my favorite shops and looked for various purple and gold (sometimes plain old yellow) combinations, and this one is one of the most fun so far. I'm using intarsia technique to get half a row of purple and half a row of gold, so the stripe is lengthwise. I'm using Brown Sheep bulky for the purple and a combination for the gold of nylon and wool (the wool is to provide the bulk necessary so that the two colors are the same bulkiness). It feels fabulous and looks like a split personality scarf. The purple side has defined stitches and lines and the gold side is fluffy and messy.

These experiments are making me think more seriously about swatching, which I haven't ever done much. I'm concerned about the dyes and making sure that they don't ruin the colors, so I'm trying to begin washing swatches.

Well...I will next time...

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

In the studio

hat, 100% wool, crochet

Ok, so I don't always knit. I'm not sure I'd want to figure out how to knit a cone shape. It's a no-brainer in crochet. I'm going great guns on this purple and gold jag. I'm hoping it'll inspire students to learn to knit or crochet, and in the mean time it's a very inspiring thing to develop designs that will be good, yet a bit on the whimsical side. I see people wearing the things I'm making at games and for partying and generally having a good time at school. That makes a huge difference in how I develop the design, so somehow it's really boosting the creative juices. If I had this particular had to do over I'd do it with much more tight tension. I think a very tight tension is needed to keep the pointy part from drooping over. The droop is not a bad thing and can have its own charm, but I want this one to be pointy. Guess I'll just have to do another one! (oh darn...)

Monday, August 15, 2005

In the studio: purple and gold series

hat, stockinette stitch, novelty yarns, mixed fibers

I succumbed to my inviting stash of purple and gold yarns and started a new hat. I'm all interested in this one because I'm going to make a tube that will be tied so it'll be a stocking cap with a floppy top. The purple and gold things will be interesting to watch. I'm hoping students will dig the variations on the school colors and take up making their own school spirit pieces. We'll see.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Knitting on the Edge is another title I've been stalking for months. It kept disappearing from my local bookstore before I had a chance to get it myself. It's a "keeper", and a reference source I'm sure I'll use often. Nicky Epstein arranges these edgings around themes, using original designs and traditional ones. Each chapter has a a color theme, sort of like Maggie's Ireland, only in this book the edgings in each chapter are variations on ribs, baubles, cables, or other overall design motives. There are 350 altogether, which is plenty to digest. When I looked at many of them I was thinking that the pattern will work as an overall pattern as well as an edge pattern. So I can see not only dressing up plain designs, or adding a truly sophisticated touch, but making fabrics for pillows, scarves and other items. I like the book because it's not based in the "project" format, but truly a resource for knitters who aren't afraid to make up their own designs. Lorre Bob sez add it to your knitting reference collection and also give her forthcoming title a look, Knitting Over The Edge : Unique Ribs Cords Appliques Color Eclectic - The Second Essential Collection of Decorative Borders.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Not a sock

Small bag, Wool sock yarn, stockinette stitch

I'm still afraid to try socks, but I couldn't resist this fabulously dyed wool yarn. I also am getting the hang of those double pointed needles. Maybe some day I'll actually do socks, but until that time, I'm going to have a ball using the yarn to do all sorts of other things!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

In the studio

Stole, tweedy silk yarn, garter and stockinette combination, size 4 needle

Webs is not far from home, and for awhile I was enjoying myself going there and drifting through their warehouse, satisfying my urge to be overwhelmed with yarns. They put out a good deal of yarn on cones because they also sell to weavers and they like offering yarns every which way for sale. I couldn't resist a couple cones of this silk. I wish I knew what to call the stitch that consists of YO every stitch in the row, then the next row letting the YO fall away and just knitting the original stitch, so there's a big loopy row of double-length stitches. It makes everything very lacy. Essentially this stole is put together on the same idea as the shawl in the July 7 entry, but smaller gauge. I like to arbitrarily decide what stitch each row will be as I'm going along. The silk is the dry-feeling kind, so on days when the humidity is low it feels interesting, and I'm knitting on an old plastic cable needle from my mom's collection. On humid days it sticks to everything, and I avoid it.

Monday, August 01, 2005

In the studio

scarf, rib stitch, merino wool "Vaudeville" by Artful

This yarn had me stumped for a long time. I got it in a grab bag. It's a complicated knitted tube of fine merino wool fibers. This makes it stretch like crazy. This scarf is with a size 19 needle. At that needle size the fabric has a little drape. I started out knitting with the yarn on size 9 or ten needles, I think. It made a very heavy and stiff fabric. It would probably be suitable for a fitted jacket, and stand up by itself. It was a little awkward for a scarf. Then I made a couple huge scarves with it that were almost stoles. I bartered them for some maginificent jewelry at a craft fair last fall, and was very pleased that the jewelry makers who took them loved the colors. I have a strange relationship with the colors myself and don't like them more often than I do. But I'm glad there are people who like the colors, because I have lots of this yarn!