Monday, October 31, 2005

In the studio

Hat, mixed fibers, stockinette stitch, size 5 needles

I've put some yarns together and have now begun the second project with them. They are a mish mash of cotton, linen, silk, wool tape ( I love Colinette yarns!), fuzzy acrylic and most in pale tints. A few are saturated hues that stand out and make a great interesting area. I started out making a shawl on large needles with these yarns but then decided that I want to make hats. So I ripped it out and voila.

I have to confess that I'm knitting virtually everywhere now. This photo was taken in a cafe on campus, where I take my own cups and get refills. I started with this sort of chimney shape, and I don't know where it's going, but I like it.

The knitting is a little tight, and I don't know how it'll effect the hat shape yet. I could draw the open top together and put a pom pom up there and it would stand up straight.

Technical note: the aluminum double pointed needles slip right out of the knitting. In the photo you can see that I'm switching to bamboo, which I'm sure will grip the yarn and stay in.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

In the studio

Shawl, black rayon and nylon, size 11 cable needle, garter stitch

Although normally I'm not keen on knitting with nylon and rayon yarns, this is an exception. There's something about the way that this "yarn" drapes and reflects light that I love. It's South West Trading Company's Melody yarn, and it comes in 400 yard balls.

Although these "ladder" yarns have been around for the last few years, I haven't tried knitting with them as the solitary yarn until now. I've been using them as shiny bits in my more complex fabrics. But then I saw a shawl in one of my favorite shops, the Woodstock Wool Company, and I had to try it. The secret to getting a wonderful fabric that doesn't look plastic is to use largish needles and make it more of a lace or net than a solid fabric. In this piece the shiny rayon squares are distributed in a mottled pattern through the lace and the drape is superb and it is very sensual. And black.

In the last couple days I've been unable to resist experimenting with crochet. Since I have this yarn in bougainvillea, sky blue, purple and taupe I have plenty for experimenting! I'm trying a circle capelet using an improvised lace stitch pattern in the sky blue color. I'm trying a smallish hook and checking out the texture with the rayon squares put more closely together than the knit piece to form a sort of broken shiny surface. Instead of the spaces being evenly distributed, like the effect from the large needles using garter stitch, I'm making typical crochet lace spaces. Well...I guess I have to get out the camera and show you. Photos to follow.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

In the studio

Shawl, mixed fibers, single crochet

I'm having a blast with this shawl using yarns from recent projects combined anew. I'm using a big aluminum crochet hook like an H size or close to that. I began with a rich wine wool that I acquired through barter for sewing lessons and have enjoyed selecting yarns that make a sturdy cold weather garment.

I'm imagining making the long edge of the triangle long enough so that the shawl can be fastened down the front and look more like a poncho.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Finished scarf

Scarf, rib stitch with crocheted fringe along the long edge, size 9 cable needle; approximately 5 in x 84 in excluding side fringe

This wool is by Tahki I'm not sure if they make it any more. It's an absolute pleasure in my hands and I'm sure the wearer of this scarf will feel the reason why. It's one of the softest yarns I've used. It is a thick and thin spun yarn, which gives it a textural interest even with very plain stitch patterns like this rib pattern. You can see the undulating surface in the photo. The color also has a stark pureness that is attractive with the uneven surface texture.

I've tried making four other (unsuccessful) items with this yarn before this scarf, all too loosely knit. It doesn't work well on larger needles, so once I got this size 9 needle and the tried the rib stitch pattern, it was clear that the stitch should be a more tight dense one rather than a loose or lacey one. Loose lacy stitch patterns make everything look wonky with the thick and thin yarn. Next up is a hat, I think, with a tight crochet stitch.

I used a slip stitch selvage. With a crochet hook I picked up stitches along the edge, making a 14 stitch chain, turn and slip stitch in each chain stitch back to the scarf edge, two or three single crochet, picking up stiches from the scarf edge, then another fringe. The fringes are like little creatures with lives of their own.

It's very thin - about 14 stitches per row. But the loft of the yarn makes it a very warm garment. If I wasn't moving to Florida I'd keep this one for myself.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Finished scarf

Scarf, mixed fibers, garter stitch, size 13 needles; excluding fringe about 5 in x 84 in

This is the completed scarf from the Oct. 12 entry. It worked up quickly and was very satisfying. I still want to do many more with the fringe along the long edges. Or at least some sort of embellishement along those edges. After finishing the Noro Silk Garden scarf in the Oct. 10 entry I've realized that it needs something, and I may try some kind of long-edge embellishment.

I liked working with a rather limited group of yarns for this scarf, especially since one of them is a Noro Kureyon that changes radically in color through a sky blue, pink and bright yellow. All these yarns are also worsted weight or near that, so there's a uniformity to the fabric that I like quite a bit.

Saturday I met a friend who gave me wonderful advice on free lance art work, since she's a singer in New York City. I met her in Poughkeepsie and we had a nice lunch in Rhinebeck at the Beekman Arms. It was raining steadily, so it wasn't a great day for walking. She agreed to accompany me up to Woodstock and I took another box of knitting to the Fleur de Lis gallery of the Woodstock Guild. The knitting that I took on my previous trip is displayed very nicely and put in different places around the shop. All the pieces are in the blog. I could tell that the shop manager had tried on all of them. She told me that the customers in the gallery like reading the tags. I usually put some sort of collage or rubber-stamp work on one side of the tag, then a desciption of the work and care instructions on the other side.

Also I should send more hats.

I felt the slightest sensation of a vacuum with all those pieces gone when I got back to my studio. So I started a few more and scrounged back through the in-progress bin. Red wrist warmers, mohair capelet II, shaggy shawl in teal and purple, "mossy" colors shaggy shawl, big mother of all shawls, etc. etc. Peectures soon!

Friday, October 21, 2005

My first capelet

Capelet, lavender mohair, rib stitch, size 13 cable needle

This is the completed version of the Sept. 27 entry.

I've been imagining how to put one of these together since last winter and finally the idea came about with the mohair because it's very warm yet won't do well next to the skin in a scarf. I did the flounce by knitting into the front and back of each stich after I picked up a stitch along the long edge from each row of the ribbed "body" rectangular piece. I've been browsing Nicky Epstein's book on edgings for the past couple months (Knitting on the Edge) and the chapter on ruffles is one of my favorites. At first I was imagining a stole that would have either two retro large buttons at the top of one side and loops to go around them, or a band at the shoulders that would be contrasting to the main stole and have one large button and buttonhole. In the end I crocheted a row of double crochet around the neck edge and made the cord out of a long chain with one row of single crochet to give it body but not too much weight. And that turned it into a capelet.

It's the first thing I've made that doesn't fit me - it's made for a girl or a very petite woman.

I like the off-center opening in the front.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Finished shaggy shawl

Here's the shawl in yesterday's entry completed! The garter stitch shawls on large-ish needles work up very quickly once the strands of yarn are all tied together. Most of the work is in selecting and preparing the yarns. This piece is on the light side rather than heavey and the softer fuzzier yarns make it very comfortable against the skin.

How to display finished pieces is becoming a real question for me. This one is wrapped around the back of a chair, but it still isn't sufficiently revealed in the photo that way. I've not worked up enough courage to ask the young people all around me to put things on so I can photograph them. I'm also thinking about working up a papier mache torso to use for pieces that are meant to be worn there. After I move. With the glass head I have and a papier mache torso or two I ought to be able to show off just about anything I make.

Another idea that I'm pondering is how to "sign" my work. So far I've only signed a few pieces using an embroidered ribbon. Maybe I could use fabric paint on a ribbon. Embroidering my name takes just long enough to drive me crazy with impatience.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

In the studio

Shawl, mixed fibers, garter stitch, increasing two stitches each row, size 11 cable needle

I began this in the summer and still love the lightweight feel of it. The base color, if I can call it that, is a tan EuroFlax linen which creates a lacey effect when knitted on the larger needles. You can see a thick tan stripe off to the left in the photo. Other yarns are bulkier and fuzzy or tufted and fill in the fabric so that the effect overall is sort of webby and mossy and very uneven rather than uniform. There are several metallic fibers that don't show up in the photo and they give the occasional flash of light. I'm leaving the knots right out there without weaving in the ends. I make up balls of yarn from about 15 different yarns, cutting arbitrary lengths as I go along. I use the EuroFlax linen just about every other yarn, so that it's pervasive and the other yarns stand out from that base smooth matte tan texture and color. The knot ends contribut to a very shaggy, barbaric fabric look. I've described a similar shawl as being like something you'd pick up off the forest floor.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The denim shawl "on"

Shawl, cotton "denim" yarn, garter and stockinett stitch with yo rows

It's not that I'm obsessed with this shawl, it's just that it looks so much different on a person than it does stretched out over a massage table! My friend knows how to wrap up in it perfectly, don't you think?

There's still half a cone of this lovely cotton yarn remaining. What to do? I'm thinking of a filet crochet top made to be worn over a tank, or a small poncho.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Finished scarf

Scarf, acrylic and polyester, garter stitch, size 13 cable needle

This scarf has 11 stitches per row and it really looks as messy and shaggy as the photo. I tried getting the colors right for the scarf, but the background went all out of whack. It's another entry in the purple and gold series, which I'm still enjoying. I think I have the beginnings of everything here in the blog, so there'll be around of "finished" photos coming up of the next few weeks. Along with being in the purple and gold series, it's a member of the "skinny" scarf series that I've been creating since the spring. I always think of them as being favorites of the 11 - 20 crowd.

I was a complete knitting fiend over the weekend and am done with a couple of things along with making substantive progress on others. Photos will come soon.

All will go to the Fleur de Lis gallery in Woodstock, New York which helps support the Woodstock Guild. The gallery manager is trying to learn web skills and her goal is to eventually have something like an online catalog.

Friday, October 14, 2005

In the studio

Scarf, wool, garter stitch with separate strands knitted in, size 9 needles.

This is my experiment so far. Each row is twelve stitches plus a selvage stitch at the beginning of each row. I'm knitting in the separate strands for 3 to 4 stitches, depending on what seems necessary to really bind in the strand. Each strand is about 6 to 9 inches long and I've cut bunches them and put them in a cigar box. I'm not too keen on the color combination at this point and will probably rip this out and start with either a different base color or take most of the black out of my separate strands box and replace it with colors. I've got some creamy white yarn that could make an excellent base yarn for all the black.

Beyond the color situation, the effect is that shaggy appearance that I love very much and I can see myself doing lots and lots of it real soon now.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

In the studio

Small triangle scarves, cotton, garter stitch, size 8 needle

This cotton yarn is very dreamy and a pleasure to knit. A very smooth hand shows off the stitches. I got it in the purple and gold (sort of) school color combination that I'm using for many pieces right now. These small triangles can be head scarves or neck scarves - more of an accessory than for warmth. The small needle size means there's quite a bit of knitting. I'm experimenting with combining the two colors to the best effect. The fringe on the striped scarf is not very successful and I believe that is because the color change and stripes already make the fabric "busy" and fringe is too much more busy-ness. I like the solid color areas of the second scarf. The challenge is to make the color twist in the middle as even as possible, and that's quite difficult for me. I need more experience.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

In the studio

Scarf, mixed fibers, garter stitch, size 13 needles

Here's my first result from the "unlikely combinations" play of Monday. This is my first scarf with the side fringe along the long sides of the scarf. I like it very much and am going to do many variations of it in the near future. I'm changing yarns every two rows which I think allows every color to make an impression in the overall fabric. I arbitrarily do a single row of color now and then just to be inconsistent. There are approximately 9 different yarns involved.

Last night I spent a very pleasant 90 minutes with three young women who want to learn to knit. One of them knows knitting a bit and is simply not yet able to read the knitting or completely understand what's going on. Remember that phase? She has yummy yarn and a set of hand me down needles that all look very very interesting. One has learned to crochet and knit from her grandmother, but gave it all up for a few years to study hard and come to America. She just is recalling crochet and now wants to see what she can get going again with knitting. One has never picked up the needles before. It was lovely time, sitting around the table and giving instruction and encouragement. I showed them the two Sally Melville books that I have and told them how good it is to have a basic book to use when they forget how to do something or want to learn a little something new.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

It is finished

Shawl, cotton "denim" yarn, garter and stockinett stitch with yo rows

The shawl is stretched out flat over my massage table and covers the entire thing. I wore it over to my dining hall yesterday and I can wrap it around my torso like the Indian shawls that I love very much. Yay! I don't know exactly what drove me to finish this thing so quickly except the feel of that marvelous cotton yarn through my fingers. It's divine. I spent the morning getting it completely finished with everything all neatly tucked in and had to undo the bind off row. I had used a larger needle in order to not get that too tight effect. It turns out I needed a tightening effect on the end because I had knit many yo rows and it was loosey goosey. The tight bind off row gathers things nicely back together again with a firm edge. Since it's so lacey it was difficult to weave in the knots, so I used sewing thread to secure them so that they wouldn't ravel or fray.

Then I celebrated by fooling around with bunches of old projects. I pulled another large shawl out of the bin and I'm sure I'll be sailing through it. See the Sept. 24 entry - the multicolor wool. I'm in love all over again!

I also started going through the miscellaneous bags and pulled out unlikely combinations while I'm thinking about scarves that will work up quickly on large needles. We'll see what turns up. I'm hovering over a black and red combination.

Friday, October 07, 2005


Shawl, cotton "denim" yarn, garter and stockinett stitch with yo rows

This is the same shawl from the Sept. 12 entry. I thought I'd upload this photo now, because I have to take a photo soon of the finished product. Maybe tonight. I'm calling it a "monster". It's huge! The drape of the fabric is really great. The lacy effect of the yo rows also results in a lovely very soft drape. I was able to work on it day and night while I was on a vacation trip over the past week so I'll finish about six more inches and it'll be ready to bind off. It's the biggest thing I've finished in quite awhile, but I have another about the same size within a foot or so of being done (the Noro wool one in the Sept. 24 entry). Woo hoo!!!