Darling set, in Knit Now Issue 31
Woodcutter set, in Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2013
Caldicott Scarf, $5.50 at Interweave Pysanka, in Knit Now Issue 24
Tracery, in The Unofficial Harry Potter Knits Juicy Fly, in The Unofficial Harry Potter Knits
Arguyle, FREE at knitty.com
Leaves and Lace Baby Blanket, in Creative Knitting Spring 2013 Bukhara, $2.99 at Knit Picks
Flutterby Tam, FREE at Petite Purls Stippling, in Knit Now Issue 17
Beloved, $5.50 at Interweave
Addis Abeba, $3.99 at Knit Picks
Celtic Knotwork Baby Blanket, $3.99
Hat Heel Sock, FREE at knitty.com Around the Block, $4.99
KWB/TSF Hat, $4.99 Sweetness, $2.99
Ilaisa's Loose Toque, FREE Child Legs, FREE
Leafy Baby Poncho, $3.99 Lacy Ribs Scarf, $2.99
Reversible Celtic Patterns Baby Blanket, FREE 'Honey, I lost my hat' Hat, FREE
Arabesque Baby Blanket, FREE Baby Argyle Cardigan, FREE
"Don't quibble with me,
I'm dreaming in technicolour.

--Arthur McLean

KEC>CmR+++>$ Exp+++ SPM++ Syn+ Nov- Cot Wool+ Lux+++ Stash+ Scale++ Fin Ent-- FI+ Int Tex++ Lace++ Felt Flat+ Circ++ DPN+ ML+ Swatch@ KIP+++ Blog++ FO++ WIP+++ AltX+SwSp-

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Many pairs of small things

(Almost done getting caught up on talking about my projects after months of blogless knitting)

So in my last catch-up post, I promised to talk this time about small projects I've been working on that come in pairs. There have been many of them!

For Mother's Day this year, I got two balls of "Darling" sock yarn, from Katia, in a really nice colourway:

I turned it into socks for me!

Pattern is "Viking Socks" by Karen S. Lauger, which has been in my queue for ages. Great socks.

Actually, I've been working from the queue quite a bit, because I also made some "Double Heelix" socks, by the lovely Jeny Staiman, for DD1:

DH got a pair of socks for his birthday, made from my ol' reliable Hat Heel pattern:

I used the same pattern in a smaller size for DD3, using the leftovers from my Viking Socks:

(She loves them.)

More queue-busting occurred when I made some more socks for me using the "Circinus" pattern, by Rich Ensor:

And the "Ornette" socks, by the ever-faboo Cookie A:

They were also for me. I adore them.

And the "Nemesis" socks by Susan Dittrich:

These are destined to be a Christmas present for my oldest BIL.

And the gorgeous "Jane Bennet Socks" by Rachel Coopey, for my niece's Christmas present:

And the amazing "Fightin' Words" by Annie Watts, for my brother's Christmas present:

At his request (he saw this pattern over my shoulder one day and went nuts for it), I recharted the right mitten so it would say "PLOW" instead of "POW". (He drives the zamboni at work, which is also referred to as "the plow".)

And for myself, I've almost finished "Water for the Elephants" by the very talented Rose Hiver - I just need to block them and weave in the ends:

And I got started on some "Stitch Surfer" socks by Louise Robert:

And I decided to make the "Naniboujou" socks by Chrissy Gardiner for my dad for Christmas:

Except it's just really tough mentally to wade through. Not the instructions, I mean; just the knitting of the sock itself. For some reason, for me personally, it just drags and I've been finding all kinds of excuses not to work on it. Sorry, socks. And sorry, Dad.

And (by golly I've been good about working from my queue, eh?), I got started on a pair of "Absinthe" socks by Sara Morris, for DD1:

(Sorry about hurting your eyes there.)

Michaels was having a sale on "Serenity Sock Weight Prints" by Premier Yarns, so I bought two balls and used my Hat Heel pattern again to make socks for my two oldest daughters. DD2 got a purple pair:

And DD1 got a cheerful multicoloured pair:

DD1 gives this yarn a big thumbs-up; she says it's not itchy at all, and she's quite sensitive to that sort of thing (I get complaints about the itchiness of her other socks a lot.)

DD2 needed a new pair of mittens this winter, so I sized down the needles on my own Minaret Mittens pattern and produced some:

In June, I started making another pair of Hat Heels for DD3 out of the leftovers from DD1's Double Heelixes:

...But I pretty much ran out of yarn after finishing the foot. I started using another yarn for the legs, but I ran out of that, too, so now I'm not sure what to do and it's been languishing for so long DD3's feet might be too big for it now! But every now and then she reminds me about them so I think I need to finish them soon or I'll be in trouble. :)

Wow...that's a lot, huh? Next post will hopefully be the last catchup one, and I'll talk about all the remaining projects I've been working on that are not small pairs of things!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A hopefully helpful tutorial for chart beginners

My stitch night pal Arielle asked for help recently to "translate" a chart because she didn't know how to read them. I whipped up a tutorial and sent it over to her, but then figured I should put it on my blog in case it could help anybody else. So here it is.

The pattern she was making is the XOXO Headband by Amy O'Neill Houck. It's a free pattern, and I have rewritten the chart and chart-related instructions for this tutorial, so I'm neither undercutting her sales nor violating her copyright. (In case anyone was wondering. :) I do quote one small snippet of text from her pattern, but it's fair use for illustrative purposes.

So here we go!

What is a chart? And why should I care?

A chart is a way to communicate instructions to a knitter in a way that gives you a sort of visual “preview” of what the knitting is going to look like when it's viewed from the right side of the work. So let’s look at the specific chart we're dealing with:

visual of a chart

It's not as complicated as it initially seems if you break it down:

  1. Each "box' in that chart (whether square or rectangular) represents ONE set of knitted instructions that you have to perform. (Usually in charts, one box equals one stitch, but this is not always the case, which is why I say a set of knitting instructions.)


  2. Each row of boxes in that chart represents one ROW in your knitting. For instance, here’s the chart again, with three of the rows highlighted:


    visual of a chart


    The bit highlighted in green represents all the instructions for the first row.


    The bit highlighted in red represents all the instructions for the second row.


    The bit highlighted in blue represents all the instructions for the third row.


    And so-on.

You will notice that the rows are numbered, to help you keep track. You’ll also notice that odd-numbered rows have their numbers on the RIGHT side, whereas even-numbered rows have their numbers on the LEFT side. This is to help you remember which side to start reading your row from.

Say what?!?

Yep, when you’re working flat, you will need to read the chart starting from a different side depending on whether you’re working on the right side (RS) or the wrong side (WS). This is because when you start working a right side row, the first stitch you work is on the right. But when you start working a wrong side row, the first stitch you work is on the left, if you’re looking at the knitting from the right side. Therefore, since the chart is meant to represent the knitting as seen from the right side, you have to:

  • read the chart from right-to-left when you’re working a right side row, and
  • read the chart from left-to-right when you’re working a wrong side row.

So, you can appreciate that the placement of the row numbers on the chart is a good reminder of which direction to read in.

(Also in case you were wondering: Yes, if you're working in the round, that makes chart reading less complicated because in that case, you're only ever working with the RS facing you, which means you only ever have to read the chart rows from right-to-left.)

Let’s start working the pattern!

After the initial ribbed start-up, the pattern asks you to begin the chart work. Note that on each row of the headband, you’re supposed to do some knitting work before the chart and after the chart. (This makes sense, since the chart only contains instructions for 12 stitches and you’ve got 22 stitches on your needles. You’ve got to do something with those extra 10 stitches!)

The pattern itself says:

“On RS Rows knit 3 p 2, work chart, p 2, k 3; On WS Rows, p 3, k2, purl across, k2, p last 3. Repeat until headband measures 18 inches.”

This is a very comprehensible instruction for those knitters with lots of experience with patterns and charts, but to beginners it's probably pretty murky. Here are those same instructions, translated out with more step-by-step detail:

  • Row 1 (a RS row): Knit 3 stitches, then purl 2 stitches, then work the first row of the chart, then purl 2 stitches, then knit 3 stitches.
  • Row 2 (a WS row): Purl 3 stitches, then knit 2 stitches, then work the second row of the chart, then knit 2 stitches, then purl 3 stitches.
  • Row 3 (a RS row): Knit 3 stitches, then purl 2 stitches, then work the third row of the chart, then purl 2 stitches, then knit 3 stitches.
  • Row 4 (a WS row): Purl 3 stitches, then knit 2 stitches, then work the fourth row of the chart, then knit 2 stitches, then purl 3 stitches.
  • Row 5 (a RS row): Knit 3 stitches, then purl 2 stitches, then work the fifth row of the chart, then purl 2 stitches, then knit 3 stitches.
  • Row 6 (a WS row): Purl 3 stitches, then knit 2 stitches, then work the sixth row of the chart, then knit 2 stitches, then purl 3 stitches.
  • Row 7 (a RS row): Knit 3 stitches, then purl 2 stitches, then work the seventh row of the chart, then purl 2 stitches, then knit 3 stitches.
  • Row 8 (a WS row): Purl 3 stitches, then knit 2 stitches, then work the eighth row of the chart, then knit 2 stitches, then purl 3 stitches.
  • Row 9 (a RS row): Knit 3 stitches, then purl 2 stitches, then work the ninth row of the chart, then purl 2 stitches, then knit 3 stitches.
  • Row 10 (a WS row): Purl 3 stitches, then knit 2 stitches, then work the tenth row of the chart, then knit 2 stitches, then purl 3 stitches.
  • Row 11 (a RS row): Knit 3 stitches, then purl 2 stitches, then work the eleventh row of the chart, then purl 2 stitches, then knit 3 stitches.
  • Row 12 (a WS row): Purl 3 stitches, then knit 2 stitches, then work the twelfth row of the chart, then knit 2 stitches, then purl 3 stitches.
  • Row 13 (a RS row): Knit 3 stitches, then purl 2 stitches, then work the thirteenth row of the chart, then purl 2 stitches, then knit 3 stitches.
  • Row 14 (a WS row): Purl 3 stitches, then knit 2 stitches, then work the fourteenth row of the chart, then knit 2 stitches, then purl 3 stitches.
  • Row 15 (a RS row): Knit 3 stitches, then purl 2 stitches, then work the fifteenth row of the chart, then purl 2 stitches, then knit 3 stitches.
  • Row 16 (a WS row): Purl 3 stitches, then knit 2 stitches, then work the sixteenth row of the chart, then knit 2 stitches, then purl 3 stitches.
  • And then just keep repeating these 16 rows over and over again until the headband measures 18 inches.

The question now, of course, is how to follow that part of those instructions which says “work the Xth row of the chart”.

Here’s how, starting with row 1 of the chart. Let’s look at it:

visual of a chart row

Notice that the row number is on the right, so we know this means you have to read the row starting from the right. Therefore, here’s the order of the instructions you’re supposed to follow:

order to work in a chart row

  1. So the first instruction you need to follow is one of those plain white squares. The legend for that plain white square tells you:

    snippet from chart legend


    You’re currently working on a right side row, so you will knit one stitch.


  2. The second instruction you need to follow is another one of those plain white squares. So you will knit a second stitch.


  3. The third instruction you need to follow is this:


    snippet from chart legend


    It’s an instruction that will have you working a total of four stitches.


  4. The fourth instruction you need to follow is this:


    snippet from chart legend


    This instruction also has you working a total of four stitches all together, but NOTICE that in this case, you’re holding the cable needle at the front of the work while you knit the first two stitches, not the back like you did in the previous cable cross.


  5. The fifth instruction you need to follow is one of those plain white squares, and the sixth instruction you need to follow is another one of those plain white squares, so to follow the fifth and sixth instructions, you knit two stitches.

And that’s it for row 1 of the chart! This means that the instructions for the whole of row 1 over the entire headband (not just the chart) are:

Knit 3 stitches, purl 2 stitches, knit 2 stitches, work a right-leaning cable, work a left-leaning cable, knit 2 stitches, purl 2 stitches, and knit 3 stitches.

Now let’s look at the second row of the chart:

visual of a chart row

Notice that the row number is on the left, so we know this means you have to read the row starting from the LEFT. Therefore, here’s the order of instructions you’re supposed to follow:

order to work in a chart row

  1. So the first instruction you need to follow is one of those plain white squares. The legend for that plain white square tells you:


    snippet from chart legend


    You’re currently working on a wrong side row, so you will purl one stitch.


  2. The second instruction you need to follow is another one of those plain white squares. So you will purl a second stitch.


  3. The third instruction you need to follow is another one of those plain white squares. So you will purl a third stitch.


    And at this point, it should be pretty darn obvious that you need to purl all the chart stitches for this row, so do that. :)

And that’s it for row 2 of the chart! This means that the instructions for the whole of row 2 over the entire headband (not just the chart) are:

Purl 3 stitches, knit 2 stitches, purl 12 stitches, knit 2 stitches, and purl 3 stitches.

In fact, if you take a look at the chart, the instructions are the same for ALL even numbered rows, which means that the above (italicized) instructions for row 2 of the entire headband also apply to rows 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16. So it’s really just the right-side (odd-numbered) rows which get a little tricky.

Let’s move on to another one of those right-side (odd-numbered) tricky rows, then!

Next up is the third row of the chart:

visual of chart row

Again, the row number is on the right, so we know this means you have to read the row starting from the right. Accordingly, here’s the order of the instructions you’re supposed to follow:

order to work in a chart row

  1. So the first instruction you need to follow is this:


    snippet from chart legend


    It’s an instruction that will have you working a total of four stitches.


  2. The second instruction you need to follow is one of those plain white squares. The legend for that plain white square tells you:


    snippet from chart legend


    You’re currently working on a right side row, so you will knit one stitch.


  3. The third, fourth and fifth instructions are also plain white squares, so you will knit three more stitches.


  4. The sixth instruction you need to follow is this:


    snippet from chart legend


    This instruction also has you working a total of four stitches, but NOTICE that in this case, you’re holding the cable needle at the front of the work while you knit the first two stitches, not the back like you did in the previous cable cross.

And that’s it for row 3 of the chart! This means that the instructions for the whole of row 1 over the entire headband (not just the chart) are:

Knit 3 stitches, purl 2 stitches, work a right-leaning cable, knit 4 stitches, work a left-leaning cable, purl 2 stitches, and knit 3 stitches.

Continuing on by yourself

I think from here you can see how you are supposed to move your way up the headband.

Be sure to pay very careful attention to the chart, because on chart row 9, you will start doing the LEFT-leaning cable first and the RIGHT-leaning cable second. (Whereas on chart rows 1, 3, 5 and 7, it was the right-leaning cable that came first.) Be sure to pay very careful attention again when you come back around to chart row 1, because you will switch again (i.e. it will no longer be the left-leaning cable being worked first but the right-leaning cable).

Once you’re finished the chart part of the headband, the pattern goes on to say how you’re supposed to finish it off

Hope this helps!

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Go big

(Still more recapping of months of blogless knitting)

Although blogging failed to happen with any regularity since about the beginning of March, there was a lot of knitting getting done around here. Some of the knitting was very ambitious, too. And by "ambitious", I mean "big".

For example, I've made great progress on the Lestrange Cloak I started after Christmas:

(That's been put aside for the moment, though. A definite shame; I will have to get back to it soon. And I only just noticed when taking the shot that I missed knitting a whole section at the top right front. And I'm really worried about how long the sleeves are. I think when I start back in on this, there will be a lot of redoing. Joy.)

Then, I finally got off my heinie and frogged the way-too-large cabled sweater I made for my husband a number of Christmases ago:

Completed, front

And - in a streak of non-laziness very uncharacteristic for me when it comes to re-using frogged yarn - I have actually been soaking and re-skeining the yarn to get out the kinks!

I frogged the thing because I had made it in the large size, which turned out to be far too big because my husband is a medium-sized man. (The annoying thing is that I originally started making a medium, but then got fooled by the ribbing into thinking it was going to be too small, so I ripped it back and made a large instead.) I am now re-making it into the medium it should have been all along. Progress is excellent, although currently stalled - I have finished the front and the back and am about to start on the sleeves. Here's a shot of the back; the front is very similar except, of course, with a deeper neck:

medium Larrys

My plan is to give this to DH for Christmas this year. Given that it's November and I haven't worked on it for months I'm not sure how much of a shot I have of hitting this goal, but we'll see.

At some point this spring, I was feeling a bit of knitting ennui and decided to spice things up with a nice sweater for myself. I had a bunch of black Stroll from Knit Picks, so I figured I could bust out a Lewis for myself. Alas, my math brain was apparently turned off the day I decided I had enough of the black Stroll, because I totally did not. (Or so I thought.) I ran out juuuust as I was about to finish off the second sleeve, with all the finishing edges (and there's quite a bit of that) still left to go:

Lewis

Recently, however, not only did I buy two more balls, but I also unearthed an extra ball I didn't know I had from the depths of one of my knitting bags! So I've been doing some finishing lately - hem edging and starting to lay things out for the sleeve sewing.

Then, during the summer, one of my cousins from Australia came visiting for several days as part of a big North American holiday she was taking with her husband and children. We had an absolutely marvellous time being with her family and doing fun touristy things. The reason all this is relevant to the blog is that as a "hi, we're visiting" gift for me, she brought some really scrumptious yarn - a merino/possum/silk blend. (Sadly, the yarn is not from Australia as she had intended, but rather New Zealand - she had gotten in touch with an Aussie LYS in the hopes of finding something unique and local for me, but the shop owner was apparently very unhelpful and without any suggestions, so she ended up contacting a shop in New Zealand instead and got much more fabulous results.)

Supreme Possum Merino

I realised that I had just about exactly enough of this to knit something that's been in my queue for ages: Jeanie, by my friend Keri, who is from New Zealand!

The whole combination seemed deliciously fortuitous to me, so I cast on almost right away. I've never used so many stitch markers in a single project in my life (and I normally dispense with stitch markers in favour of simply reading the knitting; so you gotta know that in this pattern, those markers are really important), but I'm really happy with how it's coming out:

The final big thing I've been working on is a lacy sweater for DD1. As she is constantly growing and has no older sisters to give her hand-me-downs, she is often in need of wardrobe supplementation, so a few weeks ago we went shopping. We found a really cute lacy sweater that was unfortunately a touch too small (something she totally can't get away with anymore what with her current rate of growth). She was really bummed that we couldn't buy it, so I assured her I could make her one to her exact specifications instead. (I must be crazy to promise such things, but that's what I did.)

She has since selected some yarn:

angora/wool blend

She also selected a stitch pattern, but it was unfortunately one of those kinds which "drifts" to the side as you move from repeat to repeat, which made decreasing for neck and sleeves a total b***h. After watching me struggle for a while, DD1 then suggested that I just try the Tonks' Togs lacy oversweater from The Unofficial Harry Potter Knits/Knitting Wizardry. That was a genius idea. I calculated how many fewer stitches and repeats I would need, and got going. Even with all the other projects I have on the needles, I was able to make good progress, and now I'm just finishing up the neckline:

Next up in the backlog series: Many small things! (Pairs of 'em!)

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