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« December 2003 | Main | February 2004 »

January 31, 2004

Stalking the Illusive Knitting Pattern

First, to answer a question...

Kathleen asks, "Where did you get the boxes in your bookcases? Are you storing magazines in there?"

The magazine files, like the bookcase, came from IKEA. I have them stocked with my knitting magazines, individual patterns, catalogs, and color cards. I like the way they fit exactly six across. Now, I wish I had a label maker. [My craving for ultimate organization continues].

...and stand gaping in awe.

There ought to be an award for writing a post like this. This is a league beyond.

Now, on with the show...

I've had a few questions about how to obtain the pattern for Bark. I'll tell you the story of how I came to have my copy.

A couple of years ago, I saw a sweater I really liked in the finished object gallery of a knit blogger. She had the yarn she used listed, but not the pattern. I wrote to her and asked for more information about the pattern she had used. She thought it was from a Vogue Knitting magazine from the early 90s, but said that she couldn't tell me the exact issue.

Possessing that information alone, I logged onto eBay and did a search for Vogue Knitting magazines [making sure to search both the titles and descriptions]. Since I didn't know which issue and the item descriptions didn't give enough detail what was inside, I bid on what seemed to be likely targets. I began acquiring fall and winter issues from the first half of the 90s.

I wasn't lucky with my first try, or my second; however, I eventually hit on the issue with my illusive prey, Fall '90. [I'll give you a point if you correctly guess which sweater it was]. Bark was in one of the misses. In fact, many of the misses contained potential hits. Maybe get rid of a the shoulder pads and a few other early 90s extravagances, and their are some extremely knitable designs in these magazines.

If you are looking for the pattern for Bark, you are ahead of the game; you already know which issue has the pattern you want.

I did a search earlier today using the keywords 'vogue knitting fall'. The search returned three possibilities among the 50-odd results. Two of the auctions are for the Fall '91 issue alone (here and here). The third included some other issues from around the same time. [Looking at all those auctions for old knitting magazines gives me the itch to bid on a few more].

I still haven't made the sweater that sent me off on my quest.

And now, just because you've gotten this far...

skewing blue

...a gratuitous knitting picture.

06:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (11)

January 27, 2004

Throwing a block

Shelly asked why and how do I block.

Some of the reasons why to block are 1) to even out the stitches and give pieces a finished look; 2) to make pieces lie flatter to aid with seaming; and 3) to control (within limits) the size of finished pieces. In most cases, when done correctly, blocking will improve the looked of your final project.

The 'how' will mostly depend on the fiber you are knitting with. There was an excellent article on blocking in the Winter 2002 knitty. It addressed the considerations for blocking many kinds of fibers.

It's too bad that the Knitting Curmudgeon, Marilyn Roberts, is having some hosting issues at the moment or I would give you a link to her Blocking for Blockheads, other useful reference on blocking. [I'll try and remember to link it when she gets set up in her new home]. What is available is a copy of a post that she sent to the KnitList in 1997. It's not quite as detailed as her updated treatment of the topic though.

When is comes to blocking surfaces, many people seem to swear by SpaceBoards. These are large, fabric-covered surfaces with a 1 inch grid printed on them. I was able to find them offered by KnitPicks (although you have to call to order) and Patternworks (although the link to order doesn't seem to be working). Does anyone else know of a source?

There are other brands of blocking boards out there as well. Here's a link for something called a Sew E-Z Blocking Board. It appears to be essentially the same as a SpaceBoard.

I know that I have also seen directions somewhere for making your own blocking board out of insulating foam board (like what you may get from a hardware store), cotton batting, and cotton cloth with a 1 inch grid. However, I can't remember whether that was on a list serv, a website, or a TV program. I think it's pretty easy to figure out though. Cover foam board with cotton batting; cover batting with fabric; make sure grid lines are straight; secure everything together. See? Easy as pie. [I'm not sure I'm that ambitious].

Of course, you could take the advice of Bonne Marie at ChicKnits and use an inexpensive rug dedicated just to your blocking needs. When you aren't using it, roll it up and stow it. When I lived in a carpeted apartment, a layer or two of towels right on the floor worked as well. [Just be sure not to over wet the pieces and watch for running dye in either direction].

Another blocking tip from Bonne Marie—a hand-held garment steamer. Less expensive than a professional model and useful for steaming the winkles out of many things.

Currently, I am using the low tech and temporary solution of pieces of cardboard covered with towels. You can make the cardboard last a bit longer by putting a layer or two of plastic wrap or plastic garbage bags between the cardboard and the towels. Eventually though, the cardboard will start to warp or break down. Time for some new cardboard.


No thanks, I'll walk

I was too lazy to drive to work today, so I walked instead.

When faced with the options of 20 minutes of hard labor chipping away to release my car from its icy carapace or a brisk 20 minute walk, the choice was clear. Once temps rise and I don't have to walk in the dark, I'll be making this trek much more often.

The walk was actually quite pleasant. The knife-edged wind that has been blowing for the past couple of weeks was absent, so the temperature was merely bracing and not biting. Most home and business owners had shoveled and/or salted so the sidewalks were passable. There wasn't much flat, smooth ice, mostly just crunchy or slushy snow.

The secrets to walking in the snow and ice: Shorten your stride and keep your knees slightly bent. Watch out for black ice—you may be better off walking though the snow. Except in the most extreme cases, don't walk in the street. Just don't. There is an SUV out there with your name on it. It will find you and run you down.

[Even when the roads are clear, people around here insist on walking down the middle of the street. It's called a sidewalk people. Look into it!]

08:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

January 25, 2004

Shelf Love

Not much knitting going on around here for a three-day weekend [Friday was my day off].

bookcase.jpgSince Friday, I made some progress on several projects. I've got the sleeve of Bark almost back to the point where I started ripping it out, I've managed to add about another inch to Rain Forest, and I've got the body of CPS blocked.

I could have been much further though—a few things have cut into my knitting time.

On Friday, I had a rotten headache and felt the need for an extended nap. [Why do I have to feel rotten on my day off?]

On Saturday, I felt much better and ended up going downtown and standing in the cold several hours to stake out the filming of a scene for the West Wing. [Celebrity sighting of Bradley Whitford].

Today, I went back to IKEA to buy the bookcase I've been contemplating [after I determined that I could actually fit it in my car]. After a very nice neighbor helped me carry it upstairs, I had fun assembling it with my rechargeable drill/screwdriver. [Power tools are so much fun!]

I've put it in the extra room and loaded it up with all my knitting books and magazines. Even though I had organized everything in boxes previously, I still couldn't find what I was looking for half the time. Now, everything is right at my fingertips and there's room to grow.

Back to knitting. It's too much to hope that the insane amount of snow falling outside right now will mean I have another day off tomorrow. In fact, I'll have to get up extra early to dig myself out.

08:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

January 23, 2004

I never said I was perfect

Whoops! Louise quite nicely pointed out some mistakes I had made in writing out the pattern for the Silk Garden hat and cowl. Thanks, Louise!

I have fixed the pattern both in the original post in which it appeared and in the directions available from a separate link in the EXTRA section on the right.

La-la-la-lacy

I am sincerely sorry for any inconvenience these mistakes may have caused.

11:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 21, 2004

Block Me, Amadeus

I think Kerstin is giving me an 80s flashback. [The original song is playing in my mind on an endless loop now].

I've finally started to finish up CPS. Here are the sleeves blocking on towels pinned over cardboard. [Nothing but the best for you, baby].

sleeve it to me

This is perfect weather for blocking. The air is so dry, it sucked the moisture right out of these pieces in a matter of hours even though I had given them a good soaking.

However, the blocking did reveal something that's a bit dismaying that I hadn't noticed before. It's easier to see in this photo.

ARGH!

There is a definite color change in the main color halfway up one of the sleeves. [Grrr]. I don't know how this happened. I bought a full bag of the main color and assumed that they were all the same dye lot. [Yes, I know, never assume]. Maybe they all were labelled as the same dye lot and this is some freak occurrence. I tossed some of the ball bands so I guess I'll never know.

It's noticeable, but not too distracting. I'm just sorry that I didn't notice it sooner.

I can't let this stop me though. I have a few stray ends to weave in on the body pieces and then I can block them as well. I will finish this sweater this season.

Bark update: I had to rip back the first sleeve of Bark for a second time. This time, I got the increases right, but the pattern was wrong. [Sigh].

08:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

January 19, 2004

Fair Isle After Dark

I should have posted something yesterday, but I've been so deeply involved in my three-day weekend that I'm only getting around to it tonight.

Saturday, I went to a fabulous K2P2 meeting. The gathering of knitting talent was incredible. And there were so many of us. The number just kept growing, so that every time a table opened up, it would get agglomerated onto our original cluster of tables. At the peak, we must have had five or six tables pushed together.

The only drawback to the arrangement was that we weren't able to get the usual spot under the brighter lights. Instead, we had tables near the window that started out lit brightly enough.

As the night wore on and we lost the daylight through the windows, knitting became increasingly difficult, especially for those of us working on Fair Isle designs. As luck would have it though, a table opened up under a light and all the Fair Isle knitters collected there like so many moths, only creating sweaters instead of destroying them.

one pattern repeat

You know, Rain Forest looks much better in my pictures than it does in person. Everyone tells me, "It will block out". I suppose it will, but in the meantime, I'd rather look at the photos than the real thing.

And on another front: today I ripped the sleeve of Bark back to the beginning. I had messed up the increases to the point that it will just be easier to start again as to try and overcome the mistakes.

Ah well, back to the salt mines tomorrow.

05:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)

January 16, 2004

'Selvedge'-able

Apparently, many of you can understand my weakness for yarn, on sale or not. [Although, if you couldn't, you probably wouldn't be here].

Rain Forest has been hard to put down...

the rain continues to fall

...but I have managed to do it.

halfway done


Melissa asked a couple of questions about the selvedge stitches on Bark.

Does knitting the first and last stitch of every row make a garter stitch edge?

Yes, essentially it does. There will be a row of little bumps running down the edge.

Does this affect seaming or the tension at the very edge?

I find that this type of edge helps with seaming in many instances. The little bumps along the edge are easy to count and line up when seaming so that seams come out even. If things aren't lining up it's easy to see.

Having a uniform edge also helps greatly when you are attempting to seam patterned knitting. I am always confused why some knitting patterns run stitch patterns right up to the edge of pieces without allowance for any kind of selvedge. Why wouldn't you want to do it? [This is a sincere question. Does anyone have an example? There must be some instances when this would detract from the look of the final product, but there can't be many].

Having a selvedge makes it obvious how to match up seams without wondering how just where the heck the seam stitching should go and doesn't force you to lose some of the pattern stitches into the seam. Before I regularly added selvedge stitches, I would never know whether to put the seam one stitch, or a half a stitch, or one and a half stitches from the edge and my seams meandered a bit. [Some of this was also because I used to backstitch my seams. That only added to the sloppiness and confusion. I've talked about this before].

Finally, I find that the tension on this edge is very even, or at least is easier to keep even.

These are just my personal observations. Like I said the other day, there is an entire study to be made of selvedges and which ones are appropriate in which situations. I know this information is out there because I've seen sections in books and articles in knitting magazines discussing selvedges; however, I've never done more than glance at them.

Tomorrow is K2P2 at Mayorga and I've got a three day weekend coming up. Yay, extended knitting time!

08:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

January 13, 2004

Sharp edge

Several people have commented on the edges of Bark. I'll tell you my secret: selvedge stitches. I cast on two extra stitches and knit the first and last stitch of every row.

I use this selvedge most of the time. Another useful selvedge that I've run across lately while knitting the Zephyr scarf is to always slip the last stitch or a row with the yarn in front and then always knit the first stitch a row. This is a version of a chain selvedge and may have some particular name, but I'm not aware of what that may be.

Someday, I'll devote my copious free time to an in-depth study of selvedge edges, but for right now I'll stick with old faithful.


It's a sickness, I tell you

I've been holding out on you, but now I'm going to reveal all. Confession is good for the soul, no?

Saturday was the 10th Birthday Party at Yarns International. In honor of that, Shetland 2000 yarn and kits and all other Ron Schweitzer designed kits were on sale. I was weak. I struggled slightly and then gave in and bought a kit for Rainforest.

pretty, pretty yarn

Did I really need more yarn? No. Did I really need to spend any more money on yarn? No. Did I really need to spend that much money on yarn? Hell no. So what was I thinking? I guess I wasn't thinking.

It's insane. I hem and haw about most purchases. I've been dragging my feet on shelling out fifty bucks for a lousy bookcase for weeks. Then, some yarn crosses my path and I can't part with my money fast enough. The madness must stop! OK, but first I'm just going to knit this sweater.

I'll have to admit that I had probably made up my mind to buy something before I even got to the store...or left the house. After all, if I wasn't going to buy anything I should have just stayed home. That's why I've made myself promise not to visit the Elann website. I know if I look I will want to buy. It's a reflex. So much easier just not even to look.

But, the yarn's here now; so, let the knitting begin! Saturday night, I balled up one skein of each color and started to cast on. Sunday, I finished the cast on and started knitting.

looks like rain
[Sunday's progress.]

Monday night, I finished the ribbing and tonight I've started the main pattern. It's fun. It's addictive. It does not help me get to bed on time. Stop me, please.

However, lest you think that Bark will become yet another stalled project: I'm still working on it and I'm now a third of the way up the first sleeve.

07:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (16)

January 11, 2004

front/back, back/front

I've finished the front and back of Bark. As you can see, they are exactly the same. You can also see how the complementary edges match up along the side seam.

front_back.jpg

wavy
Molly insists on getting into the picture. After the comments about her photo the other day, she's turning into quite a ham. She prefers the more dignified pose in this picture though.

She feels a little betrayed that I would post such a candid shot. Well, maybe if she's going to start dictating the content around here she needs to get her own blog. [Thanks for the entertaining link, Sue].


 


06:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

January 07, 2004

Livin' on the Edge

I've gotten some questions about the ribbingless bottom edge of Bark.

I used a regular long tail cast on and then knit three rows before starting with the first row of the chart.

Here's a close up of the edge. You can click for a bigger, although not necessarily a clearer, look.

the edge

If I were to do it again, I would maybe try five knit rows or two knit and a purl. The edge is OK, but I think that with a little more tinkering I could have come up with something I liked better.

And now for the gratuitous cat picture...

I'm so long!!

Just when I think I know every quirk of her behavior, she comes up with something new. Lately, she's started napping on the couch stretched out and on her back. I have no idea why.

07:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (11)