August 2013
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

January 31, 2006


I can't believe it! I've finished another sweater! Country Plaid Shirt is complete!

I really like it!

This was another almost-completed sweater that had been sitting around for a long time. I've put together an archive page of all my previous CPS posts, but let's review the highlights.

First post: March 19, 2003
Last post (before this one): March 22, 2004

Within that year, I had knit and assembled the whole thing except for one button band. And then I stopped...for almost two years.

Before I stopped, I knit three separate versions of the button band with three different buttonhole attempts. None of them pleased me.

This last weekend, I finally pulled out all the bits again to figure out what my next step would be. I looked at the three substandard bands and decided that one of them was actually good enough. I know stepping back a bit often helps one gain perspective on a problem. Looks like this one took almost two years of stepping back.

So, I took a giant leap forward and sewed on the band, wove in a few stray ends, and sewed on the buttons. [I originally had a big fit over button selection too].

Just like that, I had a finished sweater; and it turned out really well. I'll probably always wear it buttoned, so my wailing and gnashing over sloppy buttonholes turns out to be a non-issue.


I'm starting to have hopes that there are a few other orphans in the pile that will be rescued.

08:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (22)

February 12, 2005

garter intarsia

To the two of you still out there: I'm sorry that it's taken me so long to get to this. I promised it what? two? three weeks ago?

Oh well, let's commence.

First, if you are wondering what intarsia is: a quick Google search on intarsia knitting will get you started. Also, I've added an archive page with all my blog posts that have mentioned intarsia knitting and show some of the projects I've worked on.

That should get you oriented. Now, garter intarsia.

[Note: for a better look, you can click all the photos in this post to open a window with a bigger view.

Also, I've put the rest of the post after the link at the bottom because this is a photo-heavy post].

Here's a swatch I did with three different colors. [Pardon the sloppy cast on].

photo 1

This is the front and I'm ready to knit across the row from right-to-left. For the sake of argument let's call this the right side

Here is the back side. This will be the wrong side.


Let's go back to the right side and see what happens when it comes time to switch colors.

I'm done with the green and I want to start to knit with the purple. However, I can't just drop the green and pick up the purple to knit...


...and here's why.

This is sort of a funny picture of the situation. Instead of turning the work around to look at it, this picture is meant to represent what you would see if you held onto you knitting and leaned forward to look at the wrong side. This way, the green stays on the right and the purple on the left.


Now, if we look, we can see that if I get pick up the purple and start knitting, there will be a gap between the colors. I'll need to anchor the green before using the purple and I can do this by twisting one strand over the other like this...


Now, the purple comes up from under the green and there will be no gap between the two colors.

OK, I knit to the end of the row and now it's time to come back in the other direction.


Once again, I get to the change between the purple and the green. This time, however, things are a little different. If this were stockinette intarsia, the situation would be similar to the changing yarns on the right side of the work: both the strand I was putting down and the strand I was picking up would be on the same side of the work. In that case, I would be purling and both strands would be on the side facing me and I could just twist them as I had on the right side (the knit side).

But now, because this is garter, I am knitting on both sides. When it comes time to change, the yarn I am putting down is in the back, but the yarn I want to pick up is in the front.


To get them in the correct position, I'm going to have to switch them by first moving the purple yarn between the needles and to the front, and then, moving the green yarn between the needles and to the back. This will lock the purple strand in place and put both the yarns on the correct sides of the needles to continue.


See, it's actually pretty easy. I don't know why it took me so long to write it up.

I hope at least one of the two of you found this helpful.

05:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (23)

January 23, 2005

stripes the hard way

Sorry to keep those of you who were interested in my scarf waiting so long for the details. Deadlines, sinus, snow, blah, blah, blah.

Rare Comfort scarf

Here's a bit less arty shot of the scarf than the last one. On the right you can see the "right" side and on the left you can see the "wrong" side.

Yes, those are very, very long intarsia stripes, in garter stitch. It had to be so. Why it had to be is a long and bor... tortuous tale that I will now relate; because, after all, this is a knitting blog.

Let's start with the yarn. It's Jo Sharp Rare Comfort Kid Mohair. I bought it from a few months ago--of course, at a significant discount. [It's long, long gone there, but it's still available other places, although mostly at full price]. The bad news is that it's being discontinued as a Jo Sharp yarn. The good news is that it's going to be sold under the name Queensland Collection Comfort Mohair.

For those of you who are really interested, I used one ball each of colors 602, 605, 606, and 610. [Actually, I think I ended up using a little more than half a ball of each].

Originally, I had planned to try and recreate a crocheted scarf I had seen at a craft fair this summer. Unfortunately, I grossly mis-estimated just how much yarn that would take, especially since I wanted a loooong scarf.

I can tell you that it is a huge pain in the ass to reclaim previously crocheted mohair. I spent several nights doing that. I also spent several nights trying to figure out what to do next.

Part of the problem was that although I knew I wanted to use all four colors together, I was worried about running short on yarn again. I played around with stripes on the short axis, but the original scarf I had in mind was striped along the long axis. I considered casting on about a million stitches and knitting the stripes that way, but I was afraid that I would have the same problem that I did with my crocheted attempt and would have to end up ripping again. Mohair can only be frogged so many times before you kill it.

So, realizing that I wanted long stripes without worrying about exactly how long they could be, I decided to knit my scarf along the short axis and use intarsia to make the stripes. Next because I wanted to minimize the difference between the "right" and "wrong" sides, I thought I would knit in a simple garter stitch. [Intarsia garter stitch is something I hadn't seen nor tried before. It took me a couple of tries before I figured out the trick to it]. There is still a difference between the two sides, but I can live with that.

I knit, and knit, and knit. It seemed to take forever because every few rows I had to untangle the yarns; even so, this was still very relaxing knitting due to the warmth and softness of the yarn.

In the end, I'll call it a success, even though it's different than my original conception.

[Scarf, as modelled by knitter in Sunday morning comfies].
the illusive knitter

07:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

February 16, 2004

inside out


[You can click for a closer view].

I've seamed the arms and sides and I've attached one of the front bands.

Yes, attached a front band. For whatever reason, this pattern has you knit entirely separate button bands and sew them on.


I'm sure there must be a practical reason for this. For one thing, it's easier to make a good transition from the stockinette intarsia of the body and the seed stitch of the bands—no floppy stitches or messiness. Also, if the stockinette row gauge is drastically different from the seed stitch row gauge, it can be addressed by knitting body and band separately.


However, if I would have been paying attention when I started knitting the fronts, I would have cast on the extra stitches for the bands to begin with and put them on a stitch holder after the bottom seed stitch band was done.

Then, I could have gone back and knit them separately. [I've done this before with a Rowan pattern and the result was quite nice]. This would have avoided the icky seam that now runs the entire length of the band. The good news is that the seam disappears for most of it's length. It's only at the bottom where seed stitch meets seed stitch that it's noticeable.

It's just a small detail; but by this point I have enough experience that I should have been able to anticipate it.

I am now working on the buttonhole band for the third time. I think I've finally got buttonholes I can live with; and, due to the Presidents' Day holiday, I have an extra day off to work on finishing. [Yay!]

And speaking of Presidents' Day: Haven't you always wanted your own collection of talking action figure US Presidents?

[Apparently, Dubya is the frowniest American president ever, even when hitching a ride onto an aircraft carrier. In contrast, Bill was a very happy guy].

[I had a hard time figuring out whether it's President's Day or Presidents' Day. I still don't really know].

08:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

November 05, 2003

Before and after

OK, before...

slightly daunting

...and after.

see, that wasn't so bad

Any questions?

[I'm so very, very tired; it's hard to get anywhere with anything right now].

06:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

November 02, 2003

Controlled Chaos

I've been pretty scarce around here again, mostly because I'm presently overwhelmed by life.

A week from tomorrow I take off for a conference in Austin, TX, at which I will be giving my first real presentation in front of people I don't know. I've done plenty of poster presentations at conferences and given many talks to groups of familiar people, but never a 'real' talk in front of a 'real' audience. Of course, it doesn't help that I'm still analyzing part of my data, or that I had to move out of my office for next week because of remodeling.

Actually, half the people in our research group have been displaced and the contents of their offices are piled in all the remaining available spaces. This is not exactly conducive to productivity. I guess the good news in that when I return from the conference I will have a repainted, recarpeted office full of custom built furniture. This was supposed to be a reward for us, but with all the comedy of errors involved in ordering and scheduling, it feels more like a punishment.

To counter all the craziness at work, I've been taking refuge in my knitting. Talk about chaos.


I've finally reached the intarsia at the top of the sleeves for CPS. I started off knitting the sleeves at the same time and was going to work on them one at a time when I reached this point, but now it just doesn't seem necessary.

While this may look like a total nightmare, it's actually not that bad. The Jo Sharp yarn doesn't get tangled and the lengths are short enough that butterflies aren't necessary. I weave in as I go. The extra concentration this requires is very calming. I can work my way across, tiding everything up in a way I can't manage with the rest of life right now.

There's other knitting going on as well. I'm almost don't with the third block of my Manos afghan [have I mentioned that?]; I've been knitting catnip mice for the cats of all my friends and neighbors; and yesterday I sat out in the front yard and knit on a sock. More front yard sock knitting is on the agenda for today. Today is one of the most gloriously beautiful autumn days I have ever seen.

I was cleaning out the memory card in the camera and found a few pictures I never got around to showing.

the circle of mice

These are some of the mice (unstuffed) that I sent for the Mouse-a-thon. I hope they serve the cause well.

Gigantor Kitty

Here's Molly next to the minican that came with my awesome new trash can. Molly likes the way it make her look like a big cat.

Finally, here's a bit of diversion via The Internet Tourbus. Are you the ultimate hostess? Play RSVP and find out. [Hey, something from 'Lifetime: Television for Women' that doesn't involve the depiction of the imperilment of women and/or children! Although I'm a woman, I'm obviously not their target audience.].

07:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

April 23, 2003


Today, I found the website of my favoritest comic strip in the whole world, Mutts by Patrick McDonnell. This sweet and whimsical strip manages to bring a smile to the lips of even a pessimistic cynic like me. Yesh, it does.

Thanks for all the kind comments about Mosaic. I'm particularly proud of it and I'm glad to have had the opportunity to have make it. Just to clear up any confusion: I finished it back in 2001 and I do wear it even though I never put any buttons on it. By now I don't think the buttons are necessary?I would probably never wear it buttoned anyway. However, it does have a lovely set of button holes which match up along the outside and inside facing of the front band.

pubah asked, "do you find that you are able to achieve any rhythm in your knitting when doing intarsia?" Good question.

As I've mentioned, I am strongly attracted to geometric patterns and currently seem to be in a square and rectangle phase. Patterns like these translate very well into intarsia and really don't end up being much less "rhythmic" than plain stockinette. In a stripey pattern like CPS, colors tend to change all on the same row (this was also true for Checkers). The breaks in rhythm really only come when new colors are added on a row, the twisting of colors along a row isn't distracting at all (for instance, not any more than a cable would be). So, with CPS, once I've set all the color changes I can knit for six to eight rows before I have to stop and change colors again. To me, this seems pretty similar to the experience of knitting a Fair Isle where colors change every so many rows, the major difference being the lack of purl rows in stranded knitting.

Changing or adding colors is even less disruptive when I precut all the lengths for several stripes. I can then just pick up the segments I need as I come to them. One advantage of knitting patterns composed of quadrangles is that it certainly makes it easy to predetermine the lengths of yarn needed for each color block.

When I first started knitting the back, I figured out approximately how much yarn I was using for a predetermined number of stitches (e.g., about 7" of yarn for every ten stitches). I then looked at the chart and calculated how many stitches were in each block. [And you thought geometry would never be useful!] A 4 by 8 block would contain 32 stitches (4*8=32). Since there are 7 inches for every 10 stitches (7/10), how many inches will I need for 32 stitches (X/32)? The length of yarn required is (32*7)/10, or X=22.4 inches. [Ha! Algebra too!] I add 4 inches to allow for tails to weave and round up for the fudge factor; and so, for a 32 stitch block I will need a 27" length of yarn. [Now, if I could just get calculus in there somehow, I would be truly happy]. I haven't bothered to do this calculation for all the blocks, for the large blocks I just leave the ball attached. I don't bother with bobbins and even try to avoid using butterflies when I can. I just let the short lengths dangle; it makes detangling easier.

I could expound more on this topic and may do so in a day or two, but that's enough for one evening.

09:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 21, 2003


What started my fascination with the much maligned knitting technique, intarsia?


Sometime in the late 1990's I bought a used copy of Kaffe's Classics, a purchase influenced primarily by my desire for two patterns?the Foolish Virgins jacket and the Mosaic waistcoat?although almost every pattern appealed to me to some degree. Although, I had been knitting for awhile, I'd never seen Fassett's designs before and didn't know anything about intarsia, but I vowed that I would learn and make at least one of these sweaters. I was still several years away from being able to consider cutting holes in my knitting, and at the time it made more sense to me to knit a sweater out of hundreds of little scraps on yarn.

Mosaic appeared to be the easier design to me, so I figured I'd give that one a shot first. [It's really sweet how naive I was]. The design on this sweater is based on an ancient mosaic Fassett saw in Italy. Through use of shading and perspective, it appears to be composed of interlocking ribbons of color.

The first hurdle was finding the yarn. I was soon to find out that the yarn called for in the design, Rowan Donegal Lambswool Tweed, had been discontinued. [This was the first of many times that Rowan has broken my heart]. However, it hadn't been off the market long and was still not too difficult to come by with just a little persistence. I managed to compile all the original colors in Lambswool Tweed in a relatively short period of time and almost all at the original list price. I wonder how much more difficult and expensive it would be now.

But at the time I was lucky and dumb and still believed in miracles so all doors were open to me and all things were still possible. I bravely set out to knit my first intarsia sweater. I looked for what little I could find on the technique and didn't come up with much, but that didn't stop me. I found almost no information about how to weave in the ends, so at first, I didn't. I would just stop using one color and start using the next and would periodically go back and figure out my own solution. Eventually, I figured out a series of techniques for joining and weaving in ends, strictly through trial and error.

All my sins are hidden

I got almost all the way done with the back before the thing happened that led to the great and rapid weight gain I've talked about before. Of all the sweaters in progress that would no longer fit my new super plus size frame, this was the one and upset me the most. The pattern was only written in one size and the chance that I would ever be able to locate enough additional yarn to increase the size anyway were dwindling. I shoved the whole thing in a box and forgot about it for a year.

But it was still lurking, waiting for me. When I was ready, it was one of my inspirations for losing weight. After I was sure it would fit me again, I dug it out of it's box and finished it in a surprisingly short amount of time. Well, almost finished it, I never did find buttons I was happy with.

My triumph

07:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 13, 2003

Inside Information

I thought I would show you the inside of CPS and how I am weaving in my ends.

Yikes! Good thing it's on the inside!

As you can see, it's a bit different than the inside of Checkers. For Checkers, I wove in along the purl bumps and color joins with minimal distortion on the right side. That didn't work for this design and with this yarn?there was too much distortion of the stitches. I had to find a different way to weave in the ends.

I had previously purchased a copy of Intarsia: A Workshop for Hand & Machine Knitting, a book produced by Sealed With a Kiss, Inc. I read it at the time I got it, but then put it on the shelf because the techniques they described didn't seem necessary for the design I was working on at the time. In fact, for another intarsia design I've done these techniques would have been almost impossible given the characteristics of the yarn. However, when it came to figuring out what to do for this design, this booklet provided some real help. Most knitting reference books give details about twisting the yarns to avoid gaps in intarsia, but almost none give any specific guidance about weaving in the ends.

To weave in ends for this design I'm taking a small tapestry needle and weaving the ends on the back though individual plies of the yarn along a diagonal. I weave about four stitches and then turn back and weave in the other direction. This yarn is pretty sticky and I don't expect that the ends will be working loose any time soon, but this will make extra sure that they don't.

Sometimes it feels like I'm the only knitter who actually enjoys doing intarsia. I wouldn't like to have to do it exclusively, but I like to add it in the mix. I do get tired of all the knitters who tell me, "I hate intarsia, I'll never do it". And I should care...why? I understand, it's not for everyone. I don't like all intarsia designs. Frankly, I'm horrified by designs like these, but some of these are pretty cool and Jo Sharp and Mission Falls have some other designs that interest me. And of course there are some of those early Kaffe Fassett designs from Glorious Knits and Kaffe's Classics. [I can't say I'm inspired by his more recent designs though].

And as tedious as intarsia seems to some, I don't mind it. I weave in every couple of rows as I go and I find it as engrossing and relaxing as the knitting itself. For me, this isn't any worse than twisting a cable and certainly better than making bobbles. [Ugh]. I've said it before, I actually like fiddlely crafts. I could probably get into something like building a ship in a bottle or painting on grains of rice.

08:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 28, 2003

Woo Hoo!

Checkers is done!

Woo hoo!

However, I must be the anti-Wendy, because I've been working on it since November...

...of 2001.

I admit, in the intervening time I did knit my first Fair Isle sweater, completed two afghans and lots of socks (all gifts), and got 2/3 of the way through a Philosopher's Wool cardigan [there was also that pesky doctoral defense]; but I really am determined to be a bit more resolute in my knitting. Having so many open projects is stressful, and I do not knit to add to the stress in my life. This is going to be hard for me because I love the promise and excitement of starting a new project. Even now, I have the yarn for for two tempting new sweaters staring me in the face. But,

Maybe you can help me out. Right now I have two sweaters in the works?Cables & Lace and Kilim (the Philosopher's Wool). Which do you think I should finish next?

Here's the progress on Kilim. The body is worked in the round so I'm almost ready to start the steeks for the arm holes. [I had a picture of Cables & Lace a few days ago].


09:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)