Saturday, September 30, 2006

Learning on the Fly

One of the reasons I knit, is to learn. So the majority of my projects have been progressive in difficulty.

  1. Garter St square
  2. the Ribbed for Her Pleasure scarf from S&B (purling)
  3. striped scarf (color work)
  4. hat (in the round)
  5. felting (in the round and Kitchener Stitch)
  6. socks (well just socks!)
  7. sweaters (following pattern and piecing)
  8. Norwegian sweaters (steeeeeeeking!)
Now I'm onto 'designing'. And let me tell you, it's scary. I have a vision, which makes me sound psychotic or something. Anyway, I saw a graphic pattern, loved it and wanted it to be a bag. Went to Stitches and found THE perfect handles for said bag and it started developing in my mind.( check them out! Their stuff is amazing!)
I wanted a messenger bag with plaid back and front, a grey solid piece under the flap and with a black gusset. But here was my 'inspiration', a short row fitted gusset. You know, you turn a heel and the knitting TURNS. So why not use 2 heel turns to make the gusset a 'U' shape and make it fit better and not give as much. Woohoo! Great idea. People were impressed. I charged forth.

And now I'm on the clever gusset. And I'm scared. Very rarely have I been 'scared' of knitting. But I've always been following a pattern, so if it actually completely belly-flopped I could point the finger of blame at someone else. No more net now. And well, I've done short row shaping in patterns before, but I hadn't completely wrapped my mind around it. You know, I didn't 'get' it all the way. But that didn't stop me, nope. I just grabbed a sock pattern and manipulated it to what I needed. Only it didn't work, imagine that.

It looked like a sock heel. Nice and deep, and cushy for a heel..but way too deep for a bag turn.

So I frogged. BUT I did begin to figure out the short row shaping. I'd just try again and not make it as deep, so don't do as many rows.

Sounds good.

And it seems ok. (second image) It's not as deep and looks like I wanted, but felting will tell.

I'm still debating felting the bag in pieces or sewn together. I'm leaning towards in pieces, since the bottom of the bag will be knit in a different direction than the front, so they will felt at different ratios..or so I'd imagine. And then I imagine nasty puckering. But if I felt separately, I can sew the whole thing together on my sewing machine, making it more durable? I do know I'm going to line it, well if it actually comes together right! But I'll hold off on that till I get there.

Lastly I learned a bit about needle felting, and I purchased rovings that match the bag (red, black, cream) , plus a felting needle. What am I going to do with them? I've no idea..again cross that bridge when/if I actually get there!

I did finally finish the massive expansive of boring st st. I ran out of gray, so I went ahead and did the last bit in black. I think it will help pull it together colorwise as well.

Now I just need to finish the gusset (am about 1/3 way done) and pick up a garter border on the edges of the plaid piece. Then I can felt. *eek* I'm also toying with the idea of external pockets and perhaps a 'roo pouch' attached with I-cord or maybe even a clasp of some sort.

We'll just have to see how inspired I am, and if it pulls together!!

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Ok, straight St St is painful! absolutely painful!
I know I just did a Norwegian Sweater in the round St St..but @!&^ this is boring! I'm trying to get the front portion of the plaid bag done in a nice grey heather..boring boring boring..Aieeee!

I'm at 8 1/2 inches and I have to get to 16. Ugh.

Here's to hoping I make it.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Knitty Retreat 2006!

Ok, so if you have a bunch of knitter friends, and you can't get manage to afford or get to a Knitting Retreat, make your own! Yep that's what a handful of my friends and I did. It was so much fun. We just rented a 4 bedroom condo about an hour away from home and spent the weekend with knitting and wine! Got to love that!
My hand honestly is sore from all the knitting. Here's what I managed to do!

It's the plaid part of my messenger bag. I still need to knit the gusset and the front piece, which is on the needles right now. Not much to look at, but the plaid piece is really interesting. I 'borrowed' the idea from another pattern. You do a rib with stripes and then crochet in the ditch of the purl. Way cool and very effective.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Norwegians Rock!

At least when it comes to sweater construction! I took my class at my LYS yesterday and it was given by the amazing Therese Chynoweth, Technical Knitter at Dale of Norway and designer. That woman has forgot more about knitting than I will EVER learn. She's friendly and so willing to share every 'trick' she's learned. Trust me, some of the things she shared were invaluble. Such as:

1. When sewing on a sleeve, begin at the top of the shoulder and sleeve. Pull HALF of your darning yarn through and then stitch one half of the sleeve on at a time, from the top down. Doh! This totally helps keep it even and ensures you have enough yarn.

2. To block, soak your woolen, lay it out on a towel and roll it up like a tootsie roll. Place the roll in the your washing machine and let your machine go through it's spin cycle. THEN block the item out on a board. If wrinkles to occur, use an iron to steam them out. Don't press, just use the steam.

3. You need 3 wraps around the top of the sleeve worth of yarn to have enough to put it on.

These are just a FEW of the jewels that I can remember.
Now I know you are dying to see what the sweater looks like, aren't you? :)

Here's what I started with, my completed homework.

Then I sewed around the steeks. Which was a bit scary at first. I had visions of my bobbin eating my sweater..and the feed-dogs jamming and chewing a hole in the middle of it...oi...ruining my brand new sewing machine in the process. Yep, my last poor little Kenmore was dropped when we moved. Right on the wheel thing. It did a great job for me for over 12 years. I don't sew much, so I refuse to buy some expensive computerized thing I don't need. This is a great machine for $150. Good for home decor, patching things and apparently steeks! Yay!

But I did it.

The class was terrifying. I, unfortunately, did not bring my camera..and I think I'm glad. I swear I was pale when Therese said to 'CUT YOUR STEEKS'. She said it so flippantly, it made my stomach churn. But in a way it was freeing. Slicing your work right up the middle! After that she taught us how to join the shoulders, inset the sleeves and pick up the front sides of the cardigan.
Here is my finished project.
I can't decide if I like the inside or the outside better. Take a know you want to! The way all your cut ends are sealed behind a knit part is AMAZING.
Isn't it beautful???? That's the inside of the sweater! I am in awe of the Norwegians. They really know their...stuff! I think doing your first Norwegian is akin to turning your first sock heel, it's magic stuff. And heady. I'm sure the yarn gods are just waiting to take me down a few notches, but that's ok because according to Stephanie The Yarn Harlot I am now a Knitter with a K. I've steeked baby!

Then there's the best part.
Abby's smile. (Well that and the sweater actually FITS Casey!)

So I'm still aglow with accomplishment, which as mentioned, assures the failure of the next 5 projects to come off my needles or something. What is on my needles? My Plaid bag in progress.

Sorry it's blurry, kinda odd. I decided to go with the white anyway. I didn't reswatch with the gray because I really liked the white. I've heard I should just felt it longer, so we'll see. After all I handfelted my swatch under the kitchen faucet. I've also moved up to an 6 needle from a 10, again for supposed better felting. (I've the oddest feeling the Yarn Gods are laughing at me...)

Anyway, will let you know how it turns out! I do recommend everyone give the Norwegian thing a try one of these days!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Homework Done!

My kitty snuggled up with some Helio!

Yay! Homework is finished..or I should say, knit. I still need to get out my sewing machine and stitch around the steeks. The large piece square piece is a swatch to learn how to put a zipper in a neck. Should be a fun class! Will let you know how it goes.

Now I'm onto the my first real attempt at designing. I want to make a felted plaid messenger bag. I've made a swatch and also poked around online to find info on how Lamb's Pride worsted felts. So we'll see how I fare!

I have to admit I'm not sure I want to be working on this. I checked out a bunch of knitting books and really want to try out a bunch of things. Knitting On the Edge is amazing and I've so many amazing things in my stash. I keep focused on one project because I know that if I have more than one thing really going on the needles, I never finish anything!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival

Wow. The fibers were amazing, I just wish more of the Yarn Market had been open. The website didn't mention that the Market didn't 'officially' open until 5 pm that night. Ugh! I actually had a gorgeous Lantern Moon basket in my hand I was going to buy and the poor woman couldn't sell it to me because she didn't have money yet!

But I did manage to get some goodies and I saw tons of stuff. Including border collies at work. Way cool. If I hadn't been with my 2 year old daughter, I'd have stayed all day to watch. They really are amazing. Some of the rovings I saw made me think about spinning. Someday I want to dye my own yarn and I might as well try to spin a bit.

Ok, here's the tour!

There was a booth full of beautiful mohair. I'm going to do lace eventually. So much yarn, so little knitting time!
Some beautiful hand dyed yarn.

Now onto what I purchased. This is some amazing handpainted fingering Alpaca. I might do some sort of lace type shawl, or I could carry it with some filament and make socks with it. I love the colors!

Then I got this amazing Mohair, Silk and Wool Blend. Again, I've not idea what I'm going to knit with it, but goodness my stash is a happier place with it!

I had a good time and hope that next year I'll have more time, more money and a project in mind!

Wednesday, September 6, 2006


School. New TV Season. Football.

Yarn catalogs and serious knitting pangs!

Yes, fall is almost here. You can feel it in the air, and I have an itch to do some cabling or something bulky and warm!

I did a swatch for my felted bag. I'm going to swap out the white for a heathered gray. White just doesn't felt the same as other colors. I've heard rumor it has to do with the bleaching process. I also want the design larger than that, so I'll tweak it for the next swatch with the gray.

I finally finished the body of the doll sweater. Now I need to do two sleeves and a 10 in x 10 in swatch. Whee. It's pretty dreary work, but Abby's excited about it. She's going to give it to Casey (her American girl doll) for Christmas.

Friday, September 1, 2006


That's my child knitting a mitten. I, by the way, have never made a mitten, but my six year old is all over it. We found a very neat book at our LYS and well, I can never say no to a book let alone a Knitting book. We bought it, the appropriate yarn and needles. As soon as we were home she had me show her how to cast on and she was off!

Here's a link to the book, Sunny's Mittens by Robin Hansen. It's cute and the knitting is bang on.

I bought some more yarn to restart my Homework and it's look much better. I really think it has to do with watching Abby knot. She's having so much fun working on something other than a scarf.

I knit too far into the evening while watching Andre play. It's was enough to make me ill. I love him, have watched him his whole career and don't think I can stand to watch him retire!

But this is where I am today.

Much better. I ended up going down a size in my needles and the silly gauge is a bit smaller than called for. Ugh! But the tension is better and more even. I'm also throwing rather than picking. Picking seems to be a bit faster and is easier on my wrists, but my tension isn't consistent. Live and learn!