Sunday, March 31, 2013

Can You Hear the Mice Singing?

You know that scene in the Disney cartoon of Cinderella where the mice are putting together a dress and singing along...that is what went through my head as I worked on this scarf.  If you haven't heard it then here is a link.

The gist is the two sisters throw away a sash and some pearls because they are so last season.  The mice pick them up and create something absolutely stunning for Cinderella.

I have three yarns that have been thrown away by my friends and I'm going to call them Cinderella yarns.

The first culprit was quite a trouble maker.  Her sister skein had been wound on a ball winder and during the knitting process pulled herself inside out.  Once ribbon yarn has been allowed some freedom it gets really tangled and that is when we met.  I lovingly untangled this yarn for about a week.  Slowly I knit on the project as a little ribbon became free and it was slow patient, meditative work but in the end my friend had a beautiful scarf for all that trouble.  She didn't want to even touch the other ball so it became mine.

The next ribbon yarn fell into similar circumstances; her brother had given the knitter so much grief she didn't even want to look at the second skein...I took him in also.

The third ribbon yarn didn't have any kin and from the cast on she was so despised that I had to take her in too.

And there they sat until I thought about putting all these lonesome ribbons together and see what they could create when someone believes in them.  "cue the mice"

I started with the left over black cotton from the baby sweater because I thought it would be stabilizing but in my wildest imaginations I never saw the stark contrast that the black provided against the colorful ribbons.  I fell in love with this combination and from that moment on I just have loved working on this project.  It is so simple yet, so rewarding.  :)

I love knits that make you feel good.  I just adore fibers that make my fingers sing as I work them.  I finished my prayer shawl by the way and it is soooo soft!  I enjoyed working with the Billow more then I can say.  And when you have to bind off almost 600 stitches in the end...that is saying something.  :)

Sorry no picture; I was so happy to have it done...I packed it up in it's mailing box and got it all taped up when I remembered.  Ooops!

In the last week I actually completed a lot.  I finished this Fair Isle hat.  While I have done Fair Isle before this was the first time I knit Continental and English at the same time. It was also the first time I did the floats right.  I took a fabulous class with my friend at the Mannings from Missy Burns and we had a blast.  It was one of those aha moments that you don't know how you functioned before you knew the key.  Well, I know how I functioned.  I would pick up the yarn and move it so it was in the right place and there was no hole...and well, I got really fast at it...but still.  There is no substitute for knowing the correct way to do something.  I'm really happy with my hat.  My stranding got better and my hands started to understand that this was the way we were doing this by the third motif and was a whole new world.  

So now I can redesign my Iphone bag and finish the bag o' Fair Isle that I started...and make sweaters for so many things...babies, stuffed animals and possibly a vest for me.  I've had the pattern for years and certainly enough Palette to last for at least 10 vests.  Ah, the doors that have been opened...its like a magic wand was waved over my head and I've been "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Booed" by the knitting faerie.  :)

I've been putting a whole lot of my energy into a lace class I will be teaching.  The shawl the students are making will start with simple lace techniques and grow as they learn new stitches and such.  It is a joy to figure out the motifs and watch them knit into being.  Right now I'm test knitting on Malabrigo chunky.  I like to see what the lace will look like in different yarns so if someone wants to use something different I have first hand knowledge of what it will look like.  Besides...Malabrigo is so soft and yummy and I have been on this soft tactile kick lately.

May what you create give you joy,


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mr. Squishy

I love this scene with Dorie from Finding Nemo.  So when I began my brioche scarf it only seemed natural to name it Mr. Squishy.  I wanted to make something special for Mr. Dogwalker who walks the work dog ( I don't have a dog myself) and I found this.  It is Schoppel-Wolle's Gradient in 1535.  Schoppel-Wolle are the wonderful people who make the Zauerball and lots of other beautiful yarns.
This yarn is squishy to begin with but with the gentle barking of brioche (that is a mouthful) it becomes even lighter...even squishier...if that is possible.

I am in love with brioche.  First of all it provides a fun dialogue as you knit.  "Oh, hon I can't stop while I'm burping, I'll loose my place."  or "Not now I'm barking!"  Ah, yes fun stuff.

The knit brioche stitch is called the brk or bark and the purl brioche stitch is called the brp or burp.  I am just doing the barking right now but with the gradient yarn it creates such a lovely effect.  Next I will be making a project with two colors so there will be plenty of burping involved.  See isn't this fun?  ;)

For those of you have not knit brioche before here is the recipe for an even number of stitches. An odd number would be a different recipe...with a different flavor...and selvedges...but I digress.

CO loosely an even number of stitches.  If you are a tight knitter use a bigger needle or two needles held together to cast on your stitches.  Drop the second needle before you start knitting.

Things you need to know:

yf sl1yo - Hold the yarn in front of your work, when you slip the yarn is already in front so the yo will be formed by the next action (K1 or brk1).  You always slip purlwise.

brk or bark stitch is made by knitting the stitch that was made on the previous row together with it’s YO.  When you look at your needle you will have a stitch by itself (that is the stitch you slip) and two stitches clustered together.  Those two will be the ones you knit together.  

Set up row: *yf s1yo, K1* rep ** to end 

Row 1: *yf s1yo, brk1* rep ** to end

Rep Row 1 until desired length and bind off loosely.
For the first 10 rows your brioche will look strange and then suddenly, you will see the pattern develop like magic.  I just love this stitch and the fabric it makes.  :)

For this week's other project I am knitting Summer Flies again.  I just love this pattern; I have made 8 of them now.  A client of ours had lung removal surgery and I just felt I had to do something; so I am making her a prayer shawl out of this.  It is Knit Picks new Billow line and it is a bulky squishy pima cotton that knits up fast and is soft like a cloud.  I must say I really love this yarn.  It feels luxurious against my fingers and I don't want to stop knitting it.

And finally...Happy Spring!  May the blessings of Ostra fill you with new ideas to plant, nurture and grow over the coming year.  May they bring you a beautiful harvest in the Fall.  :)

My goals this year are simple but perfect for where I am in my path:

Air - Design
Fire - own my Talent
Water - be Joyful
Earth - be Prosperous
Spirit - appreciate the Beauty of nature

This year all my affirmations have been placed in this egg that I made out of yarn I had around and about the house.  I figure all my left-overs have deep meaning to me.  I remember the projects they came from as stepping stones on my path as a knitter.  They are dear to me, which is why I have so much trouble throwing anything out.  I even keep small pieces for use as life lines and eyes or noses on stuffed toys.

Note: the crocuses are closed up tight because it was around freezing all day (it actually snowed today); but at least they are out heralding Spring is on it's way.

Bright blessings and happy crafting,


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Shooting the Curl

"The balanced energy is the birthing energy. I used to say that the birthing energy was all feminine -- it’s not. You have to push and you have to be. It’s such a potent example of the dance of the feminine and masculine together, the dance that is the creative energy of life!"
-- Joyce Irvine
I was looking at Serenity, which was my first design for my first class ever in March of '06, because I wanted to put it up as a free pattern on Ravelry.  I have never liked the way the edge curled into the stockinette.  I mean everyone knows that stockinette will curl which is why I put the garter edging on there.  I steamed the sucker and blocked it and still...curl.

One of my wonderful students and friends made me the spring-green scarf pictured above for Yule.  It is soft and yummy and I just love it...but there again, through no fault of that darn curl.  If you can't tell this is something that I wake up in the middle of the night mulling over.  So, instead of just thinking about it here is my attempt to find a solution.

ABBREVIATIONS (just in case you are new to knitting)
K         - Knit
K2tog - Knit the first and second stitches on the left-hand needle at the same time 
             - it is a right- slanting decrease
P          - Purl
YO       - yarn over, with the yarn in front knit your next stitch

Okay we tried garter stitch in the original pattern and failed...let's see if seed stitch fares any better.  Seed stitch is a nice little stitch that is totally reversible and great for edgings.  It is the top light-blue swatch in the above picture.

Seed stitch is usually created over an even number of stitches:
Row 1:     *K1, P1* rep **
Row 2:     *P1, K1* rep **
Rep Rows 1 and 2 for pattern

As long as you knit the purls and purl the knits you will find this easy.  I use a pink or purple marker on the row that starts with a purl (since they both begin with P) to help me remember where I am.  

Alas, this did not help.  The scarf curled after the seed stitch line.

Ribbing is usually used on the cuffs, neck or bottom of a sweater.  It allows the fabric to look smaller then it is but then still stretch to the actual a sleeve cuff.

Ribbing is usually created over an even number of stitches:

Row 1:     *K1, P1* rep **
Row 2:     *K1, P1 **
Rep Rows 1 and 2 for pattern

As long as you knit the knits and purl the purls you will find this easy.  

This technique would look silly on this scarf...and I'm sure the tenacious Serenity would find  a way to curl with the ribbing as well.

The un-ladder option just doesn't work with the pattern here..though I do love to knit a scarf and then drop every four stitches watching them unravel and adding lightness to the fabric.  

So, what I have learned is this pattern will curl with any edging I use.  The name of this scarf at this moment is not very descriptive of how I feel.  *breathe*

My next swatch will be eyelets. 

My last resort before I do something rash that I don't want to do is to leave one stockinette stitch surrounding the pattern and make the rest garter.  This might stabilize the fabric enough to tame the curl.  *crossing fingers*  (NOTE:  I tried this for funsies and the pattern was lost.)

Eyelets are just little columns or rows of YOs all lined up in a...well row or column   It is a nice little flourish and you can snake a ribbon through them to make a scarf extra pretty.  It is the bottom light-blue swatch in the above picture.

So with a four stitch border, the pattern would look like this:
Row 1:     K2, YO, K2tog

Knit your pattern and leave 4 stitches:
Row 1:     K2tog, YO, K2

Well, this didn't work either.  In fact Serenity curled up so fast you would think she was a bear going to hibernate for the winter.

So...*breathe* now I will try staggered eyelets.  This is a lovely effect; almost like twining vines.  It is the dark-green three-repeat swatch in the picture.

Okay, using a four stitch border it would look like this.  

Right side - because we knit from right to left.

Row 1:     K2, K2tog, YO
Row 2:     You can K2, P2 here or K all the stitches, or P all the stitches based on what you  are trying to achieve.  For this pattern I used K2, P2
Row 3:     K2, YO, K2tog
Row 4:     K2, P2

After the pattern we end with four stitches on the the left side:

Row 1:     YO, K2tog, K2
Row 2:     P2, K2
Row 3:     K2tog, YO, K2
Row 4:     P2, K2

Nope, didn't make a lick of difference  though it is very pretty and I like the raised effect achieved by purling on the back.

So my next attempt...hopefully my last...will incorporate a few of these techniques all in one hopeful prayer of a mishmash that maybe by all the techniques working together, I can conquer the dreaded curl.


The right side:

Row 1:     K2, K2tog, YO, K2
Row 2:     K2, P2, K2
Row 3:     K2, YO, K2tog, K2
Row 4:     K2, P2, K2

The left side:

Row 1:     K2, YO, K2tog, K2
Row 2:     K2, P2, K2
Row 3:     K2, K2tog, YO, K2
Row 4:     K2, P2, K2

This produces a larger garter boarder surrounding the staggered eyelets.  Employing this pattern has forced the right and left-slanting decreases to pop and become almost 3 dimensional ..or I've been staring at this way too long?

I am happy with the result.  :)  But it still did this :(

So, it is back to the drawing board...again.

Maybe, just maybe I have been looking at this whole thing wrong.  I've been trying to stop what is apparently natural in this pattern.  Gravity and other factors are at work here.  

If this was surfing; I'd be working with that curl...flowing through it...not trying to deny it's existence.

So, I sat down and thought about this and I thought a thought that had once come to me in a fleeting glimpse at night just before bed...why not just let it curl?  It is going to do it anyway.  In fact did you know the Harry Potter house movie scarves were all done in the round so they would not curl?

So, I have two ideas and one is to just knit this sucker in the round with lace on both sides and the darn staggered eyelets that I've grown to love after swatching them so many times, could be the border between the two sides.  Or...I could use a stitch that is guaranteed to curl and it can get it's curl on early on and we will both be happy.

I've decided to start with a stockinette border which is against everything I usually do.  I want it to match the sides so I will have to see if it rolls under or over on whether I begin with a purl row or a knit one.  The pattern for the edges will be simple:

Row 1:     K3, P3 - Pattern - P3, K3
Row 2:     P3, K3 - Pattern - K3, P3

Of course I will have to play with my stitch count since I just added six rows to this 30 stitch pattern...I'm not sure if bigger is better but at this point I won't give up my staggered eyelets.

Ooops I think I forgot there *breathe*...ahhhhhh.....better.  :)

I know the pictures a bit dark but this is the result.  My DH likes the other side the which would be:

Row 1:     P3, K3 - Pattern - K3, P3
Row 2:     K3, P3 - Pattern - P3, K3

They both have good and bad aspects.  The first which I will name "flat" is so neat to watch come into being.  The first stitch of the purl is all you see, the rest pull into themselves and disappear.  So it appears you have this solid border of stockinette.  The downside is it wanted to curl as well.  But maybe it can be blocked out.  I have not tried blocking this particular mod and won't be able to before this post is due out.  But I will let you know if it works in upcoming posts.

The other edge which I will name rolled is very akin to a i-cord.  It is a wonderful little edge but it too seems to want to roll a bit and the lace is lost in it's pull.  

So, I learned a lot and I'm still not happy with anything.  But I have some new ideas to try and I will either find something that flows with the curl or find a way to tame it.

Happy Knitting,


BTW:  The yarn is Knitpicks Swish Tonal in canopy.  I like it for stitch definition.  It reminds me of Cascade 220 and it actually has 220 yards.  I ripped this piece out more times then I would like to count and there was very little fuzz or degrading of the fibers.  This yarn can take a beating and still shines in bright beautiful colorways. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013


"What every man needs, regardless of his job or the kind of work he is doing, is a vision of what his place is and may be. He needs an objective and a purpose. He needs a feeling and a belief that he has some worthwhile thing to do. What this is no one can tell him. It must be his own creation."
-- Joseph M. Dodge

My Grandpa was a lineman with Ma Bell...Pop Pop was too...and so is my Brother-in-Law who works for Verizon...those black cables lines that surround most of us connect all these amazing men.  There are 114,000,000 cable lines crossing the US connecting us to friends and loved ones at the touch of a few buttons.  It really is quite magical to me how a voice can travel from place to place at any time of day or night.

This thought had me up at two in the morning and I had a vision of a cabled scarf that I could design to honor these men in my family who have kept us connected over the years.  I imagined three cable lines that come together in a unique sort of way.

So I found a cable pattern I liked called Fishernet.  It was four cable lines all perfectly happily flowing into each other; so I shook things up a bit by removing one of the cables.  Now it was asymmetrical and very wonky to say the least.  So I charted two possibilities one with the bulbous exaggerated cables and one with nice flowing cables.  The charting reminded me of one of those pictures you stare at and suddenly everything shifts and you see whatever was hidden.  Suddenly, I could see the cable lines as clear as if they were really there.

I brought both charts to Knit Night and the girls voted on the flowing cable so that will be the one I swatch.  From beginning to end a new design can take quite a bit of time but sometimes everything flows and falls into place quickly and that is always a nice surprise.  But I suppose most things are like that.  

I have knit a pattern with no trouble at all; all my numbers work the first time and it just flows.  And then I have knit a pattern which I tink back more then I knit and I am dreading each stitch.  Sometimes I have silly set backs that all can be chalked up to fate and not the pattern....such as this is the second day that I have forgotten a needle to finish my friend's baby sweater.  It has been that kind of week and it is only Tuesday.  *sigh*

Oh well, I still managed to get it done later that evening.  This cotton yarn is is Dark Horse, Desert Flower in black.  The pattern is Naughty Knots Top Down Baby Cardigan from February's Cast On.  I really enjoyed knitting this despite the fact I kept forgetting the needles.  

I adore the the sheep buttons that I got at the Knitter's Nest, sorry the picture came out blue.  I want to make this again in something bright; the black was hard to see at times but when you have a city baby who likes his dark colors...I just went with it.  lol

I've been working really hard to put our brand on my patterns and get them up on Ravelry.  I've been making folders for all the patterns and systematically going though a check list on each of them.  1) does the pattern work?,  2) layout the pattern, 3) photo shoot, 4) brand it, 5) check the whole thing again for accuracy and spelling and stuff and save it as a PDF...load it up and feel just a little freer.

The new ideas get folders too.  I get them to a point that I will be able to continue where ever I left off.  Which is where Linemen is.  It is all ready to be tested...and then I will make it reversible and test it again.   It all seems like a lot of work at times but when you see someone wearing something you designed and they tell you how much they love it...all the creation stress goes away.  Besides I really like the puzzle part of it.  Figuring out a pattern really is fun for me.  

I hope you all had a wonderful week; if not relax, make some tea and take some time to appreciate the wonderfulness that is you.

Happy crafting,

NOTE:  I had to change the settings to my comment feeds because of really bad spam.  Some of you said you couldn't read the little pictures with numbers and words and I agree: I can't either   So, I have moderated the comments.  I will try to keep up with them in a timely manner.  Thanks for your understanding.  Hugs!  :)

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Evolution of a Hood

Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.
-- A. A. Milne

The evolution of a pattern over a 3 year period

1. I found a pattern that I liked and it was really neat…a scarf that attaches to a hood to make a hooded scarf and decided to make it for a Christmas gift. It is now October.

2. After swatching I realize I’m not going to be able to deal with the back of the fabric and decide to redesign the cable to be reversible.

3. After messing up my math in every conceivable way and pulling my hair out, I chart the pattern correctly. There is much rejoicing. :)

4. The scarf is flawless and I love it. It is a joy to knit and I love the finished project. There is much happy dancing. :) It is now November.

5. Feeling on a wonderful high I use the same now tested cable pattern to replace the cable pattern on the old pattern’s hood and I am feeling pretty happy about how it looks and is making up.

6. I knit furiously finishing the hood and come to the grafting part and realize that I never took into account that:

One) the pattern grafted the two halves together so they would kinda be a blob and grow from one another and (Two) by using the reversible knitting technique in order for them to join properly the 2nd cable would have to be totally reversed from starting with a purl to the whole CF8 / CB8 mess. There was much gnashing of teeth, swearing and crying. :( It is now the day before Yule.

7. A good friend promises me in the new year she will rip the hood out with me…the salt tears are not good for the silken wool. :( It is now the day after Yule.

8. I do not have the will to reknit this hood part again and I make the scarf longer and give it as a gift and it is loved and appreciated. Happy dance. :) It is the day before Christmas.

9. During the long weekend I scour Ravelry and my books for ideas and find another hood / scarf idea I like. I redesign the cables into smaller ones and actually get the math right on the first try. Amazement ensues. :) It is two days after Christmas.

10. I realize that in order for the hood to “grow” from the scarf I must employ the use of short rows. I spend two weeks swatching short rows until DH begins to think they all look the same. It is now January.

11. I begin on scarf section and tweak design six times before liking the smaller reversible cables. Wild cable happiness abounds. It is now February.

12. It seems the hood has a will of its own and my friend cannot rip it out to save her life. We plan a day and I make the cut that will hopefully unravel my hood and give me back my pretty Noro. It hurts but we do it and now the hood is in one big ball. I place the ball back in the stash and try and forget how much I loved that hood. :(

13. I painstakingly line by line design a hood using Cat Bordhi’s method of knitting short rows. I am hopeful this is the month I will learn how to knit her little sock. *hah* I am still happy with the scarf portion and the pattern is complete but not yet tested. Hello March…

14. I’m getting ready to start the increases for the hood and so far so good.

15. Life goes insane and creative knitting falls into the drain of disparity for the rest of year.

16. It is February again and I have learned how to knit Cat Bordhi’s socks thanks to a knit group that I am part of. I resolve that it will help me with my hood and spend many sleepless nights worrying about “Larinking”.

17. February is ending and I have two socks to pass on and my creative mojo is coming back from its long hiatus. I feel that I can take on the world…or at least the hood.

18. March; okay I'm getting down to business here. I am fired up by the Aries energy coming in and I want to see this pattern birth into life like the blooms that are starting on the trees. Starting again with two cables running up the scarf I am excited that maybe this will be the time that I figure this all out.

The cables are pretty little things filling me with hope.  I get to the hood part and I split them and everything goes as planned.  *there is much rejoicing*.  I decide this is enough for today and happily go to sleep.

19.  Somehow it is April and I have not worked on the hood.  I pick it up and totally lose everything Cat had taught me.  I fiddle with short rows until I have something I can be okay with and move on.

20.  My beloved Father dies suddenly and I cannot seem to knit anything that is complicated.  I have to push to finish my project for my class and can't believe I managed to design something and teach it when my heart is filled with such sorrow.  *side note:  yes I was cheating on my hat/scarf with my cowl design...but playing with the sugar was just too tempting)*

21.  June flies by and I knit here and there but charting looks too intimidating.  I start doubting myself and feel like I should just rip the thing out.  I am pretty down...I cry all the time in private.  I talk to Dad and he tells me that I shouldn't be sad because he is still with me.  Every bill I pay for Mom, every call I have to make breaks me down.  But the hat/scarf is patient.  It doesn't judge me and I am thankful for that.

22.  We start playing Skyrim since hubby works for their parent company and we've been wanting to play for a while...I've expounded on my gaming before so this should be no surprise.  I found this game slowly bringing me back to myself.  It is hard to explain.  But knowing I could set out and finish a Quest gave me courage I could do another.  The battle music filled me with a desire to go forward.  We all get inspired in different ways: Skyrim helped me get through the melancholy haze I was in and embrace life again.  While I watched my son and DH play I began to knit again with a ferocity that surprised even me.

23.  With over 20 dragons under my belt I was feeling more like my old self but quite different.  I was tired of being afraid of failing; and I just jumped into my pattern and ripped the whole thing out and started over.  By the end of the weekend I had tested the cables and they looked good.  By the end of the week I was finished with the hood and the cables were back together going down the other scarf.

24.  December.  I bring my finished triumph to knit night and one of the girls says it is a little big.  Not deterred in the least...I start working on sizes.

25.  January.  After so much math that I cannot comprehend if 2+2 actually equals 4 anymore; I have three sizes to show for all my work.  I still need to test them which will have to stay on the back burner for a while.  But I think the math will ring true when I do.

26.  February.  After much work and considerable effort my beautiful hooded scarf gets a photo shoot.  I am proud that I finished it.  I can feel Dad smiling in Heaven.

Happy crafting,