Tag Archives: Knitting

Like knitting with an earthworm made of kittens!

Stressful job is stressful, sewing-room setup is moving at a crawl, social life is hypersocial, and knitting is … well, a swathe of ambitious, half-finished designs from my own patterns scattered around my house like acorns planted by a drunk squirrel.

Cast-onBlob!

I’m knitting on an incredibly simple project straight from the patternĀ (OK, OK, with an added cable and at a recalculated gauge, but still so straightforward I could do it in my sleep) on big needles with soft, round yarn the thickness of a squirming nightcrawler and my god, people, I forgot knitting could go this fast. A high-level yarn organization binge the other week (read: I retrieved all the skeins stashed in oddball places around the house — under the bed?! — and put things into bins vaguely sorted by weight. Mostly) proved that most of my yarn maxes out at worsted weight, with more recent purchases hovering more around sock- and sport-weight that takes about a million years to knit.

My pattern tastes tend toward the innovative, heavily constructed and technically challenging. If I can graft instead of sew, I do. If I can complicate the cast-on for something stretchier, sturdier, more reversible … I do. So this? Stockinette. Knitted in the round. Raglan. This project is wildly, fabulously, mind-bogglingly, unbelievably fast.

… except for the part where I decided I would switch the nearly five feet of long-tailed cast-on to an icord cast-on. Knit a total of four stitches to make a single cast-on stitch, making 20 minutes of work into a two-day snake-wrestling match that baffled nearby mass transit riders?

DON’T MIND IF I DO.

Good lord, knitting a pattern as written?

I’ve finished my Simple Knitted Bodice and, other than being completely alarmed at how fat I seem to have gotten since I cast on (WTF, desk job? WTF, buying unhealthy lunches downtown every day? How could you do this to me?!) I’m very pleased with it. The fit’s great, which it had better be after I abandoned the pattern as written to custom-fit the damn thing to my spreading body. I think there are a couple of loose ends of yarn still dangling inside the thing, but they don’t poke out too often, so I’ll wait until I’m having a Type-A, caffeine-induced OCD kind of evening to take care of them.

In the meantime, I’m making Coachella. It’s a relief to be following a pattern mostly as written, though I’m doing a slipped-stitch pinstripe instead of plain stockinette and I’ve tweaked the armholes a little to fit better. As I posted in the comments of the author’s blog:

As I’ve been working on it, I’ve been thinking about the initial blogland squawking about wearing it with a bra and I think I might’ve cracked it. When I first saw the pattern, I thought “No way could I wear that! I have to wear a bra!” and it wasn’t until I read through it that I realized it was meant to be worn with a halter bra.

The thing is, a halter or convertible bra for a D cup is significantly bigger than one for an A or B cup. The strap around the back can be close to 2″ wide, and the cups extend much further to the side, almost in the armpit. A D-cup halter bra needs way more armhole and middle-back coverage. Mine would be sticking out all over in a Coachella as written.

Knowing that, I’m moving the bottoms of the armholes up, closer to the armpit, which should solve that problem for me. It’s an easy fix, and I’m stoked! Yay!

It’s got bust shaping, too, so I’m stoked all over. Though I’m knitting it in 100 percent cotton, which really, really shows off the stitches, and any imperfections you make along the way. I’m not making any errors, but I sure as hell am paying attention to how I weave in ends, and I have a feeling I’ll be unpicking a couple of those weaves and redoing them.

I’m also keeping a close eve on the rolled hem, since as a rule I hate rolled hems and this one’s rolling into itself in a thick sausagey curl that I don’t like at all. I have a feeling blocking will take care of it, but in case it doesn’t, I’m constantly poking at it, trying to guess how much work it would be to crochet it in place. I’m probably doing the bottom hem in ribbing, to keep that from rolling, since I’m probably not crazy enough to unpick a cast-on edge and reknit it … though I’m not ruling that out completely. It’s a bunch of extra work either way, but I’ve given up on talking myself out of my pathological disgust for things like rolled hems, cilantro and instant miso soup, and if this one doesn’t convince me, it’s history.

Next up: The Nieuwmarkt Pullover. I’ll do it as a zippered cardigan, since the fickle San Francisco weather doesn’t lend itself to big wool sweaters that you can’t adjust. I’m also toying with the idea of doing it as a hoodie, because damn I love hoodies, and they’re one of the only exemptions from my decluttering, “don’t have ten of everything” rules. (The others are neckties, skulls, and art. Though since I now have twice as much art as wall space, I might have to ban new art, especially since I’m moving this month to a room half the size of my current one. Sheesh.)

Sweater as avoidance

I’m still working on the simple knitted bodice. I reknitted the bottom and overshot the mark by a few inches, realized I needed to make the front a little longer, figured out that even knitting the seed-stitch hem on needles two sizes smaller still didn’t keep it from flipping, and ripped back several inches. And if I redo that hem, I have to redo the sleeve hems to match, which is fine because they were a little too short anyway. And one stitch just below the lace panel came loose (eek! dang things are so slippery) and worked itself back a couple rows. Yee-freakin’-haw.

On the plus side, I have plenty of extra yarn and the thing is this freakin’ close to fitting like a dream. And, even better, it’s this close to DONE.

Overall, I’m remarkably cheerful about it. That’s because I’m probably stalling. I’ve still got a stack of patterns, but thanks to a computer crash I don’t have that copy of InDesign anymore on my work computer, and it doesn’t look like I get to replace it. So sorting that out and getting the patterns all proofed seems way less pleasant than several inches of seed stitch on size 3 needles.

Urgh.

Onward!

Well, damn. I sort of finished something. Torqued

After more than a year (a YEAR! That is CRAZY!) of working on, abandoning and restarting a fingerless glove design of mine, I’ve finished one glove. I swear, I must’ve reknitted this thing from scratch at least four times in the last couple of weeks, and reknitted the thumb gusset at least four more times on top of that. I tried four different ways of binding off, trying to find the perfect stretchy edge that wouldn’t make the ribbing flare out. (I know it’s neurotic, but dammit, I came up with a perfect solution for the cast-on edge, and I’ll be damned if I’ll settle for anything less on the other edge.)

And I’m still (still! Also crazy!) a little dissatisfied with the fit of the wrist. Fortunately, this fitting issue isn’t an issue at all for the intended recipient, but it does mean I get to retool it again, probably while working out the two-colored variation I just thought of a couple days ago.

And the worst part? I’m not even sure fingerless gloves are the greatest idea. Aren’t people sick of them yet? Googling “Fingerless gloves” +knitting +pattern gets over 1,000 hits, and there are more than 200 on Ravelry alone.

But none of ’em look like mine, so I might as well persevere …

Double Dutch is live!

Yay! My “Double Dutch” hat is officially for sale, announced today on the Bella Knitting blog. Yay!

I gotta say, the pattern support for this is nuts. There’s a video walkthrough, a bunch of photos, careful explanations — the directions are so clear that when I was reading over the final product, I found myself wishing I’d had the instructions while I was inventing the dang thing. I would’ve spared myself a lot of trouble, I can tell you.

Me + brooklyntweed = 4ever

Good lord, I may be in danger of finishing a pattern exactly as written. It’s Jared Flood‘s Koolhaas, and it’s basically perfect. It’s striking, easy to memorize, and seems to show sign of the same deep-seated and thorough logic that I strive for in my own patterns.

I gotta wonder, though — was it easy for him to figure out? Or did he spend a week banging his head on the table trying to figure out the way to decrease the top of the hat in a way that looks so effortless?

Photo: A few rows of a hat
Casting on for Koolhaas

It’s knitted in “Basque” from Artfibers, which is discontinued. (The bastards! Now I will have to go to their store on my lunch break and find a new favorite. There goes even more money.) It’s a fantastic yarn, but I’ve really liked seeing the ones on Ravelry worked in a smooth yarn. Mad props to Flood!

Anyway, because I’m either efficient or totally lazy, here’s my way of doing the crossed stitches without using a cable needle or dropping stitches off the needle:

1/1 LC: Knit the second st on needle through back loop without dropping it off the left-hand needle, then k first st through back loop. Drop both stitches off left-hand needle.

1/1 RPC: With yarn to back of work, put the needle tip between the first and second sts on the left-hand needle. Insert the needle into the second stitch as if to knit through the back loop. Knit second st through back loop without dropping it. Bring yarn to front, then purl first st. Drop both sts from left-hand needle.

1/1 LPC: Skipping the first st on the left needle, yf and then insert the tip of the right needle into the purl st from left to right through the back leg of the purl st (yes, this is sometimes tricky) and purl without dropping the st. K the first st through the back loop and drop both stitches off the needle.

After each of these, when you drop the crossed stitches off the needle, tug them a bit to adjust the tightness. They all work, though the last one is sometimes more difficult than a traditional cable without a cable needle.

Snapped

We got some photos of the finished hat in the proper yarn just before the boyfriend had to go. We got this photo at the airport, in the last of the evening light:

doubledutch.jpg
The boyfriend wearing a Double Dutch hat that I promised he could keep after Stitches.

Still plugging away at my knitting projects — lots of work lately and not much life. I can’t wait for it to be spring. As cute as winter clothes are, I’m going nuts with the gray and the rain.

Run run run!

Everything right now is a race to the finish! At work, we’re launching some major changes to the Web site’s functionality, and I’m the only developer here. All changes and fixes and edits have to go through me. I’m coding and uploading like a mad thing!

On top of that, I’m trying to finish another one of my brioche-stitch hats before tomorrow, so I can get pictures of the boyfriend in it. Laura over at Bella Knitting wants to debut my pattern at Stitches, and when she heard I was willing press the cute boyfriend into modeling it, she said she’d wait on photos from me before she printed. Stitches is next weekend, she needs a few days of lead time, I’ll need a day or so to process photos, cute boyfriend gets here tomorrow, and I’m busting ass on this hat as much as I can while fixing bugs and nursing the carpal tunnel.

I’d be stressed out by the page if I didn’t love it so much …

Impending FTW

One of my back-burner patterns is a kitty hat, something a little more complicated than the usual “knit a rectangle and sew it up the back” styles. After fine-tuning my prototype to my maniacally high standards, I’ve been wearing it around to see if anyone bites. I’m all about feedback: I know I’m onto something good when obvious non-knitters are drawn to whatever I’m working on. The best is when people come up and ask about the finished stuff I’m wearing.

So far this one’s a winner! Both times I’ve worn the kitty hat, someone’s asked me about it or complimented it. And — bonus! — nobody’s asked if I made it myself, which means it looks pretty finished by non-knitter standards. Should be fun!

Super-capacity

When it comes to knitting, I get the feeling I’m unwittingly cocky. No matter what I’m working on, no matter how many times I’ve ripped it out or worked back or started over, when someone asks, I say it’s easy. I describe the usual sacred cows of “tricky” knitting — two-handed two-color stranded knitting, complicated lace knitting, my two-row decreases in brioche stitch, double knitting, bizarre and complicated cast-ons that had me tearing my hair out trying to understand, etc. — as “not too hard once you get the hang of it.” When someone at the stitch ‘n’ bitch asks about a technique, my assurances that it’s no problem, they’ll pick it up once they see it, are drowned out by knowing laughter and almost audible eye-rolling. “Easy for you,,” they say.

It’s bad, but the alternative is being painted as some kind of knitting genius, which is flatly untrue. I’m horrible at being humble, and even worse at accepting compliments, so even the gentlest compliment on my knitting skill makes me dissolve into a mess of blame. Oh, it’s the yarn, I say; it does all the work for me. Sure, the decreases look nice, but I spent a month wanting to bang my head on the desk trying to figure it out. Or, nah, it’s no big deal, you’d think it was easy too if you’d spent a month doing nothing but teaching yourself shaping and decreasing and watching Adult Swim. I hate, hate, hate the idea that people think they can’t do something, especially something as simple as wrapping string around sticks, and I hate the idea that knowing nine ways to cast on it something special.

So I guess the other day serves me right. As I was blazing through some stockinette on a fingerless glove, the woman next to me tapped my arm and mouthed something that I missed completely, thanks to my noise-canceling headphones. I ripped them out of my ears and said “Excuse me?”

She smiled indulgently and said “You’re just really good at that,” she said, “it’s amazing.”

“Aw, it’s not that hard,” I said. “Really, I swear.”

“Well, I couldn’t do it. You’re really very good at it!”

“It’s really not a big deal! I used to work at a yarn store, y’know? Really, it’s easy.”

She shrugged and smiled and said something else kind and self-deprecating, and I fumbled until she went back to her book. Two minutes later, after yapping about how easy my project was, I tried on the glove and it was sort of &hellip, floppy. I read back and realized I had kind of skipped some kind of important decreases and kind of had a good 20 percent more stitches on my needles than I actually needed.

So, less than five minutes after listening to me talk about how effortless knitting is, this perfectly kind woman watched me rip my glove all the way down to the fingers, destroying a good two hours of work.

Hell. Maybe I should just learn to accept a compliment.