Saturday, July 31, 2010

I am going to read every novel ever written that is now in the public domain

A huge pile of yarn is coming in the mail but hasn't arrived yet, so not too much knitting is going on around here—I don't want to get started on much of anything because soon I'll be swamped with secret projects.

However! There was some non-yarn exciting mail, too: a tiny new iPod. I knew these were cool, but didn't know. Guys, it is like an internet jukebox that fits in your pocket and you can put books on it.

I knitted a little case for it, my third act of iPod parenthood. (First was introducing it to my computer and assigning it an unwieldy name—C.G.B. Spender—and second was teaching it shortcuts to visit gmail and ravelry.)

This pattern makes a very thick fabric, which is optimal for gadget cases. I'm not going to experiment by hurling it down the stairs or anything, but it appears to be cushioned adequately in case I drop it. There is a tiny bit of shaping at the bottom to prevent dog-ear corners. The yarn I used was some leftover Belfast Mini-Mills merino, which is so squishy and soft I can't even tell you.

Anyway,

minimalist ipod case

Minimalist Gadget Cozy

Materials
  • some leftover worsted-weight yarn; you'll need very little of it, maybe 30m at most
  • a set of 5 US #6/4mm double-pointed needles
  • a darning needle
  • one button
  • 4mm crochet hook
  • a homeless gadget

Gauge

27 sts = 4" in linen stitch. Row gauge is not terribly important.

Finished size

4.5" x 2.5", sized to fit a 3rd gen. iPod Touch. For bigger or smaller, cast on more or fewer stitches in multiples of 2, and amend the shaping instructions to suit the new stitch count.

Pattern

CO 34 sts, divide as evenly as possible between 4 double-pointed needles, and join for knitting in the round, being careful not to twist. P 1 row.

Begin working in linen stitch as follows.

Round 1: K.
Round 2: (sl 1 purlwise with yarn in front, k1) around.
Round 3: K.
Round 4: (k1, sl 1 purlwise with yarn in front) around.

Repeat 10 more times or until the knitted piece just covers the gadget—slip it inside to check.

Next round: (ssk, k13, k2tog) twice. 30 sts remain.

Turn the piece inside out and arrange the stitches so that the first 15 in the round are on one double-pointed needle, and the remaining 15 are on another. Work a three-needle bind-off over these sts.

Finishing

Weave in ends and block.

Sew on a button near the open end of the case, in the centre of one side. (Clearly I have not gotten to this part yet, because there is a button shortage in my house.) Crochet a short chain, slightly longer than necessary to fit over the button. Break yarn and sew the ends of the chain opposite the button to form a loop.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Paired yarn overs and the double decreases that offset them: a love story



I wrote up another pattern, this time for a top-down triangular scarf that uses around 400m of fingering weight yarn. The yarn I used—Viola Fancy Sock—is exquisitely soft, and the finished fabric has a subtle downy halo. The three main pattern sections are related feathery motifs that use a number of knit stitches between the yarn overs and their accompanying decreases to shape the fabric into peaks and valleys, including the wide shallow scallops that edge the piece:



They look a little Art Deco, I think!

I decided to name the pattern Fledgling, for a few reasons:

I am a fledging designer of things-larger-than-mittens—I have to say that making charts for this pattern was daunting, because they're awfully big. It starts small, though, for confidence-boosting. The smallest patterned section involves a four-stitch, four-row repeat.

This is a pattern for fledgling lace knitters—every alternate row is purled, giving you time to breathe and collect your thoughts and count your stitches in peace. The patterns are both charted and written, in case you are a fledgling chart reader, too.

Finally I feel like a triangular scarf knitted from a pair of socks' worth of yarn isn't a fully-fledged shawl yet. But it has aspirations.



And I wasn't sure how I felt about it during the knitting, but now I really like the relative solidity of the border. It anchors the shawl a little -- you know that I am happy to knit outrageously lacy edges on things, but some weight there is nice too. It is particularly pleasing when worn:

wearing fledgling

This colour is called "Robin's Egg", and is a beautiful subtle semi-solid. It is worth getting, because it's exquisite yarn! But any drapey fingering-weight yarn would do just as well for this pattern. I think it would be beautiful in Schaefer Anne, for instance, or Abuelita Yarns Baby Merino Lace, or Knit Picks Gloss Lace, or....



It takes 400m of yarn, and this sample was knitted on 3.5mm needles. The gauge is 26 stitches and 40 rows in stockinette (after blocking), and the finished dimensions of the scarf are 48" wide and 24" deep. I find that this is an excellent width to pin closed at the front.

The pattern is $4 CDN and can be got from Ravelry, or by clicking this link.

The real reason for all of this shawl madness is that I am auditioning things to wear to a wedding. Too fickle to just pick one already without seeing all the options. All the options are in my head and they don't seem to be exhausted yet. I have six weeks to go before it actually must be time to decide.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Prolific

I'm THRILLED with how this turned out:

ANOTHER new shawl

It is inspired by Orenburg lace shawls and is constructed the way that they are, beginning with a strip of edging and picking up stitches from there. The background pattern is also borrowed from there, and the main pattern motif is my own effort. I named the scarf "First Frost".

First Frost motif

I wish lace knitting was better suited to making six-sided figures; then it would be an actual anatomically correct snowflake. This was the closest approximation I could make.

It is a weightless and airy little nothing! But it looks a little like someone drew a thick line all the way around it, outlining the scallops of the edging:

First Frost edge

Yesssss.

I got this yarn—Fiddlesticks Exquisite wool/silk—without ever having heard of it before because of a deal at the Needle Arts Book Shop. It was $5/skein with the purchase of the Haapsalu Shawl book. I wanted the book, and the yarn was cheap, so I picked three colours because I liked the sound of them (Ivory, Peony, Damson).

This scarf took one 500m skein—one!—of Ivory. The knitting flew by because many of the wrong-side rows are knitted plain, and the ones that aren't have long sections of straight knitting without yarn overs or decreases. The pattern is straightforward and symmetrical, and the "peas" sections (the triangle bits outlining the diamond areas with snowflakes in them) are rhythmic and easy to work. The edging is a little patterned treat at the end of each row.

People thought it might be a table runner when I was knitting it, which is I guess an occupational hazard of knitting anything white and lacy. It is decidedly a scarf, though. The yarn is fabulously soft and the finished fabric doesn't feel too insubstantial even though it is close to weightless.

Anyway, you can knit one too if you'd like! You'll need one 50g/500m skein of Exquisite in Ivory and US #3/3mm needles to knit a scarf just like this one, which is 48" long and 15" wide. The pattern, which is charted in the interest of saving space, is $6 CDN and can be purchased right here.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Transitions

Here's a pretty good scarf from a few weeks ago that I am only now getting around to documenting!

the works

This required one skein of Tribble, in Peacock, knitted on 2.75mm needles. The finished dimensions are 16x66", but the fabric has a lot of give and stretch and it could probably be blocked bigger. Forgive me for the ton of detail pictures: I am very pleased with how this idea turned out.

The scarf is based on Mrs. Montague's pattern, and starts there with no modifications:

the densely-patterned end!

But I wanted to experiment with the density of the pattern, removing motifs to thin it out. When you pick out a diamond-shaped group of 9 motifs and remove the one in the centre, the pattern suddenly suggests a grid, like a chain-link fence:

transition section!

I think the suggestion-of-a-grid is still in place at the opposite end, when only the apices of the diamonds remain as isolated motifs in a field of garter stitch:

more transition!

It is startingly delicate for all that the yarn bloomed on blocking and I knit it on 2.75mm needles. Not delicate in the scheme of things. But when you lay it flat on a surface it seems to float a little.

it is awfully delicate!

My favourite part is the thinned-out pattern section. This yarn makes fabric that is exquisitely soft, and garter stitch is squishy anyway, and the combination is to die for. I almost want to double the yarn and knit a plain old garter stitch scarf on 3.5s or so—it would be time-consuming but ultimately worth the boredom, I think.

isolated motifs in a field of garter stitch!

And I am happy with how the edging came out:

edging!

The triangles between the faggoting and the outer lace pattern are arranged in pairs because I wanted the edging to be narrow enough at its narrowest point that I wouldn't have to do anything to the corners to make them lie flat. It worked: the only trick is making sure that a corner stitch lines up with a row 1 of the edging, as usual.

Now I need it to be winter already so that I can wear it instead of just admiring it from across the room....

Friday, July 2, 2010

Jonesing

I really really want to knit some very fine lace. This is because I can't right now—I'm working on a big project in Shadow, related to the green swatch from before, and want to have it finished before I start anything else.

Instead I am longingly looking at some other finished projects and dreaming of what gossamer item I will make when I am able. I put some of them side by side to remember my fineness priorities, and here it is for your consideration:

comparative fineness

From left to right, they are Abuelita Yarns Merino Lace (don't be fooled by the name, it's fingering weight) in the most perfect red; Knit Picks Shadow Tonal in Golden Glow, which is a very warm collection of yellows; Gossamer Web Tribble, in Peacock; and 32/2 yak/silk that's a strange shimmery greybrown.

Three of the patterns are closely related (the leftmost three)—they're all variations or developments or uses of Mrs Montague's Pattern, which is my current favourite thing. I have sort of adopted Mrs. Montague as my knitting fairy godmother! She is purported to have given Elizabeth I a pair of silk stockings as a present, and they were great enough that Elizabeth only ever wanted to wear silk stockings from then on. In Heirloom Knitting Sharon Miller attributes this diamondy pattern to her, and I have been imagining that it was the pattern on the stockings.

Clearly this means that I must knit stockings in that pattern! But first the Shadow project and after that a cobwebby veil.