Sunday, January 29, 2012

Quick hit

It's nighttime and the light is poor, but I wanted to show you one reason why it's good to pick a sticky yarn for stranded colourwork.

Sticky yarn

Am I right, or am I right? I knitted a mitten and blocked it last night, but in the cold light of day I was not very happy about the tip shaping. So I unpicked the kitchenered tip and unravelled the knitting to the beginning of my original shaping. My gauge is 11 sts/inch and it'd be a real pain to chase laddered stitches around, but I ended up not needing to—look how obediently my stitches are waiting to be picked up.

(This little tiled pattern is the palm; the back of the hand has a bigger checkerboard-with-motifs-inside arrangement on it.)

Friday, January 20, 2012



I knitted a prototype of these months ago, glowered at their saggy cuffs, and put them away. This month I finally gathered the resolve to unravel and try again.

Their original problem was that I had operated under the assumption that my colourwork tension would make the mittens too snug around the wrist unless I took some measures, so I cast on extra stitches and decreased them away after finishing the stranded section breaking off the contrast colour. MISTAKE! The fabric the yarn produces at this gauge is soft and pliable, so instead of not-too-snug cuffs I had saggy, baggy, can't-do-anything-with-'em cuffs attached to otherwise perfectly fine mittens. They annoyed me too much to countenance wearing or looking at them, so I shoved them in a drawer and resolved not to think about them until the annoyance had subsided.

Their time came when I was slogging through these other endless mittens and I wanted a small treat to work on in between sessions of black cotton blend stockinette at a dense gauge (my hands ache thinking about it). The yarn (Jo Sharp Silkroad DK) stood up well to being unravelled, no undue fluffiness or breakage. I skeined it and washed it and hung it to dry to bring some life back into it since it was feeling flatter than it had before, and it revived nicely. (Since we're talking like 200m of yarn, the unravelling-skeining-rewinding took very little time.)

The knitting itself took about two days, because puffy, tweedy, heathery, soft DK yarn on 2.75mm needles in the round is my happy place.


I solved the saggy cuffs problem by doing exactly nothing about it. There's the same number of stitches in the hand as in the cuff; the double-thickness of the colourwork section and the slightly tighter tension draws it in comfortably, though it's elastic enough to slide over the hand with no problem. It was a good reminder that while it is a good idea to put thought into a project, it is not always necessary to overthink.


The tips spiral in opposite directions because I cannot stand to knit the same thing twice. Four stitches get decreased every alternate round, with the decreases spaced evenly around and the total stitches decreased to four to make a pointed tip. (I like wearing pointy-tipped mittens as an adult woman though I have never seen any others worn out in the wild except by small children. Screw you, world, I wear what I want!)

Since it is my birthday today I am going to admit something nerdy: the colourwork part is loosely adapted from what I remember of a carpet that appears in an 18-year-old video game. It turns out that my recollection: not so accurate! But the knitting is an accurate reflection of the memory, at least.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Warm fuzzies

I have been knitting a bit that I can show off, but it's not terribly interesting: new mittens for the aforementioned partner, to replace the pair that vanished at the end of last winter. The shells are the dullest fabric you've ever imagined—vast expanses of black stockinette—but the linings are a brightly-coloured secret.

Fuzzy mitten liners

The yarn is Blue Sky Alpacas Brushed Suri, and it's soft like fuzzy kitten tummies. I don't think I'd want to wear it on its own as the outside of a hand covering, but mittens lined with it will be absurdly warm.

It might be a little idiosyncratic to knit mitten liners separately from the mittens they will line (actually, I knitted them first!), but I am doing it this way for a couple of reasons. First, the liner alone is much lighter than a liner being knit from stitches picked up from its mitten shell, and the lighter the better so far as my wrists are concerned. Second, since my partner is quite fussy about how things fit, I wanted him to be able to try on a mitten shell with liner already inside while the shell was still in progress, to ensure that they had the right amount of ease and to minimize the number of corrections I'll have to make after they're finished. I think this would be less of an issue with a finer liner (heh) or a stretchier shell, but these liners are thick and the shells are a wool/cotton blend knitted up at a bulletproof gauge.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Little to report

Here's how it looks outside:


That's about how I've been feeling for the last couple of months, too (gloomy and weatherbeaten and disappearing into the fog) as my partner limps through the last pages of his PhD. It has been an all-hands-on-deck situation in my house since about October. My job is to cheerlead and proofread and write "tell me more" in the margins and be the first source of resistance or enthusiasm to new lines of thought, and to ask to hear the rundown of the whole project a few times a week. This consumes most of both of our waking time and energy. It is too bad that departments don't award PhDs to partners of PhD candidates, because now that I have seen some of the abusive ugliness that academia enables and encourages, I am never signing up for one myself!

The last chapter got sent out to the committee in the wee hours of the morning, though, and now the end is in sight. I have been knitting a thousand swatches and imagining the beginnings of new things. And I am putting the finishing touches on an appropriate sampler. (Pardon the wrinkles.)

everyone needs a hug