Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Two Stripe Scarf 11

It’s another scarf!

I was enjoying the interplay of the stripey colours with the first one, so I was itching to start another. With this one, I wanted to play with peacock colours or ocean colours. I used a blue-to-black shade and a green-to-black. Moda Vera Crave is the yarn.

The green knitted up differently that what I expected. In the transitional areas from black to green, it looks almost yellow, which isn’t the effect I was after.

Oh well.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Two Stripe Scarf 1

It’s a scarf!

I got all inspired by this beautiful, no, magnificent, two-stripe scarf by Jared.

But I didn’t have Noro, nor does the budget extend to getting some.

I wanted a nice blokey look, maybe a little less colourful than the Noro. So I tried it with a couple of balls of yarn that shade light to dark; one shades from tawny brown to black, (it’s Moda Vera Crave) the other shades from light grey to dark grey (must track down the ball-band for this one). I would have preferred a black-to-grey shade, but I didn’t find one.

I’ve only ripped it once, just a short way in after starting, because I didn’t like the width. With the method of cast-on that I use, it quite often takes a few rows before the actual width becomes evident.

I like a narrow scarf, so there’s less bulk around the neck. So I restarted with fewer stitches.

It’s now 29 stitches wide over 13 cm (5 inches). Don’t quite know why there’s an odd number of stitches, but it doesn’t bother me.

So far so good.

Except, I’m really not all that happy with the light-grey to dark-grey. It doesn't have enough contrast between the light at its lightest point and the dark at its darkest point. Do I try to find a substitute? If I find a substitute, do I rip back what I’ve done, or just work the new colour in?

Decisions, decisions.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Byzantium Moebius Scarf

I had some Katia wool (Nordic Print) left over from the Byzantium” hat , so I decided to make a scarf. Now, a normal scarf with a couple of wraps around the neck would have been very bulky in this yarn, so I decided to try a Möbius scarf.

Yeah, I know – probably a bit ambitious for such a newbie knitter. It’s not uncommon for my ambition and enthusiasm to greatly exceed my abilities and knowledge. But that’s how I learn stuff – jump in feet-first and hold my breath till I know which way is up!

It’s interesting what such a tricky cast-on and first few rows does to my mental state. I approached it in a kind of Zen frame of mind. Just do one stitch, see how it goes. I can do one stitch. Okay, I did one stitch. Now do another, I can do just one more. And so I did. And another. And another. It did get easier.

I used the simplest of cast-ons, it’s the one I usually use. Mainly because I haven’t learnt any others. Yet.

I don’t know what the cast-on is called. In macramé terms, it’s just a half-hitch.

It’s one needle in the right hand, and a loop of yarn across thumb and index finger on the left.

It’s very quick, no fuss. As the stitches aren’t really formed until the next row is knitted, it is also neither too tight nor too loose.

Its major disadvantage is with working the first row. The yarn between the made stitch on the right and the waiting loops on left needle grows and grows. I get round this a couple of ways – use that extra yarn to make extra loops on the left and drop the same number of loops at the end, or simply work with it until the end, where it just becomes a tail, long enough for sewing up. I always cast on with an extra loop at the end anyway, and that gets dropped off too. This can be a problem with knitting in the round, as there is no “end” from which to drop off those extras.

I didn’t use any specific pattern for the Möbius – just the instructions from here

I also didn’t want a shoulder-width shawl kind of scarf. I wanted a neck-hugger. I knew how many stitches I had cast on for Byzantium, and what circumference that many stitches made, so I just worked it out from there – how wide I needed it to fit over my head, but not have it sit too far away from my neck.

The stitch pattern I used was the “One Row Scarf” from the Yarn Harlot . I didn’t quite get the first couple of rows right – it was quite hard work getting those at all! I knew the pattern wouldn’t quite line up because of the off-set from knitting into the bottom loops of the cast-on.

Oh well. It is what it is, and I still quite like it. I can get my head through it, and it fits snugly. What more could I want?

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

The Naked Teapot

In a moment of blood rushing to my head, I bought this yarn:

I think it's Moda Vera Spell, but as I tend to forget to put a sample of yarn around the ball-band, and I have a lot of orphan ball-bands, I could be wrong.

Now, when I buy yarn, I usually have a project in mind, even if I don't have a specific pattern. I didn't have anything specific in mind for this.

I was just intrigued by the discussion with two fellow shoppers, Cindy and Toni, who said the pooling of the colours makes it look a little like embroidered flowers.

Some time later, I was making myself a cuppa, when the lightbulb went on! Aha! My naked teapot could use a teacosy, and maybe I'd get my second cuppa without having to microwave it hot (doesn't taste quite the same).

So I measured the circumference around the top and the bottom, measured everything else that needed measuring, did a quick swatch, did the maths, especially how many stitches to decrease, and then did the knitting!
The colour pooling does look a little like flowers, or perhaps a flock of butterflies in a meadow.

Finding the right coloured buttons is what took the longest. Of course, I didn't have two that matched. I don't mind - I quite like the quirkyness of mismatched buttons.

And now my teapot is roasty-toasty cosy, and my tea is hot!

(wanders off to have another cuppa ...)

Monday, 13 August 2007

Footnote to Beanie Bonanza

We all know it's just wonderful to have home-made unique knitted garments.

Here's a perfect example.

Mr M was travelling home on the tram, when he looked across and saw JJ in another tram, heading into town.

How was he able to spot JJ in a tram full of people? JJ was wearing his new beanie, of course!

Sunday, 12 August 2007

It's An Ill Wind ...

It's certainly been that lately, with houses unroofed and trees brought down.

But it's an ill wind that doesn't bring any good, and the little bit of good that came my way was literally a wind-fall.

We were at a family function at Mr M's niece's place about an hour drive away last night, mmmm, home-made pizza, when one of the neighbours came in bearing armloads of Leucadendron flowers/branches. A nearby tree had blown down, and we got to share the bounty from the clean-up.

I had enough to fill three vases. Luckily I still had some large vases left over from my days doing Floral Art. You wouldn't think I'd ever done that, given these rather primitive "arrangements" (just stick 'em in the vase, these days).

Oh well, they should last a couple of weeks at least, at a time when the garden isn't doing much yet. Just a few daffs - I think I recorded the first Narcissus out in June. They really should be called Winter Bulbs rather than Spring Bulbs - or is that an effect of global warming?

Friday, 10 August 2007

Salsa Scarf

Crocus is having a holiday. It's reached a decision point, (what colour to do the next row), so I'm just letting it rest, with the philosophy that the answer will reveal itself when it's ready.

In the meantime, I've knitted a scarf.

It's the first scarf I have knitted in over 25 years. I used a simple reversible pattern of k2, k1b, P1, as espoused by the Yarn Harlot for her "One Row Scarf".

The yarn is Katia Venus, 50% wool, 50% acrylic. It's lovely and soft. Did I mention I'm a sucker for soft?

I call it the Salsa scarf because that's what the colour reminds me of.

Having finished it, I don't like it. The shading is supposed to give it interest, I suppose, but it just doesn't work for me. To me, it just looks like sections of the scarf have gotten dirty. Maybe the transisitons are not marked enough, or maybe the colour combinations don't quite work.

Maybe those gradations were supposed to work better in a wider garment, such as a jumper - the colour pooling might have made the relationship between the colours work better. Or maybe not ...

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Beanie Bonanza

Oh, it's another beanie.

Here's how this happened:

Me to JJ:"Why aren't you wearing your new beanie?" (this one)

JJ:"It's a bit too tight."

Me:"Why didn't you tell me!"

JJ:"I didn't want to hurt your feelings."

later, JJ:"Oh, and if you're going to pull it apart, can you make it a bit longer too?"


That beanie did fit me, and Polly, without feeling tight. JJ must have a much bigger head than me!

So, I quickly knit up this one, as I didn't know how long it would take me to pull apart the other one, or how far back I would have to rip it back.

This yarn, a Katia one called Katrine, has an unusual texture - thick and chunky sections interspresed with thin sections not much thicker than thread. I figured it would have a fair bit of "give".
I bought two balls, and a ball of a contrasting colour, as I had no idea how much yarn I'd need with a texture like this. As it was, I had enough without having to use the contrasting colour.

I knit this top down and made the rise part extra long, and then kept knitting, and then a bit more. JJ said he likes to have it sit right down to the nape of his neck. That's what he got.I did block it, Polly helping out as usual. It would have been very lumpy and puckered otherwise. JJ immediately put it on once it had dried completely, and gave it the thumbs-up. Then he handed over the other one for modifications.

The frogpond is noisy today ...

Monday, 6 August 2007

Swatching for Seashore

I can’t resist a bargain, so when I found this cotton blend at only $2.00 a ball, I succumbed to temptation rather quickly.

I had in mind a jumper I had seen in my vintage pattern book. When I say vintage, I mean from the mid-1980s, which is the last time I had done knitting.

I have to finish Crocus first, but I just had to try a swatch, firstly to see how it feels to knit this yarn, and secondly to see how the stitch pattern comes together.

The colour is impossible to photograph accurately. It’s called Oxford, and it’s a bluey-greeny-grey. My photos don’t show it right, and I’ve no idea what colour it will show up on other people’s monitors.

The yarn felt nice to knit up. The pattern was fairly easy once I got the hang of it. It seems to be a row of moss stitch in between rows of knit, with rows of purl as ridge rows.I have to decide whether I want to follow the pattern as it is, or do these pattern rows spaced further apart. Decisions, decisions!

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Hocus Pocus Crocus

I unpicked the duplicate stitch row from under the light-green reverse stocking stitch ridge.

I then had to decide whether to rip all the way down to the light green, or do something else. I had vowed to rip without hesitation if the situation demanded it, but when it came to the crunch, I couldn't face reknitting the bits that were okay.

I also knew I wanted to break up the solid brightness of the light-green.

So I threaded in a safety line top and bottom, and snipped the yarn. I then had live stitches which were the top of the bottom piece and another lot of live stitches which were the bottom of the top piece. Confused? Not as confused as I was, when it came time to rejoining the two pieces.

I thought of doing a three-needle bind-off, but I thought it would make the area of the join too bulky.

Just messing around, I threaded a long strand of the purple yarn through the upward pointing loops and the downward pointing loops, alternating them one on one. I liked the effect. I was careful to make the thread loose enough to match the tension of the knitted stitches.

Still just messing around, I then threaded the purple yarn back the other way, this time weaving it through every second loop. It gives a really interesting effect, and the tension is good. I hope you can see in the close-up photo how it worked.

Now the question remains: do I do the same thing at the top of the light-green stripe? My pattern doesn't have to be symmetrical.

Oh yes, I break all the rules, and join colours in on purl rows too. I really like the nubs showing. It almost looks like top-stitching in sewing techniques.

I can see the yarn play -
purple:"It's my turn now"
green:"No, I'm not ready to go!"
purple:"Okay, just a little bit more then."

I've been doing that purl row colour joining quite a bit throughout. I don't know why all the advice books say don't do it. I like the effect.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Entering The Convent

I thought I would post a few more photos from the convent we visited the day after the Mid-Winter Festival.

It seemed to be such a mixture of architectural styles. I guess it was built and added to over quite a number of years. I don't know the history of the convent. Strangely enough, I don't particularly want to know. It becomes like a painting - it is what it is, without explanation or interpretation.

Here is an upper storey verandah with a lattice covering which seems almost Moorish or Arabian. Hints of the harem?

And here is the end of a building - it may be a church or chapel. The syle seems almost Spanish Mission to me.

Then there are these two lots of stained glass windows, one in a downstairs room, the pair are on the staircase landing. They are definitely Art Nouveau styling. What's most remarkable and surprising is that they are stained glass windows in a religious institution, but with no religious iconography.
These windows would not have been cheap to make.
The cloisters have the beautiful deciduous tree in the centre. Although the photos were taken mid winter, there were still autumn-painted leaves clinging to the branches. The pointed arches seem medieval-Norman in style, while the columns have a Corinthian style capital.
That is the most Art Nouveau interpretation of acanthus leaves that I have seen on a capital. (acanthus, or 'bears britches' is the usual leaf ornamentation for Corinthian columns). The close-up should show this.

This is one of my favourite photos. It didn't turn out the way I had planned. Maybe that's why I like it.
I was trying to focus on the cloister columns in the background, and have the plants in soft focus in the foreground - peeking through to the secret place in the back.
The fool camera just wouldn't focus on the background. It was just the little camera (Olympus), and not my usual serious camera (Nikon D70 DSLR).

But, it is what it is, and I like the feel of it. The background becomes more moody, more mysterious.

Friday, 3 August 2007

All Colours Present in Crocus

All the colours now have their stripes in the Crocus jumper.

I'm not sure about the light green. It looks a lot more yellow knitted up than it did in the ball, and a lot lighter, too.

I tried to break up that brightness by doing some duplicate stitch of purple just below the reverse stocking stitch ridge. It doesn't look all that good, so I'll probably pull it out again. It scarcely shows up in the photo. The purple in the middle of the light green is some more Opal.

The next colour above the beige will probably be the dark green, and then purple again at the shoulders. I don't think I want any more of the light green.

Oh well, it is what it is ...

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Gonna Be A Bear*

*This has probably been donig the rounds for a while, but I could really relate to it when I read it.In this life I'm a woman. In my next life I'd like to come back as a bear.
When you're a bear, you get to hibernate. You do nothing but sleep for six months. I could deal with that.

Before you hibernate, you're supposed to eat yourself stupid. I could deal with that too.

When you're a girl bear, you birth your children (who are the size of walnuts) while you're sleeping and wake to partially grown cute cuddly cubs. I could definitely deal with that.

If you're mama bear, everyone knows you mean business. You swat anyone who bothers your cubs. If your cubs get out of line, you swat them too. I could deal with that.

If you're a bear your mate EXPECTS you to wake up growling. He EXPECTS that you will have hairy legs and extra body fat.

Yep, gonna be a bear!

PS. The bear in the photo is one I made myself, about a decade ago.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

In The Mood For An Interlude

There was a lovely design for a cardigan in a pattern book in my 'library'. It dates back to the '80s, as does most of my knitting literature, as this was the last time I had knitted. It was designed by Diane Ayre of Lister Handknitting, in the book The Pure New Wool Designer Knitwear Collection, published 1986.

Here is a close-up of the stitch pattern.

It got me thinking about the basket weave, and what would happen if you used two colours, one for the stocking stitch parts, and one for the reverse ss parts.

I did a small swatch to try it out.
It didn't behave quite how I expected.
I thought the reverse ss would recede, the way it does when it's used as a background in cable work. Instead, it puffs forward, like it does for the reverse ss bands on the Byzantium hat and the colour separator ridges on Crocus. And of course, with the dark colour puffing forward, the effect is not what I wanted. I wanted the light bits to stand out, and the darker bits to recede, further emphasising the basket weave pattern.

Here is the back of the work. It's the first piece of stranded knitting I've ever done. It really looks in the photo as if the strands are pulling the fabric, but in reality, it stretches out just fine with no pulling.

It has me pondering a deeply philosophical question - why is it that reverse stocking stitch sometimes recedes and other times stands out? What makes the difference?