Sunday, February 26, 2006

Knitting Olympics - almost finished

Despite a lack of updates, blocking has been happening :

And this morning, seaming and hockey happened :

It isn't perfect, but I think this is the benefit of knitting for one's grandmother - everything one does is perfect in her eyes.

The office chair, modeling. Much to my surprise, the stripes all matched up. The armholes are curly-curly, but picking up stitches will look worse, I think, so I'm going to leave them alone.

The knitting gods seem to have decided that the whole ribbing fiasco was sufficient penance for whatever sins I've logged, and sizing after blocking seems fine.

Now, if anyone can find the pretty buttons I bought Friday (I showed them to Lea Friday night, so they're somewhere in this house!) I can finish this thing during the closing ceremonies.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Blocking not in progress

Soooo ... I had intended to post tonight showing lovely pictures of three completed vest pieces all neatly on the blocking towel. But as I was preparing the back for blocking, I noticed that the ribbing at the bottom looked very bad (especially at the edges), particularly compared to that on the front.

Andddd as is my habit, the more I tried to "fix" things, the worse things got ... eventually necessitating the amputation of the ribbing. All of it. 7 inches of ribbing over 82 stitches. I would take a picture of the trash can full of yarn bits, but that would just be demoralizing.

Luckily, Cascade 220 is cheap and plentiful, so I am still in the gold medal race. This will probably prevent me from participating in my planned exhibition event, the knitting of fuzzy feet for one of my other grandmothers, but that's not the end of the world.

Also, my dog decided to make a little nest of my blocking towel, so that's off to the laundry. Blocking pictures Friday, shall we hope?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Olympic update: day 10

Good morning from Torino, as we continue our coverage of the Knitting Olympics. Don't forget that you can (surprisingly) find more information at actual news outlets. Even the CBC has gotten in on the action, I'm told, but we won't link to that because: a) why would NBC advertise anyone but NBC? and b) I can't find it on their web site.

Chialea seems to have slowed down on her progress in the sweater event, and... is that another entry? We will have further coverage of this development later, what we're calling "upset city", but first we'll continue with Zippy. Frankly, Zippy isn't looking very zippy. Wax is incredibly important in this event, and here Chialea seems to have fallen down on the job. Sure, she ordered a zipper in Pirate Blue, and her tech has agreed to ship it as soon as it's not a holiday, but I think her wax is holding her back. See how her only has about half of a sleeve finished?

Look at this startling last-minute entry! It looks like Chialea was overwhelmed by the cold and succumbed to the urge to make herself a incredibly soft hand-dyed scarf. Perhaps she has also succumbed to the stomach flu, like what seems like at least half of the competitors, dehydrating her brains into insensibility. Still, she has made an interesting stitch choice to show off the hand-dyed yarn. It looks as though the scarf has not been blocked, so she cannot achieve the full points for this manuver, but she recieves the values for soft, comfortable, and warm all the same. This is the essence of knitting cross! It's like NASCAR on needles! Did you hear that, target audience? N. A. S. C. A. R.

Back to Dick Button with ice dancing.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Olympic update: day 8

Welcome back to our coverage of the 8th day of the Knitting Olympics. Let's join our correspondents at the Dunk arena.

Chialea has continued her march towards Olympic glory in this section of the event: the Dunk and Bleed. She's slipped her sweater into the water and....
heard in background: WHOA! WHOA! HARD! WHOA!

Just look at that scrubbing. The teams have to be very careful: too little scrubbing and the dye doesn't reach its target in the house, and too much causes felting. I think our competitor may have hit a sweet spot. Yes, an excellent shot! Now let's see her follow it up a rinse shot. These shots protect the results of the earlier scrubbing.

Oooh... that's not so good. This Karaoke yarn certainly releases a lot of dye. However, that's beneficial in many cases; the colours are somewhat vivid for our competitor, so her shots seem to be encouraging these dye-releasing shots, without the aid of vinegar. Still, she'll have to rince a few more shots to be successful here.


We continue our Olympic coverage with the Block. This event is all about form.

See how Chialea has flared her hem and pinched her waist? While these effects won't end up so dramatic on a ribbed sweater, they will encourage the sweater to fit over these curve combinations. This concludes today's blocking, but the competitors will have to sleep on their results (literally, as she's blocked this sweater on the bed). This is nerve-wracking for any competitor. What colour will the sweater be when dry? How long a zipper should she order?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Knitting Olympics go on and on

It's been a long week around here. I only really have one thing to say in this post, and that's to the person who found us by googling "Michelle Kwan's breast" : no. Just, NO. N-O.

In the sweater vest event, we have a completed back and part of a front :

(well, someone around here has to write concise posts, don't you think?)

Olympic update: day 7

Here we are again at the Knitting Olympics in "Torino", although nothing actually seems to be in Torinto except for the hospital they've been sending skiiers and lugers to more often than should be strictly necessary.

Chialea seems to be moving along on her quest for Olympic Gold. Look at this lovely sweater torso, seams and all. Like we said before, she's gone for a trick with a lower difficulty level, hoping to pick up points on execution. In fact, this Karaoke seems to have predictable striping, unlike its competitor, but Chialea has gone for a more artistic effect. While these knitting events can be seen as a series of moves designed only to collect points, at best they are also expressions of artistry. Let us see that mattress seam again in slow motion.

This is another move that Chialea has never done before this Olympics. She is pushing herself and her abilities to read and follow simple directions in a true Olympic spirit.

Our competor is not one of the atheletes who work on their own equipment. She is, however, open to new designs. She is even planning to compete on untested equipment in these Olympic games!

We see here several tried-and-true Nancy Bush books. In addition, we're seeing... I don't believe it, they're Comfort Zone plastic sock needles. This competetor has had some difficulty with her previous equipment in the cold: caesin needles shatter, leaving her in danger of dropped stiches, and metal needles are just cold. These new needles should stand up to the high demands Chialea will put on them in these events.

In addition, Chialea has acquired another Elizabeth Zimmerman book, Knitter's Almanac. That EZ is surely a favorite of hers! On top of that I see... well, that's not new equipment, but it's certainly vital in these temperatures. Smooth Moves for Knitters is a great hand creme for these events, because it sticks to the hands even through the most demanding knitting.

And now a preview of tomorrow's events, the Dunk and the Bleed.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Olympic update: day 6

We apologize for our earlier technical problems, but we are back to bring you a super-compressed update from the International Broadcast Center in Torino, though it could easily be anywhere, because it's the same news set that nearly every news show on the face of the planet uses. (I wonder if they all time-share?)

First up, we'd like to say again that Michelle Kwan pulled her groin. We'll be repeating this, as well as shots of her crying and shots of her looking in pain, regularly, so that we have an excuse to play some of the reels of soft-focus human-interest crap that we put together about her. Frankly, we here at the International Broadcast Center are feeling pretty screwed by this, because what are we going to fill our updates with now? Sure, there's a lot of sports going on out there, but what use is that without soft-focus human-interest stories. Instead, we will attempt to interview other skaters who repeatedly ask us to go away, because we're just that hard-hitting in our search for the news.

Now our update on Chialea's quest for Olympic Gold. As we can see, she has completed her long program by knitting the body of her sweater. She has chosen not to pick up points by matching the stripes in the yarn, in fact she has chosen to accent the irregularity of the striping by making it more irregular. Under this new system, she will not gain as many points for that trick, but may pick some up on the skill of execution. Let's watch that again in slow motion.

This is the sort of technique we usually only see in experienced knitters. In fact, Chialea has never performed this technique before tonight. It's this sort of choice that really makes a difference; grafting the shoulders would result in a half-stich offset in her ribbing. Shot of diagrams from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Without Tears.

What's next for this Olympic athelete? She is training to compete in the scarf event with Malabrigo in Mystery purple. This girl is really pushing the sport forward by doing moves that the men do. Still, she's her daddy's little girl.

fade to soft-focus... many bored-looking shots of our competitor and her family...
We'd just like to note that a woman can be at the top of her sport, one of the most proficient altheletes in it that has ever lived, regardless of gender, and we can still call her girl and just a little sister repeatedly on television, in between calling other competitors men and comparing her to them instead of talking about what she's actually doing.
return to invisible, disembodied commentators who persist in calling 14 degrees F "warm"

In a surprise move, Chialea and Krista have recieved some brand-new yarn. A knitter's materials are so important, there are a huge number of specialists who manage them, helping the knitter to choose the correct materials for the conditions. We'll continue to talk about this for days, just so we can speculate about some of our media darlings. This yarn is for the sock event for both Chialea and Krista. It's an unusual design for sock yarn, I think I see Artyarns Supermerino in 108, 123, and 126. Bold choices, all of these. I even, why yes, I see some Jo Sharp DK Wool. I think we'll see more details about this yarn in the coming days.

From the International Broadcast Center in Torino, Michelle Kwan pulled her groin, and good night.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A teaser

What do these images say to you?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Olympic update: day 4

This is Chialea, bringing you a compressed olympic update of only the american media-darling competitors, complete with soft-focus human-interest stories in which the atheletes clearly wish to deck their media handlers for forcing them into that crap. (Can you tell I've been watching the "edited into a primetime show" Olympics? I seem to remember some time when there existed channels where one could watch entire sporting events, and lots of them. I don't have cable, but I'm guessing this doesn't exist anymore, even on ESPN2. If it weren't for the Tivo and its magic commerical skipping abilities, I don't think I'd be able to watch this olympics-show at all.)

Our competitor got a slow start, only casting on in the second day of competition.
fade to soft-focus... many bored-looking shots of our competitor...
Chialea's fiance came to visit, after spending more than a month apart. This, even though Chialea was not recovering from breast cancer and did not fall into the tree-well of some powdery snow, only to be resued by her unwitting husband. Chialea was clearly pleased at the visit, even though it reduced her ability to focus on the one goal that matters: American Olympic gold metals, which we're trying to fill up our entire show with.
return to shouting commentators who are either breathless because of the cold and altitude here in what we've been calling "Mile High Stadium" (repeat in Italian), or because they don't seem to be constitutionally capable of stopping talking long enough to take a full breath

We were worried about our competitor's focus, but even more so about her injuries. She did not join Team Pittsburgh for practices for the past several days, after a salsa-dancing-related finger injury. Remember, kids: follows don't let leads lead triple-turns by grabbing fingers and twisting. Still, our competitor has moved into the final heat for her event: First Sweater.

She's made a few mistakes, which seem to be preventing her from reaching her true potential: she started the second front backwards, ripping the entire thing back out. Still, she has bravely continued to compete, and she seems to be ahead of schedule, despite her daunting injuries and distraction from Olympic Glory. Her plan: to knit the second front of Zippy, seam most of it together, and block it. This will allow her to order a zipper, hopefully in time to complete her run for Olympic gold, and allow her to decide whether she will knit her sleeves as written. I hear that this American competitor may even compete in several other events during possible breaks from Team Sweater. She has prepared a sock routine, if her materials have not been lost in the mail, and a scarf. That's right, a scarf. This knitter has never knit a scarf, and it's quite cold out. Well, that's all for today's prime-time heavily-edited Olympics show. Now for another word from our sponsors.

Knitting Olympics, Day 3

Slept in late today and enjoyed a quiet snowy day at home with my husband. We didn't have too much accumulation, and at various points this afternoon it was both snowing AND sunny, which is a fun effect. Lea came over this evening and we watched some Olympics and knitted away. Although I was distractable and unfocused on both Olympics and knitting, here's today's progress - almost a completed back. I feel like I'm doing quite well.

Forgot to take pictures of Mom's scarf - will do so tomorrow before wrapping it up to mail.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Knitting Olympics, Day 2

No, Miss Thing, I didn't wash my swatch. I am tempting the Knitting Gods. Pray for me.

Today I did some work, did our taxes, and cleaned for an unexpected visitor - had a nice dinner with said visitor, then watching some skiing, some luge, and assorted bits of skating while ribbing away. I am already tired of the Michelle-Kwan-athon.

Today's progress (done with ribbing, will start reverse stockinette in the morning)

Friday, February 10, 2006

Knitting Olympics, Day 1

Well, we had intended to make a Team Procrastination button, but we ... never got around to it.

I have been sidelined by a stomach bug for a few days, but I did manage to knit a quick scarf for my mother (pictures tomorrow, needs finishing work) and coerce my wonderful husband into winding the balls of yarn for my Knitting Olympics project (he's a truly excellent ball winder - but sorry, he's not available for rent or sale). I am making Noro Knits' Eloise as a vest for my grandmother (she lives in Florida, so the sleeves would be overkill). Instead of Noro I'm using Cascade 220 in an as-yet-undetermined stripe pattern.

I swatched on 8s as called for in the pattern - yup, too tight. Got gauge and a nice loose fabric with 10s, and cast on at 2PM. Spent most of the afternoon and evening doing a little knitting and a lot of undescribable stomach virus related program activities, but got this much done :

I took one additional picture with the flash, but eh, it's ribbing. You know what it looks like.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Needles are double... edged?

As I have a... visitor this week, blog updates are going to be a bit spotty, sorry. I will, however, tell you about my needle woes.

Woe #1: #4 bamboo needles gave a loose, but acceptable, fabric out of Prime Alpaca. These stiches do not, however, pass over the join in my Clover needles without a struggle.
Solution: buy #3 Addi Turbos. I'd sworn off of these after hearing about their dowel-like properties. I have to say, they're every bit as annoying in that aspect as advertised, but their joins can't be beat. Considering how long it's going to take to knit an entire sweater on #3 needles, they're worth their price! (My LYS charged me a stunningly low price for these after several price-tag mishaps. I'm going to check back with them later on whether they really meant to sell them to me for that price.)

Woe #2: I love my casein #1 DPNs. Socks tend to be highly portable projects for me. It's very cold out. These three seemingly disconnected statements add up to trouble for me. It turns out that they're not kidding about the temperature limis on these needles. Freezing causes shattering. Luckily I still have 4, but I think they're going to be confined to indoors until my new plastic friends arrive. I have wanted these ever since I saw them in another knitblogger's socks (I can't remember who right now). They look like just the thing to throw in my backpack, freeze solid, and heat to a crisp. My pretty little greenies can retire to indoors-only knitting.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Bye, bye birdie

See the pretty sweater? Now say "bye, bye" to the pretty sweater. It's not because of pattern problems (the pattern is written up to the bust shaping -- BTW, the earlier schematics I posted are not accurate for a knit fabric, plus don't take into account the changes I've made, so don't knit from them!). It's because of needle problems. I knit an EZ-style hem and a bit more of the sweater, and I had a annoying choice to make: keep gauge or knit without having to force every single stitch over the join between the cord and the needle. (It probably didn't help that I was using a 16" needle to knit the A-line hem of an entire wrap sweater at once.) I suppose what I really need are flexible straight needles, but I'll probably end up with a set of #3 Addi Turbos. The fabric has room to get denser without ill-effect, and if I need to keep knitting a bit loosely to account for the join in the needle, I can do that too. So no more sweater until I get to my LYS tomorrow. The ladies at this store have been incredibly helpful to me with this whole design business; one is bringing in some books for me to look at tomorrow, as EZ is not helpful for certain kinds of shaping I want to do on this sweater. As far as I can tell from Knitting Without Tears she doesn't believe in waist shaping, bust shaping, or set-in sleeves.

At least Murmur was more helpful today.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Deck the sweater

I went down to my LYS and came away with the last copy they had of Knitting on the Edge. I've been swatching since then and came to several conclusions. To wit:

  1. I have to choose the trim before I start knitting the sweater, unless I am simply going to sew the trim on top of a completed sweater.
  2. The trim swatches I have are certainly not right. I need something a bit higher contrast, but not lacey. I'm thinking a Celtic cable of knit on purl, but I'm afraid that the pre-charted ones I have will be too wide. Note that I'll be using the same, or a related, trim for the ties, so I need something reasonably wide already. Perhaps I'll simply knit the trim on #3 needles instead of #4. As I'm making the trim and ties in one piece, it could certainly use the added firmness. In any case, a large part of the ties will certainly be knitted on #3s.

Kitty has been less than useful during this process. No, I don't know why he thinks there's buried treasure underneath my leg.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Mocking myself

As promised, I mocked up my wrap cardigan, using numbers I adapted from a wrap shirt. I didn't mock up the bust or the shoulders; I'll calculate the patterns for those later. I've also written the pattern for an adjustable border of the knitter's choice. I think the cardigan would look nice with a narrow celtic cable of knit on purl, or a moss stich border, but there are many more suggestions in books like Knitting on the Edge.

Here is the mockup with 7", 6", and 3" extra length (you can see the shirt's hem length as the lower blue band on the mockup). I've written the pattern for the 3" extra length, but it is easy to extend it to create a longer sweater. Note that the mockup is somewhat a-line from a slightly empire waist, where the ties also originate. The ties then wrap downwards several inches to tie around the natural waistline. I placed the tie as I did so as to emphasize the waistline without creating the cinched look common in sweaters with ties.

A day late ...

for the silent poetry reading, but I do hope you'll forgive me.
This has always been my favorite poem, although it's perhaps no longer personally appropriate - certainly not to be taken as any sort of comment on the state of my marriage!

Edna St. Vincent Millay - "What Lips My Lips Have Kissed"

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

Poor sense of my own limitations

Have I ever mentioned that I have a rather poor sense of my own limitations? Remember my plan for Replacement Cardi? Well, that's currently gone out the window. I went to my LYS and discussed cardigan construction with Linda (who was extremely helpful, btw), and came to the conclusion that I probably needed a copy of Sweater Wizard. Note that this software is both expensive and Windows-only. Windows bugs me. I don't use it. Thus, I won't be using this program. Then I saw this sweater by Annabelle NYC. I like the sweater, but I don't want it in cotton, nor am I thrilled by the sleeves. So, never having knit a complete sweater, I'm going to design my own.

I took some figures from a non-stretchy wrap sweater that fits me well over the long-sleeve tees I wear all through the winter, and I'll be adapting these into the sweater I'm thinking of, inspired by the sweater above. If anyone's interested in the sweater, I can write up the complete pattern once I've test-knit it and crunch some numbers to get other sizes, assuming I can talk someone into running the shoulder-shaping through Sweater Wizard or something of its ilk. Currently, I have two choices of trim that I think would look nice: moss stich, or a cable that braids together to extend down the tie (mmm... cabling on small-diameter knitting on DPNs). I'm leaning towards the cable right now. Please feel free to leave me suggestions. Tomorrow, I should have some mockups in a knit fabric; I want to make sure I've accounted correctly for the stretchy fabric of the knit. (Note that the figures in the diagram do not include stretch, and are the length of a shirt; the sweater will be somewhat longer, and the back and fronts will be narrower.)

Also, while I was at my LYS, I bought some Lorna's Laces for my sock pal. From reading her blog, I narrowed down the class of pattern I'll be knitting, and chose the "Mixed Berries" colour accordingly. I'm really looking forward to knitting her something nice and cozy!

To the late Brigid

In belated honour of St. Brigid's day (a lovely example of the all-encompassing maw of an "infectious culture" if ever I saw one), a poem by Pablo Neruda from Cien sonetos de amor. Neruda's work is filled with gems; I just happened to have this book within reach of my computer, because I miss my fiance quite fiercely, and I opened it at random.

The earch has known you for a long time now:
you are as firm as bread, or wood;
you are a body, a cluster of absolute substances;
you have an acacia's gravity, the weight of a golden vegetable.

I know you exist, not only because your eyes fly open
and shed their light on things, like an oen window--
but also because you were molded in clay, you were fired
in Chillan, in an astounded adobe oven.

Beings: they dissolve like the air, or water, or the cold.
And they are vague, they vanish when time touches them,
as if before death they crumbled into dust.

But you will fall with me like a rock into the grave:
thanks to our love, which will never waste away,
the earth will continue to live.

That last stanza is very moving to me right now, as we plan our wedding. Roll it around in your mind for a while.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Indecisive? Moi?

This has been the week of desultorily casting on projects and becoming immediately bored with them, but continuing to knit on them anyway. Knitting makes my stress level manifest itself in healthier ways than screaming at the computer (thesis) or TV (state of the union). Plus, it's sometimes entertaining to surprise my students. It's good for them to wake up during class a bit. Sure, someone might have scheduled them into class during lunchtime three days in a row per week, but waking up is good for them. (It's also probably good for keeping me awake when I have to teach several of those days in a row!)

You'd think they'd never seen someone sit in front of a class and knit socks before!

I also cast on for a sweater. I'm not as thrilled with this yarn as I'd like, but it something to knit. I know I'd like to have another sweater (my supply is dangerously low), but knitting with the Mixat is just not all that fun. It's sticking to my bamboo needles and splitting if I look at it sideways. Perhaps I need a set of the metal dowel needles to make this any fun at all. I'm also not 100% sure I like the heathering effect that I'm getting. Opionions, anyone?

Finally, I've been working on a present for a friend of mine. Don't worry, it's a felting project. I have no idea about the pattern, I'm just winging it on this one.

Really, I want to work on some of my other projects, like Zippy (put aside until the Olympics) or play with my new alpaca. Still, I'm going to my LYS today. Why?

  • Return the expensive Jo Sharp yarn for the socks. I may be insane, but I'm going to wait on that insanity until I'm actually going to work on the socks in a more concentrated way.
  • Pattern for my Replacement Cardi. If I don't find one today, I'll probably just reproduce the original cardi, with some bust shaping. I may well need needles for this, too. I also want to use the store's ball winder, as they were busy when I bought the yarn. Anything that will allow me to pet this some more sounds good to me.
  • Needles for Mermaid. I can't knit on it if I don't have anything to knit with!
  • Sock yarn for others. I got my sock pal's information last night, and I'm all kinds of excited. She even has feet that are quite a bit like mine, so I have some ideas on what to knit for her. I may still pick up a book of sock patterns, just because, but I saw a pattern online that I think she might like. I'm still reading her blog to pick up bits of information about her. Stalking is a good thing, if it allows better gifts! I also noticed that Opal's tiger sock yarn is back in production. I know a certain little girl who would love socks to go with her hat (forthcoming when her busy parents send me some measurements).