Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Two Lips

The problem with spending the bulk of my knitting time on a  s.e.c.r.e.t  p.r.o.j.e.c.t  is that, by definition, I can't really share much about it!  No descriptions (besides what I've already posted), no pictures (ditto)...

SO!  I'm about to cast on the next project in the queue -- this lovely bonnet for Punkin's baptism -- because my size 3 circulars were recently freed from:
Tulip Yoke Baby Cardigan
a free Ravelry download by Jennifer Little

a baby tulip cardigan!  It's my first attempt at colorwork of any kind -- stranded, in this case -- and I've totally botched the bindoff on the curves in front... way too tight.  At the rate she's growing, Ms. Pie will only be the right size for another two weeks, so I'd better get cracking on finishing the sleeves!

I might actually make it short-sleeved.  Is that weird?  With puffs?

Puffed sleeves are still fashionable.

The pictures I have of the sweater aren't really true to color, unfortunately:
This is closer.
Sleeves, buttons, and I'll be done!

Saturday, November 27, 2010


So all the pieces of the baptismal gown have been completed!  Once I figured out how to keep track of sleeve craziness, they both knit up fairly quickly; AND they both look like this:
more complicated than it looks

Matching, in this case, is good.

Before I weave in all the ends and do the finishing (do I block before or after sewing all the pieces together?  I'll look it up.  Anyway, it's not fun enough to do it immediately), I want to cast on this lovely bit of fluff:
Punkin's gonna look so cute, I can't even stand it!!

And, of course, there's always the s.e.c.r.e.t  p.r.o.j.e.c.t -- the one I always feel the need to mention.  I can keep a secret, I swear, but this color combo's too good not to share:
Colors are a little off, but you get the idea.
Well, I like it, anyway.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sleeve Saga

I did a lot of calculations (aka MATH) in an effort to make the first sleeve decreases make some kind of sense.  Turns out, I hate math so much, I will only repeat my own personal word problem four times before giving up if the answer confuses me.

Giving up = frogging the sleeve and reknitting.  Yep.

Since I apparently can't do complex things like ADD and SUBTRACT, I made a handy-dandy chart to keep track of the row in the 12-row eyelet pattern, the difference in the number of stitches for each row, and the total number of stitches when the row is complete, i.e.:

cast on 27 sts with long-tail CO
knit                     27
knit                     27
k*(yo,k2tog)rep 27
knit                     27
kfb all                 54
1           0             54
2           0             54
3           0             54
4           0             54
5           0             54
6           0             54
7          -3            51
8          -3            48
9          -2            46
10        -2            44
11        -2            42
12        -2            40
1          -2            38
2          -2            36
3          -2            34
4          -2            32
5          -2            30
6          -2            28
7          -2            26
8          -2            24
9          -2            22
10        -2            20
11        -2            18
12        -2            16
k2tog across      8
bind off purlwise

Inevitably, I discover my arithmetic mistake while redoing an early row (8, -3, 48) and silently curse the day I ever started knitting.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Knit and Thanks share three letters

Yes, it's Thanksgiving, and I'm thankful for so many things, including:
unblocked, unfinished, without sleeves
Finished the knitting on the skirt of the baptismal gown!  I used my own lower edging since the pattern was indecipherable (to me):
Bind off 4 sts, *(wrap yarn around needle and sso) 4 times (picot), 
k2 tog, sso, bind off 10 sts; rep from *, end by binding off rem sts.
I couldn't find any sources that agreed on what "sso" is supposed to be -- slip, slip, over by the looks of it, but I can't see how repeating that + a yo would create a picot.  Sooooo I just completely ignored that and did:
    rd 1: knit all
    rd 2: *yo, k2tog; rep from *
    Bind off loosely using suspended bindoff.
The result is simple enough not to take away from the rest of the skirt, but still fancy for a special occasion.

After 4.5 repeats of the leaf lace pattern, I had changed my mind about the designer (who shall remain nameless on this blog, but if you link to the pattern, I guess you'll find out!).  But now I've started the sleeves, and all the goodwill built up during the skirt work is gone again -- on. crack.       allegedly.        It's the eyelet pattern.  Plus shaping.  Again.  For some reason, I find it to be insanely difficult.  It's made me do math, people... MATH.  And I'm totally stuck now.  And even if I work this one sleeve out, I still have to make another one exactly like.  And... ugh!  I'm done on this for the day.  I'll be bringing my secret project to the in-laws' house.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Research is delicious and nutritious

I'm working on a  s.e.c.r.e.t  p.r.o.j.e.c.t  that began with a crucial decision: entrelac? or garterlac?  For those in the dark, entrelac is defined and explained here, and garterlac is the garter stitch (knit stitch only) version of the concept.  Armed with yarn and no expectations, I wanted to branch out and check off at least one new skill on my personal Knit List; modular knitting of any kind was new to me and would prove to be challenging.

Entrelac vs. Garterlac AKA You say potato...
SO!  How to decide?  I started with research -- librarian much? -- on Google and YouTube.  I find YouTube to be the bestest ever resource in the world for learning new techniques or reminding me about things I don't do very often (kitchener stitch, etc.).

I quickly discovered that both entrelac and garterlac begin with casting on and knitting a series of base triangles on which to build diagonal tiers of knitted rectangles.  The "LetsKnit2gether" video podcast about entrelac doesn't cover how to begin the base triangles or side edge triangle; in fact, this video is actually about garterlac!  False advertising!  Eunny Jang's Knitting Daily TV is the clearest instructional video on YouTube, but even she doesn't cover triangles.  I found this video with base triangles and nothing else -- not even sound...  : \

And then there's the matter of slipping stitches to make picking up rectangle selvage stitches easier.  Eunny and Carol Wyche's Untangling Entrelac tutorial instruct one to slip the first stitch of every row; KnittyOtter's blog instructions are clear that slipping the first stitch should be done on knit rows only.  About.com's tutorial has you slipping the last stitch of every row.  Who's right?  Gah!

LetsKnit2gether, while not covering garterlac in great detail, does refer one to Criminy Jicket's Garterlac Dishcloth pattern -- finally, something that made sense.  Clear written instructions for all parts of the work (base, side, and top triangles, thank goodness), no irritating slipped stitches, and the benefit of reversibility: garterlac it is!

Bonus: Knitting and Purling Backward
I also figured out right away that all the work turning with modular knitting was going to get really old really fast.  This was my opportunity to learn how to knit backwards (and, in the case of garter stitch, purl backwards) from the right needle to the left.

The Knit Witch has a knitting backwards video that's relatively easy to follow.  Ravelry's Rox also has a video about knitting backwards that begins with a lot of talking, but her videos are always very helpful once she gets where she's going.

The Craft Vintage Grrl's video on purling backwards is very helpful for Continental knitters especially -- plus she's Australian, which always makes listening more fun.

YarnDude Matthew shows both knitting and purling backwards; the instructions are quick and clear, but there's a lot of chatting in background, which might throw some people off.  I was able to tune them out, but if you're too distracted by the ambient noise, try some combination of the other videos I mentioned in this post.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fear of the unknown

So I'm knitting Punkin's baptismal gown from KnitPicks Comfy Sport in white and I'm really liking it.  It's super duper soft to the touch, has great stitch definition, and is machine washable and dryable.  Even in December, Ms. Pie runs warm, so wool was out of the question.  The softness + easy care of Comfy Sport is basically the definition of baby yarn.  However, it's 75% pima cotton, 25% acrylic: does that composition make sense for lace knitting?  It did in my brain when I was purchasing the yarn, but the longer I knit with it, the more skeptical I get.  The unknown is getting to me.  My biggest fear is blocking...  
-- Blocking is essential for lace shaping.
-- I've never truly blocked anything.
-- Acrylic, a 25% share of the yarn, doesn't block. 

It's a little late to switch to something else:
I've completed 3.5 pattern repeats of an intended 4.5, with several very long breaks in progress. Heck, I might even go until 5.5 if I've got the yarn for it (the extra .5 is part of the pattern).

Oooh, maybe I'll do the sleeves, then return to the skirt and use up all the yarn...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

In which someone may be on crack.

My most important current project has a deadline at the end of December, but it's not holiday-related.  No, my Punkin's baptism is scheduled for the day after Christmas, and I -- in a decidedly brazen move -- have committed to knitting her a long, white garment fit for the occasion. Somebody actually said, "Wow, that's pretty ballsy"... which is not a word that's usually used to describe me.  Makes me wonder if she knows the definition of ballsy.  Amelia Earhart was ballsy.  The guy who landed the plane on the Hudson was ballsy.*  I think the word she was searching for was "reckless" -- and I would agree with that.

In my smartest moment yet, I started the gown in late August and completed the bodice over a weekend:
The time it took to complete this piece is directly inverse to the clarity of the instructions.  What I mean to say is, whomever wrote the pattern was on crack.  ALLEGEDLY.  Allegedly on crack.  There's a twisted eyelet pattern done simultaneously with neck and armhole shaping, and the back has a worked buttonband... anyway, it's cah-razy.

The twisted eyelet is interesting-looking.  It involves this tidbit:
"with right hand needle, catch running threads at top and bottom of eyelet below and place on needle, insert left needle into those two threads, and p2 tog." This happens a lot and I sure hope I did it correctly.  I'm a little peeved that the twist happens a good four (five? something like that) rows after the yo eyelet; I wasn't able to accomplish the slick twisty move on three holes near the top of the bodice front.  I think it's pretty noticeable:
But I'm not going back to fix it.  If a mistake is so weird that it takes me two weeks to find a workable-for-me solution, it will never be fixed.

*I apparently associate the term "ballsy" with aviation.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Allow myself to introduce... myself...

...name that movie. Whoa, hi, Cyprienne here! I've been knitting for a decade, seriously pursuing the craft for the past four years. I've never blogged before, a fact which I'm sure is all too apparent at this juncture. :) My friends are super wonderful, but I think even they get a little sick of hearing about knitting; this site and my Twitter account will be used as a crafty brain dump of sorts. I enjoy singing, reading, playing video games, and watching movies with subtitles -- and this may be the last time you'll hear about any of that. You may, however, hear more about my husband and daughter as relates to my knitting adventures (and current projects!). My hairdo and my bedhead are the same thing.  The music of Sly & the Family Stone has saved my day on more than one occasion. I continually have melted chocolate on the front of my shirt; this is no one's fault but my own.

~ 0 ~ | ~ 0 ~ | ~ 0 ~ | ~ 0 ~ | ~ 0 ~ | ~ 0 ~ | ~ 0 ~ | ~ 0 ~ | ~ 0 ~ | ~ 0 ~ | ~ 0 ~ |

Back at the turn of the century -- the year 2000, that is -- I was a student at a small liberal-arts college, trying to learn how to think critically and write both clearly and concisely. A trip to an honors conference provided the necessary time and talent needed to begin a hobby; we had two and a half days away from school, and our professor came armed with several sets of straight needles and worsted weight acrylic. Nine of us attempted to knit poolside while other students looked at us askance as they splashed by.

Fast forward several scarf-filled years: following graduation, I got a job and moved to the general vicinity of Washington D.C., the "most powerful city in the free world," a place where I knew precisely five people over the age of eighteen. Occasionally one coworker or another would invite me to go bowling or something, but mostly I needed something to do. Miles of garter stitch had lost its appeal; I was going to knit a sweater!

This sweater:

in this color:

If I had known only then what I know now...
- that the meaning of "moss stitch" depends on which side of the Atlantic one is on;
- that gauge, while not important for scarves, matters a whole heckuva lot with sweaters;
- that my usual yarn tension is considered to be quite loose;
- that when a pattern mentions a certain size of needle, it is merely a suggestion.

Long story short: I have a cardigan made from beautiful, expensive yarn that is triple its intended size. Rather than frog and reknit, I have kept it as an object lesson in the importance of swatching for gauge. And as a warm layer that fits over anything I could possibly wear. A fisherman sweater could fit under this bad boy with room to spare.

Since then, I've made about a hundred attempts at various knitted projects; most have been successful, more or less, but the process of knitting tends to matter more to me than the product. If I make a mistake that isn't too terribly obvious, I'll leave it. It is handmade, after all. No human can achieve perfection -- especially not me. :)