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Right now, I'm very busy working on an MA in creative writing. There's a huge amount of reading and writing involved, of course, not to mention a hefty dissertation due this coming autumn. Last year, I did all right with balancing everything and continuing to knit, but this year the reading load shot up and got out of my control like Moody's Goose. So I decided it was time to put the knitting aside and carry books in my handbag, instead of carrying both and ending up knitting on the Tube and not reading.

And you know what?

It didn't really work out all that well. I found myself behind. I found myself at odds with my own creativity. And yet I persevered, not taking knitting with me everywhere I went, rarely making it out to knitting events, letting my pile of UFOs sit in the basket(who am I kidding? baskets) like woolly motherless children.

I kept on doing it. You know what they say about the definition of insanity, right? Repeating the same thing over and over and expecting different results? Not only that, but people actually praised me for not knitting! My GP, when she saw me in the waiting room before an appointment, said, "Well, at least today you are reading and not knitting." (wtf?) A person in authority at my job used my story of how the iPad was freeing me to write anywhere I wanted to to say proudly, "And now she's knitting less and writing more!" in a meeting. (that wasn't what I meant at all...)

Then, someone asked me, "But don't you feel like knitting is a creativity-sparking exercise?" And I thought back to all those things I tell my knitting students about the meditative quality of knitting. Sometimes, I tell them, sometimes, when I have a problem, I just sit down and knit. And you know what? The solution to my problem just appears.

So a couple of weeks ago, I got sick and I couldn't go to work for a little bit. I dragged myself out to the RFH with a couple of socks, just to see if I could be around people. And I was working away on this simple sock when suddenly the whole plot of my novel appeared before me. I mean, I had it all outlined and stuff, but suddenly I saw the whole thing unfolding like a film. I made a couple of notes about key scenes and went back to knitting, and that evening I wrote 2,000 words.

So, yeah. Not putting the knitting aside any more.

Pictures, if you're interested, beneath the cut tag.

A couple of socks )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)
Right now, I'm very busy working on an MA in creative writing. There's a huge amount of reading and writing involved, of course, not to mention a hefty dissertation due this coming autumn. Last year, I did all right with balancing everything and continuing to knit, but this year the reading load shot up and got out of my control like Moody's Goose. So I decided it was time to put the knitting aside and carry books in my handbag, instead of carrying both and ending up knitting on the Tube and not reading.

And you know what?

It didn't really work out all that well. I found myself behind. I found myself at odds with my own creativity. And yet I persevered, not taking knitting with me everywhere I went, rarely making it out to knitting events, letting my pile of UFOs sit in the basket(who am I kidding? baskets) like woolly motherless children.

I kept on doing it. You know what they say about the definition of insanity, right? Repeating the same thing over and over and expecting different results? Not only that, but people actually praised me for not knitting! My GP, when she saw me in the waiting room before an appointment, said, "Well, at least today you are reading and not knitting." (wtf?) A person in authority at my job used my story of how the iPad was freeing me to write anywhere I wanted to to say proudly, "And now she's knitting less and writing more!" in a meeting. (that wasn't what I meant at all...)

Then, someone asked me, "But don't you feel like knitting is a creativity-sparking exercise?" And I thought back to all those things I tell my knitting students about the meditative quality of knitting. Sometimes, I tell them, sometimes, when I have a problem, I just sit down and knit. And you know what? The solution to my problem just appears.

So a couple of weeks ago, I got sick and I couldn't go to work for a little bit. I dragged myself out to the RFH with a couple of socks, just to see if I could be around people. And I was working away on this simple sock when suddenly the whole plot of my novel appeared before me. I mean, I had it all outlined and stuff, but suddenly I saw the whole thing unfolding like a film. I made a couple of notes about key scenes and went back to knitting, and that evening I wrote 2,000 words.

So, yeah. Not putting the knitting aside any more.

Pictures, if you're interested, beneath the cut tag.

A couple of socks )


Sep. 17th, 2010 03:21 am
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Wow, nearly a month with no posts? I'm sorry. I know my teeming audience is completely devastated when they don't find a new knitting post from me! (just kidding; every time I make a new knitting post, I lose readers like crazy, to be honest)

But -- here's what's been going on knittingwise since the 26th of August, when I posted about my 31 WIPs.

  • I finished two!
  • I started designing a new sock, which I'll go into more detail about eventually, I'm sure.
  • Test knitting has started on another sock pattern!
  • The delightful V and I have begun knitting school plans. Again, more later.
  • I started the project you'll see a photo of below, Dryad.

I have been filling my time with lots of outings and plans with the delightful V, lovely and fun experiences at my day job, and tonight I did some volunteer teaching at Stitch London, a group I highly recommend if you're ever in London.

When I was working for KnitWitches at Knit Nation back in August, I picked up a skein of Wollmeise lace yarn in colourway Golden Pear. And some coppery beads. I picked these things up in order to knit the Dryad stole by Sivia Harding.

You all know how I love mythical and fairy type creatures, and folk tales, and stuff like that, right? So when you look at that picture, are you as annoyed as I was?

See, a Dryad is a tree spirit, not a water spirit. Now, I'm pretty sure the designer would have done her research on this, so perhaps the blame goes to the photographers and designers at Twist Collective (which is a lovely knitting mag, honest!), who did this whole photoshoot of a routinely willowy model by the sea, or a river or something. Sorry, TC: that's a Naiad you're thinking of. So either somebody got the name wrong in copy or somebody's an idiot. I'm going to go with the latter. Pedantic as I am, I decided that my Dryad would by-damn look like a dryad!

Why did I cast it on tonight? Well, because tomorrow I'm representing the Knitting and Crochet guild at a stitching show, and it's always good to be knitting a stunning piece of lace at these things.

How do you think I'm doing?

The first few rounds of Dryad
The first few rounds of Dryad
This is Wollmeise lace yarn in colourway 'golden pear'. I really like the way the oversized copper kidney bean beads are showing up here. This thing is going to scream 'handwash only' in the loudest knitty voice ever!

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Yes, really. Thirty-one projects on needles. And eleven of them are NOT socks! I am unrepentant. I'm also sure there are a few more around the house somewhere....

Thirty-one Projects: Thirty-one Annotated Photographs! )
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You can find them here. Several people had suggestions, and I've incorporated them into a new .pdf, with a better photograph, better charts, ad more definition. As always, I'd love some feedback.

If you want to knit these and you're a Ravelry member, please queue them and put them into your project page on Ravelry — it would help my designer stats move from '0' to 'more than 0'. :D

(I'm Kniteracy on Ravelry.)
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Razor's Edge Socks!

If you care to, try downloading this to make sure it works? :)
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So, according to various Knitting Luminaries out there, there are two main paths on the Knitting Road, and they are Process and Project. Let me give you some definitions, in case you're not a knitting addict and you've never heard these terms. Knitters, go get yourselves a cup of tea; this won't take long. Better be a fast kettle, actually.

Process Knitters enjoy the journey more than the destination. That is, they love the stitch, the technique, the way a colour looks next to another colour. They're more concerned with learning a new technique than finishing something in time for Auntie Schmoop's birthday. They often have tons of projects on the go, often for the purpose of teaching themselves a new technique or exploring some stitch dictionary they found in the library.

Product Knitters want to finish. While they love knitting as much as their fellow travellers, it's the end product they crave. They'll put other projects aside to finish a special cardigan in time for autumn. They often have only a few projects going at one time, and there are priorities. While they may enjoy knitting that sock on the train, Auntie Schmoop's got to have her lap throw in time, and so that silk/wool blend stays in the handbag when they've got the room to knit the project that's higher up on the priority list.

I am a process knitter. I've cast on a pair of socks just to figure out how a unique rolled cuff was created. I've designed a completely tubular vest for a teddy bear just so I can be assured I know how to cut both armhole and neck steeks. So when I learned how to attach beads to lace using the crochet hook method at Knit Nation, I decided I should make something relatively simple employing beads just to get the knowledge cemented in my head. I did a Ravelry search for socks with beads and found what I was looking for on the Yahoo Groups page for a group I've been a lurker on for years. Below, you'll see photos of the recently-finished (and given away!) Fagoting Rib Socks. "Fagoting" is an embroidery term, also applied to lace knitting. It's a decorative lace achieved by pulling threads away from one another to give a lattice effect.

Fagoting Rib Socks, Finished, Front

Here are the completed Fagoting Rib Socks. Yes, that's fagoting running down the centre front. :)
Fagoting Rib Socks, Finished, Front
Fagoting Rib Socks, Finished, Sides

I really do love the subtle bead detail. I first started these in a limited edition Cherry Tree Hill colour that I fell in love with, but the CTH, even though it's classed as a 4-ply/fingering/sock weight wool, was just slightly too big for the beads. So I dug around in my stash and found 100g of Opal Solid I'd had lying around since an order from Get Knitted ages ago, and the Opal is considerably smoother and less fluffy than the CTH. Now the CTH is becoming something else, which I'll post about eventually, I'm sure.
Fagoting Rib Socks, Finished, Sides
Fagoting Rib Socks, Finished, Back

And the fagoting up the backs is nice, too. Note the modified Eye of Partridge stitch on the heel flap. Lots of you know that I flit around among several different projects at the same time, because sometimes I just don't want to knit the same old thing again. That's one reason why I almost never do the second sock right after the first: I just have several socks on the go at once, and when I finish one I work on another. Eventually I come around to the mate of an already finished sock, and then I can rejoice because I have a new pair of socks. I don't think it's a bad system. But these socks didn't bore me, not one bit, not even though they're knit from the cuff down, which I usually hate. The ruffled cuff was interesting to make, beading is a new skill for me so I cherished it, even though there aren't many beads on this sock, and the fagoting rib was fast, easy, and wonderful to watch. The modified heel stitch made even the heel flap fun, and the narrowing of the lace pattern on the sock's instep was fun to do as the foot of the sock acquired its shape. We've all got projects we'd like to throw across the room—I couldn't put this one down. It was like a great book. Designer Claudia Tietze did a great job with this.
Fagoting Rib Socks, Finished, Back
Fagoting Rib Socks, Finished, Where They Belong

On V's feet! I'm so glad she was pleased with her birthday present. :) My lovely friend V is younger than me by only a few months, and her birthday was last Friday. These socks were finished in time for me to give them to her the first time I saw her after her birthday, and that was lovely. As many of you know, I am a selfish knitter and I don't give a lot of knitted items away, except once a year to my favourite filk charity, so you might have some idea of what an important friend V is and how much I love her.
Fagoting Rib Socks, Finished, Where They Belong
Process Knitter? You Bet! Spiral Cable Socks!

Sometimes you look at something, and you can't help thinking, "How did she *do* that?" That's what I thought when I saw these socks. And you know what happened next! I cast these on last night and knitted up the toes before class at I Knit London. I was planning to figure out the technique in the dying embers of the knitting group after my students had left, but instead I found myself in no fit state until I got home last night, whereupon it was much simpler. By this morning when I headed to the Royal Festival Hall to have a much-looked-forward-to meeting with my beloved Uppity Ladies, I felt confident. Of course, the marking thread I'd decided to use turned out to be much too dark in the RFH's poor lighting, so I borrowed, first from J and then from Aunty M, brighter marking wool —that's Aunty M's turquoise DK teasing from behind the sock-in-progress here.

So how is it done? Come talk to me in person sometime, and I'll show you. Or run-don't-walk out and get yourself a copy of THINK OUTSIDE THE SOX.
Process Knitter? You Bet! Spiral Cable Socks!
Spiral Cable Socks, from Think Outside the Sox

Here's the photograph of the completed socks from the book. A little more about the book? It's the result of a Knitter's magazine contest, and I've been reading teasers for it for months. I was so interested in this book I actually signed up on the Knitter's web site to find out more about it. They didn't get back to me, but one night a few weeks ago at I Knit London, the delightful but rarely seen these days B comes up to me and says, "Have you seen this book? I really like it, and I think I'm going to buy it, but not tonight, because I don't have the money." I snatched it out of her hands (I recognised the cover) and said, "That's good, because I'm going to buy it!" Whereupon money was exchanged, and we figured out that only one copy of the book had been ordered into IKL. Muahaha! Victory was mine! And the book doesn't disappoint: there's a huge variety of fascinating sock patterns, from the sublime to the ridiculous, in this book. Sometimes a book comes along that really changes the way you think about something, and this one does that. It's not as earth-shattering as Cat Bordhi's New Pathays for Sock Knitters, but it's amazing for its sheer diversity. If you love knitting socks and you can find a copy, run out and get it. I think it was £18.
Spiral Cable Socks, from Think Outside the Sox
Dover Castle Shawl, Getting Dressed

This is a project I haven't blogged about, because again it's a gift for a friend. It's actually been finished for weeks now, but I only got around to blocking it tonight. Blocking takes up space, and there's not always very much space in my house; at the moment, the blocking boards are taking up about 1/3 of our huge kitchen table. Assuming no rain tomorrow (and that's a big assumption!) I'll hang it out on the line in the morning for faster drying.

No, the iPad isn't included for scale. It just happened to be sitting there while I was pinning down the shawl.
Dover Castle Shawl, Getting Dressed
Dover Castle Shawl, Lace Detail

This is Handmaiden Casbah Sock, in the prettiest blue-purple I've ever seen. I could only afford one ball of it, and I started out making something else out of it. But this came out much nicer. The lace pattern is very simple, but particularly in the soft wool/cashmere blend, it feels and looks amazing. And you can't beat Handmaiden's rich colours. I can never get knitting photos perfect: the colour here is actually a lot darker and richer than what you see in the photograph.
Dover Castle Shawl, Lace Detail

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I don't know what it is with me. All my knitting friends talk about getting sucked in to Ravelry, how many friends they've made there, how great it is to have a community of knitters ... and while I've been on Ravelry since October of 2007, I only just passed my 100th post.

Once upon a time, there was a Knitlist. Maybe it's still out there; I don't know. I joined it, and I was relatively active for a little while, but I just couldn't keep it up. I don't think I'm a member of the Knitlist any longer, if it still exists. I'm still a member of the Sock Knitter email list, even though I never read it. I'm also a member of Socken-Kreative, even though I don't speak German, because good patterns are occasionally posted there in English. And I've been a member of the Six Sox Knitalong mailing list for years, but I don't think I've ever made a single post to the mailing list.

I guess I just am not a joiner. Maybe I don't have the kind of time to invest in these things, I don't know. Loads of knitters I love and admire don't think their day has begun if they haven't caught up on Sock Knitters Anonymous on Ravelry, and one lady swears by Lazy, Stupid, and Godless, also on Ravelry.

Nobody knows who I am on Ravelry, except for a few local friends. I changed my Ravelry name yesterday, and I don't think anybody except my little local circle will even have noticed. I use Ravelry mostly to keep track of projects; I actually have a more extensive project notebook than many people who are much more "active" on Ravelry than I am. I pitch Ravelry to my students as a place to learn about patterns and see them knitted up in ways you might not have imagined. But the sense of community other people have found there continues to elude me.

Ravelry and other knitting oriented groups/sites aren't the only places this happens. I love fountain pens, but I only go on the fountain pen network forum to ask questions. While I was once an active member of the internet harp list, I never read the messages any more. I don't even keep up with the wire harp list. I barely read the filk mailing lists most of my UK friends live on. I can just about keep up with LiveJournal, if I filter my reading, and FaceBook is skimmable. I don't actually read my friends list on Dreamwidth: DW is just a home for the Kniteracy blog until I have a better place to put it.

And yet I'm sure I'm a social person. I'm considered talkative, even magnanimous, by most people who know me.

So, OK. If you're a joiner, if you're a member in good standing, if you're invested, tell me how you got that way, and tell me what the difference is between your experience of places like Ravelry and fringey me.

And what was the point of that personal ramble on your knitting blog, Gwen? Well, it's because of what I'm knitting now. It comes from the Six Sox Knitalong, and I feel a little guilty for not, well, knitting along. It's one of the few patterns posted there that's ever completely caught my interest and come around at the right time for me to knit it and enjoy it and do something a bit new (beads) to me at the same time.

Want some pictures? Or-- here's a link to the Ravelry Project Page for these socks. I can now share links from Ravelry, so you should be able to see the page even if you're not a Ravelry member.

Fagoting Rib Sock, Cuff Detail
Fagoting Rib Sock, Cuff Detail
Fagoting Rib Socks, Progress Down Foot
Fagoting Rib Socks, Progress Down Foot


Aug. 1st, 2010 10:17 pm
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I've spent the last two days helping out KnitWitches at KnitNation. It was a lot of fun, but very tiring, especially since I started the weekend with some kind of horrible stomach bug that didn't completely go away until sometime last evening.

If you've ever seen KnitWitches yarn at a show or perhaps at I Knit London, you know that it lives up to its name: "Seriously Gorgeous". Eirwen, the talented dyer and creates amazing colourways in luxury yarn that so many UK knitters, myself included, just lust after. It was loads of fun to watch her enjoying the pleasure people got from looking at and touching her work. She's not only an amazing dyer, she's a delightful person, and I enjoyed every minute I spent with her. Her husband, Richard, is also lovely. I'm not sure, but I may have earned the name "snood-chucker", which is probably right up there with "chicken-chaser" in the world of great titles. ;-)

There were loads of knitting luminaries to be seen, but as I was working (and couldn't have afforded any of the classes anyway), I didn't meet any of them. I did catch a glimpse of Beth Brown-Reinsel at the after party, as well as Cookie A, but I didn't meet anybody else. I did score a copy of Janel Laidman's first book The Enchanted Sole, which she apparently was on hand to sign, but ih. Honestly, the classes were so expensive that nobody I know could have afforded any of them, but there were a whole lot of knitters there spending a whole lot of money, so somebody must have been able to. It's too bad: I've been wanting to take BBR's Gansey Workshop for years. That's the only class that really appealed to me: most everything else was stuff I've done before. It didn't really matter; I got to see a lot of friends, and I really enjoyed working with KnitWitches. Besides, I already got to meet my Knitting Idol, and it was just as fabulous as I hoped it'd be.

Both days were busy, in waves. Wollmeise was definitely the rock star of the show; Eirwen said that on Thursday night's pre-show sale, the doors opened and the thundering footsteps down to the Woolmeise booth just made everybody laugh. Wollmeise is hard to get outside of Munich: while they have an online store, they post new wool every week, one a week, and they sell out in less than 24 hours. So, yeah. If you go to the store near Munich, you can get it, but otherwise you have to hope you know someone who's going to Munich (well, Pfaffenhofen) and doesn't mind stopping by Wollmeise for you.

Juno had some lovely things, as did Artisan, Old Maiden Aunt, Skein Queen, EasyKnits, and of course KnitWitches (but you know I'm biased!). Because the KnitWitches booth was just across from Loop, I got to talk to the Loop Ladies, and since the Knitting and Crochet Guild stand was just a little further on, I got to talk to and hang out with the lovely Vanessa, Jan, Yvonne, Penny, Roz, and Various Other People I Can't Remember Right Now.

Good things about the show: Cosy atmosphere, friendly people, mostly good organisation and communication, extremely helpful and ever-present crew. Good mixture of ages, though the event definitely skewed younger and hipper with loads of Ravellers and their youthful enthusiasm everywhere.

Room for improvement: Marketplace seemed cramped from the vendor point of view: even six more inches would have made folk much more comfortable. Shops seemed stacked, and the very smallest stall size was barely big enough for two people and a table. Location in general was not fabulous: hard to find, expensive neighbourhood that probably made accommodation difficult for out-of-towners, we were sharing the space with ICL students and staff, not to mention other events going on throughout the weekend, such poor acoustics in the after party that you had to shout to hear yourself and hearing others was impossible. Classes were £10 more expensive for 3 hours than the I Knit Weekender classes (I admit I may be feeling sour grapes here because I was interested in several and would never have been able to afford them-- I couldn't have afforded to go if I hadn't been working for KnitWitches, so that gives you an idea of exactly how poor I am).

Friday, I was on the stall most of the day, with a half hour break for lunch and little walks around the marketplace to stretch. It was a little annoying not to have a badge, as I kept getting stopped at the door and having to explain who I was again, but nothing's perfect. Marketplace was open 'til 8, but Eirwen let me go around 6. Of course, I spent the rest of the evening hanging out with the ladies at K&C Guild, and then [profile] filceolaire brought me doughnuts! He and I had dinner out, then he went off to do night inspections, and I went home to fall into bed.

Saturday, I was on the stall most of the day, with a half hour break for lunch and little walks around the marketplace to stretch. [personal profile] mokatiki came by, and we had a wander. She bought yarn. She helped Eirwen buy yarn. She didn't buy that much yarn. Honest. After the marketplace closed at 6, we had an hour's worth of teardown, and then Vanessa, Penny, Mary, and I went to Paper Tiger for Chinese buffet (£4.99, yay! long walk, boo!), then back to ICL for the Ravelry Party (which, unlike the Ravelry Talk, we didn't have to pay £10 to get into). We met Meg, whose Ravelry name has the word Smurf in it, and I finally actually got a Ravelry badge. I'm not all that active on Ravelry, but hey. There were lovely raffle prizes, which we didn't win, and some knitting luminaries, who didn't know us well enough to realise that we were much more entertaining than all the people we did know. We left a little after 10, having drunk our fill (a Diet Coke each!), and then we had to work to find the exit to the venue and walk back to South Kensington to catch buses home. I made a poor decision and caught a very slow, tiny bus that said it went to Elephant and Castle. I got off the bus at St. Giles Circus and caught a 188 to Canada Water, so I could get a closer bus home.

Here is a photograph of all the yarn I got, and an explanation of how I paid for very little of it. :D

Here's the yarn I scored at KnitNation. Top Left: Wollmeise Laceweight, in colourway Kornblume. 300g, 1,722 yards. 100% merino superwash. Payment for a lace class to be taught to S. Top Middle: KnitWitches Seriously Gorgeous Cash-anova Supersock, in colourway Woodland. 300g, appx 1,200 metres. Merino/Cashmere/Nylon. Payment from KnitWitches. Top Right: Wollmeise Twin, in colourway Förster's Glück, 100g, 311m. Superwash merino. For a sock for J. Top Righter Right: Wollmeise Twin, in colourway Feldmauschen, 100g, 310m. Superwash merino. For a sock for J. Smack-Dab in the Middle: Tilli Thomas Rock Star, in colourway Stony Mist, 100g, 150 yards. Silk with glass beads. Yarn-seller's gift to a friend who didn't care for the colourway. Below the smack-dab in the Middle: Wollmeise Lace, in colourway Golden Pear. 300g, 1,717 yards. 100% superwash wool. For my Dryad, payment for another lace class, as it turns out. Bottom: KnitWitches Seriously Gorgeous Laceweight Silk, in colourway Lapis Night. 300g, 1,800m. 100% silk. Payment from KnitWitches.

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I've started several simple pairs of socks in preparation for the next MA term, started the patterning on the Celtic Leaves shawl, worked hard, written a lot, and mostly knitted very simple things on the train.

Now though, with the hottest part of the summer hopefully behind us, I'm gearing up for KnitNation, where I'll be helping out at the KnitWitches stall and hopefully getting to attend a few events along the way. It should be fun.

Call me a compulsive project-starter (really, it's OK; I call myself that all the time!), but I want something lacy and silky to be knitting during KnitNation. Which one do you like best?

From left to right:
Two skeins of Handmaiden Sea Silk, 800m total
One skein of Seriously Gorgeous Laceweight Swiss Cashmere and Silk, 1,000m
One skein of Artisan Yarns Ravelry Red silk, 600m, and
One skein of Handmaiden Lace Silk, 600m

Now, since I'm working for KnitWitches, it might be politic for me to work with the Seriously Gorgeous. But it's a dark colour and I'm not feeling it right now, plus the cashmere content will make it less than ideal to knit in a hot exhibit hall. I'm leaning more toward the silk and silk/seacell blends, but tell me what you like best!
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This evening, I finally started making the box pleats for the Celtic Leaves shawl. They are beautiful and quite easy to make, even though they're a little bit ticky, since I have to juggle three parallel needles (and knit three together from all of them at the same time). I'm using Square dpns for the cable needles now, but I might actually switch to wood if I decide to take this project on the bus in the morning.

Amazingly, my 546 stitches will turn into only 186 stitches when I'm done, according to the pattern.

How the box pleats are made:
For the whole of the pleat section, I've been knitting 30 knit stitches and then 30 purl stitches with a border of 15 purl stitches plus three knit stitches with an eyelet at each edge.

So to begin the box pleat row, I first knit three stitches. Then I'm onto the 15 border purl stitches. Ten of these get slipped onto one cable needle, then the next 10 stitches (5p, 5k) get slipped onto another cable needle. These needles are then placed parallel to the LH needle so that the pleat folds properly, and three stitches are knitted together (one from each needle). The next half of the pleat is made exactly the same way except the fold is reversed. It really is like magic! Right now I'm using a 150cm needle for this project. I may actually end up going with a shorter cable for the remainder of the piece, since I won't need all that extra space. Or maybe I won't: having such a long cable will give me a good way to show it off while I'm knitting!

Once I'm done with the box pleat row, there are some setup rows with a garter stitch base, and then I'm into the shawl itself, which is comprised of two edge panels, two cable panels, and a large centre panel. The panels are separated by simple fagoting, but the effect is very nice and open. I suspect the edges of the box pleats will need to be ironed during blocking/dressing to flatten out the cast-on.

The only thing I'm not looking forward to? Knitting another tedious box pleat section, right at the end of this project! That's another 547-stitch Channel Island cast-on, followed by 22 rows of alternating 30 knit and 30 purl stitches. It's not a killer, and it's good train knitting, but it does go on for a bit!

When I'm done with the box pleats, I'll post more photographs.

Box Pleats
Box Pleats
Three box pleats completed, six to go!
Box Pleat Detail
Box Pleat Detail
Aren't they pretty?

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Sunday evening, I was on the Central Line, heading home from work. I took out my knitting and started working on the will-they-ever-end box pleats for Celtic Leaves.

Three seats away, a blonde woman leaned toward me. "Excuse me," she said.

I looked up and smiled at her.

"What are you knitting?"

"It'll be a shawl," I replied.

Across from her, two women who'd been talking to one another listened in. One of them said, "That's going to be a big shawl!"

I chuckled. "These will be box pleats, so the piece will only end up being about half this wide."

"You knit differently than I do," said the other lady.

The blonde lady two seats away nodded. "Me, too," she said. "I've never seen anybody knit like that."

The first lady across the way said, "Oh, that's the Continental style. I was taught to knit that way, believe it or not."

"How's it different?" wondered the blonde lady.

"I handle the yarn in my left hand," I explained. "It's just the way I learned to knit."

"Is it faster?" she asked.

The second lady across the way said, "That's what I've heard."

I didn't notice the lady to my right nodding. "I knit in the old fashioned English way," she said, "and everybody I know who knits like you do knits much faster than I do!"

"There we go!" said the blonde lady. "If only we'd all brought our knitting, we could have a Central Line knitting party right now!"

Everybody had a giggle, and I got back to my knitting. I paused to answer a question from the lady to my right about how the box pleats were going to be made. I explained to her that the purl-side stitches would fold back to create the pleat texture. She made 'impressed' noises.

At my stop, I folded up the knitting and headed down to the Jubilee Line. All the ladies gave me a pleasant goodbye on my way out of the carriage. :-)

And they say Londoners don't talk on the Tube.

Today at work, I was finishing up about three transactions at once and helping a lady find the right person to check her in for an appointment. I paused to ask a gentleman who was standing at the counter if he was doing all right; he'd been standing there a while. He allowed that he was fine, no problem, just waiting for someone to bring him a product. I reassured him that I just like to check on people and was getting ready to head back and take care of something else, when the woman with him said, "Hey! I know you!"

She didn't look familiar to me, but I turned to her and smiled anyway.

"You go to knit nights at I Knit London!"

"Yes, I do," I replied.

"You made that amazing shawl, didn't you?"

"I did," I said. It's hard not to sound prideful when I admit I made this gorgeous thing keeping my shoulders warm in the dry air conditioning. "And I'm almost always at I Knit London on Wednesdays; I teach beginning classes there."

"Do you ever teach lace?" she wondered. She reached out to touch the shawl and I handed her an end to examine.

"I do; it's just a question of when things get onto the shop calendar. If I don't our other teacher, A, has taught lace there before and may very well again."

"I would love to take a lace class from you," she said. She turned to her husband. "See? I told you I knew her!"

I told her I hoped I'd see her at IKL soon, and went back to doing my job.

We are everywhere. :) I've had students and former students come into my workplace before, and others who've recognised me from festivals and knit nights. I also recognise and compliment handknits when I see them on my customers. I say, "Did you knit that?" and get a knowing smile in return. "I thought you might notice," some of them say. I admit I've been wearing the Screaming Green Alien Shawl at work a lot, because it doesn't cover up essential bits of my work identification, and it keeps my shoulders and arms warm. It also makes me feel good about myself, in the same way that wearing handknit socks makes me feel good about myself. I feel more confident when I'm wearing signs of my own competence, if that makes any sense.

At home tonight, I'm wearing a shawl made for me by dear friend SN, whom I haven't seen since I left Atlanta six years ago. It's made out of Aran-weight Wensleydale, in two contrasting shades of grey, a comfortable and homey wrap-for-warmth that makes me feel happy and loved. I'm also wearing a pair of socks [personal profile] otherdeb sent me. They feel good, too. They're all green and lacy. And y'all know how I love green and lacy.

Although there's not much to see yet, there are three photographs of Celtic Leaves, currently barely in progress, below the cut tag.

Celtic Leaves, Box Pleat Photos )
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There's been no time to write recently, as I've got back to my day job and have an approaching deadline for my MA term assessment. I have been knitting of course, and I've also been thinking about different ways to write about knitting. So here's a list of knitterly things I want to tell you about over the coming days/weeks/months/whatever/did I mention I'm busy? ;)

  • How it feels to cast on 547 stitches in Channel Island cast on, and just what is Channel Island cast on, anyway?
  • Using stuff from my weird techniques class in real life: why knowing how to knit (well, purl!) backwards is making me very happy as I work on this 10-stitch triangle.
  • Sometimes the chart's just too damn big -- Cairdeas on hold for now.
  • Itching to get back to sock design work over the spring and summer when I'm on break from the MA. Stay tuned.
  • How would you guys feel if I said I was seriously thinking about offering a class that's nothing but cast ons? And another that's nothing but cast offs? Would you laugh? Or would you be like, "Wow, I wanna take THAT!" (Assuming you take knitting classes at all, that is.)

and back to work.
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Celtic Leaves Shawl
Celtic Leaves Shawl
This is a pattern from the new issue 17 of The Knitter. There's no picture on the Ravelry link, so I've uploaded this one for your pleasure. :)
Current State of the Laceweight
Current State of the Laceweight
Well, clearly I need some more. But these are the laceweight wools I have where there is actually enough yardage to create the Celtic Leaves thingamahoppy, above. Actually, I only *technically* have enough of one of them: that's the Cherry Tree Hill, the one on the bottom, which measures out to 2,400 yards (that's a mile o' yarn!) The pattern as written calls for 1592m or 1741yds of laceweight wool. Now the fact is, it's pretty easy to shorten a project like this; the base length according to the pattern is 165cm/, or nearly 5.5 ft/1.65 metres long! Now, this length is not too long for the shape of the shawl, since it's rectangular. Ordinary I'm not a huge rectangular shawl fan, but the design here combines a couple of things I really like.

Your mission, dear readers, should you choose to accept it, is to tell me which of the three laceweights above I should use for this pattern.

Bear in mind that the Seriously Gorgeous (the mulberry colour) has only 1,000m/1093yd, and the Wild Fire (earthy rock tones, on top) has only 1097m/1200yd. Only the Cherry Tree Hill has enough yardage to make the whole thing free and clear (with quite a bit left over, actually!), but I'm concerned about the colour variegations -- it's a bright variegate that goes from dark brown/green to bright purple via light blue and some teal-y bits. I'm not sure it would complement the pattern at all.

Because this is a newly released pattern, there are no Ravelry project pages to peruse. In fact, I think it must just have been added, because there's no picture on its Ravelry page, and I'm the only person who has it queued.
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First skew sock, complete First skew sock, complete
I am such a slow knitter-- this was just finished a couple of days ago.


Mar. 23rd, 2010 06:33 pm
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Yeah, so I'm following the crowd of knitters who saw the Skew sock in the winter issue of Knitty and decided they must knit it, mostly to answer the burning question, "HTF did she do that?" And by following, I do mean 'following'; this was in the Winter Knitty, and Spring just came out. Hundreds of more dedicated sock knitters than I am have already completed these socks, and there are some great photographs on Ravelry (sorry, link only good if you're a Ravelry member). I was originally planning to do these with the Cortina Sock I bought from Lidl for practically no money last year, but when I looked at photographs of how this yarn knits up I realised it didn't actually stripe; it more like pools.

The designer suggested self-striping or hand-dyed yarn for the project, so I went back and looked at what other folks had knitted theirs out of. By far, the ones that looked most amazing to me were made not of self-striping yarn, but of self-patterning yarn (which sometimes employs stripes but also has jacquard-y bits). And do you know, I went through a heck of a self-patterning yarn phase when I was knitting mostly very simple socks; I love the stuff! But eventually plain socks got boring to knit and I couldn't bring myself to use a lot of it. I've since gone on a search for sock patterns that employ self-patterning wool in an interesting and new way. When I didn't find exactly what I wanted, I enjoyed designing it myself after a while.

Now, lots of y'all know that I ought to be embarrassed to say how many books I have that contain nothing but sock patterns and sock design techniques. I ought to be, yes. But the truth is, I'm fascinated enough by sock construction that I have been known to buy a book or pattern just to spend some time with it, reverse-engineer the patterns I like, and figure out how the designer did that.

So of course when I first saw this pattern, like lots of folks, I was intrigued. Now that I'm an inch or so away from heel point, I understand completely how she did it, at least to this point.

I am sure, having barely skimmed her blog, that like me, Lana Holden is a huge Cat Bordhi fan. Well, few people who like to design socks aren't; that's a fair bet. In fact, I can imagine the 'a-ha' moment for this design. See, you're knitting along, making your first pair of Coriolis Socks, and it comes to you that you could, in fact, do that crazy pattern band anywhere, for any reason, with anything inside it. And you get some ideas. Lana Holden got a really good idea. I can't decide if the shape came first or the "what if I just increase on one side; what would that do?". And it doesn't really matter. The shape itself is ingenious, fits well, and is interesting to knit without being impossible (though I do admit to losing my place in the increase/decrease chain a couple of times). Above that, certainly on the foot, which is all I've got to so far, it's simple. I'm envisioning skewed lace, little skewed cables, you name it, it can be skewed.

So anyway, thanks for reading, and thanks Lana! And here's a picture of my first Skew sock in progress. It's made from Opal sock wool, in the Dumbledore colourway from that Harry Potter theme limited edition they put out a bit ago. Yes, really. Because I couldn't resist, the Ravelry name for this project is "Skew Me Dumbledore" (Sorry, leads to link only accessible if you're on Ravelry). It's OK. You don't have to admit you know me. ;)

First Skew Sock
First Skew Sock
Just a few inches below heel point now, hoping to turn the first heel tonight.

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Somebody in one of my knitting classes asked, "How is it you don't get bored, knitting so many socks?" She was referring to the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome, that malady that affects many sock knitters, where when you've finished the first sock, you can't bear to go on to the next one. It's, er, like knitting the same thing twice! I explained that my answer to this age-old problem is that I have about forty gazillion socks on needles at one time. I don't ever have to knit the same sock twice. And sometimes, when I'm done with a sock, I start another sock from a completely different pattern, just to get the previous sock out of my head. I take enough notes and am geeky enough about my Ravelry project pages that I can usually remember changes I've made in this or that bit of the sock.

In fact, these socks were only 1/4 of the way done when I picked them up this week or maybe last week sometime, probably right after I finished the Laminaria. But they proved to be so easy and quick to knit that I just went right on to the second one. I do that sometimes, too.

Anyway, here are some pictures.

Catnip Lace Socks, Finished!
Catnip Lace Socks, Finished!
In all their glory, or camo, whichever you prefer. ;-) This is a design by Wendy Johnson, who wrote the great socks from the toe up book. Her heel construction is actually quite innovative.
Catnip Lace Socks -- Detail of lace on foot
Catnip Lace Socks -- Detail of lace on foot
Although this pattern was quite repetitive, I never did memorise it.
Catnip Lace Sock, Another Look
Catnip Lace Sock, Another Look
It's so nice to have socks that fit and look great, all the time. ;)

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Hey, Kniterati!

I'm just writing up Thursday night's mini-sock class, and I want to make sure I'm not forgetting anything. Prereqs for the class say students should be able to knit in the round, but that doesn't mean they'll understand dpns, so that'll be the only not totally sock related thing we'll cover.

I guess my question here is: on a very small sock (say a 24-st cast-on just to make the maths really easy), do you think I can cover all this in two hours?

Here's the outline, for the interested )
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We left the shawl out for about three hours. Took it in just as the light was starting to go. I will be able to wear it to class tomorrow evening, which was my initial goal. :-)

Laminaria, Blocked, point detail
Laminaria, Blocked, point detail
All done. Here, you can see the points, being all pointy and stuff.
Laminaria, Blocked Lace Detail
Laminaria, Blocked Lace Detail
All done. Detail of the blocked lace.

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I block lace projects on playmats-- lots of people do. But when [personal profile] pola_bear was over yesterday, we discovered that my blocking mats weren't large enough to block the Laminaria! Like not even close. I asked around, and actually posted a message on a Ravelry forum for lace knitting. Several people suggested that I block it by folding it in half -- then my mats would be enough, plus the shawl points would match exactly on either side!

So this morning, [profile] filceolaire helped me (I'm having a really bad pain day) move stuff around and place the mats, and I used the yardstick from the blocking wire kit as the foldover piece. Probably I will end up pressing the shawl when it's done, but I'm really happy with how it turned out.

Even though I'd managed to misplace my big tomato of blocking pins, there were 20 in the lace wire kit. Today was, therefore, a great day to learn how to use the kit efficiently. So with only 20 pins and 4 wires, Laminaria is blocking. It should be ready by dusk, which means I'll be able to wear it to class tomorrow night!

Laminaria Shawl, Blockin' In The Wind!
Laminaria Shawl, Blockin' In The Wind!
Here's the shawl, pinned out on the blocking boards, drying in the (semi)sun today. Should be done by dusk, which means I can wear it to class tomorrow night!


Mar. 12th, 2010 12:17 am
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Laminaria, complete but not yet blocked
Laminaria, complete but not yet blocked
Sorry about the blurriness of the photo: I am not comfortable standing on a chair to photograph big things at the moment, so had to just hold the camera up and hope. The edges look ruffly now, but the shawl actually blocks into points.
Detail of primary lace pattern and edging
Detail of primary lace pattern and edging
Including several of those creepy faces that made me want ot knit this in the first place!
Closer detail of edging and creepy faces
Closer detail of edging and creepy faces
They all look a little different. ;-)

Ravelry Project page for this project

Was it hard? No, but I wouldn't have said that about this project even five years ago. In fact, it was dead easy, so easy that I found the patterns extremely easy to memorise. This became train knitting. In fact, I finished the knitting on a train this afternoon and cast off this evening in front of the television. :-)

I suppose if I'd been interested in knitted lace five years ago, I could have got up to speed on lace. But I only really became interested in lace when I first saw Victorian Lace Today. Something about the colours they chose in that book and the realisation that, duh, lace doesn't have to be made out of white cotton or mohair and it's not all about doilies and tablecloths made me change the way I thought about lace. It suddenly became interesting, and I started adding lace to socks, made some simple lace scarves, a blue alpaca neckwarmer. This is my first large scale lace project. I had 629 live stitches on the needle before I was done.

For you experienced lace knitters, yes, Laminaria is a walk in the park. It's very simple, very repetitive, you don't have to think much about the increases.

The plan is to block it tomorrow morning, but I've got to take into account my current state. It might take a while to work up the energy, and it might take a long time to pull the points out, given that I'll have to bend over something. Or I could just wait and get somebody to help me block it at some point in the amorphous future. I definitely want to wear it to class on Monday, though. It is deceptively light, and very warm. In the sunlight, the colour looks like, well, sunlight on grass.
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Laminaria, First Chart
Laminaria, First Chart
Just a few rows into the Star Chart of the Laminaria Shawl, I'm finding the going fairly easy. I'm loving the Estonian star stitches; they really are lovely. And the mohair isn't pissing me off too much yet. Then again, I haven't made any mistakes (that I know of!) yet.....
198 Yards of Heaven, Lace Detail
198 Yards of Heaven, Lace Detail
The yarn is Manos del Uruguay Silk Wool, in bright purple. I'm sending this to the recipient unblocked as it won't stay crisp in the post and she feels confident to block it herself.
198 Yards of Heaven, Finished!
198 Yards of Heaven, Finished!
Well, for a project I thought I was going to finish on Friday night of Van der Filk, this was a fail. Of course, I did have lots of other things to do! I cast it off this afternoon, and here it is unblocked.

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...with the contents of my knitting bag, now being packed for a single weekend, during which I am a guest of honour at a convention. As in, programmed much of the time; in other words, performing.

  • Primary Sock Project (Cinderella Slipper)
  • Secondary Sock Project (Hypnosis)
  • Tertiary Sock Project (Harika, which really ought to be the primary sock project)
  • Quaternary Sock Project (silk/wool toe-ups on self-patterning yarn with an inserted heel)
  • Primary Lace Project (198 Yards of Heaven, in purple Manos del Uruguay Silk Wool)
  • Secondary Lace Project (Laminaria, in Sherbert green Seriously Gorgeous)
  • Tertiary Lace Project [aka yeah, right!] (Heeere be Dragone, in neon green Malabrigo lace)
  • Serina Shawl 2, in Elsbeth Lavold Hempathy (blue and red) -- because if I finish it, it would make a nice charity auction donation
  • Serina Shawl 3, in Rowan Simply Bamboo (gunmetal grey) -- because if I finish it, it would make a nice charity auction donation
  • Collonade Shawl, in Manos del Uruguay (red and brown) -- because if I finish it, I could finally send my sister her Christmas present
  • Silk Moebius Cowl (finished) in Debbie Bliss Pure Silk (brown) -- because it will make a nice charity auction donation
  • Four skeins of Manos del Uruguay Silk Wool in hot pink -- because it will make a nice charity auction donation, and really, what was I thinking? HOT PINK?!
  • Two skeins of sock wool, just in case I have to start another project while I'm there
  • Four pairs of socks to darn
  • Darning egg
  • Notions bag, with about six extra circular needles in sizes from 1.0-3.25mm, plus the usual stitch markers and etc.
  • The Eclectic Sole
  • You don't even want to know how many .pdf patterns there are on my iPhone.

The worst part is, I'm sure I'm forgetting something.

There may need to be a Knitting Intervention one of these days....
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Hi, I'm Gwen, and I am a yarn addict.

(Hi, Gwen!)

That's how all this started, anyway. I was at I Knit London last night to teach my class, and the lovely L let me know that there was Handmaiden Silk in the house. At first, I refused to even get up and look at it, because I worried what would happen.

Well, it's gorgeous. Amazing. The colourways are fabulous. But there's only 650 yards in a skein, and I would be unable to make Dryad without two skeins. At £22.95 a pop, that's much more than my budget (what budget? I'm broke!) currently allows. Then, I had a look at their wool/cashmere sock yarn and was just about lightheaded with yarnlust. L, R, and half the shop were unhelpful; Alpaca Addict pulled me back from the brink and reminded me that in order to be awake and alive to knit, I must also have the money to eat, bless her!

So....I decided that when I got home last night, I'd take a look at the lace yarn I have, assess it for projectworthiness, and satisfy my craving for a new lace project with some of the gorgeous laceweight already in my stash. I know, sounds logical, but if you could have touched this stuff... omgomgomg.


The photo that follows is all the lace yarn from my stash that I might want to use in a new project. It includes some 4-ply (the Debbie Bliss, Artisan Ravelry Red Silk and the Duet Sock, and the DT Craft Designs, although the DT is very light) and some standard laceweight (Cherry Tree Hill, Wildfire Fibres, Knitwitches, Knitting Goddess Cashmere), and one that might fall in the middle but is definitely closer to lace in my book (Mind's Eye). I've noted their yardage in the caption to the photograph below. I left out the Malabrigo Lace (in neon green!) I'm using for Heere Be Dragone!, since I am going to finish that one day; heck, I may even take him along to the convention this weekend, though I doubt I'll give him so much as a stroke. I left out several skeins of cobweb lace yarn because I'm just not feeling up to it at the moment. I may have missed some things in the bottom of the WWII US Army footlocker reserved just for sock and lace wool (and maybe from the three plastic bins that serve as the overflow storage for the WWII US Army footlocker reserved just for sock and lace wool....). (What?! Shut up!)

But this is a good enough stack to choose from for now.

For those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook (yes, OK, I may also have an internet problem, but I promise it doesn't get in the way of the knitting: just housework, deadlines, and managing to get out of the house on time, and it has the added bonus of keeping me way up to date on bad American television!), you might have read that I'm looking for a new lace project. I want something repetitive but interesting, stunning if possible. It's not that I'm tired of socks (how could I be? I have something like a dozen pairs on needles!); it's just that sometimes I itch for something different. Well, and when I'm stressed, as I'm stressed about this weekend's convention, I itch to start something new. Starting something makes me feel confident, if that makes any sense.

So take a look at the yarn picture below, if you would please, and then take a look at some of the projects linked to below the cut tag. I'm afraid some of them are Ravelry links. What catches your fancy?

Under Consideration: Lace Wool
Under Consideration: Lace Wool
From the bottom (large white label with lady's face on it), clockwise around and into the middle:

1. Duet Sock Yarn from A Swell Yarn Shop, bought at Socktopus last year; 450 yards. Coordinating heel and toe yarn, but I'm sure I'd find a use for it if I used this for a lace project.

2. Wild Fire Fibres Unicorn Lace, in colourway "Broken Stones". A Christmas gift (2008) from delightful elder stepdaughter who is muchly adept at lace knitting. 1200 yards.

3. Knitwitches Seriously Gorgeous Laceweight Kid, in colourway "Sherbert". Bought at I Knit London sometime last year I think. 1200 metres.

4. Knitting Goddess cashmere lace in colourway "Autumn". I'm hesitant to use this, because it was a gift from Joy when I said I'd design a couple of lace socks for her. Both socks are designed, but the patterns aren't finished and the test socks aren't knitted. 1050 metres.

5. DT Craft Designs hand dyed sock yarn in colourway "Enchanted Glade". A gift from a knitswap from a couple of years ago. Alpaca and nylon, 382 yards.

6. Artisan Yarns Ravelry Red Bright Silk, the last skein they had of it at I Knit Day in September 2009. 600 metres.

7. Debbie Bliss Pure Silk. Bought at John Lewis sale last summer for a very good price, colourway 27015, 500 metres.

8. Mind's Eye Merino Sock Yarn (with portion on needles, leading up to centre). Yes, I started the Hypnosis Sock from Enchanted Sole on this wool, but I'm unhappy with how it's knitting up as a sock and it feels much more lacey to me. So I'll restart Hypnosis in Firelizard (which I should have done to begin with, duh) and rewind this. Bought at Mind's Eye in Cambridge MA on our last trip to the US. 400 yards.

9. (In the centre, partly wound and partly still in the hank—you'll understand why in about 5 seconds) Cherry Tree Hill Merino Lace in colourway River Run, bought at I Knit London last year. 2400 yards.

Lace Project Possibilities:
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As if I didn't already have enough on needles (you don't want to know!) I'm seriously considering knitting these lovely socks from Knotions, even though Ravelry users say the pattern is awful and full of mistakes. (I feel sure I can figure it out.)

So... I have narrowed the wool choice down to these four.

Which one do you like best? :D

Wool To Choose From:
Wool To Choose From:
1. A nice blue Opal Sock Wool. 2. Bright Green Cariad Sock Wool. 3. Bright Blue Cherry Tree Hill Sock Wool 4. Greeny-Browny-Sparkly Dream In Color Stardust

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Stripey Toe-Up Socks!
Stripey Toe-Up Socks!
Completed today around lunchtime. :) These were a lot of fun to knit and part of my 'knit mindless stuff in MA classes' plan.
Matching Stripes and Peasant Heel
Matching Stripes and Peasant Heel
When I realised how lovely and even the striping pattern was on this great Trekking wool, I chose to put in a peasant heel (aka an afterthought heel) so as not to interrupt the stripe pattern. The socks were knitted straight up in a tube, and a marker was placed at the point where the heel would be inserted later.
Stripey Toe-Up Socks -- they're just so pretty!
Stripey Toe-Up Socks -- they're just so pretty!
I used a crochet cast-off to make these socks nice and elastic at the cuff.
Stripey Toe-Up Socks, some technical points
Stripey Toe-Up Socks, some technical points
When I said these were mindlessly easy, I meant it! They were knitted on 68 stitches, on a 2.75mm circular needle. I used a 50% cast-on for the toe and added the heel marker at 2" shy of total foot length. After that, it was just a matter of knitting up to the top and gauging where the orange piece of the toe had begun on the first sock. I misjudged by a few rows, but I think they match pretty well, anyway. I started the ribbing one stripe before the orange started again, then did two rounds of orange plus the crochet cast-off. The heels were knitted by carefully removing the marking wool and placing stitches individually onto the sock needle, then knitting a short-row cup for the heel.

Ravelry Project Page
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These are completed. I can't believe they took only 10 days to knit: that's a record for me, the slowest sockmaker ever!

I love them.

Four Photos Below Cut Tag )
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Because I've been knitting all along: I just haven't been posting anything.

So here are some pictures of current socks in progress and recently finished.

Four photos below cut tag (three of the same socks!) )
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I'm looking for people to test-knit three or four sock designs. I'm afraid I can offer only the satisfaction of getting to see a pattern before some other people see it. I think [profile] dyddgu, [personal profile] natf and [personal profile] mokatiki had said something. Any other takers?

Patterns will be ready by the end of this week. Honest, guv.
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Effortless Mastery is the name of a book subtitled "Freeing the master musician within." It's right up there with The Inner Game of Music and A Soprano On Her Head, as far as I'm concerned, for great books about becoming one with oneself as a musician. I've pontificated before in other places about Gerald Eskelin's brilliant Lies My Music Teacher Taught Me, and I won't go off on the intricacies of temperament or bore you with a discussion of modes. (For those of you who don't know, I'm also a bit of a musician, so I do actually think and talk about things like this.)

It's the term "effortless mastery" that I want to delve into here. I don't think the individual musician can ever know the moment or series of moments at which it is achieved, if it ever is achieved. Rather, he finds himself a few weeks or months or years later suddenly able to do something with such ease and facility that he realises he's pretty good at this. I think we can apply this term to lots of different disciplines: I'm remembering now the story of a student interpreter for the deaf at the University of Southwestern Louisiana. He was in a biology class, merrily signing the lecture as the professor gave it. A difficult word came along, and he spelled it without thinking about it, then stared at his hand in disbelief. The deaf students applauded, and the class was briefly interrupted as he had to explain to the hearing students (and the instructor) what had just happened. That's as good an illustration as any of the moment of realisation.

I was thinking about the Spiraling Coriolis, after I made a plain pair. These were finished last Monday night, and Monday when I got home from class I cast on another pair. I used a Plymouth Sockotta I'd bought in the States in 2007 because I wasn't completely enamoured of the colourway and it was a prototype sock.

First of all, I was dead wrong about the colourway: It is gorgeous, and the other ball of Sockotta I have in different colours but similar patterning will become a pair of very plain socks to show off that lovely colourway.

It occurred to me that I could put that spiralling stripe in in any sort of pattern I liked: all I'd have to do would be to make sure the increases and decreases followed properly along. So, after I'd finished the toe (still in my short-term memory from the other pair) and increased to 100% (same number as before as I was getting almost exactly the same tension), I started a six-stitch braided cable on one side of the sock, bounded by a purl stitch on either side. I made the cable appear to move around the sock by adding increases on one side and decreases on the other. When I got to the point at which the 'gusset' increases start, I just changed the decrease to a twisted stitch to give it some relief and carried on. Rather than continuing the cable round the back of the sock, I twisted it back in on itself. This has resulted in some puckering on the front of the sock although it looks fine on the foot. I didn't want to have the cable be working its way around the back of the sock when I had to start the heel: that would have been awkward.

The one thing I don't like about the completed sock is that the cable, which is twisting around the front of the sock, pulls pretty tightly. Cat Bordhi suggests in the Coriolis notes that if you want to widen the leg, just leave out some of the decreases on whichever side of the spiral you're doing, but I tried that for a couple of rounds and it seemed to upset the rhythm of the cable in a way it hadn't done on the foot. For the second sock I'll make a series of invisible increases on the back of the sock above the heel, to see if that makes the fit of the cable more relaxed.


Why was I going on about the moment at which we realise we have mastered something (in this case sock architecture and the beginnings of decent design)?

Because I made these socks up as I went along. And I achieved what is probably a new speed knitting record for me (I'm a slow knitter)-- one sock in two days.

Two photos beneath cut tag )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)
I spent most of Friday at the show at the Knit One Pass It On booth, teaching mostly secondary school girls to knit, though I did have a rewarding continental knitting session with one of the other teachers early on and a few crochet students later in the day.

The fun thing about the continental lesson was that while I was teaching the lady how to purl, some knitters from Denmark came by. Initially they exclaimed, "Wow! You knit like we do!" and then they realised I was purling differently and offered to show me. Though I was pretty sure what they were going to demonstrate, I handed them my needles. Because I'd never seen someone from Denmark do this in real life and I wanted to make sure I was doing it right.

Friends and students, if you've learned Norwegian purling from me, I am here to tell you I do it exactly like those ladies from Denmark! Wahoo! I demonstrated again for my student (OK, I was showing off by this time), and she was, as most English knitters are, totally boggled by the necessarily quick motions of the needles-- even though I wasn't nearly as fast as the ladies from Denmark. They were delightful, and they enriched my day.

I did have an unpleasant experience a bit later on, which I've outlined on a friends-only post on LiveJournal, but I'll give you the gist here (copied from the other entry, for those of you who are now experiencing deja vu):

While I was teaching a group of five secondary school girls to knit at the Knitting and Stitching Show, a cranky old biddy walked up to my group of students and started criticising the way they were knitting, the way I was teaching them, and pretty much everything. No matter what I did, she wouldn't go away. My students were mortified and vulnerable; onlookers were appalled. I asked the booth supervisor to come stand behind me while I very evenly explained to the old biddy that this was my class, she was interrupting it, and could she please find something else to do with her time besides terrorising fourteen-year-old girls (who are naturally unsure of themselves). She ended up saying that my teaching methods were irritating her so much she had to go away and stomping off. My students were highly critical of this lady, and so was everybody else who overheard (and a lot of people overheard).

There's no need to dwell on that cranky old lady: my students learned to knit and purl, and they were doing pretty well, too. I took a break and saw a little bit of the show, got some fudge for [profile] filceolaire, and picked up a copy of Divas Don't Knit because I'm craving some mindless fiction and somebody recommended it to me. Hopefully it won't be as bad a recommendation as The Friday Night Knitting Club. I am actually looking to find a copy of a book by Barbara Bretton called Casting Spells, which is apparently about a witchy/sorceressy knitting shop owner. I could probably get into that, even if it's appalling. ;)

And that was my entire haul from the Ally Pally show. I simply didn't have the money to buy loads of yarn, the crowd was too dense for me to stop and see anything for long (for shopping, I admit that even though the variety was slightly less varied, I'd prefer the quieter and less packed I Knit Weekender any day), and the fact is, there were only two things I could have been enticed to buy knittingwise yesterday: a copy of Cat Bordhi's new book, which I really can't afford but dearly, dearly want, and some of the new neon Kauni. Unfortunately, Scandinavian Knitting Design were not at the show, which was a bummer. I had such a great experience ordering from them last year and I would have loved to meet the nice people who do such great business over the web and over the phone. Web of Wool were there with their usual supply of self-patterning everything; I abstained. GetKnitted weren't there, unless I missed them. Colinette was there with new colours that were barely resistable (but I resisted), and there was the usual astounding display of Shetland lace at Jamieson's of Scotland.

At the end of the day, Fred related a story about one of our teachers sweetly offering to teach someone to knit—and him sitting there with his hand over his mouth, covering the hysteria, because "someone" was Nicky Epstein. I wouldn't recognise Nicky Epstein if I tripped over her, so I hope it wasn't me. He promised it wasn't. Brief pause while I google: No, I don't think it was me, but she isn't a wild dresser it would appear, so I might have made the mistake. For any of you who would like to know how to recognise Nicky Epstein at a distance or even close-up, here's the best photo I found.

The trip home wasn't as maddening as the trip there, where I'd been the victim of two disabled trains on the Northern Line and a station mixup at Moorgate, but I did just miss the train out of Alexandra Palace and had to wait 15 minutes for the next one. I am still not sure I had the right ticket for this train, but no inspectors in the carriage ftw.

I came home via London Bridge, and [profile] filceolaire met me at the New Cross train bridge, just because he is the sweetest husband ever. I hope he keeps me.
kniteracy: (socks)
You know what? I have a ton of self-patterning sock wool. It's because I love the stuff. Even though it's getting more boring by the second to knit a pair of plain socks and just let the yarn do its work, I love it. One of the reasons I designed the Razor's Edge Socks earlier this year was to use up some beautiful self-patterning wool that the prospect of knitting was just getting too boring to contemplate. But, even if they're a bit tedious to knit, I love to wear them. So I've decided that my knitting activity during MA classes will be to knit as many plain socks out of fabulous self-patterning wool as possible. For, you know, values of 'plain' that it doesn't tax me to knit in class.

These socks (there's a single photo beneath the cut tag) are probably going to look very plain to you, but look again! Do you see the sneaky little line that crosses the top of the foot? That's the spiral, and inside that spiral are all the increases you'd normally put in gussets for a traditional sock. I continued the spiral all the way to the cuff.

I cannot recommend any sock book more highly than New Pathways for Sock Knitters (sorry about the link; didn't have a photograph). Yes, it's better, in my opinion, than Cookie A's admittedly brilliant Sock Innovation. I've had this book since it came out in 2007, and I have gone back to it I don't know how many times for inspiration, or even for straight-up patterns, like this one.

One photo beneath cut tag )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)
I will try to make this understandable.

Let's say you're designing, oh, I don't know -- a sock. This sock does not have standard patterning and gussets: it puts the increases to allow for the gussets on the front of the sock.

So, imagine you're knitting a pattern, from the toe. You have some complex stuff to do on the toe and just afterwards, for about three inches (8cm) or so. After that, the middle of the foot changes and begins to increase into a lace pattern. The chart will expand from 36 sts wide to 110 or so. All this expansion happens in the middle.

I can see three ways to chart this, one of which I do not think I can actually do because the possibility for error is too great.

First way: I write the entire sock chart, from the toe, moving the complex patterning around both sides of the lace chart as the chart expands. Possibly easier to read, but the likelihood that I will make major errors is very high.

Second way: I split the toe in half, thus making the middle motif of the toe very difficult to read, with a bunch of null stitches (71 to be precise) in the middle of the chart, for something like 45 rounds, until the lace pattern begins to come in, then reduce the number of null stitches to widen the lace chart. This way is less hard for me but may be difficult for knitters to read at the beginning. It will also result in a chart that is very wide but appears to have little useful information at the bottom.

Third way: I rely on the intelligence of knitters and make two charts. One chart is for the toe up to where the lace increases begin. I then write instructions into the pattern explaining that the lace chart now begins to build in the middle of the sock; knitters should continue knitting the left and right bits of Chart A while incorporating Chart B into the middle lace panel. Much simpler for me (inasmuch as this is simple at all; that is to say, NOT), but relies upon knitters to understand that they are continuing the pretty cables on the side of the lace chart as it grows.

What would be easiest for you to do? Bear in mind that for most knitters at this level, or at least this is how it was when I was knitting the test sock, there will be clear markers as to where the lace increases happen, and the outside patterns are very repetitive: a single cable on each side. By 'reading' the cables, knitters wouldn't have to refer to two charts at once (aka hell)

Input gratefully received.
Xposted to sock knitting groups.
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)

  • Made it to Covent Garden to volunteer with the I Knit London folks as part of London Fashion Week. We had kits for sale for folks who wanted to learn to knit. There were only a few takers, but we did have a lovely time knitting and chatting!
  • Calculated lace expansion for the new sock design, and knitted beginning of same. The design is really coming together.
  • Decided I really don't like KnitPicks/KnitPro wooden circulars.
  • Considered the colour grey.
  • Successfully knitted on a train full of screaming preteen dancers, all listening to bad R&B music on their mobile phones and singing along. Their parents seemed to think this was OK train behaviour.
  • Had a lovely discussion about purl twisting. No, really!
kniteracy: (designing)
I'm going to need to consult an expert when I finally end up charting this, but them's the breaks, I guess.

Sneak Peek!
Sneak Peek!
OK, so this isn't the wool I'm actually designing for, but this sock needed a scratch canvas; otherwise I'd be fraying my-friend-the-dyer's wool like crazy and it'd look awful when knitted up. This is Wendy Happy, btw, a blend of bamboo and nylon, of all things. And if you like those cables, wait 'til you see the lace! :)

kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)
I think if you have a skill, you should pass it on. I teach people to knit for money, sure, but I also do it for free. This weekend I'm teaching knitting as a volunteer for I Knit London in Covent Garden, for example.

It doesn't matter how many students I see every week, I reliably remember faces, but not names, and sometimes not even which class they were in. One of the things I forgot to mention in my report about the I Knit London weekender was how many of my students, past and present, were in the exhibit hall. One student who'd been in one of my teddy bear classes proudly showed me the full-size jumper he was making for his partner. Others just smiled and waved. My two Brighton ladies shared some funny stories with me outside the venue. And one lady walked up to me with a friend, greeted me, and introduced me to her friend: "This is Gwen! She is the patient goddess who taught me to knit!" I was a bit embarrassed (but not embarrassed enough to put it out of my mind completely).

On Wednesday night, I saw a new group of beginners. There are seven of them, and they range in age from twenties to fifties. They range in ability from someone who's remembering her knitting lessons from her grandparents and had a six-inch swatch knitted by the end of class to students who are still having difficulty remembering that the working needle goes beneath the holding needle. They are all smart, fun, and interesting. One of them, the oldest lady in the class, came to class because she has tension problems and because she's never seen anybody who knits the way she does and she's positive she's doing it wrong. She wants to do it right.

After I get the other students settled into knitting and purling, I come to watch her knit. And there's nothing wrong with her knitting! She's a natural combination knitter: she knits through the back loop and doesn't twist her purl stitches. She's also knitting Continental, so this means she has a very fast purl. I tell her she's just knitting in a different style: if she wants to relearn the Western style of knitting, that's OK, but we can work with what she's doing right now, and if it's what she's been doing for years, then it may be the best way for her to knit. She says 'thank you!' and goes on about her knitting, and I move on to help another student.

After class, I catch my combination knitter on the way out. "I hope you don't find the class too basic," I say. "You're already knitting at a level above beginner level."

"No, no!" she replies. "It was worth the price of the course to hear you tell me there was nothing wrong with the way I knit!"

I tell her that we'll have to do some different decreases to make her work look uniform, and we'll definitely spend some time talking about tension as it relates to her knitting. Even though she is pleased, I feel like I haven't given her enough.

When I go back into the shop, V introduces me to some new knitters who have just started doing projects tonight. I tell them (jokingly) they should come to my class, and one of them takes out a notebook and asks me when it is! I take a look at another's ribbing, which is looking great, and show her how to tell her knit stitches from purl stitches so she doesn't have to just keep repeating the knit 1 purl 1 mantra over and over. This way, if she's interrupted while knitting, she can come back to her work and not be confused. Her two friends watch while I explain this to her. "You are a really good teacher," one of them says.

"Thank you," I reply. "I really like teaching."

And you know what? I really do.
kniteracy: (socks)
For a long time, I've been designing my own socks, more or less. I learned Queen Kahuna's toe-up sock method shortly after her book came out and began making patterned toe-up socks with gussets, yum! When Cat Bordhi's book New Pathways for Sock Knitters came out, I devoured that one, too, with its innovative ideas about where you could put gussets and how to handle those increases in ways that would make socks more both more interesting and fun to knit. Cookie A's book Sock Innovation is a great resource as well, though I really do prefer designing and knitting toe-up socks. To me, they're just more fun. For various styles and techniques, you can't beat resources like Charlene Schurch's Sensational Socks and More Sensational Socks, though the patterns are not as innovative as the things I really love to knit. Most of us who knit socks are enamoured of one or two designers who really know what they're doing and amaze us with the stuff they do. If you're on Ravelry, just have a look round the pattern section to see who's designing socks right now and what they look like.

Today, I've been working on sock designs. Now, those of you who don't knit may find it odd to realise that there are whole books worth of sock designs and whole knitting designers who design socks exclusively, but I'm sure you'll catch up. ;)

Without the aid of a professional-level charting program (and those of you who'd like to pitch in and get me a fabulous Christmas gift can take a look at Knit Visualizer if you're curious as to what I'm talking about when I say professional-level charting program), I design mostly on paper or in Knitting Wizard, which is very cool but nowhere near as intuitive as the demo of Knit Visualizer I have tried.

So, today I tried something different. I cast on sixteen stitches and considered the outside six to be just a garter stitch border. Then, I just started knitting a sock top, on the flat. I used inexpensive solid colour sock wool from Lang (well, OK, it was $7US for 50g, but trust me; that's less expensive than the beautiful stuff I'm really designing for). I played around with various stitch patterns, mostly twisted stitch patterns today, with a little bit of lacework in the mix.

It was fun! And I'll be doing some more of it tonight. I've ripped out this afternoon's work as just a scratch exercise, so I don't have any photographs to show you. Some of you have seen the first sock I designed for this project. Let me know if you have a favourite look for a lacey sock or a design with lots of travelling stitches that you like? And if the poem 'anyone lived in a pretty how town' gives you any inspiration at all, let me know that, too.

I won't rip the next one out before photographing it, promise.
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)
It was a great weekend! I could just end the report there, but that'd be mean! ;) I will put my ramblings beneath cut tags, because I'm nice like that.

Friday: Getting Lost, Annie Modesitt, Technique Tangent, The Exhibit Hall, Mobile Phone Madness, and Leaving Early )

Saturday: Hitching a Ride, Yarnissima, a Long Afternoon, Teaching the Ladies to Knit for Bears, and, um, Hitching a Ride! )

The I Knit London staff are an amazing bunch of people, and they had a great staff behind this event. Everyone at I Knit London deserves gold stars, free beer, or better yet CASH! ;) for their dedication and hard work. I'm so pleased to have been a part of this weekend; I hope it'll be the first of many more to come.

Photograph of my meagre haul )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)
I took a lot of unfinished projects on our trip to Ireland. When I realised I'd neglected to bring a jumper or jacket of any kind, I focused on completing this one. It was finished enough to wear by the last day -- when we were in Wales and it was hot! Ironic, yes?

Btw, if you're interested in seeing Ireland photographs, check this recent LJ entry for Flickr links.

Lace Cocoon, Getting Blocked
Lace Cocoon, Getting Blocked
I finished this on our trip to Ireland, and did the armhole edgings last night and this afternoon. Today I washed it and pin-blocked it, and it'll be ready to wear to class tomorrow night at I Knit London
Slightly skewed view of the same Cocoon
Slightly skewed view of the same Cocoon
I think you can see the front lace a bit better in this photograph, even though it's out of proportion because of the angle.

kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)
I love how things look when they get all stretched and the lace opens up. :)

One wide photograph below the cut tag )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)

See that on the left needle? That's the amount of space I have to finish doing the lace work for the edge of the Silk Garden Serina. See that little string coiled above the right hand needle? That's all the yarn I have left. :(

kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)
I haven't stopped knitting, promise. I've just been really busy with other things. Here are a couple of things I've been working on recently.

Three photos below cut tag )

Ravelry project page for the Purple Pomatomus">
Ravelry project page for the Silk Garden Serina
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)
Recently, I Got Yarn. I also started a new sock, plus did some work on some older projects. Clearly, I am seeking distractions against the other sock I have to design this week....
Several pictures below cut tags, with annotations and geeking )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)

Originally uploaded by harpetrator
Blocking Lace!

This is [personal profile] mokatiki's BRANCHING OUT, which she gave to me as a birthday present. To preserve my rapidly failing dignity, I won't tell you which birthday it was for. But today, with the help of a £15 playmat from an Amazon Reseller, I've pin-blocked it. Woohoo!
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)
I should really just back away from Colourmart.

Right. Now.
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (seussocks)
It had to happen. If you're interested, check out [community profile] socknitters.
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)
At this point, I have copies of
The Ultmate Sourcebook of Knitting and Crochet Stitches,
The Vogue Stitchionaries,
The Encyclopedia of Knitting,
The Knitter's Bible,
The Ultimate Sourcebook of Knitting and Crochet Stitches; and
three of the four Barbara Walker Treasuries.

I'm working on some designs for a couple of pairs of lace socks.

But you know what? All those other books do not hold a candle to the Barbara Walker Treasuries. There's just more, and more interesting stuff, in them. Which is not to say you shouldn't get the others, but I'm finding the Walker treasuries much more valuable as a unit.

Just sayin'.
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)
So, you know. I got yarn. I didn't pay for all of it, and what I did pay for was cheap, cheap, cheap.

Eight photographs below the cut tag )

MCA Direct
The Knitting Goddess


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April 2011

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