Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday, Rainy Sunday

Almost supper time, and I summarize my rainy day. Finally got to the sewing machine and completed the new little black dress that was in the queue... Simplicity 2580, model B.
I am just attaching the cool mirrored beads to the neckline. This is a sturdy stretch black fabric with fine uneven horizontal ridges that add texture to the plain black.
The yarn on my needles right now is one of my favourites. Colinette Tagliatelli, a wool ribbon that feels springy to the touch and creates a dense fabric, worthy of a spectacular coat, as this one will be. I am designing an oversize, asymmetric front coat... should only take a week on big needles, stay tuned....

At the tent sale I got my hands on 8 skeins of this stuff, all looking the same colour, but on closer inspection I found them to be 4 skeins of Mist and 4 of Gaugin. They are both mostly pink and purple, but Gaugin has an aqua fleck and Mist a bit of denim blue... so I solve the delemma by using 2 balls at once, and knitting 2 rows from one, then 2 rows from the other.... perfect.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Recession Luxury Wrap

I had a Noro Silk Garden cardigan. It was fabulous, perfect colour, cute design, soft feel, and.... way too big. After I finished the fully ribbed design, I wore it, then washed it and it grew, and grew and grew. The ribbing flattened and it was miles to wide for me, the shoulders fell over my shoulders and the arms needed to be rolled up.... twice.
This lovely garment sat in my closet for two years.
Then, that aha moment came. Unravel and reknit! The perfect luxury yarn, found again, and made into the perfect wearable garment.
Yarn: About 10 balls of Noro Silk Garden (reclaimed if you can!)
Needles: 4.5mm (US 7)
Size: 15 inches wide by 6 feet long.

Cast on 31 sts. Row 1: Knit 16, place marker, Knit 15. Row 2: Knit 13, knit 2 together, slip marker, knit one, knit 2 together, knit 13. Row 3 (and all odd rows): Knit to stitch BEFORE marker, purl that stitch, slip marker and knit the rest.
Row 4 (and all even rows) knit to 2 sts BEFORE marker, knit 2 together, slip marker, knit one, knit 2 together, knit the rest. Repeat until only 3 sts remain and knit all three together. (only one stitch on your needle.
With this stitch at upper right corner of square, pick up 15 stitches across the top of the just worked square (place marker just before last pick up). Cast on 15 more stitches. Now turn and work exactly like the first square starting with row 1.
When reduced to one stitch, begin the next square above the last. Continue to build squares above the last until you have a long line of squares about 6 feet in length!
Next row: Cast on 15 sts, then pick up bottom right corner stitch from first column of squares (A)(see drawing) Pick up 15 more stitches up the side of first row square A, and work as usual to make the new square. When you have one stitch left, pick up 15 across top of that square, one in the corner, then 15 more up the side of corresponding one from first column....(B)

Continue to build the squares and columns.
I used 4 rows and 15 blocks in each row.... You can make it a thinner scarf or a huge blanket, it can be built block by block until you feel you are done! (or you run out of yarn!)
Finishing, you can stop here, or make an edge like mine...
Pick up 60 stitches across the end, and knit back and forth for about 2 inches, then shape the endpiece by casting off 4 stitches at the start of every row until all are gone. (a gentle tapered point.) Work the same for the other short edge.

The thing I love about this is I have rescued from the land of "never-wear" a yarn I really love.... in my favourite colour. This is a wrap I WILL wear (if it weren't 30C - 84F, I would have it on NOW).... So in these times of penny pinching and worrying about where my next yarn will come from, resist the urge to settle for acrylic, and tap into that luxury yarn source - your own closet!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rowan Citron Shell

Beaded Citron Shell:

I found 6 balls of this beautiful, classic Rowan yarn, and dreamed up a simple shell that can be worn alone or as a vest as pictured. This yarn feels like cotton, but holds it's elastic shape like wool. Soft and smooth to the touch, with a few beads thrown in for detailing.

Yarn: Rowan Wool Cotton: 6[6,6,7,7,8] balls in citron. DK weight 123 yards per 50 gm ball.

Needle: 4mm (US 6), several glass beads, large enough to thread on the yarn.... (optional)

Gauge: 20 sts =4 inches, 25 rows = 4 inches.  Please, please, please knit a swatch to check the gauge in stocking stitch.

Finished sizes = 32[34, 36, 39, 41, 44] inches at bustline, approx. sizes 4[6,8,10,12,14+]  Circle the size you need to knit throughout the pattern.

Back: With 4mm needles, cast on 80[86, 89, 95, 101, 110] sts. Work in K2, P1 ribbing, end with K2. Keep to this ribbing, for 6[6, 6, 6.5, 7, 7] inches. Right side facing: place beads in this row as follows: Break yarn and thread 26[28, 29, 31, 33, 36] beads onto the yarn.Join again and K2, slip purl stitch onto right hand needle AND slide a bead along the yarn to sit IN FRONT of this slipped stitch, then Knit next two knit stitches. Continue to slip the purls and slide a bead in front, then knit 2, until row and beads are done.

Next Row: Purl across all stitches.

Continue in stocking stitch (knit the right side, purl the wrong side, until 12[12.5, 13, 13, 13.5, 14] inches have been worked from the start.

Shape armholes: Cast off 7[7,7,8,8,9] stitches from the start of the next two rows. Decrease one each side on the right sides seven times. Work even until piece measures 27[27,28,29,30,30] inches. Cast off all stitches.

Front: Work the same as the back, including the bead placement at the top of the ribbing. When all the Armhole decreases have been worked, add the front bead details as follows: Break yarn and thread 10 beads onto yarn, then join again.
Bead Install Increase Row 1:  Right side: Knit 15, yarn over needle, knit to last 15 sts, yarn over needle, knit 15. (keep sliding beads along yarn until ready to "install")...
Row 2: Wrong side: P 15, slip the yarn-over stitch AND slide bead into position IN FRONT (you are working from the back, so make sure it is on the front side), Purl to next yarn over, and slip that one while adding a bead, then purl the last 15.  (Two beads added over the yarn-over spots, and two stitches have been added.)  See detail in photo below.

Work 4 rows straight of stocking stitch, then repeat the right and wrong side bead installing rows. Do this 6 row pattern until 10 beads have been added, then work even until same length as back. Cast off all stitches. The front will be 10 stitches wider between the bead lines, and this adds a drape to the boat neck so it is not too snug in front. The excess will roll a bit more than the back!

Sew the shoulders: stitch together the outside 15 stitches on the front and back and leave the ones between the beads, and the matching space on the back to roll naturally into an interesting neckline. Pick up 93[96, 96,102 105, 109] stitches around the armholes and work in k2, p1 ribbing for two rows, then cast off in ribbing. Join side seams.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Way Behind

I am behind on my posts, not because I haven't been knitting, but because I haven't been home! We spent 3 days in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, visiting my daughter and golfing and exploring.... Lots of cool photos...

The street lights in Hershey...

What a great time. I also got most of my next tank-sweater done on the 7 hour drive there and back, so should be next in the queue to post the pattern, but I still have the last halter-cotton to post too, so I am way behind.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Wraps and Spindles

At the fibre festival last week, I witnessed some spinning, both with spinning wheels and with the simple drop spindle... So I thought, what would make more sense than creating MORE yarn for my stash by spinning my own!? I found this lovely spindle on etsy at this site: Spindles by Jesh. If I am going to spin, by gosh it will be with the prettiest spindle I could find. It arrived today and I have already done this much... granted it is a bit "thick and thin" but that in itself is a desired yarn type, yes? I have a bundle of multicoloured rovings that I ordered a while back to make lots of thrummed mittens (I did get one pair done before I mastered the technique and moved on....), so I should be able to produce a length of multicoloured chunky thick/thin truly one of a kind yarn!
On another note, I am on the fourth row of my recession luxury wrap, and love this thing so much.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Annual Tent Sale

As we did last year, my whole knitting group trekked to Ancaster for the annual Tent Sale held by the amazing gals at The Needle Emporium. A line up outside the door did not intimidate us. We rushed in with empty HUGE bags and quickly grabbed all the goodies. There were merinos and silks and cashmere, and Noro and Colinette and Rowan and Debbie Bliss... all the marvels that delight any knitter, all in one place and all 60 - 75% off....

So here is this years haul.

11 skeins of colinette tagliatelli - usually $29 for $6 each. 10 Noro silk mountain, 30 skeins (3 bags) of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK, and 6 skeins of Debbie Bliss pure silk($3 a skein - it's ok to weep with joy at such a price!), 6 Rowan wool cotton in an amazing celery colour, and 3 Trendstter Treasure.

Even today, 24 hours later, I am still on a fibre high. Just to look at this stash and touch the fibres and absorb the colours, just yummy.
And even though there will likely be a momentary "ouch" when my credit card bill comes in, the knowledge that I snagged almost a thousand dollars of precious yarn for about $250 , and I will be happily knitting my favourites until February 2010, well that will make it all just fine.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New Finches

Welcome to the Chris Knits home, a pair of new Shaft Tailed Finches... named Wallace and Grommit. (although it is entirely possible I have a Wallace and Gwendolyn, but I will keep all posted!)

My lone surviving Zebra finch, who was almost 8 years old and has been alone for almost 2 years, finally passed away last week. I did not want to add new young ones to his cage as the young'uns tend to terrorize the senior birds. (a bit like humans, no?)
Here is one last photo of Ben (previously of Ben and Jerry). RIP my fine chirpy friend....

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Recession Luxury Wrap - New Idea

During these tough times, sometimes it pays to look at your completed garments for inspiration.... Take this lovely Noro Silk Garden long sleeve ribbed hoody. I made this a few years ago, my first venture into Noro yarns and I was hooked. The only problem, and maybe some of you have run into this one, even if you knit to gauge and the article if PERFECT when done, when you cold wash and lie flat to dry Silk Garden, the yarn becomes softer (nice) and bigger (not so nice) and looses the stretchy rib (flattens out). This was knit from a Noro pattern book, and fit snug and flatteringly when done, and since then it has grown to a big loose housecoat with sleeves that need to be rolled up (twice) to use my hands. Since then I don't use a rib pattern for silk garden and I wash the swatch and knit to that gauge. My 3 subsequent Silk Garden attempts have been perfect.
ANYWAY, I have looked longingly at that first sweater, a colorway that is a favourite. Then I thought... frog it (rip - it, rip - it). This yarn is fun to knit in domino style. Worked in squares with decreases at the diagonal until one stitch is left, then pick up stitches for the next square, it builds quickly. Any yarn that changes colours looks great like this, or you could use stash odd balls and build a crazy quilt of sorts.
I will post the exact pattern in a few days when I figure out the size and final shape, but heres a sneak peak at the wrap in progress...
and the sleeve - less sweater, soon to be further frogged ...
so search your closet for rip-worthy luxury yarns... silk, merino, cashmere, all worth a re-knit into a luxury wrap for sure. :)