Sunday, July 15, 2012

All garter, all the time

I've been working through a lot of garter stitch lately. I started by knitting up a new design, only to find I didn't like the way I was doing Fleegle's no-purl garter-in-the-round method. I could still see an obvious patch, covering a couple of stitches on either side of the yarn change. I suspected it is my technique rather than the method that is failing me here. So I practiced on some spare yarn, but I'm still not happy. Rather than admit defeat, I decided to bury my head in the sand for a bit, and go knit something that is a pure celebration of garter stitch.

There's no need to identify this beyond the photograph, is there?
Yarn: 70g/240m of the light purple (MC; Araucania Ranco Solid); 50g/170m of the dark purple (C1; Louet Gems); 60g/230m of the red (C2; Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Solid)
Needles: 4mm Addi Turbos
Pattern: Need I even say it? Color Affection, of course, by the talented Veera Valimaki

Notes: All three yarns are from the stash- and I'd had all of them for upwards of three years- so, yay, deep stashbusting!

I followed the directions as given, except I did kfb increases rather than m1 increases. I made sure to twist my colours- this kept the edge neat, but you can see the carrying yarn at the edge as a different colour to the stripe it is next to- I could not really improve this. I also managed to block the shawl into an almost perfect crescent moon shape, rather than the asymmetrical check-mark-ish shape in the pattern schematic.

It's great pattern, a simple but ingenious shape with short rows, and even though those last rows are looooong, it did not make me hate garter stitch.

Now, back to "work". Anyone with hints or tips on Fleegle's garter-in-the-round method, I'm all ears!

Saturday, March 03, 2012


I mentioned that there was an antidote to those unfortunate hats I showed you.
This is my new favourite sweater.

Oranger and Oranger
Yarn: Brie, from Artfibers, bought when I was in last back at home
Needles: I don't remember, probaby 4.0mm circulars
Pattern: my own

I realized I was sabotaging myself by thinking I wasn't doing "enough" designing and getting more stuff out there. Every time I wanted to knit something, I would feel guilty because I wasn't finishing off designs, or swatching to submit new ones, or doing a thousand other "more useful" knitting work, so I just wasn't doing any at all. I gave myself a mental slap and thought any production, any knitting, was better than nothing at all. So I threw off all guilt and knit something just for myself. No plans for a pattern, no thoughts of "but how would I do this for 9 sizes", no compromises to make it easier for others to knit or easier to explain in a pattern. Just for me.

Two delicious cable patterns are the only ornamentation for this sweater. I used a wide boatneck to mimic the neckline of a favourite store-bought sweater.

The yarn is beautiful- lovely to work with and gorgeously soft. The only worry I have is that since it's a very loosely spun 2-ply, I will have to watch the pilling carefully. Hmm, must dig out that sweater shaver.

One thing I have very proud of with this sweater is that I tried doing bottom-up sleeves in one piece for this.
I knit the sweater up to the armholes, then knit the sleeves to the same point. Put a few stitches from both on holders and joined just as you would for a raglan sleeve. Instead of the raglan decreases, I decreased as if for a set-in sleeve. Once I got to the shaping at the top of the sleeve, I did bind off for the cap, so had to seam a couple of inches at the top. But, I could just as easily have done the shaping with short rows and kept the stitches live, then knit each stitch together with the shoulder stitches, and thus have no seaming except for at the underarm. I plan to do this with the next sweater.

I really love this- it's what I've been wanting to wear for ages.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Happy birthday to me!

Actually, it was last week. (And who doesn't want to work a night shift on her birthday?)

Possibly because this is a somewhat big birthday (or are they all "important" after a certain point?) or possibly because I spent a lot of time with my family at the end of last year, but I've been all nostalgic about childhood food lately.

Eating Chinese food is sort of a weird activity for me. See, I stopped eating most meat when I left home for college, at 18. And I never learned to cook at home, so most of my meals as an adult have not only been vegetarian, but also Western. But I love the food of my childhood. I love chicken just barely cooked, chopped up on the bone and eaten with dipping sauce. I love whole steamed fish. I love the triangular pieces of tofu that my mother used to stuff with minced pork. And above all, I love noodle soups. So basically, I haven't eaten the stuff I've most missed for nearly two decades.

I started eating all kinds of meat again, a couple of years ago. But only happy meat. So I can get good stuff from the butcher, but I still don't eat most of the meat at restaurants. Some restaurants are very proud of their local sourcing, of using free-range chickens and ethically reared pork, or game. But I haven't found this to be true for Chinese or other Asian restaurants.

Now, of course, it's possible for me to buy the happy meat, and cook the stuff myself. (By "myself," I mean, "have The Limey cook while I hover and tell him whether it smells right yet.") So this is what will happen this year: 2012 will be the Year of Nostalgic Cooking 'round ours.

I started it off right.
My birthday cake this year is a Chinese bakery cake, made by amalgamating a bunch of different recipes from Googling "Chinese bakery cake." I'm convinced the Chinese, collectively, have no sweet tooth, and this is why they feel it's perfectly reasonable to make sweets from things like rice, tofu and - for the love of God- beans. My mother used to say my chocolate chip cookies would have been perfect if only I didn't insist on putting the chocolate chips in. So the cakes we used to get at home were not very sweet at all, but were very, very light, and stuffed with fruit. You can buy them in all the Chinese bakeries around San Francisco. They smell of fruit, rather than sugary frosting.

And mine smelled perfect.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Series of Unfortunate Hats

I'm back!

The past few months have featured precious little knitting, yet I somehow found the time to knit a series of unflattering hats. See, just when you think you have this knitting malarkey figured out, BAM! Smackdown. You know what always follows hubris...

Hat the first:

This is Bloom by Verushka Babushka, knit in Manos del Uruguay Wool Clasica that I was gifted ages ago and which is a great yarn. While this looks at first glance to be a semi-decent hat, in reality, the clean and perfectly simple design of this hat is totally lost in the variegated yarn. Go have a look at this hat here, and then compare to mine- bad pattern/yarn combo, and a shameful disservice to both.

Hat the second:
This is Ysolda's Urchin. Again, with Manos del Uruguay. I wanted to try a beret shape, to see how I'd look in one. I have to say, I'm not quite there with the beret love. And, again with the bad pattern/yarn combo- this hat does look a bit too much like a mushroom for me to declare it any kind of success. I do love the pattern, though; you know me, I love short rows.

Hat the third:
My work secret Santa gave me an awesomely thoughtful gift of one ball of Rowan pure wool dk. I decided to knit Oxidize (absolutely appropriate- I am after all, a chemist, and the yarn was a gift from a chemist), also by Ysolda. The pattern gives a couple of options, slouchier, taller, wider, etc. With just the one ball of yarn, I played it safe.

Um, remind you of someone?
Yeah, once again, not-so-genius combo of yarn and pattern.

Still, I dig the pattern, and I'm thinking of doing the slouchier bi-colour version.

Next up: the absolute opposite in the knitting universe to these hats.