Monthly Archives: April 2016

The Library is Open- Part 2: Cables

Let’s talk about cables!  They’re some of my favorite things to knit, and they look super impressive.  But here’s the secret- they’re actually pretty easy!  (Especially if you can read your knitting as you go, instead of relying on a row counter to keep track of your pattern.)

Here’s the little sample I’m going to talk about today.  (These cables are both pretty simple, but the concepts I talk about here could totally be applied to more complicated cables.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s a cool thing about cables- 90% of them are done with knit stitches, and 90% of them only work crossover rows on the right-side.  That totally simplifies it, right off the bat!

First off, let’s figure out how wide these cables are.  This is super easy!  Just look at the widest part of the cable and count the knit stitches across, just like we did last week.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe cable on the left is 3 stitches across, and the cable on the right is 4 stitches across.

Next, we’ll determine how the crossover is worked for our cable.  Look at the narrowest part of the cable (where the two parts of the cable actually cross), and count how many stitches are on top.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe cable on the left has 1 stitch on top, and the cable on the right has 2 stitches.  This, combined with the width means that the left cable is a 1×2 cable, and the right cable is a 2×2 cable.

That’s all there is to figuring out the stitch count for a cable!  Next, we need to figure out how many rows each repeat takes.

Start by identifying the crossover row.  It should be the row where the stitches are all slanted sideways, instead of being nice, upright “v’s.”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen count the rows from one slanty v up to the next one.  I like to count the outside edge stitches- I think they’re easier to see.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe left cable has 3 rows in-between each crossover row, so it’s a 4-row repeat.  The right cable has 5 rows between each crossover row, so it’s a 6-row repeat.

If we combine all the information we learned, we can come up with the pattern:  The left cable is a 3-stitch cable, with a 1×2 crossover worked every 4th row.  The right cable is a 4-stitch cable, with a 2×2 crossover worked ever 6th row.

So, now that we know the pattern, what’s should we do next to continue the swatch?

Look down the cable to the most recent crossover row, then count rows up to the needle.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe left cable has been worked 1 row past the last crossover, so we need to work 2 more rows even before we make the next crossover.  The right cable has been worked 5 rows past the last crossover, so we can work the crossover on the next row.

Does that make sense?  Do you have any favorite tips for working cables?


More Bears in the Air!

Hey guys!  Guess what?

I made another bear.  (Surprise!)

But this one’s a little different- it’s a crochet bear, using the “Seamless Crochet Pattern.” (Available here!)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis bear went so fast!  I basically made him in a weekend, in-between doing a bunch of other stuff.  It was fun watching the bear growing so quickly- more satisfying than the knit bears, which can be a little slow.  I love how the arms are attached on this pattern (more like a raglan sweater, than just sewn on).  And, I was able to weave in all the ends as I went, which made finishing-up a breeze.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut it wasn’t all rainbows and kittens, my friends.  This bear is a little skinny for my liking- I like my bears nice and chubby and squishable.  Also, this little guy used so much more yarn than my knit bears did.

And, I don’t know if you can see in these pictures, but the bear ended up weirdly twisty.  (See how his feet are kind of off-kilter and his hips are pointing to the left?)  To be fair, I think that was me, not the pattern.  I was feeling pretty arrogant when I got the pattern and thought they had made a mistake, but I’m not so sure it was a mistake now.   I think I’ll try it again as written and see if I get a better result.

Have you tried the crochet bear pattern yet?  Are you still making bears? I’d love to hear how your bears are going!

Inspiration: Game of Thrones

It’s back!  Game of Thrones is here for another season, and I’m surprisingly excited.  I read the books years ago, and my husband and I have watched the entire series, but last season seemed to drag.  I have trouble keeping track of everyone in the overly-complicated story, but that’s OK, because it’s still a treat to look at.  Those costumes!  Those sets!  I forgot how pretty this show is.  I would love to be a costumer for Game of Thrones.  Maybe they nee some sweaters for next season?  I’m available!

So, because I’m me, I’ve been thinking how I’d dress each familiy, if they weren’t in not-quite-mideval-times, but in modern day.

starkThe stark family would probably need something very practical and cozy- after all, they live in a brutal climate in the North.  If I were them, I’d dress them in classic cabled sweaters, like this one:

An Eskevien by Thomas ConnoreskevienDevant_medium2[1]

Tyrell_Sigil[1]The Tyrells come from a more moderate climate, full of flowers and (I imagine) sunny, Mediterranean breezes.   I think they’d want to wear something light and airy, and would prefer if it had a flower or plant motif, to echo their house sigil.

Lacy Box Top by Lisa RichardsonIMG_3650-_medium2[1]

House-Lannister-house-lannister-31246498-1600-1200[1]House Lannister is all about the trappings of wealth and decadence.  So, whatever I made for them would have lots of excessive color-work, beads, or cables.    These opulent red-and-gold socks would be perfect for a Lannister!

Water for the Elephants by Yvette NoelWater_for_the_elephants_9_medium2[1]

House-Targaryen-Sigil-16[1]And of course, the only remaining member of House Targaryen keeps running around the countryside talking about how she’s got dragons. They’re really her only asset as far as the “great game” goes- even though they’ve wandered off somewhere else at the moment.  If I made Daenerys a garment, it would have to be sleek and dragon-y.  This cowl would be perfect!

Dragon Wing Cowl by Jessie RayotDragon-Wing-Cowl-free-knit-pattern-by-Jessie-At-Home-1_medium2[1]I’m enjoying watching Game of Thrones again!  Especially sine they’ve passed the book series and everything that happens will be a surprise.  And I can’t wait!

What would you make if you were the costumer for your favorite show?

The Library is Open-Part 1

The other day, I was kitting with a friend, drinking coffee and working on my cabled sweater, when I noticed her watching what I was doing with a look of vague concern and puzzlement.

“What’s up?” I asked her.

She responded, “How do you to that?”

“Do what?”

“How can you make such a complicated project without making a million notes and keeping track of all your rows and looking at a pattern constantly?”

I replied,  “Well, it’s mostly just knitting the knits and purling the purls, and keeping track of my rows.”

She looked at me like I was crazy, and I realized that no one had ever taught her how to read her knitting.

I am here to fix that today, in case anyone else out there in internet-land hasn’t been reading their knitting, either.  Because, there is nothing so useful as being able to look at your knitting and figure out where you are in your pattern and what you need to do next (or, to be able to look at your knitting and figure out where you went wrong).

We’ll start with a very simple example, just knits and purls.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt minimum, reading your knitting will let you know the stitches you need to work next to remain “in pattern,” and will tell you how many rows you’ve already worked.

To look at your stitches, look at the row directly underneath your needle.  There, you’ll see either little V’s (knits), or little bumps (purls).  If you want to stay “in pattern” (for example, if you’re doing ribbing), you’ll knit when you come across a knit in the row below, and you’ll purl when you come across a purl in the row below.  (This is what people refer to as “knitting the knits and purling the purls.”)

In our example, I’ve highlighted the stitches in the example below:sts(Note:  I’ve worked the first and last 2 sts in garter stitch, which means that you just knit every row, so I don’t have to worry about reading those 4 sts!)

The other basic skill in reading your knitting is figuring out how many rows you’ve worked.  Of course, you can use a stitch counter or paper and pencil to keep track of your rows, but you’ll inevitably get caught up in the episode of Law and Order you’re watching and lose track of your count.  (What?  That’s just me?)

Rows are easiest to count in stockinette.  This sample is ribbed, but you can think of the knit portion of ribbing as just a skinny little section of stockinette.  You’ll again look for the V-shaped stitches, and then count down the whole column (don’t count the stitch that’s on your needle).  Like this:

rowsSo, I can tell that this swatch has been worked for 8 rows, because there are 8 little V’s.

See, not so bad!  I use these techniques all the time, and I bet they’ll totally help you, too.

Next time, I’ll talk about reading your knitting while making cables!

RuPaul BOTS are go

I’m going to talk about something a little different than usual today.  Partly because I’m too exhausted to work on the post I had planned.  But, mostly because I can’t get this out of my head.

Last night, my husband and I went to one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen!  RuPaul’s Drag Race Battle of the Seasons!RPBOTSIf you haven’t watched RuPaul’s Drag Race- what are you doing!?  It might be my favorite show on TV.  It’s Top Chef, but for drag queens.  Only instead of cooking, they sew clothes, put on skits, sing, lip sync, dance, make music videos, perform comedy, and walk the runway.  It’s basically the best.

And, last night I got to see 8 of the most fabulous queens from the show performing live on stage!  It was totally worth missing my bedtime last night, and the fact that my feet are still killing me from standing on cement for three hours in fancy shoes.

One of my favorite drag queens, Ginger Minj did an amazing lip sync to Adelle’s “Hello”, mashed up with every other “Hello” song you could think of.  It was hilarious and glamorous- just like Ginger (a self-described “Glamor toad”).GingerMinj[1]Her look (and her comedy) is in the style of Lucille Ball, and it totally killed last night!  If I were to knit her something (see- this is still a knitting blog!), it would be something totally adorable, like this cropped 1950s-inspired cardigan.  But I’d do it in something glittery and sparkly.

Ten of Hearts Cardigan by Subversive Femmetenofhearts2c_medium2[1]A queen I’ve always liked, but never really loved, Adore Delano totally slayed last night, too!  Adore is a party kid with a totally punk rock attitude and an incredible singing voice, that I’d never really heard before (or at least I don’t remember it). She opened with an incredible version of Bohemian rhapsody, and went on to sing two more original songs that were actually pretty good!Adore-Delano2[1]But the best part is that her drag is so punk rock, half the time she was on stage, she was just wearing old concert T-shirts, instead of some glittery gown or corseted rhinestone outfit.  And amazingly, she totally pulled it off!  If I were to knit her something to wear on stage, it would have to be something like this top.

Goth Girl by Alyce Benevides & Jaqueline Milles7592070882_e25b441c52_m[1]

On the other end of the glamor spectrum is the always flawless Violet Chachki, winner of Season 7.  Always incredible, she wears the most beautiful vintage-inspired outfits, and just oozes glamor and power.  She’s hard to look away from.55d780210cc36.image[1]She even brought her famous jump suit from the first runway of last season.  I did not expect to see it last night, but I couldn’t have been more excited!  I think I squealed.  How amazing is this?!19f39a3b07a712822058ecd257111414[1]I don’t know if I could knit anything worthy of Violet’s wardrobe, but if I did it would have to be something like this dress, worked in shimmering crimson slik.

1940’s Inspired Gown by Cheryl Nelson

spring 07To summarize:  Wow.  If you are even a little interested in drag, keep a lookout for this tour, and get tickets before they sell out!  It’s totally worth it!

Cables sweater- now with even MORE cables!

I think I might be in love!

At least in love with this cable.  It’s such a fantastic combination of beautiful, squishy, substantial, and interesting.  The big cable is a 12-row repeat, so it’s keeping my interest, and the little cable is a 4-row repeat, which makes it easy to keep track of where I am in the pattern.  I’m enjoying it so much!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve finished one side of the sweater front (I think it’s the right front, not that it really matters, because there’s no shaping!).  The pattern had me mark a couple spots with scrap yarn-  I think these marked stitches will have to do with adding in the sleeves later.  But, honestly, I’m not worrying about it too much- I’ve decided that for this sweater, I’m just going to follow the instructions, and trust the pattern writer.  It’s very relaxing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI know I just said that I was going to follow the instructions blindly, I can’t help myself to a little “improvement” here and there.  The pattern asks for the little cables to be exactly the same on the left and right front pieces.  I decided to make them mirror images.  After all, it’s not any extra work, and I think it’ll make the finished product look a little nicer.  But that’s IT! No more changes! (Unless I run out of yarn and decide to do something different with the sleeves.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m fully enjoying this project!  Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) I’ve got some more design work coming up, so I don’t know how much more headway I’ll be able to make for a while.  But, even if I can’t be working on this project, I know I’ll keep thinking about it.

Getting Steamy

I did it.  I finally did it!  I steamed blocked my husband’s sweater!  It took me long enough, but I finally got up the guts.

And it wasn’t even that bad!

I guess I was afraid of accidentally messing up the sweater I had worked so hard on.  After all, I rarely iron anything, and never anything that’s as heat sensitive as acrylic.  I was 90% sure that I would end up melting the sweater.

Anyway, here’s what I did to avoid the Big Melt:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI flattened out the sweater on my ironing board and set the iron to the lowest steam setting.  I covered the sweater with a cotton tea towel, and delicately hit it with the iron- almost skimming across the top of the towel, not pressing down. Once each area was thoroughly steamed, I put down the iron and peeled back the towel.  Then, I kind of tugged on the still-hot sweater to make it grow a little bit while it cooled.

I don’t know if you’ll be able to see the difference in these pictures, but here’s the before (a little wrinkly):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd the after (lovely and smooth):OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI even steamed the textured yoke a little bit.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt looks good!  And I think it’ll fit my husband better- which was the goal of this whole thing, in the first place!

… Or Not…

Well, it was fun.  Spinning is great.  My wool is lovely.

But, someone in my household had different plans.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALook at that dumb face… he doesn’t even know he did anything wrong.

I got home from work on Monday, and Ollie was happily chewing on his new chew toy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOh, wait.  That’s not  a chew toy.  That’s one of my spinning wheel bobbins.  Ollie, how did you get that?  It was attached to my Lazy Kate, which has been in the living room for months and you’ve never looked at twice.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOh, I see.  You destroyed my Lazy Kate.  Fun.  Actually, it’s kind of impressive… Ollie fully chewed through a 1/2″ dowel rod in less than three hours.  If I wasn’t so pissed, it would be funny.

So, I guess my spinning will have to wait for a bit, at least until I can get my hands on a couple new bobbins and a new Lazy Kate.  At least he didn’t chew up my lovely wool.

Thanks, dog!  You’re the best!

Spin, spin, spin

Last weekend, we went on a lovely little weekend trip to the Olympic Peninsula, and on the way back we stopped in Port Gamble for lunch.  Port Gamble is a rediculously pictureesque little vilage.  Built on rolling green hills that lead down to the water, all the old-fashioned houses are painted bright colors with white trim.  There is a fantastic little cafe where we stopped for lunch, a quilt store, and two fiber stores!  (I know- heaven!)

After lunch, my mother-in-law and I stopped into The Artful Ewe, one of the yarn stores- and it was like stepping into some sort of yarn-themed Harry Potter story.  The tiny store was made housed in an old house, and literally ever surface was full of wool!  The floor was strewn with giant baskets full of fleeces, tables were overflowing with yarn, and the walls were decked with racks and racks of hand-dyed roving.  There was even a tree in the middle of the room, hung with skeins of wool in every color of the rainbow! I should have taken a picture- but I was too distracted.

And there was a pair of two tiny, proper, little greyhounds sitting in a wing-back chair-  one of which was wearing a string of pearls instead of a collar.  Like I said, this place was like something out of a storybook!

So, of course, I had to buy some wool.

I didn’t have a project in mind, so I first gravitated toward the big skeins of squishy hand-dyed sock yarn- always a good choice.  I had almost picked out the skein I wanted.

But, then, I saw it- a gorgeous braid of roving: soft-as-a-kitten Polwarth wool, blended with flecks of shiny, shimmering silk, and dyed in the most intense, brightest jewel tones.  Amethyst and emerald, sapphire and aquamarine.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHonestly, the picture does not do it justice (for some reason I had a crazy hard time photographing this roving-  you’ll just have to trust me- it’s absolutely divine!)

I wavered for only a minute (seeing as I’m not a big spinner) before making a beeline to the cash register.  (Stopping to pet the pups on the way, of course.)

I spent the day yesterday spinning up about a third of the wool (I’m not very fast) into a fairly even, medium-sized single.  It’s been fun to watch the different colors shift and change as they go into my spinning wheel- but maybe I’m just easily amused?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARight now, I’m planning on making this wool into a worsted-ish 3-ply, but who knows how it’ll really end up.

What do you think I should knit with it?  Or should I just keep it as a pet?

A new day, a new sweater

I’ve made a decision, and I’ve started my new favorite project (or at least my favorite for right now)!

I grabbed my lovely Haze Heather Wool of the Andes Superwash and started casting on.  It’s really a lovely color, perfect for spring knitting with shades of lilac and violet.

26320I purchased a copy of the Stranger Cardigan.  I wasn’t sure about that shape, frankly, I’m still not sure.  But, those cables!  How could you pass up those cables?  They’re too pretty for words.Stranger1_medium2[1]I cast on with nice big needles (for maximum coziness) and have been chugging away at it for a few inches.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s been so long since I’ve done a real cable project- I’d forgotten how much fun they are!  So interesting to knit up, and so satisfying after they’re finished.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI don’t know how the sweater’s going to look when I’m done, but so far, I’m loving this big, cozy, cabled panel!