Sweaters from Camp Knitalong:
This week I ordered yarn and started a swatch. The only problem I have with the Blackberry Ridge yarn for colorwork is that the skeins are so big--4 ounces of fingering weight is a lot. Considering the original point of using this yarn was to use up some leftovers, I'm going to have a TON extra at the end.
I only did a couple of rows on my swatch because I'd like to try the main motif of the sweater with the colors I chose. My original thought was I could swatch alternating between two balls of the color I already have to get an idea of my Fair Isle gauge, but one row of that was so boring that I decided to wait until the rest of the yarn arrived.
I've got some thoughts on how I'm going to tweak the design. On the SFC-KAL mailing list there was some discussion about changing parts of the pattern (size, in particular), so I thought I'd share how I set things up. Forgive the MS Paint job; I'd pretend that these ugly pictures aren't indicative of my artistic skill, but proof to the contrary
I usually start with a very generic sweater shape, like this:
If I want to remind myself to give the piece a very specific shape, I'll add it in, but mostly I just have a big rectangle with some smaller ones coming off either side.
Then I make a list of everything I want to include. On this one, I wanted to keep the motifs and one interesting construction detail from the Pullover with Vertical Stripes
(picture from Sweaters From Camp, designed by Jane Hill, picture of the picture in the book taken by Rebekkah
), but I wanted to make it a cardigan with courrigated ribbing, change the color scheme, mess with the neckline, and play with the smaller vertical element a bit. A few of these will be easy to substitute because there's a cardigan with similar patterning and a shape I like done at the same gauge in the book. Doing some very rough calculations, I have enough room on either side of the cardigan for a snowflake/star column and a couple of vertical peeries.
That's a lot to write out, but it translates pretty well to an image:
The color scheme *is* more subtle than that, but it helps me picture what the real thing will look like. Those dark blue vertical stripes will be some kind of peerie, and there'll be one on either side of the main pattern. They'll also connect directly with the sleeve--that's the construction detail from the original I want to keep.
The listed gauge is 30 st/4 inches, and the final size is about right for a loose cardigan for me. The Blackberry Ridge yarn might look good at a different gauge, but the 7-8 stitches/inch range is about right. Overall, that'll give me about 300-350 stitches to work with. This is a narrow enough margin that I know the sweater will come out roughly as in the doodle above, but the size of the peerie and the space between peerie and star will depend on exactly how those numbers fall.
I don't have a strong feeling about the peerie in the book-sweater. I'll probably design my own, for values of "design"="probably exactly what some Fair Isle knitter came up with 100 years ago". Some contenders:
-A rope or braid-looking thing. I've always liked the illusion of twisting on a flat surface.
-My initials. This wouldn't be the first time I've personalized a handknit--a sweater for my husband has his initials in the arm gussets, and a pair of my socks has a pictograph of my name one one side, and my name in regular script on the other. It's a bit much for every column, but I might put it along where a seam would normally sit, which on this sweater will be uninterrupted from wrist to waist.
-Something science-dorky: Probably a DNA helix, or maybe an actin filament graphic. Or benzene! It'd need a lot more work than either idea above because I can't go around calling something on my sweater an actin filament without vouching for its scientific accuracy. But it'd be fanTAStic when going to conferences. Men get to wear ties with dorky crap all over them, why can't I get in on the act?
Zipper, buttons, frog clasp? I have no idea. Fortunately I won't need to worry about this until I cut the center steek. I think it'll end up being buttons only if I find really really cool buttons.
And that's about it. The numbers will take an evening of play, the peeries might take some swatching, but I have things pretty well narrowed down.
As someone who understands both knitting and computers passably well, I just loved this teasing discussion of how a grandmother that can understand complex-looking knitting instructions could possibly claim that a computer is too complicated for her
It's true. But it's also true that it takes a while to learn any language, and that it's easier to learn a language when one's brain is young and squishy. I imagine I'll have a hard time with the newfangled thought-controlled hoverboards that come out in around 2050.
"Auntie T, it's so easy to do! You just sit in the mechanomodule, and think about where you want to go! The Magnetosphere does the rest."
"Isn't there at least a joystick or something in case I start thinking about preparing dinner and the thing goes crashing through the Soylent Mart?"
"Oh, Auntie T. *sigh* No, no happy twig or whatever you just said. Why are you so techno-phobic?"
Another view of the future:
A brain slug. Because I can, because I forgot to use the garlic shampoo, and because it may be useful at meetings. I'll put the pattern up eventually, such as it is.
(Here's the quick version, for anyone interested that can think these things out for themselves: Make a flat circle, then make a tiny hat on top, adding an eyeball in when it's time. Add I-cord headband, I-cord tentacles, duplicate-stitched pupil, and I-cord/bobble antennae [not seen here, but they've since been added]. Walk around like you're touched, saying things about hoverboards.)
Still feeling sort of off.
But this is pretty, anyhow.
This is the Juliet Sweater, designed by Robin Melanson, which was in the Summer 2004 issue of Interweave Knits
. I knit it with Elann.com's house brand Baby Silk, an alpaca/silk blend knit at about a sport weight.
My sweater is quite a bit different from the pattern, though. It's ribbon-less and bead-less, and the lace at the neck matches the lace around the bottom. It's also knit in a very different yarn--the original is in a cotton blend. I also added and removed a bit of shaping as needed.
I really like the way it came out, even though it sat in my knitting bag for about 6 months, completely unloved and unworked. It fits perfectly, everything sits exactly where it's supposed to, and I like that the sleeves and waist both have a little bit of flare.
It's a good sweater for looking nice and being warm at the same time. I wore it at Christmas and got a lot of compliments from the family.
Ok, so this is more detail than I tend to get into, so feel free to go somewhere else today if you're squicked out by the merest mention of female health. (It is only the merest mention, I'm mostly bitching about the lack of respect the American health system has for anyone.)
So, this is ridiculous. If I'm a perfectly healthy woman in her mid-20s with a good education that knows how to ask all the right questions, and I can get messed up by the health care system at least once per year, how does anyone expect someone that isn't healthy and is intimidated by labcoats to successfully maneuver in our craptacular method of dealing with patients?
Like almost 1/3 of women of reproductive age
, I take birth control pills. And like a fairly high percentage of them, I got really nauseous for 10 hours after I took the pill for the first week of the month for the first few months I was on them. Since my body is being convinced it's pregnant so the Egg Factory stays shut down, it shouldn't really be surprising that the porcelain goddess should call so sweetly in the morning. But after a couple of months, so long as I stay on that particular brand, I'm fine.
Unfortunately, my insurance likes to switch the pills that are on the formulary about once every 6 months, most of the time not informing me of the descision. These pills on their own are expensive enough that I have to switch to whatever they say (about 40$ a month vs. 5$), but that's total chump change from the point of view of a drug company or insurance company. So they switch me to whatever brand is 10 cents cheaper that fiscal quarter, and for the next 3 days I can't get to work on time because I was awake between 2 and 4 am trying not to yarf.
The part that really ticks me off is that every time I get switched, I get told that I'm taking exactly what I was already taking, just made by a different manufacturer. Bullhonky. Hormones are SUCH sensitive things, it only takes a tiny bit of change to drastically change what's going on biologically. It would be nice to at least get notified, so I don't end up switching in a week that I actually, you know, had a ton of stuff to get done.
And like I said, I'm a totally healthy person. This is the only prescription I take on a regular basis, and it's not even one that keeps me *alive*. And *still*, it can totally screw me up. I can't imagine trying to deal with this if I was starting off sick.
(Also? The new pills are in a boring package that's hard to get the pills out from. There, I'm officially whining. But cut me some slack, my body is grumpy.)
Like I mentioned last week, I'm new to knitalongs
, but I'm really excited about this Sweaters From Camp one
. My plan is to do an entry per week that's specifically knitalong-related, so that the people that are following it always have something to look at on the front page. I'm also thinking that these entries will be more in the style of a regular knitblog, with pictures of the work in progress and yarn when I buy it, thinking out loud, etc. Depending on who you are, this may be disappointing or exciting news, so skip or devour as you will.
No work in progress yet. I haven't even finished playing with the numbers. I have, however, decided on a couple of elements.
The main pattern I'll be using is from the Vertical Patterned Fair Isle pullover (I'll get a picture soon, it's purty). Except I'm going to turn it into a cardigan, because I want to play with some button ideas, and because I want the motifs to be a little bit broken up visually, and because I need a cardigan. I'm going to take a good portion of the cardigan shaping and maybe one or two of the vertical peeries (is peerie the right word if it's a vertical element?) from the Crighton Cardigan, which is another sweater with vertical elements and a bluey-purple colorway. But I like the snowflakes on the vertical cardigan better, so I'm going to try to make that one work.
I'll be putting a lot of time into getting the design the way I like it, and I'll probably follow that process here for the next couple of weeks.
I'll be using Blackberry Ridge's
fingering weight wool yarn. I used it recently and it's a pleasure to knit, very natural and very sproingy. I've got 500-600 yards left over from my project (the shawl I knit WAY overestimated yarn usage), and will be incorporating the leftovers into this project.
I won't be buying yarn for another week or so, because I've already spent my self-set Goof Off Money allowance for the month. Also, I need to make some space in my yarn tub. 450 yard hanks are really huge.
I have a hard time visually processing a lot of the really complex Fair Isle sweaters. When every single row is a different color, and there are 10 different patterns, it's too much information to track at once, and frankly, it hits a point where I feel like someone is walking around wearing a Persian carpet or a Moire pattern. The patterns in the book I was most drawn to either used a limited palette, or had a single plain pattern color while the background went for broke. A good example of the latter is the knitalong host's Northwest Sunset Fair Isle vest
, which was one of my pattern finalists.
I've figured out the colorway using Blackberry Ridge's color cards. It's mostly blue, with a little bit of dark blue/green and a little bit of undyed white. I'm also swapping the color setup of the Vertical Stripes pullover--the single dark color will be the foreground pattern, and the varying lighter colors will make the background.
Because Blackberry Ridge only deals with 4-ounce skeins, I'm going to have a lot of leftovers. I'll probably use them to make an FI hat or mittens.
Not yet, though I have the leftover navy yarn. First I need to free up some needles. Possibly by next week, because I can't do too much pattern planning without gauge.
Only Tangentially Related
: I bought the Sweaters From Camp book on Wednesday, and spent a good portion of my free time between Wednesday night and Saturday afternoon poring through it, holding my page with a different Fair Isle motif I've wanted to put in a sweater for a while. I just couldn't stop looking at the thing, and there were 6 or 7 patterns that I really liked, and I had a terrible time trying to force myself to decide on something.
Saturday morning, I woke up with the pattern perfectly arranged in my head. I hadn't even felt particularly strongly about either the Vertical Patterned pullover or the Crighton cardigan before that, but it just all clicked. I was kind of hoping that would happen, and I'm glad it did.
Another pattern done
The shaping is so strange on this guy, I had a really hard time explaining WHY everything was the way it was. Hopefully it'll make sense.
Pimping and monsters today. But not together. Because that would just be silly.
Pimping: My dad's playing in a band right now, and I liked the music enough to buy a CD that my dad isn't even on (it's from a while ago, and he just started playing with them recently). So you should like it too. The band's called Thunderegg, and you can check out their website and listen to some of their songs
. Their music reminds me a lot of Belle and Sebastian--when I was listening to the CD that's who J thought I was listening to. Sort of laid back rockish stuff with a lot of syllables, a trumpet, and a pedal steel guitar (the latter one'd be Daddy).
If you're in New York you can go to The Mercury Lounge on the 29th
and see them. The band members who aren't my dad are also very nice and talented. Tell them I sent you.
Monsters:"You can fall in love with this girl. Just don't get near her."
This is why I love kids.
I'm joining a knitalong for the first time. It's kind of odd, knitalongs are one of the backbones of the knit blog community (just look at this list!
), but I've just never been tempted before, usually because the focus isn't something I'm interested enough in to read about all the time, or be able to contribute anything useful, or there's a time limit that makes it feel like work.
Nevertheless, the Sweaters from Camp Knitalong
has got me. Have you seen this book? It's fan-effin-tastic. I don't really like the traditional 8-bazillion color Fair Isle sweaters
, because they're just too dang busy. But a lot of the sweaters in the book have more...unified colorways, I guess I'd say. There are a couple of sweaters I'd love with no changes at all, and a few I've been mentally rearranging all day.
So, I'm pretty excited to see how people approach the sweaters. Chances are, though that what I make will be quite different from the version in the book. There's also a chance I'm going to take a Fair Isle pattern I've had my eye on for a while and design my own. The book was the result of a design contest, with the very detailed guidelines at the beginning of the book, so I feel like this is in the spirit of the thing. I'll almost definitely use Blackberry Ridge's fingering weight wool
, which is gorgeous, gorgeous stuff.
Oh yeah! Speaking of Blackberry Ridge, here's something I made using that yarn.
Faroese Shawl, from A Gathering of Lace
. There were directions for two sizes in the book--a small one knit on 3's, and a huge one (the one on the cover
), which was knit on 10's. I split the difference and worked on 7's. It came out a tiny bit smaller than I would have preferred, since I forgot just how much garter stitch squinches everything, but it came out beautifully.
My mom got this for Christmas. I had a hard time finding a balance--since my mom is awesome, I wanted to make her something really lavish, but I know that if it was too extravagant she'd worry about the dog's hair gettting into it, and put it away for a special occasion. This struck a fair balance.
I really enjoyed the pattern, despite my always having trouble with garter stitch. It was very easy to keep track of what the pattern was on a particular row, but at the same time the pattern changed constantly so I needed to look at the pattern again at the beginning of every new row. I'd knit it again, no problem.
I got to play the berimbau for the first time at capoeira this weekend and had a lot of fun. I was explaining what the instrument looks like to my mom, and I thought I'd talk about it here.
Here is a pretty good picture of a berimbau
. And here are some good short samples of the instrumentation
. Listen to "Angola" to hear what noises I was theoretically making. And here's a good picture of how it gets played
(it's probably a good description too, if you speak German). You have two things to control in each hand, all at the same time.
In the left hand, you've got the berimbau itself dangling from your pinky, which moves against or out from your body as you play, depending on if you want to muffle the sound or not. Also in the left hand is a coin or stone or big flat thing, about the size of a silver dollar but flat around the edges, that you push against the string to make one of the two notes you can get out of the berimbau.
In the right hand you've got a stick for tapping the string and a bell-shaped rattle called a caxixi wrapped around your fingers. Depending on which note you want, you hit the string in a different place, making sure to twist your wrist enough to give the caxixi a good shake.
So, to review:
1)Balancing a not-too-light, top-heavy thing on a pinky.
2)Moving top-heavy thing back and forth in a controlled way.
3)Setting up the string to play one of two notes. (oh, and there's a third sound, like hitting a wrong note while playing guitar. I forgot to mention that?)
4)Actually sounding the note.
6)To a quick rhythm (120 bpm, marching band speed, is slow, slowslow capoeira music).
7)And singing. In a foreign language.
If you're the head berimbau player, you're also "calling the game" in a way, telling the players instrumentally when to start, stop, catch their breath, go crazyfast, etc.
It's no wonder so many of the capoeira songs praise the berimbau and/or its player. The instrument itself is given a personality in the songs--bossy, yet irresistably magnetic. An example is #14 on this list
, which roughly translates as "The berimbau calls me, and I have to go to it even if it's night."
It's interesting, the effect that very simple instruments have on the bits of our brain that are only mostly human. The berimbau, the shofar
, the African drumming circle that comes in after capoeira class, or even just cooking breakfast singing a little wordless tune--why do these things stir me as much as a 100-piece orchestra backed by a full chorus? Hm.
Continuing with the lace present theme, here's a scarf I made for my grandma. It's almost exactly from a pattern at the end of A Handspindle Treasury, the only spinning book I have in my library so far. The only change I made was because I was worried I wouldn't have enough yarn to make a scarf of reasonable length--those single yarnover columns were originally doubled up, and there were a few more stitches between the motifs.
I like the waviness at the bottom. It makes it seem more light and feminine.
I've been spinning a lot recently; the process has finally clicked, and though my yarn isn't perfect, it's knittable. I got this really neat bag from my dad and stepmom for my birthday that's become the designated spinning bag, so now I have a place for roving I'm working with and extra spindles--or at least, extra spindle, since I just ordered my second one this week.
I've also been working on a doily. For some reason, nothing makes me feel as dorky as working on a doily, and yet here I am making one. The pattern is written out, not charted, which has led J to marvel at the jive-talking that goes on among lace knitters: "knit 3, yo!"
So, I've gotten a lot of requests to put the Gir pattern together, so I've written it all out in sensical language, and just need to put it up. But there were a few details I didn't like with the first one I made, and a few things towards the end that I hadn't written down in enough detail for me to figure out what the heck I actually did. So it was time to make another Gir, which you can see here being introduced to the original in a burst of fraternal goodwill.
But since two Girs in one house is a bit much, I passed him on to a friend, who also enjoys picture-taking
I have lots of pictures stored up, mostly Christmas presents that I can share now that the recipents have their stuff.
Lace! Because I like knitting it, but I have lots of it now, so it's time to start giving it away.
The Flowerbasket Shawl, by Evelyn Clark, from an issue of Interweave Knits from last year. Knit up blazingly fast (less than a week) on size 7 needles, using about 450 yards of Elann.com's sportweight alpaca/silk yarn. I did a few more repeats of the main body pattern than was called for in the pattern, and added a couple of rows to the pointy part on the bottom, because I had plenty of yarn and the original shawl was pretty tiny.
I liked the construction method, in which you start with a few stitches on the top and increase as you go down. The lace pattern--meh. It took me like 5 repeats to figure out that the thing is called the flowerbasket shawl because those little lumpy things are supposed to be.... wait for it... flower baskets. But it looks all right in a repeating wallpaper way--as in, you don't really notice the lace, but you do notice that the person's wearing an airy pink thing. Personally, I prefer to see a distinct pattern if I put the effort into the lace knitting, partly because it makes it easier to spot mistakes as one works on it. But once I finished it, I did wear it for a little while to see how it works, and it is very nice.
I gave this to my mother-in-law. The dress she wore at our wedding was almost the exact same raspberryish color
as the shawl, so I thought the color would go with her wardrobe.
I spent a good chunk of the bus ride home from the engineering building tonight trying to decide if I was going to spend my Friday evening chugging through The Cryptonomicon (a doorstop of a science fiction* novel) or spinning some of the wonderful merino roving I picked up at Webs
while I was home.
Just in case you were wondering about my geek cred.
I've done a bit of both. The merino, which I'd heard takes some getting used to, spins easier than the roving I bought at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool. I just did a tiny sample to see how it plies up, and I really, really like it. The first 200 pages of The Cryptonomicon annoyed me, but now that I've got the hang of the structure (every chapter about a different main character, each separated by time and/or geography), and have stopped being bored by 2 of the 3 protagonists, it's a lot of fun.
*I'm not sure what The Cryptonomicon qualifies as. It's fiction that depends on science to move the plot, but it's 2/3 set in World War II, 1/3 set in what is roughly a believable present day. I've seen it all over the place in bookstores and the library--I guess I'm not the only one that doesn't know what category to put it in.