Thursday, February 19, 2015

February Adventures

Happy Lunar New Year and Welcome to the Year of the Wood Sheep
 
Our weather of late has made and I suspect in the coming days, will continue to make the news. It is cold; or COLD as the word appeared on the weather page of one of the region’s most reliable sources of news for weather and traffic. We’re all little bundles of our own warmth walking about, standing on subway platforms, or waiting to cross the street. We doff our hoods from swaddled heads once in the safe warmth of an indoor space. The brave remove their gloves to raccoon away on a smart device or more often to reinvigorate circulation to cold hands. Yes, this week it has become increasingly unusual to see someone stop in mid stride arrested by something on a small screen. Our movements in the outdoors are purposeful and directed. Even that dreaded and much derided phrase of last winter Arctic Vortex has reemerged. No one now needs a definition and the temperatures have muted protests of exaggeration. 

My personal hero has been the Nomad Hat. The hat portion covers the entire head and wrapping the scarf around my neck—even though I didn’t knit it as long as the pattern dictated—protects my throat and neck from the cold. Next are my various pairs of fingerless gloves worn over gloves or convertible mitts providing an additional layer of warmth without inhibiting dexterity. Lastly, the Gansey Legwarmers worn with a ski liner and socks stuffed into boots. 

Besides the weather, I have finally picked a stitch pattern from Nihon Vogue Sha’s Knitting Patterns 300. I’ve worked out how to use the knitting symbol fonts downloaded from the Knitting Universe website to type the patter into an Excel workbook. I’ve learned the value of the traditional SSK—having previously always used Barbara Walker’s version—in knitting the vertical double decrease. I’ve managed to rearrange the stitches to avoid YO’s being the first or last stitch on the needle and the knitting is starting to percolate along nicely. 
 
 
Toupie is coping well. He has the ottoman, the dresser, the armchair in the dining room and the futon as refuges from the cold floor. I give him warm water daily and keep the heating at 72F. He has avoided his usual perch of the bathroom rug this week. I think the tiled floor is just too cold.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Gussets Again

My bedtime reading of late has been The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt. I’ve incorporated the left and right leaning raised increases in the thumb gusset. Very pleasing and very easy to do.


It’s been very cold here lately. My apartment is always cold because it sits atop the concrete roof of the garage. Yesterday, I picked up Toupie’s water bowl to fill it, only to find that it was frozen to the floor. But never fear, puss has lots of places to curl up and roll around, like the computer chair.

A wind gust catches his attention

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Disorganized Organization and Gusset Adventures

While awaiting the start of my next temporary assignment, I mentally went through my list of to dos, which consists mainly of things whose disorganization I find annoying.

Long wishing to organize my downloaded knitting patterns, I started there. I kept the categories broad: tops, mittens (including gloves, arm warmers, in short, anything related to hands), e-books, skirts, socks, shawls, cowls, home (anything not wearable), etc. I also weeded. Anything I knew stood no possibility of being knitted went to the Recycle Bin.

The rewards were immediate. New downloads are immediately saved in a folder. During one of my stash dives, I came across one of a pair of gloves I was knitting in Cascade 220. But what was the pattern? Scrolling through my mitten folder, I discovered the pattern complete with the last row knit highlighted in pink.

Gusset Adventures
One of the reasons I so desired to knit the 1861 Cottage Mitts was the different gusset for the thumb. While the lifted increase produces two nice rows of left and right slanting stiches outlining the V of the thumb gusset, I found overtime these stitches are under strain. I wanted to keep the nice gusset outline but eliminate the strain. I found solutions in Beth Brown-Reinsel’s book Knitting Ganseys. 

Using Lion Bran Fisherman’s Wool in the Birch Tweed colorway is 78% wool and 13% Acrylic and 9% Rayon I cast on 40 stitches on size 3.5mm dpns and knit 27 rows in k1p1 rib. On row 28 I knit one stitch, placed a marker, purled the next stitch and lifted one stitch from the row below for the increase. Knitting one row between increases, I plan to continue this until I have 12 stitches for the gusset before casting on stitches for the fourchette and joining in the round.

What I learned from knitting a pair of convertible mittens with this yarn on size 4.5mm needles is that it pays to knit mittens and gloves a tighter gauge than recommended. The firmer fabric is warmer and keeps pilling to a minimum. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Start As You Mean to Go On

It’s January 9 and I’ve finished my Gansey Leg Warmers and one of my 1861 Cottage Wristers.


Besides the snow on Tuesday, it has been very cold this week. Temps managed to get into the 30’s today but won’t get past the mid 20’s tomorrow. The wristers gave me an idea. I wore a pair of fingerless mitts under my Rowan Creative Focus wool gloves this week. Toasty!


Our new controllable heating system works well. I can lower the temp during the day and at bedtime and only keep the thermostat at 80 in the evenings and on weekends. I am thinking about putting the cotton rug to use. Because I’m on the first floor and sitting on top of the concrete roof of the garage, my floors are really cold. The water is positively icy from the cold-water tap; and I’ve been downing 20 ounce glasses of fresh lemonade in the evenings. I attribute the pneumonia shot and the fresh vitamin C combined with plenty of hand washing as the reason I’ve so far avoided catching the flu. Several people at work have had it and a few have developed pneumonia.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Koala's and the Australian Bushfires

Koala's can use our help to recover from burn injuries to their paws received during the recent bushfires. 

Please read: Click

Link to sewing pattern for cotton mitts. These are easy enough to stitch by hand if you don't have a machine.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

First Pawing

The New Year’s Day tradition here is that as the man of the house, aka Toupie, First Paws the apartment. He had a bit of a wander before returning this year. I gave him treats as a reward.

 I have finished the first 1861 Cottage Wrister. Once I figured out the issue with the stitch count during the increases, it was smooth sailing. The thumb is very natural looking, no gaps or pulled gusset stitches.

 
 I have four skeins of the Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool. Words cannot express my disappointment in the quality. It is splitty because it is so poorly spun. I had no knots but did have two clumps. It is full of guard hairs, which didn’t bother me but have bothered others. My gauge was 8 stitches to the inch. I don’t think I would want to create a fabric less dense for an item that will get a lot of wear, because it might not hold up.

Unlike my mittens knit with the Sirritogv, there is no bounce or energy in the final fabric. But they will serve their intended purpose as an under glove for the Sirritogv mittens.

 

EU VAT Mess

What were they thinking? It’s a little obvious that not much thinking went into it. As more people access EU digital services and content discovering price rises or content and services no longer available, politicians will start to hear the complaints and feel the heat. If the intention of this law was to hit the big multinationals, then why wasn’t a revenue threshold set? Instead of growing micro and small businesses, this legislation not only puts their existence in danger, but makes starting up more onerous.  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Year of the Wood Sheep

It doesn’t officially begin until February 17 or so, but since celebrations for everything nowadays begin months before time, why not. As long as we don’t forget that officially we are still under the influence of the Iron Horse. Unlike the Iron Horse, the Wood Sheep is a more expansive. 2015 should be a good year for growth—no this is not a financial prediction.

To start the year’s knitting off right, I cast on for a project I’ve wanted to knit since I read the article in Piecework’s January/February 2013 issue, 1861 Cottage Industry Wristers and Mitts. It took cleaning the coat and luggage closet leading to the discovery of a bag of hidden stash with a skein of Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool in Nature’s Brown colorway that decided the issue.

In the project notes on Ravelry and on the Piecework website, I discovered an issue with the pattern. I sat down and spent some time rereading the directions and figured out where the initial confusion occurs in the first round after the ribbing the number of stitches increased is given as 3. Three stitches are actually increased each time you complete the three round sequence for the thumb gusset. But if you knit that sequence 6 times as directed, the total round of increased stitches is 18 instead of the printed 17. It is possible to knit the three round sequence six times and set of 18 stitches for the thumb gusset. However, since I have small hands, I decided to stick with the 17 stitches. To achieve that, after the thumb gusset contained 15 stitches, I knit rounds 2 and 3 once more.

I think there is a further problem with the number of fourchette stitches but I will deal with that once I knit the 8 plain rounds.

All this is a shame because this is actually a pattern a beginner could knit and since it is knit using a worsted weight yarn on size 1 needles, the fabric created is dense and will keep the hands warm. Especially since the wristers and the mittens can be worn together or separately. But I confess to being one of those who more often than not when there are issues with a pattern, just move on to the next item in my queue or bright and shiny object that catches my attention. What drove me in this instance—which is the initial thing about the pattern that grabbed my attention—was the construction of the thumb gusset. A construction I will apply to my next set of mittens or gloves because it eliminates the possibility of holes or stretched stitches that can occur with the M1L/M1R construction.


I have posted my modifications on my project page on Ravelry and on the Knitting Daily forum for the pattern. I hope that some knitter will find my notes helpful.