Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Au Revoir

A day of packing, checking road maps, and making stew to leave behind for the family. I've already explained to them that I expect to find the house in immaculate condition when I return (a forlorn hope, but I have to try). The dawn was gorgeous, with the trees lit by a golden glow against grey clouds.

We're due for some cold weather by Saturday so I'm packing a stack of sweaters to wear at KnitEast. The drive through upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine to St. Andrews, New Brunswick should be lovely so long as it doesn't rain the whole way. Janie and I intend to stay overnight here. I won't be able to blog while away since I don't have a laptop (I know, hard to believe I use an 8-year-old desktop clunker). Until next week...
Addendum: Just now, while polishing one of my favourite earrings, I dropped it down the heating vent in the bathroom. Gone forever probably. Crap.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Same But Different

Another fantastic early fall day. The front garden is in autumnal mode--echinacea seed heads standing up tall, hydrangea blooms turning a lovely rusty pink.

My neighbour's autumn clematis is taking over everything (in a good way).

When I get back from KnitEast it will be Thanksgiving Weekend here and I'll spend the weekend, weather permitting, transplanting some perennials, planting some bulbs, and switching what's in my pots. Or maybe I'll just get started on all of that. I know it'll all take longer than I'm pretending.
I'll have to think carefully about the pot contents; I can't stand to do the same thing twice. Probably I have a short attention span. Or I get bored easily. Same thing applies to knitting. I'm finishing up the blackberry Perth Cardi and I've made some subtle changes (improvements) on the original. Like carrying the reverse stocking stitch seam from the sides through to the arms with a central purl decrease along their undersides, and attaching the buttons with a few wraps around the shanks to leave a little space for the buttonloops to fit better. I'll add these changes to the pattern as soon as possible.

And thanks, Heather, for the help with button selection. They're just perfect.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Blowing in the Wind

Took some knits for a visit to Janie H's laundry line overlooking the Tay River just outside Perth, ON.

Beautiful early fall day. Perfect for a little photo shoot.

P.S. Congrats Natalie on the publication of your hat pattern here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Little Rule Breaking

In Sandridge's latest incarnation, shown here from the back (sans buttons as yet), I chose to do an I-cord edging with invisible buttonholes.

This type of edging works especially well for women with more "frontage" than I have, since it holds the edge closed more firmly than the original crocheted edge. (Alas, even if I gained 50 lbs, none of it would end up on my bust!) Here's how the edge looks when the buttonhole is open.

And here it is closed.

Very tidy.

To make: When you arrive at the end of the BO for the front edge, do not break the yarn, but instead, use it to CO 3 sts by backward loop method onto a dpn of same size as you used for the edge (a 5.5mm in my case). Turn the needle around so that the yarn is coming from the bottom stitch and poke the left hand end of the needle into the edge so that it picks up a loop of the bound-off edge. Then, with a second dpn, *k2, k2togtbl. Now the RH needle will become the LH needle. Poke the left hand end through the next loop of bound-off edge and repeat from*. When you arrive at the end, break the yarn and pull it through the last 3 sts. Weave the end into the I-cord to bury it. To make buttonholes, simply work a couple (or more, depending on your buttons) of I-cord rows unattached and skip the same number of loops of the bound-off edge.

Since Janie H. now has my old Perth Cardi, I've begun a new one in some deep burgundy Helen Hamann alpaca, after a disappointing experiment with SMC Select Highland Alpaca Fino. I feel guilty about not having loved the latter, but it was just too softly spun and wasn't doing the job for me. Here's the new cardi so far:

Such a useful colour!
Finally, I've engaged in a little rule breaking. I bought a couple of skeins of Koigu last fall in Toronto and they've been sitting around waiting to become a scarf. I love Veronik Avery's Ribbon Scarf from Knitty and wanted to do something similar, but maybe just a little less open. Here's my experiment with fern stitch; I used double YOs instead of singles and I PRESSED DOWN WITH THE IRON. Yes, that's right, I laid the steam iron down hard to create a thin, flattened effect.

Very drapey. I think I'll keep going...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mags and Maggie

Yesterday Bill and I went on the Prince Edward County Studio Tour. We took the Glenora Ferry, crossed to Picton, then went past Bloomfield and Wellington to visit the studio of Mags Kandis, founder of Mission Falls yarns. I'm kicking myself for having forgotten my camera! Mags had bags of Mission Falls on sale for $2 per ball and her fabulous buttons for only $1 each. It was great to see the place where all her creative energy originates. That said, she says she is planning to move closer to Picton next year.
Next, we stopped off at Casa Dea winery. I kicked myself even more for forgetting my camera as we drove through the rolling countryside. The view from the steps of the restaurant of field after field of lush vines with their heavy purple grapes was quite stunning.
We made our way back to Picton, where Bill snacked on a cupcake from Miss Lilly's while I stopped by Rose Haven Farm Store. Linda, the owner, asked me to let my readers know that she still has spots available for her upcoming workshops with Irish knitting diva, Maggie Jackson. You can go here for details, if you're interested.
The red Sandridge will be done by this evening. I'll devote my next post to explaining how to do an I-cord trim with buttonholes along the front edge (as I did for Downton) instead of the crocheted edge I originally used. Hope everyone is having a great fall weekend.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wool Weather

This is our first really cool day. I've already changed clothes three times in an attempt to feel neither too hot nor too cold. Wool is definitely back on the programme. I wore MacKay to my recorder group last night and it was perfect--just the right amount of warmth.
The red Sandridge is coming along. One sleeve done, collar in progress.

See how well the shoulder cables extend into the collar?

I really sweated to write the pattern in such a way that this would work out easily, and I think it was worth it!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sandridge: the Knitty Gritty of Raglan Alterations

Sandridge was originally designed and published as a man's zip jacket. Now, men have muscles and bigger shoulders than women, so a raglan depth that works for a man doesn't usually work on a woman of similar chest (bust) size. In a post from almost a year ago I casually mentioned that it would be a good idea to reduce the raglan depth when knitting a woman's version, but I didn't get into the down and dirty details. Here they are now as they apply to the size 36 I'm making for myself.
The pattern as written for a man says to knit until there are 58 sts in the sleeves, then to stop increasing in the sleeves, but continue to do 2 more increase rows in the body. That means that for this size, there are 4 rows more (counting the purl rows) to work after the sleeve increases are complete. However, I'm happy with the raglan depth without those 4 extra rows, so I've decided to divide for the lower body right there. But, I need to make some other adjustments for this to work. First, I read ahead to determine how many stitches I'm supposed to end up with after the divide--162. If I stop where I am, I will have only 152-- 10 stitches shy of the goal. I'm going to need to cast on some stitches at the underams to make up the difference. But, another crucial piece of info is that for this size (not all sizes) the raglan seam stitches are knitted together at the underams to create an underarm stitch. If I make the raglan shorter and cast on stitches, then those raglan stitches won't be knitted together to count as a total of 2 stitches; they'll simply be added to the body stitches for a total of 4 stitches. Finally, I can still work body increases on the dividing row.
Where does all this get me?
I need to make up 10 stitches. 4 will come from the raglans, 4 will come from the regular kfb body increases, and I'll need to cast on only 1 stitch at each underarm. Simple eh?
I did all these calculations yesterday morning. Here's where I am now.

 Hope to finish the body today.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Up Next

Recently I purchased a copy of Ysolda Teague's new book. What a designer--so young and so knowledgeable! And the book is absolutely beautifully put together. Love it. I realized this morning that I must have been influenced by the warm colours in Ysolda's sweaters when I chose to re-knit my Sandridge jacket (woman's flared version, of course) in this.

It's Diamond's Luxury Collection "Lima" in colour 1940. Every fall I seem to end up knitting a new Sandridge. Here's last year's.

Hope to wear the new one to KnitEast.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Downton Jacket Pattern Available Today

Downton, the pattern, is now available as a Ravelry download.

 It's been a busy 10 days, but fun too. Now, what will I knit next?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Day 11: DONE!

Finished the new version of Downton this morning. Took photos of the unblocked jacket.

 The blocked version is drying on the floor of our 3rd floor loft. Better photos tomorrow when it's dry. The pattern will be available then, too.

Day 10: Down to the Wire

Spent the day on the sleeves. Finished the first; finished most of the second. View of the new version of the cuffs below.

More refined than the previous version.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Day 9: Have I Bitten Off More Than I Can Chew?

A day of feeling overwhelmed and foolish to have publicly challenged myself to knit and write up this design in only 12 days. Knitted and knitted all day, ripped half of the first sleeve out not once but twice--first time for a stupid mistake, second time to change the forearm width. Stayed up much later than usual (almost until midnight). Things can only get better.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Day 8: Festina Lente

The latin adage, festina lente, or "make haste slowly", comes to mind. Yesterday morning I launched into the first sleeve, switched from a 16-inch circular  to dpns fter lunch, and realized somewhere close to tea time that I had been using the wrong size of dpns for the last hour and a half. Slap to the head!
I ripped back, put everything back onto the circular and STOPPED.
You see, all the time I was working yesterday morning, I wasn't really happy with my crochet front border. Not enough heft, not enough polish, just NOT RIGHT. So, after a little walk to clear my mind (and to pick up some smoked turkey for dinner), I ruthlessly ripped out the front border and then spent hours and hours figuring out what exactly would work best. I tried:
1. reverse st st with a roll to the inside,
2. garter st,
3. 2-st I-cord,
4. 3-st I-cord attached through the top 2 strands of the selvedge,
5. 3-st I-cord attached through the front strand of the selvedge,
6. 3-st I-cord attached through the outside strand of the selvedge,
7. 3-st I-cord attached throught the outside strand of the selvedge with a US 7, a US 6, and a US 8.
By 10:00 pm I had decided on 3-st I-cord attached through the outside strand of the selvedge using a US 7. I had spent the last hour sitting on the top stair of our first flight where the hall light was much brighter than the dim light of the downstairs lamp. Note to self: buy a better lamp.
Then I woke up this morning and promptly knitted the entire front border using not a US 7, but an 8 for the front edges and a 7 for the collar. The 2 different needle sizes made the I-cord lie perfectly. Done. 

Buttons attached.

Now, back to the sleeves.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Day 7: In the Mood

Confident that my gauge problems with this design are over, I did not block the body of Downton again and instead used the day to forge ahead with the collar and front borders. Much as I love the knitted-in buttonholes on my early version, I did not want to replicate them. For one thing, my buttons for this version are much bigger and would, I am sure, eventually cause gaping wounds to develop in the fabric (even with Debbie Stoller's "bestest buttonhole"). For another, I like being able to position the buttonholes when the knitting is mostly done and I can try on the jacket for button placement. I opted not to go with shaped lapels (after an aborted short row experiment), and decided on a crochet edge done from the wrong side and going all around the lapels to the collar. No photos this evening; it's too dark.
 Once this was done, I went for a breath of fresh air and looked around my neighbourhood for some examples of Victorian gothic architecture to put me in a Downton mood.

I found this:

and this.

Next I must look for a location to take photos of the new jacket...

Day 6: Smooth Sailing

A straightforward day, knitting fairly easily accomplished. Spent part of the afternoon on Princess St. looking at hats with a Downton feel. No gloves in the stores so early in the season. Nothing exciting to show--yet.