Well, here is is, 5:08pm on Monday. I haven’t left the house yet. I am dressed… but not presentably, nor appropriately for the astonishingly dreary weather we are having. I am in the middle of painting all the kitchen cupboards. I will be starting dinner soon, and then finishing the kitchen and boxing up the Sally Anne’s boxes for transport tomorrow.
I’m also finishing my wedding album. Yes. It has been just past exactly 2.5 years since Justin and I merged our lives in marrital bliss. AND I still haven’t finished putting together the wedding album.
Yup… today, I am finishing. I’m finishing a lot of things right now, which is no coincidence. First and foremost in the line up of reasons why I (we) are doing this, it is the time of the waning crescent left over from New Year’s Eve’s full moon, which was synchronistically a blue moon. It is time to exhale last year, and in less than a week, it will be time to inhale this year. I don’t want to be inhaling a bunch of junk that I have stashed away in the corners of my house.
Second, the hubster and I are making a trip to Brazil to see John of God. Both of us have a multitude of issues relating to having sustained spinal cord injuries 12 and 10 years ago respectively. Thus, we are making space in our psyches for the new and healthier bodies that we hope to achive while we are there, by cleaning out the ‘old’ us. Anything we have been hanging onto from those days – physical or otherwise – is ousted.
Third, part of being in the Waldorf Teacher Training with my teacher and mentor, Gene Campell, is that I get my life in order. I get my house and home working smoothly, I get my intentions set and I get my body and mind working and thinking clearly. For this, she prescribes, as I am sure I have mentioned, a paper called the Labours of Herculese – 29 pages of detailed process for doing life right.
So, seeing that we leave for the hubsters school on Thursday, and then Brazil on Saturday, I may be lost in the abyss for a couple of days, until I get my feet out the door.
Wish me luck!
The Fibonacci Pullover is the first step I have taken into designing my own knitwear. Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Brook’s Classic Pullover pattern from The Opinionated Knitter was an excellent place to start because it gave me the experience of measuring a body and creating a sweater from the gauge I got out of those measurements. Also, being plain stockinette stitch, it leaves room for cables and modifications.
I took on the challenge of designing a cable that would work with the Fibonacci sequence of numbers, and to make it a larger cable, used the value of 8 as the base number. The cable turned out rather well, and was easy and enjoyable to knit.
I decided to place the cable in the front of the sweater where it’s beginning synchronistically lines up with the heart centre of the his chest. This cable was a little bit longer, but not long enough to include a complete amount of purl stitches for the next number in the sequence. So, I decided to continue purling all the way around his neck line, giving the rolled hem a place to rest and finishing the number in the sequence at the same time. Then, I decided to balance the sweater by doing one slightly shorter cable on the outside of each arm. The hubster is eager to greet the person who recognizes the symbolism of the cables on his sweater.
The shoulder decreases didn’t work when I tried to do the right under the shoulder bones. I ended up with a bunch of extra fabric, like little wings. So, I ripped it back and did the decreases starting three inches above armpit instead of two, and right over the armpits. Worked like a charm. Tight enough, but with enough space to reach and move.
As for the seemless bit, I loved it. Grafting the armpits was so satisfying, and you can’t even tell! The only thing is, the gauge I knit was so tight that it made my hands a bit sore to knit on circulars. If it wasn’t for that, I might never knit flat again!As per the pattern, I left the bottom hem band of the sweater until the end, for which I am glad. I hadn’t really knitted up enough on the body before I started the arm pits, and thus that ability to add extra onto the bottom without the sweater looking cobbled together was much welcomed! Plus, I have the option of adding more to the sweater if he decides that he would like it longer at some point, or the washing of it does something curious to the length. I decreased about 10% of the stitches for the bottom band*.
So, there you have it, the Fibonacci Pullover
Yarn: Cascades Ecological Wool in the 8025 shade/colourway, just over three skeins.
Needles: 3.5 mm needles (a little bit small in my opinion, the sweater is rather stiff but we’ll see how it washes up)
Size: 44″ chest (cast on 184 stitches)
Merry Christmas my love!
* One issue with adding the bottom band, post torso, is that it seems to fold up on itself. I don’t know if this is because he is sitting in a wheelchair all the time, or if it is because there is a seam there and it needs to be blocked straight (hubster maintains that his body heat will block it, and there is no need to wait any longer) If you have an answer… send a signal!
That’s right, I am finally admitting to the world that I cannot take everything with me when we move. So, one of the wheels has to go, and since smaller is better for tiny little cabins in the woods living, I’m going to be taking the Joy, and selling the Ashford Traditional.
The Ashford Traditional was my first wheel, which I bought second hand, two years ago. I don’t know exactly how old it is, but I figure it is about 10 years old and was barely used. When I got it it needed a little refinishing, so I sanded it down and finished it with a natural beeswax polish and a little bit of mineral oil. It came with a single treadle and I modified it to be a double treadle (Ashford parts). Then, I ordered the Jumbo Flyer to go with it, for spinning art yarns and large skeins of yarn, but never got around to putting it on. I would be happy to finish it with the mineral oil, if you don’t want to buy it unfinished.
The wheel, then, comes with all of its original parts except the single treadle piece, plus the double treadle attachment (installed), a brand new Jumbo Flyer, 4 jumbo bobbins and 3 regular bobbins, one orifice hook and everything I have for a repair kit. I would like to get $550 for the whole package, or best offer.
If you look on any knitting forum, there are always a lot of questions oriented towards swatching and gauge. There are even knitters who refuse to swatch, claiming that they don’t work and that it’s not worth their time. In a certain way, this is true. After all, how can a teeny tiny swatch represent an entire garment, and be accurate? From my limited statistics experience, the number of complicated dependencies involved: needle (size, material, point(s), weight), yarn (breed of animal or type of material, weight, loft, halo), time (speed of knitting, time left sitting or hanging, amount of knitting experience), knitting technique (continental or english style, tension, mood of the knitter), pattern (stitch, comfort with pattern and when the knitter becomes such), washing, blocking make it darn near impossible!
But we do them anyway. In this post, I am going to start with the most basic of gauge swatches: swatching to match your ball band and then the more complicated pattern gauge swatch using a different yarn and different than the pattern calls for.
Before that though, let’s lay down a few Gauge Swatch Rules:
- For an accurate swatch, be consistent. Everything you do differently in your gauge swatch, from your garment, will be reflected and magnified in the actual piece. I cannot stress this enough.
- Change your needles and/or yarn, not yourself. Do not tell yourself that you should just knit a little looser or a little tighter for the project. You will naturally go back to your old way of knitting and render your swatch useless.
- Choose a needle point/type/brand/weight/material and stick with it through your entire project. If you are going to swatch for knitting in the round, swatch in the round. If you are going to knit in the round on dpns, stick with them, don’t switch to circs halfway through. If you are going to knit on bamboo, swatch on bamboo. Don’t even change between two brands of needles that are the same material. Everything that changes about the needle, changes the way you hold them and thus the way you knit. For an accurate gauge swatch, keep it as consistent as possible.
- Keep your technique the same. Knit as consistently as possible through the swatch and garment for your swatch to be accurate. This can’t be stressed enough.
- Treat your swatch as you would treat your garment. If you are going to wash and block your garment, wash and block your swatch exactly the way you would if you were washing your garment. Remember that laying flat to dry stops the garment from stretching from its own weight (something you can’t replicate in a gauge swatch)
- The best gauge swatch is your garment. The more like your garment your swatch is, the better your swatch accuracy. Make your swatch at least 5×5 inches, that way you have 4×4 inches to measure and stitches on either end to reorient yourself with your needles and yarn. You will become more comfortable and relaxed with your knitting (which changes the gauge swatch) the longer you knit, so the bigger the better.
- Swatch for every project, even if you have knitted with the yarn before. Unless of course you are knitting exactly the same gauge, on exactly the same needles, with the same care instructions for the garment.
BALL BAND GAUGE SWATCH
On the ball band, there are two things: the recommended needle size and the gauge.
- Needle size: first of all, this is an average needle size. Take it as a starting point if you don’t have very much experience knitting. When you get to know how you knit, you will know generally how much tighter or looser you usually knit. I tend to knit at least one full needle size looser than the recommended needle size, so in this case, they recommend a size 10 (american) or 6 mm needle. I would start with a 5 mm needle.
- Gauge: Often, the yarn producer will put the row and stitch gauge on the ballband, but in this case we just have the stitch gauge. This means that if I am knitting this yarn how it wants to be knitted (according to the yarn manufacturer) then I will be getting 3.5 stitches per inch.
Now for the swatch:
STEP 1: Start with the recommended needle size and cast on enough stitches to make one or two inches more than you need for your swatch. Knit about an inch or so.
STEP 2: Slide the work to the thinnest part of the needle and pin it down without stretching it. Measure and see if you are close to the stitch gauge you need (we’ll worry about row gauge later). Remember, knitting often stretches width wise, so if you have ever so slightly less stitches than you need, you can make up for it with blocking. If you are on gauge, go to step three, if not, rip back and try another needle size.
STEP 3: Knit up three inches to do a preliminary check for row gauge using 2 of the inches. Slide the work to the thinnest part of the needle and pin it down without stretching. Measure row gauge. If you are off, then rip back and try a different needle size. If you absolutely cannot get row gauge, it is easy to do some calculations for lengthening the garment. If you are on gauge, move on to step 4.
STEP 4: Knit up the rest of your gauge swatch. Bind off loosely. Write down exactly what your gauge, needles and yarn are on a piece of paper and put aside. Wash/block/dry the swatch as you would the garment.
STEP 5: Measure the gauge again. Sometimes the gauge will change due to the shrinking and fulling of the swatch. Check, does it match with your piece of paper? yes? Wahoo! Begin your garment. No? Repeat the above steps until you are spot on. Its worth it: if you are off by a quarter of a stitch every four inches in a 40 inch sweater, your garment could be INCHES bigger or larger than intended!
PATTERN GAUGE SWATCH
When knitting from a pattern that you didn’t design yourself, you have to match the gauge of the knitter who designed the pattern. In the materials list, the author will tell you what weight of yarn to use and which needle. The recommended gauge is listed and it is by achieving this gauge that you will end up with a similar product at the end of your labours.
The pattern that I am using is Vogue’s #22 Garter Yoke Cardigan by Melissa LaBarre. The yarn weight recommended is Aran, and the needles, 4.5mm. All I had was some DK Weight Borroco Ultra Alpaca Light, so I decided to try it anyway. Since I was going down a yarn weight, I decided also to stick with the recommended needle size.
I followed the process outlined above, and found that my gauge was much looser than LaBarre’s, so I took the needle size down (a whole size in the end) and ended up with a fabric that reflected perfectly the recommended gauge.
This is why it is really important to swatch. All of the materials listed in the instructions of the pattern, whether it says so or not, are recommended. Use them as a starting point for your gauge and move toward a yarn and needle that allows you to achieve perfect gauge. I ended up with a yarn weight less and a whole needle size less than the pattern recommended and achieved gauge along with a beautiful fabric.
This tale takes place, way back before MavenKnits, when I blogged only on our family blog. It is there we talk (sporadically) (but) a lot about homesteading, gardening, permaculture, recipes and other neo-pilgrim ways, but where I was talking way a little bit too much about knitting, and my husband bade me get my own blog for just that topic. Around this time of year, I posted a post (haha! Verb and noun!) called 5 things for 5 people. Now, we weren’t very popular on the web – not to say we didn’t have a lot of visitors; our blackberry jelly recipe remains very near first on Google,
but we didn’t have very many subscribers, and so I only got one single reply to my 5 things for 5 people (Thanks Tracy!). And so, I thought, if that is the way the fates would have it, that is how it shall be. And I thought not much more of it. However, just after solstice and just before Christmas of 2009, I received in the mail this:
That is a beautiful pendant/key chain hand made by a blogging colleague of mine, Trinity over yonder on blogspot’s Triknitty. I know that you all love to receive things in the mail as much as I do, especially when they aren’t bills or things mailed to a former tenant of your dwelling, but gifts and letters addressed to you, for you to open with a cup of tea and a piece of carrot cake.
And so we arrive at the point of this post. Why I am telling you this is purely out of the kindness and wonder that is receiving pretty things in the mail. If you want to receive a gift in the mail, handmade by me in the next little while, click on the link to that post on ye old Tilson’s blog up there and follow the instructions. Then, poof! Gifty in the mail! Plus, I don’t then feel undeserving of this beautiful handmade gift from Trinity, for having only made one gift, when she made five.
Actually lets keep it simple… here are the rules right now quoted from the first post, so no unnecessary clicking (see how easy it is!)
Hi everyone! Welcome to 2010, I hope that it has been a peaceful and cozy holiday for you all. This is the first time that the Hubster and I have ever had solstice and christmas here in Vancouver where we decorated a tree and baked the turkey for the family. It was wonderfully, tiringly glorious and relaxing. I’m almost shocked that it is already 10 pm on the fourth of January! Better late than never!
The video this week is of yours truly demonstrating the Cobblestone cuff out of Cat Bordhi’s book “New Pathways for Sock Knitters – Book 1”. To get you started, here is Judy’s Magic Cast On, which is step 1 of the Cobblestone Cuff.
and without further adieu, here is my video: the Cobblestone Cuff:
Note that this will be the last video where the sound only comes out of one speaker… slowly figuring out the video camera.
Funny thing is, I finished this sock on Thursday night around 11pm. In fact, I stayed up extra late just to finish it and then I was too engrossed in finishing the sleeve for the sweater (which I didn’t finish until moments ago!)
So now I have on sock,
one sleeve (skinny looking I know, but it has to start out that way for the hubster… see, he’s pleased.)
and one torso.
I don’t know about you, but the suspense of whether I am actually going to make it is really enthralling for me! The Solstice is Monday. Which means that there are only 4 more sleeps from that point on before the big guy has to squeeze himself through are pathetic electric wall heaters. Will it all come together? Stay tuned…
Wow! I’ve totally fallen off of the blog train this week! You probably know why, and even though I have paired down my list of things that I will actually complete for this Christmas, I am still knitting like a mad woman. Who has time to write. I ended up working myself into a bit of a frenzy trying to knit 13 things in 54 days (what was I thinking?) and had some pain in my wrists… so ya, here I am with three things A much easier load to handle, I think!
The fibonacci sweater is going fairly well. I am done up to the arm pits on the body, and I am halfway up one sleeve. I don’t know if I will get it done for christmas. Miracles have happened in the past, but there is a lot of knitting yet to go, and my wrist is still a little bit sore (totally stress related…. relax right?)
I am really happy with it so far, and so is the hubster. He is okay with me not finishing it in time, which is very good.
The most important thing to finish are the Cedar Dancing Socks. They are a joy to work on, and are zooming right along… well sort of. Considering the pain, they are going well enough, and I truly believe that they will be ready for Christmas. The special person who will be wearing them will be super satisfied.
I am so in love with the way that the pattern works with this colourway (thank you Gladys! I don’t know what I would have done without your guidance. Nothing worse than an inapropriately matched sock yarn to pattern!
The second most important thing to finish was the gift for the gift exchange today at the GVWSG. I am so excited to have finished what I will call the table mat (with all of the warping challenges, it would never have been long enough for a scarf!). It is so pretty and soft and rich to behold. Fibonacci really is perfect proportion!
I had yet to weave in the ends before this photo was taken. Then, in all the flury that was this morning, I forgot to take finished pics of it! Can you believe that?
Overall, I’m feeling confident that I will be able to finish all that needs to be finished before Christmas. It’s nice to take a little bit of the pressure off. I hope all of your christmas preparation is going smoothly, and that you are enjoying the process as much as I am!
So, you have come to the end of your woven piece and now want to make another hem stitch to match the hem stitch you began with. Here is how it works:
Step 1: You will be working from left to right, keep enough yarn for four picks across your work and cut the strand. Thread the yarn onto a darning needle and insert the darning needle above the work, two strands over.
Step 2: Pull the yarn taught. Bring the needle around to where you began and insert, bringing the tip through two rows down and two rows across. This should make a wrap around the two strands of yarn that you are working with.
Step 3: Pull the yarn taught.
Step 4: Then, insert the needle before the next two strands, bringing the tip out two strands over. Pull taught. This will make a verticle wrap around the two weft strands.
At the end of the hem stitch row, complete step one.
Then do step two except you will notice that there is no weft strands to hold the yarn in place.
This is where you weave in your end through the hem stitch by hiding the yarn in the middle.
The beauty that is hemstitch! You may now cut your warp!
Remember my harried list of things that every beginner weaver should know? I’m sure you know that that list was the product of frustration that pushed my loom and scarf into the corner of my living room for the past couple of weeks. I felt like every time I touched the darn thing, I made another mistake that took a half an hour plus to fix, and I wasn’t even weaving yet! Then, yesterday I read the Yarn Harlot’s ‘Warped‘ post. She’s using a Schacht Cricket, which is similar to the Schacht Flip that I learned on, and completed her scarf in 5 hours. She had to rewarp the loom three times. Three!
After reading this I felt so much better. I calculated the added complication of the fibonacci series, the separate shaft and reed, the fact that there are 4 shafts (that I had not been taught to use), the awkwardness of working with a larger piece of equipment, and decided that I don’t need to be so darn hard on myself! It’s the first time I had tried to warp alone, there is bound to be difficulties!
As you might be able to tell, this is a bit of a repeated dance between me and my ego. I’m really hard on myself when I can’t do a technique perfectly right off. I will put down projects because I can’t do it the first time, and I can’t bare the challenge of (read shame of having to) figuring out. This dance is completely contrary to all of the training I have received in my life: it is not what you do, but how you do it. When I am able to overcome the ego trip, I can see how important, if not necessary it is to make mistakes, especially as a teacher. It really helps me understand why things don’t work for other people and how I can help them work through it when I have had troubles by myself. It will be nice when I can do less of the painful ego dance and just get down to it!
So, last night before supper, I sat down with my loom and a big jar of carrot juice. I figured out a good table height and an appropriate orientation for my body so that I wouldn’t be wearing myself out trying to get over the castle (tall part where the shafts are attached). Then, I began dissecting the threading issues. It turns out that somehow (I like to think of it as synchronicity) I ended up putting two strands in one dent twice, and then leaving two dents empty a little ways down the reed. So, instead of having to re-thread the whole darn thing, I only had to spend 45 mins rethreading the middle of it. Then there was one more doubled up thread close to the end which was easy enough to fix.
Then I got to weave! Weaving is amazing…. it is so fluid and beautiful. Like when you get the right gauge on your knitting and you can just go. I did an excellent hem stitch and got going on the body of the piece.
Then, one of my harness strings broke.
So I replaced them all! They were made of antique cotton kitchen string… I used very thick candle wick string. Then the weaving went even more smoothly!
Then I realized that I had two extra strands on the blue-green side, making it not the fibonacci sequence. Turns out frogging in weaving, is a lot like weaving… so I didn’t really mind. I frogged, cut the strings, turned around and kept on going.
Despite the amazing revelations I had, I still believe that weaving really should be called warping, cause that’s what you spend most of your time doing.