Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Lies, Damned Lies and Swatches

There is a saying that there are lies, damned lies and statistics....in the knitters world that can be translated into there are Lies, Damned Lies and Swatches!

Everyone who is anyone in the knitting world will tell you, swatch before starting a project.  Patterns used to say "Take time to swatch for gauge to save time..." implying that knitting and ripping takes time.  Which it does.  Time that could be spent enjoying your finished object, or planning the next one.

The thing they don't tell you is that three out of four swatches are lying dogs! (I tell new knitters to swatch four times, and take their best guess at which of the four very different, yet somehow identical swatches is telling the truth!)

Take, for example, my swatches for my ColourMart Spring Contest Shawl Design.  I knit several swatches before settling on how I wanted things to line up, then charted and re-charted a few times before picking up the needles on the Spring Equinox to start the project.  Based on the gauge in those swatches once they were washed and blocked I should be looking at a shawl that is just about the perfect dimensions for either myself or TDQ.  (We're short, but we like to have a decent size shawl to wrap up in! No nasty point to our...uhmmmm....behinds! Although maybe we need to point them out in case people think we don't have any!)



Based on where I am in my charts, and how many more rows are going into this piece added to not being able to stretch her out at all on my needles, I am pretty sure that every single one of those swatches lied to me.  They all, obviously, wanted to be petite little things and not the giants that they should have been! 

I think I may be making a stadium blanket for four!

Which is actually fine.  I like big shawls I can wrap myself up in.

Monday I was at loose ends for something to drag along with me for "on the road" and "waiting" knitting.  Usually my go to thing would be to grab some US size 1 needles and a ball of sock yarn and knit one of the kids a pair of socks, but truth be told, I have knit something on the order of 10 pairs of socks already this year between test knits and designing knits.  I needed a break from socks!  (It will be a short lived break, I have been charting like crazy!!!)

But....there is this yarn that was sent to me for Christmas by a non-knitter and the rule here is that if you don't knit and give me yarn you get it back when I have knit it into something pretty.  So rather than grab a ball of sock yarn, I grabbed some of it and some appropriate sized needles to swatch for something pretty.

I had in mind a crescent shaped scarf thing with some cables and a touch of lace.  So I cast on and started doing a little playing around with cable patterns.

The yarn said....No.

Ok, change that then, maybe a different cable?

The yarn said....No.

How's about some garter stitch with just a narrow lace edge?

The yarn said....No, but a little more quietly.

Thinking I had it pegged, I tried some garter stitch with a deeper lace edge, to which the yarn all but whimpered in dismay when it said No once again.

Yet another swatch is on the needles for that yarn.  At this rate I will use it all up swatching before it finally convinces me what it wants to be!  In the meantime, come Saturday I will again be at loose ends looking for some traveling knitting.

Maybe I will just cast on a nice pair of socks!

~M

Sunday, March 27, 2016

In Which The Rows Get Longer

Did you peek at the Knotions Spring Preview post yesterday?  Specifically, did you look at the socks?  I'll talk more about that next week.  The patterns go live on Saturday and I can't wait to actually get to read some of them, the double gussets on the bottom of the foot of one pair of socks look very interesting!

Before then I will need some other traveling project though, and my ColourMart Spring Contest Shawl no longer counts as small enough to put in my pocket and pull out in a hurry.

Part of what I was aiming for in designing this piece was a top down triangle, that still started with a small number of stitches and grew to a pretty border, but didn't have a standard spine that is worked as a yarn over, knit one, yarn over.  I also didn't want to just do a make one, knit one, make one.  Lots of swatches later and I thought I had a plan, actually I did have a plan, but I rapidly changed it when I got into the actual knitting.

(Excuse the scribbles on the picture, apparently my hands are not so steady when it comes to using a mouse to try and draw and write!)



I am at the point where I have finished the first and second stitch patterns that I wanted for this shawl. 

Once I am done typing this I will do the set up row for the third, which as I designed this as a modular piece looks exactly like the set up for the first and second, then get our dinner on the table.  I used up some of my knitting time today enjoying a perfect spring day just outside Columbus, Ohio.  My computer says it got up to 75 degrees, blue sky, sunshine and garden that is still in desperate need of some tender loving care!

This past week TFB and I did generate six bags of yard waste picking up acorns, branches, the leaves we had used to mulch a couple of flower beds and weeds.  This coming week TOB is on spring break, so we will see if his sense of wanting to do more than his brother leads us to creating even more!  All three had spring break on different weeks this year, so I have taken the opportunity to spend some one on one time with each one.  I am taking what I can get, at nearly 17 and 20 it won't be much longer until they are all living their own lives, with less time to devote to hanging out with mom!

For those that are so inclined...Happy Easter!  I hope your Easter Baskets were filled with merino and angora.  Who needs eggs when lambs and rabbits can signify spring and re-birth with their fur???

~M

Friday, March 25, 2016

Not a Finished Object Friday

There is an author that used to post to a message board that I would hang out on when I had nothing better to do and the kids were younger and had a much earlier bed time.*  We always knew that she was close to announcing the next book when she would drop these cryptic comments about "nothing to see here, just move along" in her best beat patrol officer typying.

Today it is my turn to say those words.

Nothing to see here, today, so move along.

Can I suggest you move along to the Preview page of Knotions?

Maybe take a close look at some of the socks?

As for me, well, I am moving along too.  I want to get a few more rows in on my contest shawl!

~M

*I miss those quiet times, when it felt like I had the house to myself...although come to think of it, right now I have a daughter upstairs working on her homework and two boys intent on whatever project they are working on...everyone wearing headphones (except me) so I am the only one making the house not so quiet.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Works In Progress on Wednesday

Today I have both a long term and a (hopefully) short term work in progress to share with you.

Let's start with the long term project.

I got a few hexes knit on my Margarita's Coverlet and as attaching them to each other is much easier if they are all the same size and shape, followed the same routine that I have with the rest of the hexes and immediately blocked them.  When I was sliding the fourth one onto the pins I remembered that I hadn't mentioned how I was blocking them, just that five lonely hexes had been abandoned on a blocking mat behind the sofa for the best part of six months.


To make sure that all the hexes are the same size and shape the first thing I did was to make myself a cardboard template. Then I set pins in my blocking mat right at the corners of the template.  Then, because we get creative around here when we don't have enough of something like double pointed needles to block multiple hexes at the same time, I slide the completed hexes live stitches onto a pick up stick.

Yes, just like the kids game!  Those then get supported by the pins and the hex gets pulled into shape.  I know that when Andrea knit hers she actually drew the outline of the hex in sharpie marker on her blocking mat, but by using the template if I should ever knit so fast that the first one is still wet when I finish knitting hex number six I can just move to the next mat.  I haven't knit that fast yet, but you never know!

My ColourMart Lover's Contest Entry is ....shhh don't tell her....behaving quite well.

So far I have only had to make one change to my chart since I last tinkered with it and that was a copy/paste error, I hit the wrong grid line when I pasted.

As we all know that swatches are dirty little liars, I haven't actually entered her into either the "small neck" or "large neck" categories.  I think, if the swatch was being truthful, that she will end up in the large category with about a 27 inch drop and 50-something inch wingspan.....but I am not counting my chickens on that yet!  Right now she is a very manageable 130-ish stitch count, having started from three half hitches. But, the rows are getting longer so I am sure that my feeling like I am zipping through the knitting will slow along the way.

What's on your needles this week?

~M


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Finally Time to Cast On!

I have been plotting and planning what to do for my ColourMart Lover's Spring Contest entry for a little while now.  I knew I wanted to knit another shawl, I knew I wanted to design my own and I knew that I wanted something other than the usual yarn over, knit one, yarn over spine.  But until a couple of weeks ago that was all I knew!

I swatched a couple of different stitch patterns, and swatched a couple of different shawl shapes.  Then I swatched a few more.

Then I charted and saved.

Changed a couple of things and charted again.

Yesterday I was awake at "oh-dark thirty" for no good reason.  I had nowhere I needed to be, nobody needed a ride anywhere so I opened the chart for one final glance before I would be able to cast on today.  Looking at a chart that I hadn't done much with for a few days gave me a different perspective on it, and I saw one small change that would make it a little smoother in the transition from one stitch pattern to the next.

Of course that one small change involved adding a row to a 14 row pattern repeat, fairly early in the piece.  That one row changed the way every single row from there on would line up.

Five hours later I closed the chart, declared I was done tinkering and took the kids shoe shopping!

Officially I could have cast on just a little after mid-night.  Having been up at "oh dark thirty" on Saturday I didn't cast on until just a few minutes ago!

Here is my (very exciting) cast on picture!  (It's a requirement for entry to the contest!)

And another just a couple of rows in.

The yarn is a mohair and merino blend in a subtle pink. I am knitting straight from the cone which  means there are still oils on the yarn to allow commercial companies to use it in knitting and weaving machines, so it doesn't feel as nice as it does once it has been given a really hot, soapy wash and several rinses. Once it has had a "spa treatment" this yarn really shines, just enough halo and softness to make a wonderfully cozy shawl.

I am double checking the chart and writing the pattern up as I go.  Unless I do more tinkering, by the end of the contest I should have a pattern that is ready for testing!

I made slow progress on my Margarita's Coverlet hexes.  I am working with purples right now and have 4 of the 7 hexes I need for the next "flower", then it will be back to cream to start making enough for the next spacer row.  I have been working two flowers in each color palate, one with either a stripey or varigated yarn as the petals and a solid as the center, the other in reverse.  So far I have finished up each version in pinks, blues, greens and beige/browns. 

I need one more set of colors and I will have enough flowers for four rows of three flowers.  What color palate would you pick to go with purples and greens?

More progress pics (of both projects)  to follow later in the week!

~M

Friday, March 18, 2016

Finished Object on a Friday; A Study in Sizing

Before you think I am some kind of knitting miracle worker, who completely warped the space time continuum, no I have not finished the Margarita's Coverlet.  I am a few more hexes in and I crocheted a bunch of the cream colored hexes to a strip of 3 "flowers".  I glanced at the eleventy-billion ends that will need to be woven in and promptly put that strip in the bag and cast on another hex!  (Maybe as an exercise for his own knitting, I should get TOB practicing weaving in ends?)

What did get finished this week and photographed was my third Annapurna!

Annapurna III is a 24,787 ft / 7,555 m mountain peak in the Himalayas in Nepal. Based on peakery data, it ranks as the 19th highest mountain in Nepal. - See more at: http://peakery.com/annapurna-iii-himalayas/#sthash.y2yqOwbl.dpuf
Annapurna III is a 24,787 ft/7555 meter mountain peak in the Himalayas in Nepal. Based on peakery data it ranks as the 19th highest mountain in Nepal, and  the 42nd highest mountain that is not a subsidiary peak of another mountain.  It was first ascended in 1961 by an Indian expedition led by Capt. Mohan Singh Kohli via the Northeast Face. The summit party comprised Mohan Kohli, Sonam Gyatso, and Sonam Girmi.


I should have knit my Annapurnas in a different order, because Annapurna III is the smallest of the three main peaks, which technically should have been my cobweb version, with the fingering weight version being Annapurna I and the laceweight Annapurna II.  I will think that through a little better the next time I am doing an experiment in sizing!

But, back to Annapurna III.

She weighs in, including beads at 142 grams, so about a skein and a half of Land O Lace ShaSha.  (I have one skein left of this yarn and I am sorry to tell you that it is discontinued and you can't get any!  If it wasn't for that I would be telling you how wonderful it felt to work with, how beautifully it blocked and how nice the drape is!)  This color is called Tonka Bay and I had originally bought the yarn to make a fancy lace and cable blanket and then changed my mind.  (I know, Fickle Knitter!)




The beads are clear, gold lined beads that you can buy in a tube at any big-box craft store, so nothing terribly fancy, but ever so pretty on the yarn.

I used US 4 (3.5mm) needles, some "old" style Signature Needle Arts fixed circulars with Stiletto tips.  Another thing that is sadly discontinued, but if anyone has tried their convertible ones let me know what you think!  I am a big fan of using well made tools.

She has a 56 inch wingspan and a 26 inch depth, which along with the shape makes her easy to wear.  Big enough to wrap up in a little bit, without being bulky.

To put this into perspective :

Cobweb :  Size 2 needles,  45 inches by 23 inches

Lace :        Size 3 needles,  45 inches by 25 inches   (Notice she is blocked a little differently at the neck opening, if she was blocked the same way as the cobweb version there would be a difference in the wingspan, but...I was trying to just use the two mats across)
 

Fingering : Size 4 needles, 56 inches by 26 inches.
Shugarplums...no blocking pictures!  You will have to make do with a modeled shot, it was a little bit windy when we did our photo shoot! :)


Which just goes to show, that if you see a pattern for a shawl and think it is too big or too small, just by changing the yarn and/or the needle size you can get the type of fit you want. To have a pretty good estimate of how large or small something will be, make a swatch, block the swatch, measure your stitch and row gauge and compare those to the pattern!  A little math and knitting later you can have a shawl that is exactly the dimensions you like to wear best.
Annapurna III is a 24,787 ft / 7,555 m mountain peak in the Himalayas in Nepal. Based on peakery data, it ranks as the 19th highest mountain in Nepal. The nearest peaks are Gangapurna, Canharba Chuli, Tharpu Chuli, Tarke Kang, Singu Chuli, and Annapurna IV. See the Annapurna III map, 3D fly around, and the Annapurna III photos to get a better sense of the mountain. - See more at: http://peakery.com/annapurna-iii-himalayas/#sthash.y2yqOwbl.dpuf

Annapurna III is a 24,787 ft / 7,555 m mountain peak in the Himalayas in Nepal. Based on peakery data, it ranks as the 19th highest mountain in Nepal. The nearest peaks are Gangapurna, Canharba Chuli, Tharpu Chuli, Tarke Kang, Singu Chuli, and Annapurna IV. See the Annapurna III map, 3D fly around, and the Annapurna III photos to get a better sense of the mountain. - See more at: http://peakery.com/annapurna-iii-himalayas/#sthash.y2yqOwbl.dpuf
Annapurna III is a 24,787 ft / 7,555 m mountain peak in the Himalayas in Nepal. Based on peakery data, it ranks as the 19th highest mountain in Nepal. The nearest peaks are Gangapurna, Canharba Chuli, Tharpu Chuli, Tarke Kang, Singu Chuli, and Annapurna IV. See the Annapurna III map, 3D fly around, and the Annapurna III photos to get a better sense of the mountain. - See more at: http://peakery.com/annapurna-iii-himalayas/#sthash.y2yqOwbl.dpuf
Annapurna III is a 24,787 ft / 7,555 m mountain peak in the Himalayas in Nepal. Based on peakery data, it ranks as the 19th highest mountain in Nepal. The nearest peaks are Gangapurna, Canharba Chuli, Tharpu Chuli, Tarke Kang, Singu Chuli, and Annapurna IV. See the Annapurna III map, 3D fly around, and the Annapurna III photos to get a better sense of the mountain. - See more at: http://peakery.com/annapurna-iii-himalayas/#sthash.y2yqOwbl.dpuf

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Fix It, Frog It or Toss It


I found myself at something of loose ends the past couple of days....my Annapurna 3 is off the needles, I have done a few swatches for the ColourMart Lovers Spring Contest and have charted the first 50 or so rows of that, but other than that there was nothing on my needles I wanted to knit.

No socks.

No blankets. (Well not, strictly speaking,  true but we will get there)

No sweaters. (Also not true, but we will get there.)

I can't cast on for my Contest Entry until March 20th, and if I swatch with that yarn any more I am liable to run out before I run out of shawl to knit.  So that was right out.  I was actually in a right funk about it.  Until I looked at my Ravelry Project Page and noticed that there are several things there that just haven't been finished.

Usually somewhere in the Spring I go on a Fix It or Forget It Spree with my WIPS, because there are only a couple of reasons for projects to end up tossed in the corner.*

The first being - there is a problem with the project.  Maybe the instructions weren't clear or I made a mistake.  Maybe the yarn doesn't play well with the pattern.  Or the colors didn't work out the way I wanted them to.

The second being - I got bored with it.  In a world where at least nine times a day I get an email telling me about a great yarn sale or I log onto Ravelry and see that 47 new patterns have been published since I was there this morning, it is very easy to drop a project for the New Thing!

The third being - the project is big!  I knew it was a long term project and that lots of other little things would get done while it was being worked on.  That is the project that I keep going back to, in the usual way, and work on a bit at a time until I get a bee in my bonnet about getting it off the needles and give it that final push to get done.  Great Big Monster Blankets in thinner yarns come to mind.

But back to my Ravelry Project Page.  I pulled out the projects that still listed as "in progress" and gave them all a good hard look.

Some needed some major or minor fixing (cat snagged yarn or my screwing up a chart) those are hibernating until I am ready to deal with them, which is not today!  Some just needed to be frogged, errors in the pattern that I wasn't willing to overcome or mismatched yarn and project, and one pair of socks that TOB decided were "too loud" for his tastes.

There is (was)a sweater.  I have blogged about, even semi recently, chevron cardigan, top down, beautiful striped yarn in shades of pink through purple.  Body is done to the waist, one sleeve is just past the elbow and....and...I am just not feeling it any more! I really thought I could live with the stripes on the sleeves being different than the stripes on the body.

But the cold hard truth is....

I can't.

I am a matchy, matchy kind of girl.  And short of cutting yarn out of the ball every couple of rows to make the stripes match, there is nothing that will make these sleeves match the body and even if I finished knitting it, I wouldn't wear it.  It's a pity, really, that I didn't think it through before I cast on.  The pattern is beautiful, elegant even.  The instructions are very detailed, you get the how, the why and the when, every single step of the way.  It just isn't me.

Which left me with one.

One big project that I started over a year ago.  A test knit that I let get out of hand.

"It was like this..." started no good story ever!  But, really!  It was like this.  Andrea Jurgrau, of Bad Cat Designs, was creating a very pretty, very useful, use up your scraps of sock yarn, modular blanket for a magazine.  We test knitters got the file and I had these high hopes of making a very colorful and useful blanket out of all my scraps of sock yarns.

Remember what I said about being a matchy, matchy kind of gal, and that the stripes on the sleeve of a sweater not matching was bothering me?  Well, as it would turn out, a jumble of colors, even in a blanket are not my cup of tea. (And by that I mean coffee, I don't drink tea!)

So.....I gathered together some scraps and some full balls and I created a plan that would have my Margarita's Coverlet looking like a Grandmother's Flower Garden Quilt.  I made what some would consider pretty good progress, and knit a hex or two between other things, then one day, I don't know why, I threw all the yarn, the completed hexes and the needles in a rather large project bag and never took them out again! (We won't mention that there are actually 5 hexes still on a blocking mat that has been hiding behind the love seat for the best part of 6 months now!)
 
There are 8 "flowers" completed there, of the minimum of 12 that I need!  (I might change that to 15 when I see how big four rows of three flowers gets me.)  But, each flower takes 7 hexes, with 4 more hexes between them, and 9 hexes between each row of flowers.  And if I decide to put a cream border all the way around the outside.....I'm not good at math, but I know that is going to be a lot of knitting!  Which for some reason the knitting elves did not work on while the project was stuffed in a bag!

You get three guesses what is my WIP Wednesday Project this week!

~M

*For a while projects were getting dropped because I didn't have the capability of knitting them correctly.  Fingers that were not cooperating or moving at speeds that made race cars look like they plodded around a track, but gave me the attention span of a gnat. (Yeah, I miss all the stuff I got done each day, even if it was a "little here, little there, start this, then that, go back to this, then that" then...might not have been healthy to be running at a million miles an hour but now that I am slowed down to what the medical profession calls normal I feel like I am constantly walking through hip deep water, with heavy boots and ankle weights on. Not to mention needing more than 4 hours sleep in a day really shortens up my useful hours!)

Monday, March 14, 2016

3.14 Kicked out of the Mom's Union Again

Every time that I get let back in, I do something that gets me kicked out again!

What, you may ask?  Kicked out?  Kicked out of what?

The Mom's Union.

Every time I do the "right" mom things, you know make the kids clean their rooms, brush their teeth, eat their veggies (that last one is actually pretty easy, we eat vegetarian a lot of the time, if you don't eat your veggies you would get pretty hungry!) which get's me back into the Mom Union,  I then turn around and do something unspeakable that I get kicked right back out again.


We do eat really healthy most of the time around here.  We claim it is a 90/10 split with us eating well 90% of the time and whatever we want the other 10%, but when I look at the calendar where I keep track of "what's for dinner" the actual amount of 10% days is no where near as high as 10%. (Shhh, don't tell the kids that!)

Where is this going?

Well, if you live in the United States and write dates the way we do, today is special. Today is 3.14, which is pi.  It deserves celebration and celebrate we will.
(photo shamelessly stolen from a list of google images that stated they were public domain.)

I am feeding my family apple pie for dinner!

Yep, kicked out of the Mom's Union again!

But, to bring this back to knitting, if you want a healthier way of celebrating Pi Day, you could cast on a Pi Shawl.

Ravelry has tons to pick from.

Here is one of  my favorites!

Snow Queen, by Andrea Jurgrau.


Happy Pi Day!

~M




Sunday, March 13, 2016

What's on My Needles Sunday

Actually, I have a surprising lack of things on my needles this Sunday, having finished the bind off on my Annapurna 3.

Annapurna 3 is going to be the biggest of the three versions that I have knit of this pattern.  Largest needles, heaviest yarn, and 8/0 beads.  I know that even before I soak her in some tepid water and give her the "spa treatment" known as blocking.  (I always liken that to a massage, the kind where to start with you wonder if someone is trying to kill you and then when all is said and done you feel wonderful!)

As I mentioned before I was playing a pretty serious game of bead chicken with this one.  I am very happy to say I won!  When all was said and done I was down to two beads in the tube.  I held my breath each time I poked my crochet hook through a bead on those final two rows though!

But, alas, I do not have blocking pictures to show you.

It is a grey, rainy, downright icky day here.  The kind of day that makes you feel chilly just looking at it, even though really, it isn't that cold.  Just not the sort of day where I want to be playing with wet wool.

Yesterday was sunny and pretty.  Yesterday I wanted to take some photo's of some other things that I have on the back burner, but after our errands were run, the models all declared they were tired and hungry and couldn't we please push it off until tomorrow.  I should have looked at the weather forecast before I said yes.

So no fancy blocking pictures.

No other pictures for my own files.

In short the camera was feeling a little left out of things!

So, to make sure that the camera didn't decide to act the same way the dishwasher is, I took a few pictures.  I would hate for her to feel she wasn't appreciated!

Next up for my needles are swatches.  I have 7 days to figure out gauge and pattern stitches for whatever I decide to design for the ColourMart Lovers Spring Contest.  But, I will also need a portable project.  Got any suggestions?

See you during the week, hopefully with blocking pictures of Annapurna.  I am really excited to see the differences between this one and the other two.

~M

Saturday, March 12, 2016

I think I blame kids programming

Saturday Musings: my opinions on things I have seen or heard that made me think. Read at your own risk!

I have been thinking a lot about language in pattern writing the past few months, and apparently I am not alone because there have been several threads with discussions on the same types of things on Ravelry.

When I was really learning how to knit, and read patterns, the world was a different place.  I am dating myself a little here, but there was not google, there was no emailing the designer when you didn't understand something, and sometimes months after I had tried making something and hit a wall the magazine that published the pattern would release their next issue with all the errata from the prior issue and it would turn out that the wall I hit wasn't my lack of knowledge, but an actual error in the pattern.

Patterns were different then too. Not as abbreviated as the ones that Franklin Habit finds in old bookstores or gets given, where there is often not a picture or description of what you are knitting.  He blogged about one such adventure on the Skacel site here.  But it was usually taken for granted that the knitter was going to do some thinking on their own.  For example, words like "reversing the shaping" or "keeping the continuity of the pattern"  or "continue as established" were much more liberally used then than what I see in pdf pattern sales today.

I am sure that part of that is with a pdf file I can make my pattern as long as I want, give you as much instruction as I possibly can and the only person who pays the price in paper and ink is the purchaser.  But, there is still a fine line between pattern overload (did you really want a 27 page pattern on how to knit a basic cuff down sock with a slipped stitch heel flap and rounded toe?) and not enough information to duplicate the item that you saw in the picture. (cast on some stitches, work in the round to the heel, put in a heel, add a gusset, knit to toe.)

Taking a couple of those old fashioned concepts and diving a little deeper into them....

Reverse Shaping.  There is actually a lot of ambiguity here.  Let's say you are knitting a bottom up cardigan with set in sleeves, the left front is all spelled out for you, you reach the armholes and cast off a few stitches at the beginning of  a right side row, work some decreases (again at the beginning of your right side rows) and get to the shoulder where you cast off.  For the right front the instructions say to "reversing all shaping make right side to match left."  Obviously you will not be casting off at the beginning of your right side row, that would be the center opening, but if you just cast off at the end of that row, suddenly you no longer have your yarn attached to your knitting.  Do you work all the shaping on the wrong side rows, figuring out if that is a purl two together regularly or through the back loops to get a slanted decrease leaning in the right direction, or do you cast off purlwise but keep the decreases on the right hand side and replace any knit two togethers with an ssk and vise versa?  Or does it even matter?  You won't know until you knit it, or swatch it.

Keeping the Continuity of the Pattern.  Let's stay with our cardigan example, but lets add a fancy lace pattern stitch to it.  When you cast off those underarm stitches, suddenly that beautiful lace pattern no longer starts at stitch one, as in the instructions.  An 8 stitch pattern repeat that has lost it's first 6 stitches might not line up the way you think it should.  Every decrease in lace patterns (typically) needs an equal increase to maintain stitch counts, but do you know what to do with the "leftover" stitches, those pesky little increases or decreases that don't have a matching opposite?

Both of those examples would require that the knitter think it through before plunging headlong into the knitting, or be prepared to rip out what didn't work.

Not surprisingly the opinions vary vastly on what should be included in the pattern.  On one side of the spectrum you have knitters stating that they want every detail spelled out along with  a mini-project and tutorials for all "new concepts" *to be included, and the other you have knitters stating that they cross out all the information that they don't need to condense the pattern down to something manageable to them.

One of the most important things that I learned recently, as a pattern writer, during the test knits that I was running is this; I can't assume that as people are working from my pattern  are actually reading any of it!  So sometimes giving them all the information isn't really enough.

The specific case that comes to mind is for a sock pattern.

There are many different ways of knitting socks, starting from how many and what arrangement of needles you decide to use (one small cabled circular, a large cabled circular, double points varying in numbers from 4 to 5, two circulars) to toe up, cuff down, there are even patterns that have you start in the middle of the top of the foot and work around and up and down until you have a sock.

This particular sock is cuff down with a heel flap and rounded toe.  That is my comfort zone for knitting socks and creating patterns in a basic template that I know is easier for me.  I know what physical pieces (cuff, heel, gusset and toe) need to go where and can play with all the blank spaces in between to my hearts content!

I tell the knitter in the "romance story" or blurb at the beginning it is a cuff down sock with heel flap, I tell the knitter in the notes it is a cuff down sock with a heel flap, the pattern starts with the cuff....and the most popular question was.....wait for it...Is this a toe up sock?

I tell the knitter in the notes that they will repeat the chart two times in each round.  I tell them in the pattern instructions to knit the chart two times in each round.....most popular question....How many times around do I knit the chart?  (After that one I have gone to the "tell me three times" theory and tell knitters in the notes that I am going to tell them to knit the chart however many times in each round, in the pattern I tell them to knit the chart however many times in each round and under the chart I tell them that I told them to knit the chart however many times in each round!)

But each of the "tell me what you are going to tell me, tell me and tell me what you told me" instances  has a cost in terms of how long it makes the pattern appear.  As a picture tells the story, often times better than the written word, adding photo's helps but again adds pages to what could be a very simple pattern in terms of actual construction.  So I am adding one more thing to my notes, I tell you up front which pages you really need to print and keep the pictures and extra notes off them.  If the page has a picture on it you still need to read it, or look at it, in order to duplicate the item I am writing a pattern for, but I am going to try and save you some ink and paper by putting the "meat and potatoes" as purely text and charts.**

Now why, you ask, do I blame children's programming for this change?  When my kids were little, even when I was little, there were several "educational" programs on public broadcasting, that essentially spoon fed sound bites of education to kids in 30 second blasts.  Lots of bright colors, and catchy little jingles, but nothing that took over a minute to absorb and process.  I think, and this is me standing on my soapbox preaching here, that we have done everyone a disservice by teaching them little bits of things in 30 second bites instead of teaching them to pay attention, figure things out and try new things on their own.  Even with all the resources available to us, (google, youtube for video tutorials to name just two) it seems that people want all the answers right in front of them, all the time!  Unfortunately, sometimes even when those answers are there, people don't see them.

The thread in one of the designers forums on Ravelry that talked about some of this had several people chiming in with "I am a better designer because I had to figure things out for myself" along with "but when I am knitting other people's patterns I want it all spelled out for me, that is when I am doing my mindless knitting and don't want to think about what I am doing."  Which then begs the question, if we got better at designing by figuring things out, but we give everyone terribly explicit instructions so they don't have to think....where is the next generation of designers going to learn?

What do you think?  I'd love to hear what you have to say on the subject.

Leave me a comment letting me know what you like to see in patterns.  Do you want every move spelled out precisely?  Do you want everything in the pattern itself, or is my solution, of putting notes and pictures on different pages so you can print what you need, a good one?

~M

*Swatch!  That is your mini project.  It used to be that patterns told you to "Take time to swatch to save time later" more for matching gauge than anything else, but it can certainly save you time learning a new technique or stitch pattern.  Don't like giving the knitting god's their tithe of yarn and time?  Make your swatch in cotton and use it as a dish cloth.

**That changeover will be available in my next sock pattern, Follow that Stripe, coming soon.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Not Yarn Chicken This Time!

Around Chez YarnDiet, we all know that the chief yarn wrangler (that would be me!) seems to be awfully fond of a good game of yarn chicken.  But did you know that the chief yarn wrangler also enjoys a good game of bead chicken?

When I cast on the fingering weight version of my Annapurna, in a discontinued yarn, I knew that I had plenty of yarn to knit her.  I actually had a blankets quantity of this yarn, but got discouraged knitting the blanket and re-purposed the yarn.  A few hanks became my Winter Wheat, which left me with several hanks to become Annapurna 3. 

I also had a plan for the beads.  The plan was to use gold lined clear beads on the edges and some brilliant green beads in the body of the shawl.  However, when I tried using the brilliant green beads I realized that they were much too small to a) show up and b) go over the yarn without splitting it.  I recalled buying two tubes of the gold lined beads so I went merrily on my way knitting and beading without giving it a second thought.

No second thoughts, that is, until the tube started looking a little bit empty-ish.  Having gone through the exercise of sorting my stash (both the yarn version and the bead version) I knew right where to look for the second tube.  At least I thought I did, because when I went to the drawer where the beads are stored I found all kinds of shiny things, but not a single tube of gold lined clear beads.

Hmmmmm

This might be the problem with having children who craft!

So I poured out the beads that were left in that tube and counted them.  Then very carefully put them back in the tube while I pulled out the chart and counted how many more beads I would need.

Can I get a drum roll please......

As of that counting I would have three beads left over.

But wait!

I said I was playing bead chicken here, there has to be more to that story, right?

You guessed it!  There is more!

I would have had three beads left over so long as ....... I didn't drop any*......and....none were completely gold filled instead of gold lined.

I already hit one "dud" in the bunch.  A gold filled bead rather than a gold lined bead.

I need 12 more usable beads out of the 14 that are left in the tube as of today.

I haven't bought more, because you know what they say.....

I am taking a calculated risk.  But, I am not very good at math!

What would you do? Buy more now or wait until you get to that final beading row and have to stop part way through? Let me know in the comments!

~M

*A friend suggested that along with having no-one breathe while I knit that final row that I lay a large sheet in the middle of the living room and sit on it to knit.  That way, if I do drop one it will be easy to find.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

WIP Sunday

I finally couldn't take listening to my fingering weight Annapurna whimpering from the corner of my desk any more, and picked her up to do a little bit of work on her this weekend.  At first I was a little taken aback that she was just plain green, and then I remembered that it was Lacesheknits version I was remembering in a gorgeous gradient!  Of course, once she was in my fingers I remembered how much I really like the yarn I am working with and how the pattern, that looks so complex, has such a relaxing rhythm to it.

There are only two reasons to knit the same pattern three times!  Either you are a sucker for punishment (I'm not!) or it is a really great pattern.

I have just finished up Chart B, so the end is literally in sight now.

Which is a very good thing, because as much as I am enjoying knitting this, and crossing my fingers that my beads will hold out and I won't have to go buy more, the Spring Equinox is nearly here which can only mean one thing!  The Colourmart Lover's group on Ravelry is having their Spring Contest.

For the Fall Contest I designed and knit Caramel with Cinnamon Shawl.  When I was knitting it one of the stitch patterns I used sparked another idea, that has been percolating in my back brain ever since, so I have a vague idea what I want to do for the next contest.....and need some swatching time (which is allowed) before we actually start on March 20th.

In other news, I finally got a Kim Harrison book that was the beginning of a series. (She is the author who wrote the dragon pattern that I made twice, once for TDQ and once to send as a Stash Dragon to a friend.)  The Drafter is a pretty entertaining read.  One of the things the the main character, Peri Reed, does to keep herself busy when not running around trying to find out why her name is on the list of "corrupt operatives" is knit!  Every time I see her knitting in the book I have to snicker and wonder how much of that is Ms, Harrison and how much is Peri Reed.  It appears that Peri doesn't finish much as all. (Which is not what Ms Harrison's number of dragons, tea cozies etc I have seen on her blog would lead me to believe about her,  so that must be all Peri!) All I have seen so far, for Peri,  is works-in-progress, but she reminds me of me...those wips are in the car, the living room and her "to go" bag!  (I also really like the idea of traveling clothes for women, specifically the mention of pants with pockets big enough to hold your id and phone!  I need to get some of those!!!!)

Hopefully I will have more stuff to show you later in the week.  Until then, keep on knitting!

~M




Friday, March 4, 2016

A Fairly Quick Test Knit and Changes in the Blog

I finished my Hop O My Thumb test knit for a fellow raveller this week.  I picked the mirrored option for the second sock and I think that they actually turned out pretty well.

I got a chunk of knitting time in on those socks waiting for a repair man to look at the dishwasher.  He quoted me a repair price that is just slightly less than an entire new dishwasher!  Even though it is only one portion of a pump that has gone bad, it comes as a single piece unit, two pumps and a motor!  Guess I get better at handwashing dishes for a while as both the numbers (his quote and the new dishwasher) are a couple of hundred dollars above what I am willing, or able, to spend on it at the moment.*

The yarn is from my (hoarded) stash of Land O Lace Steffi and I knit the socks on 1.5 US needles.  To the rest of the world that would be 2.5mm.  I think in total there are about 64 beads in my version, more if you follow the pattern and work them all the way down to the toe.


TDQ does not like beads inside her shoes so I left the ones on the feet off and we like long socks around here so I also repeated the leg chart an extra time which gives us a really tall tree on the back of the socks and a long path through the woods on the front.






Sorry, I wasn't up to going out in the (really soft and fluffy looking) snow today to get pictures, so I just had TDQ stand on a chair so that I could give you an idea of what they look like.  When the pattern is released I will let you know so you can knit your own pair!


Speaking of pattern releases, I have three patterns, no four patterns, with test knitters now, that hopefully will be making their debut soon!  With so many designers looking for test knitters on Ravelry it is sometimes hit or miss if you get a good selection of skill levels in a test...so... I have decided it would be worth my while to announce upcoming tests and pattern releases a different way.

If you look over on the sidebar you will see a place where you can sign up for a newsletter.  I swear upon my yarn stash, especially that (hoarded) stash of discontinued Land O Lace yarn I have that I will never share your information and I am not going to bombard you with emails, but about once a month I will let you know what is upcoming for testing and give you a way of joining in if you want, what is about to be, or has just been, published so you can grab a copy of the pattern if you would like, maybe some knitting tips, and a hidden promo code to make it worth your while actually reading the thing!  If you sign up, expect the first newsletter later this month.

Happy Weekend!

~M

*TFB did offer to raid his "Money to Take over the World" can to buy a new dishwasher, and as he is my saver he has enough, but I am not (quite) sick enough of doing dishes the old fashioned way yet to take him up on it.