The Shiny of the Yarn

So the shiny got me, and I just had to cast on with that gorgeous skein of Diadem from the Knitpicks swag bag I told you about. I consulted Ravelry for  one skein projects using this yarn.  One user talked about a change in texture after blocking, so I looked for no block projects which would work.  I found a beautiful (and simple) piece, the Inside Out Cowl by Nicole Dupuis (cocoknits blog)..  The sample photo even has it in similar colored yarn.

First I had to wind it, using that Nostepinne I got at the Sheep and Wool Festival last year.  First I wound a single layer of yarn around the pinne, then began winding at an angle turning, crossing over the yarn.  The idea is to build up a center pull ball (note the strand tied around the tip of the nostepinne).

The problem is that this yarn didn’t want to form a nicely centered ball.  As you can see in the third and fourth pictures, it just didn’t layer well.  What you can’t here is that this yarn produced a lot of ‘fluff’, just from winding it.  Serious lint producter.

So when I removed the ball (picture 5) there was a little layer hanging back.  It ended up with the bottom of the skein looking like this: problemNot only was it not terribly attractive, it was also damaged, snarling yarn.  I ended up cutting off a moderate amount while casting on. It should be fine, the pattern won’t use anything like the whole skein, but it’s a pity, and it colors my perception of the yarn.  It’s beautiful, it’s delightfully soft, but it’s fussy.  Fussy to the ‘no frog’ point – I can’t count on reclaiming this yarn if I make any mistakes.

I still love this yarn, but I wouldn’t want to knit a sweater from it.

On the other hand, now that the cast on is done, it’s going pretty smoothly.  True, there’s a distinctly unpleasant ‘crunchy’ sensation if I happen to split a stitch.  The yarn is put-up without any plying, it’s basically unspun fibers lying parallel to each other.  But look at the color and stitch definition –

Inside Out WIP

I’m developing a love-hate relationship with this yarn…

Yarn Contests and Giveaways

The Knitting Pipeline is giving away a copy of Home by Pam Allen.  Post a comment to the Ravelry thread saying which project you’d knit first for a chance to win.

I entered to with the Expression Fiber Arts $1000 February Yarn Giveaway (February 28).

Not Dead Yet

There are lots of excuses I could make about why I haven’t posted in so very, very long.  It all comes down to two things – stuff happened, and I got out of the habit of posting.  I apologize, and will try to get back on track with it.

So something happened in particular that I really felt I should post about, and rather than trying to catch up on everything I missed I’m just going to jump in with today’s topic.

Cool thing:  I got a delightful swag bag from Knitpicks!

Knitpicks Swag

They sent it to me as a ‘thank you’ for answering their question on the Knitpicks podcast.  Speaking of which…

Cool thing: I got a spot in the Knitpicks Podcast (episode 249 – the Newbie) almost to the end of the episode.  They called for an answer to the question of what one thing you would tell new knitters, I touched on gauge swatch, and ended up with permission to frog.  Recording it convinced me to make t ‘frogging mohair’ my Ravelry favorite swear word…

brava sportSo, the swag bag – first of all, a nice little project bag (always useful).  Then lots of yarn…  Yummy, Knitpicks yarn.

This is Brava Sport in Mint.   Between the lovely delicate color and the fact that it’s 100% acrylic it’s definitely going to be part of the whole baby parade thing.  No, not in my own family, but enough friends are about to be new parents/grandparents that I am going to just constantly knit/crochet precious little thingies and expect that they’ll be gifted somewhere.

LindyI also got Lindy Chain in the Ivy colorway.  It’s a linen/cotton fingering weight, with a curious ‘chained’ construction.  The color is so deep that it almost looks black.  I’m not sure just yet what it screams out to be, but it’s definitely interesting.  I think I’ll do some reading on the qualities of linen fibers before I decide.  Off the top all I can think of is that everyone says it just gets better the more that it’s washed.  Intriguing, but I don’t know just where it will lead me.

Next is Swish DK superwash in the Dusk and Bark colorways.  swish

It’s always good to have superwash, and DK is a nice, serviceable weight.  What I find most intriguing about these at the moment is that the ball band styles vary between the two skeins.  I’ll definitely find something worth making out of these, but no immediate inspiration.

Billow Gloss Lace

I’ve actually been thinking of picking up more cotton.  I really do need dishcloths.  But I just can’t see using this Tea Rose Billow as dishcloth material.  It’s just got a softer, squishier feel to it.

Of course, it does feel substantial enough to work well as a cloth.  Maybe a face cloth, because the color is so pretty?  It’s also got a really nice shine about it.    I think I might want a cleaning cloth made from this, but it’s very possible I will want something else more.  Time will tell.

Then there’s the Rouge colored Gloss Lace.  This is a Merino laceweight with 30% silk mixed in.  I’m not a great lover of pink, but I have a skein of wool/silk blue laceweight which may just have been waiting for this one to partner with.  The new Ravelry search feature which lets you key in on numbers of colors in a project will be getting lots of use here.  So many decisions, so little time!

Which brings us to –

Argent Diadem

Diadem Fingering in Argent Solid.  It’s 50% baby alpaca, 50% mulberry silk, this amazing pewter color, and I’m having a hard time finding anything to say about it other than mine!

So, yeah.  Working through a couple of projects with deadlines, but I’ll be better at sharing them with you, and I’ll definitely come back here and let you know what I do with these beauties.

Stuck in wall

Check out Ravens of the Veil for more ArcheAge silliness.


First and foremost, I’m fine today.  I’m starting off with this because I know it’s hard sometimes for people to understand the difference between “I have depression” and “I’m depressed right now”.  I struggle with dysthymia (a mild, persistent clinical depression), my brain is wired in such a way that I am more likely than most people to fall into one of those deep dark pits of depression.  Something I saw today showed me how and why people who don’t deal with this from the inside can sometimes make those times worse when they are trying to make things better.

Between that, and the recent tragic death of Robin Williams, and the fact that I haven’t posted anything for about a month I decided it was time to post.  I’ll probably post later about how my flag socks have stalled and what I’m doing to bring them back on track.  (They’re going to be beautiful, it will just take longer than I’d like). Continue Reading »

Vexing Design

Anatomy of the Flag

MD Flag banners

Vexilogical note: The Maryland flag is the (heraldrically correct) fusion of two English family banners.  The banners themselves date to pre-colonial times, and Maryland’s original Governor (George Calvert, 1st Baron of Baltimore) had the rights to use both.  The Calvert was used by Maryland since it became a state, and confederate sympathizers adopted the Crossland banner during the civil war.

The current flag, which includes both, was first adopted by Maryland veterans from both side, as a gesture of reconciliation.

Calvert Chart

Well, I think the charting is done now.  As you can see, I ended up going with gray grid lines (because otherwise the black was lost), and both thicker and darker indices every five stitches.

Since the chart is 37 38 stitches across, and the socks are 84 stitches around, there is a border between the front and back repeat of the chart.  At first I thought I’d just stripe the two colors, which was way too busy.  The next thought was to use just one color for the field.  This would be doable for the Calvert, but Crossland would be totally lost.  So now I’m going to play with one color, textured background.

Only had to frog back four and a half rounds this time…  For those who are keeping count, the frogging part was done with much less sighing and invection than the graphic design part.

Thoroughly Vexed

Well, the tomato hat seems to be a success (hopefully I’ll get a picture of the child wearing it), and the tomato heels turned beautifully. Back to sock design.

I’d forgotten what my graphics arts ‘process’ is. Apparently it involves a lot of sighing and gibbering, and telling the computer to do what I want it to do. No, seriously, I have to send my family out of the room so they don’t keep asking if I’m all right, and suggesting that I have a nice cup of tea and a sit down.

I ended up downloading a macro for GIMP which let me put a grid over an image.  I layered it upon each of the banners, then copied grid sized squares from the underlying image, and pasting them to make a more pixilated image.  Exported the whole thing to .png file, imported it into a spreadsheet to add numbering… and it just occurs to me that I need to add heavier lines to mark off every fifth space (for ease of use).  Yeah, it’s enough trouble to fiddle with that I should really consider making it available for purchase when done.  Fortunately, Open Office exports to .pdf, so I could do the whole thing as a Ravelry download (fiddly charts and all).

Unfortunately, I miscalculated the number of stitches in the flag chart.  I had noted it as 37, but it works out to 38, so there should be 84 stitches in a round rather than 82 (given decisions I’d made earlier).  This is actually a *much* better number to design with, especially when it comes to the Sweet Tomato heel, but it left my actual socks a couple of stitches off.  Easy enough to fix, and the final pattern will be much friendlier.

No pictures this time, but I think I’m more or less on track.

In other news, I’m thinking of entering the Carina shawl in the Howard County fair.  Need to decide pretty soon, since the deadline is the end of July!

Tomato Season

Well, I’m beginning to build momentum on the Maryland State Flag socks.  I had to rip out the toes and start from scratch, because I used too few stitches the first time.  I’ve been trying to document everything (because if these turn out as great as I think they will, I might try to sell the pattern on Ravelry).

I’ve finally gotten to the point of turning the heel.  Because I never can make myself do the same thing twice, I’m using Cat Bohrdi’s Sweet Tomato Heel this time.  It’s actually pretty intuitive once you’ve got it going.

Unlike my try at short row heels on the After Summer Merrily socks, this technique isn’t too ‘visible’, even on the wrong side.

Tomato Heel

See?  A nice, even, minimal line of teeny-tiny holes.  Yay!

I wasn’t too sure about memorizing how to close the short row turns, but it’s pretty easy once you remember that there is one of those ‘gaps’ to be closed on each side between the first (instep) and second (heel) needles.  So you woogie the stitch before the gap when you start out, close all the gaps until the first needle, knit the instep, then woogie the stitch after the gap until you’ve worked to the middle of the sole needle, then knit around twice and go for the next wedge.  Simple enough.

I think I’m going to need a break once the heels are turned, just to get my charts straightened out and my head pulled together.  Fortunately, my daughter has asked me to knit a baby hat for her boss’s son’s first birthday.  She has an internship at the University of Delaware’s farm, and has her heart set on a cute tomato hat.

I’m torn between going for the cutest one I can find and something more botanically correct.  In either case I can’t imagine it will be more than a couple of days interlude.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win the Harrisville Design yarn giveaway.  No new giveaways this time around.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.