Sunday, October 31, 2010

A better way to do Fair Isle/Stranding?

 A while back I did some testing to see what was the easiest and most consistent way to knit "Fair Isle" or "Stranded Knitting. I decided to come back to that idea after hearing some of my students in a knitting class talk about how they had never tried this type of knitting. And others said they tried it but did not have alot of success.

 So it got me to thinking again about Portuguese Knitting and what I thought was a superior way to knit Fair Isle/Stranded (FI/ST).

This lead me to do some testing. On the swatch above, the two rows of snowflakes was done using Continental and English. In other words holding one yarn in each hand. The first thing I really wanted to test was which color would sit above the other in the work. What I found was that the yarn held in my left hand is the one that sits a bit higher and that comes out the most. You can see how with the yellow strand in my left hand the bottom row shows a well defined snowflake. When I put the rust color yarn in my left, in the second row, you can see how the snowflakes disappear and are really not well defined.

The problem however that kept bothering me was that the stitches were not even. I did another gauge test and saw that my continental was much looser than my english stitches.. This bothered me as I felt I was not getting an even work.

The other problem here was that many people could not knit with both hands. And because of this they either slogged through doing FI/ST with one hand or just passed on it.

The next idea I had was to use a combination of Continental in my left hand with Portuguese knitting in my right. This worked great, however again the continental stitch was looser and again I had the same problem.

This left me trying portuguese style in both hands. Portuguese is a very interesting style of knitting. The yarn goes through a pin on ones shoulder and then sits on top of the needle. Knitting a stitch is as easy as moving the yarn over the needle with your thumb. If you want a demonstration go to Portuguese Knitting.

What I found and you can see it on the top two rows of the above swatch, is that my stitches were very even in tension with portuguese. Not only that but it was really easy to hold both yarns for getting tension. And finally choosing a color to knit was as simple as picking up the right color with your thumb. I hope that I can soon show some pictures of how I set it up.

In the mitt to the right the bottom row was done with continental and PK. You can see how the snowflakes again are not well defined. This is because the continental stitches are larger or looser. I was holding the black yarn in my right hand. Now if I switched the black yarn to my left then the white color would have had better definition but they would also dominate the mitten. Here I really wanted the black yarn in my left hand. So I switched to doing PK in both hands and voila! The stitches are even.

So, if you are like me and struggle to have even gauge between continental and english or you just have trouble with Fair Isle knitting. Then my suggestion is to learn Portuguese knitting and you'll be amazed how easy it will be to accomplish great results in this style of knitting.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Saying bye to a good friend

Today is a very sad day for me in which I have to say goodbye to a good friend. This is not the type of friend who calls you on the phone or listens to you gripe. Instead it was a place. A place that I loved dearly. The one place where I was able to find peace, and solace. A place where I shared great memories with my kids.

I wish I did not have to say goodbye. And to tell you the truth I didn't. That is what makes this sadder. I owned this property with my brother. And over the 10 years that it was owned I had done the maintenance on the place and paid all the bills. Basically looked after the place. At times I would get upset thinking that it wasn't fair that I was doing most of the work. But I always said that it was family so let it go.

I am not going to go into the whole painful story, but the end works out that the same brother decided for a few thousand dollars difference that he wanted to sell it to someone else. So to accomplish this he went behind my back on numerous occasions in order to get this done. I can't count the number of ways that he went about screwing me. What makes it worse is that through it all, I kept hearing from my father that "that's just the way he is".  Well, the cottage has been sold and I am pretty devastated. Not just to lose it but to once again find that my family condoned the actions of bad behaviour.

So in the end I have not just lost the cottage but will lose part of my family. For I have come to the time where I can no longer take being slapped in the face because that is how people are. I have come to the time where I yell out STOP! Family or not that is not acceptable.

Today I sit realizing who exactly my family is and choosing that I will no longer consider them family. I will no longer put up with  people behaving poorly under the guise that "that is how they are". I mean is that what we should say about murderers and thieves. Don't put them in jail, because that is how they are?

As a parent I hope I have the strength to speak out if one of my kids is being unjust to the other. Not to keep silent with a fear that they might hate me. For as a parent I can't worry if my kid likes everything I do or say. I just have to make sure that what I do/say is right and moral.

I lost a good friend, which was my cottage. And with that I am okay. I had the memories that I wanted and now someone else can create some new memories. But I also will say goodbye to part of my family. And for this I don't have many good memories. Only painful ones. And although this makes me sad that this is the type of family that I have, I at least have a choice whether I accept it.

And today I don't.

Sorry for the rant but my heart really feels low today and maybe writing about it will help it a bit.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Final Thoughts on my Cat Sock

Well, I forced myself to finish my sock based on Cat Borhi's book. This new way of making the sock I earlier said I really did not enjoy knitting. Of course each person is entitled to their own likes and dislikes. That being said I finished it and tried it on. While it did fit nicely I still really did not like the way that the heel looked at all. For me I have decided to stick with my old tried and true method of cuff down socks. I guess though it is always a good thing to try.

I am working on another Nancy Bush shawl now. So far I have cast on twice and ripped out twice. Does it ever matter how long a person knits or is it just a fact of like that we knitters must rip things out. I read the yarn harlots blog and take solace that she seems to rip many things also. Well I have cast on for the third time and we'll see what happens. At present I am not sure I really like the yarn I am using. I bought it originally for the color as my SO said she would like something in that color. The yarn however really feels a bit rough and I am hoping that it gets softer once I block it. Well, back to work......

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mittens for Mom

Mom's Mitten Front
My mom's 77 and it's been a tough year for her. Some days she grows so weary of it all. She is staying home for the winter this year for the first time since I can remember. So, she asked if I could knit her a pair of mittens.

I have to say that when I was young mom knit quite a lot. Everyone remembers getting a blanket or sweater done beautifully from her. These days she does not knit anymore. She does say however she gets a big kick out of me knitting. And I like to knit things for her because she made so many memories for me.

So far I knit two pair of socks for her which she seems to love. Other than that though she really didn't want anything else.
So I was really happy to hear she could use some mittens. I had some great Lang New Angora yarn I bought on sale and found a pattern that I could utilize. Now the funny thing is that I love the look of the mitts, but the pattern name is "White Witches Mittens". And you would think this would make a funny name to give to your mother. Or any other women for that matter. But, I will just have to keep the pattern name quiet. And they really don't seem to fit the name anyways. I hope :).

Of course I had to go down to my LYS and purchase a great book on mittens. I seem to be the type that has to find out as much as I can about something when I do it.

I hope my mom likes them and that they fit. I finished one and will be seeing her on Thanksgiving (Canada style). to try it on.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Will everyone hate me?

I am in between projects just having finished an earflap hat for my daughter and waiting for measurements to start some mittens for my mother. While deciding which project to start next I thought I would start up a quick sock. Now I have knit many socks and most times enjoy it thoroughly. This time though I thought I would try the new construction idea from Cat Bordhi's book the Insouciant knitter. Not sure if I spelled that one right. Now I most surely am not the most accomplished knitter and from all my readings Cat is someone very highly regarded. And in a lot of her stuff I must agree. So I found my book and began casting on to make a demo sock in this new style.

Now the instructions are certainly well done, and I have been knitting along quite well. I did the whole sole section, and then put in my lifelines and finished the heel section. So far so good you would think.

The problem is that I am really not enjoying this knit. I really am not sure how the heel will stand up against the traditional slip stitch heel that I usually use. And well it does seem to fit well, I never had much of a problem with my cuff down traditional method. All in All I really don't believe this is a type of sock I would make again.

In saying so I feel like I am angering one of the knitting gods, but the truth must be told. I DON"T LIKE THIS. Yes it works and might even fit better but still I DON'T LIKE KNITTING IT.

So, I am sure that I will be kicked out of the most prestigious knitting circles for saying so but what can I do. This blog is all about being honest so there you are.

I will certainly finish up the sock. Actually I am going to add some mosaic patterns as I do the leg just to practice my mosaic, but otherwise I really can't wait to be finished. And perhaps I am just not in sock knitting moods these days. Either way I think I will go back to my old way.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Kissing the Frog

I was really exited about making a hat for my daughter who just left for her first year of University. I got the perfect colored yarns and was going to make an earflap hat with a lining to keep her warm in the winter. I was so excited that I cast on as soon as I had the design figured out.

Everything was going great and in about a day I was half done the outside of the hat. The colors and design were working perfectly. I was doing a small stranded design of her university letters WLU going around the hat; I then planned to use duplicate stitch to put the university name on above the band. I figured since I was doing a lining I didn't have to worry about strands.

As I kept knitting away in this blissful, exciting state I had that familiar feeling in the back of my head. "This is looking big" .  Now everyone knows that when you here that little voice in the back of your head basically screaming "WARNING". you listen. And of course knowing this I chose to ignore it because I was just so blissful and excited about my progress. As I reached the decreases to close off the hat I couldn't contain my feeling of accomplishment. A pat on the back as I thought about how much my daughter would love this. Wow, isn't this going to be great. On and On I could go but I think you are all beginning to know where this is going. Perhaps because you too have gone on such a journey.

Well...although my elation was at a peak, so too was that voice in the back of my head. Finally just to prove it wrong and shut it up I stopped to really look at the hat. It was then I started to realize  that it was going to fit someone the size of "Big foot" instead of  a young lady. Just to be absolutely sure I tried it on and watched as it slid over my head, past my ears, coming to rest around my neck. There it lay looking not like a beautiful hat for my daughter but instead like a mishapen ugly cowl.    UGGGHHH

It's quite amazing that every time we choose to ignore tried and true knitting rules we are invariably visited by the voice in the back of our head. I myself had been doing many socks and shawls in which either gauge was not important or I knew the wool from previous knits. In this case I did not know what my gauge was for this wool  and should have done a swatch.  I actually tell people this in classes I teach. ALWAYS SWATCH FOR GAUGE. It is one of my most important knitting rules. Right up there along with "DON"T DO LACE AFTER 10PM.

Those rules are in place for very good reasons. They can be your friend and save you many hours of frustration. They should be adhered to. But of course, we as knitters always test those rules and every time we do we find out why they are good rules.

So, in the end knowing what the real truth was, I pulled my needle out of my stitches. A feeling very familiar to many a knitter. And then proceeded to rip out the stitches row by row till all that was left was my provisional cast on.

So you see in the end I was not the prince of this tale. I was the one kissing the "FROG" ...ripit  ripit.....ripit