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Monday, 26 March 2007
Between retreats and decisions
Topic: stranded knitting


 So, here is the unblocked version of my second edge finish treatment. This is what came to the first Faroe Retreat with me while I mulled over if I liked the two-tone front. I do. So, I have decided to finish this off and block it.

 The first finish was all in charcoal, was double stranded and had standard one-row buttonholes in a garter stitch background. It was too dark and too massive for the eye. So I reknit the right buttonband in light gray and added hidden I-cord buttonholes, which caused a scallop look when buttoned. This necessitated a wider LEFT band, so I took off the original one, reduced the thickness and increased the width.

I think it's a keeper. 

Posted by countrywool at 11:51 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 10 April 2007 8:50 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 13 March 2007
neck steek games
Topic: stranded knitting










I have polished off the neck knitting. Above you see the outside results of the 2nd steeking job for the neck, and the nicely curved pickup line, along with the solid color facing that is waiting to be sewn down (but not until after the front cardigan steek is done).  I hid any final decreases in the visible purled round. So, yes, the outside looks neat, but take a look at how the curve was handled, and the final braided finishing of the cut open neck steek:









I have resented having ANY bulk in the neck hems from previous neck steeking jobs, and decided a braided steek finish was the way to go. After picking up the curve for the neck line, the steek is cut open and all ends unraveled to the picked up edge, where 3 at a time are braided together and cut off at 2". These braided ends will be hidden inside the neck hem when it is sewn down later. 

No sewing machine and no reinforcement stitching. I am relying on the hairy aspect of HEILO yarn to keep things orderly. 

Now on to the cardigan steek, which is on the agenda for today.

Yesterday evening at Knit Nite, I crocheted a steek reinforcement line up and down both sides of the center stitch.


Two things to report:

  • ...only the simple knitted steek was easy to manage...all the others were a nightmare of confusion. The twisted knit steek was not so bad once I got another sharper-head crochet hook to use.
  • ...I first made the crocheted stitches with sock yarn. It turned out to be SO slippery, that I was afraid it would not hold the stitches after cutting, so I went back to using HEILO.
I will report on the steek cutting and finishing next. 

Posted by countrywool at 11:02 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 13 March 2007 8:02 PM EDT
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Monday, 12 March 2007
Steek organization
Topic: stranded knitting














It always takes me longer to get knitting done than I think. It might have to do with the fact that I wrote, and finished (except for the few picture additions I am waiting for) 10 separate patterns that encompass the Faroe Sweater and Hat patterns we will be knitting during the Faroe Sweater Knitting Retreat coming up in 2 weeks (and again in November in the Catskill Mountains).

 Pattern writing, editing, and fine tuning is an art unto itself, and it consumes me when I get into it. All that math is addictive, and figuring out the uniqueness to each size with the stitch pattern chosen is the ultimate challenge, like puzzle solving. The more I write patterns, the more I add sizes. The current batch has 12 adult and 10 child sizes for each stitch design. I want knitters to have the ULTIMATE in size choice when they sit down with their yarns and needles.

 (If you are interested, I am running a first for Countrywool: a computer based knitting pattern design weekend retreat. It will be in late September in the Catskill Mountains of New York. Watch the website for details next month). 

At any rate, I decided to work a separate neck steek at the top of the cardigan:











 This allows for a very neat hem finish that separates the neckband from the cardigan band. This was tricky to write into the directions, and after 2 attempts, and the final knit, I fine tuned the wording. I am eternally grateful to Char for her test knitting the pattern, and keeping me informed about what doesn't work and what can be clearer. 

The neck steek finish has been FABULOUS fun, and I will  get that on the blog next.

Posted by countrywool at 8:58 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 12 March 2007 9:06 AM EDT
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Sunday, 4 February 2007
Steeking Stranded Knitting
Topic: stranded knitting

I am having way too much fun experimenting. 

I finished the gawdawful January task of bookkeeping/inventory/taxes and I get up in the morning now READY TO KNIT. Each day is brighter as I leave behind the columns of numbers and misguided receipts. IS THERE ANYTHING FUNNER THAN KNITTING?

 I have tried for an hour to get good pictures of what I am doing. I give up. I need a better camera or better lighting or a steadier hand. So, forgive these less than clear shots.

 My steek experiment will not be over until I have cut and sewn and finished off the front of this cardigan. As much as I have been experimenting with steek creation, I have narrowed down the finish I want to use. Mary Ann Stephens has provided a WONDERFUL on-line tutorial on the whys and ways of steeking. I have read and re-read her words, as well as examples and instructions in Alice Starmore books, books from Elizabeth Zimmermann and Meg Swanson, and patterns from Dale of Norway.  Hers' looks to be the best for the finished look I want. We'll see.

I added 5 stitches to the beginning of the cast-on round in which to create the steek, which will be cut into and turned down once the sweater is ready for adding the cardigan bands for the front closure.

I started off with a purled steek, with unused yarns carried in the front of the work (lowest portion picture): 
















This ended up being in the already-turned-under-and-sewn-down hem. Notice how clearly we can see the columns of charcoal knit stitches on either side of the steek. These are the stitches I will be picking up to work the edging. I hated making this steek and it looks sloppy, which bothers me ALOT.

Then I sailed into the normal knitted steek, choosing to make the color changes in vertical lines for clarity:

This one makes me very happy while doing it and also looking at it waiting for the next step. At this point I am almost thinking about using the gray stitch OF the steek at either side as my pick up row, which then turns the real steek into just 3 stitches wide. Hmm.











Then I decided to make a purled steek that looks neat, carrying the yarns on the inside:

This one looks MUCH better, and I still see the vertical lines I need for cutting. If the final finish is remarkably better than the knit steek, then I may opt for this style another time.













And finally, for today at least, is the twisted knit steek:

This one is supposed to grab better after cutting. I like making it and we'll see how the twisted knits affect the final flatness of the finish. 












The only other steek left to experiment with is the wrapped steek, which I intend to make at the neck. I resented the bulk of a cut edge when I last reworked a finished regular steek on this pullover version of the Faroe Vine sweater, FLAWLESSLY knit by Carol Slauson:

So, stay tuned for the last steek sometime in the next 2 weeks. I have to get to the top of my cardigan before I can play more.

Posted by countrywool at 9:32 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 4 February 2007 9:45 AM EST
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Wednesday, 11 January 2006
Slogging Away
Topic: stranded knitting
January is all about numbers and bookwork for me because of the business, and I get cranky. I would much rather be creating something new. So, I managed to squeeze in a new array for yarn display in the shop (my daughter and I moved about 3000 skeins of yarn yesterday). But, that's as far as it can go until I get all the forms/numbers/check statements/inventory logged and accounted for.

In this month of Nothing New On The Needles, I am pretty content, to my surprise, knitting away on the body part of the Nordic Sweater for the Cape Ann Knitting Retreat in March. I HAD wanted this to be done by Jan 1 so I could get to the writing of the pattern before the last minute, but if I try not to worry about THAT, then I am having a good time.

I have been knitting with two colors in two hands for many years, but this is the first BIG project knitting with a new way of holding the yarn in my right hand. Since I learned Continental knitting with my left hand (and had become quite speedy!) I had neglected retraining my right hand to be more efficient than the taught-to-me-by-my-mom-pick-up-wrap-put-down method.

And, now when I wrap the yarn identically around my right hand to match the left, I have included a wrap around the pinkie finger to control tension. This keeps the yarn in place on my right hand between stitches, and makes the whole process very efficient.

With the miles of body licing I am knitting right now, I am getting a LOT of practice. And I am getting noticeably faster.

It's all good.

Posted by countrywool at 7:32 AM EST
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Monday, 19 December 2005
Powerful socks
Topic: stranded knitting

2005 was the year I started to learn and practice yoga. It has become a centering point in my life, and I work to find time to practice every day. For me yoga is first a stretching and strengthening of my muscles, and then a calming, meditative balm for my mind. Muscles that used to kink up and cause pain after 4 hours of knitting, have found a way to fully relax. It's all good.

My Knit Nite group all practice yoga, and one of them is my yoga teacher, whom I adore. With the holidays up and coming, I wanted to create something festively yoga for them.

Thus, Proud Warrior Socks were born. One of the poses in yoga, Proud Warrior brings confidence, balance and strength to the student. This is what Knit Nite does for all of us attending, too, so it is a fitting logo for these socks.

Practicing yoga in the winter in chilly spaces includes the use of layers of clothing. While the active poses are best done on a non-skid surface in bare feet, once seated/floor positions begin, your feet can get cold. Socks that require two hands to put on/pull off will slow you down. These socks are knit with a much wider cuff to facilitate a fast removal. I knit these with Regal wool from Briggs and Little, stranding the vines/warriors in as I went.

Posted by countrywool at 7:07 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 20 December 2005 6:46 AM EST
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Tuesday, 18 October 2005
Arts and Crafts Movement
Topic: stranded knitting

A new sweater is swirling in my head, along with the Nordic one that is almost on the needles. I am doing research on motifs. I especially like the work of Mackintosh. My California sister has been clamoring for a sweater that goes along with her house style. How can I resist?

Posted by countrywool at 7:23 AM EDT
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Thursday, 11 August 2005
Ho, ho, ho...
Topic: stranded knitting

Sooner or later, I knew I would design a Christmas Stocking pattern. I stayed away from cutesy and went for woodsy, with the "dark" colors of Christmas. And you can't beat Lamb's Pride Worsted for a folky look.

This was actually fun to knit for it went REALLY fast, and the heel was a rip and re-do thing that kept me entertained for some time. I settled on a half short row heel(framed in garter stitch to match the ridges in the leg) that allowed the sock to hang straight.

This pattern will be the basis for the September and October Knitting Workshop classes that I teach, for they have voted on learning two handed, stranded knitting and sock structure. Anyone interested in the pattern or the kit can scoot over here

Posted by countrywool at 5:44 AM EDT
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