knittingjuju

Julie knits and writes and knits.

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Twin Fair Isle Sampler Vests

Posted via email from JuJu

This is how the knitting fates will get you…

Recall this project from, well, ever so very long ago? A cute little project that started out normally enough. Coneived to be a fair isle sampler of peries and medallions in a lot of fun colors of a size big enough and construction complex enough to get a really good feel for traditional Fair Isle knitting. So I knew, before investing in a larger project, whether this sort of thing would work for me, or not.

I targeted a nice young man to receive the results of this little experiment. And then the project…. lagged. Not because I didn’t love it. I do love it, but because other knitting, as it will, jumped to the front of the line. By the time I cut the steeks and added the arm and neck ribbing, the child had outgrown the vest by… oh… 3 years or so.

Luckily, there are always new babies around. The right kid at the right size in our family happens to be a twin…. so… the second Fair Isle Sampler Vest is screaming along, really trying to make it before the two-year-old twins turn four.

Meantime, the yarn has been discontinued. More or less. But good hearts at Ravelry saved me there.

I think I will make it, puling off the second vest in a month or so if knitting, and clearing the size 3 needles for the next project. One inspired by the Atlantic and granite and fog:

Say, want to keep up with this? I’ve just added the new WordPress email subscription feature, right there in the next column at the tippy top. Subscribe, and you’ll get the posts as I add them, sporadically, sure, but, you know… as they come…

iPhone Mitts: The Worsted

The iPhone Mitts are proving to be such simple, useful hand warmth delivery systems, that I succumbed to pressure to do the math and provide here proof of a worsted-weight version that knits up in a quarter of the time of the fingering-weight wonders…. and here they are:

So instructions: Download the iPhone Mitts pattern, and change the math thusly:

Use Worsted Weight Yarn (in this case my leftover Noro Cash Iroha, and precisely two skeins and 182 meters, US Size 6 dpns

Cast On 40 stitches.

Knit 34 rows before starting thumb gussets.

Work until thumb gussets are just 9 stitches

Cast on just 2 stitches when you resume knitting after putting the gusset stitches on hold.

The whole length of the tube is 90 rows from cast on to cast off row.

Pick up 5 st for a total of 14 thumb stitches.

Work 12 thumb rows after pickup.

These are stretchy monkeys. I knit them to fit my hands, but they easily fit my son-in-law (my man model here) and my husband’s much larger hands.

Having worn them for a couple of days, I’ll observe that the worsted versions are much warmer, of course, but also much bulkier. When the weather warrants it, I’ll gladly upgrade warmth for bulky discomfort, but for 80 percent of winter, I still want the fingering-weight versions. They just let me move my hands more easily, afford my hands more mobility.

By the way, my sister-in-law, Betsy, a new knitter who easily took on the iPhone Mitts for her daughter, would have me note that the convenience of tucking the thumbs into the palm fold and scrunching these babies up onto your wrists while shopping is a really critical feature of the design. “Forget iPhone Mitts,” she says, “These are Shopping Mitts!!” Not much of a shopper myself, I defer to her.

They have been taken up by folks doing fine work outdoors. These range from dog trainers and fishermen to photographers and bicyclists. Skiers note that when you fold the cuff inside, you have three layers of wool protecting your fingertips, which they love, being able to quickly squinch these back to fumble for change or lip balm makes their whole day. Runners note they can use the superwash wool, and not feel bad about using them to wipe noses and face sweat mid-run, just wash them along with their other running gear…

Everyone notes that they are very dull knitting. Mindless. But who doesn’t need mindless knitting? Once in awhile?

Christine’s Forest Canopy

My friend, Christine, is a knitter and a writer and a painter. And a lot of other things, too, but for the purposes of this story, let’s just stop the list right there. I guess I’ve known Christine for a million years. We met giving a reading of our work selected by a local literary magazine. We bumped into one another at local writing events. Two entirely separate strands of wool in the wash, follicles catching here and there. Then I started working with her dear husband. Then she helped me along when I started knitting. And now we’re more or less felted.

When Christine decided to get serious about painting again, not so very long ago, I wasn’t surprised to see an explosion of spectacular, moving, accomplished work in a very short time. Delighted, but not surprised, because this is how Christine would paint if Christine painted. Of course. Of course.

I asked her to consider making a portrait of my Mom. Some day. Maybe. If she wanted to, but no pressure. At all. Because, you know, maybe she wouldn’t want to, and that would be cool. I sent her a photo of my mom as a young woman. Expecting her to think and let me know.

Within, like, a week or so, Christine told me we had to meet at our LYS. I figured on some sort of hat emergency. Mittens gone wrong. Something. But no, she had this for me:


That’s my mom, Vivian. Absolutely. Amazing. Just… wow. Amazing. I was stunned. Thoroughly. Still am.

And immediately willing to hock the family jewels to pay for it, provided I could find the family jewels. Or a family with jewels. What could I possibly offer in return for this? Christine started talking trade. Knitting for art.

“Um… dood, you sure?”

She was sure.

She had a lace shawl firmly in mind, already. And all we had to do was find the right yarn…

The exact right wool was already in my stash. Cash Iroha, Noro’s cashmere, silk, wool blend, light and soft and shimmery, in a color…. This color is what red would be if it were made of chocolate. That’s about the best I can come up with. It’s a color I appear to love a lot, judging by the number of yarns in various weights resident in my stash in this exact hue. The Cash Iroha chocolate red is sort of a worsted weight, slubby yarn, dear and yummy.

Christine liked the Cherry Leaf shawl I had made in a fingering-weight yarn awhile ago, but that same pattern wouldn’t have translated to this yarn. Good old Ravelry made short work of finding a great, leafy shawl pattern in worsted for my little stash: Forest Canopy Shawl by Susan Pierce Lawrence.

Within a few minutes, I bought the pattern from her site, loaded the charts onto my iPhone, and cast on the few stitches at the top center from which all the rest of the shawl just blooms. Well, eventually it blooms, the rows getting longer and longer as you go, until you finish, casting off all those scallops.

A completely pleasant knit from first stitch to last. I made minor modifications, adding a few repeats of the main pattern to lengthen the piece, and a couple of extra rows in the edging pattern to balance the new length. This is four skeins of Noro.

The finished piece is light as air and really warm. Vivian would have loved it. The color and texture are pure Christine. A very good trade.

The Shoddy Little Sweater

Some projects just find their own time. I began this sweater on June 30, 2007. Flickr keeps track of these things for me. So 18 months in the making, and another month or so for the photo shoot.

It began with the yarn. I saw hanks of Colinette Parisienne in Soft Sienna at Lizzie Ann’s Wool Company in Holland, Michigan, one of my favorite LYSs. I had to have the yarn. I knew it was for my daughter.

The yarn reminded me of dryer lint. But in a good way. You know that soft non-color of dryer lint? It’s kind of blue, kind of grey, kind of pink? It’s fuzzy, light, soft?

I brought the yarn home and started swatching with it.

I already had the idea of making something tiny for my daughter, something t-shirty or camisolish, and had been swatching with silks and merinos and rare Habu Textiles stuff, but not falling in love.

But this yarn.

I knew I wanted to live with it for awhile. I found the needle size (US 5) to make the fabric that made me happiest.

Then came a class with Lily Chin, learning to design knitwear for my own body, or anyone else’s. I’d been steeping myself in Zimmerman, and so Chin’s class layered courage on Zimmerman courage along with some techniques for drawing patterns and constructing garments.

Just watching my girl and how she dresses made the form clear: A t-shirt. But not too, too sweet of a t-shirt. A long t-shirt that pokes fun at t-shirts.

I wanted to mess with the stockinette.

And then the women in my family were having fun with this word, “shoddy.” My hilarious niece, one of the funniest people I know, started us all using the word in a way that injected it with affection and comfort and kindness. A dryer-lint sort of feeling.

I decided to call the project Shoddy. At that point the rest of the form sort of fell into place. I knew it would have random yarn-over holes. (It turns out I’m not capable of completely random behavior, because I formed rules about the holes as I knit. I couldn’t help it.)

And then the process was pretty straightforward. I grabbed one of my daughter’s favorite t-shirts, and used it to make a pattern and a fabric model for the piece, which traveled in the project bag and served as a reference as I knitted.

I knew I wanted to make a seamless sweater, and did my math to know how many stitches to cast on. I cast on provisionally, thinking I might want to knit t-shirt-style hems, but not wanting to decide right away. (I did do this in the end, but after changing my mind 42 times.)

Then I just knit to match the fabric model, marking the sides, and decreasing two stitches at each side for a few rows to form waistline curve, and increasing to climb back up to the armpits. The yarn overs are either single or double YOs, decreasing with the next stitch so that I was never increasing or decreasing stitch numbers except at the sides for shaping. I decided to swim the holes up fro the sides in the front to the center, and just run a line of them down the center in the back. Not sure why. It just felt right.

The arms were a little challenge. I wanted the exact angle of the sleeves from the original t-shirt, and if I were Elizabeth or Meg, I probably could have figured out how to increase at the armpit to make them without seams, but I chose to start the sleeves flat –again casting on provisionally — for about an inch to match the flat pattern before joining them to the body. as you would for any seamless sweater. So it’s not an entirely seamless sweater. There is a one-inch seam under each sleeve. I’ll loiter in seamless sweater purgatory for a few millenia for that, I’m sure.

I had recently made a complete Elizabeth Zimmerman EPS Saddle-shoulder, and was still madly in love with the fit and the fun of knitting it, and so chose that style for this piece. I planned on a kind of funnel-neck, and knit it that way at first, but when the girl tried it on, it just… blech. No. I knew I had to rip back to make a bateau, but… A.) ripping mohair is just not fun. B.) I had no idea how to knit a bateau neckline.

And so the piece lingered and reproached me for… a while.

I next went off to a weekend camp at Schoolhouse Press with Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen and Joyce Williams. Show and tell is part of that, and I decided to show the Shoddy, though it was incomplete. Anybody who visited with this sweater had the same impulse, to throw it up in the air and watch it float. It’s that light and fluffly. Meg did that with Shoddy. And her eyes sparkled. It was a happy moment for me, let me tell you. Well, they eliminated all of my agony in about four seconds, Meg and Joyce, who pointed me to this neckline on this sweater:

Which you’ll find in her book Latvian Dreams, which of course I had. I felt a little like Dorothy. I’d had the answer with me the whole time. And now I had more courage from the Source, the Well, from Mecca.

So you would have thought I would have ripped right into that baby. No, I kind of sat on it for awhile. Not sure why, though I have likened it to finishing a good book. I really slowed this project down.

I ripped back the neck, and found the bateau an easy and elegant thing to knit. No problem. Basically you’re knitting two little V-neck decrease points at each shoulder, then a purl turning ridge, and then increasing at the same point so that when you fold the hem back inside, it matches up, and all you have to do is stitch the live stitches down. Very easy and elegant.

And that dictated the hem treatments for the arms and bottom hem too. Simple…. so why wasn’t I finishing it?

It just sat without its hems for ever so long. I pulled it out and pet it, folded it up and put it away… for MONTHS.

Post Project Depression. That’s the only thing I can offer for why it has taken me so long. I loved this baby, and had a hard time letting it go.

But then winter returned, and my daughter was kind of wondering.. and my knitting friends were wondering, and everyone has been wondering…

I finished it. Blocked it. Gave it. And today, finally, have photographed it. It worked. It’s pretty.

Thank you, thank you to all who helped inspire and teach and offer courage.

And on to the next unfinished thing…

The whole gestation is documented here.

Girasole for the soul

Oh my goodness. Working on brooklyntweed’s lovely Girasole, a wedding gift, already overdue. Finally decided on cascade ecological wool after hemming and hawing for weeks. The yarn seemed underwhelming for so long… Until you knit with it. Knit stitches transform this yarn completely. I am in love.

The pattern is made for knitting addicts, each row lulling you to the next, each chart charms you into trying the next one…

Almost done with the sunflower… It’s good to get a little sun in January…

It’s fun.

iPhone Mitts

iPhone-mitts-pattern..

Michigan iPhone and iTouch user-tested mitten. It works.

iPhone and iTouch Michigan-user-tested mitten. It works.

Time to catch up on the secret holiday knitting, but first this: A new pattern!

Super uber-simple mitts for using sock yarn that’s too pretty to put on your feet.

These are designed to answer the problems we cold-climate-dwellers have with using our electronic gizmos (in my case an iPhone) in the winter. iPhones work through naked fingertips, and not at all if you are bemittened or begloved. (Yes, Apple is getting ready to release a glove with electro-conductive fingertips, but who wants to wear technogloves when we could be wearing some Koigu or Lorna’s Laces or Socks-that-Rock, or your own hand-painted, hand-spun, hand-dyed wonderfulness on your hands?

Well, not US, anyway.)

So here are mitts that will cover your fingertips when the weather is the way the weather is now in Michigan. And uncover for most of the time while still keeping you hugged and snugged and warm.

I’ve been test-driving these guys all winter, and they’re great in 2×2 ribbing — the most elastic rib of all. Boring, yes, but don’t you sometimes need a boring project? Sometimes? Kind of?

Haven’t tried these in a bigger yarn yet, but that’s coming. Or, you go first, and tell me about it?

The nice thing about this simple tube is that when you walk into a store and need your hands, you can pull in your thumbs, and just scrunch these right up onto your wrists. No more losing your mittens in the bottom of your purse at the grocery store!

Many of you won’t need a pattern for these. But for those of you who like having them, or want the schematic so you can riff. Download your iphone-mitts-pattern here.

March, 2009 Note: Pattern tweaks for a worsted-weight version available here.

Mr. Tweed


brooklyn tweed demonstrating button band

Originally uploaded by jujuridl

I’ve known him as b r o o k l y n t w e e d for so much longer than I’ve known him as Jared Flood, that I kind of just want to call him Mr. Tweed.

I had classes with Mr. Tweed at City Knitting today. Supposed to be my second day of study, but my brain wouldn’t comply yesterday.

(Say, if you’re a migraineur too, you really ought to grab a copy of The Migraine Brain. Just when you thought you knew everything about them — along comes a whole new line of thinking. Helpful.)

And though I THOUGHT I was ready for class, it seems I grabbed everything but my camera, and so all of my photos from the class are icky, sickly phone pics. So sorry about that.

Learned very good things that ought to come in handy finishing some projects and especially starting new ones. Gad, I’m so ready to get another big sweater project going, you have no idea.

Mr Tweed is exactly as smart and helpful and generous and funny as he is cracked up to be. Maybe more. If you get the chance to study under him, just take it!

Hey, between classtimes, I finished Shoddy! There I was, all by myself as I stitched down the last hem stitch, grinning like an idiot, and a little weepy. Like finishing a great novel. I hate to be done with it. Now I have to work up the guts to block it, and then hand it over to my daughter. A photo session when I do, and you’ll see it. It worked!