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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Rivendell Socks

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I finished up the second Rivendell sock on Saturday night, so I got them finished before May ended! These are knit in Claudia Handpaints Fingering in Country Kitchen on US 1's. I lengthened the leg before starting the heel flap. This was my Knit Something of the Month Club project for May (which is why I'm to glad to have them finished before the month is out), so next month is another little shawl!

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I have one other thing to show today. Logan got a bath this weekend so since I know you guys will appreciate a clean, curly puppy butt as much as I do, here you go! All fresh and fluffy! This is also a pretty accurate picture of his color - sometimes he looks more yellow with flash, but this is his actual color.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

What do you do?

What do you do when you are working on two separate pairs of socks and one pair is supposed to be finished by the end of the month? What do you do when you are in the middle of a cardigan and the list of cardigans you want to knit (and even have yarn for) is a mile long? What do you do when you have oodles of tiny squares waiting to be sewn into a blanket?

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You start another project of course! So that's what I did earlier this week. This is Fiori di Sole from Romi Hill. (That's a Rav link, but viewable even if you're not a member or signed in.) I went stash diving to find yarn for it (the laceweight stash isn't what it used to be around here) and found this yarn which I'd purchased ages ago (pre-Scheherazade). It's Jaggerspun Zephyr in Coral and it's a true coral - not quite pink, not quite peach, not easy to photograph. I thought this would be perfect for the flowers at the top and edging of this shawl and I loved that the middle of the shawl was Shetland Fern which was my first lace pattern ever, in Birch. This lace stitch pattern is easy to work and easy to read which will make the middle of the shawl a nice little change of pace between the beginning and edging. The top part is definitely not difficult, Romi's directions are clear and her charts are easy to read, but it's not autopilot knitting either.

Oh, and if you're wondering what happened to my In Dreams shawl, I frogged it (beads and all). The design is lovely (and has some similarities to Fiori di Sole in the leafy/petal areas), but the beads were feeling way too heavy to me. I will reknit it at some point without beads, or maybe only with beads in the edging.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

From the Darkest Depths of the Blog...

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...comes the Babette! Remember this? I finished the squares up before 2010 ended but I had ends to weave in on about 40 or 50 of them. Well, I finally sat down and got them all woven in and yesterday I laid them out so I can starting sewing them together. Logan will definitely not be allowed in the Sewing Room until these are all sewn together. I'm really happy with the way it looks at this point and while I know it will take a little while to sew them all together, I'm excited to see how it looks with borders, so hopefully that will motivate me to get this finished.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rivendell

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I'm still working on my first Rivendell sock. This is my May Knit Something of the Month Club project and I still have seven more days to finish this sock and do the second one. I'm to the easy part on this first one and I've taken lots of notes for the second one which should make it go faster. These aren't hard socks and really the most complex parts of the knitting is in the first half of the leg. I should be able to finish both of these up in the next week without too much trouble. That's what I'm telling myself anyway!

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Guess Where Logan Went This Weekend?

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Logan got to go into the sewing and yarn room this weekend for the first time since he became a part of our family. I had put up a gate across the door before he got here so that he wouldn't be able to go in and while the gate is still there when I'm not in the room, he will now be allowed to go in when I can supervise him. He did much better than I expected him to do. There was a ball of laceweight that he brought to me, but otherwise he didn't mess with the yarn except to sniff and kiss. The fact that he brought the laceweight to me instead of running away with it made me proud. He did try several times to play with the fiber I'm spinning on the Rose, and both spinning wheels got more kisses and loving yesterday than they had in ages.

Since he was being so good, I actually got to do some cleaning in there and get a few things organized. I even did some spinning and he was very impressed with that! He circled the Rose, watching everything several times. I could see his brain trying to figure out what was going on. He did stick his nose too close to the flyer once and got bonked, but that's an easy mistake to make and I doubt he'll make it again. I'm glad I kept him out of there as long as I did, but it was time to introduce him to the room and all its smells. I had to keep the gate up for Finn anytime I was blocking things because he liked to roll on blocking knits. I'll have to see how Logan does with blocking, but for now, he can come and play with me anytime I go into the room.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mickael's socks

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I'm past the heel on Mickael's first sock. I'm going to work the foot in plain stockinette because I think he'll like it better that way. This is still my knit in public project so it's riding around in my purse and getting worked on in little bits of free time. It's going slowly, but I think I'll get both socks done in plenty of time for cooler weather.

We're also on the home stretch of the school year here - about 2 weeks left. This means in addition to all the end of year things that Caleb is doing at school and I'll help out with, there's also things I'm trying to get finished up before he's home for the summer. Blogging might be erratic for the next little bit, but I'll share projects when I have a chance and I'll be back to regular posting when things settle down.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Austin Hoodie

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I'm moving right along on my Austin Hoodie. I'm past the decreases and working towards the increases (waist shaping) at this point. Still loving this yarn and I'm definitely loving the needles. Having cables that swivel in the needle tips is genius. There's not much to say about this cardigan at this point because I'm still in the stockinette lower body section. It does make great TV knitting in the evening though.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Taygete

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Mommy is dressing me in the clothes again. The problem with the clothes is that I have to sit in the Stay while I am wearing the clothes and be a "Good Dog." I do not know what this Good Dog is but I know I cannot eat the clothes, which is disappointing. She did tell me that I could tell you all about the clothes that I cannot eat though.

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This is Taygete from Romi Hill's 7 Small Shawls ebook. Mommy used Dream in Color Smooshy in Crying Dove for her main color (which matches my lovely coat), and she used The Loopy Ewe Solid Series in Dove for her contrasting color. It is 87 inches across, from point to point and 23 inches from the center top, down to the point. I don't know what these inches things are, but it wraps around a Golden angel like myself twice. Oh, and it does taste good. I totally nibbled on some of the picot edging when Mommy wasn't looking. I'm sure she won't notice that part of it is covered in puppy spit, I mean everything in this house is covered in puppy spit - I make sure of it! Can I take the clothes off now?

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

A New Belladonna Took

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I just finished blocking my Mom's Belladonna Took and it's so different from mine that I had to share it! I used a smooth, tightly twisted wool and silk yarn (Handmaiden Silk Twist) while she used Misti Alpaca Tonos Carnaval which is a fuzzy, alpaca/wool/silk/nylon yarn. Her's is like the Fall and Winter version with the alpaca bloom. I didn't photograph the fuzzy, snuggly look to the yarn very well, but you can see it in the yarn link better (still overcast, still with flash here). Also, she added beads on the second to last stitch of each Right Side row (just in the edging). Just a tiny bit of sparkle along the edge and the added little bit of weight that they give a shawl.

I love how different her Belladonna Took looks from mine and I just had to share it with you all!

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Not Taygete

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I know, can you believe it? It's been all Taygete all the time around here lately. But all things must come to an end and I finished Taygete up last night! I'm going to block it today and if my model is cooperative, you'll get finished pictures later this week.

After weaving in Taygete's ends in preparation for blocking, I grabbed the Rivendell sock and got back to it. I've about doubled what I had when you saw it last time and I think the rest of it should move pretty quickly. Unfortunately it's cloudy and overcast here this morning so I had to use flash, which washed out a lot of the detail in the picture. It's hard to see here, but in real life, you can actually see all the detail. (This is one of those times where we need to pass the sock around so everyone can see it.) I hope to really get moving on these now that Taygete is wrapped up.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Taygete - Now With Picots!

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Look! See the grey part? See how it's off the needles? (Not the whole thing, just the part I photographed.) Those are the picots in the picot bind off. I'll be picoting for a while before I get them all the way around this little shawl, but I'm on the home stretch now.

Oh, and I think you should know that right after I snapped the picture of Logan looking all mature and refined (in yesterday's blog post), he launched himself off the stairs with his tennis ball in his mouth and proceeded to run around the house like he was possessed. Just in case you were starting to think he was normal or something.

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Monday, May 09, 2011

Taygete

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I'm not quite as far as I had hoped to be by now. I'm still working on the lace section, but I'm almost done with that part. Picots will start soon. Really. No, I'm serious.

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Look at the dog!

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Friday, May 06, 2011

Taygete

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I'm lacing right along on Taygete! I don't know if lacing is the correct verb for what I'm doing, but I'm doing it anyway. I'm hoping to finish the lace today and start on the picot bind off this weekend. (Sorry about the fingers in the picture. Had to keep the lace from rolling up!) I'd love to present the finished Taygete here on Monday, but I've got to get going if I'm going to pull that off!

Happy Mother's Day!

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Thursday, May 05, 2011

May Knit Something of the Month Project

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I'm loving my little Knit Something of the Month Club! It means I HAVE to cast on a new project each month regardless of how many other projects I have going on, and it's guilt free because each one was a planned project for that month. This has definitely helped when I'm getting bored with whatever current projects I'm working on and this month, when I've wrapped up my biggest project (Snowbird), it means I get to start TWO new projects because I can't just not have a cardigan can I? If the rest of the year keeps going as well as these first few months are, I'll definitely be doing this again next year. And I can tell myself I'm stash busting which might or might not be happening.

May's project is socks again and fortunately it's not a portable sock project - too complex. So Mickael's socks are still riding around in my handbag and this is a stay at home project. These are the Rivendell socks from The Eclectic Sole (the sock pattern is available separately from the link as well - first picture on the top left). The yarn is Claudia's Hand Paints Fingering Merino in Country Kitchen (which is green). So far the pattern is going great and I'm liking how they look (all 2 inches of them). Also, another project that's not grey!

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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Changing an existing pattern to fit a different sized foot

Now that everyone understands how the different parts of a sock relate to one another it will be easier to adapt an existing pattern. Most sock patterns are made for women's feet. To be more precise, most sock patterns are made for what's called "average women's feet." Average US shoe size is about a 7.5 or 8 for women, so if you're bigger or smaller (or just wider or narrower), you might have to adapt a pattern. If you're knitting socks for a man or a child you might also have to adapt the pattern.

Before you can adapt a pattern however, you will need to figure out the stitch repeat used in that pattern. If you're adapting a stockinette stitch or 2/2 rib pattern, you can just follow the directions for the basic custom sock pattern given in the first part of this tutorial. If you are using a more complex pattern you'll have to know your stitch repeat before you can start changing sizes.

A stitch repeat is the number of stitches that any pattern has before it starts over again (repeats). For instance K2, P2 is a 4 stitch repeat - you work 4 stitches before you start again at the K2. K1, P2, K1 is also a 4 stitch repeat. K1, YO, Slip one, K2tog, pass slipped stitch over, YO, K1 is a 5 stitch repeat. P1, 2/2 Cable Right, P1 is a 6 stitch repeat. There is no limit to the number of stitches a repeat can have, but when you're changing sock sizes, the smaller the repeat, the easier it is to adapt. (I'll give suggestions below for working with bigger repeats, but make your first pattern adaptation easy on yourself by working with a smaller repeat.)

Once you've figured out how many stitches are in each repeat, you will use this to adjust your primary number ("A" in our sample pattern). For instance, if I need 88 stitches to fit a sock to Mickael's foot and the stitch pattern I'm using has a 4 stitch repeat, I can just plug the numbers straight into my sample pattern and start knitting. 4 goes into 88 evenly (22 times) so I work the sock on 88 stitches, the heel over 44 stitches, work toe decreases every other round until I have 44 stitches, and every round until I have 24 or 20 stitches (22 isn't divisible by 4 so I have to juggle this last number a bit). On the other hand, if I'm making a sock with a 6 stitch repeat for Mickael, I need to change my "A" number. 6 doesn't go into 88 evenly, but it does go into 90. In this case I'd cast on 90 stitches, but I'd have to juggle my heel/instep stitches a little. Theoretically I should have a 45 stitch heel flap and use 45 stitches for the instep, but then I would only have 7 full repeats plus 3 extra stitches on the instep. I need full repeats* for the instep so I should either use 48 stitches for the heel flap and save the other 42 for the instep OR I could use 42 stitches for the heel flap and save 48 for the instep. I'd make that decision based on how wide or narrow Mickael's heel is. I'd have to juggle the toe decreases in a similar manner (either 90 dec to 48 dec to 24 OR 90 dec to 42 dec to 20) and I'd use the shape of his foot to make that decision - the first set of numbers will be more comfortable for widely spaced toes while the second set would fit longer, more close together toes because there would be more rounds. At this point, since we understand the basic relationship between the parts of the socks, it's easy to juggle numbers a bit so that we can fit the sock around a certain stitch pattern as well as a particular foot shape.

There's one other thing to take into account when you're adjusting patterns and this also affects the instep/heel flap stitch division. Some patterns aren't balanced in a single repeat and need an extra stitch or two be balanced. For instance, if you knit a leg in K2, P2 rib and knit another leg in K1, P2, K1, your legs will look the same. When you divide for the instep/heel flap though, the first leg will have a K2 on one side of the instep and a P2 on the other side and be unbalanced. The second leg will give you a K1 on each side of the instep and will be balanced. On a simple pattern like a K2, P2, in order to balance the instep you can easily work one extra knit stitch before turning for the heel flap and turn your stitch pattern into a K1, P2, K1. Then you wouldn't have to adjust numbers. On a more complex pattern, you might need to add a few stitches to the instep in order to balance it. If my stitch repeat is P1, K1, YO, Sl 1, K2tog, psso, YO, K1 (a six stitch repeat), I would use a multiple of 6 plus 1 for the instep stitches. Do you see the P1 at the beginning of my repeat? There isn't one at the end of the repeat so there's only a single purl stitch between repeats. By putting one more purl stitch at the end of the instep stitches (not at the end of every repeat), I've balanced my instep and have a better looking sock. Let's use Mickael's imaginary 90 stitch sock for an example (although I think the stitch pattern I've made up might be a little lacy for him). I've decided to work the heel flap over 48 stitches and the instep over 42, but now I'm going to need 43 stitches for the instep in order to balance the stitch pattern. This leaves me 47 stitches for the heel flap. Taking one stitch away from the planned heel flap isn't a big deal, but if it bothers you, or if you take out more than one stitch, you could always increase evenly over the first row of heel flap (the WS purl row). When you get to the gussets, just decrease back down to whatever your "A" number is.

If you are trying to adapt a pattern with a large repeat and it's just not working with your yarn gauge and foot size, try looking for places you can expand or decrease the actual repeat count. For instance, if you're adapting a cabled sock pattern and the cable is 24 stitches wide and you need your sock to be 64 stitches around, you can work two repeats, but you'll have 16 stitches left over. The easy way to adjust this would be to add two "filler" stitch panels of 8 stitches each between the two cable repeats. Filler stitches can be anything from ribbing to seed stitch, a small cable or a simple lace pattern - anything small that can be adjusted to fit the space you need to fill. Occasionally you will find a stitch pattern that just won't adjust to a different size very well. Your option here is to find a different yarn and needle combination that will give you a different gauge or find another stitch pattern that gives you a similar look that's easier to adjust.

I've adapted the sample pattern from the first part of this exercise to include adjustments for stitch repeats.
  1. Make a gauge swatch and figure out how many stitches per inch you are getting. Use any yarn weight and needles of appropriate size. Write down your gauge here:_____Stitches per inch.
  2. Measure your foot (or the foot of the person who's getting these socks) around the ball of the foot (or the widest part). Foot measurement:______ Inches around.
  3. Multiply the number of stitches you are getting per inch by your foot measurement. Write that down here:_____.
  4. Now, there is an option at this point regarding ease. Some people like their socks to fit snugly - if that's you, multiply the number you just got by 90% or 0.90. If you don't want your socks to fit snugly, don't change anything. Write down your new number here or the same number from Step 3 depending on the choices you made:_____.
  5. You'll need to know how many stitches are in each pattern repeat ______. If your number from Step 4 is divisible by your stitch repeat number, you won't need to change anything. If it's not, you'll need to adjust the number from Step 4 either up or down to make it divisible by your stitch repeat. For instance, if your repeat is 6 and you have 88 stitches in Step 4, you can round up to 90 or down to 84 stitches. Write down your new number that's divisible by your repeat here:_____.
  6. The number in Step 5 is your primary number or "A." This is the number that all your other numbers will be related to. Anytime I refer to this number, I will call it "A" with the quotes and everything. If I say "1/2 of A", you'll need to divide "A" by 2. If I say "1/4 of A", you'll need to divide "A" by 4. Don't worry, it's pretty easy.
  7. Cast on "A" stitches and divide them evenly over 4 DPN's. (I know, after all that math you forgot we were even knitting socks, didn't you?)
  8. Join without twisting stitches and work the leg of your sock in your desired stitch pattern. You might have a cuff, you might not - use the pattern you are adapting and work the leg until it is the desired length before the heel flap.
  9. Now we'll start the heel flap. The heel flap will be worked over "1/2 of A" stitches. Here is the first place we might have to juggle our stitch count. Also remember that you might need to balance the stitch pattern on your instep stitches. Plan for this now (chart it out if it helps you to see it better). The other stitches not used in the heel flap will be held for the instep. Turn your work and work a WS row as follows: Slip 1, P remaining heel flap stitches. If you need to increase any stitches in the heel flap, work those increases evenly across this first row. Turn your work and *Slip 1, Knit 1, rep from * to end of heel flap stitches. You've now worked 2 rows of the heel flap. Continue working these two rows until you've worked "1/2 of A" rows total in the heel flap, ending with a RS row. Make sure you end with a RS row here even if that means you work one more or one less than "1/2 of A" rows - you want to work an even number of rows in the heel flap for the rest of the directions to work.
  10. Start the heel turn as follows. (WS row) Slip 1, P 1/2 of the heel flap stitches (the total number of stitches on your right needle after this step will be 1/2 of the heel flap stitches plus 1), P2tog, P1, turn. Next row (RS) Slip 1, K3, SSK, K1, turn.
  11. Now that the heel turn is begun, you'll complete it as follows. WS rows: Turn, Sl 1, P to 1 stitch before the gap (there's a little gap between the stitches you've already worked in the heel turn and those waiting to be worked), end P2tog, P1. RS Rows: Turn, Sl 1, K to 1 stitch before the gap, end SSK, K1. Continue repeating these two rows until you've picked up and worked all the stitches from the heel flap.
  12. Divide the heel stitches over 2 needles. With the needle on the left (the one with the working yarn on it, pick up and knit stitches along the side of the heel flap, down to the joint between heel flap and instep stitches. It's more important to pick up enough stitches so you don't have holes here than it is to pick up a specific number of stitches. Work across the instep stitches in your stitch pattern, working any additional balancing stitches. Then pick up stitches along the other side of the heel flap. Try to get the same number of stitches you did the first time, but if you get one more or one less, you can just work an extra decrease on the side with the extra stitch later. Extra decreases aren't noticeable, holes are, so pick up what you need to not leave holes. Knit across the heel stitches and then back across the first gusset stitches. You will have completed this round when the working yarn is between the gusset stitches on the right and the first needle of instep stitches on the left. (New rounds begin with the instep stitches.)
  13. Work one round even. Keep instep stitches in pattern and keep heel and gusset stitches in stockinette.
  14. Decrease round - Work instep stitches in pattern. Heel/gusset stitches should be worked as K1, SSK, K to last 3 stitches of round, end K2tog, K1.
  15. Work the previous two rounds (decreasing every other round) until your total stitch count is "A" again. If you have an extra stitch on one side or the other, on the final decrease round, only decrease on that one side to get your stitch count back to "A." At this point you might not have the same number of stitches on each needle, particularly if you divided the heel flap and instep stitches unevenly. Before you begin the toe decreases, it's crucial that you have the same number of stitches on each needle and that the instep stitches are centered over the first two needles of the round. If you can't just shift stitches around to do this, consider working a couple of rounds of stockinette before starting toe decreases or work an additional decrease on the last round before toe decreases. (I've done this when I have an odd number of stitches on my instep. For example, if I have 33 stitches on the instep and 32 stitches on the sole, I'll decrease one extra stitch somewhere in the pattern on my last round of the pattern, then make sure I've got 16 stitches on each needle and the instep is centered over the first and second needles of the round before starting toe decreases.)
  16. Work even until the foot of the sock reaches the point between your big toe and it's neighbor (where a flip flop would go).
  17. Begin Toe Decreases. (If you're working the top of the foot in rib, you'll switch to stockinette for the toe.) Decrease Round: K1, SSK, K to last 3 stitches of instep, K2tog, K1, (sole of sock) K1, SSK, knit to last 3 stitches of sole, K2tog, K1. You've just decreased 4 stitches in this round.
  18. Work one round even.
  19. Continue alternating the Decrease Round with an even round until you have "1/2 of A" stitches left.
  20. Work the Decrease Round only until you have "1/4 of A" stitches left (you might need to tweak this number a bit if "1/4 of A" isn't divisible by 4.) Get as close as you can to "1/4 of A" in this type of situation.
  21. Kitchener Stitch the toe closed.
Again, any comments on what you'd like to see added to this tutorial would be great. I will include chart examples of stitch patterns and show how to balance them in the pdf but I didn't have time to work them all up for the blog post. Let me know if there's anything else sock related that you'd like me to cover and I'll see what I can do!

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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

New Project, And It's Not Grey!

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I realized last week that between Snowbird (grey), Mickael's socks (grey), and Taygete (grey and ivory), I had a lot of grey projects. I love grey, but it was probably making for a pretty monochromatic blog. Since I finished up Snowbird, I had a cardigan spot in my projects so I started a new one!

This is the Austin Hoodie and I'm making it in Peruvian Baby Cashmere in the Claret colorway. I'm also using some new needles. I got a set of Hiya Hiya interchangeables (I got the 4 inch needle length in the small size). I've been using Knit Picks needles and while I like the cables, and I think the sets are OK, there have been some issues with them, both in the quality and where my personal knitting style and the needles didn't play well together. Knit Picks has a soft, flexible cable, but I find that using the 40 inch or longer, I end up fighting it because it tries to twist on me. I've been reading up on some of the different needle sets on Ravelry and while there doesn't seem to be any one, perfect set for everyone (there are pros and cons for every brand of interchangeables, you just have to find what works for you), I thought the Hiya Hiya's were worth a try. They start at a size 2, the joins seem very smooth, and the cables are soft AND they have a swivel. This means I won't have to fight them in the longer lengths. You can buy additional needle tips and cables individually as well as in the sets, which come in size 2-8 for the small size and 9-15 for the large size. In addition to the needle widths, you can choose between two tip lengths, either 4 inch or 5 inch. You get the same set of cables regardless of needle tip length so if you get the 4 inch tips (which I did), you end up with 16, 24, 32, and 40 inch needles. If you get the 5 inch tips you'll have 18, 26, 34, and 42 inch needles. Hiya Hiya is apparently coming out with bamboo tips this summer (the original sets are steel) and a "pointy" set later in the year (for lace). What you see in the picture above is the extent of my knitting with these new needles, but so far I'm happy with them. This yarn is very soft and I think I would notice any issues with the needle cables if I was having any (circular cable issues are a major pet peeve of mine and the reason I used straights for years). I'll let you know how I feel about them after I've done more, but so far these seem to be working well for me.

Just a note here, needle choice is a very personal thing - from material type, tip length, cable type and joints. There is no one set of needles that is going to fill everyone's needs. Mostly it just takes trial and error to figure out what works best for your particular needs. If you use Knit Picks and you're happy with them, by all means, stick with them. We're fortunate that in the last few years there are more and better quality interchangeable sets available, each with different pros and cons.

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Monday, May 02, 2011

Taygete

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I've finished striping! I've also had a great yarn moment. The ivory (Dream in Color Smooshy in Crying Dove) was a big 100 gram skein but the grey (The Loopy Ewe Solid Series in Dove) comes in smaller, 50 gram skeins. I had bought two of the grey skeins to do my Taygete and had planned on just adding the second skein in the striped section when I ran out of the first skein. Do you see the little swirl of grey yarn? About 14 inches long? That's the end of the first skein. Yes, I was able to do the entire striped section of Taygete, following the directions as the pattern is written, in a single skein of The Loopy Ewe's yarn! I'm sure you can imagine the happy dance that took place here over the weekend. Logan even brought me the bathmat to help out with the celebration (didn't really need the bathmat to celebrate but Logan's a little crazy). I'm now on the lace section which is moving pretty quickly.

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