May 14, 2009

Circle of life

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:30 am by Pink

Cheesy title, I know, but it’s really where I am right now.

My grandpa died two days ago–maybe yesterday–to be honest, my sense of time is very off right now.

What I’ve found best, and most healing, right now, is knitting and working on projects like that. Creative things, with a definite end goal and definite steps. It’s very helpful. A good friend of mine had a baby a week and a half ago–healthy baby boy, Elijah–so I’ve been working on a hat for him. I’m about 90% of the way done; I’m just trying to figure out how to do the edging, if any.

January 12, 2009

Friendly advice (that stuck!)

Posted in story tagged , , , , at 8:33 am by Pink

I used to knit very, very tightly–so tightly that, in fact, I would usually go up three needle sizes just to match gauge (on the very rare occasion that I checked it). My stitches would be so tight, in fact, that I would have to brace my needles and use both hands just to get the needle into a stitch to knit.

About two years ago, when I had just started knitting again, I used to knit on the bus all the time, especially to and from appointments or shopping trips since the rides would be significantly longer.

Well, one day, I was particularly struggling with my yarn on the bus. Just as she was getting off, a woman came over, touched my knitting very gently with one hand, smiled kindly and said, “Honey, don’t strangle the yarn. Work with it”–then she got off the bus.

I never saw her again, but since I believe that what goes around comes around: thank you very much, ma’am–ever since then, I’ve made an active effort to not strangle the yarn, and every time I hit a particularly tight stitch–every time–I remind myself to work with the yarn and not strangle it. My gauge and knitting has improved by leaps and bounds since that one day.

January 11, 2009

Yarn reclamation continues

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:42 am by Pink

The green sweater is now fully frogged and balled–I’m gradually skeining it and washing them gently in hot water to dekink them. I’m not really sure how well it’s working.

I made one mistake: I sort of forgot that, ah, cotton shrinks in heat. Oops. I took the green yarn, soaked it in hot water, wrung it out since it’s sturdy enough to withstand it and I’m not worried about felting, then tried to stretch it back over the rack I was using. SHOCKINGLY, it was now too small, so I settled for resting it on the diagonal to dry until I can figure out some way to stretch it so it unkinks itself.

What I really need is either a circle with a crank that expands/contracts its radius, or something built in the shape of a compass (the kind you use to draw circles), with flat arms at the end of the angle-lines so that as you increase/decrease the angle, the distance between the vertical arms increases/decreases respectively, so that I can put yarn on it then expand it until it’s gently stretched straight. I’m not sure if something like that even really exists.

I wonder if I can find two, like, heavily weighted paper towel holders to stretch it between.

I started trying to frog the orange sweater, but the seams are awful and the yarn is far more fragile than it appeared, so I think I’m going to end up sewing it onto a pillow or something and cutting the seams. It’s just not worth the effort, which is sad, because the color and texture is stunning.

Mystery beret shenanigans

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:40 am by Pink

My biggest projects of late have been making Merets (Ravelry link).

The first one I made was dark green with a light pink trim, and I seriously, SERIOUSLY overestimated how large my head was, so it’s kind of saggy and droopy. 😦 I’m pretty disappointed. I cast on for the large, which was obviously the mistake.

I started a second one which is going much, much better–this one is made out of a deep purple Irish wool cake that a friend’s mother gave me, knowing that I’d be able to use it, and use it happily. This time I cast on for the small since it’s a bulky yarn, and it’s going splendidly–I’m really looking forward to when it’s done. I’ll be working a few extra repeats of the pattern as well for the sake of slouchiness.

January 10, 2009

Recycling yarn

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:00 pm by Pink

I went to Goodwill today with my boyfriend to look for random stuff–it occurred to me, then, that this might be the time to try looking for sweaters in colors and textures I like to gank the yarn from.

I ended up buying 5 sweaters, $4 each: two to wear, three to unravel.

Sweater #1 is light green, a 40% cotton/60% acrylic blend, and about halfway frogged.

It’s all handknit so once I can undo the seams–the person who seamed this was AMAZINGLY thorough, to the buyer’s pleasure and my annoyance!–unraveling it is relatively simple. It’s (was?) an extra-large and full of cables, so there’s a lot of yarn to be harvested.

Sweater #2 is a burnt orange, 100% acrylic, and terribly, terribly soft. I tried to get a picture of it, but the color is really, really hard to capture, so all the pictures were crap. It’s kind of close to this color, however.

Sweater #3… sweater #3 was an incredibly lucky find. It is the most stunning pale robin’s egg blue, 58% silk, 29% nylon, 13% angora.

I’m not 100% sure whether the seams are handknit or not, so I’ll have to figure that out before I try ripping it apart, but we’ll see.

January 5, 2009

Horizontal cables (study–pic heavy)

Posted in patterns tagged , , , , , , , at 12:54 pm by Pink

Still playing with the horizontal cables. (Part 1 is here.)

I do think the best effect is created by *slip 1 kw, do weird k2tog on other needle, remove right needle, slip 1st stitch pw, k1* for the horizontal cabling stitch. This allows you to just purl across the back, and while the stitches are certainly tighter than normal, it eliminates the gap. The best contrast, I believe, is achieved with a horizontal cable–any number of rows–done over stockinette, since otherwise the top and bottom of the cable can blend into the purls on either side of it.

The first thing I did today was play with curves: I wanted to replicate the top half of a circle using each stitch curving over, not by simply vertically cabling over then just deciding to do a horizontal one–I wanted something continuous.


It’s far from perfect, but I think the effect works well. The top arch in the image is simply a one stitch cable; the bottom one is two stitches wide, which becomes two rows tall at the peak. I did this without any vertical cabling, only decreases and increases and horizontal cables, because I think the curves produced are more attractive.

curvewarrows Here’s a version with arrows to show how exactly I did the knitting: the arrows in purple show the two ribs that I then–in red–SSK and added stitches to in order to produce the curve, then using the HC technique described above, cabled over to the second rib, where I then HCabled BACKWARDS across the needle (blue), stranded my yarn across in back to the point where I began the backwards cable, then did a bunch of bizarre increases and decreases (the blue/red squiggle) to get it to look right. I haven’t the faintest idea what I actually did there.

Once I was satisfied with that–it’s not elegant but it works, I’llhave to experiment with it more–I realized that I should probably get settled with single stitch/row cables before I start trying two. I tried brainstorming some patterns that would have nice, sharp angles but still go all over the place, and then I realized that a traditional Greek keys pattern would be perfect for this, plus actually attractive.

Here’s what I ended up with:


I’m happy with how it came out, although the knitting itself isn’t all that great–it’s cheap yarn that I’ve frogged about ten thousand times, and I was more worried about getting the pattern and stitches right than the overall composition.

The lower right-hand corner shows the curving technique for making a vertical stitch into horizontal–that’s just a basic SSK which right before I made a new purl for. Nothing terribly exciting. Contrast it with a repeat up, in the upper right, where I did a sharp turn that I think looks much better for this particular pattern.

greek2arrows Here’s the same image as the above, only with arrows to show the direction each part was knit it. (1) is the curvey bend, and (2) and (3) represent creating a horizontal cable out of nowhere and stopping it similarly. I’m not 100% sure how I managed it, but I think it was a KFB for (2) and a SSK for (3), but I can’t be sure. Maybe I should start writing this down as I do it.

For this pattern, unlike the arches I did above, I didn’t cable backwards at all, although I probably should’ve topologically. It creates an awful, awful wrongside, however, since I do it so awkwardly and in pseudo-short rows, so I just didn’t this time.

The piece is, in reality, an even rectangle with garter edges. You can’t tell because this image was taken with my computer’s built-in webcam, which means awkward angles like whoa.

January 4, 2009

Horizontal cables

Posted in patterns, stitches tagged , , , , , , at 1:23 pm by Pink

So what have I been working on madly the past day or so?

Cabling. Horizontal cabling, to be specific.

Vertical cables–which make up 99.999999999999% of what you’ll ever see–are done by literally rearranging stitches on the needle to cross columns over. The most basic cable is two sets of stitches interchanged–the result line slopes at 45 degrees, since you move one stitch over one (or two stitches over two, etc.) A single cable motion in a row has a height of one, so the farther over you move it, the flatter the slope gets (closer to 0). So one stitch moved over two stitches would create a “line” of slope 1/2 (rise over run, remember?), etc.

For example:

Every single cable there is vertical.

Now, although you could theoretically/mathematically move a stitch over an infinite number of stitches, you can only go so far in reality without causing crazy things to happen. If you could move it over an infinite number of stitches, you’d be able to get a horizontal cable, since 1/∞ = 0, more or less.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I sure as hell can’t move a stitch over an infinite number of stitches, especially since one doesn’t usually want the stitch to move WAY the hell to other side of the room!

Horizontal cables represent a limit. They just aren’t done. However, if you’re doing a circle, or any sort of curve that starts off going up then begins to go down, you’re going to have to do something for the part where the very top/bottom of the circle is flat. (If we were crocheting, this wouldn’t be an issue!) The issue is, of course, that knitting is worked almost wholly unidirectionally, so barring magical entrelac-ness and the ability to rearrange ROWS of stitches, you can’t cable horizontally.

You can’t cable horizontally: unless, of course, you’re DragonCrafter, whose LJ I’ve referenced about ten million times. She not only explained the magical SSP decrease I wanted so badly, but she has crocheted River’s vest from “Objects in Space,” and is overall just freaking INCREDIBLE. Being brilliant, she came up with a method to cable horizontally.

Her directions work for one direction, one row of cabling. I’ve played with them and worked on how to expand it into multiple rows to match a multiple-stitch cable, but all the original credit goes to her. I just ran with it.

Here’s what I ended up with:

What I did to create the extra rows of horizontal cables was a lot of trial and error. First, I tried just purling across the WS then doing the horizontal cables on the RS, but that didn’t work (unsurprisingly).

I tried then to replicate it on the WS by purling, but I’m really, really, REALLY bad at rotating things in my brain.

It occurred to me, then, that the answer was glaringly obvious: just reverse all the directions and knit backwards! DUH! I also played with the original directions–instead of KFB, I do a M1T when I’m knitting normally, and a M1A when I knit backwards.

In my opinion, it also looks best if you start the cable with a backwards row, end on a normal row, and then do… something on the next WS. I haven’t determined what. (The “top” horizontal cable is an example of my variations.)

So, there you go. Horizontal cables! Still haven’t cracked how to do the WS row after it, but that’s my next project.

ETA: Figured out how to do the WS and other stuff! More is posted in part 2, here.

December 31, 2008

Pretzels and Popcorn Scarf

Posted in patterns, Uncategorized tagged , , , at 12:21 am by Pink

So this is a scarf I came up with after playing with patterns in the Vogue cables stitchionary.

Hey, read me first!

  • Stitch numbers may be broken up oddly–e.g., k5, k5 instead of k10–that’s for no other reason than for how my brain organizes patterns. If you see something like that, it’s (probably) not a typo and just part of my brain tumblings.
  • The entire pattern is written for use without a cable needle. I can’t use them, they confuse the hell out of me, so I don’t. Cables are, in my brain, nothing more than sliding stitches off the needle and rearranging them back on in a certain orientation. The way I do cables is this:
    1. Look at the cable you want to do. Let’s use this one ( Not a chart, not the pattern, literally an image, if you have one.
    2. Remember that cables are just rearranged stitches. Look at your image. You see that the left cord is crossed over the right cord.
    3. Think about where you want the stitches to end up. In our example, we want the left stitches crossing on top of the right stitches.
    4. Take the stitches to be cabled off the left needle. So, for a cable made up of 6 stitches, you’d remove all six.
    5. Put the 3 rightmost stitches–the ones that were closest to the tip of the needle–back onto the left needle.
    6. Put the 3 leftmost stitches onto the left needle now, so that they’re on top of the right stitches.
    7. Knit all 6 stitches. Voila! You’ve just done a “six-stitch right front-cross cable.”
    8. Show off all your fancy stitches.
  • The pattern is symmetrical, everything should be in sets of two or even numbers (which really are just sets of two anyways!), except the middle stitch, which will always be a purl OR a bobble.
  • All cables use cords/columns/whatevers of 2 stitches. Every cable is 4 stitches wide of 2 2-stitch pieces, either KK or PP. If it’s not, something’s wrong.

Funky stitches used
(Between you and me, I don’t use these, I just look at the picture and do what looks right. For the visual purposes, x’s are purls, k’s are knits, capitals are in front.)
RFP: Take the next four stitches off the needle, and put the 2 purls back on the needle first and the 2 knits on in front of them. K2P2. pp/KK [vertically-symmetric opposite of LFP]
LFP: Take the next four stitches off the needle, and put the 2 knits back on the needle first and the 2 purls on it behind them. P2K2. KK\pp [vertically-symmetric opposite of RFP]RK: Take the next four stitches off the needle, and arrange the stitches such that the 2 right knits are behind the 2 left stitches. K4. kk/KK [vertically-symmetric opposite of LK]
LK: Take the next four stitches off the needle, and arrange the stitches such that the 2 right knits are on top of the 2 left stitches. K4. KK\kk [vertically-symmetric opposite of RK]

MB: Knit into front, then back, then front of same stitch. You should now have 3 stitches on your right needle. Turn, p3. Turn, k3. Turn, p3. Turn, SSSK (slip all 3 stitches onto the right needle, insert left needle into front of loops, knit all together).

K#: Knit # stitches.
P#: Purl # stitches.

Pattern repeat
Cast-on: 45 stitches, long-tail cast-on ( I did 3 rows straight knit after the cast-on, just for neatness sake, but they’re not necessary by any means.

0 (WS): k4, k5, p4, k2, p2, [k11], p2, k2, p4, k5, k4
A little overexplanation: The K4 at the beginning and end of this row sets up your border. Knit stitches set up your background, purls set up your cable cords. This made a big difference to me in understanding the pattern, so I figured I’d pass it on.
1 (RS–all odd rows are RS): k3, p2, p2, RFP, LFP, k2, [p11], k2, RFP, LFP, p2, p2, k3
2 and all WS rows after: k5, “make stockinette” across [anytime the stitch is a bump, purl; anytime it’s smooth and looks like stockinette, knit. (This means any stitch you purled on the RS you knit on the WS and vice versa)], k5.
3: k3, p2, RFP, p4, LK, [p11], RK, p4, LFP, p2, k3
5: k3, p2, k2, p4, RFP, LFP, [p7], RFP, LFP, p4, k2, p2, k3
7: k3, p2, LFP, RFP, p4, LFP, [p3], RFP, p4, LFP, RFP, p2, k3
9: k3, p2, p2, RK, p8, k2, [p3], k2, p8, LK, p2, p2, k
11: k3, p2, RFP, LFP, p4, RFP, [p3] , LFP, p4, RFP, LFP, p2, k3
13: k3, p2, k2, p4, LFP, RFP, [p7], LFP, RFP, p4, k2, p2, k3
15: k3, p2, LFP, p4, LK, [p5, MB in next stitch, p5], RK, p4, RFP, p2, k3
17: k3, p2, p2, LFP, RFP, k2, [p11], k2, LFP, RFP, p2, p2, k3
19: k3, p2, p4, RK, RFP, [p5, MB in next stitch, p5], LFP, LK, p4, p2, k3
21: k3, p2, p4, k2, LK, [p15], RK, k2, p4, p2, k3
23: k3, p2, p4, RK, LFP, [p5, MB in next stitch, p5], RFP, LK, p4, p2, k3

December 30, 2008

Increases and decreases

Posted in math, stitches at 7:01 pm by Pink

For my own (and other knitters’) reference:

So, as most of you have probably figured out, purling is literally the same thing as knitting, just from the “wrong” side. (You can, in fact, just learn to knit with the needles opposite–not quite the same as knitting left-handed–and never need to turn your work.)

In order to get that smooth “v” stitch that everyone thinks of when they think of knit, you actually need to alternate rows of knits and purls (assuming you’re doing this flat). So a knit/purl combo (and I’m talking a knit row then a purl row, not a knit stitch next to a purl stitch) is essentially (or is, really) a bunch of intertwined loops–knit pulls the loop up from the back, and purl pulls the loop up from the front, so if you do one on each side, the loop gets pulled all one one side and is nice and smooth like one usually thinks of knitting.

Since knitting is done down one row and then back along that same row–and, sorry lefties, but we’re assuming that we’re right-handed here for the moment (your yarn hand doesn’t matter–if it’s in your left hand that’s Continental/German, right hand is English/American, the needle that is doing the “active” knitting is always the right one)–decreasing stitches, since you’re eliminating one, are going to slant. They just are, it’s part of their nature. Since stitches are moved from the left needle to the right needle, if you decrease by doing a straight up knit-two-stitches-together (K2tog), you’re going to end up with a stitch that slants to the right, since you’re coming from the left and pulling the loop towards the right.

Now, to REPLICATE that stitch on the “wrong” side–the purl side of stockinette–it’s easy to know what to do. You purl-two-stitches-together (P2tog), since purl is the same as knit and you’re going the opposite direction so it ends up. Purl decreases are weird, because they slant one way as you watch, but appear on the “right” side the opposite way since they’re just knitting backwards.

So what I’m trying to say is a K2tog = P2tog, and you get the same thing–it’s fabulous and looks lovely and they match up quite well. These are your most basic decreases. If you’re doing it in the middle of a piece, it doesn’t matter too much–if you’re decreasing on edges, though, it gets really obvious and really important really fast.

So, K2Tog and P2Tog slant to the right. Awesomesauce! The obvious question is this: how do we slant to the left?

For knitting, there are a number of options–the most standard is SSK, which is slip two stitches as if two knit, then pop the left needle in front of those stitches and knit through the back loop. (I prefer SSK-improved, which is the same, except for the second slipped stitch you slip purlwise. It lies a little flatter.)

Now, how does one replicate this on the purl side? The literal answer is that since we want to do the purl/backwards version of a SSK, we want to PSS–which would be purl, then… slip two stitches with… absolutely no consequence. It doesn’t work. All you’re doing at that point is passing stitches back and forth and not decreasing at all. You can purl 2 together through the back loop, but that twists the yarn and it gets fucked up and messy and I don’t like it as a match for SSK since, well… it just doesn’t match!

In my anal retentive quest for symmetry and obsession with topology as it relates to pretty fiber, I went in search of its match: and, through the wonders of Google and LJ, I found it!

The match to SSK is SSP tbl–slip slip purl through back loop. Slip two stitches knitwise, insert left needle as if to SSK, remove right needle, then purl those two stitches through the back loop. Since we slipped them first, it twists them correctly, and we get a stunning opposite. WHOO! GO Dragoncrafter