Perfect Shuffle Scarf

Perfect Shuffle Scarf
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Designed by Rachel Bishop at Math Scarves. The pattern is based on a "perfect shuffle", a shuffle that perfectly interleaves the cards. Do it enough times, and the cards will return to the original configuration - the "enough times" is represented by the number of caston stitches in the scarf. Certain cards will group together, and are represented by the same color - modular arithmetic provides the logic behind the groupings. Rachel provides the full explanation under What is a perfect shuffle?.

I think this is very exciting, since I love the underlying pattern behind the Fibonacci sequence, but this is really only a means to grade two colors. I do not find the practice of rotating different colors within the Fibonacci sequence to use more colors to be emotionally satisfying (or a true Fibonacci sequence - and it is not based on modular arithmetic, either). I have a lot of green yarn in worsted and DK weight with different shades and textures, that I think would work well in a scarf like this. Instructions to knit your own perfect scarf. Alas, *.exe files will not run on the mac, so I will be using old fashioned pencil and paper.

It is also exciting since Rachel's was the first request to be added to the geeky knitting section. So she gets the first geeky knitting update - several more in (hopefully) the near future. The good news is that geeky knitting is burgeoning on the web; the bad is that it might not be possible to archive it all. When I first started a year ago, I did extensive searches and felt pretty confident that I got nearly all the available material. Now I feel that I am barely scratching the surface. But, overall that is a good thing - better too much geek knitting than not enough.

Where the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few...

I like having the stash flash, since it is a great way to take inventory and compare with previous years. So, the entire photo acts as a nice mnemonic for me. But, I know you all are in it for the pr0n, so enjoy:

Yarn Pr0n, past and present

Flash Your Stash 2006

Click! for annotated photo
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Well, it still fits on a tabletop! Note the only overlap from last year is the Jamieson's DK - and I only recently got the rest of the order, so I have an excuse.

I have yarn for:
4 garments or shawls (likely two of each)
4 pair socks
2 felted bags
1 pair felted clogs
5 smaller projects

Breakdown on skein content:
24 wool
15 wool or mohair / silk blends
7 silk (more, if you consider the cone)
5 alpaca
3 petroyarns
2 bamboo

Again, click through on the picture for annotations on yarn type and project plans. Also, a big thank you to jpknits (SP4), Weaselrina (SP5), and ak_swedegirl (RAK) - their yarn is from the center to the southeast quadrant (15 skeins total).

Detailed photos and annotations on most everything that has travelled through my stash on the Yarn Stash Set.

For book pr0n: LibraryThing Catalog.

My sister's Windy City Scarf

Windy City Scarf
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
I've finally gotten a photo of my sister's first completed project, a Windy City scarf from the first SnB. Just like mine, only without the twisted stitches and fibonacci sequence. Someday I will catch her with the beautiful cables she has been working on in her current three projects.

Things not appearing in the sidebar, part I

Two-color brioche scarves
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Obviously the sidebar projects are *long* out of date. What I've learned: I'm not a big fan of felting. Too much after-project work.

I've also discovered that I like playing with color. The two-color brioche scarves are even better than the shadow shawls, since they knit up so much more quickly. The one on the left was the first one that I knit, thought it would work well for one of my aunts. That opened Pandora's box to doing two more for my other aunts. The one in the middle I'm a bit uncertain about - it is "striking" - how many people want a striking scarf? I am also going to be working on a scarf for an aunt on the other side of the family - I can always gift that one instead of the striking scarf and make another.

Secondary result of knitting scarves for aunts - I've had numerous offers to become an adopted niece!
Autumn brioche scarfGreen-blue brioche scarf

Knitted DNA redux

Knit DNA
Yes, I've heard all of the criticisms: the twist is backwards, not the right offset between the two coils, not enough base pairs per twist... But really this trumps all objections - you recognize instantly what it is.

Guts, gut persuasion

Knitted digestive system
Why yes, I have seen the knitted digestive system that has been taking the 'net by storm. Probably, so has everyone else. But I'm updating the geeky knitting section, so this is going in too. I'm also starting to put in thumbnails - I don't want to step on any copyrighted toes, but small photos fall under fair use, and the illustrations really add to the link collection.

Here at Chez Arcadia, it's all about the presents.

Sophie bag and TJ chocolate
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
The knitting entry? Below? A thinly veiled attempt to fool you into thinking we actually still knit around here. When really, it's all about the presents.

Here we have an incredibly cute Sophie bag, made by my downstream Knitty SP4 pal, becmclaughlin. She is very tricky, since I had already seen the bags on her flickr photostream (here and here). You can even see the original yarn on her blog.

The inside of the bag even has a cute liner:
Sophie bag inside

Plus, two bars of chocolate from the elusive TJ's (when are they going to make it out here? I am waiting with open arms!).

Shadow Shawl close-up

Shadow Shawl close-up
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
A close-up of the shadow shawl combo. I started this two and a half weeks ago, when we took the cat to the kitty hospital. I've gotten 7 of the 10 stripes done (75 stitches wide), so I'm almost 1/8 of the way through the shawl. I thought I'd show an artistic close-up, since I'm going to be doing this for quite awhile.

New shadow shawl colors

New shadow shawl colors
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Here is the unskeined yarn. I exchanged the green / brown combo for a green / blue one, since my sister wasn't sure about brown as a neutral. I was sad about exchanging the cone of Euroflax for two skeins - 20% less yarn and fifty cents more. I helped sell the yarn I returned to Ana of Ana purls. She's moving soon, so I'll have to see how her combo turns out on her blog. She has the start here. I really like both of the combos a lot, but the green / blue one works better for my sister.

DNA cable in black

DNA swatch
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Huh, it actually looks better than life in the photo. Knit in Araucania Nature Wool on size 8 needles. It was very wide, almost 7". And the purled bonds were blending into one large sea of reverse stockinette. The fabric was also stiffer than I wanted. I could have gone up to size 9 needles, but it was already wider than I wanted. At that point, I bailed and went for the Twisted Sister's Jazz. Thought I should document it for my growing DNA yarn substitution infopost.

Why my sister needs DPNs

Originally uploaded by thomasina.
My sister made this lovely newborn set for a baby shower at work. I hope it was properly appreciated, and this does not discourage her from gifting hand knit items.

She knit the hat flat, and then needed to seam it together. DPNs, I can help with. Seaming, not so much. She needed to go in for help on that.

She's also finished the cabled scarf, and just needs to weave in ends. Also need to get photos of the Windy City scarf. And she's just started on Toddle, a kid's scarf from Knitty. The advantage of two knitters in the house: more stuff to feed the blog.

Knitty SP5 - gifts for my sister

Knitty SP5 for my sister
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Wow. Just wow. I had hoped that I wasn't being too skeevy, asking to share my Knitty SP gifts with my sister. She has had a rough road this year, and it just got tougher after the SP round started. I was lucky enough to be matched up with an extremely generous SP that did not mind sending some things to my sister, too.

She sent my sister a whole package to herself, and says there is another on the way for me - really, too much, I'm thinking.

I am really just overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness of the gifts for a new knitter. Two projects, a felted bag and hats, to try knitting in the round and fulling. Lots and lots of the yummiest yarn, Elsebeth Lavold's AL Chunky, in night sky - poised at that moment of blue-violet before the sky tips to black. And bi-colored Cascade 220, in black and plum. Not to mention, top-of-the-line knitting needles to make the projects - Crystal Palace DPNs and Addi Turbos. And the notions, perfect for a beginning knitter and fills in the gaps in my collection. Now that two of us are ransacking the needles, we really needed a needle sizer, which I don't have. Not to mention, we are both about to be embarking on project where gauge actually matters! And the measuring tape - that is the one item that we have been stealing back and forth. (Also, my nephew has been getting a kick out of measuring his body parts - silly boy.) Rounded out with a bottle of Eucalan.

I already have designs on begging my sister to knit me one of the cabled hats. Plus, I'm sure that she will enjoy the turnabout of being the magnanimous one lending out her needles - the Addis would be perfect for a small fair isle knitted bag that has been percolating in the back of my head (okay, really stagnating at swatching in the sidebar). One thing I've discovered, fair isle is a bear on DPNs.

We are working on an extra package downstream, since there is a budding knitter in the family there, too. Somehow that feels the best way to repay our SP (until her identity is revealed, that is!).

And in other news, I am keeping my fingers crossed that our crises are exponentially decreasing. This weekend, we only had a cat throwing up blood, and a trip to the emergency pet hospital, and I escaped with 2/3 of my paycheck intact. And I counted it a good week, relatively speaking. Pics to follow of the shawl that was started at the vet's.

Additional spotlight on the AL Chunky, 50% wool, 50% llama, 100% buttery softness:
Elsebeth Lavold Chunky AL
The actual color shades a bit more towards violet than seen in the photos.

Airplane hat

Second Fair Isle Hat
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Missing a connection and 12 hours travel time = one almost completed fair isle hat. Hat #2 has a larger proportion of light green, matched with yellow as the foreground color. The diamonds are mixed up a bit, and I went up a needle size to #5 to see how that changed gauge. Oh, and I did one fewer diamond, to make more of a cap than a deep hat, since the first hat pulled down too low for me. I will be overstitching two rows, but the colors are basically okay. (Of course I would do a slightly different iteration if i did it again, but I don't think I'm going to.)

Finished first fair isle hat, which my sister has claimed (she has the long hair to pull off an over-the-ears look):
First fair isle hat

Just-in-time blogging...

Knitty SP5 loot
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
...since the second package is on its way. Here in all its glory is the first package from my mysterious upstream SP for Knitty SP5. A weatherpixie mug - oversized for extra coffee in the morning! Knit by numbers and Designing cables (cables! yum!), and SnB Nation (cabled newsboy hat! yum!). Two skeins of silky wool in a lovely denim-y blue, and a gorgeous dark pink Fiesta La Luz in champagne (complete with lizard oversight):
Fiesta La Luz

Plus a Flying Spaghetti Monster sticker, which was inside the card. Now I have been enlightened, that when I was watching the results roll off the accelerator mass spectrometer, it was not the thrill of acquiring data after months of work that I was feeling. No! Verily I was touched by his noodly appendage, which must have been changing the count rate as I was watching.

And part of my failure to blog these was worry that by praising one SP, the other would feel slighted. Silly, I know, but it really created a bit of cognative dissonance to have SP5 follow so closely on the heels of SP4. It helps that both packages are wonderful, yet so different - interesting on how my SPs pick up on different parts of my personality.

Coming to you courtesy of jpknits

Originally uploaded by thomasina.
A very belated appreciation post for the wonderful jpknits, my upstream SP for Knitty SP4. The kitchen table is clean, and the thank-you gift has been mailed, so I can start playing with the yarn with a clear conscience. The only thing not pictured is the Tom Stoppard book The Real Inspector Hound and Other Plays, which was instantly devoured, and currently resides on that large flat storage area beside the bed that some people quaintly refer to as a 'floor.'

A closeup of the incredible socks:
I feel so special when wearing these. I want to wear them literally all the time, but I am afraid of wearing them out. We take our shoes off when visiting here in the cold northlands, so I always make sure to wear them on visits. And for presentations or other slightly stressful situations where I need a bit of a pick-me-up.

A special highlight of the hanks: a triad of green.
Triad of greens
Such an appreciation of greens - I was so lucky to have a viridisophile for my SP. I am thinking a DNA hat - the band in Miracle and the top (with cabled chromosomes) in Wings. Somehow, the thick wool/llama Monteza keeps telling me "gloves." And o, the silk Artfibers Golden Chai; I am thinking a modular or slipstitch scarf, with black, like stained glass windows.

Oh, and the best part? Each gift came with a note! View closeups with the notes, along with all my other packages (and a few to my downstream SP4, becmclaughlin), on my Knitty SP4 photoset.

The internet is a funny place

DNA closeup

I get about 20-30 hits a day from searches (the background level when life takes over from blogging). I am always curious to see what people are searching for, and whether they have a hope of actually finding it here. Sometimes I know the answer, but it is not in the blog, and there is no way to communicate the knowledge. I could write a new entry with the information, but there is very little chance of the person finding it. That's just not how things work.

There was a person searching for yarn substitutions for the DNA scarf today. It is too bad that they didn't wait a day, since I've found my favorite yarn yet. My first scarf, the Plymouth Baby Alpaca, didn't have enough stitch definition - it was warm with beautiful drape, but the cables were mushy. The second one in Silky Wool had incredible stitch definition, but was too light to make a good scarf. Jamieson's DK didn't work at all - the cables didn't pop. My swatch in Araucania Nature Wool was also abandoned - I think it would have worked if I had gone up in needle size (from an 8 to a 9) to give the cable elements enough room, but then the scarf would have been too wide.

But the Twisted Sisters Jazz 100% merino in Argent! Heaven! And knitting on 7s gave the perfect size. Soft, drape, warm, beautiful cables. I did four repeats on both sides and extended the ribbing section a bit to display the panels better. I've finally figured out that the pattern, which calls for five repeats, is too long unless you are 6'4" and wear greatcoats. The scarf took two skeins (167 yds each) and had a couple yards left over.

Further news on the DNA knitting front? I think the Classic Elite Yarns Miracle (50% Alpaca, 50% Tencel, #6 needles) comes very close to the original yarn used in the pattern, from Haneke Exotics (25% alpaca, 25% merino, 50% Tencel). So soft and shiny, I could pet it all night long. I'm thinking a DNA cabled hat.

Fish baby hat

Fish baby hat
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Okay, this would be much better with an actual baby, but I don't have one of those. And the cats wouldn't sit still long enough to model. Instead we present the self-designed fish hat (or perhaps trojan warrior), with the basic hat based on the Lil' devil baby hat from Kittyville. Modeled on balls of yarn.

Click for directions:

Continue reading "Fish baby hat" »

Long time, no see

fair isle hat
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Hospitals - good for knitting, not so good for blogging. Here's hoping for more of the latter (knitting and blogging), and less of the former.

I have a lot to catch up on - first on the list should be thanking my Knitty SP4 (jpknits) for my last gift, and my Knitty SP5 (???) for her first gift. But I couldn't resist sneaking in a photo of what I've been working on most recently. I am taking a fair isle class at (where else?) Borealis Yarns. The hat pattern is modified from the Harrisville blackberry and camel pullover. The hat is a gauge and color swatch for the full pullover. (Also, less of a commitment than starting on a sweater).

I didn't want a safe, predictable color set, so I chose some strong, primary colors. I figured out as I went along which colors worked best together, in what proportions - that's why the top of the hat works better than the bottom. I was pretty much sure on the first three rows that my original plans wouldn't work, but I decided to stick with them for awhile to see what would happen.

Open source knitting

I've already blogged Heidi Antila's design of a knitted illusion scarf featuring Linux and Tux, originally published in the Finnish online knitting magazine Ulla. In true open source fashion, the designer is generously allowing translations (which are released under a creative commons license): currently English and French, with Spanish coming soon.

Successful holdbacks...

Wire leaf earrings
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
I didn't manage to keep quiet about the stitchmarkers, which was supposed to be confirmation of a correct guess for my Knitty SP4 downstream SP, becmclaughlin. I did manage to keep my mouth shut hands off the keyboard for the wire knitting that I accomplished, though. The design is from Lucy Neatby. I think they turned out really well, though a bit large (they are very light, though). Becky, I hope you wear earrings / have pierced ears - if not, they are easily modified to necklace / charm-type doodads.

Gradually catching up...

Mr. Underhill's new enclosure
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
This has been a hella busy few weeks. Plus dealing with the sadness from Katrina - it is at least partly a geological story, and overlaps with my specialty. It is a tragedy that likely could have been averted for the short term (decades) - what happened this month could almost certainly have been prevented with better levees. However, the combination of geologic and engineering circumstances made things a bad proposition in the long run. The ground is compacting (the fine grains are settling closer together, and the water is squeezed out), and sediment from natural flooding is no longer allowed to replentish the top of the column. New Orleans sank 1 meter (about 3 feet) over the past century, and is continuing to descend at a similar rate. One answer is "don't rebuild" - but there are a lot of cities built on deltas, including most of the nation of Bangladesh, so I think we need to come up with a better answer.

On the short list of non-work happenings, Mr. Underhill finally got his new cage setup. Though I am beginning to suspect more and more it is actually Mrs. Underhill. The new cage has less ventilation, so I am still working out the temperature gradients and basking spot temperatures. S/he has some beautiful colors coming in - oranges and yellows.

I will be catching up with correspondence and other assorted responsibilities this next week. This includes thanking my wonderful Knitty SP4 upstream SP, jpknits - I am blown away by the range of gorgeous greens you sent (incl socks!), and I hope my photography skills are up to documenting just how luscious they are. And my new SP5 - wow! a weatherpixie mug - I didn't know such things existed...

DNA Scarf w/ blue ribbon

DNA Scarf w/ blue ribbon
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
I did make it to the state fair, on the final weekend. Carrie was nice enough to alleviate some of the suspense by mailing me photos a couple days before. Um, we don't usually wear our scarves over our heads here...

But at least it was displayed prominently, unlike most of the works that were crammed into a tiny display case. It broke my heart to see all of the work that went into the sweaters and shawls, which were all folded up into tiny squares. It was nearly impossible to see the stitchwork, let alone shaping. I thought I was going to be able to get a beautiful shot of my Highland Triangle Shawl, but instead I got this:
Highland Triangle Shawl
Yup. It's that tiny pinkish-rusty square in the center.

My first shawl!

Highland triangle shawl
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
I thought that I would be able to get a good shot of the Highland Triangle Shawl at the state fair, but I was cruelly disappointed - almost all of the knitting entered was crammed into one case. So here it is, taken from the persepective of the stairs. I will be sending out a lot of packages on Monday, this one is for my grandmother.

And with matching fingerless mittens:
Highland triangle shawl

Shadow shawl, finished

Shadow shawl, finished
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
It is my sister's birthday this month! It's a big one. so I'm glad that I have such a large present to send off.

One down...

Fingerless Mittens #4
Originally uploaded by thomasina. know the rest. My sister tried it on and it fit, so it was safe to weave in the ends - my experience on the last pair was certainly a demotivator to finish up while going. I'm also working on some SP things, aka things that must not be named, so that is slowing down the side bar progress. The Kitty Pi is almost done (or at least almost out of yarn, which comes to the same thing).

And so it begins...

Sis's Cabled scarf
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
My sister started the cabled scarf today; she still has about 40 rows left on the Windy City Scarf. This is one full repeat of the free pattern from the free cable class at (wait for it...) Borealis Yarns. No practice swatches or anything to practice cabling... isn't it beautiful... she's a natural! This is in Mandalay Silk, on #9 needles. She started on #7, but the fabric was too stiff. (And she is using the fancy Addi Turbos!).

Mostly by chance, her Windy City scarf is going to end up with the exact same dimensions as mine; though she is not doing a Fibonacci sequence, so the color pattern is different. Pics:
Sis's Windy City Scarf


At 8 reps
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
I just found out that the DNA scarf won first place at the state fair. Wow. I really have to credit the designer, June Oshiro, though. She designed an extremely elegant scarf, which she was generous enough to share freely with the knitting and scientific community.

The lighting on the finished scarf wasn't the best, so I'm re-running the photo with the best lighting - you get the idea.

Mock Cable closeup

Mock Cable closeup
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
As a combo knitter, I'm so used to reversing everything that I do it even when I don't have to. For the River Run on the right, I went straightaway to knit through the back loop on the knit two together. I realized immediately that this wasn't what the mock cable really called for, but decided to go with it anyway. I really like the sudden transition of the twisted stitches in the reversed mock cable. The Potluck Water on the right is done "by the book," which leads to a much smoother cable.

Mittens are my socks

Fingerless mittens 4
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
I've been boycotting socks, due in large part to their allegedly addictive nature. (The other part is rebellion against the fact that both work and climate require wearing socks and real shoes).

But. Let's see. DPNs, fingering weight yarn, pair of objects... 4th pair... not really much different. Sigh. I'm betting turning heels is easier than putting on thumbs, too. How long can I maintain this resistance?

This set is for my sister; she chose the yarn. Cherry Tree Hill in Water potluck. So. Pretty.

Kali on the needles

Fingerless mittens 3
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Work has been getting most of my energy lately, so I've been doing "comfort knitting," patterns that I've done many times before - fingerless mittens and cat beds. There are a couple of new twists (literally) to the fingerless mittens, though. I've added some length and (reversed) mock cables to the gloves, along with some added purls and decreases to accomodate the length. I also wanted a bit larger glove, and tried the "medium-large" size (shown on right). I was even inspired to put on the thumb and weave in all the ends! I just kept ignoring the feeling that the gloves were really only suited for a giantess. It was only when starting the other glove that I finally admitted to myself that it wasn't going to work, and I didn't want to throw good knitting after bad. So I did the "small-medium" for the second glove. This fits my sister, who has medium-large hands... my gauge has drifted just a bit over pattern (10%). So if I want to make more gloves for myself, I'll need to go down a needle size.

This is really the first project I've had to frog due to size issues - the Fibonacci Windy City Scarf was more an aesthetic issue. The cable section was the same on both gloves (I just decreased at the stockinette portion for the second glove). I used some of the nice contrasting brick Cherry Tree Hill and a tapestry needle to pick up the first stockinette row. Then I had to search and search for the woven in end, dig it out and start frogging. I didn't think I could recover much from the thumb, so I hacked away at the top with the thread cutter (which really inspired the Kali up top - thread bits flying everywhere); even so the thumb was difficult to remove. I tinked back the last row of stockinette, to get the decreases in the first row, and I was good to go. There was enough extra yarn from frogging and reknitting to put on both thumbs, with plenty left over.

Final result:
Fingerless Mittens #3

Doing the sidebar shuffle

I've been wanting to rearrange for awhile, so expect to see things shuffling around. I'd like to get down to one sidebar, so that I can increase the picture size. Dialups, beware!

One thing, the "get set" doesn't really reflect what is coming next - too many potential projects. It will now be reserved for things that move into the swatching stage, or that are actively being designed. Patterns that I am simply following, that are not swatched, will move directly to "go."

So instead, I present all of the projects that I have the [majority of] materials to do:
Small (two weeks or less)
Kitty Pi bed #n
Fingerless mittens #3
Lace scarf
Shawl bag (need another skein of Daria, #9 DPNs)
Bernoulli bag
DPN case (need frog closure)

Medium (two-four weeks)
Baby wall hanging

Large (more than four weeks)
Shadow shawl #2
Shadow shawl #3

Tectonics shawl


Fingerless mittens
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Fingerless mittens, ends woven in, check! Ironically, it is the gloves that photograph well in any light that are getting the nice morning sunlight. This completes the clearing of the sidebar; now to plan out upcoming projects. And, we present the recursive fingerless mittens photograph: Recursive fingerless mittens

In which she has further news to report

I entered two items into the state fair, the Highland Triangle Shawl and the second DNA scarf; my first year entering. The judging is happening as we speak. I am looking forward to seeing the judge's comments (provided mine are in the top 25 - I have no clue how many entries are typically received in each category). I still have not been able to get a good picture of the shawl, so I am hoping for some magic while visiting at the fair - it will be hung professionally then, no?

Knit or not?

Stitch markers
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Somehow I got it into my head that the stars had aligned that all the projects on the side could be finished simulateously; this theory actually worked really well until I didn't weave in the 8 ends for the fingerless mittens for multiple days. (Right now? 3 out of 8 ends woven in. Um.) So the knitting is stalled, even the swatching, which is some limbo state that doesn't even exist on the sidebar.

Instead, I present my foray into making stitch markers. This was motivated partly by owning a string of gorgeous green lizardite beads, bought at a bead show that I went to with a beading friend, many years ago. Rock! Pretty! Had to have! Of course nothing was ever done with these, since I don't bead. But now I have enough tools and doo-dads (not to mention two more strings, of different shades of jasper) to produce stitch markers. The more recent motivation was for the finish of Knitty SP4, to get them off to my SP. You said you had a guess as to who I am, so if you receive these in your package, you were right! I actually made six sets, only two are pictured.

The ones with multiple links are for counting rows between increases and decreases. You start at the white end, and increment every row (1-6 rows between activities) or every two rows (7-12 rows between activities). I got the idea from String or Nothing, but upon showing my creation around I've been told it is common to use yarn tied into multiple loops in a similar manner.


I have had a fractal pattern that has been stewing for awhile (so old it is not in the notebook that my SP gifted me, but rather on random scraps of paper). I have had a real block with translating it into knitting, since the principle of fractals means increasing amounts of negative space; so fair isle would work on the small scale, but on the larger scale it would mean intarsia. Or else making smaller blocks and joining together. Ugh to both, since it seems very inelegant. I just realized, while answering a question on what to do with two colors other than intarsia or fair isle, that the solution is double-knitting! *slaps forehead* Though for larger projects, joining blocks might be the way to go.

The other issue is distortion; I was thinking of a felting project, since the typical felting shrinkage results in stitch height becoming about equal to width, instead of stretched 2:3 for stockinette. Perhaps done in garter? That would be awfully stretchy for a large project. Must think more on this issue. The distortion does not matter to the fractal, it would still be self-similar, but it might not be pleasing to the eye.

The Fractal patterns I was thinking of knitting were based on the Cantor set, where in each iteration, the middle third of the line is removed and becomes negative space. This could make a really striking cuff or neckband. Or a sideways knit scarf. I was thinking of using the Sierpinski triangle on the side of a felted bag (I'm now working on a cellular automata pattern, though). The Sierpinski carpet would make a stunning afghan. Or, the triangle could be tiled into a hexagon, which would also be gorgeous.

It's done!

Chevron closeup
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
The kinver shadow shawl is done, off the needles and the ends woven in. I don't think it even requires blocking. Presenting a close-up picture from awhile ago (including the beautiful stitch marker from my SP). Pictures of the finished shawl tomorrow, hopefully.

The yarns are Schaefer Anne in a black / teal / blue / dk purple colorway, and Madil Kid Seta in Grapple, on US #7 needles.

In the queue

Knittingwise, I'm reaping the rewards of knitting side-to-side, and gaining increasing momentum for finishing the shadow shawl; I should be finished with it this weekend. Probably with the thumbs on the fingerless mittens, too (provided I resist the temptation of casting on the next set, which would tie up the needles).

Prepwise, I've narrowed down the curtain pattern to the following stitch patterns:
Barbara Walker's 1st Treasury
p. 190 Zigzag Lace Trellis
p. 193 Arrowhead Lace
p. 196 Star Ridge Mesh
p. 203 Diagonal Madeira Lace
p. 221 Trellis Grapevine
p. 229 Madeira Diamond Stitch (except it has p3tbl - oof!)

Barbara Walker's 2nd Treasury
p. 261 Sunray Pattern
p. 267 Mermaid's Mesh
p. 283 Milanese Lace

I am planning to swatch about four of these. From these stitch patterns one can gather that I like strong geometric shapes, even in lace.

Guest starring

Windy City Scarf
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
The start of my sister's Windy City scarf. She is just past the "keyhole" portion. Her stitches are lovely, even and not too tight. She is liking the Denise needles better than the Clover bamboo. She did not get a chance to try the Addis, since I had stolen them back for the brioche scarf.

Finally finished!

DNA scarf
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
This has to be the project that was hanging out on the sidebar the longest. Even more painful than weaving in the infinite ends for the St. John's Cross scarf was the change in gauge while knitting this. My knitting got a lot looser on the second side - probably a good thing in the abstract, but horrible for the project. It was about 10% wider and 15% longer, which looked horrible with the cables. It was so bad that I didn't think blocking would help, so I avoided it. But the blocking - it is like magic! I stretched the shorter side out, and made sure not to stretch the larger size at all, and came up with good results.

Now, to deal with the cat hair; love the silky wool, but it is a magnet for cat hair.

A parade of finished objects

Finished Brioche Scarf
Originally uploaded by thomasina. least the smaller and more easily photographed ones. Will try again with the shawls on the weekend.

If the Silk Garden had cooperated, this could have been a very nice two-skein scarf. Instead, the Mandalay Silk ran out right before the light pink on the Silk Garden - which I really wanted to include, to balance the black that showed up on the other side. Therefore, purchase of another skein of Mandalay was required. This will likely lead to the purchase of yet another skein, since my sister would like to knit a cabled scarf out of it.

The top of the photo shows that the stitch is technically reversible, though the yarn choices make an effective right and wrong side.

This game called life

Or John Conway's Life, in any case. Introduced in 1970 in an article in Scientific American, this was the first example of cellular automata. Counters placed on a two-dimensional grid live, die, and reproduce based on certain rules (in this case, live if surrounded by two or three counters, and reproduce into empty squares surrounded by three counters) - the entire board changes with each timestep. Of course knitting is not going to blink around in this fashion! - but the stitches already knitted can be used to formulate rules for the next stitch. The easiest way to think of it is the row beneath (1-dimensional) generates the row above in the next "timestep." Though technically, you can also include the stitch just knitted in your rules (the coming stitch determined by the three stitches below, or the three stitches below plus the one just knitted).

I was thinking about developing a fractal pattern (more thoughts on that later, Sahara! - I will get to that eventually) - but wasn't enthused about combining fair isle with intarsia, which would be necessary for the pattern I was going to use. Enter Debbie New's Unexpected Knitting, with her cellular automata knitting. Voila! What could be geekier?

Continue reading "This game called life" »

Okay, maybe it is all about me

The swatch that ate Manhattan
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Presenting the giant swatch - what a way to overcome the fear of "wasting" yarn and running out. It's only a $6.60 skein of Cascade, if I need to use the whole dang thing to figure out the design, then so be it. I can get more.

I'm trying for a felted bag pattern, that can be used as a knitting bag for a 1-2 skein project. It needs to accomodate DPNs, a couple skeins, patterns, notions, etc. Of course, it also has to be geeky! The design I'm trying, including "how to knit a circle" -

Continue reading "Okay, maybe it is all about me" »

It's not all about me...

My sister's first knitting
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
...presenting, my sister's first knitting!

A 20 x 20 garter stitch swatch, using the same red Cascade 220 and #9 bamboo circulars that I learned with. Destined to become another cat toy - look, you can see the cat hair already.

She was very easy to teach, so I can't really claim much credit. She did pick up one extra stitch along the edge, but noticed it very quickly.
She: "Something looks wrong on the edge."
Me, involved with knitting "Well, the edges always look loose and messy, just tighten the first stitch more."
She: "No, I think there is really something wrong."
Me, looks over "Yes, you are right... sorry about that. We can fix that by knitting two of the stitches together."

She is now a good bit of the way through a SnB Windy City scarf, and has plans for a chunky cabled scarf next. She has also purchased a cardigan + hat worth of lovely Cestari DK weight 70% wool/ 30% yak yarn, on discount, for less than $50. She wants to knit Liv with it, and the Gram hat. Perhaps I will find a cardigan pattern I want to do, and we can do our first shaped garments together.

I am a bit surprised that my "practice yarn" is running low - for some reason I thought it would last forever - it certainly seemed infinite when I first purchased it. I will have to save some, and see if I can convert my other sister, also.

Knitting at the speed of light

St. John's Cross scarf
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Okay, not even close, but things have been shuffling downwards in the sidebar. One of the points of the blog was to finish up projects, since I like doing things on the needles, but often let things languish once they are off. I'm not sure how much of this is because many of the projects have been a bit of a disappointment in one way or another. Perhaps instead of "homestretch" the category should be renamed "penalty box."

I've talked about my disappointment with the way this scarf design (or more accurately, the colors) turned out before. The practical problem was that the reverse stockinette section was curling badly... blocking did fix this for the most part. I did not want to crochet the edges, since it would ruin the effect of the horizontal striping. The slip-stitch edge still poufs up a bit, but that has been deemed acceptable.

I've also discovered that lace shawls are darn hard to photograph; I will try again tomorrow.

Matching mittens

Fingerless mittens #2
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
The Highland Triangle shawl edging took 1 skein and a little bit, so I was left with tons and tons of Cherry Tree Hill in brick. What to do, what to do? Fingerless mittens, of course! This doesn't really come through in the photos, but the strand of Madil Kid Seta in "dead pumpkin" makes the gloves just glow - a warm, coppery color.

I still have 2.4 ounces of the CTH, over 250 yards, so perhaps a matching tam, also?

What I've been up to lately

Finished the Highland Triangle Shawl, including blocking and weaving in ends. Was inspired to also start blocking the projects that have been languishing for months. When I get some natural light, pictures will follow.

Also, taught my sister how to knit (and purl). Swatches and stories to follow, pending permission.

This was my first large project; finishing led to a flurry of knitting activity. I've been scoping out patterns for the kitchen curtain, and have narrowed it down to about eight patterns, mostly from Barbara Walker's First Treasury. I would like to get down to five before swatching. I cast on and almost finished a pair of fingerless mittens (they are just sans thumb). As a status update, I'm almost 3/4 of the way through the first shadow shawl. Oh yes, and I bought yarn for two more projects: a shadow shawl and fingerless mittens for my sister. Pics and more indepth stories to follow.

And, what I'm currently excited about, I've learned something new! Two-color brioche stitching, from a free class at Borealis Yarns. It is a reversible pattern, like double knitting, except with yarnovers over the slipped stitch (this means each strand must be knitted across separately). It is very stretchy, and good for things like scarves, shawls, and afghans. Closeup to show the stitch pattern on the scarf, knit with Silk Garden and Mandalay Silk on #9 (typical needle size for stockinette is #7). The scarf will use 1 skein Silk Garden, so the color transitions are very gradual.

The full scarf, about 1/3 of the way through the skein:
2 color brioche scarf

Going for the double geek!

This was just brought to my attention by adriennec on the knittyboard. In a bout of double geekiness, Heidi Antila has designed a Linux illusion scarf, with Tux, the Linux penguin, on one side and the word 'Linux' on the other. The pattern is in Finnish - it appears to be an online Finnish knitting magazine - but the two charts and a basic knowledge of shadow / illusion knitting should be enough to reproduce the pattern.

Don't know how this is suppos'd to be done...

Knitting bindoff
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
But I've put the live stitches on a Denise cord, with a cap at one end and needle at the other, making a long straight. The other needle is used as-is. I've moved to a shorter Denise cord now that I'm almost two-thirds of the way done with the bindoff. When I'm done for the moment, I can switch the needle to a cap to keep the live stitches on.

Shawl edging

Wrong side
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
All this time the Guard was looking at her, first through a telescope, then through a microscope, and then through and opera-glass. At last he said, 'You're travelling the wrong way,' and shut up the window and went away.

Really, this is what my knitting was telling me. I tried the edging from both sides of the shawl, k2tog, k2tog tbl, ssk; s1 purlwise, s1 knitwise; yif, yib... and it was still cross at me. Finally, once I got a chance to get into Borealis Yarns this Sunday, we have a winner. The first two repeats are ssk, s1 knitwise, yib (ugh! ugly!)... the last repeat is p2tog, s1 knitwise, yib. This zippers it up much more smoothly. I'm not going to think about whether a more obvious ridge is a design element - the ssk, s1 purlwise, yif was both neat and obvious, but any mistakes would have been glaring.

Right side of shawl:
Right side

Belated SnB picnic update

Zenknits Stitch Markers
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Oh gee, only about two weeks behind in updating? I had a blast at the first annual SnB picnic, I hope we do it again next year. It was hot but there was a strong breeze (good for keeping cool, not so good for keeping the mohair under control). Lots of great knitters, lots of great food, and lots of great prizes. I didn't think to bring my camera (would rather live in the moment, plus would feel weird shooting everyone's picture). I won these great stitch markers from Susan at Zen Knit; nine knitting goddesses, three of each, in gorgeous purple beads.

Geeky knitting, redux

Now that my Geeky Knitting page is starting to get more exposure, I'm becoming more motivated to update and add the links. I'm going to feature them as separate blog posts, so that the new content is more apparent, and also update the original post.

First off, the most important update: the DNA scarf pattern has moved, and even worse, fallen off the google search engine front pages. In case you have forgotten, it was created by June Oshiro, and is now hosted on her own server at - also check out her blog. I consider this pattern the pinnacle of geeky knitting (I've done it! Twice!), so I hope the pagerank increases quickly so that it becomes widely available again.

Designer projects...

Noro Kureyon and Cascade 220
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Not so much progress on the knitting front. Most of the time was spent sweating, packing boxes, and moving boxes. Ugh for heat waves.

There seem to be several reasons for knitting: relaxation, "I want to have that," pleasure of designing one's own objects. Right now my WIPs have been falling on the relaxing and "want that" end of the scale, rather than the design end. Mindless knitting from a pattern can be very relaxing, and I don't have much mental energy at the moment, but not having my own project is becoming unsatisfying. I'm happy to have found Sahara's SistahCraft site, which I have been eagerly perusing for her design information. I know there are other professional and semi-pro designers that have blogs, but I haven't found much in the way of the design process until now. That's really why I started this blog, to self-document how designing works, so I should just get on with it, already!

Projects I have the yarn for, and could potentially be working on:

Continue reading "Designer projects..." »

A little learning is a dangerous thing...

As an interested layperson, I had figured out how to search for trademarks and determine the final action in the United States Patent and Trademark Office. girl from auntie has ferreted out the reason - the refusal was due to confusion with the "Stitch & Bitch Cafe" mark. Being an academic, I like looking at the original source documents; I've beaten the government search engine into submission and present the actual document.

And I hear you, Sahara - I too believe the name is generic, and has been used by lots of sewing and knitting groups have used it through the years. I believe one commenter in girl from auntie's multipart installment brought up a specific case from her mother's 1938 yearbook. But this brings up the failure of the commons - how do we protect phrases that should be free to use by everyone? The problem is two part: 1) how do we organize the disparate groups, and collect together the money, skills, and information needed to protect these phrases? and 2) instead of retroactively fighting every action coming down the pike, is there a way to proactively protect the phrase?

Part one is potentially managable - there are lots of examples from grassroots organizations on how to grow and manage groups of this type. But there is the question of whether skills and resources should be put into something of this nature, and for how long, when there are so many important causes and other things that occupy our time. If it were a one-time effort, it might be worthwhile to protect some of our commons. That leads to problem number two - there isn't really a way to register a phrase as "generic, everyone is free to use." There might be some way to organize along the lines of Creative Commons, where some of the options are putting works into CC stewardship, where they are free to be used by anyone. However, trademarks are a lot trickier, since they are only applicable under certain contexts.

There are also more questions necessary for the case of "Stich" 'N & and "Bitch." Since the time window for challenging a trademark is only a month(!), which occured way in the past (2000) for the "Stitch & Bitch Café" service mark, is it even possible to challenge? Is it too late to present evidence that the "mark" was in active use by many people at the time, and should have been considered generic? Could widespread use today be used to show that SFSE did not protect their mark, and it should be considered generic now? (I'm assuming the latter would be harder to show, but that the first route might not be possible at all at this date - but remember, a little learning is a dangerous thing, and IANAL).

Stitch 'N Bitch Trademark, REFUSED

That's right, you heard it here first - Debbie Stoller's trademark application for "Stitch 'N Bitch" was refused today. I have mixed feelings about this. I think that the phrase is generic enough that no one should be granted a trademark - this has been used by individual sewing and knitting circles for a long time. However, if DS were granted the trademark, it has been widely assumed that she would be a benevolent dictator. There are many online loosely affiliated(?) groups with the Stitch 'N Bitch name, presumably after the famous Stitch 'N Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook. As it stands right now, all of the Stitch 'N Bitch groups have been kicked off of Cafepress, by a very small New York business that shall remain nameless, since I really don't want to up their pagerank. Let's call them Sue Fast, So Sleazy, or SFSE for short. SFSE was granted a service mark in 2002 for an online discussion board (really a guestbook in a really cheezy early 90's site), "Stitch & Bitch Cafe." This met the letter but not the spirit of the law; there is no inherent connection between an online discussion group and stitching and bitching. However, since virtual space has become a continuation of realspace, it cuts out individual groups that have been using the moniker informally for a long time.

I really wish I knew whether the patent had been refused due to being too generic, or due to infringement. Since Stitches for Bitches was approved for publication (the public, otherwise known as the public that retains lawyers, gets a month to comment before final approval), I'm assuming it was not due to infringement on the SFSE service mark. However, that does not help the TC SnB get back online with Cafepress - SFSE registered for "Stitch and Bitch" at the beginning of June, so even if the phrase is too generic, there is a year or more before they are finally turned down. In the meantime, even if SFSE doesn't have a case, Cafepress will not allow merchandise with "Stitch 'N Bitch" on it. Also, Cafepress does not forward the cease and desist order to the organization. I suppose they have the right to run their business however they want, but I wish that there were an alternative. Cafepress does not judge on the merits of the case, and do not recognize fair use or parody - any c&d order, no matter how spurious, and they fold. I assume Debbie Stoller is going to appeal the decision, though, and won't be giving out the reason for the refusal anytime soon.

Something you can buy in protest (unfortunately from Cafepress): Free to Stitch, Free to Bitch merchandise. TC is replacing SnB with this phrase, also.

In other trademark news, Dykes on Bikes was turned down on the basis of standards and decency - apparently "Dyke" is too offensive. But based on the number of trademarks granted for "Bitch," apparently that is not. But I think dyke has been reclaimed more thoroughly than bitch - I would far rather be called the former than the latter, even if it is technically inaccurate. Besides, it is a common term in geology (one of many, many terms useful for off-color puns - don't get me started), for a tabular intrusive igneous body.

Haven't had enough trademark talk yet? Get the Stitch and Bitch backstory from girl from auntie.

Surprise! I have more to say. Read on, McDuff...

More knitty SP goodness!

More knitty SP goodness!
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
From my sneaky SP, who mailed the package from St. Peter, Minnesota. If she comes to MN regularly, that means I could meet her someday - how cool is that?

My SP gifted me with a second skein of bamboo, in a deep red that matches my kitchen perfectly. I'm going to try making lacy window valences for the windows above the kitchen sink, or else a window covering for the back door window. And more red, something my SP said were dishcloths, but instead I'm using as napkins. And tea (more red! yummy!) along with a tea ball. The tea ball is perfect for using the green tea in tins I've gotten from chinese supermarkets - I love making ochazuke, a japanese dish with white rice, green tea, and toppings. Yum. I've been without a tea ball since the last one met an untimely demise... lets hope life is kinder to this one.

Edging finished

Highland Triangle Shawl
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Closeup of the knitted edge. On the "waste yarn," aka a 52" cord from the Denise system. Now I need to figure out the knitted edging bindoff. It is knit from side to side, with 2 rows for every live stitch. That means 740 rows. Now why did I have to calculate that?

On the plus side, I like the shawl better now that I can lay it out. I believe the term is that the two yarns have the same saturation, which is a fancy way of saying brightness. Unfortunately the only photo of the whole shawl that wasn't blurry involved an accidental flash, so it really is bright:
Highland Triangle Shawl

I didn't want to deal with the yarn clutter on my table, so I present the clutter at Borealis Yarns instead.

But it's okay, they're professionals.

Dragon Skin washcloth

Dragon Skin Facecloth closeup
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Another finished object! The Euroflax linen washcloth in dragon skin stitch (from Barbara Walker's second treasury). It's been getting a lot of use in the shower - it is hot and mucky here!

Everybody must get yarn

More on the obsession with buying crack yarn for making shadow shawls. The new Schaefer Anne came into Borealis, the Schaefer people are continuing on their red kick and extending into blindingly bright territory. There was only one colorway that I half liked, the green / blue / plum at the bottom of the set. I continue to love, love, love the green / tan skein, but my sister says she does not want brown in the skein. But I included it in attempts to sway her. There are a bunch of blue and green matches, which are nice but lacking any oomph. Then there is my favorite, at the top: the green/blue potluck from Cherry Tree Hill with Euroflax. Sadly, there are only 420 yds in the CTH, probably too little even for the non-pico yarn. (And picoing in the Euroflax! Ick!). So, do I find it so stunning just because I can't have it? Inquiring minds want to know.

Edited to add: the Cherry Tree Hill is now the second from the top, and my new favorite(?) is the Mountain Colors in Glacial Teal with the teal Euroflax. How can you go wrong, with glacier as your colorway?!

Stitch 'N Bitch Picnic

Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Sunday, a potluck picnic for knitters. I was on the fence about going; I'm very, very far over on the introverted side and find interacting with large groups of people, especially ones that I don't know, challenging. But thanks to Sue Fast, So Sleazy trying to claim dominion over all things SnB, bingo! instant conversation starter. To try to meet some of the SnB people in smaller groups, I went to the Burnsville SnB this Wednesday. I kind of met Christy from Purrrling Away, but she was at the other end of the table so we didn't really get to talk. And I met other people! But with me not so good at the talking, or the photographing, not much more to say.

Zen and the art of needle maintenance

Shawl edging
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Ah, the edging. In Cherry Tree Hill brick, which is a hand-dyed monochromatic (which is a long-winded way of saying that it is just as expensive as the multi-colored). The rust-color matches the rust in the potluck "brights" skein. I thought the brown would tone it down, but it is really turning out quite "gemmy" overall. I kept on with the edging, thinking as the proportion of brown increased, magic would finally happen, but I think the tones (hues? values? need to learn right technical term) are really too similar. Not sure if I like the way it is turning out, but it is difficult to tell with so much of the edging scrunched up on the needles.

And the zen part?

Continue reading "Zen and the art of needle maintenance" »

The internet ate my brain, part II...

Way, way, way back I posted about the desire to design an inexpensive swift. It was a nice little engineering challenge, come up with a design that was cheap and easy to make. Yet again, all my fun was taken away. A few days after that post, I discovered that my knitting geologist colleague from GeoKnitting had already found an elegant solution: behold the $10 swift...
Side view of lazy susan part
Back. Note elaborate assembly methods
Front. Lots of wood glue for stability
Arms. Note sophisticated yarn-holding mechanism (binder clip)

Too many geeky knitters around. Bah. Need to thin the herd, or else stop using the internet!

The internet ate my brain...

But that is okay, since I will never need to think again! Prompted by a comment from my ringneighbor, the esteemed laurie from Crazy Aunt Purl, (who is kind enough to read even though there is no personal information! Sorry! Not really worth the blogstalking effort!), I started hunting the internet for more clues about Elizabeth Zimmerman's Pi Shawl, which was the original inspiration for Wendy's Kitty Pi Bed. I confirmed that my original shaping was the same as EZ (work even double the previous number of rows, then increase in each stitch). I knew before I knit the original giganto Kitty Pi that the shaping was only approximate, and would get worse with size, but thought it would felt out okay. And in a relative sense, it was okay - it's only a cat bed! But the outer part was wrinkly (too abrupt a change at that size), and the decreases should have been spaced out farther - plus with the Noro, the striping changed drastically at that point.

But, I actually like math, so I was looking forward to making a nice formula for the kitty pi. Unfortunately for me, everything that is possible in knitting has already been done, and now people have blogs to communicate them... and doubly unfortunately for me, I'm pretty good at finding information on the internet. So, I present the already worked out formula, from Rudbeckia at Learning Curves; lots of knitting! and math! check it out. I can't get a direct link, so I'm quoting here (check out the original post, on June 26, for the justification):

And so I present my method for knitting a circle that lies relatively flat, or at least as relatively flat as something knit entirely in stockinette can be:

CO some stitches on dpns. Join for working in the round.

Rnd 1: k, inc 4 sts relatively evenly spaced
Rnds 2 - 4: repeat rnd 1
Rnd 5: k, inc 5 sts relatively evenly spaced

Repeat rnds 1-5 until circle is desired size, switching to a circular needle as desired.

Perfectionists may choose to inc 4 instead of inc 5 in rnds whose number is divisible by 100.

The reason that the increases are linear (i.e. inc 4.19 sts every rnd) is that the number of sts is a linear function of the circumference, which is a linear function of diameter, which is a linear function of the number of rnds. As a knit stitch has height:width as 2:3, the number of sts to increase each rnd is 2&pi(2/3). For some other stitch, multiply 2&pi by its height:width ratio to determine how many sts to increase each rnd in order to knit a circle.

And for the order-of-magnitude back of the envelope scientists, myself included, increasing 4 sts each row works just fine. It's just a cat bed!

I have yarn left for one more Kitty Pi! I've done one with Wendy's method, which will be the control, and use the other half of the yarn for the new method. Yes, I'm a geek, why do you ask?

Done like dinner!

Finished Fingerless Gloves
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
I'm obviously most excited about the items I'm working on, but I do have a few finished items to share. The fingerless gloves are the third item I cast on for (after the Fibonacci Windy City Scarf and the first DNA scarf), and my first project in the round. These were knit on size 4 DPNs with Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in River Run held together with Madil Kid Seta, from a free pattern by Borealis Yarns. I did the first glove backwards (the yarn was on the far DPNs), so there was a lot of purling involved (fortunately wasn't too bad knitting combo style). I also learned how to m1, short rows at the top, and just learned how to pick up stitches. The first glove took months, so I was dreading the second one - but I must have gotten better, since it only took a weekend! They were then stalled at the thumbs, but I learned how to pick up stitches last week, so I practiced on these before tackling the Highland Shawl. The first thumb had some holes at the top, which I was able to fix when weaving in the ends, and the second turned out perfectly. I like the way these turned out, and am looking forward to using the second half of the yarn to make a matching feather and fan scarf.

Yarn for shadow shawl, take two

Yarn for shadow shawl, take two
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
I thought I had already blogged this, but here is the yarn for the second shadow shawl. I love the jewel-tone Schaefer Anne colorway, but this is much more "me." I did try to return the yarn for the first shadow shawl, but just couldn't bear to. So both the first and second Borealis free money cards went towards purchasing Schaefer Anne for the shadow shawl. Now that I have a third card filled up (and there is an expected shipment of Schaefer Anne), I'm contemplating the dangerous route of another shadow shawl. (Dangerous in the sense that I haven't even finished one, or even gotten halfway through it!) I would like to have "matching" shadow shawls for me and my sisters. I think the real reason is that it is so fun chosing the yarns for the shawl; whenever someone else starts down the dark side, pretty much everyone in the store drops everything to help try out different yarns...


Chevron Shadow Shawl #1
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
While I was working up the energy to figure out how to pick up stitches on the Highland Shawl, I worked on the chevron shadow shawl instead. It is really an easy pattern to knit, which can be either good or bad, depending...

The 10 stripes are set up, and the middle triangle (50 more increases!) has just been started. This is on size 7 needles, so even though I am a tight knitter, the stripes are pretty subtle. On the next one, I might start with 6s instead (even though the Annie Blatt Fine Kid is a bit thicker than the Madil Kid Seta).

Up close and personal

Highland Triangle Shawl closeup
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Update: Someone left me a comment! With a question! I really haven't figured out the blog ettique, since if I reply directly, then other people that might have the same question can't see the answer. And if I answer in the blog, she might not return and see it.

Oh well, here goes: Susan, I used almost all of one skein (about 85% of 370 yards) for the center of the triangle; Cherry Tree Hill in a "potlock" color in the "bright" family. (Borealis Yarns carries the potlock skeins, so you can check them out rather than really taking potlock.) The border and edging, which I'm working on now, takes about 450 yards, so I got 2 skeins of the Cherry Tree Hill in brick. If you make it in one color, you could probably get away with two skeins if you decreased the size a little bit.

Mwah ha ha ha!

Highland Triangle Shawl
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
I have lots of photos left to feed the blog, now. But I thought I would spread it out for a few days, so as to keep the interest level up and also not overwhelm the few brave souls that kept me subscribed on their bloglines, in spite of a functionally braindead blog. I chose this WIP first, since I vowed to finish it on the "Finish it" KAL on the knittyboard.

I have the center triangle done of the Highland Triangle Shawl from the Folk Shawls book. I pretty much did this straight through last month, with a week-long break to knit something up for my Knitty SP. The unfortunate thing about an equilateral triangle, especially knitted from the bottom up, is that I couldn't stop myself from visualizing how much I had left to do.

Now the challenge is to cast on 131 stitches on each side. I finally put the thumbs on the fingerless mittens (thereby laying those suckers to rest, photos to follow), which was my practice. I cast on one side, but didn't like it and ripped it out. Trying again tonight or tomorrow morning.

Rocks and string!

Rocks and string!
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Package #3 from my wonderful SP in the Knitty SP4, with the theme of rocks and string!

Noro Daria Multi (string) - I suspect my SP of having a little spy camera following me around, since I had just been petting it at Borealis and asking what it could be used for...

The stitch markers (rock) have a bead of Peruvian Opal at the end; very unique.

Also a notebook, which should help to keep all of my knitting ideas / notes in order; I've already used it to figure out picking up stitches for the Highland Triangle Shawl. I should also transfer the notes and sketches that are floating around, too.

And are the candies a clue to her location? Forest Park, IL - it is still so early in the game, though, that I suspect her of being tricky. (I must confess that I've started blog / board stalking the Chicagoites, though).


Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Look at all the goodies!

I didn't even realize that you could get super-sized Ziplock bags; and me using them professionally, too! (Sample bags for rocks and soil.) And the largest ones are Yooge - is my SP telling me it is time to knit an afgan?

The market bag is lovely - it will be great for throwing into my knapsack for when I stop by the coop on the way home, which I do a couple times a week.

And pretty yarn! She must be a mind reader - I was really wondering the other day how bamboo knit up, and was contemplating unfaithfulness to my LYS (which does not carry SW Trading Company). And in such a luscious red! Has she been peeking at the walls in my kitchen? I wonder if I could get a valence or two out of it...

And the Mango Moon silk - yum! I'm thinking either edging or fringe, or perhaps the start of an afgan, which would be scrumptious.

Let's not forget the coffee. MMMmmmmm..........

Pour Moi?

SP4 complete with wrapping
Originally uploaded by thomasina.

Sale! Sale!

Borealis Yarns is having a 20% off everything sale!

Here is the planned purchase: the Araucania Nature Wool for the knitted baby wall hanging (soft black background with bright purple knotwork / runes / etc).

I was also planning some Cascade 220 and Noro Kureyon for felting, but instead the Cherry Tree Hill Supersock wanted to follow me home:
Borealis Yarn Sale Opportunity Knocking
Cherry Tree Hill used to produce a few odd skeins towards the end of the dyeing run with the last bits of the dye. They've stopped this practice, but Borealis Yarns got the last of the yarn done this way, so it really is one of a kind. This skein is in the "Brights" category. It is similar to the Wild Cherry colorway, though with less purple and a lot more tan and orange.

Click through to find out the plans for this yarn...

Continue reading "Sale! Sale!" »

Almost FO #2

Fingerless mittens
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
The not-quite-completed fingerless mitten now has a twin. It is ready to be bound off, then both will be to the point of needing thumbs. Not doing the thumb seemed like a good trick at the time to get me to start the other one, theory being that it wouldn't seem finished enough to make me think I was done. The downside is that I don't really feel motivated to put thumbs on either at the moment. Perhaps I should just accept cold thumbs?

Other down point - my gauge has changed (loosened) as I've gained experience. I probably should have gone down to size 3s, but didn't have any, and I was on a roll. I've been told that the gloves stretch with wearing in any case, and that the right one will likely match the left after a little bit of wear.

The other half of the Cherry Tree Hill will be used to knit a feather and fan scarf, a free pattern from Borealis Yarns.

Almosted FO #1

Dragon skin washcloth
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Here is the super-sized facecloth, knit in the dragon scale stitch (Barbara Walker Treasury #2, p. 136). In my defense, this is about the size of the washcloths that I have now, which I'll admit are about the size of a guest towel. Further in my defense, this is about the size it was supposed to be (in Knitter's Stash).

Now for the further challenge of weaving in two ends, and throwing into the washer and dryer - I've been promised wonderful things from the Euroflax.

Design plans for baby wall hanging

Current incarnation for wall hanging:
All cabling and dragon skin stitch done in Twisted Sisters Iris Voodoo, with the background reverse stockinette in Araucania Nature Wool. Fafnir knotwork dragons (elongated with cable repeat) reflected around baby's name in runes. Dragon skin stitch as either a complete frame or two bars along the vertical edge, like a scroll. For the latter case, there needs to be finishing on horizontal edges -- plain o' garter, whip stitch, icord... is it time to get one of the edging books? Hmmm.

Final dimensions should be on the order of 220 x 65 stitches. Gauge for the Nature Wool: 6 sts / in, 4.5 rows / in. This ends up being about 1 x 3 ft... that is really insane. It will be knitted on the smallest sized needles on the wrapper (US #5), and I knit a bit tight, but even at 75% of the size above, that might be too big.

A tale (tail?) of two dragon skins

Week six shed
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Mr. Underhill over the weekend. His current cricket size is looking a bit small, so I bought 10 of the next cricket size up to try (about 3/8 to 1/2 inch). About a half hour later, he started running back and forth on his perch, opened his mouth really wide like he was yawning (or trying to throw up), rubbing his face on the branch... fortunately the cause was not imminent death through impaction -- facial shed! Here he is sulking and not showing off for the camera like usual. He now has a faint orange underneath his ears, which is presumably adult coloration and not mold.

Also, I present the second, very different dragon skin:

Two and a bit reps knitted, and it will probably need 10 in all. The stitch pattern is found in the Barbara Walker Second Treasury (p. 136), though I am using the pattern as reproduced in Knitter's Stash. I first saw the pattern on NoNoKitty. This trial run for the wall hanging has brought some issues to light: incorporate the wave at the edge, or try to block it out? Half a pattern on the sides (a bit small) or a full pattern (very large, 26 stitches)? Or an entirely new idea: just do the dragon stitch on the sides, (for a horizontal scroll look) instead of a full frame. Going with the scroll look:
dragon stitch / Fafnir knotwork dragon / baby's name / Fafnir knotwork dragon / dragon stitch.
But then what finishing for the "bare" edges?

Closeup of the dragon stitch follows...

Continue reading "A tale (tail?) of two dragon skins" »

And yet more yarn!

Twisted Sisters Voodoo in Iris
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
The Twisted Sisters Iris Voodoo really deserved its own post. Look at the fibery closeup shot... yum! It is so soft and shiney and petable. Almost too purple, if such a thing is possible.

The solution to every problem: more yarn!

Originally uploaded by thomasina.
I have been making a little progress on the shadow shawl, I have added another two stripes to the chevron, so I am almost halfway through the chevrons (for real this time, there are 5 pairs of stripes, not 5 stripes). But it is not earth-shatteringly different, plus I've been feeling under the weather, so not much going on to feed the blog. (Of course if I would actually block things, that would help...)

I did go ahead and buy the very pretty Voodoo Iris yarn, and I have the Araucania soft black yarn, and I have the dragon skin pattern and the knotwork patterns (and I've finally gone ahead and PM'ed ak_swedegirl about the runes). But have I worked on the design? No. I think I am stalled on the dragon skin stitch, since I hate the thought of knitting it up as practice to figure out how to do it... this in spite of the fact that this is what I did with the DNA cable pattern. So the solution? More yarn. I finally went ahead and bought the Euroflax I've been dying to have, so I will do up a pretty purple face cloth in dragon skin stitch for my bathroom in purple. Yay!

Is this one mine, too?

Is this one mine, too?
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Savannah checks out the gigantimungous kitty pi bed. Or perhaps area rug. I was considering trying to felt and block again to get a bit more side, but since the cat this is going to is big on sprawling, perhaps an area rug is just as well. The sides are puckered a bit, so if I did this again, I would just increase every other stitch, or perhaps two out of every three stitches.

Upper right corner: piece of Savannah's Kitty Pi. Lower left corner: sadly, not gifts for my SP. The bag contains an extremely ugly plastic plaid tablecloth from Target, to be used as a guide for blocking the DNA scarf.

(Someday, someone is going to tell Savannah that is not all about her. And really, I don't want to be there when it happens. In the meantime, the FO column keeps the score: cats 6, humans 2.)

Itty bitty baby shawl

Halfway through shadow chevrons
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
The shawl is creeping along. The shadow chevrons are finally starting to show. Technically this is halfway through setting up the k10 p10 shadow chevrons. However, since this is knit side-to-side, and there are 50 increases beyond the chevrons, this is still a tiny baby project. So this is an establishing shot of the shadow knitting, and I'll update in the sidebar, but probably no main blog posts 'til it looks a bit more grownup.

Feeding the blog

Viking cross scarf
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
The ends need to be woven in, and it needs to join the "to be blocked" queue. I hope that I can get the stockinette to stop curling. I should have done the cables over garter, but at the time I didn't know that was possible.

I'm not really pleased with the way this turned out. I thought the colors would complement the knitting, sort of a celtic look, but instead it just looks very 70s. I've been assured that someone will love it; I will see how it blocks before deciding whether it is worth donating. Also, using the left-over yarn, about 2.5 balls, to make a hat might make this better.

St. John's Cross take II

Charity knitting
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
All work and no play and all that... too tired for a proper post, so here is the charity scarf as it stood at 2:30 pm Sunday. No energy to lay it out, photograph, upload, etc. It is now 8 rows of garter stitch away from binding off, where it has been stalled for the past 24 hours.

I've also re-felted the giant humongoid kitty pi bed, and am hoping that the sides don't end up as wrinkly as last time. I might have tried too many decreases on the sides to get them to stand up, or I just might not have a felting form that is large enough. It is over the 12" pot surrounded by two layers of towels, which doesn't stretch it quite as much as I would like.

Falling off the wagon...

Loot from Yarnover
Originally uploaded by thomasina. far off, it is only a tiny cart on the horizon. I only brought a little bit of cash, and thought that it would not be that tempting since I usually need to see and think about yarn for a while before I become tempted to buy it. However, the same obviously does not hold true for knitting equipment.

Continue reading "Falling off the wagon..." »

Nearly-instantaneous gratification

After the finishing frenzy Tuesday night (two items bound off!) I was looking for some instantaneous gratification. Does blocking or felting either of those objects count? Silly question.

The headband kit that Annie Modesitt sent me seemed like a fun quick knit, and was a chance to try something new, knitting with wire. The wire part actually went very smoothly. Supposedly the Inox needles are plastic-covered aluminum, but they just feel like plastic to me; the flexibility was actually a help when knitting the wire. Also, I think knitting combination style is the way to go with wire!

Anyway, I enjoyed knitting with the wire. I bought two rolls of copper, one in the same 28 gauge, and one slightly thicker at 24 gauge. The latter is one size thicker than recommended, but I think it will give more the effect that I want.

Continue reading "Nearly-instantaneous gratification" »

Monster bed

Kitty Pi Bed 3
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Here is the 3rd Kitty Pi. I had 4 rounds of 216 stitches left, plus the bind-off. I optimistically thought I could get through both the scarf and the kitty pi, and brought the shadow shawl to work on, but ended up with about 50 stitches left to bind off. To be fair, the Baby Monkey eyelash is difficult to work with. I was about 20 stitches short on the Baby Monkey, but I don't think it will really matter on the felted cat bed. I might have been able to squeeze in one more round from the Big Kureyon, but that would have been pushing it. That means I pretty much planned out using the three skeins exactly, so yay me.

Wishing for blocking magic

DNA scarf 2
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
I bound off two projects at the Tuesday group knitting at Borealis Yarns. First off the needles was the DNA scarf in silky wool. It really needs to be blocked; as I've become a faster knitter, my stitches have loosened up some. This is probably good overall, since I was knitting at about 75% of recommended gauge before. But blocking had better fix this, or I will cry and cry after all the time I've put into this; I probably should have switched down to a #5 on the second panel. I've woven in the ends, so now I just need to acquire a checkered tablecloth to put over the cardboard to have a guide to block to. I have 100 blocking pins, so hopefully that will be enough.

Hello, dead pumpkin!

Continuing with the shadow shawl theme, I've purchased the varigated yarn for shawl #3. It is 800 yards of fingering weight silk in the yummy goodness colorway of 'Light My Fire' -- from Danielle at No No Kitty Yarns. I should be able to get another set of fingerless mittens out of it too. I think it will pair nicely with the Madil Kid Seta in the "dead pumpkin" color. This is all rather ambitious, of course, since I have completed exactly one fingerless mitten (minus thumb) and 10 rows of the first shadow shawl.

Loot from the road trip

Originally uploaded by thomasina.
I only made it to Susan's Fiber Shop out of the four yarn stores I had taken down information on. I went there on the way into town; after the trauma of getting to the Geology Museum (equal parts construction, very bad Mapquest directions, and general cluelessness), I didn't have the time or inclination to attempt any more driving around.

Continue reading "Loot from the road trip" »

You will know her by the color of her silky wool

DNA scarf
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Road trip to Madison, WI tomorrow to view the oldest terrestrial object in the world, which happens to be a 4.404 billion-year-old zircon from Australia. Oh yes, there is also a jazz concert that was commissioned to convey the sense of deep time.

I will also be hitting as many not-so-LYS as possible; it looks like there is a lot of fibery goodness, as well as a lot of weaving and spinning supplies. I will be taking the DNA scarf as a road trip project, in case anyone wants to play "find the moving target."

Welcome to my reality...

Welcome to my reality...
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
I said to myself, "Self, you really need to slow down on the yarn buying, and give the bank account a chance to rest. You have several interesting projects on the needles or in the queue, and you really have enough yarn to last quite awhile."

So instead, what do I end up doing? Buying yarn books. I needed a Barbara Walker pattern (the dragon skin stitch that I found on nonokitty's A Fiberholic Life), and it is in the Knitter's Stash. I've wanted the book anyway, since it seemed like fun and has the cute felted fish. And Knitting With Wire came in, which I've been wanting for awhile. I suppose I should have knitted the wire kit that the wonderful Annie Modesitt sent me (for free!) to see if I liked it first, but I've felt a strong desire to do this before I even knew it had been done before.

So this is my reality... buying yarn is bad for the bank account, but buying yarn books is just fine. And oh, there are no calories in the broken cookies.

The Kitty Pi that Ate New York

The Kitty Pi that Ate New York
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Okay, not really, but it is monstrous. After the first Kitty Pi cat bed felted down to "my cat" size (7.5 lb) rather than the intended cat size (22 lb), I decided I needed to rework the pattern a bit for a (much larger) cat. The extra rows (12) I put into the "straight" section of the first Kitty Pi didn't do much good, since they ended up on the sides (along with about 5 rows directed in the pattern!). I decided that I needed to increase another round (to 288). Based both on where the sides started in the first Kitty Pi, and on the internal logic of the pattern (knit as many rows that you knit straight before increasing), I put the increase after 24 rows of the "knitting straight" section. I then did 15 rows before starting the decreases. (I also put in an extra round of decreases in an attempt to give the sides a bit more stability). It is currently on the last row of the decreases, with the fun fur starting immediately after. The amount of yarn used so far is 2 and 2/3 skeins of Noro Big Kureyon, with 5.5 rows remaining to be knit.

Back to the regularly scheduled programming...

Swatch without cable needles
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
This is a swatch (or a baby scarf) done without cable needles, to see if I could. I thought that the method of dropping stitches and then picking them up crossed on the needle wasn't any faster than using a cable needle. When you factor in the rare dropped stitch, the time becomes much longer. As far as dropping the stitches, knitting the next stitches on the needle, and then picking up the dropped stitches, I could get the right-leaning 2 over 1 to work, though hunting around for that dropped stitch always made me nervous.

Knit on size #7 straight Clover bamboo with Cascade 220. Free pattern from Borealis Yarns.

Equipment ideas, part one

Here are the Denise needles, with two different tip sizes: 13 on the bottom, 11 on the top. Since I was having problems getting the stitches over the stationary needle in the Addi Turbos, and the working needle sets the stitch size, I thought that it would be worth trying a smaller size on the stationary needle. Also, being able to set the cord diameter more exactly to the project might also help move stitches around the needle.

Continue reading "Equipment ideas, part one" »

Ideas gelling on the baby present

Twisted Sisters
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
I made the mistake of picking up the Twisted Sisters Voodoo in iris today -- 50% silk, 50% merino -- and oh, it glows in the light. It also provided inspiration for the baby present, which was slated to be in purple. It really is too expensive (and too overwhelming) to use in the whole piece. Along with my newfound confidence in making cables in different colors, I think it would work out well to have the cabling and framing stitchwork in the purple silk/merino, with the reverse stockinette in a soft black, possibly varigated. I was originally thinking of the Aurcania nature wool that I already own. Based on the cabling on the St. John's cross, however, I think that it would work out better to have the background reverse stockinette be in a slightly lighter weight, like DK. This way, none of the darker yarn will show through the knitted cables. It still needs to be a soft black, and preferably slightly varigated, so that the hanging does not end up looking like a bad black velvet elvis painting.

So the current plan: A frame of dragon scales (Barbara Walker second treasury, p. 136), knotwork dragon (enlarged, or two dragons) in the center, and baby's name in runes underneath, all in the Voodoo Iris. The backround in reverse stockinette, and possibly an outside border mimicking a matt frame in a soft, varigated black in DK weight. I might also include an inscription in binary knit/purl at the bottom.

St. John's Cross

St. John's Cross
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
This is what I've been working on today -- a cable pattern from Elsebeth Lavold's Viking book, worked in a different color. This is charity knitting, where the scarves will be photographed end-to-end before donation to highlight the problem of homelessness in America. The St. John's Cross is also a symbol for happiness, which seems like a good thing to incorporate. It was a personal challenge to see if I could 1) follow Lavold's patterns at all and 2) do them in a different color. This was also my first attempt at two-color knitting, so I think it went pretty well. Now that I know the trick, I am tempted to try it on the DNA cables. It has also inspired some ideas for the baby knitting (more on that later).

Continue reading "St. John's Cross" »

It's madness, I tell you!

At 8 reps
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
I miscrossed a side mini-cable over an early morning beverage at the local coffee shop. Of course, once I had started, the obsessive cabling desire took over. I originally wanted to get half-way down the side of the scarf, but continued on to complete the repeat. So 1.75 repeats done today, which means two repeats are left.

The new skill of laddering down and re-knitting is wonderful. I've fixed one main cable cross and three miscrossed minicables. The minicables are reversed in direction going down the scarf, so it is easy to miscross even when paying attention. (I also failed to fix the edge of the seed stitch border, and had to cry uncle for that part). So even though this is like comfort knitting -- I really like the cables and I have the pattern memorized -- I'm still learning from it.

Stash Flash!

Yarn Stash

Click through on the picture to read all of the notes associated with the yarn. Roughly, the oldest yarn is at the top at 12-2pm, with yarn and projects getting progressively younger going clockwise. The associated projects are beside the yarn. Pretty much all of the yarn has been used in a past project, is currently being used in a project, or is pretty firmly intended for a project. Also, you can read about the specifics of each yarn in my yarn stash photostream. I keep telling myself I can buy nicer yarn if I only buy what I need, but I'm not sure how long that strategy is going to last.

Kitty Pi with cat filling

Kitty Pi with cat filling
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Yup, I think it belongs to Savannah now.

Adventures of a felting virgin, part deux (Or: Honey, I shrunk the bed!)

Fels Naptha
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
So, after the trama of non-felting in part one, I went in to Borealis for triage. And I learned the secret ingredient for felting was...

Continue reading "Adventures of a felting virgin, part deux (Or: Honey, I shrunk the bed!)" »

Knitting with wire (or, Squeee!)

Knitting with wire
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
I <3 Annie Modesitt, and apparently she loves me too! At least enough to send a free knitting with wire kit when I ordered Confessions of a Knitting Heretic directly from her. (I'm sure the big ol' mash note on how much I like her website and how I was looking forward to the knitting with wire section of the book helped. It's a good thing I don't have Elsebeth Lavold's email!).

I was preparing for the stash flash, so not much knitting last night. I'm set to flash automatically at one minute past midnight, for all you night owls out there. I do have some updated pictures and will be updating as time allows.

Down the other side

Down the other side
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Last night I could have:

1) learned how to do short rows in the fingerless mittens.

2) figured out the cast-on and first 10 rows for the chevron shadow shawl, which is my self-imposed limit for asking for help, since apparently the instructions are clear until that point[1].

3) on the charity scarf, figured out how to incorporate a different color into the cables, and how to increase the cables in that special Elsebeth Lavold Viking way.

But as you can see by the photograph (and the lack of "learning experience" catagorization), instead I had a lazy day and worked a good deal of the first repeat on the DNA scarf. I can see the cabling obsession starting anew.

[1] I did try to figure out if the knitted cast-on was the same as the cabled cast-on before falling asleep, and woke up to the vision of different topologic means of wrapping string around sticks, and visualizing whether they were equivalent -- a bad sign, no?

Cat toy

Cat toy
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
The first thing I ever knit, a small square for a cat toy. Stalled due to having no stuffing, and no desire to buy some. Finally hit upon the idea of using yarn ends for stuffing (after the horrendous experience of knitting in the ends on the Fibonacci Scarf). My first cabling swatch is included for good luck.

Actually, two other things contributed: starting this blog, so that I have to actually finish things to move them to the FO category; and wanting to make Cobie a cat toy to match his cat bed.

I also picked up catnip at the reptile(!) store today while purchasing crickets... Mmmm, kitty drugs:
Cat toy with cat

And a photo with Cobie's cat toy, too:
Two for the price of one!

Solving three problems: A quick lunchtime update

So, I went in for help to my LYS, Borealis Yarns, on Thursday to solve two problems, and ended up solving three. Abby is responsible for the first two, and I claim all responsibility for the last one.

Continue reading "Solving three problems: A quick lunchtime update" »

Well, what are you waiting for?

Well, what are you waiting for?
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Go on and felt it, then!

Equipment ideas

Other thoughts I've had recently:

Since the working needle sets the gauge, and right now one of the things that is slowing me down is moving stitches off of the stationary needle, why not use a smaller gauge needle on that side? Just go down a size or two. I've been getting better about not knitting too tightly (otherwise known as figuring out how to make the Addi Turbos go fast), so this is becoming less of a problem, but it would still be fun to experiment with. This would mean purchasing a set of Denise needles or equivalent.

It should also be possible to develop an inexpensive swift substitute. I believe that the adjustibility of the swift is primarily to go in the opposite direction, to turn balls into skeins. I think it would be an interesting engineering challenge to come up with a swift made out of off-the-shelf parts, that could be made for $20. Since the manual ball winders are sometimes available on sale for under $30, an entire setup could be made for under $50. This will especially benefit people that don't live near yarn stores, and need to mail-order yarn. One initial design is a cone on a lazy susan, where the skein of yarn just falls to the correct circumference. Depending on the variability of size in skeins (which will set the height of the cone), there might need to be some weights inside to adjust the inertial moment of spin. If people want to go from balls to skeins (say for dyeing), that might still be possible by putting a "collar" around the cone at the desired circumference.

I found the yarn for another project!

Alchemy Silk Purse, Copper
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Have you figured out by now that I <3 Elsebeth Lavold? I think The Embraceable You collection is incredible, with a large part of the attraction being the translation of metal armor (ultramale) into knitted angora garmets (ultrafemale). Mostly on a dare by Abby at Borealis Yarns, I've been thinking about knitting the cuffs to the Worf outfit, if I could find the right yarn. I wanted a verdigris / weathered copper in a very soft yarn, paired with a thin gauge copper wire[1]. Enter Alchemy Silk Purse in Copper (and they have a whole line of other metals, too!). And the prices are extremely reasonable, especially for 100% silk. Wow, I <3 Alchemy Yarns, too.

Continue reading "I found the yarn for another project!" »

Further ideas for tectonics knitting

A cardigan or vest, with asymmetrical opening along the mid-Atlantic ridge. The back of the vest would be gray, since I think it would be insane to reproduce the entire globe; and the opening of the Atlantic works the best. And doubly geeky -- taking the vest off would involve further opening of the Atlantic ==> projection into the future of plate tectonics. I still want to do the plate tectonics shawl first, since the piecework will make it easier to fix or replace a part when I'm learning intarsia. This will be a good second project, though, since all of the colors will be in lines and it will be relatively easy to plan the colorwork.

WIP it baby, WIP it good

Kitty Pi, take two
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Went in for help on Thursday, got over the blocks in three(!) projects. So all of the WIPs have been gettin' a little lovin'. More later -- unfortunately knitting and blogging are somewhat exclusive. The progess has been updated in the sidebar, and here is a pretty picture to tide you over.

A letter to Kureyon

Dear Big Kureyon,

You are so pretty. I am in love with your crayon-ey goodness. When I am with you, I forget all about the knots, the vegetable matter, the refusal to felt. All is forgiven.


A few inches of ribbing

A few inches of ribbing
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
I've been saving this to provide some color contrast -- too many neutrals lately. Most of the ribbing was done at a local concert on Saturday. That part is okay.

However, the few rows I did while angsting about felting last night have a mistaken purl row in the knits right at the beginning, and have to be ripped out. Sigh.

On the plus side, I've found that charity knitting is the perfect thing to fall asleep to; right now I'm working in garter stitch and I can handle that even when tired. I'm afraid of falling asleep and rolling over on the big pig-sticker needles, though. Perhaps that helps with the concentration?


Originally uploaded by thomasina.
The Kitty Pi bed after "felting" and blocking. Upon further inspection, it is really just the white that didn't felt. This wouldn't be so bad, except for the bad join in the skein between pure white and pure green in the center of the bed; the purl stitches are really obvious. Still planning on the triage route this evening.

Adventures of a felting virgin (or: I hate to see what google will send my way now)

Stupid Kureyon!

Kitty Pi cat bed, post

I washed the thing five times, for a total of 40 minutes, and it still wouldn't felt for me. The bottom is felted, but in the white parts and sides the stitches are still distinct. I'm going to let it dry and see how it looks, and go in for triage tomorrow. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Continue reading "Adventures of a felting virgin (or: I hate to see what google will send my way now)" »

More ideas for geology knitting

Originally uploaded by thomasina.
...if I were insane, that is. Mmm... Jamieson's Spindrift doubled, holding two colors for the transition... I can see it now. Maybe someday.

Poster courtesty of NOAA, I'm sure they reserve all rights and all... but our tax dollars went into producing it, so I'm taking it as a given it's okay to share it here.

Further evidence of unfaithfulness...

In more ways than one; based on comments on the photo, I might have flashed my stash a bit early. Ooops!

Here we have the Schaefer Anne, for the shadow shawl, matched with Rowan Kidsilk. Sadly, I don't know which is the bigger "nope." But I preserved it for posterity anyway.

Borealis Yarns does not carry Rowan; this means I am elsewhere, specifically at The Yarnery.

Continue reading "Further evidence of unfaithfulness..." »

More notes on project ideas

I have had thoughts on my project ideas, so I'm behind in getting them down in pixels. For the baby present, I really wanted to incorporate St. John's cross, the symbol for happiness, but a knotwork dragon, border, and cross would just be too much. Enter the dragon skin stitch from Barbara Walker's Second Treasury, from NoNoKitty at A Fiberholic Life. Danielle is planning a sweater, but it would make a great border for my piece -- subtle, so it does not compete with the knotwork, but part of the same theme. So Fafner in the center top, baby's name in runes along the bottom, dragon skin stitch around the four sides (like a frame), and the St. John's cross in the corners. I don't have a very clear picture of what I want the yarn to look like, other than the color (bright purple!).

I'm also still thinking about the labyrinth as a shadow shawl. Upon inquiry, I've been informed that curves don't take to shadow shawl knitting well. But I still have this inner conviction, that if I do it in a fine enough yarn, cut down the size of the pattern (the inner half of the labyrinth), and make the piece big enough, the transitions might be gradual enough to make it work. It might make me insane, but work. I also need to start thinking about the yarn -- I want something with a little sheen, and that would make very stiff purls that would "pop". For colors I want a rich chestnut brown, and a creamy off-white. I briefly considered a more varigated brown (that Schaefer Anne is addictive!), but the pattern will have enough challenges without dealing with varigation, also.

Completed Kitty Pi bed before felting

It took almost 2 skeins of Noro Big Kureyon -- there are only scraps left. The eyelash was a real pain to knit in; the eyelash wanted to stay on the wrong side, and it was very slippery on the addi turbos. The binding off was nearly impossible -- I probably should have switched to my new wooden straights for more traction. And I think the bind-off is too tight. Even with the majority of shrinkage occurring in the r rather than theta direction (or row rather than stitch direction), I still might end up with trapezoid sides. Should be an exciting adventure tonight!

I'm fickle, so sue me.

I'm fickle, so sue me.
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
After all the angsting about joining the stripes going in the same direction, I didn't like the look with the missing stripes. I decided the "bolide impact" look would work better, and unknit about a row and a half, cut the yarn(!), and spit spliced to the center pull. So everything turned out all right in the end. Here, we are about 10 rows past the join (just above mustard yellow / white stripe in the middle of the pink).

The diameter seems to measure 22" (11" radius), no matter how much I knit. I know it is difficult to measure, but it shouldn't be that difficult. At most, though, it is currently 24-25", even after an extra six rows. Which means I'm going to do another extra six rows (42 total instead of 30).

My new ball winder: Or, a tale of unfaithfulness

Ball winder
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
To begin: I love my local neighborhood yarn shop, Borealis Yarns. I will dedicate an entire post to them later, but short story: they just opened at the beginning of the summer, and I would like the store to have a long and fruitful life. I started knitting after learning at the open knitting night on Tuesdays (6-8pm!), and as I learn more and more, I can better appreciate how lucky I am to have them near. And I definitely do my part to keep them in business.


Continue reading "My new ball winder: Or, a tale of unfaithfulness" »

1 skein into the Kitty Pi bed

1 skein into the Kitty Pi bed
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
This is how far 1 skein gets you. From cast-on to the last set of increases is about 1/3 skein, and then the remaining 2/3 gets 26 rows in the knit straight portion. I was hoping that the very small cat would only need one skein (about 24 rows / 22" diameter), but obviously she will need a part of the second also. After 27 rows (and just starting the next skein) I am at 22", while the pattern was at about 28" unfelted after 30 rows. Cobie's bed needs to be bigger; I am shooting for 34" unfelted for a 17" felted bed. 36 rows? 42? we will see.

The first ball off my new ball winder

First ball from my ball winder
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
I think it came out pretty well! Color order aside... I decided that it was best to ball it in the direction that it seemed easiest to get the yarn from the hank, which turned out to be opposite to the direction I wanted it. I could have then reballed it in the other direction. I didn't because I figured that since I won't be using the entire skein, it would be better to take the yarn from the outside and leave a nice ball afterwards. Of course, this is outdated thinking, because I could have just reballed the remnants -- d'oh! I am considering cutting, reballing, and spit splicing, but probably won't, since cutting a working thread on purpose seems wrong.

Unfortunately, the two colors I need -- white and green -- are the ones with only two repeats, not three, and they are towards the middle of the skein. So the join will be scarce on white (at the tip of the last skein) and the green (just at the start of the new one). Normal faulting! -- removal of stratigraphy. Or perhaps strike-slip, smearing it out. In any case, we are not to the sides yet, so it should not matter that much.

Reasons to ball skeins before starting -- better color planning. Though if I had flipped the first skein, I would have ended up with a double section of pink/black, no matter which direction I did the second. Reasons not to skein -- cannot return extra skeins.

Kitty Pi Bed

Kitty Pi Bed
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
15 rows past the final set of increases (144 sts total). Transfered from #11 Brittany DPN to 24" #11 Addi Turbo circulars.

I guess I don't have to worry about the transition between the white and the next skein color; there was a break between the white and green on this skein, and the transition is more abrupt than I would like. I realized that I do want the striping to continue in the same direction, so that is something I will have to pay attention to; I will have to think about whether I care about repeated or missing colors.

PS: When I was thinking about the directionality of the yarn, and the resulting pattern -- I thought about it in terms of thrust faulting (repeated stratigraphy) and bolide (e.g. meteorite) impact (overturned and repeated stratigraphy). Yes, I am really that big a dork -- did you ever doubt it?

Kitty Pi bed yarn, take two

Kitty Pi Bed 2
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
This is the yarn for the second Kitty Pi bed. (What, I couldn't just buy yarn for Cobie without getting some for Savannah, too). Especially after I found a fun fur (on sale!) that complements the Big Kureyon exactly. I emailed my sister the color choices, but I was pretty certain which one she would pick. I cast on and did the first row, and updated the blog with the neutral color scheme, while waiting for her to retrieve her email (oh, those wacky people on dial-up!). (This is after having already wound a skein of neutral at the LYS). She likes both color choices, but until she settles in and decorates, the neutral will provide more flexibility, which is pretty much what I figured.

Kitty Pi Bed started

Kitty Pi Bed 1
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Halfway between 72 and 144 stitch increases. This is my first yarn that is meant to stripe, and it is fun seeing the different colors come off the needle. The color contrast is very subtle, however, so I hope that felting will increase the contrast. White is coming up next, which should be quite different. Since I have to join two skeins, I'm already thinking about how to do that -- I'm ending on a very white section, so I'm assuming a dark color would be an obvious problem.

This time I got the topology right, and am knitting on the front side of the DPN (as opposed to the fingerless mittens, where I am knitting on the backside, and backwards). I understand the joining process better, and now understand why it is so easy to twist stitches when adjusting the DPN so that the working area is in the front. I only had to start over once, and that was because I cast on too loosely the first time (a good habit in general!) and didn't want quite such a gaping hole in the bottom (I'm assuming that the little hole that is there now will felt over, especially after I weave in the end). It is so much pleasanter to knit on the near side -- it isn't even the knit vs. purl, it is the way the work falls and position of the needles. I've also learned to do the kfb / bar increases (I'd only done M1 until now). And I fixed a problem where the needle slipped out. When I put the stitches back on, I accidentally did a YO increase at the end (which then got the kfb treatment of the rest of the stitches). Sadly I unknit back around to confirm this was the problem, because I was worried about dropped stitches and laddering, but I think I will have more confidence in the future.

Kitty Pi Bed

Kitty Pi Bed 1
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Yarn purchased for the Kitty Pi bed. My sister's cat, Cobie, is having thyroid problems, and since they just moved to a place without carpeting, he needs someplace soft to lie on. (Sick cats tend to delay things like purchasing area rugs). We just lost two family cats in the past few months to old age, and Cobie is the last cat left from when we were together as children. I'd like to do something nice for him, so I've dropped all the other projects to work on the Kitty Pi bed (free pattern from Wendy Knits!).

I must be insane...

I must be insane...
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
First attempt at winding string around a rock, for creating a webbanner above, the project for this weekend. Knit on 5 #11 DPN rubberbanded together and 1 self-collected piece of petrified wood, with the heavenly Jamieson's DK in Moss. On a white background, with two more rows knitted, I think it would actually look pretty good. However, I'm not sure the petrified wood is going to work; it looks too much like wood in reduced size images. I don't want to use a quartz crystal, which will not show up well against a white background, and is too flashy for what I'm going for. And I like the big chunky look, so opaque needlely minerals like stibnite are out. Hmmm... have to see what's in the rock stash.

A better view

DNA scarf, cabling on one side
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Mostly the point of this photograph is a better picture than before, though I have desultorily completed a few rows of k4 p4 ribbing.

The cat is a good cat...

Action photo
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
...well, as good as can be expected of a cat. She shows no interest in yarn; I can drag it over her while knitting, and she either ignores it completely or is mildly annoyed. She goes wild over needle protectors or other small objects, however. If there is a needle protector nestled into a bunch of yarn, she will carefully reach in and flip it out. This seems like a small price to pay, and I've cheerfully ceded all of my needle protectors to the cat. Yesterday she became obsessed with the meant-to-be-on-a-needle row counter, though, which I would like to hang on to. Also, when I drop needles to cable, and they brush along the ground... also very tempting.

Picking up the fingerless mittens

I'm really goal oriented, and obviously obsessive about finishing the cables on the DNA scarf. But now that I've reached the ribbing, it is like a pause for breath -- and I've done 10 more rows on the fingerless mittens (up to the point in the pattern I no longer have the equipment for, or even necessarily understand).

This falls under the category "learning experience" because I'm knitting on the back end of the double pointed needles. Or since this is stockinette by this point, I should say purling. Since I am knitting combination style, this is not as much of a problem, except for increased opportunities to stick myself with the DPNs. Because it literally took me about 10 trys to start the k1 p1 ribbing on the DPNs, I am just happy that it worked at all.

Knit with 5 #4 DPNs, using Cherry Tree Hill River Run colorway held together with Madil Kid Seta 832. Fingerless Mitten pattern free from Borealis Yarns with yarn purchase.

A photo!

5 repeats!
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Which means I'm to the ribbing, though I haven't started yet. Even though I promised myself not to knit when too tired, based on bad results in the past, I was so close I ignored the good advice I gave myself. On the penultimate RS row, I had to knit back three times, and I dropped a stitch. Since this was only my third dropped stitch ever, it was momentarily very traumatic. My first dropped stitch was about six rows down on the fingerless mittens, and an experienced knitter fixed it. My second dropped stitch was on this DNA scarf, while unknitting to fix a mistake, and it was such a mess in the seed stitch section that I knitted back a row to fix it. This stitch was dropped because the DP needle I use for cabling fell out (again with the tired, it took me a while to figure out that it wasn't that I had forgotten to do the cable, it was that the cable needle was missing). But I figured out how to fix the dropped stitch, which was very exciting. And I pushed on to the end of the cabled section, so now it is ribbing city.

I guess I really do deserve some handpainted yarn in my life...

Start of the shadow shawl
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
I purchased the Schaefer Anne in the jewel-tone blue / purple / teal / black colorway. Although I loved the maroon and forest green in the other colorway, I wasn't as crazy about the orange and brown; that colorway was already sold by the time I returned in any case. I did also consider another colorway, which had some nice matches in a slightly heavier Madil yarn (I think Merino Mix):

I really like the colorway with the purple Madil Kid Seta (see below), but there are a couple other people doing this pairing. The blue Madil Kid Seta that I already own matches nicely, but is too dark. I really love the teal in the colorway, and would like to highlight that a bit more. There was already a special order in for Madil Kid Seta in a new color, 467 Sea Foam, so I am going to try that combo when it comes in:

PS: I obviously "deserved" some #7 32" Addi Turbos in my life, too...

To shadow shawl or not to shadow shawl...

...that is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind, to keep the stash restricted
Or throw caution to the winds and invest (time, money) in a shadow shawl.

Two possible color combos for the shadow shawl (the yarns are Schaefer Anne and Kid Seta):

Pros: I like the pattern, was considering taking the shadow shawl class for fun (before suddenly having an idea I'm excited about designing), I really deserve some pretty hand-painted yarn in my life (not so much opportunity with liking the cables and designing with intarsia and all), the Schaefer Anne is beautiful stuff.

Cons: I have several projects in the planning stages I'm excited about (though I suppose I could count the shawl as "research" towards one of them), I don't know what I would do with a shawl, I don't know which color set I want (partly because of the point immediately above).

Conclusion: open knitting night is eeeeeevil. Though I did get almost another rep done on the DNA scarf; it is at 4 1/3 reps now. But since things look pretty much the same as before, no new pics until I reach the ribbing.

Baby arrival present

My cousins have had a baby, and I'd like to make a present celebrating. (Yes, I know I should have done this before the baby arrived, but I didn't know how to knit then, or at least not very much -- and they're going to have it for at least another 18 years). Bright purple yarn is a necessity, such as the Mousakis Butterfly Cotton:

...and I'd like to design a piece using elements from Elsebeth Lavold's Viking Patterns for Knitting, specifically the knotwork dragon, Fafner (dragons are also mandatory); some sort of knotwork along the sides; perhaps the symbol for happiness; and the baby's name in runes on the bottom:

I was originally thinking of a baby blanket, but the baby already has tons of crocheted baby blankets. Now I am thinking a wall hanging or pillow, that would still be useful at the baby gets older (again with the 18 years thing). Plus most baby-suitable yarn is tiny, tiny, tiny and I can't imagine knitting up a huge swath of it.

Update to geeky knitting section...

The original post is now organized by category, which makes things easier to find. I've also added a few links I've found in the past month, a few things suggested in a discussion on the knittyboard, and some comments on geeky books that I either own, or have looked at. I plan on infrequently updating that post, rather than starting new ones, for the convenience of those people who would like to bookmark the page (hit the "permalink" link before bookmarking). Most of my projects have a high geek factor: fibonacci sequence, DNA cables, and continental drift / plate tectonics. And if I had only known about the cat bed incorporating the moebius strip!

DNA scarf, 3.5 reps

DNA scarf, 3.5 reps
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Not much happening on the blog today, mostly playing around with the settings rather than writing. I think I will need to update and organize the geeky knitting section, by topic, to make it easier to follow.

Got 1.5 reps done today on the DNA scarf, I was hoping for 2 but it is still much better than a normal weekend. I am hoping for 1 rep / weekend and 2 rep / workweek, for 3 total per week. That would make the scarf a 1 month project. This is probably pathetically slow compared with an experienced knitter, but the scarf is over 2,200 stitches.

I've also been starting to read Elsebeth Lavold's Viking Patterns for Knitting; more on that later, when I've absorbed more of the book. This is another reason my knitting has been slowed down; reading and knitting at the same time. This ability has more to do with my reading skills than knitting skills, since I can walk and read at the same time also.

thomasina's Guide to Geeky Knitting

Oddly enough, knitting and geekiness are like chocolate and peanut butter -- what at first seems like an odd combination is very complimentary. The mathematics that underlies knitting probably helps...

Geology and Paleontology (I have to start with this...)

MathematicsComputer Science

Continue reading "thomasina's Guide to Geeky Knitting" »

DNA scarf coiling over histones ==> chromosome

A geeky joke that came out of comments here.

Completed: DNA scarf #1

Completed DNA scarf
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
The advantage of leaving behind a slew of almost-finished projects: instant gratification when finished.

The DNA scarf finished drying today, so I took it off the blocking board. I only had one end to weave in, which was very exciting. (I figured out how to splice yarn while knitting this, and LYS owner did the ending piece to show me how to weave in).

The Fibonacci Windy City Scarf was designed to complement this fleece.

Ariadne on the needles?

Ariadne on the needles?
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
All of this blogging about channeling different mythological women gave me an idea -- Ariadne and the labyrinth. Perhaps a shadow shawl of the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth? (Picture photographed from the book Chartres Cathedral by Malcom Miller. This is an excerpt under fair use, please respect the copyright; unfortunately the floor was covered with chairs the day I visited, so I don't have a good photograph.)

Incremental advancement in the tectonics shawl

Jamieson's DK 187 Sunrise
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
LYS had enough skeins of Jamieson's DK 187 Sunrise for the continents and lacework after all, so I've gone ahead and purchased them. Now I am waiting on the 726 Prussian Blue for the ocean. I might use the 147 Moss for the now-planned border.

Jamieson's Shetland Double Knitting
100% Shetland Wool
2 oz / 170 yds
4 in swatch: 22-26 sts by 26-30 rows
needles: US 4-6
Color: 187 Sunrise
Lot: 122802
Dry Cleaning Recommended
Status: 3 skeins purchased for continents and lace connection in tectonics shawl.

Completed Fibonacci Windy City scarf

Even if this blog has no intrinsic value, it has motivated me to organize and finish up projects that have been languishing (mostly off the needles). I've reworked the SnB Windy City scarf into something I enjoy wearing, and have even managed to weave in all the ends (54, after splitting yarn into 2-ply!). I've now learned that it is important to weave in as I go, so the chore is not so large at the end. As a further exercise in delayed gratification, I was not going to release DNA scarf #1 from the blocking board until I was done with this scarf. This was a wise idea, since I did not experience a rise in excitement level at being close to done, even when weaving in the last two ends. Alas, the DNA scarf was still slightly damp, so I've moved it from the (cold) basement to an upstairs room.

Arachne on the needles

Arachne on the needles
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Actually, I suppose the problem is that I wasn't channeling Arachne enough. Many cultures have superstitions that to make a perfect piece of art will anger the gods; I am certainly safe from that fate!

This is the most frustrating mistake; I had just gotten to the point where I knew the pattern enough to be dangerous, and crossed the cables by extending the longer side of the DNA helix. I did not realize the problem until I was a third of the way through the ribbing. It was actually not until someone else that was DNA knitting pointed out the error in her own scarf that I realized I had a problem at all; otherwise I might have continued in this fashion on the other side.

I can also pretend that the DNase has just unzipped the helix in preparation for replication...

Penelope on the needles

Picking up the DNA scarf
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Or, "don't sleep and knit."

I usually knit a little bit to unwind (hah!) before falling asleep. Last night I was obviously too tired; I crossed a cable the wrong way, which rarely happens, and I didn't immediately notice, which pretty much never happens. So I needed to unknit back almost two whole rows. In the morning, I discovered I forgot to cross the side twist cables in any case.

So I've discovered that Penelope wasn't really all that faithful[1], she was just so tired and distracted by her suitors that she needed to rip out her weaving all the time...
[1]Not that I blame her, what with Circe and all.

We love our Chibis

We love our Chibis
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
I've been spending my spare time yesterday and today weaving in the ends of the Windy City scarf. The downside to the fibonacci pattern -- all these ends to weave in. I am splitting the yarn into two, so it is not so bulky when woven in. By my count, there are 54(!) ends to weave in. These are the last ones left -- I'm two-thirds of the way through. I'm not going to take the DNA scarf off the blocking board until I am done with the Windy City; that will be my reward.

Blocking DNA scarf #1

Blocking DNA scarf #1
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
The Fibonacci Windy City scarf is done blocking, so now it is DNA scarf's turn. I am also weaving in the ends of Fibonacci Windy City, which is taking awhile. I am splitting the fiber into two, and weaving each part in separately; otherwise it is too bulky. I am saving the scraps of yarn to stuff the cat toy.

Yarn substitutions for the DNA scarf, part 2: or what I have also learned lately

Closeup of DNA cables in Moss
Originally uploaded by thomasina. The Jamieson's DK is beautiful yarn. It feels like real wool (so yes, it is a bit on the scratchy side). But it is incredibly wiry and springy, and feels very good on the needles. It is also incredibly light -- I amuse myself by tossing the 170 yard ball into the air. I've knit with it on #4, #5, and #6, and the fives are perfect. It almost feels like what would come out of the spinnerette of a B-movie science fiction beast, or what spider silk would feel like magnified to macroscopic scale, though in a good way. And the
147 Moss

147 Moss yarn is beautiful; deep green with highlights of rust brown and yellow. Overall the other colors are just highlights, and it does not knit up particularly tweedy, of which I am not a fan. Alas, the yarn was too felty, dark, and just tweedy enough to make a poor choice for the DNA scarf. So this yarn is looking for a project (2 skeins, 340 yards total); the start of my yarn stash, but I don't regret buying it.

We aim to please

Full confession time: still harboring the ideal of perfection, after having identified most of the ways to go wrong in DNA scarf #1. Purled two instead of knitting two between the two crossover cables, which doesn't really show in the finished product. Decide to unknit anyway (about 1/3 of a row total). Alas, a bit of a disaster laddering down between two stitches. Could give up and take to LYS, someday, when I have free time (hah!). Decide instead to unknit until problem is fixed... two and a half rows later. Re-knit, cross cables, once again do two purls instead of two knits between the cables (this time on other side). Have not mastered the concept of sunk costs, decide to unknit and fix; this time only needed to unravel the relevant portions. Perhaps need to purposefully place error, have done and get on with it?

PS: This was one thing I didn't have a problem with in scarf #1 -- where the heck did this issue come from?!

PPS: This was meant to refer to the crossing cables issue -- but could equally apply to the perfection hangup. There are five major and three minor problems in scarf #1, but that is enough to put me off from wanting to wear it...

Breaking news: Black DNA scarf

I've gotten a lot of ideas on what works and what doesn't in the DNA scarf by googling and google imaging. I got the idea it might be okay to go to darker colors through a successful forest green scarf. I thought I might be able to reconcile my previously inconpatible loves, dark fibers and cables. Faced with the choice between charcoal and bilberry (dark blue) in the silky wool, I was not brave enough and went with the dark blue... guess I should have tried the black. Sorry, C.!

Yarn substitutions for the DNA scarf, part 1: or what I have learned lately

Plymouth Yarn
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
The DNA scarf pattern was designed with Heneke Exotics, a blend of 25% Alpaca, 25% Merino, and 50% Tencel (cellulose fiber). The original scarf appears to combine soft fluffiness with structure and shininess, the latter qualities probably from the tencel.

The first DNA scarf I knit was out of Plymouth Yarn's Baby Alpaca. This reproduced the fluffiness and softness of the original. However, I doubt it has as much structure. The yarn was "mushy" and difficult to knit with, especially for the longer blocks of garter stitch or seed stitch. Cabling was easy, partly because the yarn had quite a bit of give; this led to gaps in the cable crossovers, even when knitting very tightly. Fortunately, the DNA cables have good definition, but the side twist cables do not. Overall, I think it will be okay once it is blocked; at least the sts to row ratio is okay, since the DNA cables are not stretched in the row direction, as some scarves I have seen online.

DNA scarf #2

DNA scarf #2
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
The second DNA scarf is now at 1.5 reps, the same point as my first photo of number one. I am astounded but pleased that the cables show up so nicely in the dark yarn.

New layout for tectonics scarf

New layout for tectonics scarf
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
The outermoust top ovals will have sea serpents in them -- an homage to hic dracones. With my typical tight knitting (7 sts / in on #5 for DK!), the spread with just ovals would be only about 50". LYS owner suggested a border. Duly added; wavy lines will be a pattern picking up the wavy lace around the ovals.

Yarn ordered for tectonics shawl

LYS owner looked at the swatches on #4 and #5 needles, and pointed out that #4s were too small -- the swatch curled badly. So I will just have to accept the ~15% pattern elongation on the #5s. This is why books are good, but experienced knitters are better.

Yesterday, I measured the swatch area, then I put stitch markers at the beginning and end of the swatch, and pulled it out and measured the length -- 125 in for a 13 by 13 swatch. The ovals are about 70 by 35 stitches, or about 1925 stitches total. For 14 ovals, this turns out to be only about 3 skeins of yarn (Jamieson's is 170 yds). I've put in an order for the Jamieson's DK: 3 skeins of 726 Prussian Blue, and 2 of 187 Sunset. I am excited about getting the yarn in!

Blocking Fibonacci Windy City

Blocking Fibonacci Windy City
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
I'm not sure it needed it, but it was good practice for the DNA scarf. So far I've learned that my washing machine does not have a spin-only cycle (at least not that I can figure out), and that having a grid background on the blocking "board" is a good thing. Guess it is time to get that gingham tablecloth after all.

Knitting Books

I like books. I'm enjoying my forays into knitting. I forsee this list growing.

Books in order of purchase:

Stitch n' Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook by Debbie Stoller. I learned how to knit (cast on, knit, bind off) from the local yarn shop. I mostly bought this book as a means to start learning how to read patterns. My first real project was the cat bed, where I learned how to follow (and modify) a pattern. I learned to be suspicious of patterns with the Windy City scarf, where the proportions didn't work out at all for me. I don't actually use the stitch references much, I find it is easier and better to google until I find an explanation that clicks for me.

Knitting for Anarchists by Anna Zilboorg. I halfway learned how to purl at the local yarn shop for the Windy City scarf, but when I got home all I got was a tangled mess. When I pulled out the SnB, I obviously did not do what they intended, because I ended up wrapping the yarn around clockwise (which results in twisting the stitch on the needle, so I knitted eastern crossed for that project). On my next project, the fingerless mittens, I learned how to knit combination-style k2 p2 rib and stockinette. Fortunately I started reading Zilboorg before trying to figure out seed stitch; the stitch pictures and descriptions are what has finally made the process of knitting click for me. Plus, it is a good reference for a novice trying to adapt patterns and develop new patterns. (It is no substitute for consultation with an experienced knitter, of course). The only disappointment was not much discussion about how to fix dropped stitches, especially laddered ones. It is one thing to causually toss off that people are too afraid of dropping stitches -- but to my mind, without knowing the remedy, it is something I am overcautious of, and I think reasonably so.

The two new additions: Elsebeth Lavold's Book one: The Viking Knits Collection and Book three: The Embraceable You Collection. I became interested in the silky wool when browsing through many yarn choices for the next DNA scarf. I really like the cabled and armored-inspired designs. I'm not sure that I want to commit to an entire sweater, especially in the near future, but there are also some great armbands and hats. And I wanted a backup plan in case the DNA scarf did not work out in the silky wool.

Fibonacci sequence on Windy City scarf

I think the more gradual transition of the Fibonacci sequence is less jarring to the visual cortex than the too-subtle abrupt change, which just looked like the yarn had run out. Plus, it is geeky!

I like the way it turned out, though I am not looking forward to weaving in the ends. But first, the blocking!

Frogging the Windy City scarf

Frogging the Windy City scarf
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Action shot frogging the Windy City scarf back to the first row of black.

I read the Techniques with Theresa column on frogging in knitty. For extra insurance, I inserted the needle in the second row of black, and then unknit back to the first row. This was more by way of experiment and practice for precision, since it would have been faster to over-frog and re-knit. Or I could have stood to lose a few rows of purple, too.

Shortening the Windy City Scarf

Shortening the Windy City Scarf
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
I modeled the scarf in the mirror, and marked the new length that I wanted with a stitch marker. I then planned the best match Fibonacci sequence: 1-8-1-5-2-3-3-2-5-1-8-1. There should be a little more black at the end with that plan, so the lower stitch marker is marking the planned new length (of course, there needs to be 13 rows of black at the end!).

Windy City Scarf

Windy City Scarf
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
I am more of a process knitter. I chose things that I will enjoy having, but I lose motivation for the final steps once it comes off the needles (or at least that has been by experience from the 3-4 projects that I have worked on). Especially motivation-draining is when things don't turn out the way you'd expect.

This is the Windy City Scarf from the first Stitch n Bitch; k1 p1 rib on #9 circulars. Fashionwise, I am very scarf-challenged, so I liked the concept of a keyhole to pull the scarf end through. (This is also a reason why I like the seaman's style of the DNA scarf, no wrapping for the scarf-challenged person).

The Windy City scarf as executed here has several problems.
1) The purple section is too long. The black section is also far too long. About 2/3 of the black needs to be frogged to obtain a length that looks right on me in the mirror.
2) The colors are not working with the way the scarf is designed. In the SnB, the colors are different enough that the change pops out. I chose the colors to match a fleece that I have, which is obviously not garish enough. Since the tone is so similar, the black just looks like an incorrect purple.
3) I didn't know how to purl, so all of the purl stitches are twisted. This is not a problem per se; the scarf is thicker, and I like the effect. The problem is that I know how to correct for twisted stitches on the needle, and it will be a pain to knit incorrectly now if I want to redo parts of the scarf.

Number 1 can be solved by frogging, 2 and 3 cannot. 2 can be solved by changing the pattern, and 3 can only be solved by either re-knitting the entire scarf, or by being motivated enough by the pattern changes to knit eastern crossed for the duration of fixing the scarf.

My first idea was to rip out the black and replace with 1/3 the length of purple. Does the job, but is not particularly exciting, and I don't have a black end to match the cuffs of my light purple fleece. Then I thought of incorporating the Fibonacci sequence as a transition between the purple and black. I've wanted to do such a transition for awhile, but I'm not planning any projects that could incorporate it in the near future. So that solves problem #3.

Lace scarf (also not mine)

Lace scarf (also not mine)
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Once I sketched out the arrangement of the ovals, I remembered this lacework scarf that might make a good joining lace if it were elongated to an oval.

Award winning afgan (not mine!)

Award winning afgan (not mine!)
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
This is where I got the idea of knitting up individual ovals and connecting them with lacework.

Other geeky knitting projects...

Off the needles!
Originally uploaded by thomasina.

I know lots of geeky people, so I forsee a lot of these in my future. This is knit with Plymouth Yarn's lightest shade of Baby Alpaca on size #4 straight needles and came in at about 80% gauge. It needs to be blocked, badly. The DNA scarf pattern is by June Oshiro, and has been featured on the cover of Nature Genetics and in the Geek Chic section of Fall 2003 Interweave Knits.

View my flickr DNA scarf album to recapture the entire process.