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


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.

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.

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" »

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!

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.)

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.!

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!

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.

Planning notes for tectonics shawl

Planning notes
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
I thought it might be interesting to document the planning process. I'm as big a newbie to knitblogs as to knitting itself, so I'm sure there are lots of people who document this online.

Also, I am a lot less likely to lose my flickr address and knitblog address than this piece of paper.

This was written in the LYS, after the realization that even knit in Spindrift, a scarf with the worlds in N-S orientation would be monstrously large. There are a lot of detailed notes on the photo; if you want to see them, click through and and see it on flickr.

Next DNA scarf?

Elsebeth Lavold's Silky Wool
Originally uploaded by thomasina.

I am going to try knitting the next DNA scarf in Elsebeth Lavold's Silky Wool, in the 21 Bilberry to the left. Elsebeth Lavold was able to design her own yarn -- and she is all about the cables. The black was too dark to show the cables well, even by a professional photographer. The darker blue showed cables fairly well in the book, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I'd also like to do a scarf in the darker purple, but might have to use the lighter purple instead.

Tectonics shawl yarn choices

Tectonics shawl yarn choices
Originally uploaded by thomasina.

These are gorgeous colors, but I still like the Jamieson's better. I feel like such a dork -- I can't help feeling that the albedo of the Jamieson's DK wool is closer to the true thing.

Brown Sheep Company Prairie Silks
Ruble Red PS400
Real Royal PS600

Silky Wool possibilities for Tectonics shawl

Silky Wool possibilities for Tectonics shawl
Originally uploaded by thomasina.

Another possibility, but somehow the Jamieson's seems like the right choice (in spite of them apparently dumping all of their DK colors)...

Silky Wool 21 bilberry and Silky Tweed 06 rust.

Yarn for tectonics knitting

Yarn for tectonics knitting, originally uploaded by thomasina.

Here are the colors I would like to use for tectonics shawl: Jamieson's DK Sunrise 187 and Prussian Blue 726. I would like to knit up the 12 patterns as ovals, and connect with some sort of lace. I am probably insane, since this will be my first real project. I might also make an afgan, which might be more practical, but not as challenging.

Apparently Jamieson's is discontinuing most of their DK colors, so I need to figure out how much I need to buy quickly. Fortunately, the owner of the LYS is encouraging me in my insanity, and is going to special order direct from the distributer.

Credit for the tectonic charting goes to fisheggs and her incredible tectonics scarf.