Monday, December 31, 2007

Argyle Updates

Many of you will remember the argyle sock I am making for the TKGA Master hand knitting program. I am working on sock # 2. I have been waiting for the needles to arrive in order to transition from the flat to the round. They are here, so now I have no reason to procrastinate finishing this exercise.

Argyle Knitting Lessons I have learned:

1. Gauge. Sock yarn does not look nice knitted at a loose gauge. I knew this, but still I tried to meet the gauge of the pattern. Therefore, I got a huge sock (yes, it was the size the pattern called for). I went down to a smaller gauge, and got a more appropriately sized women’s sock. I went from a 3.25mm to a 2.75mm needle for the flat knitting. It made all the difference. My big fear in changing gauge was having to remake the chart, but since the size of the sock is still acceptable, I won’t have to do this.

2. Add an extra row of plain background color to the instep before placing it on hold. This helps the knitting stay neat once the sock switches to being worked in the round. Remember to compensate with an extra row on the gussets for seaming!!

3. Stitches look different in the flat than in the round. In the round my knitting in more even and there is a “slight” variation in the gauge. Hence the need for new needles. I will try both the 2.75 mm and the 3mm to see which one will give the best look.

4. Use needles with better points. Originally I used the Addi Turbos and once again I was disappointed with the tips. My decreases looked terrible. I prefer to magic loop, so I need needles with a good cord in addition to nice pointy tips. The addis have a great cord. But the points are less than desirable for fine knitting. I’m trying out Knit Picks Harmony needles, the site claims they are perfect for Magic Loop---

5. Work the heel either in straight stockinette or work the cushioning stitch differently. Work row 4: Sl1, K2 (slip1,K1) to last two sts ,k 2 rather than Sl2 (k1,sl1) to last 2 sts, k2. This will create a more stable outer edge on which to pick up gusset sts. The cushioning st may look better at a smaller gauge...we shall see.

Do you suppose I over think things just a little?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Great Truths

I've been cleaning up my computer and found this. It was sent to me a few years ago. Thought I'd share it:


1) No matter how hard you try, you can't baptize cats.
2) When your Mom is mad at your Dad, don't let her brush your hair.
3) If your sister hits you, don't hit her back. They always catch the second person.
4) Never ask your 3-year old brother to hold a tomato.
5) You can't trust dogs to watch your food.
6) Don't sneeze when someone is cutting your hair.
7) Never hold a Dust-Buster and a cat at the same time.
8) You can't hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.
9) Don't wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts.
10) The best place to be when you're sad is Grandpa's lap.

1) Raising teenagers is like nailing Jell-O to a tree.
2) Wrinkles don't hurt.
3) Families are like fudge...mostly sweet, with a few nuts.
4) Today's mighty oak is just yesterday's nut that held its ground.
5) Laughing is good exercise. It's like jogging on the inside.
6) Middle age is when you choose your cereal for the fiber, not the toy

1) Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.
2) Forget the health food. I need all the preservatives I can get.
3) When you fall down, you wonder what else you can do while you're down there.
4) You're getting old when you get the same sensation from a rocking chair that you once got from a roller coaster.
5) It's frustrating when you know all the answers but nobody bothers to ask you the questions.
6) Time may be a great healer, but it's a lousy beautician.
7) Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.

1) You believe in Santa Claus.
2) You don't believe in Santa Claus.
3) You are Santa Claus.
4) You look like Santa Claus.

At age 4 success is . . not peeing in your pants.
At age 12 success is . . having friends.
At age 16 success is . . . having a drivers license.
At age 20 success is . . . having a girlfriend that thinks you a really good looking.
At age 35 success is . . . having money.
At age 50 success is . . . having money.
At age 60 success is . . having a girlfriend that thinks you are really good looking
At age 70 success is . . . having a drivers license.
At age 75 success is . . having friends.
At age 80 success is . . . not peeing in your pants

Always remember to forget the troubles that pass your way BUT never forget to remember the blessings that come each day.

Friday, December 21, 2007

White Horse

Sharing a Picture of Rocchina. She is a 5 year old Lipizzaner.

Lipizzaners are a rare type of horse. They are highly intelligent, gregarious creatures. They prefer the company of people and Lipizzaners to other horses. They are hardy, easy keepers. They require little food and rarely need to wear shoes.

Lipizzaners are small horses. 14.1-15.2 hands is the average. Despite their short stature, they are broad and smooth gaited and can carry large riders with elegance. Rocchina"s gaits feel that of  (14.3 hands)  a large 16+ hand warmblood. The gaits are smooth as well as big. The horse has a natural tendency toward roundness.

Most people associate the Lipizzaner with the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. Until recently the SRS was the only place a Lipizzaner could be seen. After the Lippizan rescue of WW II, breeding became an issue and the breed came very close to extinction. The SRS controlled breeding and thus the quality of the horses remained solid. But with the realization that concentration of the horses in one location placed them in danger should this area be jeopardized, the decision to allow private ownership of the horses was made and Lipizzaner horses slowly made their way to homes around the world.  While their numbers have increased, the breed still remains on the endangered species list.

Originally there were Lipizzaners of different colors. Today the majority of Lipizzaners are white with an occasional brown or black. They were bred specifically for use by the Hapsburg royal family and the king wanted white horses so the white/grey gene was selected out. All Lipizzaners begin life brown, black or dark grey and become completely white around age 5.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My First Sweater

Today I’m writing about “My first Sweater”. I began knitting back in the late 1980’s. I took a class at a yarn store. The instructor taught knitting by having the student work a sweater. No practice—just jump right in.  If you don't know it is supposed to be difficult then you believe it is possible.

The yarn is Reynolds Saucy in horrid blue. (What was I thinking?) and in cotton no less. Cotton is notorious for highlighting flaws in knitting.

Here are the front and back, some close-ups, and the inside.

Yes, those are twisted stitches. The stitches are uneven. The seams don’t match up well either.

Rowing out and guttering abound.

At least I can say it fit, after all I made a gauge swatch and my “average” gauge matched the pattern.

Overall, it is a dysmorphic mess.

The best thing about this sweater is I KNIT IT . I’m sorry to say my second sweater wasn’t much better. But my third was a winner. I CABLED!!

My point being: Nobody starts off perfect and nobody ends up perfect.

We hopfully learn and improve as we go, building skills and knowledge. Have fun, this is your hobby.

The oldest hand knit sweater in existence today belonged King Charles I. He wore it to his execution. I wouldn't be caught dead in my first sweater.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dec11 and 80 degrees

Here are two of the before picture of the blocked sweater.

And and after picture.

Seeing is believing.

Also, note how the band of Fair Isle slightly sucks in and the knitting between it and the band appears "strained". This is due to a difference in gauge. Most people will experience this when using plain knitting with a stranded stripe. Going up a needle size for the stranded work would have helped.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Blocking Knits

This first entry is a tutorial for blocking a hand knit sweater. Many of my students are afraid to block. Hopefully this tutorial will help alleviate enough fear that they will try it out. The method shown here is wet blocking. It works well on wool and wool blends. Several of you will recognize Kendra’s top down, Fair Isle, baby sweater. The first and second pictures show the sweater before blocking. Notice how uneven the banding looks. Also notice the fabric and stitches appear irregular.

Pictures 3-5 show the blocking process. I completely soaked the piece in tepid to cool water. I want every fiber to absorb water so I allowed the sweater to soak for 10 minutes. The amount of soak time will vary depending on the yarn used and the item knitted. Water causes the fibers to relax and will allow the sweater to be reshaped. 


Pictures 6-7-- I removed the sweater from the water and gently squeezed some of the water out. I was careful not to wring the knitting.  I placed the sweater in a washing machine set to drain and spin. This cycle will allow the sweater to spin without the addition of water. The centrifugal force will bring the knitting to a dampened state. If you try this, be sure the setting you use doesn’t allow hot water to enter the machine. Be sure the machine does not agitate either. If you don’t want to centrifuge in a washing machine, you can place the sweater in a large fluffy towel. Roll it up jellyroll like and then squeeze the excess water into the towel
Pictures 8-9 show the sweater prepared for drying. I laid the piece flat and using my hands, I gently stroked the work to the finished dimensions, making sure the columns of stitches stayed straight. I used two pins to correct the anding.

Sometimes you can get someone to help you.