Chart for the Watson Shrug

I’ve been getting some pings about the Watson Shrug I created because it doesn’t use the chart that was provided in the original pattern from Crystal Palace Yarns (sadly now closed). I believe you can still download the Aran Cabled Shrug as a PDF from Ravelry HERE.

This chart is for the 36-stitch repeating cable pattern I used instead of the one in the original pattern. I changed it because I don’t like looking at, or knitting, bobbles.

The delay in sharing is that the chart, my first ever, was originally done on graph paper with pencil (which I threw out—head shake). To share it I needed to digitally recreate it. Thankfully, in the project photos, I took a partial picture of the graph when I posted it. With that photo and the shrug as a reference, here is the pattern.

This cable pattern is over 36 stitches and repeats every 24 rows. All cabling is on odd numbered (right side) rows and all rows except the first and the middle row, have cables.

Pattern Key:

Watson Cable:

As I mentioned, with color patterns, in an earlier post, charting is hard. My hat goes off to those designers that not only create charts for the rest of us, but no doubt, like me, swatch them too. I have a newfound appreciation for the designers that use color and cables (sometime both) in their published patterns.

And please, your feedback is greatly welcomed should you find errors. This time I created it on my computer, so it won’t be so hard to make changes and upload a corrected PDF. 😊

Happy knitting!

Learning My Own Knit Style

This week I attended my first Red Alder Fiber Arts Retreat (AKA Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat) and it was worth it. It’s relatively local to me, just a long drive, and the classes were well balanced between beginning, intermediate and advanced. It was also smaller and less expensive than many knitting events.

Being a long-time knitter, I took moderate to advanced topics; such as Knitting Argyle Socks and Patterned and Textured Double-knitting. Overheard from an attendee coming out of the pre-requisite for one of my classes, “that hurt my head”. I agree. Some of these techniques that employ new ideas, especially with color, take concentration when you are learning them. As with everything, with practice, they become easier.

What surprised me is not what I learned in class, but what I learned about what like, and don’t, as a fiber artist. In part this is because this is a very introspective time for me. I’m on leave considering leaving the workforce (for good) or what might be a ‘next career’ for me.

Not to say that the classes weren’t all consuming. Hats off to the instructors, who were patient and expert at their craft. I would recommend the classes I took at Red Alder above many, maybe even most, I’ve taken in more than 20 years of fiber conference class attendance. I’ll talk more about them as I use the learnings in future blogs.

In general, what helped most was finding out what works for me as a knitter. Maybe it will help you too:

  1. It’s okay to be practical. I should make things that my family asks for, will wear and use. The things I was most drawn to on other attendees and display were were both beautiful and practical.
  2. Challenging to make can be challenging to wear. It’s time to clean out my Ravelry queue of hard to make, never to be worn, specialty items requiring expensive, highly contrasting, skinny yarns. On real people, they can look more costume than couture.
  3. I’m so *over* shawls. They age everyone–even the very young!
  4. Designing colorwork patterns is hard. Charting color patterns is easy to get wrong and they are worth every penny. While I aspire to do colorwork designs, for the time being it’s perfectly okay to use someone else’s tried and true pattern.
  5. New designs DO look better. Older patterns were created to sell yarn and often lacked attention to detail, especially in sweater finishing and socks. New teachers are teaching new techniques that look and fit better. And many are easy to learn and apply to old patterns.

I’m now looking forward to Seattle Vogue Knitting next month. It’s even closer to home. And, as usual, I’ve signed up for lots of classes.

I hope I never get tired of learning new things.

Have you picked up any new techniques and ideas lately?

A stitch gauge with size in millimeters on one side and US needle sizes on the other.

PS: Though I did buy things at the marketplace—real fur pompoms and an elegant stainless steel stitch gauge necklace from Crossover Industries, I managed to stick to my resolution to knit only from my stash this year.

Rock ’em Sock ’em

Extermely Fitted Socks

Many times, I’ve said, that socks are my least favorite to knit. And yet…

Socks are the first to mind when I cast on these days. Partly, its demand pull (Nick is a sock fiend) and partly it’s what’s in the stash (READ: went on a MASSIVE sock yarn buying spree). Mostly, it is the need for a traveling project.

With a commute like mine from Orcas Island to Seattle (a once a week round trip), I need the packable project. And I must admit, socks are growing on me. They can be hard or easy, depending on the level of sophistication. I’d say, other than extremely custom fitting of Nick’s funny foot, I’m still in the “plain” sock mode as an “intermediate” sock knitter.

I envy the beautiful projects by experienced sockers, with all the intricacies of lace, braids and such. I also started with patterned socks. These days I tend to be more plain and practical, with the exception of fitting. And I must be getting better because this final pair, still on the needles, is my own pattern. Not only is there lots of fitting, it’s got a Turkish cast-on and a German short-row heel.

In the future, I’ll try and make it a download, but with a new job, long commute and very little free time (even for knitting and blogging) that might be a while. Certainly not until they are finished.

For now, I’ll just have to be happy about the Blacktop Ferry Socks I just finished. This happy accident is because I ran out of the Yarnachy Liberty sock wool I started with.

Now you see the blacktop, now you don’t. 🙂

A Really Useful Gift for a Knitter

My mind has been on gifts for Christmas. In fact, I’m a bit worried how I’ll complete all the presents I’ve planned to make. I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of some yarn for some of those gifts–hoping it will arrive before Thanksgiving when I’ll finally have some time to knit.

This past weekend I went to Knit Fit in Seattle and picked up a few of the skeins I need, but some are still in transit. Meanwhile I took a master class on decreases and increases, because I’m always struggling to know which one to use when and what each one looks like and is best for certain projects.

On the wrist of the instructor, Andrea Rangel, had on a tool I truly coveted. It’s the one thing I’m always wanting close to hand, but isn’t handy—a measuring tape. Instead of it being in a toolkit there it was as a fashionable bracelet on her wrist.

When I got home I made a quick search and discovered they are made in Oregon by a company called ILOVEHANDLES. For a mere 19.95, I think it’s a beautiful, affordable gift for any knitter in your life.

A Yarn Weight Key for Holding Two Strands Together

Holding two strands of yarn together can make some beautiful projects. I came across several blogs and lovely patterns on Ravelry which show some spectacular outcomes of holding two yarns of the same weight together.

I’ve got it in my head to do a gradient sweater with a set of Miss Babs Fingering Weight yarn and I’m not too keen on knitting it at a fingering weight. I once knit a sport weight and it took me over a year to complete it (of course not knitting monogamously).  And yet, patterns like the Happily Sweater by Katy Banks, the Progressive Pullover by Faina Goberstein and the Gradient Pullover by Amy Miller are calling my name!

     

I’ve been looking for a key to holding two strands together and couldn’t find a definitive source. This won’t be one either, as this is not an exact science. But after researching and testing I came up with what you could use as a good rule of thumb. After that, swatching should get you the rest of the way.

First to the Craft Yarn Council to get the “standard weight” categories, including a “new” knitted yarn weight called Jumbo—which I often get by hold three worsted weight strands together. The table below is a modified version of what you’ll find at their site. I encourage you to look there for the full table.

Category
Fingering 10-count thread
Sock, Fingering, Baby
Sport, Baby
DK, Light Worsted
Worsted, Afghan, Aran
Chunky, Craft, Rug
Super Bulky, Roving
Jumbo, Roving
Gauge Range Over 4”
33–40 stitches
27–32 stitches
23–26 stitches
21–24 stitches
16–20 stitches
12–15 stitches
7–11 stitches
6 stitches or less

In general, from standard yarn sources (e.g., Quince and Co, Lion Brand or Cascade Yarns, in general I find the following is true:

  • 2 strands of thread weight = Lace weight to fingering
  • 2 strands of lace weight = fingering to sock to sport weight
  • 2 strands of sock = sport weight to DK
  • 2 strands of sport = DK or light worsted
  • 2 strands of DK = Worsted or Aran
  • 2 strands of Worsted = Chunky
  • 2 strands of Aran = Chunky to Super Bulky
  • 2 strands of Chunky = Super bulky to Jumbo

Always check your gauge, since your mileage may vary. I’m selfishly sharing so I could put the list in a place I could find it. 😊

Maybe next time I’ll do some tests with mixed weights, since I do an awful lot of those combinations too. And after that maybe three strands.

Like so much with knitting, the possibilities are endless!

Fabulous, Fully-Fashioned, Fitted, Fuchsia Funnelneck

Let’s face it, the original is hard to improve on. Stefanie Japel’s Perfect Periwinkle Turtleneck Tube Vest is an awesome pattern. And I’ve made it before and received compliments. So why mess with perfection? Because I’m not perfect and neither is my shape!

I’m a bit crane-necked, small breasted and a bit hippy (or as the lady at the Eddie Bauer store selling jeans says, “Your style is ‘Curvy’”). I also feel that while the Bernat Panama yarn is true to gauge in the stockinette, the ribbing always felt a bit looser than I’d hoped in some places on the previous garment.

IMG_6518

I cast on 96 stitches (extra small is 108 sts) to narrow the neck and only bound off 3 sts each side for the start of the armholes. They I increased following the directions until I was following the pattern for a medium size in the bust (I just kept doing increases until I hit 192 sts). From there I followed the direction (excepting some reductions I hid in the back shaping as I narrowed towards the waist (12 sts) to get it back to size small for the waist (180 sts).

IMG_6425
Pre-blocked, but still looking great!

From there the shaping was done more subtlety—with needle decreases and increases. I knit as directed with the “smaller” needles and then dropped a needle size in the garment just above my natural waist and knit for 1 inch. I switched to the needle requested for 2 inches then increased needle size every two inches after to widen the bottom of the garment it.

And voila! Pleased with self.

Naming Your Photo Folders to Find Things

I take lots and lots of photographs. Let’s face it, in the digital world, “film” is cheap, so I convince myself to take multiples to make certain I get the best possible shot. However, I’m only moderately good about going back and sorting through them and I’m jealous of my husband who somehow manages to get this done (it takes me hours because I fixate on fixing them and deleting the bad ones).

We recently (April 2015) moved to Orcas Island and I have loads of pictures from when we were house hunting as well as just kayaking with our friends from Body Boat Blade who were some of the first folks to tell us (you should live here!).

I was looking for a specific visit—after we moved, but fairly early. I opened my folder for 2015 to find the shot in question. Instead I found a folder naming structure which used to serve me well when I traveled the world for work and hardly ever visited the same place more than once a year.

Year Day Month Location or for longer visits Year Month Location so for a visit to the Isle of Skye it would be 2015 05 Skye and that would be perfectly identifiable.

Living in a picturesque place has rendered the system less than ideal. When I went photo hunting I found in since 2015 I have more than 20 folders all named “Date – Orcas” and even that I have them as subfolders under year, was not as helpful as I’d hoped.

Oddly this does not happen with knitting projects that go into named, rather than dated folders—like “Watson Shrug” or “Fabulous Fuchsia Funnelneck”. In those cases, I rely on the date of the photo to remind me when it was taken because knitting takes time. One folder for several dates of photos make sense—especially if you pick it a project and put it down again as I often do because of my busy working schedule which no longer includes much travel.

So today I spent the morning going through those photos and adding little descriptors like “Funny Nick” and “Lovers Cove”.

What a great way to spend a Sunday morning.

Lover'sCove
Kayaking in Lover’s Cove, Orcas Island

The Leap You Get From Frogging

“You can turn that back into string?” asks Watson—a non-knitter looking at one of my failed experiments and the potential recipient of the objects d’art in question. And while we knitters like to think of “the string” as yarn or wool (no matter what it is made of) it is basically that—balls of twine that can be made into clothing or household objects.

Frogging is simply taking made articles of knitwear back into the components of what they are made of to be remade into something else. I love the work of Grid Junky who literally buys old clothes (even jeans) from thrift stores and turns them into beautiful new things.

Lately I’ve had quite a few things that just didn’t turn out as I’d hoped. My First Crochet Project: The Seahawk Gadabout Bag. As you can see from the photo, it grew wider as it got taller. This is in part because I added a stitch each row (as directed by the pattern)–but didn’t quite understand that it wasn’t an add, but a “close the loop” stitch. I have it somewhat balled up. I didn’t want to go all the way back to the base, but I might have to because I can’t remember what size hook I used. How terrible would it be if I tossed the whole thing in the trash?

I’d mentioned I was Christmas Knitting for my Crew. Needless to say, I missed that target.

IMG_5419.JPG
The ball in between the article and the skeins is the frogged portion of the project.

One was a capelet based on my Big Needle Caplet I was knitting for a friend. I was trying to create an interesting pattern, but the bigger the item got, the more wonky the pattern looked. Also because it was a partial rib pattern, instead of increasing smoothly, it was smaller on the more heavily ribbed parts and wider on the less ribbed. So out it was pulled. I’ll be checking out Sequence Knitting for a better fabric.

imgp2326

Then there was the Bias Scarf for Sushma. That was finished and turned out very well. Only it was finished *after* Christmas.

The one I started and finished first was the Cabled Shrug for Watson which sadly barely fits my tiny “girls” and will definitely not go around Watson’s robust bust. I modified significantly from the original—thinking to “update” the “look” and the result is that because I used garter instead of ribbing has a big bulge under the arm and across the back. So while the Watson Shrug was my first project started back in the Fall for my friends at work, it will end up being the last one I complete. It’s on my list to frog and quite likely will be a different shrug based on another pattern from Sequence Knitting. img_5382

This said, I think it is totally worth it to frog things and feel there is no shame in turning things “back into string” when they don’t work out.

Try, try again knitters!

I’d love to hear about your ups and downs of frogging!

Smitten Ain’t Quite Fittin’

img_5414

This project started out in the warm early Fall (Summer Knitting in Winter) when I was wanting a T-shirt to wear in navy, but honestly could not find a pretty fitted one to purchase. Though I’m now back on mission to “buy local” and make things instead of buy them. My money pit of a house might be partly responsible.

I’m replacing the siding and they disturbed the bats living in the soffits who when frighten took refuge in my attic. At night, they crawled out of my heat lamps in the bathroom. Imagine having a bat circling your ceiling fan! I literally slithered out of our bedroom on my belly until the husband had shooed it outside! It was the harmless small Western Brown bat—the kind that gobble up mosquitoes, so I like them around—just not zooming around dive bombing my head in my bedroom.

Back to knitting…

I love the Smitten Tee pattern and it was free, so what’s not to like! I also modified it to fit my taller frame, but I think I got a bit carried away. It turned out a bit bigger than expected and a bit longer too. But all in all, I count it a major success. I used up all of my vintage yarn–beautiful Italian Lane Borgosesia Cotone del Borgo. OR at least the navy color.

I’m curious if anyone else’s experiments have had good/bad/so-so results.

Where’d It Go? or Seller’s Remorse

My stash is prodigious. It’s mine and my grandmothers with a few of my friends’ grandmothers thrown in. There was a time, in the not too distant past, that knitting was a dying art. So when people saw me knitting, I would get given all the spare yarn that hadn’t been used up.

Yarn Collage
Just a fraction of the yarn from my stash

One Fall when I was on sabbatical I took to photographing and cataloguing all of my yarn—at least the small portion of it that remained after I donated most of it to charity—about 75%. But don’t let that fool you, I’ve still got an immense supply which grows every time I go to a knitting event—much faster, I might add, than I can possibly knit it with a very busy full time job that never seems to end at the end of the day.

To second the Ravelry post on January 6th by MaryHeatherB “Tip: 3 Things to do on Ravelry in the New Year”, Tip #1 is to catalogue your yarn on Ravelry. I highly recommend that you go through the exercise. Now I tend to shop at home because I know what I have and in what quantities. And now that you can “slurp” in photos you won’t have the added hassle I had in photographing 200 yarns.

I’ve been knitting things for the women members of my team and trying to pick up a few new skills along the way leveraging free patterns on Ravelry. One didn’t go so well. I attempted to give Aran Cabled Shrug in Kaya Wool by Crystal Palace Yarns a more modern look by switching the ribbing to garter and adding increases to compensate for the lack of give. I love how it came out, but feel it is a bit too misshapen to give away—not to mention way too small for its intended receiver. I’m still trying to work out a closure for it that helps hide the underarm “bump”.

Next I turned to a different project that I ended up falling in love with—a Bias Scarf by Shelby Dyas. It came out so pretty (and heavy) that it hard to part with. I bought some Lion Brand Homeland in Bryce Canyon and paired it with an unidentifiable yarn in my grandma’s stash—a slick, nylon, ribbon yarn in burgundy by Malibu Mark which reminds me a lot of Anne Blatt’s Antique.

That’s when I got the idea to make a shrug from the pattern—a square you can wear. If it were wider it would be perfect and I knew of just the yarn to pair up with a bit more ribbon yarn—but this time of KNOWN origin, Lane Borgosesia Diamante in a variegated black-taupe-white and/or solid black. On the hunt I went and I came up empty. I searched by stash and it was not to be found. Where was it? I sold it!  And no doubt now these two beauties are probably knitted up, possibly together, in some gorgeous creation.

And there was this VERY old Berroco Glace variegated cotton-blend ribbon yarn which barely deviated from white in the palest of pinks and blue. I was purusing Ravelry, as I often do on weekends, and found a great summer top to use it up with, feeling so proud to be shopping in my stash. Firstly, I couldn’t find it in my stash, but I was certain I still had it so I went to my storage rack… Gone! Well, it wasn’t my color, I rationalized. Er, um. *sigh*

I’m happy to have them get used and there was no telling when I would have used them, so it’s for the best, of that I’m certain. What it did get me to do was “rethink” my trade or sale portion of my stash on Ravelry.