Saturday, September 29, 2007

the sheep emerge to graze

It's amazing how little knitting gets done when all one's time is consumed with reading! Nevertheless I have set aside just a few hours to knit and have finished the yoke on my recreated baby sheep sweater. This time I am taking better notes so that I can post the pattern; I hope to have it up soon.

It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do to give the sheep some texture. In the original sweater the sheep were knitted with a strand of laceweight mohair carried along; this did not give as much halo as I had hoped. Then I tried a boucle yarn, but the gauge was really too big. So then I hit on using the same gauge of white yarn as the rest of the yoke, but knitted in garter stitch. I think that this was the way to go. When doing the math, then for the yoke sheep, I spent some time considering what to do to make the sheep symmetrical, and, not wanting butt-to-butt sheep in the center back, I hit on this idea:

Why can't one sheep face forward? I did some blue french-knot eyes just to make it clear that that's what's going on. I like his little face.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

tales of hubris punished and patience rewarded

Here is what is on the docket for this weekend:

Hali Meidhad and Seinte Margarete, a few Canterbury Tales, a meditation on the Passion by Nicholas Love, and some NPR knitting.

You may notice that there is a totally new work in progress there on the trusty natural light windowsill. It's true -- I have become an incorrigible starter.

But in this case, there is a tiny bit of an excuse. I made a shocking discovery earlier this week after looking closer at the car intarsia sweater I was making. The process of switching from flat knitting to in-the round knitting I had done in order to do the intarsia part flat had made a significant difference in the shape of the stitches I was making -- and not just a difference in gauge. Witness exhibit A:

In the top half you can see my even in-the round stitches. In the bottom half are a bunch of squiggly, twisted flat stitches. It was at this point that I began to question the arrogance of my claim to be an expert knitter and precocious autodidact. I began to suspect that something was wrong. I flipped open a knitting basics book that had been mouldering on my shelf and made the shocking discovery that for five years I have been purling wrong -- bringing the working yarn around the needles in the opposite direction from the normal one, twisting all my stitches as I did so. It felt akin to being friends with someone for a number of years, only to discover that you have been calling him the wrong name that whole time. So I chucked the offending sweater into a corner for a while in a clear case of killing the messenger, and set myself to knitting a new sweater and purling the right way. Exhibit B:

I have two other excuses. The first is the discovery that another friend is pregnant, thus clearly necessitating a brand new baby sweater. This one is another crack at the top-down baby sheep sweater like the one I made for Andrew. This time I am keeping better track of the process so I can write it up and post the pattern. The yarn is Knitpicks Swish DK, but the blue and green yarns arrived quite a bit more neon than I had wanted -- as is often the case with Knitpicks yarn. So, having been emboldened by my Bristow experience, I popped the two skeins in a bath of water with half a packet of grape kool-aid, and fixed it! I think that the result is quite nice. The mottling of the dye gives the blue yarn a nice homemade look, as opposed to the mediocre acrylic baby boy sweater color it was before, and the green is a more subtle and organic hue too. I'm working out the sheep charts right now: I'm thinking garter stitch for some texture detail.

The second reason to start a new project is a newfound desire to perfect some patterns and post them, because...

My Ravelry invitation finally came!

Ravelry is great! Definitely not a replacement for blogging, and I do rankle at the restrictive nature of the program as it exists now (not sure how to add new patterns, can't register myself as a designer, can only use books already on the site in my library, etc), but it has been fun and exciting to snoop around, and I love the "favorites" feature and the feature that lets me look at what other people are doing with the yarns and patterns I have chosen. If you're on Ravelry too, my ID is lookingglass.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Works in Progress

Now that the top-down Arwen has been shipped off to its recipient, here's what's been cooking Chez Looking Glass in the last few weeks.

First things first, I have been doing a LOT of reading, of medieval lit, criticism of medieval lit, and more medieval lit. Three classes in medieval English literature, plus picking up a colleague's Canterbury Tales class while he's out sick, has led to a veritable onslaught of Middle English. I suppose it won't be long until I am blogging like this guy.

The fair isle yoke sweater continues to progress, having been divided for the sleeves. At a gauge of about ten rows an inch, however, it is moving along mighty slowly. To stave off boredom I have cast on for a number of other projects as well:

My Halloween costume: yes, this is the beginning of a Gryffindor vest. I'm knitting it in Ella Rae Classic Wool, which is certainly on the scratchy side but still very pleasant to work with and a steal at something like $4.50 a 200+ meter skein.

A pseudo-secret project. In Knitpicks Swish DK, which has been good in an economizing way. It has stood up to some ripping-out, which bodes well for its wearability, I think.

Another sweater for baby Andrew, also in Swish, in one of their lovely new heather colors. Question about this one for you loyal readers, though, if you can eyeball from the arm buds and neck size what the finished sweater's size will be: is the car just too small? It is proportional to the buttons I used for the wheels, but in proportion to the rest of the sweater it seems absurdly tiny. That could be hip, I guess, but it would depend on proper motif placement. Should I rip it out and make the car bigger, and give it intarsia instead of button wheels? Should I rip it way back and place the small car higher? Should I say, "this is a sweater for a one-year-old who will spill mashed peas on it the minute he puts it on, so stop your neurotic questioning and finish it"?

Saturday, September 8, 2007


One trip to the zipper store later, and voila! My top-down Arwen in all its glory, all sewed up and ready to ship off to Boston to the sister. I think that she'll be able to get a lot of use from it: it's soft, stretchy, and practical, and the zipper definitely gives it structure.

Sewing a zipper on the inside of the placket definitely takes some of the awesomeness away from the reversible cable, but it's rather innocuous, and the custom-chosen color is a definite match.

Now I am finally DONE with this one and can move on to something more exciting -- like row after row of tiny-gauge stockinette in my post-yoke fair isle...

Thursday, September 6, 2007


The good news is that the top-down Arwen is completely knitted and blocked, and looking good, if I do say so myself.

The bad news is that I have somehow lost the custom-color-and-length zipper I had chosen for it from a special custom zipper store downtown. It's not a huge deal; the zipper cost me only like $2.75 and about 20 minutes of matching colors, but it's frustrating because I had reserved this afternoon to sew in the zipper and be finished with this puppy!

These photos show the value of the nonexistent zipper: I had to hold the fronts closed for the photo shoot because they are wont to curl outward along the same curve as the one the hood makes as it flips over the shoulders. Also evident is the fact that without a zipper to anchor the fronts, it's pretty easy for them to get slightly off-kilter from one another and make one side look shorter. It's not.

The hood from the back looks quite nice. I waffled for quite a while on the sleeve cuffs, between finishing them with another cable or with a folded-in hem. In the end I went for the hem, partly to make life easier for myself with no grafting of live stitches to side selvedge, and partly to avoid cutesiness that might arise from too much matching cable. I didn't want to distract from the lovely focal point of the sweater.

I am hoping that this sweater fits my sister a little better than me. She tried it on numerous times before I divided for the yoke, and the sleeves seemed to be the right size for her. On me they seem a little too wide at the top. She is also a little slimmer and longer altogether in the torso and has much smaller hips, for which I planned when executing the shaping. I am hoping that the little wrinkles along the back from being hiked up on my butt will not appear when Sarah wears the sweater.

Tomorrow after class I will run out and get another zipper, I guess -- the zipper store is only about 6 blocks from my grad school, so it won't be a herculean effort. And of course, the moment I sew in the new one I will find the old one...