Sunday, February 10, 2008

Things that make my day

Thanks to Knitting Nonni, who gave me a "You Make My Day" award! I'll spread the love by giving the shout-out to ten blogs I love to visit. All the blogs in my sidebar are ones I visit daily, but here are ten that are not in my sidebar, and that I visit just as often:

1. Tech Knitting: Unbelievably simple technique instructions and clear illustrations (okay, it's in my sidebar, but under "links").
2. Ruthless Knitting: Got hooked on this one because of the "Adventures of Florence."
3. Ysolda: Gorgeous and creative designs.
4. Spooky Knitting: It's always a pleasure to see what Batty's been cooking up and what trouble her cats have gotten into. Plus she's a prolific commenter and a fellow medievalist!
5. Fluffbuff: Just spent hours the other night poking around her very funny blog.
6. Wooly Ewe: Her ability to finish beautiful fair isle sweaters shockingly quickly makes me seethe with envy.
7. Zimmermania: Awesome inspiration from a bunch of EZ aficionados.
8. Knititch: An inspirational EZ knitter.
9. Anny Purls: Gorgeous baby designs that make you want to get knocked up just so you can knit them!
10. Geoffrey Chaucer: Can't be a bona fide medievalist without nerdishly giggling over this one.

Reading these blogs definitely makes my day.

And the other thing that makes my day is a finished object!

This is my baby-sized Cobblestone. Knit by the seat of my pants, top-down, without following directions, and improvising button plackets and increases. It was hard for me to get a good shot of the whole thing in today's super-strong light; here's the best one I could get:

Andrew's getting so big that his sweaters won't fit on my windowsill anymore!

I forgot to knit the roll-collar, so I knit on an i-cord that looks like a rolled collar. I think it worked pretty well. My favorite thing about it is the buttons, though:

I think that these are plastic imitations of bamboo buttons, but they might just be real bamboo. I found them in the "99 Cent Zone," my favorite neighborhood dollar store!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Tweed Heaven

The best thing about my graduate school (or perhaps the most dangerous thing, from the point of view of my bank account) is its proximity to School Products, one of the best yarn stores in New York City, and a great place to score a sweet deal on mill ends or cones in addition to the vast selection of Karabella products -- Berta Karapetyan, the store's owner, is also the founder of Karabella Yarns.

Recently, after taking a French test, I decided I had reason enough to visit School Products -- after all, taking the test had been stressful, right? And after that stress, I deserved a calm yarn shopping trip, right?

So I ended up walking out of there with this cone of yarn, a little less than 4 pounds of aran/bulky weight wool blend tweed for a little more than $75:

I'm not sure of the fiber content; after a little research on the School Products site, I think that it is a wool/silk/cotton blend, with about 66% wool. It was oiled for spinning, so after finding it just a little too tough to manipulate unwashed, I wound off a big skein and washed it pretty thoroughly with dish soap. Here's the ball of washed yarn:

Looks pretty normal, right? But here's my coffee cup for comparison:

The difference between the washed and unwashed yarn is pretty significant:

I think I'll have enough to make a gift for a friend and a sweater for myself, and perhaps I'll even have some left over for mittens or a hat or something. I've already swatched up for a vest using the cables from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Saddle-Shoulder Aran sweater:

Friday, February 1, 2008


I had a request from a fellow Raveler to provide a chart of the fair isle pattern I used for my Nautical Fair Isle baby cardigan. I'm happy to oblige. This is not a full-on sweater pattern but just a chart of the colorwork and a few pointers for anyone wanting to make a nautical fair isle garment.

The Chart (click to enlarge):

The Pointers:

As I wrote on the chart, because each band of peeries has a different-sized repeat, you need to do a little math as you go along.

  • If you're making a cardigan, make sure that each row of picture elements is evenly spaced from your button bands. This means that you should have the same number of "blank" stitches before the first goldfish, boat, or wave and after the last one. So, for example, if my cardigan body (which I am knitting in one piece from left front to right front) has 100 stitches, for my goldfish row I would divide 100 by 10 (the pattern repeat). Here it would seem that all I have to do is work 10 repeats of the peerie, but that would mean that the first fish starts right up at the button band and the last fish has three "blank" turquoise stitches between its nose and the button band. So, in fact, I need to work 9 repeats and spread the remaining 10 stitches out evenly between the beginning and end so that the first and last fish are evenly spaced with regard to the button band. So first I will work 3 stitches before my first fish to parallel the three "blank" stitches at the end of the last pattern repeat. That leaves 7 stitches to divide between them. I'll add 3 stitches before the first repeat and 4 after the last one (a difference of one stitch is not a big deal). That means that my goldfish row will work like this: k6 in turquoise, work 9 repeats of goldfish peerie, k4 in turquoise. In terms of what it will actually look like, though, the band will have 6 turquoise stitches, then 9 goldfish, then end with 7 turquoise stitches. Repeat this kind of calculation with the other peerie rows.
  • If you are knitting a pullover, you'll have to increase and decrease a little bit to make up for the difference in pattern repeats. So if, again, I were working on a 100-stitch body section, I would work 25 repeats of the zigzag, 10 repeats of the goldfish, decrease by one stitch (to 99 stitches) to work 11 repeats of the sailboats, increase by three stitches (to 102 stitches) to work 17 repeats of the waves, then decrease by 2 to get back to 100. A difference of 1-4 stitches up or down from that 100-stitch body count is not going to be noticeable, especially after blocking.
  • I knit my nautical fair isle cardigan top-down, using my favorite recipe for top-down raglan baby cardigans. If you choose to do so, just flip the fair isle chart upside down!
  • Similarly, you can work this pattern on the yoke of a sweater. A normal circular-yoke sweater increases (if you're going top-down) or decreases (if you're going bottom-up) by 4 evenly-spaced stitches every row/round (or 8 every other, or 16 every fourth, or 24 every sixth, etc). So you can hide your increase/decrease rows in the solid-color rows as follows: increase/decrease by 8 in row 1; by 8 in row 4; by 24 in row 10; by 32 in row 18; by 8 in row 20; by 8 in row 22; by 16 in row 26.

Enjoy! And avast, ye land-lubbers!