Sunday, March 29, 2009

what are the rules about buttons on baby knits?

Someone reading knows and can enlighten me, right? Because while I think these are darn cute, I'd like to avoid the whole choking-hazard thing. (They'll go on a sweater sized for a 1 year old, although it hasn't been knit yet, so I guess I could make it smaller if necessary.)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

ssk vs. k2tog*

Apologies in advance: this post may bore you all to tears. But I do need your help, so please persevere for my sake!

EW's comment on my last post made me realize that the blog might appreciate an illustration of the differences between k2tog and ssk, so you all don't have to learn the hard way like I did. Until I started working on designing a project that highly featured both, I'd thought that they were perfectly interchangeable. And, being quite honest, I probably prefered the motion of the ssk, even though it had more steps. I'd read the TechKnitter's description of the difference (basically, ssk stretches out the stitches so they are a lot baggier than k2tog) but I'd filed that difference away as something that probably wouldn't affect my knitting much. After all, there are a lot of ways to perfect knitting that I never bother with, so why should I worry if my left-leaning decreases were a little sloppy? But then I started working on desigining a wristwarmer pattern that made the differences between the right-leaning k2tog and the left-leaning ssk all too apparent, so I've now got photographic proof.

The ssk is on the left and the k2tog is on the right. You can see how the k2tog creates relatively straight lines while the ssk meanders in clumsy steps. Now, if the project only included ssks, I'm not sure that it would be as noticeable. But when they are right next to k2togs, I've found the difference to be unfortunate.
I've found a number of suggestions for better left-leaning decreases online, but haven't found one that works particularly well with this pattern. Many of those techniques rely on being able to pick up stitches on the side of the decrease, which isn't possible in this pattern because the decreases are surrounded by yarn overs. I'm still hopeful that TechKnitter's solution will save the day, but I haven't had much success with it so far. (I think I'm messing up the yank somehow....)

In the latest iteration of this pattern, I'm using slip, knit (sk), which I think is better, but still not perfect.

Here the sk is on the left and the k2tog is on the right.

So. I'm opening it up again: any suggestions for a better left-leaning decrease that can be worked between two yarn overs?

* RJ, decoding is available at the end of this post.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Can't knit too many hats on the southside

I've been away from knitting for a while, but my boss is expecting and a baby hat seemed like a great way to get back into it. I also spent nearly all of February dealing with shingles and knitting seemed like a great sedentary activity. Traditionally, my baby hat of choice has been the umbilical cord hat from Stitch 'n Bitch, but I thought I might try something different this time. I didn't find any particularly inspiring patterns in my other knitting books, but HEB was here with Natural Knits for Babies and Moms in tow, and I found in it a baby hat and blanket set that I liked. Since the gender of the baby is unknown, I had to opt for gender neutral yarn and wound up with one skein of orange and one skein of green.

The pattern calls for size 7 & 8 needles, but since I didn't have any size 8 dpn and opted not to purchase any, I used size 6 & 7 instead. I finished that hat while HEB was still here, and it seemed pretty small. I couldn't tell if it seemed appropriately small because newborn heads are really tiny and that was the pattern's intended result or if it seemed inappropriately small (possibly because of the change in needle size?). When HEB pointed out that the hat would fit well as long as the baby's head was no larger than the remainder of the skein over which it fit quite well, I decided I had to tear it out and start over. I figure it's always better to knit a little too big than too small (unless, of course, I ever make socks for kz in which case I will shoot small).

HEB suggested that I modify the pattern based off of the umbilical cord hat pattern, since we knew that was a reasonably sized baby hat. Instead of a co of 57 stitches advised in the actual pattern, I co 64 and repeated the pattern until the hat measured 5 " from the co row. I knit the crown as advised in the original pattern, with a few modifications to account for the added stitches, and in the end, success! I suppose now I should knit the matching blanket, but...

I have been wanting to knit myself the droplet hat from Knitting Nature for a very long time and I think I shall! I have green yarn (thanks, EW!) that is perfect for it. I actually wanted to start knitting it last summer after I got the yarn for my birthday, but soon realized that my knitting boxes were all in storage and well, I'm not entirely sure that I have a great excuse for why it's now March and I didn't start it between when I got all of my belongings out of storage and now.

I assumed the hat was to be knit in the round (reasonable assumption for a hat, no?), but discovered while HEB is here that is not true. Apparently it is to be knit flat and then stitched up. It will be first adventure on that front. It will also be first adventure with bobbles, although I took advantage of HEB's presence to get a bobble tutorial because they appeared so intimidating. What I learned is that the bobble, like a cable, appears difficult but in fact is not. So here's to the droplet hat and if anybody want to kal, please do! This is all I have so far, but something is better than nothing, right?:

Emily's Mom: Knitting

I'm glad I created the tag "luxury yarn." It gets good use on this blog. And thanks for introducing me to Ravelry. How did I live without it? I am amazed that people from all over the world have tagged my scarf a favorite, and I'm getting emails from the woman I bought the tank top pattern from, who is watching the WIP (with the yarn you all gave me at New Years). The combination of knitting and social networking is changing my life Emily's Mom: Knitting

way too many wips*

For some reason, I just can't focus on any one project right now. My most notable wips:

A very generous Raveler came through with replacement golightly yarn, so all is not lost!

Also in bright blue, I'm finally knitting a baby sweater that I've long wanted to try: the Kai Sweater from Natural Knits for Babies and Moms. I'm only a few rows in, but the stockinette back should be perfect for working on during knitting lessons tomorrow. I'm using some Blue Sky Alpacas Dyed Cotton, which is my favorite yarn for baby knits. I had other plans for this yarn when I bought it in the fall at Purl, but am repurposing it for this sweater.I'm working on a hat that caused a man on the 1 train to ask me if I was knitting in leather. No, sir, that's just some Plucky MCN Worsted that EW scored for me:
I'm designing the hat to match some wristwarmers that I designed; two projects that have taught me why ssk is far inferior to k2tog.** (Seriously, does anyone have suggestions for a better left-leaning decrease that can be worked in between two yarn overs?) The set is for an upcoming birthday, and, even though I'm pretty sure the recipient doesn't read this blog, I'll wait to post pics of the wristwarmers until after they're gifted.

And then I've got some swatches for another few projects: a baby sweater in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport that CH helped me pick out at the new Loopy and a secret project:The Lorna's is superwash, so, showing that I can learn from experience, I'm going to toss it in the wash before measuring gauge.

I did manage to finally finish a baby sweater that has been long hanging over my head, and that taught me to never, ever claim that I could knit a baby sweater in a week. The worst part: I think the buttons are the cutest part of the whole thing:They are from Needleworks, Inc. The sweater is the Geordie Stripe Yoke Jacket from Natural Knits for Baby and Mom. (That book is getting a lot of use lately; all three baby sweaters in this post are from it.) I used Blue Sky Alpacas Skinny Dyed Cotton, which I loved knitting with. However, it didn't really hold the ends in, so I'm a little concerned about how it will hold up. I changed the stripe pattern to include two contrasting colors and to extend throughout the sweater. Deets here.

*RJ, in case you come across a real spy who knits, "wip" means "work-in-progress."
** "ssk" = "slip, slip, knit"; "k2tog" = "knit 2 together."

Warm Feet!

That was my basic goal of knitting these three projects.

I knit these Malabrigo Loafers in a class that Julie Weisenberger taught at Article Pract--where the yarn also originates. I remain verrry grateful to our lovely instructor, who (when I had forgotten that I am a loose knitter and found myself with a much-too-large-sole) helped me figure out the pattern in my gauge. I really want to make a pair of these for myself, and while they do knit up fairly quickly, they are not the bus/TV knitting that I need in these graduate school times.

Also designed by Julie, these ballet flats made me immediately think of heb. And, of course, they had to be in silver and blue! A combo of a Rowan blend and Plucky yarn also made perfect sense.

KZ was lucky enough to serve as a my first small needle sock experiment. This design was a great choice. Interesting enough to hold my attention and teach me about sock knitting, but not so complicated that picking them up was a chore. I do think my next pair of socks will be with thicker yarn and on larger needles. 0s produce a lovely sock, but the TIME, my goodness!

Thanks for sending me pictures so I could brag girls!!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

If only i knew how to knit

Well i told HEB this story and she thought i should contribute it to the blog (since i obviously don't contribute any crocheting anymore).

i recently returned from some training and part of it covered tradecraft. As part of the training we looked at a training scenario of a guy known to be involved in espionage activities. As part of the investigation, we searched the guys trash and found some pieces of "evidence"

included among that evidence was a sheet of paper, i wish i had it still but it had a bunch of numbered rows that looked something like: *P2tog, p2, k1, p1, k2, k2tog, rep from * to end; 64 sts rem

now while this may seem obvious to you all, my group and i were convinced this was some sort of coded message. i fully admit that i spent about 5 minutes staring at it trying to break the code convinced in the end that p1 referred to some sort of cipher like the one above kids use and these were travel directions. i think our team's final recommendation was to send the sheet to the NSA. in my defense, it was an intentional red herring and we were set up by the scenario.