KTS: beep!

I actually finished these about a month ago, but I've been busy writing up a storm for NaNoWriMo. So no blog post until now.

This is the third and last pair of socks slated as part of Knit that Shit. Like the other pairs of socks in the list, they were started just as my spine was going badly out of alignment, which is why they took so long to finish. I had to wait until I could knit without being in pain.

My chiropractor noted that I seem to be getting better at keeping my spine and other joints in place, so getting these done is a nice reward for that.

The original pattern is free online from Knitty. There were a few mods on these. I chose to use an olive instead of lime green for the bottom row of invaders, mostly because it was already in the stash. I also did my standard square heel instead of the striped short-row heel given in the pattern. Finally, I used my usual double-pointed needles instead of using circulars as given in the pattern. I know it's heresy, but I just don't find the circulars easier to work with for socks. Nothing against those who do, but I just don't.

Besides the thrill of actually getting these done, I was very pleased with the duplicate stitch "shooter" on the foot of the game sock (the sock on the left in the photo). My duplicate stitch has not always been consistent in the past, and this time I found a way to make it more consistent, which made me happy. (Turn the work upside down every other row so you always work right to left, or else switch hands so you are always working away from you.)

I've finished some other things in the meantime, but they're all Yule gifts, so they won't get posted about until later next month.

another success for Knit that Shit!

Right now I'm supposed to be finishing socks for myself and starting socks for others (Yule presents). Right now I'm supposed to be working on three different sewing projects, including one that's so close to being done that I could probably grab a needle and thread and have it finished in an evening if I got right down to it. Right now I'm supposed to be organising my jewelry-making stuff, which is already 80% of the way there.

Which, of course, is precisely why I went ahead and finished this instead:

This is the Doris Daymat Mark II, and it is a Knit that Shit item. This is in itself a nice little accomplishment... I just wish it made an appreciable reduction in the amount of things I have on the go!

The original Doris Daymat looked like this:
I like the flower mix and placement on the second mat better. The second mat, like the first one, will be used in front of the vanity in my washroom.

The first mat still looks great, but it's nice that I'll have two for when one is in the wash.

Last time I blogged, I said I'd likely have the Space Invaders socks done next. Instead it's this. Maybe next time. I'll have to surprise myself.

this is so socked up

First, some good news: I finished the Heelix socks this morning! Here they are:

Okay, the ends still need to be darned in. But the knitting is done. So, yay!

The thing is, I've decided that I must have a Sock Project for Every Occasion on the go. That means that there are more socks on the needles.

For example, there's the colourwork socks I started with the leftovers from the pair I just finished (plus two skeins of background colour I bought):

But don't worry! I've been working on socks I was already working on. I made it past the heel shaping on the Carousel socks:

And it's not like I've forgotten about Knit that Shit either! Progress has been made on the Space Invaders socks, the last pair of socks from the meta-project:

And I've been stash-busting by starting a pair of Longitudinal socks:

That sock is considerably farther along already since I took the photo this morning.

I also did some more stash-busting by starting the Grün ist die Hoffnung pattern from Ravelry:

All in all, I have six pairs of socks on the go (one pair of which only needs the ends darned in), and I only bought two new skeins of sock yarn in order to use up some leftovers. That's a net loss of 600g of sock yarn. Plus for once I'll go through a winter with more than two pairs of warm socks to my name. Plus, as you can somewhat see from the photos, every single pair is constructed in a different way: heel out, toe-up half-stranded, sideways, cuff-down stranded, lengthwise in garter stitch, and finally instep-toe-sole-heel-leg. Educational. And fun.

And while it is fun, I can't wait for all of them to be done.


It is summer, which means that here at The Eyrea it's time for sock-making and stash-busting. Sock-making because it's one of the few projects one can work as a take-along during the summer without dying of heat exhaustion, and stash-busting because the summer always makes me want to de-clutter more.

I always seem to wind up with as many socks on the needles as I have needles to make socks with. In addition to the Space Invaders socks from the Knit that Shit meta-project (now on the second sock!), I have a pair of Double Heelix socks doing a decent job of using up some stash yarn:
The sock in the photo is done, and the second sock has the heel done and the foot about halfway done, with the leg left to go after that. These are surprisingly comfy socks (surprising because the heel is similar to a short-row heel, and those never fit me right). They have been getting a lot of positive comments from non-knitters when I work on them in public, mostly about the colour combination. Sadly, no-one appreciates the implications of the heel-out construction unless they are a knitter themselves, and even then they don't always spot it until I point it out. It's interesting: a sock that starts off as a very tricky geometric construction, but gets admired for its aesthetics!

If anyone reading this has been wanting to try to this pattern but is getting put off by the heel construction, don't be. For both socks I worked from the YouTube video, pausing it as I worked each step after watching the relevant part of the video. Once you get as far as the video takes you, it's not hard to work at all. I also made these to my usual 72 stitches, which is not given in the pattern but is easy enough to get to if you've made a few socks before.

I also used some more stash yarn to start the Carousel sock:

For this one, you knit a 12-stitch strip around the circumference of the leg and foot, attaching it in a spiraling fashion. That's most of the leg part in the photo. These are a little boring to work after you get the first round done, but are a great excuse to practise knitting back backwards.

On top of the three pairs of socks I have on the go, there's also the mitred jacket I started from leftovers. It's from the Swing, Swagger, Drape book by Jane Slicer-Smith:
That's most of a sleeve in the photo. I discovered to my horror that I have over two kilos of mismatched white, off-white and black yarn lying around, and this seemed like the most logical way to use it up. The yarns are all over the place in terms of shade and texture, but as you can see from the photo, they seem to blend well enough. All of the "white" areas in the photo are different combinations of white and off-white stripes. I'm not really following the stripe combinations in the book — just using them as a guide to make my own combinations. Although I have a lot of black, I have much more white and off-white, so that dictates the colour choices a lot.

The nice thing about mitred squares is that you're pretty much encourages to weave in the ends as you work. The two white ends at the top of the photo will get woven in once the side panels on the sleeves are completed. It makes for a tidy wrong side and, let's face it, uses up a little bit more yarn than having long runs of single colours.

Of all of these, the Space Invaders sock and the Double Heelix are the farthest along. It will be nice to start reporting some finished projects again!

KTS: reverse knitting

One of the items in my Knit That Shit meta-project is an Estonian lace shawl I started sometime in the last four years or so.

When I wrote up its entry on the KTS page, I said I couldn't remember why I stopped working on it.

More recently, I picked it up again and realised it was because it was going to take every last centimetre of yarn to finish it to the size given in the pattern book.

I had a lot of misgivings about that. Ideally I'd wanted the shawl to be a little longer than what was given in the pattern book. It also made me wonder if I'd lost some yarn somewhere along the way. I remembered four skeins, and I had four skeins, but still. The yarn had been bought specially to make this shawl, and I know better than to buy just barely enough.

So I stopped knitting, did some math, and had a good consideration of the pros and cons of continuing. In the end I came to a decision I am comfortable and happy with.

The shawl now looks like this:

The ever-perceptive J-A pointed out I should make a special effort to blog about this because, she says, people don't always realise from the blog how much unravelling I do. I think I was lucky in that the grandmother who taught me how to knit emphasised that real knitters unravel when they have to, instead of just crossing their fingers and carrying on even when every bit of reason they possess is screaming that the piece isn't going to work out.

Well, this wasn't going to work out. So I saved myself a lot of grief and time by unravelling now instead of later. I also saved myself from doing a lot of work on a shawl I was never going to wear.

What's going to happen to the yarn? The same Estonian lace pattern book has another pattern for a shawl in a similar shape, but which only takes half the amount of yarn. That's because this pattern had lots of nupps (bobbles) in the fabric, whereas the alternative shawl only has them in the end-borders. In theory, I should be able to make a nice long shawl and have a comfortable abundance of yarn to make it with. I like both patterns equally, so aesthetics aren't an issue.

In the end it will be a net gain.

knitting in blue

It's been a while since I posted anything here, but I have been making things. Or, at least, finishing off things, which is just about the same. Around here, it's even better, because it means I'm getting stash reduced.

The biggest and most recent Finished Object is the blue assymetrical jacket I made for myself, sort of as a Yule present. I finished it just in time to put it away for the summer. That's okay — it's better than having it 90% done all summer and lying around. Here's the finished jacket:

The pattern came from the Fall 2012 issue of knit.wear, and has a really cool construction method. To wit:
  • Knit the back flat from the top down, using short rows to shape the back neck. 
  • Knit the fronts from the top down, also using short rows to shape the neck. This was the first of the two mods I made to the pattern: instead of knitting the pieces separately and seaming them to the back, I picked up the stitches and knitted down. This made for a still-firm but less bulky shoulder seam, and a nigh-invisible one too. I am all about the firm, non-bulky, nigh-invisible shoulder seams. I've probably spent more time figuring out how to achieve this than any other finishing in my 30+ years as a knitter.
  • Pick up the sleeve stitches from the armholes and knit down, using short-row shaping to fit the set-in armholes. This was my second mod: I made full-length sleeves instead of the half-length ones given in the pattern. Who wants to wear a heavy worsted jacket with sleeves that only go down to the elbows? If the rest of you isn't overheated, it means your bare forearms will be freezing.
  • The sleeves are finished by casting on new stitches and knitting the cabled cuff around the bottom edge, domino-style. Then the edges on the body are done the same way. The last part involves I-cording across the top of the cabled border and then I-cording around the neck.
It's all a rather neat trick. The whole thing is held together by a single button near the neck. I haven't found the right button yet.

Here's a loving close-up of that nigh-invisible shoulder seam:
And because it has the back cast-on underneath, it won't stretch out easily. So there.

Just as I'd promised myself, I went back to the Knit That Shit meta-project once I'd done the jacket. I thought I'd line the summer purse that's been languishing, or work on the socks or the doily, but for some reason I grabbed the Estonian stole that's been sitting in its own project bag for months:
I think I know why I got discouraged about this one. It's become very evident that it will take every last centimetre of yarn to make this thing as big as the pattern book says to, and I was hoping to make it a bit larger (as with her sock books, Nancy Bush designs gorgeous stuff for short people). The ever-resourceful J-A suggested going back to Americo and buying one more ball of yarn, assuming they still carry this colour. There's absolutely no hope in matching the dye lots since I bought the yarn about five years ago, but if I use something close for the border, then I'll have plenty of yarn. It's a good idea. At this point I'd even consider a different-coloured border that looked cool.


KTS: the problem with vacations

Still knitting the double-knit jacket, still blogging, but even I've noticed that it's slowed down considerably since I went to New York City (just in time to avoid the hurricane, as it turns out —  it will be a relief to hear things have gone back to normal there).

Thursday night I had a knit night at a friend's, and got a decent amount of work done on the double-knit jacket's sleeve. That's still the first sleeve, which seems to go slower the more I work on it. At this point the top of the tree is done (you know the sleeves from the shoulder down, remember), and I'm on the trunk part, which is just a straight vertical with geometrically arranged birds artfully scattered around it. I worked all evening on this thing and never even had to crack open the pattern book for a glance at the chart.

So I should just be zooming through, right? I should be, but I'm finding these "relaxing" parts freaking tedious for some reason. The parts with the charts seem to go faster, maybe because I make myself do a complete round so I don't lose my place.

Still, at this point I'm at about 41cm. Another 5cm and I can switch over to the cuff part of the chart. Then it's just the other sleeve (slog), the collar (plain stripes, but only a few rows), and the ties to keep the coat closed when I wear it.

It's like one of those dreams where the more you run, the more your goal gets further away.

KTS: still going

I didn't bring anything from the Knit That Shit meta-project with me to New York City, simply because lugging needlework along when I was trying to travel light didn't make much sense — not to mention I didn't want to check my bags if I didn't want to, and somehow sock needles are now considered deadly weapons. (And people wonder where I get my ideas for my Friday Flash stories).

Now that I'm back home in TO, I've been sticking to the double-knitted jacket, even though it is getting very large indeed. I still question the fanaticism some people have for making everything seamless and yet making the sleeves last, which means you wind up working on the narrow tube of the sleeve with the rest of the jacket (or sweater, or whatever) hanging off it. It's got to the point where the jacket can't really be worked in public anymore, because even supporting it whilst sitting in a chair gets too awkward. I pretty much need a couch or a love seat to myself.

Still, when I do sit down and work on it, it seem to go quickly — although maybe that's just because of how long it took to do the body. The sleeve was about 37cm long last time I measured it, and needs to be 50cm to be done. So I'm on the last third, with another sleeve and a collar left to do (okay, plus those ties I want to add, but they're not absolutely necessary).

So the marathon continues on.

KTS: lost the photo op, winning the war

I really wanted to wear my Central Park double knitted jacket in the actual Central Park in New York City. As Veronica in Heathers would have put it, it would have been so very. But as of today I only have about 40cm done on the first sleeve, and there's simply no way for it to get done in time. Here's how the jacket looked the last time I had a chance to take a photo (mostly it's a photo of the sleeve, of course):

Still, I've got a lot of knitting done on this jacket in a short amount of time. It will get done, and it will be worn this autumn/winter. If the Knit That Shit project means anything, it means that I'll have one largeish project completed and wearable.

One thing that's been speeding up the process is that I fished around in my circular needles bag for shorter circulars for the sleeve (the ones I used for the body are too long to use without the so-called Magic Loop method, aka pulling out the excess cord two or three times per round). I found out I have Addi Turbos of all things in the right size and cord length. I normally don't put out the money for Addis, so I must have been pretty desperate when I bought these, but they really do make the knitting go faster. Normally I don't give a rat's ass about the speed of the knitting so long as it's not mind-numbingly slow, either, but in the case of Knit That Shit, time is somewhat of the essence.

I haven't been blogging every day, just because I was committed to a strategy of "better to knit than to blog". The project still continues on, though. It's even been going at a slightly faster pace than before.

KTS: shoulders!

Last Saturday I finished the shoulders on the double-knit jacket! I went to the Purple Purl right when they opened at 10am, bought some breakfast, and stayed until I had one shoulder done — until 2pm. The exposure came out wonky, but here's the photographic proof:

What I did with the shoulders was cast off the fronts, but keep the stitches on the back raw. Then I grafted the fronts and the back together. For double knitting, each side has to be finished separately, which led to some weirdness when it was time to separate each side's stitches so they could be grafted. The results came out looking like this:

Tonight I picked up the stitches for the first sleeve. As with the shoulders, first one side gets picked up onto one needle, then the other. Currently I'm double knitting the separated stitches onto one circular needle to work my way down the sleeve, which means I'm simultaneously dealing with three circular needles and trying to keep the stitch holder with the underarm sleeves on it out of the way. This may well be the most pieces of knitting hardware I've had to wrangle at once.

The other bit of good news is that I had the penny drop again regarding which rows to remove from the sleeve chart to have it come out the right length, which means it's once again easier than I thought. I even have some wiggle room to lengthen or further shorten the sleeve if I need to.

If, in theory, I'm still going to wear this jacket to New York, I need to get just over 100 rounds of knitting done between now and Thursday. It's not very plausible, but it's still not impossible. Yet. Even if I don't quite make that goal, if I'm close enough I can knit over the three-day Canadian Thanksgiving and still make it.

In theory.

KTS: still working on it

Just briefly, since it's write-Friday-Flash night and I am still sick: because of some shameless knitting right before a house concert at a friend's house, I'm still making progress on the back of the double-knitted jacket. I'm on the row where the second-last set of birds starts, which means I'm about 17 rows from where the back neck shaping happens.

So I should really at least get a few more rows of the birds done tonight. But first, Friday Flash.

KTS: oh man this sucks

There are two more weeks and three more weekends until I head out to New York City, and although I'm still trying, I just don't think the Central Park double knitted jacket will be ready in time to wear in the actual Central Park.

Here's the most recent picture I took of it last Sunday:

What the photo shows (if you squint and tilt your head to one side) is that the two fronts are done, and the back is now being worked (on straight needles).

Now, thanks to the larger row gauge I'm working at, there aren't as many rows to do as the chart says. And, thanks to my growing panic over getting this thing freaking done already, the back section has already grown noticeably since the photo was taken.

There's more good news (if you don't mind me pausing for a moment to try to cheer myself up): the worst of the spiral branches are done, and I'm at a super-easy part where it's just branches reaching up to the sky, no spirals. In about twenty more rows I'll start the back neckline and get this piece done.

And I haven't had to introduce any of the black yarn that's half a dye lot off. So there's that.

Okay, that's all the good news. The bad news is that each sleeve is about 100 rows long (again, I'm going to have to do judicious chart-pruning to correct for the row gauge). Plus the sleeves are worked in the round while attached to the jacket, so they're going to twist and twist and twist as they're worked and I'm going to have to untwist them, which is a major pain in the ass, especially while working in two colours at once.

Oh, and I'm sick. Again. If nothing else, this blog meta-project is showing me how often I get sick. Understand well that normally I get sick about twice a year. I have a very good idea as to why this year is different, but this blog isn't the place to discuss it. Sorry. Let's just say I think people should consider working from home more often when they're not feeling well.

Where am I really on this jacket? About thirty rows from finishing the body.

It's 9:20pm as I type this. I have to go to bed no later than an hour from now.

Let's see what can get done.

KTS: almost there

I started the neck shaping on the second front of the jacket tonight. That means that I'm probably no more than an hour away from finishing the front outright, and starting on the back.

The trick, right now, will be to get the back done very quickly so that the sleeves can get started. Right now my idea is to do back-sleeve-collar-other sleeve so I don't get bored.

I just so want to wear this thing.

KTS: i'm with the jacket

It's been happening more, now that the double-knitted jacket is that much closer to completion. Today I was on the TTC, on my way to yet another dental appointment, when the woman sitting one bench away moved to the seat next to me so she could see The Jacket better. At the time I thought she was another knitter since she recognised it was a jacket right away, but now I'm not so sure.

The Jacket has been the topic of conversation in my chiropractor's waiting room, in coffee shops, and just about anywhere else I've been knitting in public with it. Mind you, any needleworker knows that this tends to happen when you're working on something interesting-looking in public. What's cool about The Jacket (I'm going to have to call it that from now on) is that non-knitters seem to want to see it as much as knitters do. That doesn't always happen. Its fully reversible fabric seems to be the object of fascination.

A few of the knitters who have seen The Jacket have made a point of writing down the name of the book and the author. It would be great if the mere existence of The Jacket were to help M'Lou Baber and Schoolhouse Press sell a few more copies. It really is a great book.

Sadly, The Jacket is getting so big now that I'm not sure its portability will be sustained through the sleeve-making process. That sucks, because it seems like the only time I ever get anything reasonable done on it is when I'm on the TTC.

It will be very interesting to see if The Jacket continues to garner this much attention in its finished, wearable state. I'm guessing not — it's been my experience that when a piece of wearable handiwork is interesting, only people who know how to make stuff like that appreciate it. Everyone else just wants to know where you bought it if they ask about it at all, and if you try to explain you made it, they never seem to know what to say.

It really doesn't take much to make people's heads explode these days.

KTS: hope springs eternal

Another weekend darts in, trying to establish itself as different from the weekdays in the tiny little window of time it has to exist. Once again I have grand plans of making a great leap forward on the double-knitted jacket. It's only four more weeks until I go to NYC, after all. We'll see.

Tonight has mostly been dedicated to words, not stitches. But I want to listen to another album, so maybe I'll do that and knit some.

KTS: still here

I got some knitting done today, just because I was on the TTC for yet another dental appointment today. I reached a new level of knitting-compulsiveness, and knitted in the exam room whilst discussing my dental situation with the specialist. She didn't seem to be a knitter, but had very specific questions about the construction method for double knitting.

Still, I find myself glancing at the calendar more and more with a bit of dread. This had better be a productive weekend. Feel free to leave encouraging/nagging comments here.

KTS: here we are again

I made it to the top of the last big set of spirals on the second double-knit jacket front today, which means that I'm about a third of the way from finishing the second front and starting on the back.

Once the fronts and the backs are done, I'm going to work on the collar next, I think. Knitting patterns always tell you to work the collar last, even on projects like this jacket which use a seamless construction method (ie: you keep adding on to the main shape until the entire garment is done, instead of making smaller pieces and sewing them together). I've always found it odd that you're expected to knit ~10 rows onto something as heavy and big as an entire hip-length jacket. Doesn't it make more sense to do the collar as soon as I can — once the shoulders are done?

Some of this grousing is because now that the fronts are getting done (and supposedly the upper back right behind them), the sleeves are coming up. I hate knitting sleeves directly onto garment bodies. They get twisted as you work them in the round, so if you are having a longish knitting session you need to untwist the work from time to time. Then again, I don't understand the modern world's horror of sewing seams. Whatever works best, really. It's not like seams are difficult or anything, not compared to the hoops people make themselves jump through to avoid them.

Still, this pattern calls for sleeves knit in from the armhole down, worked in the round, so that's what I'll do. If nothing else, it will be too much time and arithmetic to do them any other way in the time constraint I have.

Four more weeks until the trip to New York City. Which really means, come this time next Sunday, I better be working on the first sleeve.

Wish me luck.

KTS: emerging symmetry

I finished the first front on the double-knit jacket this morning, and started the second front. The first front came out shorter than what I'd planned, but still within a comfortable length for good fit. The total length of the jacket is is going to be 83cm, give or take.

The second front feels better to do, probably for the usual reason that I know now how it turns out. I made it past the armhole shaping, and am almost done the most complex of the remaining spirals:

You can see in the photos that the shoulders got actually cast off. Usually I leave them raw and do a three-needle cast-off, but that's physically impossible with the double knitting colourwork holding the pieces together. So instead I'm doing a variation — casting off the fronts, and then grafting the back to them. I prefer to have only one cast-off line on shoulders — otherwise, they get too thick and misshapen.

I am so looking forward to working on the sleeves and collar.

KTS: further adjustments

Today it became glaringly obvious that the armhole on the double-knitted jacket was going to be far too long if I made it according to the chart. The original length given was 23cm, and I figured with the thicker yarn and larger needles I'm using it would come out to about 27cm. I could deal with that —  it's a coat after all.

When I started the neckline tonight, though, the armhole was already at 30cm. Add on the neck and shoulder shaping, and it was going to be 33-36cm, or more than halfway to my waist. The usual length I make my regular-shaped pullovers is 60cm.

So, after a serious engineering session with J-A, I took a photo of how the front looked when I stopped knitting:

Then I ripped back until just below the tops of the inside spirals on the last tree motif. I started the neck there, and am now working my way up (two rows short of the treetop). The shoulder shaping will take me to the top of the first bird above the tree, so I'm shifting the bird motif down a couple of rows so that there will be some plain blue rows above it. The other three birds won't show up at all.

That will give me an armhole depth of about 25cm — my favourite for a coat I'm going to wear long-sleeved tops under, and close to the original pattern length. According to the math, I should still be able to pick up 81 stitches from around the armhole to knit the sleeve with.

This is also going to change how I planned to finish the shoulders, but that's okay — I have a plan.

Tomorrow I should have a photo of the finished front done. I've lost time, but not that much.