Beautiful Knitting

Where Mt.Mom knits, crochets, designs, and seeks Beauty as food for the soul.

Phoebe the Mouse

Posted by mtmom on February 4, 2011

Have any of you read this book?  Phoebe’s Sweater, by Joanna Johnson, illustrated by Eric Johnson, about a mouse and her mouse-doll who have matching handknit sweaters.  The author has a Ravelry group here, with KALs etc., here, and the “mouse” also writes a blog here: http://phoebeontheroad.blogspot.com/

I ask because I enjoyed this cute, time-lapse video of the author knitting the little-girl-size sweater from the book — in a day.  (Notice the background action!) 

Posted in Knitting, Videos -- made by others | Leave a Comment »

Galaxy Tams — Design Process, Part 2

Posted by mtmom on February 3, 2011

Continued from previous post.

I hope you all find this interesting — I didn’t know about much of this before I actually started publishing patterns with a magazine, so I figure it will be new to most of you.

The Yarn.

After the senior editor of Cast On magazine let me know they wanted me to make TWO hats, one in EACH of the 2 yarns I’d suggested as possibilities, and once I had agreed to the proposed fee, she then asked about an alternate choice for the mohair-blend yarn, “Yarn A”.  Another project in the issue would be using the yarn I’d used in my swatch and proposal, and they want to include a broader range.  I went online to yarndex and started hunting for other yarns of similar composition (70% mohair, 30% silk) and gauge (laceweight, but usually knit at DK gauge because of fluffiness).  I chose several yarns that I thought would work, eventhough I hadn’t actually used any of the new options.  The editor contacted the yarn companies, to see who would be interested in supplying yarn to a designer for their upcoming issue.  Berroco agreed for 2 skeins of Ultra Alpaca, and Knit One Crochet Too said they had 2 balls left from open bags, but they were from different dye lots.  We agreed that this would be OK, since I would be double-stranding the yarns and that would blend them (vs get stripes where I changed balls).  Each yarn company mailed their yarns directly to me.  When they arrived, my knitting would begin!

The Pattern-Writing.

While waiting for the yarns to arrive, I started in on the writing.  The general outline of any pattern begins the same:  skill level, title, materials, gauge, special techniques, abbreviations; all these come before the actual instructions and I could get these (all but final gauge numbers) done before even beginning the knitting.  I looked up the Craft Yarn Council’s standards for skill level:  because the hat would use double-pointed and circular needles, and contain 2 simple eyelet patterns, it fell into the “Intermediate” category.  The title came pretty quickly in the process, especially because my DS had spent last summer working at our local observatory:  “Spiral-Armed Galaxy Tam”, or “Galaxy Tam” for short.  The yardage of each brand of yarn I could have found online, but instead I waited to copy this info from the ball bands.

What took longer was writing out directions for the circular cast-on and tubular bind-off.  The magazine always includes a glossary of basic techniques at the back, so I checked a past issue to see if these were already covered.  Kitchener stitch, the final step in the BO was in there, but the directions were for a flat piece.  I had to add extra details into my pattern about beginning and ending the grafting in a round project.  I wrote up a paragraph for the CO and for the BO, and repeatedly read and checked them for accuracy and clarity.

I even began writing up the instructions, because I already knew the basics of what I planned to do.  I went back and forth about including markers, and ended up including them because it shortened the amount of detail I needed to include before I could say, simply, “rep from *” and “continue”.  I think writing the Technique Tips and Designer Notes may be my favorite part.  I can explain and suggest and instruct, beyond just enabling a knitter to reproduce a hat to match the model.

Much of this was edited later, as I went through the knitting and discovered how things actually measured on the needles and then when I came up with a modification to the ribbing that very much pleased me but took some explaining.  I ended up having to use * and ** and even *** for those instructions!

Knitting the Prototypes.

2 tam tops

I began with Yarn B, the alpaca, because I had it in hand first.  I finished the top and then paused to catch up with Yarn A, the mohair-silk, to make very sure that they turned out THE SAME size.  I would have to include different numbers for the 2 yarns in several places in the pattern.  Lots of arithmetic:  2 yarns, in 2 gauges, in 4 sizes each.  I was glad I would have several weeks to do this (about 4 – 5), so I wouldn’t need to rush beyond my ability to keep my wits (and my notes) about me.  As I came to each new section of a hat — switching from increasing to even and then to decreasing, or beginning the ribbing — I would take care to write down or add to my draft EXACTLY what stitches I needed to make:  Should they (p1, k1) or  (k1, p1) at this point?  How did the YO fit into the ribbing rhythm?  How did the even vs odd numbers in the panels of the different hat-sizes affect this?  I have learned that I mustn’t presume I’ll remember later!

I liked knitting both, but think I enjoyed the mohair-silk more.

about halfway done with the pink

When each tam was complete, including tucking in ends, I blocked it over a pair of dinner plates, separated with several washcloths to add depth.

white tam blocking, top view

pink tam blocking, side view

I did lots of measuring, both during the knitting and after blocking, because these numbers were ESSENTIAL to the arithmetical magic that is Pattern Grading, i.e., the figuring of stitch and row counts for the sizes I didn’t actually knit, but that others might want to make.  Oh, the agony over the calculator!  (and I have a math degree)  Predicting other knitters’ results. . . !  What can I tell them that will help them succeed?!

The Parting.

When all the knitting and all the writing (and re-writing, and re-re-writing, etc.) was done, it was time to pack up my “babies” and send them out into the world.  I used lots of tissue paper and a sturdy box, rechecked EVERYTHING, and took several deep breaths.  It was DONE!

I hope you’ve enjoyed journeying along with me!

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Galaxy Tams — Design Process, Part 1

Posted by mtmom on January 25, 2011

I thought I might share a bit about how my design process went for the tams I just submitted to Cast On magazine.

The Idea.

Years ago, I borrowed a copy of Barbara G. Walker’s book, Knitting Counterpanes — about preserved examples of an old tradition of bedspreads handknit of tiny cotton yarn.  (Interlibrary loans are a WONDERFUL thing!)  In it, I saw several spreads/counterpanes constructed of small, repeated medallions.  I recall swatching a few of them, and sketching several others.  I made a child-size beret out of one of them by working a center-out medallion for the top, then a sort of turning ridge of several rounds of reverse stockinette, then I decreased back down while trying to maintain as much of the patterning as I could.  A plain ribbed band finished it off.

Pink Swirl Tam, side view

Pink Swirl Tam, top view

The Opportunity.

Cast On sent out a call for designs for the summer 2011 issue, with a special emphasis (among other topics) on tams and berets.  I remembered the pink tam and the gears started turning.

The Swatches.

I no longer had the Walker book, and I didn’t keep the pink tam in front of me to check.  I went from (fallible) memory while also keeping in mind some changes I wanted to make.  I started knitting at the center, and when the swatch was large enough I began to think of an edging that would lie flat.  I decided on garter stitch, but didn’t want the spirals to just STOP at the edge of the border —  hmmm, could the spirals continue THROUGH the garter st background, as they had over the stockinette?  YES!  I liked this very much.

I had 2 different yarns I was considering working with:  the white yarn was new to me, but came highly recommended; the purple was left over from a shawlette KAL 2 autumns ago, and I had thoroughly enjoyed working with it back then.  I made a swatch from EACH of them and decided to send both.  I would let the committee consider both and choose.

Swatch in white alpaca/wool worsted weight

Swatch in purple mohair/silk laceweight doubled

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The Sketches.

I figured the different yarns would make different fabrics that would drape differently, so I sketched out the 2 options:  one floaty, one droopy.  I traced the bare essentials of 2 faces from a clothing catalog and added in the hats freehand.  The results were not bad, and they communicated the ideas.  I described how I would construct the hats and how I expected each version would look.  I filled out the rest of the paperwork (yarn brands and alternatives, gauges, sizes, etc.) and mailed it all off to Ohio.

The Decision.

The editorial committee wrote back and asked if I would knit BOTH hats, to show the different looks!  OK, I’m in!

Next chapter (Lord willing):  the yarn, the pattern-writing and the prototype knitting.

Posted in Cap/Hat, Design, Knitting | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

FOs and Repairs

Posted by mtmom on January 22, 2011

My weekend schedule changed a while back, so Sundays are not always blog days.   I haven’t really settled into a new rhythm yet. . . .

I have finished several things, some fresh and some long latent.

white tam

pink

Firstly, I finished and mailed in to Cast On magazine, the 2 versions of my Galaxy Tam.  The pattern I e-mailed in a few days later.

Also, I finished a second little “hoot!”, by Ysolda Teague.

hoot! #1

hoot! #2

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One is for my DS, away at university.

The other is for his girlfriend.  She said of hers that it is “adorbs”.  (I translated that to mean “adorable”.)  🙂

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And then, I FINALLY seamed up a knit/felted bag I started about 1 1/2 years ago.  I don’t think the shape and size will be adequate for a daily bag, so I’m not sure what I’ll do with it.  (It measures about 10″ – 12″ across, and 5″ – 6″ tall in the middle, where the stuff would sit.)  Yarn is Poems; design is my own.

"back" side

"front" side

I’ve had some more requests for repairs; this time for unusual gloves.

Glove from Latvia, here with hoot-owl

The first pair were a gift to me, purchased by an old friend when she traveled to Latvia one summer.  I’ve let my son wear them for a couple of winters, and one thumb developed a hole.  This past week I mended that.

Thumb "Before"

Thumb "After"

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The second pair are Norwegian.  I haven’t started to work on the repairs yet, but I’ve enjoyed studying them.

Norwegian gloves. Thumbs replaced by another knitter.

Finger with a hole. Notice the spare color carried between stripes up by twisting strands.

See how the ends are NOT woven in -- just knotted and left! Amazing.

Posted in Cap/Hat, Design, Knitting, Mending | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Links I’ve Liked This Week

Posted by mtmom on January 9, 2011

Work continues on the 2 tams for summer 2011 Cast On, but in the mean time, here are some links to a video, a photo tutorial, a clever product, and a lovely poem.  The first 3 were referenced in a recent Berroco KnitBits e-newsletter, and the last, from Nicky Epstein’s “Talks from the Yarniverse” interview by the folks at the Lion Brand studio in NYC.

(1)  Berroco video about attaching a buttonband that has been knit separately (Norah Gaughan) (embedding not working today);

(2)  Photo tutorial by Sarah of the “Live and Let Knit. . . and Craft” blog, about a Japanese version of 3-needle bind-off;

(3)  Make your own fabric-covered buttons with a kit, recommended by Cirilia Rose of Berroco;

(4)  Loved this Knitter’s Christmas poem when I heard interviewer-Patty and Nicky Epstein read it at the end of their “Yarniverse” video interview.  It was written for Nicky by her husband as a Christmas gift!

Posted in Videos -- made by others | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Snow Days

Posted by mtmom on January 1, 2011

Very cold temps and moderate amounts of snow.  Thought y’all might enjoy some images!

DH shoveling driveway

2 birdfeeders: millet and Nyger thistle

Dark-eyed Juncos at my back door, enjoying some millet.

and a little closer-up; 2 females and 1 male in this frame

and somebody else in exTREMEly interested!

Video: 

And here’s an interesting idea:  “Project 365” — a photo a day.

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Video about Knitting-In Zippers

Posted by mtmom on December 25, 2010

Have you read the no-sew zipper article in the 2010 winter issue of Interweave Knits magazine?  TECHknitter has developed a way to add a zipper by knitting it in, rather than by sewing it in, using a small latch-hook called a “knit-picker” or “snag-fixer”.  In this video, Eunny Jang demonstrates 2 versions of the technique.  Check out the entire post (including several helpful tips) on Knitting Daily or on TECHknitter’s blog.  Merry Christmas!!

Posted in Knitting, Videos -- made by others | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Will it Last to be Christmas Snow?

Posted by mtmom on December 23, 2010

Or will it all melt away before then?

Pretty, isn’t it?

Pretty, yes, but wet and HEAVY too.

Some are taking advantage of the slippery slope at the end of the street to get in some sledding.  (See the little figure to the right?)

And yet, it’s a few degrees above freezing, and melt is already at work.  (Here is ice sculpture, plus large drips.)

Posted in Yard/Garden | Leave a Comment »

Looking Up. . .

Posted by mtmom on December 22, 2010

. . . into down-falling snow that is. I remember being struck by this visual when walking through my very first (IIRC) snowstorm, back in college days, and I still find it striking today — like the gray-white sky is breaking up into little white bits and floating down . . . .

looking straight up into snow coming down

Posted in Yard/Garden | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Gifts #3, 4, and 5 Done!

Posted by mtmom on December 17, 2010

And about time, too!  We have 8 days until Christmas, and one of these had to be mailed (went out yesterday — phew!).  We have also had about 5 inches of wet, melty snow fall over the past 48 hours, with more expected tonight.  Nothing like the snow and ice paralyzing the UK currently, but enough to make the roads and sidewalks rather sloppy and to require shoveling of the driveway.  Pretty in the air, though!

our driveway, 17 December 2010

#3 = "hoot!" by Ysolda Teague, in Paton's Classic merino on #5 ndls.

#4 = crocheted flower (Names retouched out)

#5 = crocheted snowflake (names retouched out)

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Patterns (free) available here:  #3 “hoot!” by Ysolda Teague, #4 “6-leaf flower in 4 layers” and #5 “snow flake” both by DROPS Design.

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Also have 2 temari balls finished; one more to try.  Pattern for all 3 (also free) available here:  Lion Brand craft pattern.

Temari Ball #2, "Square-Eye", in 3 colors of Vanna's Glamour

Temari Ball #1, "Starburst", in 4 colors of Vanna's Glamour

Posted in Crochet, Knitting | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »