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I started a post last night, full of links to movies I’d seen recently, etc. Right when I decided to save it, Typepad was declared unavailable: of course, with my perfect sense of timing I chose to post just when they were doing scheduled maintenance! So here I am again.
At the top in the picture to the left is the Shepherd sock I made sometime back on size 1 needles, cuff down, with 60 stitches. You can see the 1×1 ribbing and the regular heel flat. For some reason I didn’t take to this sock: the fabric was a little loose and I could feel the purl bumps, and the ribbing was too tight.
At the bottom is the second sock, also with 60 stitches but toe-up and on size 0 needles. Isn’t it strange how minimal pattern variation results in such differences in striping? The white stripes are much more prominent and I like that, so I’m going with the newer iteration. Will frog the first and reknit. Also, it looks like these will be longish socks, because there’s an awful lot of the yarn left.
Aside from this soothing stockinette, I’ve been trying to write up the pattern for my cabled rangoli hat after getting a few requests for it. I read fleegle’s post about charting with Excel, and downloaded a few fonts that she mentions there. Since I recently moved to a Mac and left my stitch and motif maker software behind in my past life, I was excited at this prospect of not buying more charting software. From Fleegle’s review Knit Visualizer seems very nice indeed, but I don’t know if I want to put down $135 for it just yet. For some reason, though, even though I downloaded the fonts and they show up in my font list, I can’t see them or use them. Restart? did it. Reinstall? did that too. Swore at the machine? Of course. Finally, one of them did show up, but with a tremendous reluctance to behave properly. Admittedly, I am not an Excel whiz, but I cannot figure out why some of the symbols don’t fit into the boxes, or why some of the boxes don’t appear clearly. Maybe it’s just the type size? I tried increasing the box size but that didn’t work. Some symbols are also lighter than others. But there are upsides to this experiment. I know I am really late to this party, but I was insanely pleased when I realised I could chart simple patterns with the Wingdings font.
Still, do bear with me; I’ll put the chart and pattern together soon, in words if not in pictures.
Thanks so much for the kind words on the socks, everyone! In a burst of enthusiasm after completing them I started three new projects in rapid succession, two of which are currently off the needles, looking vaguely resentful at being derailed so early on in their careers. The brown is Elann Peruvian Pure alpaca, which I am test-knitting for the balaclava pattern. It came off the needles because I needed them to try another swatch for my rangoli hat, this time with proper Bavarian twisted stitches. That too stalled, because I realized I had forgotten to twist the stitches! Now the swatches stare at me from across the room, daring me to pick them up, and I’m doing my best to avoid looking at them.
I started something else instead: Grumperina’s Jaywalkers. The yarn is Lorna’s Laces in a shade that is a little too Tiger Tiger Burning Bright for me, but it’s soft, I bought it on a whim long back, and, I just realised, I inaugurated this blog with it (well, almost). This pattern is great and I’m quite amazed at how the stripes are turning out neatly, but I’m a little worried about the puckering at the decreased and am not sure it’s going to fit. Anyone know if this puckering is normal with this pattern? I have to reknit the earlier one since it was knit with size 1s and is a little loose. But I’m not sure if I should go with the plain stockinette (featured in the link above) or continue with the Jaywalkers.
This evening I finished the most difficult pair of socks I have attempted to date:
Pattern: "Birch Leaf Socks" from the book A Gathering of Lace, design by Nancy Bush
Yarn: Louet Gems Pearl fingering in shade "Aqua", two skeins of 185 yards each, but I had a good golf-ball sized amount left in each. Amazingly, I got the right shade only in artificial light under a bright lamp, not in natural light. It’s closer to sage, and fits the leaf pattern perfectly, no? This yarn is soft and good to work with, it’s quite springy.
Gauge: 8 spi, on size 0 bamboos.
Although I made the second one this past week, I made the first one almost entirely on a trans-Pacific flight to Delhi via Taipei last summer; the flight was certainly long enough, as was the layover. China Airlines has this great collection of popular classic films you can choose (even in coach) and I saw Ghost and Pretty Woman and other movies that a cramped seat and long flight make watchable, all over again. Then there was the guy sitting next to me who watched me knitting for hours and finally couldn’t take it and said, "What is this, you are knitting this just for fun?" To make him happy I said no, I was actually training to be a crafts teacher and this was part of my course. He was most relieved.
There’s so much going on in the pattern that there’s very little blind knitting at any point, and the ribbing, especially, was a bit tedious. K2, yo, p1 is not funny to do on 0 dpns. But it’s an interesting ribbing to hold the sock up. They are nice and snug on my feet as I type this!
The only thing I didn’t like was the outward shape of the last leaves near the toes, which makes the feet look almost claw-like, somehow. But I wanted to stick to the pattern for once and not modify anything, so there it is.
After years of teaching on a Tuesday-Thursday 80 minute class schedule, this semester I got stuck with a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule of
teaching, which sucks! It’s only six weeks into the semester and I already feel I know my students forever, I see them so often! I feel I’ve been going into class so many times, and am still at the 1857 revolt, when I feel somehow that I should have got to atleast World war I by now. Even though each lecture is barely 50 minutes and it is time to pack up just when I’m getting warmed up. This schedule is totally messing with my sense of time.
But hey, here’s my second FO of the year right on the heels of the first one: that kind of time warp I’ll happily accept!
Remember I made a balaclava hat (or a monkey cap as it is called in India) sometime last year? Mercifully, I haven’t had much occasion to wear it of late. It’s wet here, but not cold and much as I miss it, I’m glad I am not walking towards the waterfront in Jersey City braving the chilly sea wind at night. But last night I was talking to my old roommate from college who, unfortunately, is currently braving some seriously low temperatures back east. I decided to send her the monkey cap instead. It will also be an improvement on the many failed attempts at a crocheted nose-warmer we tried to design for her back then.
That made me think, a lot of people come to this blog through searches for "balaclava pattern". I knitted mine as I went along and borrowed the motif from Charlene Schurch’s Hats On! book, but before I sent it off to my friend I thought I might look at it again, dig out my notes
and write up the pattern. So here it is. Just a note of caution, though: this is not a test-knit, proof-read pattern, but one that
worked well for me in terms of the basic structure of the balaclava. I can’t provide the motif from the book, but I think this pattern would look great in plain stockinette in a variegated yarn. Do let me know if you make it, and if you encounter any problems. I am
knitting one again based on these very instructions, and I’ll put it up later on the sidebar for .pdf download.
Pattern for Balaclava Hat:
Materials: Any yarn and needle combination that gives you a gauge of 6 stitches to the inch. (I used Knitpicks Andean Silk and Elann Sierra Aran on size 3s, but my gauge is always off from that suggested on the ball band).
The hat is knit from the neck upwards.
1) Cast on 112 stitches. Join, taking care not to twist the stitches. Knit k2,p2 ribbing for 6 inches, or the length you want the neck of the balaclava to be. The top should ideally sit snugly at the chin.
Back of the head:
2) Next round, continue in k2, p2 ribbing for 70 stitches, then cast off 42 stitches in ribbing for the face opening. You should be back to the beginning of the round.
3) Now continue to knit back and forth on these 70 stitches in stockinette. Knit back and forth for 24 rows, or 3.5 inches. End with a purl row.
4) Turn work. Cast on 42 stitches and rejoin at the other end. You should have 112 stitches in the round once again. Continue to work in stockinette in the round for 22 rows.
Decreases for the crown:
5) K11, sk2p 8 times around. 96 stitches remaining.
6) Knit next 3 rounds.
7) K9, sk2p 8 times around. 80 stitches remaining.
8) Knit next 3 rounds.
9) K7, sk2p 8 times around. 64 stitches remaining.
10) Knit next 2 rounds.
11) K5, sk2p 8 times around. 48 stitches remaining.
12) Knit one round.
13) K3, sk2p 8 times around. 32 stitches remaining.
14) Sk2p round. 16 stitches.
15) Ktog around. 8 stitches.
Draw yarn through remaining 8 stitches and pull together tightly.
Edging for the face opening:
16) From the left bottom corner, begin picking up stitches evenly around the left edge (ear flap), the top cast on edge (forehead), right edge (ear flap) and bottom cast off edge (chin). I picked up 73, but the actual number is not that important as long as you pick up evenly (skip one edge stitch for every three you pick up).
17) Knit in the round in reverse stockinette (purl) for three rows, and cast off all the stitches in purl. The edging should curl inwards nicely. Weave in all loose ends.
18) Wear the balaclava and stay warm!
This is what I exclaimed to myself last night, after I finished my Rangoli beret, wore it and looked at myself in the mirror, and burst out laughing. The funny thing is that a little earlier, as I began the decreases for the beret, I held it up and said, hmm. It’s actually looking like it might be a bit too large, I hope it won’t end up too slouchy.
As you can see, slouchy it is not, nor is it a tam. But I am not going to tamper with it (heh heh) because I quite like what I ended up with. It’s a slightly loose-fitting hat, and on the walk over to school early this chilly morning, has established that it can keep my head from catching a cold without giving me hat hair. I love it, despite how off I was with my calculations. I’m going to soldier on with the pattern, but only after some more serious swatching. Here I stretched the cap out over a bowl so it looks a little larger than it actually is.
And here’s one of the crown:
I really liked the idea of the bobble for the dot, and the way I was able to separate the two lines of the petals by two purl stitches. The 8-petal division also works, but I might try a 12-petal division the next time. I also worked the decreases into the straight knit lines leading into the crown, which makes them look more raised and really gives them definition. Will retain that. One of the reasons the hat looks puffy but not shapeless, I think, is that the decreases are concentrated up at the crown. Will probably retain that too, since I like this more than the idea of a flattish beret.
I am not, however, happy with the way the two petal lines cross each other at the ends of the petals. I tried two tactics, and as you can see below, neither of which are neat enough and need some work. The single 1×1 rib clashes badly with the double petal lines, maybe a 2×2 twisted rib the next time.
But well, there you have it, my first FO of 2007. As I’ve probably said before on this blog, der aaye, durust aaye (Late, but worth it!)
EDIT: my apologies for the screwed up formatting, multiple pings and and the large photos. I really need to find another bloghost, this Typepad thing just won’t give me a correct preview.
If you’re familiar with the rangoli drawing process, it’s really fast. Bits of rice powder flow from between your fingers as you swiftly draw straight lines between two dots here and curlicues around the dots there.
Yarn, I’m afraid, is a much stickier proposition, as each stitch laboriously twists its way right and left.
Flourish and speed are not words that at least I associate with cables. Nimble fingers, however, are a requirement in both media, and the end result in yarn, I’m desperately hoping, is going to be just as worth it:
My rangoli tam/beret (what’s the difference, btw? just English and French?) which is advancing painfully slowly, but which might be completed soon. Before I forget, need to
swear jot down some thoughts. I have frogged this project seven times, six times due to incompetent arithmetic and the seventh because of an error seven rows down that I couldn’t fix by rolling down an individual stitch. It’s not the pattern, it’s me. But I think I have the formula now. I’m going to complete this particular iteration, but to keep in mind for a final, more finished pattern and product:
1) No matter how beautiful and soft the alpaca yarn, cables and rib are nicer in springy, stretchy wool
2) For a pattern that requires a 1/3 increase in stitches after ribbing, it’s still a good idea to knit the ribbing with a smaller sized needle
3) Bavarian stitches will probably work a lot better with these single, free-form cable twists.
4) When a bobble is required exactly in the centre of two lines, it helps if the number of stitches between them is odd.
5) Likewise, if two lines are to cross neatly and symmetrically, it helps if the number of stitches between them is even.
6) Mixing up this odd and even combination invariably leads you to draw on particular words from your vocabulary again and again.
7) Swatching is good, even for a small project like a hat.
Deeni, if you’re reading this, I saw pictures of the Sunflower Tam, and I actually have an almost identical rangoli pattern like it that my mum named "Padmakamal" (Lotus). I might look at the pattern (don’t have the Norah Gaughan book) if I decide to adapt another pattern after this one. Thanks for telling me about it!