May 7, 2009

Contests and Gadgets and Blog Posts, Oh My!

While you're knitting away on your swatch, I assume you'll be sitting. . .that way no one will be shocked that I'm posting AGAIN in such a short time.

I'm nothing if not competitive. . .so I thought I might share a bit of info with you! This year is the United Nation's "Year of Natural Fibres" and thus, they have a contest. Like working with natural fibers? Feeling Creative? Head over here and check out all of the categories they have and whip up something and submit it! Really, just do it. It's fun!

Take a peek at the sidebar. . .found a couple of gadgets today on my lunch hour. A calculator to have at hand as you start your calculations for the Salaam Along. Trust me, you'll appreciate having one at hand. I also added a counter to see if I actually have visitors. I was shocked when someone left a comment a couple of days ago. Who knew anyone was listening to me ramble?

But really, can you believe I've got three blog posts this week? I know you're thinking, "Who are you? and What have you done with Tanya?" And here's the real shocker. I have the next post already written. I'm just waiting to hear that someone--anyone--has finished their swatch and is ready for the next bit of info. Could that be you?

May 5, 2009

I've been a hold out. . .

Kim has moved on from the Shalom, and I've left you sitting and most of you have forgotten me. . .here's the post I had saved as a draft, I'll get my camera out and take a picture of the finished sweater later this month. Not that Kim is all to blame, but she's who got me working on this sweater and completing the math in the first place!

Time for Math
Usually, I leave the teaching of math to my Aunt--she's really the best math teacher I know, and considering I'm a high school teacher, that says something.

The original Shalom Cardigan has a 5 ridge garter stitch edging. To achieve a 25" circumference at 4 st/in I'll need to cast on 100 stitches and work rows 1-7 as written. (Neckline measurement x stitches per inch = cast on number)

Eventually, I'll need to increase my stitches to my largest measurement (arms and bust, for me that's 55"). That means I'll need to work to 55 x 4 or 220 stitches. These increases will happen at three places in my knitting, with the largest increase first, and more gradual increases as the yoke grows. In the original pattern, the approximate ratios are to increase about 40%, 30%, 30% in row 8, 20 and 32 respectively.

For most people, using the twisted rib called for in the pattern, these row numbers will work out just fine. If you have a particularly low bustline, or are tall, you may want to adjust this. To determine what row numbers you'll use to increase, you'll take your bodice length x rows per inch = total # of rows in the bodice. Subtract the garter edge (7 rows) and divide by 3 for the triple bodice. Here's what that looks like for me:

9" x 4 rows per inch = 36 - 7 garter rows = 29 /3 = 10 ish rows between increases.

To find your stitch numbers to increase:
Largest # of stitches - Cast on stitches = Total increased stitches
Total increased stitches x .40 (for 40% or .30 for 30%) = how many stitches to increase

Depending on the pattern you're using in the yoke, you may need to add or subtract a couple of stitches to match your pattern repeat. In the Shalom Cardigan, it is a 1x1 twisted rib pattern, so you'd only need to add or subtract a stitch or two to keep on track. Should you want to add your own touch to the pattern, you'll need some more cipherin'.

I'll be using an 8 stich +2 repeat. . .increasing 48 stitches, 40 stitches and 32 stitches in my three repeats.

If you're using a lace pattern, don't forget to subtract 5 stitches on each side for the garter edge that you want to include!

The lace pattern I'm using is a 12 row repeat, and I'm tall. . .and honestly? I don't care about stopping the lace EXACTLY at my fullest bust point. Here's what I'm planning to knit:

Cast on 100 stitches
Work rows 1-7 as written
Increase to 148 stitches
Work rows 1-12 of my lace pattern
Knit 1 row
Increase to 188 stitches
Knit 1 row
Work rows 1-12 of my lace pattern
Knit 1 row
Increase to 220 stitches
Knit 1 row
Work rows 1-12 of my lace pattern
Knit 1 row

When I get close to the end of this section, I'll want to start trying on the sweater to make sure my armpits aren't too low. . .I'll post a picture when I get there! Drop me a note when you get there too!

Swatch Done?

Here's my swatch. . .

I measured it in several places for two or three inches and calculated that my gauge is 4 stitches per inch. Elizabeth Zimmerman insists that we are absolutely honest with ourselves when we measure a gauge swatch--really, no cheating! Notice the pins in the fabric? I placed one pin at the edge of a stitch, laid my ruler on the swatch, and then placed a pin in the fabric two or three inches away. Then, the ruler is moved, and I count my stitches, and divide by the number of inches I've measured. Moving the ruler away from the measurement prevents you from cheating and sneaking a stitch to one side of your inch line or another.

I repeated the process for my row gauge. This may be an important step in your calculations for this sweater--don't leave it out!

After looking through my stitch dictionaries, I thought I'd settled on a simple lace pattern that always seems to look nice. I was committed to Old Shale (or Feather and Fan). I like the bit of ridges in the pattern that will look nice with the ridges where there is an increase. I was ready to cast on.

But wait. One of the nice things about that lace pattern is the wavy edge. On the original pattern, there are increases in the garter ridges--that would adjust my wavy edge, and I think make the lacey area look like crap. Back to the stitch dictionaries.

I found a drop stitch pattern in my vogue book that I like. Twelve row repeat, a bit open, nice clean edges. . .perfect! Now for the measuring.

A good friend and an honest look at your body may be required at this point. Measure your fullest bust point, and write that number down somewhere. Mine is 44.5"--don't spread that around, okay? Now measure around your fullest point, and include your arms, that is, hold your arms at your side, and measure around your bust and arms. . .my measurement is 55". Then place the tape around your neckline. . .how open do you want this sweater to be? How low do you want it to hang? A nice snug neckline to keep you cozy in the winter? A drapey, low and open neckline? You make the call, measure that circumference and then measure the depth from that opening to your fullest bust point. My neckline is intended to be at my collarbone. . .about 25" in diameter. . .distance from collarbone to fullest point of my bust? 9 inches (we'll call this the bodice length).

Go have a cup of tea. Really. Math is coming next.

Salaam. . .along

Emma's Revolution is one of my favorite groups from a little music festival I go to in August. . .Peace, Shalom, Salaam is one of their most moving pieces. . .check it out.

But I digress.

A friend recently poked me and reminded me that I was ignoring the blog--but honestly? When have I really paid attention to it? I have the best of intentions, but seem to be short on time. Thanks for the motivation Kim T. . .and thanks for letting me know that at least ONE person cares about what I think!

Another friend has asked that I help her upsize the Shalom Cardigan. Both of us have made it once already--mine in a size large enough for me, hers as written. Making the changes to a pattern to have it fit properly can take a bit of math, but isn't really hard. The original calls for a bulky yarn and about 425-475 yards. I made mine out of some handspun--maybe a heavy worsted, and had about 650ish yards. . .I'll get a picture up tomorrow. . .

The new version I'm making won't really be a Shalom, but will use that as a jumping off point for style, since it seems to look so great on so many bodies. . .but will be in a dk-lt worsted handspun. For this, I have about 850 yards. . .should be enough, but I'm a risk taker. I figure I'll do a bit of lace for the yoke instead of the twisted rib. . .I'm thinkin' it will work.

Wanna play along? Kim W? Are you reading?

Here's how you play. Get your yarn and needles, and cast on a big ol' swatch. Honestly. You need it. Mine was knit, washed, and is drying on the napping couch right now. Make your swatch a good 7 or 8 inches square--we'll use it for both stitch and row gauge, and you want to make sure it's pretty accurate. A larger swatch will also give you more information about the drape of your fabric. For me? I want it to be a bit drapier--I used a size 8 needle.

While you're waiting for your swatch to dry, you can pull out a stitch dictionary if you want to make it a Salaam Cardigan, or if you like the original Shalom Cardigan, I'd suggest reading the pattern closely. Either way, you'll need to print out the directions for that. . .and get some notepaper, a calculator, a pencil and your thinking cap ready to go. You can find the pattern here.

That's all. Go knit.

Mar 2, 2009

Knitter's Almanac--a review

Last year, when the February Lady Sweater went viral on Ravelry, I wasn’t surprised. It’s based on a sweet baby sweater found in Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitter’s Almanac, one of my favorite knitting books of all time.

Two summers ago, I borrowed a copy from my friend Kim, and she has never gotten her copy back! (Don’t worry, I’ve since purchased a replacement for her!) Kelly Petkin began a year long knit-along that promised to build skills along the way. I began with the Pi Shawl in July, did a bit of the Christmas “nothings” in August, dabbled with the Hurry Up Last Minute Sweater in December and made the February Baby Sweater for Ivy. I dropped out of the knit-along well before it was done,but still, I enjoyed the romp through the patterns and the glimpse into Elizabeth's life--she became sort of a friend.

EZ keeps her directions, as she puts it, pithy. The pictures aren’t much to crow about, yet the designs are classic. Woven through the patterns in the book are stories about what was happening in her life—she was the Yarn Harlot of her day, writing about everyday events that all knitters can relate to. Zimmermann encourages knitters to think for themselves, working with gauge and design as though we are each smart enough to “unvent” designs for ourselves as she does. And you know what? We are! I agree with Pamela Wynne’s opening to the February Lady Sweater, “Go get yourself a copy of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitter’s Almanac. It’s the best $7 knitting book of All Time.”

Feb 23, 2009

The Bookmobile

When I was in elementary school, the bookmobile from the public library would come to our school on Mondays. It was a great way to see new and exciting books that we didn't have in our school library, and it brought books to our rural school when it was likely that our families wouldn't make the trek into town.

Since this blog needs some jump starting, I thought I'd add a bit of a structure to it, and hopefully make it a meaningful read to those of you out there who may happen upon it. So? Monday's are for book reviews. Here's the first one, hope you like it.


I have to admit, I’m a big fan of the –STYLE series of books that Interweave Press has been publishing for the last few years. colorSTYLE by Pam Allen and Ann Budd is no exception. Both Allen and Budd have been editors for Interweave Knits magazine and have a good eye for what their readers enjoy making, as well as what trends are coming to the forefront in the knitting community.

In colorSTYLE, as in the other –STYLE series of books, projects range from small, get-your-feet-wet items to larger garments and epic projects for the more adventurous. This sixth volume in the series has seventeen projects to get a knitter well on the way to being hooked on colorwork.

As much as I have to admit that I’m a sucker for purchasing all books in a series, I do have a litmus test that each book must take. If I can find at least three projects in the book that I’m excited to start right away, the book finds it’s way into my collection. The Peace and Love Gloves alone may have made me break that rule! These gloves use several fair isle patterns in the wrist, palm and thumb, and yet have just a solid color for each of the fingers. The simple hounds tooth pattern that makes up most of the glove is offset by the bright bit of embroidery on the back of one hand. I especially love that each glove is different. As the name implies, peace is on one hand, and love knitted into the other. Looking down at these zen-like gloves might be enough to calm me down on the rare occasion that I’m driving and stuck in traffic! Much like the knucks pattern on, I could also see customizing these gloves with a mantra all my own.

Many of the fair isle patterns in the book use a much larger weight of yarn than is traditionally found in this type of color work making them perfect for a beginner to try her or his hand at this technique. The soft mohair recommended for the mohair fair isle blurs the boundaries of stitches just enough to hide a beginners’ mistakes.

While the book is heavy on fair isle patterns, there is also a nod to other types of colorwork as well. The slip stitch (or mosaic) color work in the holi mitts pattern makes me want to give this a whirl, and the enticing designs in intarsia make me want to give that technique another go as well. The felted floral pillow with needle felted embellishments may just be the project to make me take back the “I’ll nevers” I’ve said about intarsia in the past.

My favorite part of this book isn’t the patterns, but rather the technical information that is packed into the last chapter of the book. Descriptions of how to work each of the techniques used in the book, as well as swatches detailing how a stitch can look different by changing only one detail help the reader have a better understanding on how to adapt the technique into their own designing. While this isn’t an exhaustive look at any of the techniques, it does give enough understanding to practice the techniques in the patterns included. The extensive bibliography leads toward other books to answer questions in more detail.

So, the only thing left for me to decide, is what should I cast on first?

Jan 24, 2009

Waiting. . .not so patiently

Having been encouraged to complete a pair of kilt hose for the "Think Outside the Sox" contest, I knitted fast and furious to complete them, block them and mail them in before the extended deadline. They turned out nicely, albeit more expensive than I'd originally expected. FOUR skeins of yarn!! Can you believe it? Now I'm awaiting their arrival in Sioux Falls--and am hopeful I'll receive a phone call telling me I'm a winner.

Waiting isn't so easy, and I'm also waiting for a couple of names to find their way to me. I'm registered for two, one skein project swaps. The Michfest swap exchanges names on Tuesday, and the BSKG swap on February 1. Meanwhile, I'm lurking on Ravelry and looking for fun projects to knit.

I've begun knitting a swatch for Artisan Knitworks--their genius plan to get knitters in their store sucked me in. The lace pattern I was given is very similar to the pattern on the top of the kilt hose, so I'm making quick progress. Rather than knit just the small swatch they've asked for, it's becomming a scarf that will find it's way into the present box for next December. . .Pictures to come soon.

I'm hopeful that Suzanne will spend some time with me deciphering the wowway protocol for hosting documents on my webspace--it's a bit daunting. So, until then, more waiting.

Jan 18, 2009

New Year, New Blog

2009 has begun, and it was my very best intention to begin the new year blogging on my very own blog (since I'm no longer able to hijack the BSKG blog. . .)

I've accumulated a few patterns I've designed over the years and I get a big kick out of seeing my friends knit them. I'm hoping that this can be a space for me to share my creativity, and to keep a log of sorts of my work.

Look for PDF files to be hosted here soon!