Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Summer Sampler Study Pattern One

If you are new to the party, please take a few minutes to read all the previous posts with the Summer Sampler label!

I would like to start this weekend by sending out huge birthday greetings to Lara's daughter Stephanie, who is turning sweet 14, and to Kim (who is just a few years older than Stephanie this weekend.) Party on ladies! Might I suggest this fabulous, no-bake blueberry cheesecake? I made this for my sweetie's recent birthday, with extra berries, and it was wonderful...

And now, for the real meat of the Summer Sampler project, I present Pattern One. You should refer back to my earlier chart dissection and the key before you dive in. Please recall that my charts are giving you a front view of the design at all times, and the key will help you get into that mind-set. Following is pattern page seven:
By popular request, here is what pattern one looks like. This is my work, still on the needles. That means it is not blocked, but just pinned out for a picture. This is only an estimate of its final loveliness, because you all know what blocking does to fine lace knitting, right?
I thought I would also add a close-up of the spacer, also pinned out but un-blocked, for your reference.
Some of you might be wondering if all I am working on is that darn Summer Sampler. Certainly not! In truth, I am waaay out in front on the sampler, so I can swatch some new designs running from my head to my fingers. Below is one "swatch" so far. It should come off my needles later this weekend, so you will see this green item again soon.
Until next time, knit on into June!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Summer Sampler Study Casts On!

If you are new to the party, please take a few minutes to read the previous posts under the Summer Sampler label.

Happy long weekend, for those of you in the USA. We are marking Memorial Day in the Northeast with glorious weather, at long last! I put together a really huge post for you today, because there were a few things I really wanted to cover. Let me start briefly (to mark Memorial Day) with the stitch marker:
The Summer Sampler needs two markers. Use one after and before the three stitches of garter stitch along each edge, to remind you to maintain that. You might also use others if you choose, as we move into the various patterns, which don't all have the same repeats. On my project needles I am using small coiless safety pins. I slip a few seed beads on the pin for my amusement, and to distinguish one side from the other if need be. Many things can be used as stitch markers; you can use the coiless pins, a loop of smooth thread, rubber bands from your kid's orthodontist, plastic ones you buy at the yarn shop and finally, lovely ones you buy from a craft person or make yourself! At the end of this post, I will show you how I make totally lovely stitch markers. Jewelry for your needles...

The picture above shows two important things. The first is the cast-on. This project requires a temporary cast-on. There are many ways to achieve this. I use the method EZ teaches, and you can find it in Knitting Without Tears or A Knitter's Almanac, among other places. Here are a few links to help you out.

Eunny Jang: Provisional cast-on like I do it (and I learned from EZ’s books.)
Fiona’s Knitting: Provisional cast-on
Stitch Diva: Chained cast-on
Any of these options will get what you needs, so take your choice and cast-on! Page four follows with full directions:
If you glance back up to the picture, after the cast-on you will see the garter stitch section and the first spacer section. Page five and six follow, with full instructions for the spacer chart. I give you written along with charted direction for this pattern only, to help move you in the correct direction. The spacer is the only chart with significant activity on the wrong side rows, so don't let it intimidate you. It is easier than it looks.

Thanks to all of you who took my poll. It looks like the vast majority want pictures with each chart as I post them, so that is what I will do. There were several great suggestion about how I could post the picture elsewhere, and just put the link here on the blog, but all of those ideas will take me just enough extra time to deter me, so pictures here with the charts it will be!
Following is my stitch marker tutorial, for those of you interested!

You first obtain special materials. I use sterling silver head pins. These are 22 gauge and 3 inches long. You don't need them this long, but the length makes it so easy to do nice work. I use 22 gauge for stitch markers to use with lace-weight yarn. I use larger gauge for heavier markers, but today I am making lace-weight markers. Above, I have coin pearls, two different smaller pearls, moonstones and amethysts, along with size 11 Japanese seed beads.
I use round-nose pliers, flat-nose pliers, a cutter and a mandrill (an old US 9 knitting needle.)
I start with the goodies on the head-pin arranged the way I like them.
Using the flat-nosed pliers, I make a right angle bend in the head-pin just the right distance from my goodies.
Here you see the bend and where I placed it.
Next, I take the round-nosed pliers and put a gentle curve in the head-pin.
I extend the curve around my mandrill, using my fingers.
I now use the flat-nosed pliers to grasp the new loop where it comes together, as I hold the end of the head-pin.
I wrap the wire around the "shaft" of my marker with my hand. You can use a second pliers, but the hand gives me much better control over how the wraps lay (perfectly, right next to each other.)
I use my cutters to snip the extra wire off once the wraps are done. Cut right next to the last wrap.
Lastly, I use the flat-nosed pliers to push the cut end of the wire in, so I can't feel it. If you don't do that, it might snag your yarn. Be very careful not to break the seed bead when you do this step.
Now they are ready for gifting! Set one is my coin pearls.
Set two are moonstones and amethysts.
Set three are grey and white pearls.
Some eye candy from my collection, we have turquoise on the left and coral and turquoise on the right.
Here we have abalone fish and silver.
Here we have assorted stones and silver.
Here is part of a really large set I made using Italian glass and silver. Each one is a different color. Some are currently occupied on other projects...
Finally, these are some kind of opal with silver. I hope you like my markers, and make a set for yourself. Just make two and dress up your Summer Sampler needles!
I'll be back next week with pattern one of the Sampler project. Happy knitting!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Summer Sampler Study: To Swatch or not to Swatch...

Today we are moving onto the next step of our Summer Sampler Study. If you are new to the party, please be sure to read all previous posts with the Summer Sampler label.

Here is where I suggest that you swatch. If you refer back to the first page of our project, I discussed yarn selection. I gave a simple calculation for figuring out the approximate size of your finished sampler, based on the size of your swatch. The first picture below is page three for your sampler pattern. Remember to look at your key carefully before starting, and pay close attention. Remember that my charts show you a "front view" of your knitting. Remember that you only repeat the shaded section of the row.
Here you see my gauge swatch, still pinned out. I soaked my swatch in water and used blocking wires so the edges would be relatively straight, but I could still block it out firmly. Under tension of blocking, my swatch was 4 inches wide and 4.5 inches long.
Once my swatch was dry and I removed the blocking tension, my swatch was about 3.75 inches wide and 4.25 inches long. If you go back to my original calculation, on page one, I will multiply 3.75 by 3.41, which equals 12.8 inches. This will be the width of my final piece WITHOUT the edging. The edging will add about 3-4 more inches total to the width. I will now multiply 4.25 by 17, which equals 72 inches, again, without the edging, which will add 3-4 inches. To wrap this up, my piece should be about 16 inches wide and 72+ inches long when I am done. I actually know that I will block the hell out of it when I am done, so it will actually be wider:) Please take all that information and use it as you will to assist you in selecting yarn and needles as you swatch...
Isn't my pin box cute? I got her at 99 Cent Wonder, on Saint Nicholas and 172nd Street...

I wanted to say a few words about putting samplers together. Originally, a sampler was a place to record all the fancy stitches you learned from your friends and family. By knitting them, you recorded the patterns for you future use. There were no printed volumes of stitch patterns, ready and waiting for you. Of course, we now have these wonderful collections of patterns just waiting for us to enjoy. Following are just a few of the stitch pattern collections I have in my library. All the books I am including today are still in print.

The 300 collection is Japanese, but fully charted, so you don't need to read any Japanese to use and enjoy it. It is full of mostly traditional lace stitch patterns.
The Mary Schiffmann book has some lovely traditional lace patterns, including edgings. It is in English.
This small book, by Hazel Carter, has many traditional Shetland lace patterns, In English.

Another Japanese stitch collection, this one has both crochet and knit patterns, including some unusual lace knitting patterns. In Japanese, but fully charted.
This 250 Japanese book is all knitting patterns and includes some of the most unusual and ornate combinations of lace and cables. A real beauty...In Japanese but fully charted.
These four books are the well known Walker stitch collections. No serious knitter is without them. In English and enough said...
This Mary Thomas book is full of great information for the lace knitter. Not only are there some traditional lace stitch patterns, but there is a great section on decreases which is worth the entire book, in English.

And finally, the Barbara Abbey book if full of traditional edgings and a great resource, in English.
These are just a small selection to get your creative juices flowing. There are many more, including some wonderful German books, an Estonian book and others.

I want to call your attention to the poll on the left side of the blog. I am asking your opinion on how I should post the Sampler patterns. To date, it seems like most people prefer to have the picture of the knit pattern along with the chart each week. If you have an opinion, please share it!

I will be back next week to cast-on for the Summer Sampler! Until then, swatch away...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Summer Sampler Study Key...

If you are new to the party, please be sure to click on the "Summer Sampler" link at the bottom of this post, and start reading from the beginning! Today I am posting The Key. Consider this page two of the project.

The Key shows you the various symbols I am using on my charts, and gives a brief description of what knitting maneuvers you will need to do. There are some special moves, and I will cover them in detail when we get to the patterns that use them. I must say, right here, that we all knit differently. I give instructions for each maneuver, based on the typical American knitter that I meet when I teach. There are many ways to do each of these maneuvers. I am offering two very different but equally excellent links. I suggest you take a look at both if you have any questions about how a particular stitch should be dealt with:

For many of the moves, including the Double Vertical Decrease:
And a link for a different way to work some of the moves:

The Summer Sampler study will result in a rectangular stole, if you choose to do the entire project. The construction is very straight-forward. We will start with a temporary cast-on and knit 12 different lace patterns, with a small spacer of faggoting between each pattern. As we do each pattern, there will be plenty of opportunity to play with your lace technique and try some interesting things. When we finish all 12 patterns, there will be an edging to knit around the entire piece and I will review various corner options.

Do you want to save the pattern? This is what I suggest if you use Microsoft Windows.
1) Open a new Word document.
2) Click on the jpg to enlarge it.
3) Right-click on the enlarged jpg.
4) Select “copy” from the dialogue box.
5) Paste the jpg into the new Word file.
6) You may need to re-size the jpg by
-clicking on it,
-selecting “format”
-selecting “size”
-and making it smaller to fit the page if needed
You can add each page to the same file as I post them and print them from your file. There are many other good ways to do this, so do what works best for you. I don’t use Mac these days, so if someone has directions to do this on a Mac, please post them to the comments!

The next image shows an example of what my sampler charts will be like, with an explanation of my assorted numbers.

I trust this will help orient you to the charts. As an aside, the chart above is not one of the twelve we will be working for the sampler. It is another pattern. Make a swatch and tell me if you like it! Note that the chart for the study swatch will be yet another cute pattern that is not one of the twelve...I will post that next week!

Here is the yummy dinner we had. This is Spinach quiche, and I stuck to the recipe, almost. I added one leek, one clove of garlic and a bunch of wild onions my daughter brought in from the backyard, all sauteed before adding the red pepper and the spinach. Four forks...

Eat, drink, knit and be happy...

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Summer Sampler Study: Start Your Engines...

Some of you may know that I am sharing a Summer Sampler project, with post one starting now. Today I will review a materials list and the actual materials I am using. You can use any materials you have on hand, but if you are concerned about the finished size, consider using a yarn similar to mine. Following is Page One of the project:The final sampler will be about 18 inches wide by 72 inches long, give or take, if you use the same materials that I am using. We will start with a swatch and I will give you all the information that you need to make your own calculations using your swatch and your yarn. I have done all the math to make my design work, but you will need to do a little of your own math when we work on the gauge swatch.

This picture is of my project, happily buzzing along on my needles. The yarn is Lacey Lamb, in color 304. Although you won't need a circular needle right now, it will be required when we get to the edging...
Lacey Lamb yarn is widely available. Following are a few stores that I know have the yarn. I do not have an affiliation with any of them. I suggest a light color for this project. The rest is totally up to you. If you use the Lacey Lamb, get two balls.
The Knitting Zone,
Purl Soho,
The Local Needle,
Fabulous Yarn,
Personal Threads.
The next thing I want to share is a tentative schedule for the project. I hope to get a post up every week. I am not promising that that will happen, because life might get in the way, but it is my intention and My Aim is True, as Elvis Costello sings.
I posted on Sampler knitting before, so follow the "sampler" label at the bottom of this post for a small chat on the topic, with some nice links. I love sampler knitting. I designed this project for myself. I invite you into my virtual living room to share the project with me. I don't do "knit alongs" and I make no promises to anyone. I do run a Yahoo group, where people will be working together on this project (along with other patterns of mine.) I try to keep the group on low-chat mode without being sharp-clawed about it. If you want to join, the link is on the left side of the blog. Meow...