Friday, October 31, 2008

The witch takes flight!

Happy Halloween! Look what came out of The BadCat studio this week! Is this not the most glam witch you have seen in recent memory? BadKitten strikes again, and this year she actually did 99% of the sewing herself, with just a smidgen of coaching. She is off to collect our 2009 candy supply.

I'll be back later this weekend with the first installment of the November project. Until then, don't let the goblins bite...

A Turkish Style Cast-on...

I think the fussy part of a neck-down triangular shawl is the cast-on. Over the years, I have come up with a slightly different take on a provisional start for this type of design. I imagine many of you are familiar with a Turkish cast-on. It was first used for toe-up Turkish style socks. If you have never seen it done, cruise over to YouTube and see what Turkish Cast-on in the search field gets you. Take your pick of video clips to watch... My version is a variation that works particularly well when you want Garter Stitch. If you do this the standard way, your shawl edge will be missing a ridge of Garter when you pick-up the original stitches. Try my way to avoid missing that ridge. First collect your materials. You need yarn, one circular needle and two double point needles in the same size, and a patient cat. Are you joining me for my November Shawl project? Grab your project yarn and needles and give this cast-on a try. You will be one step ahead!

Take your circular needle end and the double pointed needle and hold them together. Make a slip knot loop and place it on both needles, snugging it down.

We want four stitches for our project, so make four loops on the two needles. Don't just wrap the yarn around (this is the special element.) You need to make four half-hitches. If you know how to sail, you know what this is. If you don't look at my picture, above.

Here you can see the four "stitches" made with half-hitches, plus the original loop made with a slip knot.

Slide the circular needle so the cable is through your new stitches. Remove the original loop/slip knot and leave the end hanging.

Begin knitting, using the double pointed needles. Knit a total of 8 rows (4 ridges of garter) with two double pointed needles. Leave the cable alone.

Pick-up and purl three stitches along the presenting long edge of your little piece.

Slide the circular needle tip down and knit those original four stitches off the cirular needle and onto your double pointed needle, right in line with the other stitches. Give the original end a gentle tug to line everything up and you are done with your cast-on. STOP until tomorrow!

You are now ready for row one of Chart A...say what!? Yup. Later this weekend. Until then, I leave you with...
Stuff on my cat....after I knit a few more rows.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

And now for something completely different...

Or at least one or two standard deviations off the mean. Does anyone want to knit with me? I am making something pretty, fun and warm. It will be finished in very short order, leaving me plenty of time to prepare my Thanksgiving feast! Shall we start with materials?

-About 600 meters of fingering to sport-weight yarn. The piece was designed to use yarn with long color changes, such as Noro Kureyon Sock or Noro Silk Garden Sock or Yarn TreeHouse Melody or Yarn Place Adagio. A solid color in the same weight would also work well. I am using the Noro Silk Garden Sock at the front of the picture, and I have 2 balls. If you are using one of the other options, have 2 balls of the Kureyon Sock or 3-4 balls of the Melody or Adagio on hand. The pattern has a place to make the piece larger, so if you want a big shawl get more yarn!

-You will need knitting needles to obtain gauge. I am using US 4 needles. Anything from US 4-7 will work, but it you go for a bigger gauge, you will use more yarn. Have a 32 inch circular available.
-You will need a set of double point needles in the same size as your main needles if you try my modified Turkish cast-on.
-You will need at least 2 stitch markers, t-pins to block and a yarn needle to weave in ends.

Gauge? Five stitches to the inch in stockinette stitch, but not critical!

What? A neck down triangle with four different patterns. The patterns are simple enough to compliment the texture and color changes of the Noro yarn, but interesting enough to keep you awake. For anyone interested in design, the flow from chart to chart might be interesting. I will include ideas for modifying the design to use a solid color yarn and beads. Interesting techniques will include a discussion about double decreases and a nice way to cast-on for a neck down piece.

Time frame? The first chart and cast-on is going up right after Halloween and the final chart will be up for Thanksgiving.

What more can I say? Go check your stash!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Rhinebeck Report

Can you say "CROWDED?" I have been going to Rhinebeck for maybe 15 years, and I am blown away by what has happened to the charming 4H event. The parking lot was already very busy at 9am on Saturday, and got progressively worse through the day. By the afternoon, I felt like I was on the Lexington Avenue Subway Line during rush hour. There was a huge line of tour buses. Who would have imagined? That said, it was a cool fall day, the leaves were turning and I was with good company, so I can't complain. I'll cut right to the chase. BadKitten got a blue ribbon for her weaving. Note the large rosette. That would be Best in Show for woven items. Not in the junior class. In the entire show. I will stop bragging now. She also got a fifth for a lovely silk and cotton plaited twill...
On Sunday, we did the Fleece to Shawl event. You can see our sign and team, waiting for the starting bell. BadKitten was weaving.
Here you can see our finished shawl. We didn't place well because we were "short." That means we didn't make 72 inches in length, so we got a huge deduction. I take the blame because I totally under-estimated how much loss in length we would have. We used singles, and the take-up was really crazy. Live and learn! BadKitten was amazing, not only weaving well, but holding up to the fierce pressure of BadCat. We were pretty pleased with our finished piece.
Here you can see dueling Lyras. I am sure you know which is mine! The judges thought I needed to do a better blocking job. Hello? Did you see my blocking job? Did you see LucyFur supervising? I'll shut up now...
Pears came in second in her class.
The Summer Sampler also got a second...
And here is the Best in Show. This is an Estonian sampler. The judges are very impressed with nupps! It was really nice work.

I am almost recovered and I'll be back by the weekend with a materials list for the Autumn BadCat-a-long. Until then, knit on!

Friday, October 17, 2008

I am moving at warp speed!

I am here with a quick post to share my warp progress. You can see, the warp in on the back beam just before I thread the heddles and the reed. For you weavers out there, I like to warp back to front, especially for hand-spun. I will have the finished product to show you after I make it through this weekend! And as promised, my booty from Soar! Two lovely Spindlewood spindles. The square one is Afzelia Burl with an Ebony shaft and weights 24 grams. The other has a purpleheart and ebony whorl with an ebony shaft. It weight 34 grams. The small skein is some natural pale brown Polworth.
And finally, a Golding spindle, made of walnut with a brass ring and insert. She weights 0.8 ounces. The yarn is some white Polworth, spun on this spindle. The guitar pick is to give you a size concept. I think this is some of the nicest fiber I have ever spun, and that is really saying something. I got it from Rovings (at SOAR.)
And here is a close-up. Don't drool on your keyboard...
And for good measure, this insect was on my front door. It was as big as my hand. On that note, I will see you all in Rhinebeck!!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

BadCat's Wonderful Adventure (Week One!): SOAR

ROAD TRIP!!! Mary and Kelley were taking Friday off and driving the two hours to Pennsylvania. To SOAR. To the market. To see Steve and Connie. They invited me, and at the last minute I was able to take the day off and hop in the car. Steve and Connie are SpindleWood. Mary and Kelley have exchanged many an email with them, but they have never had the chance to meet them, and here it was. It was great. Can't you tell? Steve Connie and Mary... And here are just a few of the spindles they brought with them. This doesn't include those that the three of us liberated. I'll show you mine later... These are wonderful spinners, and also beautiful to look at and hold. Yup.
We also took a look at the SOAR gallery, and I was thrilled to see this:
If Sandra reads my blog, please send me a note! I just love your work, and was so excited to see that you used your hand spun to knit Isis. In fact, I feel honored.
And here she is. Trust me, this was really lovely!
And I share with you a few other amazing pieces from the SOAR gallery. I am sorry I didn't get everyone's name and the pattern source, but enjoy anyway.

I'll be back in a day or two with some pictures of my warp in progress and new spindle(s) from SOAR. Rock and roll!! Adventure (Week Two) is only one week away.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Happy New Year to me...

I cast-on for Lyra just after New Year's Eve 2008, as my holiday gift to myself, and I finished her this week. I feel this is an accomplishment, considering all the other projects I have been working on! You can see LucyFur supervising my blocking. I used a 50/50 merino cashmere 2/28 yarn from ColourMart, in a "Candy" color. I started with one 150 gram cone and I have some left over. I soaked her in warm water while I went out for dinner. I started my blocking by pulling out the four corner "expansions," and the four smaller side "expansions."
I used more pins than I care to count. Let me just say that I am glad I stockpile nice pins...
As you can see, I did the square version, where every other "expansion" is doubled to create corners.
You can see the large flowers, where you use crossed stitches to make the lovely texture.
You can see how the leaf motifs grow from the center, and my clean center start. The extra "noise" you see behind the center is just the starting yarn end that I have not woven in yet.

This was a really special knitting project and I feel I learned some new tricks. As knitters before me have noted, there is an engineering flaw in this pattern which causes some binding where the frame around the large flowers begins to curve in. I think I could correct it if I knit this piece again, but there are so many wonderful designs out there I believe I will move on!

I hope to be back this weekend with a warp on a loom (I really hope...) and some thoughts on holiday knitting. I believe we can do at least two more original projects this year before I cast-on for my 2009 Niebling. Until then, knit (or weave, or spin) on...