Friday, May 29, 2009

The Summer Squares Suite

From The Summer Solstice until the Autumnal Equinox, please consider joining me for my third annual Summer event. I was going to call it a project, but that would not be an accurate description. I will be sharing a series of projects, all of which revolve around squares. Do not be alarmed that I am showing you these finished photographs and ruining the usual suspense. This first piece is just the tip of the iceberg...
Anticipate an abundance of charts, several full patterns, many variations and plenty of technique.
The Summer Squares Suite is a group project that will span the summer of 2009, with weekly installments. Each week will include a new and original chart, usually for a square. Each square is 50 stitches wide and 100 rows long. There will be at least 10 squares presented, and probably more. There will be at least three borders and at least five edges sprinkled throughout the summer. Several finished pieces will be shared, with full directions. Many modifications will be possible. Finished projects will include a square shawl or baby blanket, a stole and several larger square variations, including a full blanket. Other project ideas will include a poncho and a modified triangle. Extensive technique discussion will ensue...

The materials are variable and will depend on the finished project you want to make and the gauge you choose to work at. I suggest you decide what weight you feel like working at and knit the first square using the yarn you select. Block and measure your square. Based on the size of your square and the project you want to make, you can decide:
1) How many squares you want to knit
2) How much yarn you will need

As an example, I want to make a blanket that is about 48 inches wide and 60 inches long. I make one square in the yarn that I like. My finished square blocks to a 12 inch square. I know I will make my blanket 4 squares wide and 5 squares long, so I need to knit 20 squares in this particular yarn. I weigh my first square and see that it weighs one ounce. I now know that I will need 20 ounces of this yarn for the squares, plus more for the border and edging. There will be several choices for borders and edgings. Some will use only a few ounces of yarn and others will use much more.

Fiber, gauge and color choices are totally up to each knitter. For my main project (a blanket) I will be using a silk/cotton 3/20 (1100 yards in 150 grams) yarn from Colormart. I will be using US 1 needles and will be working at a gauge of about 5 stitches to the inch, blocked. My blocked squares will be about 11x11 inches. I got myself several colors that work well together, and I will be knitting squares in 2-3 colors, and using yet another color for my borders and edging. With these materials, my blanket will be very light. You can follow my lead or do something totally different. You can even combined different yarns, as long as they get the same gauge. At my gauge, I am going to need to make a bunch of squares, and probably more than one of each square design. If you work at a larger gauge or make a smaller project, you won’t need to make as many squares. You can also make one square into a pillow cover if you choose. Aside from my blanket, I will also make several other smaller projects with the squares over the course of our time together, using a variety of yarns and a few beads for good measure. I will share all the details as we work through the summer.

Beads are not a critical part of this project. I will include bead placements in some of the charts, but will not be using beads on my blanket. I will use beads on other ‘side’ projects that I do. If you want to include beads in your project, you will need beads in a size that will fit on the yarn you select, and a crochet hook that fits through the hole of your beads.

Other materials you might want
Stitch marker
Blocking wires and t-pins
A yarn needle to weave ends
A crochet hook to join your squares if you use that technique
(There will be more than one technique option for joining squares.)
A highlighter to keep your place on each chart
Smooth waste yarn

Summer Squares Suite 2009 Knit Together
If you are joining this project to participate in our Summer 2009 Knit Together, plan on a long materials discussion and strategy session before we start on the first square. If you are purchasing The Summer Squares Project at a later date (after Fall 2009,) there will be a list of finished projects, along with gauge and yarn details.
Are you intrigued?
I am setting up a special email group exclusively for this project. While I will share progress photographs and discussion on my blog, all the charts will live in the files section of our Summer Squares Group. Participation is by invitation only, and you can snag an invitation for $15(US), payable to, through PayPal. If you drop me an email requesting an invitation at the address above, I will send you an invoice. If you just make a payment to my PayPal account, you will get an invitation right away. Group Admission will be open all summer long, with access to all pattern files and charts. Once the summer is over, the full chart set (as an E-book) and individual patterns for each project will be available at my Ravelry Pattern Store.

Is the cost prohibiting you from joining us? Drop me an email to chat. If you have knit with me before we can barter...

The pictures above are of my first piece for the project and includes a center square, a border and an edging, just to give you a feeling for what I have in store! I call it The Golden Eye. It is knit with 880 yards of lace weight alpaca, size 8 gold luster seed beads from Miyuki along the edging, and measures 43 inches square. It can easily be made larger. The pattern will be the first one that I share with my Summer Squares group.

Do you have any questions? Please leave a comment, and be sure to include your email address if you really want an answer!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Recent Acquisitions

That makes me sound like a museum, and not just the stash-junkie that I actually am! Colourmart 2/30 Merino in Mauve and Old Pale Rose. This is some of the nicest Merino I have gotten from them.
I stopped by Knit Happens while I was in Washington last week and found a yarn that was new to me.
The Fibre Company Canopy Fingering in Acai
2 skeins (400 yards) Bamboo, Alpaca and Merino

I also stopped by the Potomac Bead Co while I was there. I got some new Japanese beads.
1) Delica size 8s gilt lined white
2) “Earth colors” cubes 3x3
3) drops, purple ab 3mm
The 8 Delicas are something I had heard about but have never used, so I thought they would be fun. The cubes are silver lined and the drops are also something I have seen but not used. All From Myiuki.
Finally, I stopped by Toho Shoji, which happens to be on my way from Penn Station to Grand Central Station. That is a nice walk through a neighborhood that just drips with bead shops.
French Pink Opal transparent
French Purple Opal transparent
Denim Silver lined Alabaster
French Jade Alabaster

I had not seen these French beads from Miyuki before, and so I grabbed them. The holes look large and uniform and the finishes are cool. They are really wonderful. The Denim Alabaster is a Japanese bead with a really different finish. Every time I go into Toho they have even more interesting Miyuki beads.
Denim Silver lined Alabaster
French Jade Alabaster
French Pink Opal transparent
French Purple Opal transparent
All From Myiuki!
So what am I going to make? I have so many thing on my needles I don't even know where to begin (or end!) I hope to be back next week with a finished object and a preview of the 2009 BadCat Summer Project. Until then, knit on!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Hydrandea Scarf...

An oldie, but a goody! This pattern was originally published in 2004 by Jade Sapphire Yarn Company and it continues to be popular. It works well in Jade Sapphire 2-ply Mongolian Cashmere or silk-cashmere yarn, but is quite flexible. It can be a scarf with one skein (400 yards of 2-ply lace weight) or a shawl with twice the yardage (or more.) It is a nice novice lace-knitter pattern, in that the motif is simple and there are no provisional cast-ons or pesky double-pointed needles to juggle. Here is the original, knit with one skein of Jade Sapphire 2-ply Silk-Cashmere, in the Hydrangea color.
Here is another version I knit, using two skeins of Rowan Kid Silk Haze in the Marmalade color (I believe they call it Marmalade...)
Finally, here is a version knit by Susan, who was gracious enough to allow me to post her pictures. Here are her specs:
Yarn: Crystal Palace PANDA SOY (49% BAMBOO, 33% SOY, 18% ELASTIC NYLON), 185 yds/50 grams. Color: WASABI

The shawlette took almost 2 full skeins.
Needles: US #5, Addi Lace circulars
Beads: Gold size #6 seed beads, attached to first and last stitch of every right side row with a crochet hook.
Unblocked: 12" deep, 46.5" long edge, 26" from long edge to point
Blocked: 15" deep, 66" long edge, 39" from long edge to point

When Susan sent these pictures to me, it got me thinking about knitting this pattern again, maybe using one of the skeins of yarn I recently dyed. And I admit that her bead treatment along the edging grabbed my interest, it certainly did!

The pattern is still available from Jade Sapphire, printed on lovely card stock, or as a PDF download from my Ravelry Pattern Shop. Knit on!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Good Day to Dye...

Today I bring you eye candy. A few weekends ago a few of my friends had a dye party, and I had a wonderful time. The event was made great by the hospitality of Benita, the dye preparation of Brenda, and the company and fine cooking of Benita, Brenda, Kelley (knittergirl), Mary, Janet, Bob, Janet, Judi and BadKitten. My skeins are above, drying. The large one in the middle is Shetland 2-ply (fingering.) All the others are angora-merino 2/28 lace weight.
Above are the same skeins, just dry and two also re-skeined. Two of them were very long skeins that I wound on a warping board to get long color repeats. I re-skeined them to make them more easy to deal with when I am ready to use them.
This is a picture of one of Knittergirl's skeins. I think that is hand-spun courtesy of Brenda...
Here you have some Romney roving dyed by BadKitten. I wish I had pictures of the amazing colors everyone else got, but alas I do not. We are getting together to do this again in June, so I will bring my camera! I'll be back next week with more fiber fun! Until then, knit on!