Sunday, July 29, 2007

On the Edge

After a week of unpacking and consuming truly appalling quantities of tentacle-free food, Harry and I finally sat down to work out the edging for the Spider King shawl. We spent almost two full days swatching before hitting upon a pleasing solution.

The shawl itself is complicated, so we wanted a simple edging. But all the simple edgings we tried were visually boring. More importantly, they were insubstantial and didn't frame the shawl very well. It occurred to me that part of the problem was that all the edgings we sampled were real lace knitting, that is, patterned on both sides. After perusing a few lace books, we decided that such edgings looked floopy--they were elegant flat on the floor, but when vertical, the edgings seemed droopy instead of crisp, and detracted from the overall appearance.

We reshelved all the lace books and fired up Excel instead. Within an hour of fiddling, we had a simple, but visually dynamic edging that worked well as a frame for the complex center. And the return row was plain knitting, so it would be easy to knit backwards during the attachment process (I hate turning knitting and avoid it whenever possible). Finally, the 16-stitch repeat fits perfectly into the 32-stitch repeat on the border.

Harry remarked that I had incorporated the Soba Noodle motif that he had originally planned for the edging, and was pleased by the smattering of Pachinko balls that I managed to scatter inside the points.

The next step was to actually start the edging. Where? I didn't want to begin at the corner, because I wasn't exactly sure how many doubles (attach two border stitches to one edge stitch) I would need to go around the point. After two hours of research on and off the Web, I realized that not a single person ever revealed exactly where they started their edging attachment. Weird, considering that long, convoluted paragraphs were spent on esoteric arithmetic calculations that made my brain fizz gently.

I decided to begin after the corner stitches, going clockwise around the shawl. This gives me plenty of practice before I get to the corner.

Here's a diagram:

I am planning 8 doubles on each side of a corner using Fleegle's Easy-To-Remember Rule of Corner Turning, which states that the number of doubles needed to go around a corner equals half the number of rows in the repeat. This rule works fairly well for most edgings. I don't like triples--way too bulky and they put a bit of a strain on the poor corner stitch--so I avoid them.

Anyway, you can finally see a bit of the shawl emerging;

Harry is ecstatic--me too!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Bit of Progress...

...On Harry's Shawl. I am not sure I like it, actually. I'll do a few more repeats on the center before I decide whether to continue.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Now That We Have Mastered Knitting in Japanese...

Let's learn Danish!

There was a mass stampede a few weeks ago when someone discovered a truly lovely shawl and wondered where the pattern could be purchased. A Yahoo group was immediately formed for the sole purpose of begging the designer to make it available.

Well, one thing leads to another and I started galloping around Scandinavian web sites in search of the pattern. I couldn't find it, but I did find something else:

This book is full of mouthwatering designs--mostly sweaters--but a few bags, hats, and scarves are tucked into the back. The designs incorporate a pleasing amount of lace in just the right proportion.

This sweater is truly charming:

And this one is just delectable...

It's difficult to see the detail here, but the designer incorporated the Frost Flowers pattern into the hood and front placket.

And I don't think this design needs any words from me:

You can purchase the book here and here. If you have a better place to shop, here is the info:

Feminin strik
by Lene Holme Sams√łe
ISBN: 8711265965
ISBN-13: 9788711265963
Price: 229,00 Danish Kroner

Saxo ships internationally and Danish bears enough resemblance to German, which bears enough resemblance to English, that I didn't have any trouble figuring out how to order. The use of the Roman alphabet was refreshing!

Alas, the entire book is in Danish. The good news is that Danish knitting terms are relatively easy to master. For example, go here for a list. And perhaps some enterprising person will start a few KALs for this book. Hope so!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

At A Loss For Words

Rose-Kim strikes again. I want to know where she finds this stuff.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Creamed Corn

One of the problems with air travel these days is the so-called security check. I travel with two computers, shoes, handbag, and carry-on suitcase, each of which requires a separate container for x-ray. I had taken the corn bunting out to fiddle with during the interminable flight from Narita and didn't get a chance to stuff it back into my suitcase. During the excitement of removing shoes, replacing laptops into the computer bag, donning shoes, getting wanded, and so on, I forgot to pick up the knitting bag.

It's still in Detroit, although Roy pointed out that they probably blew it up by now. Popcorn?

I am not overly saddened, because I hated knitting with that heavy sport-weight yarn. The loss of my KnitPicks was more hurtful.

By the way, here is a mostly useless factoid for those of you who might ever acquire a box of genuine wasabi kasu: it sets off the bomb sniffer. Someone kindly gave me a huge box of this stuff before I left. Kasu is the lees left over from making sake. It's a paste that smells like wine and tastes like heaven, especially when mixed with wasabi. Like balsamic vinegar, most wasabi is imitation, as the genuine stuff is very expensive. Two Japanese friends sent away to their home province for a supply of kasu mixed with The Real Thing. It was worth the hassle at the airport, but if someone gifts you with a box of it, be prepared for a bit of Airport Security Panic.

A wonderful harvest of yarn, patterns, and books awaited me at home as compensation. RIP, corn bunting. The next few posts will be fun!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Fabulous Shawl Resource

Here's an exhaustive list of triangular shawls, sorted by yardage. An amazing piece of work! Aside from being fun to browse, the list will come in handy if you have, say 800 yards of yarn and have no idea what to do with it.


The End Is The Beginning

I am frantically trying to do 80 things at once as I prepare to leave for the US next Tuesday. I won't have time to work up the bootie pattern until I get home and unpack. But thanks for all the begging and pleading! It got me motivated.

In the meantime, I thought I would post this cool, extra-stretchy bind-off that I used to finish off the booties.

This neat trick was published in a recent Moonrise newsletter, written by Sandy Terp. If you like lace, I strongly urge you to subscribe. There's always a useful hint in there and sometimes a discount code for needles or yarn.

I've tried all the K2 or P2 together/return to left needle, blah blah techniques, and didn't think they were particularly stretchy. This one, however, is truly excellent.

K1, *then return it to the left needle by nosing the left needle into the front of the st. (sort of the way you would do so for a SSK).

K this st thru the back (you are already in position to do so). Drop the discard loop off the left needle.

Now return the st again in the same way but, this time pull the right needle out just a little bit so you can put it into the back of the next st on the left as well. You are in position to K2 tog thru the back loops.*

Repeat * to *.

As Sandy said, this is also surprisingly fast, once you learn how to do it. She recommends it for doilies as an alternative to the usual crocheted chain bind-off, but it works just peachy on socks and booties.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Current Knitting

Harry appropriated all my lace needles for his various projects, so I took the rest of the set and used them to knit infant thingies. A baby girl named Saya arrived two weeks ago, and was proudly carried home wearing these:

Yes yes, they are toe-up and totally seamless. If I get enough requests, I will write up the directions. Really. I'll even do it sooner than later if I get a lot of requests. I am less interested in pattern-writing than pattern-making, if you get my drift, so I need some incentive to decipher my notes. Extravagant praise and intensive begging both work well.

The Corn Bunting is trundling right along. I dislike knitting yarn heavier than fingering weight, but the pattern called for DK weight. I doubled the fingering and got close enough to gauge but boy, this fat yarn hurts my hands.

As you can see, I am up to the armholes. The front side of one sleeve is finished and Cheeto is standing by with a needle, ready to graft the sleeve together once I finish the back side. I won't finish it before return to the Land of Tentacle-Free Protein--I still have the corn fronts, sleeve ribbing, and the hood after completing the body. But I should have it done well before Baby #2 arrives in September.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Harry's Shawl--Unleashed!

It took months of begging and pleading, but this morning, Harry finally agreed to let me post about his newest creation, named, with his usual modesty, Harry's Shawl.

He chose dark red Gentle and size 2 needles--the same setup as the Black Widow Spider King. We both adore Gentle and the dark red is just gorgeous.

Yesterday, he rudely dropped a sloppy folder of notes on my foot before scuttling off to dinner. After wading through the file, I can tell you that the pattern for the central square is something of a mess. The basic elements are in place, but the thing is covered with Post-Its, cross-outs, added lines, and what looks suspiciously like wasabi (Japanese horseradish). I cleaned the pattern up a bit:

Harry explains the design thusly.

The design is heavy on hexagons, which symbolize the Sacred Web--home and hearth for all spiders. In the center of the webs, Harry chose to depict pairs of mosquitoes, symbolizing spiritual and physical nourishment.

The webs are separated by rows of alternating motifs. The four little blobs show groups of baby spiders, symbolizing fecundity and the generational hope for the future. The baby spider motifs are offset with little thingies representing karaoke machines. His notes get a bit vague here--he rambles on about how belting out My Way during a glorious full moon enhances his creativity, thus symbolizing creativity, belting, mooning, and so on.

The central Web/Baby Spider/Karaoke Machine area is bordered on each side by diamonds filled with Pachinko balls.* Well, I thought they were diamonds, but Harry just pointed out that the strip actually represents a dragon's tail, with space aliens filling in between the diamond shapes. The border, he explains, honors the late Space Dragon Pachinko Parlor, whose astounding neon light display was the highlight (sorry) of Togane City's night scene for many years. Alas, the business folded and the building now houses an adult book and video store minus the luminary decoration.

The center is framed in a line of pachinko balls, signifying good fortune and adding a sense of coherence to the design. (It's probably the only coherent thing in this entire post.)

For your enjoyment, I now present the bottom Space Dragon Pachinko Parlor border--complete!


I am afraid the border design is still at the preliminary stage, but stay tuned for an update at some point.

*Pachinko is a pinball-esque game wildly popular all over Japan. No matter how small the town, there is always a Pachinko parlor. Go here to read all about it.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Silly Season



Yes, you are staring at a baby bunting that will eventually be a ear of corn. I am halfway up the husk. When I am finished, it's supposed to look like this:

The original pattern is here, but of course I modified it to eliminate the bazillion seams that the sadistic designer incorporated into the construction. With my version, only two tiny shoulder seams will need to be sewn. (I always sew shoulder seams, rather than graft them. A sewn seam is stronger and the shoulder area has to support the rest of the knitted item.)

I used the Turkish sock cast-on to begin, knit the stalk circularly, and divided the front in such a way that the corn portion can be knit up from the stitches you see on a holder. I will attach the sides of the corn panels to the husk as if I were picking up stitches for a lace border.

This project is a bit wacky, but a nice change of pace from the serious lace knitting that's being done around here.

The crab holding the husk, by the way, is Cheeto. He escaped from a seafood restarant last week--leaping off the serving plate, scuttling around hundreds of enormous feet, and desperately flinging himself out a window onto a busy street.

Fortunately, he landed on the roof of a car belonging to a Japanese embroidery student on her way to Kurenai Kai.

Cheeto decided to rest a bit before continuing on to Katakai Beach, a rather cold and inhospitable stretch of sand inhabited by hundreds of crazed surfers (but the only beach in town).

Harry found him huddled miserably in a mud puddle next to the dorm. After a fair amount of technical discussion involving Kitchener stitch, intarsia in-the-round, and Claw vs. Web for grocery shopping, Harry invited Cheeto to stay in his light fixture until better accommodations could be located.

Harry broached the possiblity of bringing Cheeto on as an apprentice. It was nice of him to ask what I thought, which was something along the lines of "I never heard of a crab who/that knits."

My comment elicited a lecture about tolerance, open-mindedness, ability to accept change, appropriate pronouns, yadda, yadda.

In any case, Cheeto's first assignment will be helping out with Harry's Shawl, which is up to row 15. Harry keeps changing the pattern, but I hope to be able to post a picture some time this week.