Thursday, June 30, 2005

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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

It's been slow here, I know. The ribbon X-back is technically finished, however, it is utterly unwearable, despite the fact the circumference is much better this time. I chose to go down a needle size and three pattern sizes to fix that. However, the straps are too long (despite being fixed twice) and the body is too short. I briefly considered shortening the straps, then picking up around the bottom and adding some extra rows then some fancy looped & beaded fringe, but after reading of other peoples gauge difficulty with seed stitch, I think I'm going to frog the whole thing, and make something more mundane.

In the meantime though, my friends decided to award me a special ComFest merit badge, seeing as how I constructed part of my hippy chic while at the festival this weekend. Behold, the freeform kerchief which matches the doomed x-back:

I look like hell in that photo, but it was about 96 degrees outside when it was taken. Unfortunately, my head is blocking Lisa's lovely crocheted tank top, which she was finishing up. Andy's merely looking chic back there. Julie served as our trusty photographer for this shot.

There probably won't be a whole slew of updates for a while here. I have 19 days to finish the GAAAA, and I've hit crunch time in a big way.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Ever so slight gauge issue (ahem)

So when I started the Ribbon x-back tank, I thought that it seemed a bit large. Yet, I persevered. I started to worry a bit though, because I could tell I was knitting more loosely, and when I measured my gauge again, it looked a bit off. So I took a tank top that I wanted this to absolutely fit no larger than, pulled the tank off the needles onto scrap yarn, and took a little looksee:

This obviously did not bode well. So then, I "tried it on."

Wow. That's definitely not going to work. I measured it, and it looks to be about 48" in circumference. I was looking for more in the 36-38" range. Oops.

That, boys and girls, is what 2 stitches per inch when you're shooting for 3 stitches per inch will do. And now we know.

Guess I'll be ripping out some work tonight. I'm just glad I can laugh at this.

Monday, June 13, 2005

TNNA Show -- new stuff!

I got to go to the TNNA convention this weekend because I was helping out an exhibitor on Saturday. It was massive, and I was too overwhelmed to take notes, so I will just do a few quick highlights here:

-"Famous" knitwear designers I was close enough to touch: Lily Chin, Stacy Charles, Nancy Thomas, Melanie Falick and Teva Durham. Also Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching (and her mother, who was just as sweet as can be). Falick and Durham were signing autographs, however, I didn't know this, so didn't have my books with me.

Yarn highlights:

By and large, I was just wandering aimlessly and fondling yarns as they struck me, so I'm sure I missed tons of new things, and I'm sure I'm identifying things as new that are simply things I haven't seen before.

-Southwest Trading Company has introduced a fun fur like yarn made of bamboo, in shades that complement their regular bamboo line. This is nice because it doesn't feel all plasticy like synthetic eyelash yarns. They also have a self-striping yarn called "Karaoke" that comes on cones and that is lovely.

-Lily Chin now has a line of yarns--I couldn't get close enough to her booth to really investigate them though.

-Alchemy yarns--just wow. I don't think anyone in Columbus carries these, but they are amazing. Beautiful colors, and fantastic silks and silk blends. Same for Art Yarns.

-I wanted to ask Lion Brand about their future in cotton yarns, but they were slightly understaffed once I reached their booth. I did get quite a surprise when I saw two cashmere blend yarns at their booth. They weren't super super soft, but they were nice. No word on price or availability.

Books & Patterns:

-The Knit Whits and Pick Up Stix booths had great displays. Both of them do really cute kits.

-I still don't get the attraction to the Bagsmith purses (they're cool, I just don't see myself carrying them) but they were mobbed and had many new designs.

-Rowan 38 looks great. And Martin Storey has a fair isle sweater and purse in one of the new Jaeger books that I just loved.

-Wrap Style from Interweave Press looks to have improved upon the photo problems that plagued Scarf Style, and the patterns look great too. There's also a really wonderful bi-color alpaca sweater coming out in the Fall Interweave that had great shaping. I might have to spring for the yarn it called for, because it was beautiful and amazingly soft.

-Celebrity Scarves 2 has David Arquette on the cover. Apparently he really does knit.


-Knit Couture (who I was helping out) has a really cool toolkit that includes all the notions knitters need. I'm getting this for anyone who I teach to knit from now on I think.

-I saw the most amazing Rosewood needles on the new product display. They were incredible. And beyond expensive (up to $75.00 a pair!!) but wonderful. I can't recall the manufacturer.

-Namaste needles is producing Pyrex needles that are really cool.

Friday, June 10, 2005

I forgot an FO!

Almost forgot I hadn't posted photos of the latest FO yet. Here it is:

Pattern: Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2005 #5
Yarn: Berroco Denim Silk in Carob
Needles: Size 8

It was incredibly hard to take a photo of myself in this, so that's not a great shot. However, it accurately highlights a few of the issues this top has. First, I think I crocheted a bit tightly around that front curve so it looks a bit odd. It actually hangs better than it looks here.

As to fit, I am absolutely thrilled with the way the sleeves and shoulders fit. And, given that I ripped out the seams and resewed them a few times, I should be. However, I feel the top overall is a bit short. Which is odd, because I measured and re-measured, and knitted until I thought it would be a bit long, and then had no problem blocking to the proper size. So, I think it boils down to the fact that it was shown in the magazine on a flat chested model. I am not flat chested model. However, even if it did fit like the example, I'd still have to wear a cami underneath, so this is not tragic.

If nothing else, I learned a lot about how to sew in sleeves from this project. I've done raglans before, where there were no sleeve seams. These were actual set in sleeves, thankfully, with very little fullness to ease in. Equally thankfully, I grew up in 4-H and have set in sleeves many a time in sewn garments, so I had a bit of background in how such things are engineered, which came in handy. My next one will be better though, and will hopefully involve fewer ripped out seams.

My progress so far on my Ribbon X-back top:

That's 3 balls of Rowan Cotton Tape. It's been so very long since I've worked with needles larger than an 8. This is on 11s, and it is speeding along quite well. I knitted a whole ball of yarn tonight while watching "Some Like it Hot" at the Ohio Theatre.

Other tidbits and yarn pr0n:

I knitted this swatch up to show someone in another knitting community how this yarn worked out:

That's a Suss cotton yarn that I got for a scandalously low price in clearanced poncho kits. I bought two of the kits, so I have loads of it. I was originally thinking of doing a tank and a shrug out of this. I'm thinking however, after seeing My Life in Stitches' version of the fiery bolero, which is the shrug I was considering, that a solid color might be best for that pattern. So now I'm back to thinking that perhaps a dress might be a better choice for the cotton. Or a skirt maybe. Will keep looking.

Other recent stash enhancement included the following:

I swapped my leftover cotton ease from sitcom chic for 4 balls of Patons Grace in Black. This will go with the ridiculous quantity of the same yarn in spring green that I already own. Not sure for what. I'm just glad to be rid of the Cotton Ease. I just can't quite join in the mass mourning for that yarn that's hit the knitblog world. I mean, I mourn it as pretty much the sole cotton blend yarn available at chain craft stores, but I did not enjoy working with it at all. Way too splitty for my tastes. and surprising, given that I like Wool Ease more than most people seem to.

My major splurge purchase was some Silk Garden for a cardigan for me:

That's a good blend of greens, blues and greys. It's not the colorway I'd originally lusted after toward the end of last year, but I think it will make a good fall sweater nonetheless. I'm considering this pattern, because I do really like the shaping, but I want to branch out from raglans a bit. I'm thinking I may design something myself. I really think I want a more boxy front and neckline to use a simple shape to play up the pretty yarn. If I could figure out how to knit it on the bias and create diagonal stripes, that would be even better.

And the last purchase, 6 balls of Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed:

These are ultimately going to land in a sort of Kaffe Fassett-esque afghan that I want to make for myself. I've been charting out a lot of different ideas in my head, but haven't settled on a motif yet. And frankly, given the amount of yarn I'm going to need, I am content to just continue to amass colors for the next few years. That said, I'm going to be doing some destashing soon in order to try to get some tweed and heather yarns to go with those, so keep your eyes here if you're up for trading.

I'll have some reports on the TNNA NeedleArts Market shortly too. I'm working a booth tomorrow, and stopped by after work this evening just to grab my badge. The exhibitor hall was closing as I got there, but I did get to see some of the stuff in the new products section, and fondle many many luscious yarns. I'm sure I'll have many stories after the weekend. I'm excited!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

In which our blogger uses a lot of acronyms...

I should be posting photos of my finished twist front top from VK, and the ribbon tank I just started. I should. But I'm not because I'm getting worse and worse about uploading the photos from my camera. Ooops.

Project status:
I'm plugging away on GAAA, and am officially a bit over halfway there. I should finish my 11th square this evening. I need to pick up the pace, because state fair entry forms are due next Monday, and I really want to enter this.

The aforementioned VK top is finished. It's a bit short for my taste, and I'm not quite sure why that is, as I measured fiercely. I do have a bit of a long torso--perhaps it's time to start modding patterns to compensate.

I started knitty's x-back tank out of Rowan cotton tape which I scored for about 50% off at Knitter's Mercantile last week. It's a color called "acidic." Weirdly greenish bright yellow. Perhaps not the most flattering color, it will a least make a lovely lightweight top to wear at ComFest in 2 weeks.

I think the lace scarf I started earlier has been abandoned. And Zeeby's bag actually has two completed sides, and a gusset started now, but I'm on multiple deadlines again, so it's in the project basket again.

A belated thank you to my SP4 Katy for my last package, which I received this past week. I will have to post a photo later -- I have cool knitting notecards now, amongst other fun things. I no longer have candy however, as that got promptly eaten. :-)

Got my cafepress order last night. I ordered myself one of the "knit geek" t-shirts from knitty, because let's face it, I'm not exactly hiding that well. Wore it last night to dinner with friends, and then worked on the ribbon tank while sitting at the bar at the Ravari Room afterward. A few acquaintances who didn't actually know about my knitting (what? how?) were kind of weirdly fascinated. I find that knitting without looking at what I'm doing can do that, and whenever I knit around people who aren't also knitting, I feel I do that a lot, to make sure I'm making eye contact in order to subtly say "Yes! I can do this and pay attention to conversation at the same time!" so they don't feel I'm dissing them. I might be a bit neurotic perhaps.

The one other thing I got was a wittyknits t-shirt. I had started a cafepress store a while back, and wanted to do a test run to see what they would come out looking like. It's okay, but I'd like to do some logo tweaking before getting any more. I'm excited to have that, because this weekend, Columbus plays host to the annual TNNA convention. AND I GET TO GO!!!! Yep, I weaseled my way in there by answering a craigslist ad for someone who has a booth, and it appears I should be able to go when I'm not working as well. I'll be working a booth Saturday, likely wearing my version of Bad Penny, but other days I'll probably have the wittyknits t-shirt on, so on the off chance that you are reading this, and are going to be there and you see me, feel free to say "hi." I cannot wait, as I have heard so much about the TNNA show, and would like to eventually have a booth of my own, once I get my design work up and running. So this will be a good chance to see what it's all about before I start shelling out too much money.

Speaking of shelling out money, there's been quite a bit of stash enhancement going on too lately. I shall have to post photos of my goodies later. I may also have some things to clear out and swap, though I'm not yet sure on that. And my latest purchase will also become a new project -- I ordered the TKGA's Level 1 certification packet this morning. Much knitting for judgment will ensue. After I finish the GAAA, of course.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Unveiling a Relic: My Circular Sock Knitting Machine

Finally, I'm getting around to showing you all my circular sock knitting machine. I'll warn you now, this is a photo intensive post -- and it's dirty. Grimy, and dusty, and most of all, rusty. But the machine is restorable, which is the important thing.

I took these photos before I went at all these parts with a can of compressed air and a soft toothbrush for several hours. I can assure you though, that really the only difference now is that everything fits in the box better. I need the help of a professional. And I've contacted one, though the details are yet to be worked out.

First we see a photo of the beautiful box, with the name "Original Home Knitter" painted on the side.

Next, we see some photos of the various and sundry items located inside the box:

Do you feel as if you're looking at the internal workings of a medieval torture chamber yet? Well, then, wait until you see the machine itself:

Fun, huh? Here's a closeup of the needles (along with some of the dust I actually was able to remove.)

Now, if you're wondering just how all this stuff comes together and makes a sock, well, I could go into an explanation with my rudimentary knowledge, but I think we're all better off if I just send you off to the Country Rain site's What is a Sock Machine? page. There's a great pictorial step-by-step here that should make some of this make sense. The photos are of a slightly different machine than mine, but the principles still apply.

Here's the photo of what my machine should look like in action, from the manual:

Hopefully, I'll be able to get mine in working order by this fall--that's my goal.

My machine is a Gearhart, and I believe, from the dates on the correspondence that was in the box, that it was manufactured around 1925. It was owned by a woman in New Riegel, Ohio who was making socks to sell back to the Gearhart company on commission. There's a lot of good info about the company, it's lack of ability to pay knitters at one point, and switching from winter weight to summer weight hose in all that correspondence. I've taken photos of all of that, but it's a bit hard to read at such small sizes, so I may scan these in later when I have a chance, in the interest of posterity. In the meantime, you can go look at the rest of my copious photos or read the Circular Sock Machine Society of America's information.

(A note on my photos--there are some other things in that folder of pictures that may strike you as odd. Yes, indeed, buying box lots at auctions can be a spotty business, and you can find some unexpected treasures in them. I'm actually still cataloging what I got in some of those box lots, so more oddness may appear. That's the joy of box lots!)