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November 21, 2006

A Plethora of Role Models

Do you realize what a plethora -- yes plethora -- of mentors and positive role models we knitters have in our lives!?  As I'm lapping up the wisdom of Elizabeth Zimmermann, I'm broadsided by an amazing 2 day workshop with Sally Melville. 

Workshop swatches -- boy oh boy I learned a lot.

Here are a few of the many pearls I took away from those two days:

  • Work your selvage stitches in stockinette stitch
  • When your skills match your challenge you're working in your "Flow Channel".   Your best work is accomplished when you have lots of skills and tackle a big challenge.
  • Everyone has a personal short sweater length they look best in, mine is 22 inches.
  • When working a rounded neck always bind off the neck edge stitches, even when it's just one stitch at a time.
  • Change the way you look at something, and that something changes.
  • Reverse stockinette stitch makes for a nice edging.
  • Once is a mistake, twice is a problem, and three times is a design.

To continue to grow and to learn it's important to take advantage of the many, many wonderful mentors available to you.  Please, please, please, don't let anyone tell you, "It's only knitting".  Just by creating, just by solving problems, just by knitting, you become a positive role model to those around you.

November 21, 2006 in nonaThoughts | Permalink | Comments (16)

November 20, 2006

Turned Hem Revisited

Many, many thanks to Margaux and to Whitney for recommending a Provisional Cast On when working a turned hem.  Always in an experimental mood, I tried this technique for my sleeve hem.  Can I tell you, it was much, much, much -- did I say much -- easier than picking up the cast on stitches.  The live stitches created by the provisional cast on also ensured a straight hem alignment.

Is "Provisional Cast On" Greek to you?  In a nutshell, a provisional cast on creates two sets of live stitches, the first set ends up on your knitting needle and are worked first.  At some point -- in the near or far future -- the second set are taken and worked in the opposite direction.  There are two basic ways to work a provisional cast on -- check out the videos for The Invisible Provisional Cast On or The Crochet Provisional Cast On.

Now for the turned hem avec le provisional cast on.  Work the hem as described before up to the last step, then...

Fold the hem inward along the turning edge.  Take the live stitches from the provisional cast on and place them on a separate needle.

In this picture, the live stitches were held on scrap yarn -- the white yarn -- and have been transfered to a spare double pointed needles -- the back needle.  I can now removed the scrap yarn, it's done its job.

Knit two stitches together.  One stitch from the front needle -- a sleeve stitch -- and one stitch from the back needle -- a hem stitch.  Repeat across the needle, joining the hem to the sleeve.

This technique is similar to the 3 needle bind off without the bind off.

Once you're all the way around, the hem is completely turned and beautifully joined to the sleeve.  Easy as pie!

November 20, 2006 in Project - Elizabeth Z., Tips and Techniques | Permalink | Comments (13)

November 14, 2006

Knitter's Choice

One of my favorite Elizabeth Zimmermann expressions is "Knitter's Choice".  Sprinkled generously throughout her intentionally vague instructions, this command encourages us to use our noggins and to think for ourselves.  In sharp contrast, today's beautifully designed patterns are often written in such explicit detail that they scream "Not A Choice" -- a fine expression to deliver to your children with a firm yet friendly smile, but not one to stimulate creativity.

I've also found "Knitter's Choice" to be helpful in other aspects of my life.  Cook dinner or order pizza?  Knitter's Choice.  Lights on or off during the family movie?  Knitter's Choice.  Am I too sick to work?  Knitter's Choice.  That EZ was one smart woman!

November 14, 2006 in Project - Elizabeth Z. | Permalink | Comments (12)

November 13, 2006

EZ Obsession

Excuse me, patient reader, but nona's momentarily obsessed with Elizabeth Zimmermann.  I like to think of EZ as the first knit blogger -- opting for paper in lieu of a computer.  To quote the woman herself,

I fondly hope it to be of general interest and exemplary of the fact that if you really have something to say about which you feel strongly, some of the people will listen some of the time.

But what does one do when obsessed with EZ?  Besides pouring over her books, I've embarked on my own version of a circular yoke sweater based on Elizabeth's EPS system.  Being opinionated in my own right, I've tweaked the EPS system to make a more fitted version with a modernized neck -- well that's the theory anyway. 

The body of the sweater -- knit in the round -- allows for lots and lots of mindless knitting.  What a perfect opportunity to stew about the yoke's Fair Isle patterning and to listen to an audible book.  To this nona asks, "Is is cheating to listen to your bookclub's book instead of reading it?"  To help create the illusion of a waist on my square frame I've added waist shaping using paired darts front and back.

A hem -- knit on the inside with a contrasting color -- forms the edging for my sweater.  Although EZ instructs us to add the hem after the sweater is completed, I've opted for "Knitter's Choice" and have knit it with the body.  Continue reading if you want to know how I knit the hem...

Knitting a Hemmed Edge in the Round

  • Using circular needles 2 sizes smaller and the main color cast on the number of stitches required for the body of your sweater. 
  • Knit 1 round. 
  • Knit for another 1 - 1.5 inches, changing to a contrasting color if desired. 
  • Knit 1 round, switching to larger needles and the main color.
  • Purl 1 round to create the hem's turning edge.  If you're feeling sassy and would like a picot turning edge instead -- k1, *[yo, k2tog] repeat from * to last stitch, k1
  • Continue knitting until the body is the same length as the hem
  • Fold the hem inward along the turning edge and knit one cast on loop together with each stitch.  If this is agonizing for you, forget it and sew the hem to the inside of your sweater when you're finished.

November 13, 2006 in Project - Elizabeth Z. | Permalink | Comments (14)

November 09, 2006

Already A Favorite

What can I say, my seed stitch cardigan is already a favorite!  The lapel collar dilemma was easily solved -- I simply picked up stitches around the neck and worked in seed stitch for about 5 inches.  It's not technically a shaped lapel, but I like the casual look.

Buttoned & Fitted 

Click on any of the thumbnails to see a larger version. 
The "modeled" photos show the color most accurately.

Started: Originally started in December of 2005 and then rescued from the UFO bin October 30, 2006
Finished: November 8, 2006
Pattern: My own, inspired from a sweater stalked at the Olema Knitting Retreat in November of 2005.  Features dart waist shaping, seed stitch detailing, a psuedo lapel collar, and set-in sleeves knit from the top down.
Yarn: Garnstudio Silke-Tweed; 52% silk, 48% wool; color #23 Red
Needles: US 4
Gauge: 24 stitches and 34 rows to 4 inches in Stockinette Stitch
Modifications: Overall I really like the fit of this sweater.  Next time I would make it 1.5 inches longer, the armhole 1 inch deeper, and the top of the sleeve 2 inches narrower -- Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda 

November 9, 2006 in Project - Seed Stitch Cardigan | Permalink | Comments (23)

November 06, 2006

Leap of Faith

Oh that?  I'll figure that out when I get to it.  This, my friends, is my MO when it comes to designing my own sweaters.  This overly optimistic, overly confident attitude allows me to enthusiastically jump off the cliff.  So here I am -- dangling in mid-air -- waiting for my parachute to open.  Where's my Vogue Knitting?  I've got a lapel collar to figure out...

My seed stitch cardigan patiently waiting
for nona to figure out how to knit a lapel collar.

November 6, 2006 in Project - Seed Stitch Cardigan | Permalink | Comments (18)

November 02, 2006

Impulsive Knitting

My knitting friend recently declared 2007 to be "The Year of Impulsive Knitting", this said as she prepares to wave good-bye to 2006 -- "The Year of No Sleeves".  nona can relate to the lure of the impulsive.  My Petals Collection Autumn Foliage socks -- poised for cast on -- have been placed back in the queue as I impulsively cast on a pair of Pomatomus using some Shibui sock yarn from my stash.  How can you expect me to resist after seeing these and these?

Thank you to Sophie for mentioning these wonderful Pomatomus tipless gloves.  Now I have to decide, gloves or socks -- the fun never ends, does it!?

November 2, 2006 in Project - Socks | Permalink | Comments (16)

November 01, 2006

Little Dodges

Last fall at the Olema knitting retreat -- or workshop depending on your perspective -- my friend and I stalked a wonderful cardigan.  Think seed stitch details, dart waist shaping, lapel collar, and silk/wool yarn.  The kind of sweater that improves any outfit, including your pajamas.  Yes we're both knitting one, jointly creating the pattern as we go along.

While working on her right front my partner-in-crime became obsessed with the horizontal buttonholes, frustrated by the small hole created to the left of the button hole.  Hole?  What hole?  Did I have the hole?  Sure enough, I too had a small hole next to each button hole -- previously unnoticed, but now glaring.  My friend's buttonhole quest lead her to Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac and the "definitive" one row horizontal buttonhole.  Needless to say, I ripped out my right front and reknitted the thing using this excellent buttonhole.

At this point, experimental reader, I'm sure you're salivating to learn this ingenious buttonhole.  Think me cruel, but I want you to learn this buttonhole from the original source.  Really it's for your own good -- EZ is such a funny, opinionated, and clever woman that everyone needs to be exposed to her writings.  Run -- don't walk -- to your nearest library or LYS, grab a copy of Knitter's Almanac and read the "July" chapter.

To quote Elizabeth Zimmermann from her classic, Knitting Without Tears:

It is little dodges like these that make a craft a joy; some of them one picks up from friends and enemies; some of them one discovers for oneself.

nona considers the one row horizontal buttonhole to be a little dodge I picked up from a friend.

November 1, 2006 in Tips and Techniques | Permalink | Comments (7)

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