Sunday, May 30 / 10:34 AM

H'm... I think I've got it
Hey everybody, I've realized I want to be able to wear my sweater after graduation on the 8th if it gets cold, which means I need to FINISH it! So, armed with my new motivation, I set out to (naturally) research.

1. A knitter named Rachel kindly sent me an email telling me how she picked up stitches to create the button bands, but that she had heard others comment that the "Phildar approach" of sewing on a button band makes for a "more professional-looking result." Cheered with the knowledge that if I do fail miserably and have to pick up stitches, all will not be lost - yet firmly resolved to create a "professional-looking result," I press on.

2. For those of you who can read French, Phildar's "Fiches Tricot" ("Knitting Files") is a useful resource. It contains these instructions for attaching a button band. I translate them as follows:

The sewing of a ribbed band is used for:
-necks
-button bands
The band (button or neck) has already been knit according to instructions*. Iron [press] the portion in stocking stitch to flatten the stitches and ease unravelling. Put the band on the right side of the knitting, distributing the stitches and fixing them with a few pins. Un-knit** the rows of waste yarn leaving only one row which will be unravelled as the sewing progresses.

This sewing is done on the right side of the garment, stitch by stitch using backstitch in the following manner:
Bring the needle under the knitting and up through the second stitch of the ribbed band. Bring the needle down into the first stitch and, passing under the knitting, bring it up through the third stitch. Return the needle into the second stitch, bring it up through the fourth stitch, and continue in this way in each stitch.

* when finished knitting the band, instead of binding off, knit a few rows in stocking stitch with waste yarn
** 'd├ętricoter' sounds so much nicer!


3. My trusty copy of Vogue Knitting* has similar instructions to #2, and a better diagram.

*Its subtitle is The Ultimate Reference Book. It's good, but I wouldn't call it ultimate. I would like to say what Maggie Righetti says about button bands, but I can't find my copy of Knitting in Plain English - all my books are still in boxes in the garage, and I don't seem to have organized them as well as I would have liked.

3. Melinda at Purlwise (one of my favourite blogs) attached a collar to a Phildar sweater using this technique, and explains it here. Start reading at "Collar". If she can do it, so can I!

4. I check skinnyrabbit.com (I hate to say it, but every time I see "Fluffa!" I just think of "fluffer," which is terrible, I know, but there you go). Becky knits Phildar stuff all the time, and has pointed me to her commentary on backstitching collars. Her photographs of the technique, contrary to her assertions, make it look neither easy nor fun, but I think I am finally beginning to understand how this whole thing works. The only thing I'm worried about is that this is done on the FRONT of the garment. But I guess since you do it with live stitches it's sort of half sewing half grafting. Oh, and none of the diagrams show exactly where you're supposed to put the needle on the fabric to which you're sewing the button band - do I match stitch for stitch? I don't think that will work out proportionally....

I'll let you know how it goes.

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Friday, May 28 / 11:11 AM

Woo!
After marinating for a zillion years, the Estonian mittens are done! I have decided thumbs aren't that bad after all, and my next small project will be a pair of Estonian gloves.

I also finished the first Secret Pal Sock... it's much greener than this photo suggests. I'm just starting the toe for sock #2 so when they're both finished I'll take an outdoor photo. If the sun ever shines again.

And, I've also been spinning some wonderfully soft merino/tencel:


handmade birch spindle and fibre were both purchased
at the fabulous Gaspereau Valley Fibres.

I'm going to make a 2-ply yarn and use it to knit a neck warmer for my mom.... something along the lines of the Brioche Gaiter in last winter's Interweave Knits but of in a larger gauge.


The colour is more accurate in this photo
but still not quite right. But I love closeup shots!

A quick 'hey' to the school friends visiting my site.... Tiff - I am at your disposal for knitting support. Did you get my email? Chris - surfing the web at work? Tsk, tsk.

"...Westerners are liable to become very frustrated with most Korean doctors because they will not answer questions from patients regarding illness, laboratory tests or the treatment being given. Questions are regarded as insults to the doctor's competence, thus causing a loss of face. You might not even be informed that you are dying, since this would imply that the doctor is too incompetent to cure you."
--Lonely Planet Guide to Korea

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Wednesday, May 26 / 12:21 PM

Mea Culpa
After the post asking for suggestions... and the long pause from blogging... I have not even touched the pinup cardigan. Just thinking about finishing it is giving me the willies. So... here's what I did instead:

Gaspereau Valley Fibres
I love this store! Every time I show up it's better. This time, I happened to bring my camera, and so snapped photos of


This sheep. Doesn't he (she?) seem to be saying "shear me!
For the love of God, shear me!"
(although s/he's got nothing on Shrek)

Even better than the sheep was this:


Look closely. It's not a horse, it's a LLAMA! In Nova Scotia!
How strange. And apparently its main purposes at
Gaspereau Valley Fibres are (a) pet and (b) guard
'dog' for the sheep. Yep, apparently Llamas trumpet
at the sight of danger - and then kick its ass.
I'm told that a roused llama can kill a wolf if need be.
I don't think I believe it, but it's pretty
cool to think about.

Then I went hiking.

With my dog, Rufus.

We saw a Canada Goose (I love this photo):

And a lot of damage done to the trees by Hurricane Juan last fall (check out how shallow the roots were! This tree was basically growing on a rock):


Then I did some spinning and knitting, but you'll have to wait till tomorrow for those - I'm sleepy.

"I wonder if in childhood ever rained."
--From an unpublished manuscript written by my grandfather.

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Friday, May 14 / 5:28 AM

Mittens!

That's right, the mittens are no longer marinating but genuine works-in-progress. I'm about a half an inch above the thumb hole on the second one. The thumb construction is kinda cool... there's no gusset, what you do to create the hole is knit several stitches in a contrasting yarn, then slip those stitches back to the left needle, and continue knitting in pattern as if nothing had happened. Later, you unravel the contrasting stitches and pick up to form the thumb.

I've been working on the mittens because I've been pondering my next step on the Pinup Cardigan. Remember how I said the French and English instructions differ? Well, one important way is in the construction of the button bands. The French instructions say to knit the button bands, and then sew the live stitches to the sides of the sweater using backstitch, like so:

Whereas the English instructions say to pick up stitches for the button bands and knit them directly onto the sweater. I'm not sure which method will work better. I've never used backstitch before (really! I always mattress stitch everything. It's stretchier and easier to do it without making a mess), and I'm not so hot with pins, but neither am I very good at picking up the exact number of stitches evenly spaced along a garment. I think I'm headed for major frustration either way. I have knit one separate button band already, but I'm not opposed to scrapping it and picking up along the sides.... I'm already fairly worried about the bands seeing as they're in ribbing, and from what I read, ribbed button bands kinda suck. They are, however, essential to the construction of the garment. I want it to look perfect, but I don't want to have to re-do it ten times.

What do you think I should do?

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Monday, May 10 / 12:32 PM

Settling in
Well, now that I've moved, I guess I should stop hosting the Toronto Knitblogs ring! Anybody out there want to take it over? Email me.

Haven't finished the Pinup Sweater because I need a 2.25 mm circular needle. I think I'll go pick one up tomorrow.... it's nice to have access to a car again. Especially when the car is a truck and I have a cowboy hat. Whee!

Anybody out there tried the new Blogger Comments? I was thinking about switching but I think I'd lose all my old comments if I did so and that would be crummy. Also, I hate the new Blogger interface. It is far less efficient than the old one.

Rowan R2
My two cents: If you don't learn the fundamentals of knitwear design you'll just end up with crap. Crap that doesn't fit, or crap that looks great and then stretches, or the unwearable catwalk crap they show on their web site. They're packaging fashion design as fast and easy: spend $300 on Rowan yarn and you'll be Christian Dior! It actually takes talent and effort.

"Why don't people ever spell USEFUL messages on the walls with their dying strength? 'Sheriff too' would have been waaaaay more help than 'Not Alone' and would've used only one more letter...."
--me.

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Tuesday, May 4 / 7:31 AM

Blocking
It takes forever, but I find blocking very satisfying. It makes me feel like my knitting is perfect and I am some sort of professional dressmaker when I see it all stretched out and measured.... even if I can't find my straight pins so I substitute safety pins and even if instead of a blocking board I just slapped some sheets on some towels:



Still have to finish sleeve number two. Then I'll block the sleeves and knit the button bands.

"They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm."
--Dorothy Parker

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Monday, May 3 / 1:59 PM

Socks!

Unfortunately have no REAL photos, because I knit about two cm before realizing that my stitch count was off so that my k2, p2 rib ended in k4 on one side. Sigh.

The yarn, Lang Jawoll Cotton, is a gift from my fabulous Secret Pal, and comes with a spool of thread

stuffed inside to reinforce heels and toes. V. cool, and something I wouldn't have noticed unless I'd read this on someone else's blog (forget whose now). Anyway, thanks Secret Pal! You rock.

I'm knitting on 2 circs using Priscilla's Dream Socks pattern from Interweave Knits, or at least I will be when I cast on again.

What's your favourite way to do toes? I have yet to find a satisfactory version.

"When you're in trouble go into your dance"
--Chicago. What's your dance?

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Sunday, May 2 / 5:02 AM

Photography fun
I am never knitting a black sweater again - it's impossible to blog about it! You can't photograph black yarn in any satisfying way, especially if you want to show stitch detail. You'll have to be content with the following, and my assertion that I have finished one sleeve and am well underway on the second.

While playing with my camera, I took a picture of the view from my window. As of Friday I'm moving, so I'm getting nostalgic about things like this. It's better on sunny days, but it's still pretty sweet:


Click for larger image

I also really enjoy textures and macro shots:

In other knitting news, there is apparently an Estonian shawl in the latest issue of Interweave Knits; I haven't seen any pictures of it larger than thumbnail-size, but I'm interested in it. My grandmother made me a beautiful Estonian wedding-ring shawl in a lilly of the valley pattern, but it's white and as my opportunities for wearing lacy shawls are few, my opportunities for wearing white lacy shawls are almost non-existent. I'd like to have a black one, though. Here's a picture of the one my grandmother made me:

"It rank[ed] high up on the list of things I would have been reluctant to be found dead in a ditch with...."
--P.G. Wodehouse, Jeeves in the Offing. The item in question is the ubiquitous eighteenth-century silver cow creamer. What would you be reluctant to be found dead in a ditch with? Leave answers in the comments.

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