A Love Knit Up

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Psychedelic Non-Squares update

Now all of my non-readers may wonder where all of my good intentions about actually knitting squares went.  I can pretty much tell you that they went the way of many good intentions.  Not that I'm not planning on knitting more squares (I am), and not that I haven't been knitting squares at all (I have) but there are two problems with knitting squares as quickly as I had anticipated:

1.  I am splicing the yarn in the middle of the squares in order to save knitting in ends.  I like how this looks (well, the non-perfectionist bit of me does, and it generally manages to convince the anal-retentive portion of me that I could not do better with other methods), but it means that I need to pay a lot of attention to the knitting at the color changes (to make sure the splice is at the right place) and I need to rub the yarn a lot when I splice, which means that it isn't actually good QUIET knitting.  Which in turn means that I can't knit it in a lot of places (classrooms, theaters) so knitting time is severely limited.

2.  Since I'm casting on the sides with provisional cast-on, this project requires a lot more materials than many other projects.  While each individual piece is small, it also requires a crochet look, scrap yarn, scissors, a safety pin, and two balls of yarn.  Thus it is not as easy to travel with as I was hoping, even if it was socially acceptable for me to have it with me.

These two facts, put together, mean that the knitting is going much slower than planned.  But I am determined (and I really like the pattern) so it is moving along.  Maybe in a decade or so I'll have it done. =)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Boston Summers Suck

I know I never post, and I know that I promised I'd talk about the non-psychedelic squares, and I have a new project that I worked on during the conference that I was at (and which is pretty nice, if I say so myself, and perfect conference knitting), but... I have no desire to get within 100 feet of wool.

This is not because I don't think that wool is amazing (cause it is), and not because I don't want to work on anything (because I have several things that I want to work on), but it is 85 degrees and 85 percent humidity (and our air conditioner doesn't work well enough), and just the thought of touching wool is painful.

Nuff said.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

(Real) First and Second Square

I have done 1.2 more squares. I'm calling the first of these my official "first" square, since it's the first one I did correctly (as described in the previous post). For the second of these I undid half of the provisional cast-on (I did the caston in two parts so that this would be easier), then cast on 35 more stitches and started a square on these.

The only problem with this appears to be that knitting the second square feels a bit more lop-sided than the first, and I'm knitting slightly more tighttly (although there doesn't seem to be a discernible effect on gauge, yet). This is to be expected, although I really hope that the squares all end up the same size.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

First Square!

My first square is done! It starts on 70 stitches, with the dark color claret heather, and the second cloud. It measures about 8 inches to each side. So if the squares are all like this, the afghan (should I ever actually finish it) will be 64" x 80", which is about queen sized and quite respectable. =D
Note that the tiny purple square which is the last purple stripe looks a lot smaller than the first stripe. This is because it is: it is only 4 ridges. The actual directions I will have per stripe are at the end of this post. I'm not sure I'll use this square, but I'll keep it as my "gauge swatch." The color combination definitely looks nice; I'm going to make another square like this later.

I'm joining new colors by splicing the yarn (doing the thing where you knit to the end, undo a few stitches (and mark the spot where you ended) then splice together and keep knitting. It actually doesn't take that long, and it looks pretty good. (A bit of the time the lighter yarn got a bit discolored, but I think that in the long run that won't be that much of an issue. You couldn't really tell on the knitted part, anyway.) I was thinking of doing this very scientifically, so that I could prepare the yarn ahead of time. So I propose to measure the weight of the swatch and the weight of a few yards of the yarn. In addition, I know the number of stitches in each swatch, so I should be able to figure out exactly how much yardage each bit of the swatch takes. (Should measure it by weight, and in theory.)

I should also make sure to leave a set number of inches (3? 4?) for the tail at the beginning, so that I can make correctly spliced yarn ahead of time. =) That'll make it better for travel knitting, which was the idea behind this project anyway.

Directions for square:
Provisionally cast on 35 stitches twice (so that each half can be unzipped independently). We start with a RS row; all WS rows are knit. Knit two rows straight. k 34, k2tog twice, k34. Continue decreasing twice in the center of each square on each RS row, switching colors every 10 rows until 2 stitches remain. The last WS row is just a ssk. There should be 7 stripes, 4 dark and 3 light.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Psychedelic Non-squares Start

I know it's been a while since I've posted, and right now I'm not even going to pretend that I'm continuing what I started before. Now I am just going to blog about something I am starting now.

Many knitters out there have heard of the Psychedelic Squares Blanket. The stockinette stitch version was published in Mason-Dixon Knitting and many people are seduced by the idea of lots of colors and not very difficult knitting. Heck, I was seduced (about 2 and a half years ago) by this idea, and tried to make the stockinette stitch version of this blanket. I was, however, discouraged by the crappy yarn I was using (icky acrylic; even acrylic fans can't possibly like this yarn), the combination of colors (icky: this yarn was from a lot I bought off of eBay blind) and the fact that the squares weren't coming out square. (Apparently, blocking is needed for them to truly be square.)

This time, things will be different. First off, I am making the squares in garter stitch so that they will be truly square. Second, I am using wool yarn: KnitPicks Wool of the Andes, to be precise. This yarn is (a) wool, (b) cheap ($1.99 a ball when it's not on sale) and (c) comes in a wide variety of colors. (I was debating using elann.com's Peruvian Highland Wool (which comes in even more colors), but I decided against it because many people said it pills a lot.) Third, I have a color theme all picked out, and have even gone as far as to order a color card so that I can pick out new colors as needed. I'm going to have beige/cream colors for the light colors, and dark reds, blues, and greens for the dark colors.

In addition, I'm not going to make the blanket full of squares! Who says that you need to arrange the miters so that they form concentric squares?! This is my current plan:
Each square is going to have seven stripes, three "lights" (which will form the lines outlined above) and four "darks". The squares with stars in them are going to have some other pattern; one that I haven't decided on. The squares where two "light" lines cross are going to be interesting; I want to try to knit them using the log cabin technique so that the stripes have garter ridges going along them correctly. I'm not sure it'll work so far, but we'll see.

In addition, I want this blanket to be two-sided. Now I know that when you have garter stitch stripes, one side is nice stripes and the other side has two-color ridges. There's really no way to avoid this. However, other than this feature it should be possible to make it so that there are no obvious seams. The plan is to either (a) cast on with provisional cast-on and then pick up the stitches from the bottom for new squares, or (b) use Kay's seamless technique (where you pick up stitches along the cast-on edge). (I looked for a link to the second one, but I couldn't find it.) The different colored blocks above are the pieces that would be knit in one piece.

I'm probably going to try to knit the red and blue blocks first, then work on the yellow and green. The purple and cyan blocks are going to be the most complicated, because the purples include wildcard squares (that I'm probably going to either knit from the outside in or inside out, so that I can have live stitches around them) and the cyan blocks are very big. I'm also going to have to find a way to graft these together, which should also be interesting. Note that if I decide that I leave the stitches on the yellow, green, and cyan blocks live I can pick up the white wildcard squares just from around them, and knit them from the outside in, making there be less sewing. (This would mean, however, that I'd need to knit these squares with large pieces of knitting hanging off of them. On the other hand, there are only four of them, so that doesn't seem like a large problem; these could be saved for the end.)

Sunday, June 25, 2006


So I haven't posted in a long time. Some of that was not really my fault (or was my fault, but I couldn't bring myself to care), as in the last two months I have had to (a) do final projects (b) do finals (c) pack up and move (d) start work (e) pull apart my entire room in order to sort books. (That last one was after I moved back home.) At the moment my room is once again reasonably neat, I have no pressing work to do, and I can post. (This state is not likely to last.)

I have finished one and a half squares of the Raku Suri stole. One square looks like this,

and up close looks like this (apart from the colors, which I couldn't get my camera to do properly).

This pattern calls for you to make three squares, block each of them (leaving the stitches around the edges live), and then connect them with edgings. So the square is not as blocked as it will look after everything is finished (I don't want to kill the stitches I'm going to have to knit into), and hopefully after I block it fully it will actually lie flat.

I'm also working on Tristan, from Elsebeth Lavold's Embraceable You Collection. I'm a little worried about the sizing on this. This is what the back currently looks like:

This is on a 24" needle, so you can see that it's a little big. But I'm knitting tighter than actual gauge! This thing is actually supposed to be 24" wide, and mine is only 23". For a medium size, a 48" chest seems a little much. But that's what the design calls for... so I will knit it, trusting to the knitting gods, Elsebeth Lavold, and the fact that a sweater is smaller inside than outside. (And this is pretty thick fabric, too.) Hopefully, that will be enough. If not... I guess I'll learn what it feels like to have to rip back a whole sweater.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

A Knitting Creation

So, although I have not been knitting I have made something that can help with knitting. Here's how it happened.

I was trying to design a lace shawl. (It didn't work, don't ask.) I kept fiddling around with drawing charts and putting different patterns together. However, as I was trying to make a triangle I wasn't only fiddling with charts from the stitch dictionaries I have, I was also trying to draw my own (to figure out how increases would work). I didn't have any graph paper, so I was drawing (a) charts and (b) graph paper. This was annoying and frustrating and didn't work so well.

A normal person would have gone out, walked a couple of blocks and bought some graph paper. (Actually, as I was packing I founda notebook full of the stuff. In restrospect, I'm probably gald that I didn't know I had it...) As I am not a normal person, I started wondering how I could make the computer draw the graph paper for me. Now, this is reasonably easy; I drew some squares in a drawing program, and was all set to print it out. But then it occurred to me that as I didn't have a printer I'd have to leave my room to go and print and, in particular, I'd have to walk further to pick it up than I'd have to go in order to buy graph paper. (Even I'm not silly enough to do something like that.) So instead I started thinking about how I could make the computer draw charts for me; if I could do that, I would never have to go and tryand find graph paper. (I also thought that it would be nice to put it on the internet, for all of those other lazy people who can never find graph paper when they need it.)

This brings us to the Chart Creator, a CGI script that I wrote that takes written out instructions for a chart and generates a picture and a PDF file for it. (The PDF file is so that you can print the chart out and take it with you.) It can do lots of cool things, like add notes to charts, and mark off stitch repeats. And here's the cool thing: it finds chart errors.

Have you ever knitted from a chart and been unable to get the stitch counts to work out right? And then it all ends up being because the chart had a knit 2 together instead of a plain knitted stitch somewhere? This always frustrates me. What my script does is very simple: it counts the stitches in each row, and makes sure there is the correct number of stitches in each row. So, for example, if the first row tells you to knit 4, yo, knit 4, and then the next row tells you to purl 8 you know that it's crazy, because they forgot to tell you what to do with the new stitch. The chart creator does the same thing, only it does it before generating the chart. It even tells you on which row the error turns up, and how many stitches there are in each of these rows. (I'm all happy because of this: it means that I can type in other people's charts to check them, and I never have to wonder if I'm going batty.)

So that's what I've been working on. I've even made a manual for it. =) Hopefully this will be helpful to people.