Posts Tagged by tools
|15 March 2014||Posted by Ness under Knitting|
Back when I started the border of the Event Horizon Shawl, I divided the stitch count into 16ths. I did this for a variety of reasons. First, 72 is a lot more reachable than 1152, or even 288. 16ths seemed like good goals. Second, I knew from past experience that blocking a circular shawl without reference points is really very difficult. So I gave this a great deal of thought, and when I divided the shawl up into 16ths, I did it with pairs of stitch markers.
I made up eight pairs of coordinating stitch markers from my collection, taking great care to choose ones that I thought would stand up to being washed without breaking, tarnishing, or otherwise failing. Each one of the pair was exactly half-way around the circle from the other, which would make it much easier to line things up when it came time to block. But as I was knitting my way around the border, I couldn’t stop worrying about it. I couldn’t use the salad spinner to get out extra water, because the shawl was too big, so I would have to use the towel-roll-and-step method, and some of those stitch markers probably wouldn’t stand up to that. Also, what if the wet yarn snagged on the dangling stitch markers? What about attaching them to the border? I only have a few coil-less pins, and would have to use safety pins for the rest. Maybe I should go buy some of those plastic coil-less markers. If they came in enough colours, then I could just use those. But they’re plastic… Would they stand up to the towel-and-stomping? And when would I find the time to go to Michael’s?
Around and around these thoughts went as point after point was knitted, marker after marker was reached. And it wasn’t until I was almost done that the solution to all my worries hit me.
I am a knitter. Therefore, I have yarn. Therefore, I have yarn in a variety of colours. And also, because I’m me, I have a whole bowl full of my cut ends from the last several years.
Sometimes, the simplest solutions just don’t occur to us. We love our little gadgets, our pretty knitting jewelry, and can’t think beyond that. The really sad part is, I was involved in a discussion earlier in the knit-a-long about how to make stitch markers using contrasting colour yarn. And yet…
I unearthed eight different types of yarn ends from my end bowl, and suddenly, all my worries about the stitch markers breaking/snagging/tarnishing/falling off were gone. And did it work?
Of course it worked. With a pin at the centre and a makeshift plumb line that I used to go across and to measure right angles on the quarters, it worked like a charm.
I had room in the guest room (barely, and only after we moved almost every piece of furniture), and I only used pins this time (no wires). It’s blocking hard and I know it will draw in again once it’s unpinned, but it’s a half-inch shy of six feet across. For all the complexity of the pattern, for all that there were 1152 stitches in that final round and two rows for each stitch cast off in the border, a simple finish, gadget-free and just with some yarn and pins, seems fitting.
|16 July 2013||Posted by Ness under Knitting|
Today I felt mentally prepared to face the Lighthouse shawl again. I was getting further and further into the border, and becoming more and more convinced I was going to run out of yarn. So today I dug out my scale and left a little early for work, which gave me time to take an initial weight reading, rip back the edging for 25 body stitches, and take another reading. Then it was time for knitter math.
I think knitter math is one of the big stumbling blocks for new knitters. Big yarn companies don’t help the matter by making cute little patterns in books that you see at big-box craft stores to inspire people to knit them and then printing big warnings on them:
NOT USING THIS EXACT YARN WILL CAUSE YOUR SCARF TO SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUST!
DON’T BLAME US IF YOUR HAT CAN DOUBLE AS A BATHTUB IF YOU DON’T USE OUR YARN!
Unless you’re forced into it by necessity, or you immediately have a mentor or a community around you that can tell you otherwise, of course you trust those warnings. And so you see the cute pattern that calls for Brand X yarn, and you buy the requisite number of balls and the required needle size (not understanding what gauge is at this point, most likely), and you knit it up, and maybe it works and maybe it doesn’t, and if it doesn’t, you put it down to your lack of skill as a knitter. But that’s not it at all. It’s all about the knitter math, and knitter math? It’s not that scary.
I say that from the perspective of one who just this year has really started to get knitter math. I MacGyvered a pattern for my final project, which was all knitter math, but even six months or a year ago, faced with the Lighthouse shawl situation, I might have given in and taken it to a knitting group for help. But it’s just been over the last little bit that knitter math has started to make sense to me. I’ve internalized it now, and I understand how it works. I may still need to think quite hard about it, but once I’ve come at the problem a few times, I’m pretty sure I come to the right solution.
Take the Lighthouse shawl. My weight measurement was 2.4 g of yarn for each 25 body stitches worked into the edging. Great! A place to start. At 576 to work, that’s about 55 g of yarn needed for the edging. I ripped back the edging and got 23.
So I merrily tinked back another row. And got 25.5 grams. I tinked back two more rows over the course of the day, including one of the multi-wrap stitch rows. Got 32 grams. And stopped.
Time for more math, because if I just kept tinking back to 55 grams, the wave section of the shawl – which was already one pattern repeat short and growing shorter – was going to be non-existent. I thought about just knitting the border from that point. Surely, my math was wrong. Surely it wouldn’t take this much yarn for the knitted-on border! But no, I wanted to do some math and see.
So I calculated approximately how many stitches were in the four-row repeat, and then how many stitches were in that 25-body-stitches-worked in my original measurement. It came out to about 488 stitches. If each tinked row is only 576, then it made sense that I was getting pretty close to the same weight per row tinked. This was no good. To get the 55 g I needed to do the edging, I would need to take far too much out of the wave section. I thought for a little bit, then tinked one more row.
At this point, six months ago, I would have frozen and wondered what to do. But that was then. Now, I have knitter math, and access to a very impressive collection of knitting books at my local library, including several books on edge treatments. But first, more math.
With about 35 grams of yarn, I can knit approximately 7117 stitches in the border (35 g / 2.4 g x 488 stitches), which means for every body stitch, I can use about 12 stitches for the border, or 24 for two (7117 stitches / 576 stitches to work). That’s a much shallower border than the original (at 39 stitches for two), but I’m sure I can find a shallower edge treatment that will look equally good in one of the library books. It also gives me a ballpark, so I don’t look at an edge treatment that will take too much yarn compared to what I have left.
See? Knitter math. It’s brilliant, and you have to trust the numbers. What it isn’t is intuitive. You need to learn about knitting, how the numbers work, and what they tell you. And that comes with experience and practice. But once you understand knitter math, the world is your oyster. Yarn substitutions. Pattern adjustments. Gauge differences. Nothing is impossible if you have knitter math.
|9 April 2013||Posted by Ness under Knitting|
I’m just about to head off for my physio assessment, but there should hopefully be time enough for a quick post. I was working on the Spats this morning on my break, and then when I picked them up to admire them at lunch time, I saw this.
I guess I didn’t knit this stitch, just slipped it. That’s better than dropping it completely, but still annoying. And to make matters worse, it’s on the sole of the foot. If it had been on the instep, I might have left it, but just where it was sitting, I knew that it would be right in the middle of the ball of my foot. Not a great placement. Not something to leave. So after dinner, I sat down to fix it.
I remember when I was a new knitter. I was knitting a shawl out of ribbon yarn on 15 mm needles (I was new; don’t despise me for it…), and the yarn was so slippery, and the stitches so big, when I dropped a stitch, it just unraveled. The first time, I wasn’t too far in, so I just started again, but the second time, I was more than one ball of the damn stuff into the shawl. I cried as I tried to save it, but eventually just pulled it all back and started again. A friend asked if I knew about picking up stitches with a crochet hook. The third time it happened, I was ready, and I saved it. I wish I’d known better the first two times. Now, it doesn’t scare me at all.
When I was a new knitter, having an error like this would have been paralyzing. I’m so glad that I have knitty friends, and knitting groups, and books and the internet now. Because I know there’s nothing in knitting that can’t be solved, even if the solution is to start again.
Which, thankfully, I won’t have to do with these socks. Now, off to physio! Wish me luck!
|23 March 2013||Posted by Ness under Knitting, Life|
Back when I was young and stupid, in a time before there was a digital camera in every phone, actually, in a time before digital cameras were not hideously expensive, in a time when cameras actually used film, I took a solitary vacation in the Rocky Mountains and almost fell off one.
Actually, now that I think about it, it was probably only 2001 or 2002, and that’s kind of scary, because MAN how much our world has changed in the last decade…
Anyway, as I was saying, I was young and stupid, and thought that fencing twice a week made me in shape, and decided to do a very long, very inclined hike on my first day. I want to say it was 20 km or something ridiculous like that, but I think that’s a slight exaggeration. Anyway, it went UP from the hostel to a glacier, and then DOWN back to the hostel in one big loop. And I took I think one litre of water with me.
Needless to say, this did not go well. It was also a warm day. My water was gone before I got UP, and I was so thirsty that I ended up drinking glacier runoff. And oh, my legs. It didn’t get really bad until I was going DOWN. All these hairpin turns cut into the side of the mountain, around and around, and oh, but my LEGS were starting to HURT.
Then I slipped, and my left leg went off the side of the mountain, and if I hadn’t have had a walking stick, well, so might the rest of me. But using the walking stick to help, I straightened my right leg (which was still firmly planted on the path, thank goodness; I bent it as I slipped, so I was pretty stable and close to the ground), shook myself off, and hobbled down the mountain to the hostel.
Let me tell you. I almost thought I wouldn’t make it. I got back, drank buckets of water, cleaned up my scratches, and then sat and contemplated my own stupidity.
I then compounded my stupidity by climbing up another mountain two days later. Hey, I took a day in between to rest! That climb did not go so well. I turned back in fairly short order since I couldn’t actually use my hip joints all that well.
I have self-diagnosed with lingering bursitis in my hips as a result (worse in the left), though I didn’t come to that realization until about five years ago. I have gotten some treatment recently, Active Release Therapy to break down the scar tissue, and that’s helped calm it down quite a bit.
So it’s a really bummer that as I was doing my evening treadmill walk on Thursday night, that old air-bubble feeling in the ball-and-socket joint came back on the left side. Note to self: Avoid treadmill incline 5 and above… Ice and rest and anti-inflammatories this weekend, and then stretching. And no incline over 4 from now on. I was doing so well on the walking too, but I know I can’t push this one. It’s an overuse injury, and I need to bring the swelling down. And maybe go back for another spectacular set of bruises from ART if it doesn’t settle in short order. 🙂
Dad stayed until Friday morning. He tried to drive home Thursday, but turned around just in time to avoid the 100 car pile-up on the highway as a result of the Thursday snowstorm. We watched Tangled and shared a day-old donut instead. If he hadn’t turned around, his would have been one of the cars, and that wouldn’t have been good.
I’m trying to have focus in my knitting. I have one more sunflower to do, and then once they’re done, it’s back to the 2009 sweater. I know I just have to start working on it again, and everything will fall in to place. At least, I hope so. But first, the socks. I had to move one of the Spats socks off the circular to move stitches around and cable across the gap, but I’m hoping to have them both back on the circ before I go for my quarterly haircut this afternoon, so that I can work on them while I’m sitting there.
As a side note, I had to go buy a new set of 2.5 mm dpns to pull the one sock off (I only have four in my other set because one of them broke), so last Sunday I went down to River City Yarns West. All they had were these bamboo ones. I hate bamboo. If I wasn’t desperate and running behind all weekend, I would have bailed and gone out to Pam’s and bought rosewoods. /sigh
|28 January 2013||Posted by Ness under Life, Spinning|
I come from a crafty family. My mom was the first one to teach me to knit, crochet and cross stitch. My sister and I have dabbled in a lot of things over the years. And the highlight of every Christmas season is Craft Dinner, where we get together with another family (I’m 35, and we’ve been doing this since I was single-digit age), do a Christmas craft, and then have a great Danish lunch for dinner.
My dad, however, has pretty much always worked with wood. When I was growing up, he carved and painted decoys and other birds. A few years ago, he bought a lathe, and started making bowls, wooden spoons, and other lathe-turned items. So when I started getting into spinning, I mentioned off-hand, “Hey Dad, can you make me a spindle?”
Little did I know what would become of that innocent suggestion.
A few years later, Dad has an Etsy shop, has been featured in Spin Off, and keeps asking me what else spinners and knitters might like that he could make. After suggesting niddy noddies, spindles, nostepinne, WPI gauges, yarn bowls (once I convinced him that yes, it was worth it to cut a notch out of the side of a perfectly good bowl), and yarn tops, I was a little tapped out of ideas.
Enter Level 2, where we have to spin for a braid, and where our instructor introduced us to several types of braid. I was so excited to stay overnight at my parents’ place after Level 2, because I got to say, “Hey Dad, can you make me a lucet fork?”
When the family came up for this past Thanksgiving, Dad brought a couple of prototypes with him. He and my brother-in-law and I tested them out, and the two of them went back home with ideas for improvements.
Thursday I got a package in the mail from my brother-in-law, who also has a small lathe and some time for small projects when my nephew is sleeping or otherwise occupied/supervised.
I’ll be taking them around to my knitting groups for others to test as well, but the new improvements are lovely. The two outside ones are the original prototypes, and the middle, lyre-shaped ones are the new ones I’m testing. I can’t decide which one fits in my hand better, but I do know that they make me want to ditch spinning for Module C1 and just dive straight into C4 and spin mohair for a braid, just so I can do some braiding. Lots and lots of braiding! Because unlike knitting, it doesn’t take too long for you to have something substantial. It might just be a length of cord, but it’s a LONG length of cord!
It’s a funny convergence, really, my hobbies and skills and my dad’s hobbies and skills and my brother-in-law’s hobbies and skills. It gives us something to work on together, and constantly pushes us to think about tools and processes differently, and come up with improvements and ideas. But really, it’s selfish on my part. After all, I’m the first one that gets to play with all these new and lovely toys. 🙂