Monthly Archives: April 2008

Technology is fun… and the natural world is pretty cool too!

I’ve been collecting new gadgets for my big trip.  First up… I got a refurbished 8 gig ipod Nano from apple.com.  It’s really cute and all I really need since before the end of the summer I’m going to get one of those eagerly anticipated 3G iPhones.  (I’m so ready for a new phone!)  Plus I like the idea of having a tiny incognito device that will not attract pickpockets.  (Sorry. That’s culture of fear talking, I know.)  I made a little iPod cozy for it too.  I used some Trendsetter Blossom scraps that were from a grab bag I got from a friend and put a little wooden button on to secure the flap.  I made a double yarnover on the top edge of the flap to allow the headphone cord to feed through.  And there was no seaming since I knitted it in the round.

iPod Nano

iPod Nano Cozy, Trendsetter Blossom, Size 3 needles, cast on 24 stitches using Judy’s Magic Cast-on from Cat Bordhi’s New Pathways for Sock Knitters.

iPod Nano Cozy

But here’s the purchase I’m most excited about…

Two weeks ago I started the quest for the elusive, yet to be officially released, Canon Rebel XSi.  They were trickling into Best Buy two at a time about once a week or so, so I knew I’d have to be on top of it.   (As of today you can get them pretty much anywhere though.)  I got lucky and when I called last Tuesday morning, the lovely woman on the phone said they had just come in and she would put my name on one so I could pick it up after work, no worries.  Yay!  I heart that lady.

I’ve already used it a ton.  The first day I had it, I brought it to work and was commissioned by my boss to photograph the baby shower she was hosting that day.  So I spent a hour or two before the shower speed reading the manual and trying to figure out all the bells and whistles.  But like cramming for any exam, I forgot nearly everything I leaned by the next day and so I am now slowly reviewing and figuring out the cameras quirks.  It’s a really nice bit of technology and takes really fantastic pictures.  The macro/flower setting is very good.  So good that I may, for now, hold off on getting the 100mm macro lens I thought I had to have.  I get the sense that the kit lens (18-55mm with built in image stabilization) will be just fine for my trip to Paris/Ireland and it is nice and compact for traveling as well… unlike the 100mm which is kind of long and heavy.

I don’t want to downplay the fine performance I gotten from my little Kodak EasyShare V550 though.  (The pictures of the Canon were taken with it and everything thing that came before, obviously)  It’s been a great little work horse and my constant companion for the last three year.   And it takes nice close-ups too.  I’m sure that the Canon will not be a totally replacement for the Kodak, especially since the one up it has on the Canon is the ability to take videos.  Which is awesome.  (I just need to get a computer that has a processor fast enough to view them.  All in due time.)  Here’s a little spring time in Los Angeles photo homage to the abilities of my trusty little point and shoot…

I got most of these shots in the neighborhood by the Westside YMCA. There’s so much purple out right now!

Sorry there wasn’t much knitting action today.  I promise there has been tons of knitting going on and I will have updates soon…

xo, Jill P.

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Some small projects

Hey Jill P.,

I have a few things to show you today.  I already told you about how I ripped out that Fitted Knits tube top that was anything but fitted.  And a few weeks later, I’ve turned a project I couldn’t salvage into a project that I will maybe wear twice!  That’s some kind of improvement.  I made the Surplice Bodice Camisole from Knitting Lingerie Style.  I was so excited for that book before it came out, and then I bought it and never made anything from it.  I wasn’t having great luck with pictures, but here you go.  You know, I’m doing the best I can since I don’t have anyone to take pictures of me wearing my knits. (Can you tell I’m sensitive about pictures?) 

A blurry dirty mirror one:

I used four balls of Cascade Pima Silk.  All of it.  I had to pull about a dozen scrap bits of yarn from my seams just to finish binding off.  Because the yarn has a severe tendency to stretch I knit it at a tighter gauge than in the pattern.  I also made the smallest size, even though I’m a little bigger than that.  To compensate I did an extra “bust dart” yarnover on each side.  I am wearing a bra under it, in case anyone is concerned.  I did notice in the picture in the book, the model has a nipple poking out through a yarnover.  It was color corrected to be not nipple-colored though. 

Once I had the fronts and the back done, I sewed the shoulders and side seams, plus adding the edging around the neckline and arms.  Here’s where I made some changes.  The pattern calls for picking up stitches separately on the back and front and then seaming them later.  Since I knew I might be short on yarn, and because that seemed silly, I modified it to knit in the round.  I also didn’t sew the front pieces together, I just picked up the stitches through both pieces.  It took me a bit to realize that she didn’t add a selvedge stitch on each end of the pieces.  Only at one end of the rows.  But I picked up a multiple of the stitch pattern (6?) and started going for it.  The wrong side rows were just plain knit and purls so I just swapped them around.  Easy-peasy. 

My thoughts about this project?  I don’t like working with cotton.  I feel like I could have only gotten my stitches even if I had knit super tight with it.  It also fuzzed off onto all my clothes and I’d have puffs of fiber floating around and stuck on my hands.  I also would have made this a little longer if I had had the yarn.  When I tried it on with jeans it looked ridiculous.  Really emphasized my short torso.  I had to put on a skirt with a higher waist line for it to look presentable.  I’ll probably wear a tank top underneath it most of the time.  You know, if I actually wear it someday. 

Next up… I finished my Aqua handspun socks!  I’ve already made my complaints about these after I finished my first sock.  But today I’m liking them better.  They don’t feel as small as they did before.  Maybe because I tried them on in the morning, instead of my usual late night fitting.  My feet didn’t have time to swell throughout the day.  That sounds gross, but that’s why you’re supposed to try on shoes in the middle of the day.  So done!

These are from Charlene Schurch’s More Sensational Knitting Socks, using the Open Ribbed Cable stitch pattern.  Toe-up with a short row heel.  At the top I continued the ribbing pattern from the leg of the sock into the ribbing.  This took just under 4oz.  I spun a 3-ply yarn from some dyed superwash I got at OFFF.  They aren’t my best socks, but I’m happy enough with them. 

I keep forgetting to take pictures of my WIPs, but I’m working on a couple of tops that should take me a while to complete.  The Featherlight Lingerie Dress from Lace Style and the Norah Gaughan “capecho” from last winter’s Vogue. 

I went to Colourmart yesterday and ordered some cashmere laceweight yarn.  I’m sooo excited about it.  I can’t wait until it gets here.  Then I’ll be all set for our upcoming lace KALs.  For anyone interested, some of us Culver City folk were planning a Laminaria KAL as soon as Melissa finishes her Shalom sweater.  So get prepared and we’ll start in a few weeks.  Some of us are also planning on doing a KAL for the Irtfa’a shawl from KnitSpot.  That one will be starting when you, Jill P., get back from your European vacation.  So June sometime.  Anyone want to join us? 

Jill B.

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A Tale of Two Skeins

Jill P.,

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

Well, that’s being a little dramatic.  (FYI, I thought about doing this whole post as a Dickensian-style post with a lot of metaphors, but thought better of it)  I did a bit of spinning last weekend and got some crazy results.  I spun up two skeins from two 4 oz. bumps of fiber.  It was Corriedale from Judy’s Novelty Yarn (?) that I bought at Oregon Flock and Fiber.  I don’t have pictures of the fiber. =(  The color was the same in both, Purple Mist.  I actually thought it was called Purple Haze until writing this up. 

Okay, where’s the story?  They are totally different!  Talk about separated at birth!  Definitely a case of nature versus nuture.  Or preparation vs. spinning (??, I can’t follow that train of thought anymore!).   

I spun up the singles for skein #1 first almost a month ago.  I was trying to spin something bulkier than my usual DK weight.  It went amazingly fast.  I filled up two bobbins quickly.  I had split the roving into two parts lengthwise, making sure they weighed the same amount.  I spun it, I guess, short draw.  Time had passed between doing the two bobbins so I decided to wait until I could borrow your plying head to ply it together. 

This last weekend I decided to spin the other 4oz. of it, and ply both skeins.  I split this roving the same way, but not being careful about weight.  These singles went just as quickly.  I was using the same ratio on my wheel and the same spinning technique.  I then turned around and plied them together right away.  And they turned out, amazing!  Well, I was surprised at it and very happy.  The color repeats immediately stopped lining up, but the barber pole look was working for me.  A lot of life and bounce in the yarn.  I was so happy with this skein (#2) that I decided do the other skein right away. 

Immediately I knew something was wrong.  Well, first of all, the singles were thinner than my other skein.  I was just going by memory of how thick I had been spinning.  And because it was thinner, and my spinning had been identical, these threads had less twist in them.  Or the same amount of twist, but they needed more.  I also have to chalk it up to the fact they had been sitting around for a few weeks.  I knew they would lose energy but I had no idea.  I had limpy limp strands to ply together. 

In comparison, the other singles had been full of twist and were plying back on themselves. 

Because I had been so vigilant about splitting the roving, these color repeats were lining up like gangbusters!  I kept hoping for them to go out of sync at some point, but they didn’t except for a few short sections. 

Skein #1 came out alright, but a little lackluster.  It was much flatter, in body and in tone.  Here’s the final product:

And skein #2, you ask?  Well, here it is:

All comparisons of spinning aside, this batch of fiber had a lot more dark patches in it, which I really like.  So I can’t be held accountable for the color weakness of the first skein. 

And here’s some side-by-side comparisons:

They don’t seem that different in thickness, here’s me holding a strand from each skein:

But when I skeined them up, Skein #1 has 150m, while Skein #2 has 90m.  Yeah, big difference.  (What’s with the metric?  My stupid Ashford kniddy-knoddy has a length of 1.5m, or 5 ft.)

So, what have I learned?  I should always refer to my previous singles if I want a second skein the same weight.  I think that I, in general, don’t put enough twist in my singles.  And that you should test the twist by pulling yarn off past the orifice.  And I especially need to put more twist in my singles if they are going to sit around for weeks losing energy.  Or I should just finish up my spinning quicker. 

It is far, far better spinning that I do, than I have ever done…   (Okay, It was too much of a stretch for that last line.  I needed more Dickens in here.  I should have tried to pull in some Mme. Defarge knitting references in here, but that sounds hard.)

If anyone has any good ideas for what to use two unmatching skeins of yarn for, I’m all ears! 

Sorry to step all over your earlier post today!  I’ll miss everyone tonight at Compatto!

Jill B.

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Success!

Hi Jill B!

Oh, happy day! I finished my first successful top. Bonsai Tunic is done!!

Bonsai Tunic

Bonsai Tunic

I’m very satisfied with how it turned out and feel like I learned a lot of things in the process.

Here’s the breakdown…

Bonsai Tunic by Norah Gaughan in size 38

10 skeins of Berroco Bonsai in Kaigun 4152 Colorway

Used size 7 and 5 needles (Knitpicks Harmony)

Modifications: I knit the bottom based on pattern repeats rather than length. I did five complete repeats and though it looked a little short in process, the completed piece hangs perfectly. The only thing I might have done different would have been to knit the neck band a smidge longer than the 3 inches called for. I ended up having to really cinch it to fit the back and there are slight puckers. Though, I think ultimately it helps to keep the shoulders from sagging. Also, I didn’t do the best job on seaming the neck and shoulders. I learned the mattress seam technique after putting the top part together. (Upon you’re recommendation, JB. Thanks!)

I can’t believe I’ve gotten this far as a knitter and not known how to mattress seam. It’s like a whole new world has opened up to me. I was so pleased at how tidy the side seams came out.

The yarn was just okay. I don’t think I’m a huge fan of ribbon type yarn. Plus it was so snaggy because of the nylon thread wrapped around the bamboo core. These photos are surprisingly true to the color.

I was so inspired by the success of the Bonsai Tunic that I swatched and cast on almost immediately for the Flutter Sleeve Top, Camellia, by Kate Gilbert. I recently purchased the Classic Elite Make It Modern Book, but apparently the pattern is also available as a stand alone for purchase thorough Kate’s site. I’m glad I bought the book though because there are a number of other really nice patterns I know I’ll want to make eventually. The greatest victory for this project is that I’m using stash yarn. Yay! When I was a very new knitter, and before I ever knew about the existence of independent yarn shops, I purchased a bunch of Lion Brand Microspun to make some sort of Vanna White shawl from some random book from the library. Well, then I got obsessed with learning lace and cast on for Donna Druchunas’s Arctic Diamonds Stole. I kept dropping stitches and getting frustrated with that one so it went to the frog pond and the yarn went back into the closet. It’s been sitting there for a long time and came to my mind because I’ve been looking at a lot of patterns that call for DK/sport weight yarn. And I have just enough of this stuff to make a top as long as it doesn’t have long sleeves. so I crossed my fingers and swatched and washed and dried and it came out perfectly. This yarn so wanted to be 24st/32rows to 4 inches. So much so that it came out the same gauge on both size 5 and 6 needles. Strange. I find it interesting how not only does a swatch give you answers, but often times makes you ask even more questions. Why? Why? Why? Anyway, I decided to just go with the size five and cast on this morning. I really like the fabric it makes and surprised at how nice it is even though its 100% acrylic. (GASP!)

That means that I have a lot of active WIP’s in my knitting bag right now. In the spirit of full disclosure, I think I should make a list…

Camellia in Microspun, Orange

Swallowtail Shawl in Misty Alpaca Lace, Plum

Leafling Socks, STR Lucky Mediumweight (had to totally rip out all my progress and start all over last week because they were coming out waaaay to big. That was kind of painful since I was doing the two at a time thing…)

Mossy Jacket, Handspun Multicolor BFL from Chameleon Colorworks  (I frogged the February Baby Sweater because it looked like hell and found this pattern in my queue that suits the yarn much better.  Went from kitting on size 4 needles to size 9.  Much more comfortable!)

Secret Project that I mentioned in my last post, still not finished. ugh.

That’s a lot for one bag huh? And then there’s the Laminaria KAL that we were talking about doing with Melissa. I’m totally into that and have some Knitpicks Alpaca Cloud in either Moss or Sunlight in the stash and ready to go. Actually, this would make great travel knitting for my trip. Yes, yes, I’m still wrestling with what to knit on my trip to Europe. All I know is that it will be a pair of socks and a lace shawl of some sort. (If I don’t get a move on my March RSC then that will end up being the socks I bring I guess.) I’ve still got some time to figure it out.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention… since I’m going to be away and missing LA’s Stitch n’ Pitch, I had my own little baseball knitting session this past weekend and even got some photos to prove it.

The Dodger’s lost to the Padre’s, but since I’m from Boston and was dutifully wearing my Red Sox cap, I didn’t care all that much. It was a fun game and a beautiful warm night.

LA Skyline

Who’s going to Sip N’ Stitch tonight????? I’ll be there sporting my new tunic! 😉

Have a great weekend!

xo, Jill P aka. oboegoddess

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Me, sewing?

Jill P:

I’ve been sad that I haven’t been able to blog much.  For some reason I will only blog while I’m at work, and I’ve actually had work to do.  We’re still smack dab in the middle of Bette Davis work (it’s her 100th birthday after all).  We also did some syncing up of “Gamperaliya”, the first feature film made in Sri Lanka.  The print is going to screen at Cannes.  Which is pretty exciting I guess.  But what about my blog reading/posting time!?

I have had some time to finish up projects.  This is kind of a big deal for me, since I’ve been known to put off sewing for ungodly amounts of time.  Knitting finishing I like, but sewing finishing, blech!  I went to JoAnn’s last weekend and everything was on sale.  So I bought a bunch of notions, buttons and some fabric.  I finally got around to lining my Counterpane Carpet Bag.

The pattern is from Handknit Holidays.  I used 3 skeins of Noro Kureyon.  I bought the 8″ bamboo handles at Unwind during their Superbowl sale.  The lining is  cotton batik fabric.

I had to sew it by hand because my sewing machine is still non-operable.  Of course I was being dumb and didn’t think about just making a longer rectangle and folding it in half.  So I cut two identical pieces and had to sew all three sides.  It took forever!  I then sewed it in by hand, putting a few pleats in the lining to match the bag.  Not my greatest handiwork, but good enough for me!

Last time I blogged I was working on a swatch for the ZsZu skirt.  When I washed the swatch, it did seem to shrink up some.  So I cast on with the appropriate needles and got to it.  Of course when I started knitting I was getting the actual gauge without the washing step.  Hmm.  I just kept going.  (That sentence sounds like foreshadowing, but it’s not.)  I ended up finishing all the knitting in about a week and a half.  I soaked the finished skirt and pinned it out to dry.  I was hoping to stop the bottom edge from rolling up.  In hindsight I should have bound off on the wrong side.  Maybe that would have helped out.  The blocking didn’t really help with the rolling.  I didn’t notice a gauge difference either, go figure.

That picture is pre-blocking, it doesn’t roll up quite that much anymore.

I bought some plain-ish black buttons at JoAnn’s and actually sewed them on this week.  When I tried the skirt on, it seemed a little loose.  The yarn is all cotton and nylon stuff and didn’t really have any memory.  I imagined it slowly growing as I wore it one day, until it just fell off.  So I took some black elastic thread (50% off at Joann’s!) and sewed a few rows of that into the top of the skirt.  It seems to help quite a bit.  It also kind of pulls the button band in a little, but I’m not worrying about it too much.  Depending on how it performs after my first wearing, I might put some more elastic in.

But done!

I also need to wear a slip or leggings underneath because of the drop stitches.  I guess it’ll be good insurance too, in case the skirt does just stretch right off.

Speaking of stretching right off, I finally frogged a long-standing WIP.  It was the Coquette (?) tube top from Fitted Knits.  I used Cascade Pima Silk instead of Pima Tencel.  I only used a wee bit of negative ease.  What was the result?  I just kept going even though it was giant.  It couldn’t even be helped with straps.  I took these pictures before I ripped it all out.  Sideways!:

Well, the other picture looks pretty much the same as that one.  You can’t tell how huge it really is.  Mammoth!  It’s all gone now.  I’ve started the Surplice Bodice Camisole from Knitting Lingerie Style.  I’m not liking how uneven my knitting is with this yarn.  Because of this yarn’s tendency to stretch, I’m knitting it at a slightly tighter gauge and in a smaller size.  A bit risky.

I’ve also been working on my first pair of socks made from my handspun.  It’s 3-ply superwash which I thought was going to be fingering weight.  Turns out it’s about light worsted! Ha!  But I was insistent on using it for socks.  So they’re socks knit at a gauge of 5 st/in.  The same as that skirt!  I learned after a considerable amount of time that my gauge changed to 5.5 st when I knit in the round versus back and forth.  So the socks are a little snug.  I’m using Charlene Schurch’s More Sensational Knitted Socks book.  This is the Open Ribbed Cable (?) stitch pattern.  I’m going toe-up because I don’t want to run out of yarn and doing the short row heel.  I finished one, but am not that happy with it

Yes, it looks obscenely long.  But my feet are average size.  I think because there’s so few stitches the short row heel is kind of slight.  I don’t know how that works, but there it is.  I would have prefered a heel flap with gusset, but went ahead with the short row anyway.  It fits well for the first part of my foot, but the pattern is awfully stretched out over my arch.  I think gusset increases would have helped a lot.  I also would have knit the toe plain for longer before starting the pattern.  I’m going ahead with the second one, but am not very pleased.  But there’s something great about knitting a sock with only 40 stitches around!

So much more promising when it was just a toe:

That’s all for now.  I should move right along on all my projects this weekend.  Except for when we buy pounds and pounds of fiber on Saturday!

Jill B.

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