Mushroom steek repaired

The end result:

the two vertical needles indicate the part I frogged and rebuilt. Everything between those needles has been frogged, down to the acorn marker that marks the centre of the steek.

This is where I started:

The steek is positioned 10 stitched too much on the right. And I forgot to do the decreases in the first couple of rows above the marker.

Here’s everything frogged and the marker positioned at the stitch that has to be the new middle of the steek. Steek will be 8 st wide total, 4 st to each side of the marker. Decreases will be 2 stitches away from the steek.

Having determined what goes where I now have to sort out which yarn goes in which row and in what colour sequence. That spaghetti is daunting…

Figuring out which two colours belonged to which row was best done from the Wrong Side of the work. For the first six rows I parked them and marked them. The red pin on the bottom left holds the two yarn for the first row. One yarn I found at the edge of the frogged work, the other I found by “walking” along that row until I found a dangling colour:

I then took the first two colours, tried to read the colour pattern of the existing row, and knitted the live stitches in that pattern, except the stitch with the marker on on top of which I cast on 8 stitches.

Having knit from right to left I met the existing knitting on the left and found out I had knitted way and way tighter than the existing gauge. There was still length  of yarns left but no more stitches needed:

I don’t know what went wrong. Gauge for sure, I’m nervous doing this and yanking the yarn. I also do not remember whit what colours I casted on those extra 8 stitches the first time around. I probably used more green then yellow then, seeing as I now have more green than yellow left.

I undid the row and knitted it again, trying to have a looser gauge and trying to use equal amounts of colour for the 8 cast on stitches. It didn’t work. I tried again. I tried loosening every stitch after I knit the whole row, to make the yarn more equally distributed. Didn’t work.

Then I gave up. Then I decided to knit the right half of the row from the right side and the left half from the left side. The extra yarn would end up in the middle (of the steek) and that would be alright because eventually this is where the steek will be cut so these extra ends won’t matter. I am at peace with my gauge for now being tighter than the rest of the vest. It’s only a detail.

Here’s how that first row looks after this approach (not all steek stitches have been cast on yet):

That’s ok. That’ll do.

So that’s how I worked it. Pick the two yarns appropriate for the row. Figure out the stitch pattern for that row. Work one half from the left. Work the other half from the right. Remember to do a decrease every third row. Leave extra length in the middle of the steek and be cool with that.

Here I am half way. Not trying to panic over looks and the yarn spaghetti:

Still so much yarn spaghetti!

Don’t panic. Just keep working, one row at the time.

Eventually I reached the top. The spaghetti sorted itself out, two strands at a time. The middle looks weird and messy but it is correct technically. If I pull on the loose parts the neighbouring stitches will tighten and it will look better.

The sides of the steek look good too. Patterns continue. There are decreases. I think I’m alright.

It took 5 hours, over the course of a couple of days.

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Preparing to show off chopped mushrooms.

Tomorrow is the knitters’ festival in one of the tiniest an oldest cities in the country: Nieuwpoort. (yes, it means “new port” and it was a new port on the river Lek (“which means “leak” (we have no fantasy when it comes to naming places))).

The festival is organized by The Schapekop, the LYS where I did the workshop dyeing with mushrooms back in February:

I was so going to knit a stranded vest with the yarn and bring it to the festival tomorrow and be all glorious and marvelous!

But of course I spend weeks fiddling with the chart and never getting it exactly right so there’s no vest to show. I do have one wristwarmer though:

The colours are beautiful and exactly as I want them for a cool, February-kind of vest I have in mind. It’s a good swatch telling me about gauge, colours and contrast. Especially that last one needs a lot more chart fiddling in StitchFiddle.com!

The past two weeks I felt bad about bragging about a vest to the people who organized the workshop and then knowing I’ll show up tomorrow with nothing or just that one meager wristwarmer… Yes I felt so bad that I contemplated not going at all and spare myself the embarrassment. Which is ridiculous!

In fact, so ridiculous that I snapped right out of it and casted on for a stranded vest in totally different colours last Tuesday. Look at these colours!

So happy 🙂 So sunny 🙂

They are all dyed with mushrooms, apart from the blue which is a commercial colour and the white.

This vest and these colours I don’t need to get precisely right. It’s just bands and bands of motives, some borrowed and some made up as I go along. There’s a little bit of teeth gnashing when I get my contrasts imperfect but I give myself a pass for that. Overall I’m just knitting happy colours, straight under the radar of my perfectionism, and I’m just making metres and I already have something nice to show tomorrow.

Just now I had to stop knitting for a bit and learn about shaping and steeks. It seems you cannot just knit a tube and then cut holes in it for arms and head. Or can you?
I don’t know, I’ve never done a stranded, shaped garment nor have I ever intentionally steeked.

For this vest I did a provisional cast on (to bypass the ribbing at the bottom because I didn’t have much time to get to the good part and I don’t know yet which colours I’ll have left for the borders). Then I knitted a tube that fits my stomach.

At the level where my bossom starts I now have to decide whether to increase (how would that go in a chart?) or to insert a steek (cast on about 8 stitched which will be cut later on). Also there needs to given some consideration to arm holes I guess. I don’t know yet if they need decreases and a steek, I’ll be reading the pattern Great Horn-Rimmed by Mary Scott Huff for that:

pic by Mary Scott Huff  pic by Interweave Knits

I’m using various patterns. The stranded Ivy League Vest by Eunny Jang for looks and the Great Horn-Rimmed by Mary Scott Huff for shaping and steeking. That last vest is free, from Knitty, and I understand what it says 🙂

Ooh, setting up for a steek is easier than I thought. Just park one stitch, cast on 8 new ones using both yarns and knit those eight in stripes. Decreasing for the front panels occurs on the side of this steek-flap.

I’ve started the set up right away. Pretty soon I’ll add two at the sides too, for the arm holes. Must not forget to add shaping.

After I have completed the toppart I’ll undo the provisional cast on and knit down wards. My tube is not that high yet and there’s room to add waist decreases right at the bottom.

So that’s the plan! Now I have two nice things to show the mushroom guy tomorrow so he knows his first workshop ever was very much appreciated.

Charting snowdrops for the mushroom dyed vest (spencer)

I want to have my stranded spencer on the way for the wool fair on 19 and 20 May in Nieuwport. I’d love to show the tutor then some results of his dyeing workshop.

I’ve determined I need to cast on about 250 stitches, on needles 2,5 mm, aiming for a gauge of 30 st/10 cm. I need to redo the math before I cast on but it’s good enough to start charting in Stitchfiddle.

My inspiration for the bottom of the spencer is one of the mitten kits from Riihivilla, mushroom dyer expert in Finland. The pattern is Snowdrop Mittens by Jouni Riihelä and Leena Riihelä, only available with the kit.
 pic by Riihivilla

I’m also looking at the free Snowdrop chart by Sandra Jäger which was nicely modified by Tribpot in her Snowdrop Square.

But both are not the snowdrops that are my favourites. These designs have their snowdrops open and well in bloom:
 wiki

The ones on the cuff of the mittens even look to be a double hybrid:
 wiki

This is how I love my snowdrops:
Untitled pic by me

A closed, white drop, like a little bell, with a little green hat and blueish slender leafs. I should be able to chart these. Even though I don’t have a dark green in my palette of mushroom dyed yarns.

I’ve set some other parameters for the spencer: Jugendstil feel instead of Fair Isle. (Fair Isle has small ribbons of repetitive patterns). No diamond shapes but rather flowing lines. But not too large/high.

Eeek, I’m still nervous to start serious charting so I wasted some precious time making this collage to get in the mood:
snow drop collage art nouveau

Not sorry I wasted time. It has beautiful pictures and lines!
And, after all, humans are eye-loving animals. (That’s crooked language, it sounds like we love to have them for dinner. Should it be “visual creature”? “Sight addicts”? Don’t know. We love patterns and colours and seeing things.)(In that vein: I love how cats learn to tolerate our adoring gazes. To them, staring is rude and threatening. But nearly all pets learn that their humans are eye-addicts and they allow us to stare at them and adore them. I love when life serendips like that.)(What? Should totally be a word.)

The collage has some embroidered snowdrops and those translate well onto knitting charting paper. As long as you modify them a bit because a knitted stitch is not square.

Eventually I did get to work. Here’s my work in progress:

Each row only has two colours. Where there are 3 colours on the chart, that one stitch will be slipped from the previous row, thusly stretching it a bit up to the current row. It’s not an extra stitch or third colour in that row.

Sooo. Wasted some more hours writing this post. Did you notice my detours or was I stealthily enough to still claim efficiency?

Yeah, I thought so too.

Alright, I’ll do some more charting now. Those leafs don’t look very “Art Nouveau” to me and I need something “curly” on the top to make the transition to the next thing above. Which will be….ermm….??

Sock Madness: Mod Madness

The new pattern for the Sock Madness is Mod Madness by Copper Blade Designs. It’s been out for 3 days and many, many people have already completed a pair. (!!) Or at least one sock.

This is where I am:

I’ve knitted flat out for days now but I’ve only just turned the heel…

(on the screen an amazing sock in solids! She did the toe wrong though, colour stripes should flow from foot into toe, and she’s asking the mods if she should redo the toe or whether this is an honest mistake and do the next one right. Socks look great in solids eh?)

This is how they will look in the end:
 pattern pics

This one is taller than the one on the screen, in red and navy. That one meets minimum requirements. I’m doing a taller sock though, because I’d love for these to be wintersocks.

One of the things slowing me down is proper stranding technique. Usually I have one strand on the left hand (continental technique) and one on the right (English throwing technique). In the cuff however we have to alternate knit and purl stitches and it takes way too long to do that with the throwing technique.

So I’m teaching myself continental with both yarns over the left index finger. Just pick the one you need for this stitch.

This is how youtube says I should hold the yarns. Finger raised for tension and easy picking:

However, I knit Continental Combined, meaning I have a quick way of purling and picking. I run my yarn on the very tip of my finger, using my finger as a working surface. It makes for very speedy knitting, with minimum hand movements.

But with two yarns… they are too close together:

For the cuff I’ve learned to strand the yarns differently to keep them well apart on my working surface. That the tension got very different between the two was no issue.

(Gardening fingers. It’s lovely in the cabin this weekend! I’m rooting though the earth, getting rid of the long roots of Spiraea Douglasii, a.k.a. Hardhock. Such a nasty plant! Our lot is covered with it. I can manage to dig it out in the dry forest ground but in the wet, lumped together soil of the meadow and draining ditches it’s undoable. This year I’m happy if I get it out of the forest. Next year the grassland… perhaps rent a small digger and sift through all the soil.)
 Grrrr.
I can weed for about half an hour, then it’s back inside and rest and knit. All the birds are out and singing while I dig with my hands through the earth. Sun is shining. Not a bad way to spend some time 🙂

Also: gauge issues. I started the cuff at 1.75 mm because it was ribbing and I can do my colour work very loose. But it was too tight so I went up to 2 mm. Looked better. But still a bit too tight. Went up to 2,25 mm. Cuff fitted comfortably over my foot. But once the leg portion started the knitting looked way too loose.

So here  you see part of my leg, switching half way from 2,25 mm back to 2 mm:

The knitting on top looks much better now. (This picture is read bottom to top, just like knitting charts.)

Now that I’ve done the heel and am being passed by knitters left and right I’m tensioning up. Might have to go back to 2,25 mm.

I’m still knitting continental combined with two strands over left index finger. The knitting is now smooth and regular. But I’m still so slow! I knit like a child, giving attention to every stitch. I tried going back to one strand left, one strand right but I feel that’s slower now than this new technique.

As others have unlocked speed in this skill, this may be the sock that puts me out of the competition. Might just as well be, my body is starting to ache. Shoulder, hands, fingers. I’m not doing this right. So I guess I’ll be slowing down now. Taking more breaks. Remember to drop my shoulders when knitting.

Luckily I’ve been put on the right team, we are the slower knitters and in my team not too many people have already finished a sock. I can still make it… if I hurry. Which I shouldn’t. Won’t. Probably.

My sock does turn out lovely though. The grey is blueish, it’s Grey Hare by Dutch Wool Diva. The white is just regular Drops Fabel. A bit more fuzzy thread than the Diva. Should have brought one of the smoother yarns. But the combination is beautiful!

Here’s a picture from last week, when I was trying to learn stranded with two yarns on the left:

I knitted my finger to the project, took the wrong end of the strand to work with. Knitting ain’t easy.

doing the free style colourwork in de Petal Lace cardi

This is the pattern I made, freehand, for my Lace Petals Cardigan:

made with free charting program Stitchfiddle.com

Now I’m knitting stranded. Working with DK goes fast and there are only 107 stitches. Still it’s not as easy as I thought. Because the pattern has no repeat I have to look at the screen all the time and count count count. And I’m working to and fro instead of in the round. Doing stranded knitting on the WS (Wrong Side) is somehow more difficult than doing it from the RS.

The yellow accents I will embroider upon the knitting. Just like Tilly Trout showed me. Right now I’m seriously doubting if the grey has enough contrast from the green. But there’s always doubt when I knit so I’m knitting on.

In the mean time I’m waiting for the new pattern for the Sock Madness to drop. I also have two other socks on the go, one which I’m going to frog and start over in new, happier colours.

And I’m knitting on my sport weight cardigans, both Pumpkin Ale and Old Towns cardi. These finer yarns make my muscles ache so it’s good to work with thicker yarn at the moment. This is DK, handdyed by Wolop. Can’t wait to add the yellow accents.

Free style colourwork

Ahh, Spring is in the air! I have knitted my Petal Lace Cardigan towards the hem where a band of colour work will be:

Now it’s time to  decide on the colourwork and for this I’ve been playing with Stitchfiddle, the free website that lets you create knitting charts.

I’ve set out a canvas on Stitchfiddle as wide as the whole border of the cardigan and I’ve drawn vertical lines from the lace petals to the bottom. I want each line to have a petal in colourwork. Quick sketch:
Now it’s time to design the petals. Which shape? Which colour where? How to distribute the contrast? They should have little yellow accents because Lieneke has shown me they really liven up the colours:

And I need to be a bit careful with the teal because it’s also used for the button band. (Oh, the ball of teal is not in the picture). And what colour will the hem be?
Also: sleeves will have a colour band too. Use up all the remains!

So I’ve been playing around. Crudely drawing to get a feel for shapes and sizes and colour contrasts. And then I watched the new podcast by Tilly Trout (lovely podcaster, go watch here).

In it she shows a lovely bit of fair isle she’s working on. A swatch in Uradale yarn, inspired by the book Shetlandic Knitting by Marja de Haan, from Trollenwol yarnshop.
pic by Marja de Haan

Tilly Trout has added some light, mustard coloured accents.
Which are cross stitched. On knitted fabric. Because a cross stitch, in wool, gives a different “pop” than a duplicate stitch:
 still from Tilly Trout episode 33
Very interesting!

Storing this idea in my head for if I want solo yellow accents on my cardigan.

Later on Tilly talks about how embroidery nowadays is different from a few decades ago. Back then things had to be neat and tidy. Cross stitch. Count threads.

Nowadays it’s more free. Freehand. Freestyle. Go by eye, not by thread count. I feel there’s a cross pollination with the recent trend with handlettering:
 pic by Breimonster, who’s into embroidery, handlettering, sewing, knitting and the general crafty life. She’s also a Physics teacher by profession. And she’s the first Dutch person to finish the qualification sock for the Madness, she’s now in the fastest team with all the Finns and winners from previous Madnesses. She’s marvelous!!

Free style colour work? Interesting! (2)

Why should I try to make my colourwork all neat and in a 14 st repeat pattern? Stitchfiddle has already given me a chart for the whole band, should I desire so. I could knit the whole band, without a repeat, just like I sketched it!

You know, this may be just the thing I’ll do. Freehand colourwork, no rules, no symmetry! It’s what I’m staring at and thinking about on this lovely Springday, while I knit my new Dropped Madness socks very precisely to the rules.

Ah. I found my teal ball.

Spring is in the air, Spring is in the knitting:

Wolop Adventshawl pictures and charts

chart 1: https://www.stitchfiddle.com/c/sj4l72-8ly3pm/quickview
chart 2: https://www.stitchfiddle.com/c/sj4itg-6t4lyt/quickview

All charts made in free online tool StitchFiddle. A friendly site for intuitive chart making for knitting and crochet and cross-stitch. Both colour charts and symbol charts. You can also upload a picture and it’s automatically converted to a chart for stranded knitting. I played with that a year ago, for the Elementary My Dear Swap:

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 16.50.52

This year was all about patterns in small strips with the colour I was given that day of the Wolop Advent Box. Here’s my shawl this morning, after a month of wearing:

I’m not that relaxed when posing for pictures:

Then Robert says: “Smile for the cat!” and things get better:

I’m wearing my Peabody pullover in Soft Donegal, a 100% Merino in a ply with nubbs. I don’t wear it often. I knitted the pullover in 2013/2014 and knitted it too short, I’m always pulling it down. The yarn pills a lot (I’m a loose knitter and it’s merino) and the pattern is not high enough in the back of my neck causing me a chill.

Really, I should chuck this sweater out, it takes up too much space for the one time a year I wear it. But it was soooo much effort to knit it. Two years it took. With many brainfogged struggles.

But I think I’ll wear it another day today. It looks great with the Advent Shawl.

finished: Wolop Advent Shawl!

It’s blocking and drying:

Here are some of the final motives:

Cats with Paw Peerie by Sandra Jäger and also hedgehogs from her. I didn’t have enough brown/mauve for the final row but they still look like hedgehogs to me.

My golden embroidery scissors.

The purple shirts I never sew.

A ribbon of flowing water; hedgehogs; mushrooms; something that may or may not be square eggs or daisies in the only multicolour I put in the shawl.

Cat paw prints; “Advent 2016”; new stars to replace the ones from December first and December nineteenth ; some geometric design in which I ran out of dark purple and finally: some fish (using different shades of the pastel greys. The purple one, the blue one and the lilac I dyed myself. Ran out of that one at the final fish and inserted some white.)

Kitchener stitched everything together, with the fish right underneath the polar bears:

The geometric design is a prelude to next year’s project. I want to do another one of these Adventsboxes!

Next time I’d love an overall design flowing through the whole cowl, with only the colours changing, following the wisdom of Fair Isle knitting when it comes to colours, colour families and contrast.

For the pattern I’m leaning towards Art Nouveau. Leaves. Curls. Smoke rings. A pattern which I’ll probably design myself, using StitchFiddle, the free online charting tool.

Advent shawl 2016 was made entirely on Stitchfiddle. It took two charts of 200 rows high each. I’ll clean them up and share them publicly. In a post with pictures of me wearing the cowl. Right now it’s still wet.

24 dec: chunk of knitting and a friendly reminder

The last colour of the Wolop Advent box is a beautiful icy blue:

I used it for a secret kind of bird house/WIP bag that I will receive next week. The bag is greenish with ice blue top/roof. Can’t say much more about it 🙂

Underneath I knitted the purple anti gobble food bowl. Our cats have one too now. It works really well.

Underneath that is a ribbon of sea gulls. They are always near, making strange noises over the harbour.

These birds are from a chart by Sandra Jäger. It’s free. I love how there’s a darker blue middle section. Lots of Fair Isle patterns have that. I should play more with that.

This is what I knitted yesterday. I wanted to do a large chunk:

Do you like those fox faces? I designed them myself, on Stitchfiddle.com. I wanted to incorporate foxes in my shawl because Wolop Lieneke loves foxes and this particular colour of yarn is beautiful for foxes and next week I will also receive a bag with foxes on it ….*eyebrow wiggle*

The next few days I’m trying to knit as much as possible so that the shawl can go around my neck twice. I want it finished before the new year begins.

I’ll end this post with the x-mas card our cats received:

Untitled
A personal card, from the vet!

It had an PS.
“Remember that it’s about time to renew your vaccinations.”

Have a nice x-mas evening.