Finally I get to post about my favorite finished object EVER.  I knit this afghan / lap blanket for my aunt, who is a wonderful and creative person.  She has knitted for years, but now she spends more of her creative time making beautiful jewelry, plates and ornaments from fused glass.  She has always inspired me, and she gave me a set of knitting needles and crochet hooks, and started me knitting.

Pattern: Pi Shawl, by Elizabeth Zimmermann, published in Knitter’s Almanac
Yarn: Recycled 100% italian merino wool, unraveled from a thrifted sweater; ~1300 yards
Needles: US 5/3.75 mm Knitpicks circular (47″ length)
Finished Dimensions: 60″ diameter (after blocking)
Started: July 18 2008
Finished: December 6 2008

This was both a terribly frustrating and boring, and a wonderfully satisfying project.  It took me many hours, and when I got to the 576 stitch section, it took 22 minutes for EACH ROUND!!!  So it truly felt like it would never be finished.  But by the time I got to the lace, it was addictive, because I knew I would soon be done.  The knit-on border took a terribly long time as well, but when it was done and blocked, it became such a lovely piece of work I almost couldn’t give it away!!

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Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A., published on knitty.com winter 2006 issue
Yarn: Plymouth Yarn Happy Feet – 75 grams used
90% superwash merino wool / 10% nylon, 50 grams / 192 yds / skein
Needles: US0/2.0mm Knitpicks circular (47″ length)
Size: women’s 8.5-9
Started: December 31 2008
Finished: January 11 2009

The fact that I’ve knit 2 pairs of the same socks in such a short amount of time testifies to the fact that this is a GREAT pattern.  It is the right size, and it’s fun, and not boring to knit.

As for the yarn, Happy Feet is soft and pleasant to work with, and the subtle variegations allow the lace pattern to show through beautifully.  It is a 2-ply, and I didn’t have any problems with splitting.  I believe it will fuzz and pill relatively quickly, but I don’t really have a problem with that.  I am also pleased that this pattern, with such small needles, makes perfectly fitted socks for my feet, and since I used slightly less than 75 grams, and have ~26 or 27 grams left, I will be able to get another pair of socks out of the yarn if I buy 1 more ball, which will make the projects quite affordable.

Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A., published on knitty.com winter 2006 issue
Yarn: Fibranatura Yummy – 100 grams used (284 yds)
100% superwash wool, 130 grams / 370 yards / skein
Needles: US 1/2.25mm Knitpicks circular (47″ length)
Size: women’s 8.5-9
Started: December 16 2008
Finished: January 21 2008

This pair were knit first, and I loved knitting them so much that I had to knit the second pair!  The yarn is lovely, plump and seems very hard-wearing and durable so far.  I’ve worn and washed them at least 5 times, and with use they become a little fuzzy, but still look and feel really good.  I love how the yarn is plumper than the average sock yarn, which I found more pleasant both during the knitting process, and as it creates a slightly heavier, dense sock.

This is a rough post because I still don’t have internet connected at my new apartment, so I’m posting from an internet cafe.

My digital camera is, sadly, kaput. So the lovely hand-dyed cashmere lace that I’ve been working on cannot be posted in all it’s glory. Luckily, my scanner still works, and I find scanning is a good way to illustrate swatches, so here are a couple.

The first is a lovely pattern which was used in a lace shrug pattern available on Knitty. I’ve knit the swatch on US #5 needles, using a recycled 100% merino sport weight yarn. I’m not that impressed with the lace pattern (though it is lovely in the shrug design), but I really like the way this yarn behaves in a lace pattern, because the effect it creates is quite meaty, solid and substantial, but it is not so heavy a gauge to be awkward. It may need to become a new project?

I’ve been experimenting with lace patterns, and how they are constructed. I’d like to learn to design my own lace patterns eventually.

This swatch shows the transformations that a lace undergoes with very slight changes to its pattern. The yarn is a magnificent recycled 100% cashmere, and it seems like somewhere between lace weight and fingering. The swatch is knit on US#4 needles. I’ve dyed it from quite an ugly pink (I’m not a huge fan of pink) to a vibrant blue, and the entire skeins that I dyed turned out an even more intense shade than this swatch, which was just a test.

knitting pattern chart for English Mesh LaceSo at the bottom of the swatch is English Mesh Lace, which is a 6 st and 8 row repeat. For the next pattern (in the middle), I elongated the pattern by adding an extra 4 rows, making it a 12-row repeat. For the final pattern (at the top), I went back to english mesh lace, but I ‘padded’ the pattern by adding a single knit stitch between the motifs, so the multiple is 8sts + 1. You get quite a different effect out of each of these changes – the original is kind of like a lattice form, the second more like an elongated check, and the third is much more round and organic quality, and has the effect of openwork flowers in a solid background.

The last little experiment that I did today, while putting off jobhunting, was to try knitting with metal wire – are really fine gauge. It was kind of awkward, but there may be potential for jewellery!

I love stitch dictionaries. Since receiving ‘A Treasury of Knitting Patterns’ by Barbara Walker from the library, I have been obsessed with the multitude of possibilities that it contains. I flip through it every night before bed, finding new stitches that I love, and fantasizing about the garments they will inspire.

Since I have probably 400 yds+ leftover merino laceweight left over from my butter clam scarf, I decided that a perfect canvas for experimentation would be a pair of fingerless gloves; simple enough tubes stretching from hand to elbow. So armed with Barbara Walker, I measured, designed, and knit a couple of swatches.

design-gloves-measurements

As I have a limited amount of yarn, and I will be hand dying it, I will knit both at the same time, from the hand up to the elbow. I am not sure exactly how the hand will be covered; will there be tiny individual fingerlets? The gloves must definitely have a distinct thumb tube. The main idea is to have a lace pattern on the top of the arm, extending over the top of the hand, and stockinette stitch on the palm, and the underside of the arm. That way increases can be handled within the simple stockinette underside, or with a row of yo’s along the border of the lace. At and above the elbow, I want to switch the pattern to an all-around ribbing of some kind – maybe a lacy rib, or perhaps a chunkier, more solid one, but something with significant stretch to hold the glove up.

swatch-merino-lace-chevron

The final (and sometimes most difficult) question is color. I plan to dye the yarn prior to knitting … but I’m kind of tired of making dye tests, so I think I’ll just wing it, and well, we’ll see what happens!