Sunday, January 21, 2007

Last Friday the UPS-guy brought me this:The Unexpected Knitting by Debbie New.

It's not so much a pattern book, but more of an art book. Knitted art. A wondreful resource that opens your mind to new ways of doing things. Debbie New proves that you don't always have to knit everything straight from top to bottom or bottom to top. You can go in swirls, circles and labyrinths. The fashion is a little dated, but it's not the style of the garments that matters, it's the techniques. You can always adapt the technique to your own style.

After reading this book, I feel... liberated! I've had several ideas for socks that can't be done very well using any traditional technique, but now I know what to do! I think using the ideas from this book, I can not only draw the ideas I have, but also knit them. This will be so much fun! I can't wait to start experimenting! Here's a picture from the book of swirl socks:

I wanted to get started right away, but planning for socks made out of swirls is a little tricky. It's hard to wrap your mind around it -what shape should the swirls be that it actually makes a sock? And a sock that would fit somebody! So I started by cutting up an old sock into swirly strips of fabric. Then I drew my pattern:

Yup, that's a sock pattern! And here is one of my pieces:

The pieces of red yarn are just markers to mark the different sections of increases, decreases and straight knitting. I'm not quite sure yet how I will piece them together. This is definitely an experimental and a "learn as you go" kind of project. I've wanted to do something like this with yarns such as Trecking XXL that have slow and gradual color changes, and now I have the perfect technique to do that. So expect to see some very odd looking socks in the near future. ;)

Talking about Trecking, I'd seen some colors that I couldn't find anywhere, at least not more than one or two of them in the same place. But then I found this German yarn shop that had tons of colors! Maybe even all of them... I think I have almost all of the darker, more saturated colors from the row with numbers 71-77. And ordering from there with overseas shipping was actually cheaper than buying from here at a local yarn store. And once I had the kinks worked out with Paypal, my shipment came very fast! I was most happy with the service, and will definitely order from there again.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Entrelac cap

I promised to write out the pattern for the entrelac cap/beret, so here comes. If you want a less slouchy cap, leave out one repeat of the 7-stitch squares. I've included instructions for making an Excel spreadsheet that will do the calculations for you. I highly recommend doing that, it will make your life a lot easier! You won't have to worry about finding the same yarn or getting gauge. I actually haven't even specified my gauge. I used a DK weight yarn and 3.5 mm needles.
Here's a couple more pictures of my cap:

Modeled by the wire basket.
Laying flat on the table.
Here you can really see how neat that tubular cast on edge is. This is one technique that is really worth learning, if you don't know how to do it yet!
The Entrelac Cap
By Lotta Breyer
*These instructions are written using centimeters, but you can easily substitute inches, it will not change how you do your measurements.
** At the end, you will find instructions for how to do your calculations in Excel. Enter the measured values and the formulas into your spreadsheet, and the rest of the numbers will be automatically calculated.
Knit a swatch! This is very important, since I can’t possibly tell you how many stitches you will need, unless you knit a test swatch. It can be any size, but a bigger swatch gives you a better measurement. You can knit the swatch in stockinette stitch. Measure your stitch and row gauge.
Measure your head circumference in cm. Calculate the amount of stitches needed: (HeadCirc/10)*gauge, for example, (56/10)*22=123.2. Round this down to an even number, such as 122 or 120.
The cap is knitted using tubular cast on. Start by casting half the amount of your calculated stitches (e.g. 60) using provisional cast on1. Join in the round and knit 2 rounds. This seems like not enough stitches, but you’ll just have to trust your measurements. On the third round start picking up the stitches from the provisional cast on while undoing the waste yarn at the same time. Purl the first stitch from your needle. Knit the first stitch from your cast on. Purl the next stitch off the needle, knit the next one from the cast on. Continue in this manner until all the stitches are used. You should now have your calculated amount of stitches on your needle. Knit in k1p1 for 8 rounds.
Start the entrelac. The entrelac squares are 7 stitches wide (you can also use 8 or 9, if it better suits your stitch count). Calculate the closest number to your stitch count that is divisible by the size of the squares. (e.g. 120/7=17.1, so I could use 119=17*7 or 126=18*7; 120/8=15, which matches perfectly.) If you need to change the amount of stitches, knit one more round of rib and increase by the needed amount.
Start entrelac by knitting a row of triangles: K2, turn, P2 (or knit left to right), turn, S1 K2, turn, S1 P2, turn, S1 K3, turn… until you have used up 7 (or 8 or 9) stitches, and start the next triangle. Make as many triangles as it takes to finish the round. The direction of the rows of entrelac squares alternates between clock- and counterclockwise, the first round of triangles being clockwise. Because the first square of a row is attached to the first and last square of the previous row, this still results in a tubular piece of fabric.
To start the second round or entrelac, pick up 7 stitches from the side of the first triangle and knit them. Turn, S1 P5 P2tog, turn, S1 K6, S1 P5 P2tog etc. until you have used up all the stitches on the side of the square. Pick up the stitches for the next square and knit similarly. Continue to the end of the round.
The next round will be worked clockwise again. Pick up 7 stitches from the side of the 1st square of the last round and purl across them on the wrong side. Turn, S1 K5 SSK, turn, S1 P6, turn, S1 K5 SSK… continue until all the side stitches are used up. Pick up the stitches for the next square and knit similarly. Continue to the end of the round.
Knit 4 repeats/rounds of 7-stitch squares. On the 5th and 6th entrelac round, only pick up 6 stitches from the side of each square. On the 7th round, pick up 5. 8th round 4.
After the round of 4-stitch squares knit a row of triangles again. Pick up 4 stitches and knit them. Turn, S1 P2 P2tog, turn, S1 K2, turn, S1 P1 P2tog, turn, S1 K1, turn, S1 P3tog,. Continue in the same manner to the end of the round.
Top decreases:
Count the amount of stitches you have, e.g. 18*4=72. Using the Excel stitch calculator, calculate your decreases, for example every row in 5 places. Decrease until you have 4 or 5 stitches left. Put all stitches on one DP needle and knit an inch of I-cord.2 Pull yarn through remaining stitches and weave in ends.
1Provisional cast on: Take a length of waste yarn and make a slip knot with your knitting yarn. Cast on stitches like you would with long tail, the waste yarn being the tail. The waste yarn can later be removed to reveal a row of live stitches.
2I-cord: place all stitches on one DP needle and knit across. Push the stitches to the other end of the needle, bring the yarn around and knit across again. Repeat until desired length.
Copyright Lotta Breyer 2007.
You may copy and use this pattern for your own personal use, but, please, don’t sell, distribute, or copy it for others without my permission.

Excel calculation:
Your spreadsheet should look something like this:
Enter numbers into yellow cells. The rest will be calculated automatically.

Head circ.

s per

r per

s/10 cm

r/10 cm

Cast on:
Head circ.

Cast on:

size of entr square

number of squares:

Stitches for entrelac:


add 1s every

Entrelac rows with full size square

Top decreases:
Number of stitches:

First decrease

Number of rows left:

Decreases per row:

stitches btw decr on first row
s ->
, K2tog
Here is what you need to type in into the cells to make your own spreadsheet. If you start at the corner of a spreadsheet, your column for calculations will be C. The First cell with a number is C3. That is where I have the number 56 above for head circumference.
EDIT: The contents of cell C9 have been changed below. Simplyducky was paying attention and found a mistake -the reference that was there before was for the unadjusted row gauge. Thank you!
Enter into cells:
C3 enter your measured head circumference
C4 enter counted stitches from swatch, E4 enter width of the area of the swatch you counted the stitches from
C5 enter counted rows from swatch, E5 enter total height of the counted rows
C6 enter =C4/E4*10
C7 enter =C5/E5*10
C8 blank
C9 enter =ROUNDDOWN(C6*C3/10,0)
C10 enter =ROUNDDOWN(C9/2,0)
C11 blank
C12 enter size of entrelac square (7)
C13 enter =EVEN(C9/C12)
C14 enter =C13*C12
C15 enter =C14-C9
C16 enter =ROUNDDOWN(C9/C15, 0)
C17 enter =4-(C12-7)
C18 blank
C19 enter =C13*4
C20 enter =C19-(C22*(C23+2))
C21 enter =ROUNDDOWN(C19/6.28*C7/C6,0)
C22 enter =ROUNDDOWN(C19/C21,0)
C23 enter =ROUNDDOWN(C19/C22,0)-2 and E23 enter =C23

And if entering all that stuff is just too much work, you can always e-mail me and ask me to send the spreadsheet as an attachment. :)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Socks for the cold weather

Ok, so I got a head start on working on some of the stash yarns, although the yarn diet (which includes a competition on who uses the most stash yarn during the month) doesn't start till February 1st. But I can't possibly not knit until then! I started with the LL sock yarn, the colorful one for the 2-year-old. This is both the knit and the purl side:

I actually like the purl side better!
I wove in the ends so that they can be used either way. Here's Mr S trying them on:

After I got these done, I actually started working on a sweater I started a year ago. It was only missing a shawl collar, so not too much work left on it. I don't know why I haven't gotten it done earlier... It's finished now, but I don't have any pictures yet, plus I have to block it. Maybe this weekend.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Yarn Diet and The Stash

I have a confession to make. I have been terribly bad at sticking to my knit-along commitments. Please don't shoot me! I signed up for Socktoberfest, and guess what: didn't submit a single pair of socks. I just didn't make any during that time ( :-O !!), and didn't feel like starting new ones just for that. I also signed up for Lonesome skein, and, well, you guessed it, haven't submitted a single thing. I haven't even been following what others have knit -shame on me! But this time I'll do better. I signed up for a yarn diet that I found through Kristel's blog (her blog is in Finnish, but don't be scared away, her knits are beautiful and worth looking at even if you don't understand a word she is saying.)

A couple of weeks back I organized my stash, and inventoried everything I have. I wasn't actually even doind as bad as I thought. Half of my yarns were leftovers from previous projects, which I don't think counts against me. It just means I knit a lot. But during the yarn diet I'll try to use up as much as I can of the new yarns in my stash. Here's what I've got to work with:Three totes full of yarn. Well, actually more like two and a half, and only one of them is full of new yarn. But to be honest with you, all my sock yarns are elsewhere, and if I'd put them in these totes, I'd most likely have all three of them full.

Some Misti Alpaca lace weight in a delicate green color for a lace scarf. Haven't decided on the pattern yet.

Nashua Handknits Creative Focus worsted weight. I was originally going to use this for some mittens, but now I'm not sure. We'll see what comes out of it. This stuff would felt nicely, so maybe some felted slippers...

Artfibers Sylph, 1060 yards, which should be enough for a sweater. Adorably soft, I can't wait to start knitting with this stuff!

Undyed yarns, both worsted for a kid's sweater, sock yarn and mohair for a scarf. Or two. There's a lot of yarn in there!

Tahki Donegal Tweed. This is a sweater for me. Still haven't decided on a pattern, but I've got some ideas. I should get started on this and get it done.

Jo Sharp Classic DK wool, also a sweater's worth. This I was planning on dyeing, but I haven't really thought about it any further than that.

Patons soy-wool, a very nice yarn, and the colors are beautiful, but I have absolutely no idea what to make out of it! Felts very nicely.

Artfibers Hana, 100 % silk. This will be a scarf.

RY Cashsoft, 9 balls. I bought these for making scarfs, but when I got them, I just loved all the colors together, and now I think I should make a sweater out of it. I might have to get a ball or two more to have enough, and I have absolutely no idea of how to combine them (stripes? Fair isle?...), but I love the yarn and want to use it.

Koigu and Lorna's Laces sock yarn. The parrot colored LL will make socks for the 2-year-old, and the Koigu is for me.

So plenty of projects for the next month or two. Or even more. :) I did place an order for some Treking XXL last week that hasn't showed up yet, so that'll be a part of the stash, too.

Last week we made another trip to New York, and again I had a lot of knitting time on planes and at airports. I started a new project just for that, and started a week ago on Friday and finished yesterday. Perfect little travel project, the Diamond Fantasy Scarf:

The yarn was Lorna's Laces Shepherd sock in Black Purl, 100 g. Needles 3.5 mm Inox aluminum.

P.S. You probably noticed that I changed my blog template. If you find anything that isn't working out -colors, links, etc., please let me know!