Archive

Fire Thief Release Party!

April 28, 2015 - 2:38 pm

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It’s alive!!!

I have so much to say about the process of designing, testing, revising, and releasing this pattern. It’s been at least 50% of my working time for the past month and some. But it’s done and out in the world! I’m going to dinner and a show with a friend tonight to celebrate. 🙂

So the Ravelry page has a discount for the next week, or you can join the newsletter for an even better deal. More tomorrow, I promise. 

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Shaping Success!

March 6, 2015 - 1:38 pm

First the triumphant photo:

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That right there is my GINORMOUS swatch for Fire Thief, using all the charts, but only working a small part of the circular center motif and a couple repeats of the curl expansion chart. I believed in my geometric intuition about how this would work out, but I needed to test. 

Imagine the glass bowl represents your shoulder. The shawl is designed to hug your shoulder and Curl around your neck. (heh heh. See what I did there?) This is a small scale swatch that would fit a two or three year old, and it doesn’t have any beading, but the shaping will work just the same in the adult size. Phew! It works!

Here’s a pic from the top:

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It’s a pretty straightforward knit with just a few tricky bits. More or less you make a circular start, work in the round for the circular chart, then knitted cast-on a couple stitches and take off working back and forth Curling in one direction and picking up live stitches off the circular motif in the other. When you have used up all the sts from the motif you just keep working the Curl charts.

If you want a looser, flatter scarf you can use the progressively larger expansion charts as you work outward, or for a tighter spiral stick with the first chart. 

When it’s as large as you like, work the edging chart appropriate for however you ended up working the expansion charts. 

I have all the charts and am just working up final layout and the transition explanations. I should have it all written up soon— possibly later today– and have a version out for anyone who wants to test knit along with me. I’m off to Ravelry right now to set up a pattern page. 🙂

Let me know if you’d like to knit a test one! All I ask are nice photos. 

Brown Linen Pants

February 26, 2015 - 6:00 am

Monday I made another pair of the flutter leg pants, which Hunter insists looks more like gauntlets: 

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That was my TRIUMPH! photo at about 10pm Monday evening, so I’m certainly not looking my best, but I am, again, thrilled with the pants. This time I took some process photos of the assembly. There are a lot, so I may break this into a couple posts.

First, I had to fix the pattern. I discovered when I assembled the silk pants that I had shaped the flutter/gauntlet on the inseam rather than the outseam:

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That’s the pocket towards the wall and the crotch seam towards the front of the table, so you can imagine when I close up the triangle shaped pleats they are going to be on the inside of my legs rather than the outside. On the silk pants I solved this by slashing the fronts at the knee line and swapping left for right. It’s pretty much unnoticeable, and to the extent anyone ever does notice I assume they’ll think it was a deliberate style choice. 

For this go-round I slashed the pattern at the knee and flipped it over and reconnected it:

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Then I started looking at laying out the pattern on the available fabric.

This fabric has no give in the direction of the warp— the long direction of the fabric— but does have some in the weft, which runs from selvedge to selvedge. I don’t want the pants to get longer but wouldn’t mind some give in the other direction, so I definitely wanted to cut the pieces with the grainline parallel to the selvedge:

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Unfortunately because of the shape of the piece I can’t cut both left and right fronts from a single width of fabric. After some contemplation I realized I could easily cut a front and a back from a width: 

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So I ripped a length of fabric adequate for one side of the pants: 

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Flipped it over and laid it so it was right sides together with the main length, and trued up the grain for the back:

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Pinned it:

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Cut it:

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And then repeated that sequence with the front: 

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I had plenty of length to cut the pockets out of the remaining fabric, but chose instead to cut the pockets in two halves from the strip under the ruler in the above pic. I did cut the waistband from the remainder. So here are the cut pieces: 

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But there was one more thing to cut. It’s important that the waistband has some structure, so I wanted to apply interfacing. I cut that to match the waistband: 

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ironed it on: 

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pressed the waistband in half, and was ready to start sewing! I think I’ll split this account here and put that in the next post.

Fire Thief Stitch Maps

February 19, 2015 - 3:39 pm

I’d love to have a pretty progress picture for the Fire Thief, but you’ll just have to imagine it looking sort of like half of what I showed you yesterday. Well, two thirds, maybe. I have ripped back to where I start the first purl column and am going to re-knit again, again, again.

This time I decided not to try to “work it out on the needles,” because that clearly wasn’t a winning technique. Instead I fired up JC Briar’s site stitch-maps.com where I can enter the pattern and visualize the knitting better. This is the new center motif chart:

Fire Thief Stitch Maps

Just for giggles I also entered the expansion chart

Fire Thief Stitch Maps

I encourage everyone to go have a look at JC’s site. It REALLY helps me understand what’s going on with the knitting. The data entry is a little tedious, but nothing compared to hours of frustration from ripping and re-knitting. I’m now confident I have the chart correct, and I can just knit it out.

I’m going to sign off and do just that. 🙂

Fire Thief

February 18, 2015 - 4:01 pm

I am working on a new pattern. I’ve decided to try something different, and rather than hide it under a bucket during the design phase I’m going to blog freely about the design. If you like the idea and enjoy watching my process drop something in the tip jar over there —>

I’ll also be looking for a test knitter or three when I get this sorted. Let me know if you’re interested.

Hunter’s Curls are my favorite thing right now. I have one completed and a second on the needles and they are fantastic. I asked her how she would feel about me designing a Curl of my own, and she was enthusiastic. So! Here we go.

I decided I wanted to design to commercial yarn this time, and picked the Abstract Fibers colorway Bonfire on the base Temptation. It’s truly lovely. Look: 

496 ss bonfire

Bonfire is a great name for this colorway. I wanted a stitch pattern that was evocative of flames and worked with the yarn’s color changed instead of fighting them. I decided I needed big yarn-overs in every row in order to show a lace pattern, so came up with this swatch I posted a couple days ago: 

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I worked it on US 8’s, and it opens up nicely and the little three to four stitch runs occasionally stack to make little snaps and flashes of color. Perfect! 

You might notice there’s something going on towards the top of the swatch. There’s a line of faggotting that pops up in between the pattern repeats. That’s because I want to enhance the curliness of my curl, so the stitch pattern will expand as it’s worked by getting spaced out by more and more columns of faggotting. I worked up this chart:

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The idea is that you start with the bottom eight rows and repeat them a few times, then knit the blue transition row and move into the second set of eight, and so on. I haven’t decided how many a “few” is yet. 

The other idea I want to pull into this is something I’ve been playing with for a while, which is making two-sided scarves. I don’t like having a right and a wrong side to my neckwear. I don’t want to have to think that hard when I get dressed. 🙂 So I reworked the pattern to have an A and a B chart, with knits and purls: 

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Looking at the key there you’ll see notation for beads. Because, well, beads are fun! so there will be beads in the faggotting as well. 

The other notion I’ve been playing with in some pattern starts that may never see the light of day is having a circular start that at some point breaks free by having some number of stitches cast-off and the remainder getting worked into a rectangular shawl. I personally prefer long shawls to triangles or circles. 

When I saw Hunter’s Curls I immediately started thinking about how to work this into the start of a Curl shape instead of a rectangle. I am still not sure exactly how the circle will transition into the Curl— I’ve got some ideas but they will require testing. For the moment I’m focussed on getting the circular start done correctly.

I found a fabulous circular motif that was recently published by the inimitable Franklin called the “Laura Star.” It isn’t quite right for this project, however. I want it to flow nicely into the zig-zags. So I’ve added a lot of rows and inserted some columns of k2tog, yo to break it up into 4 st columns like the motif for the body has. You can see them starting to develop below:

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I’m setting them up as alternating knit/purl sections to flow into the flame pattern properly, and that has been the task of the day. Because there are so many increases and decreased it’s damned difficult to chart this out properly. I want the purls to start where they need to start and end where they need to end for the pattern to work out correctly. That means I need to count backwards from where I want to end up to where I need to shift from knitting out of the yo’s to purling out of them, and that turns out to be HARD, at least for me, at least today.

I have found out the hard way that I can’t rip this motif and then put it back on the needles, not even in little sections— if I screw up I have to tink back stitch by stitch and row by row, unless of course I want to start over from the cast-on. Which I have done twice. I have lost count of the rows I have tinked.

That tangle of yarn at the top? yeah. That’s the start of the next tinkage. I’ve dropped stitches down to where I need to rip- four or five more rows. 

The good news is that I’m working all of this out in beautiful charts, so it will be easy for *you* to knit once I’m done. Or, as easy as knit/purl lace that has no resting rows can be. 🙂 This is not going to be sleepy knitting. 

I’m jazzed about this design, and everyone I waved swatches in front of at Madrona was interested as well. I think Susan at Abstract Fiber and I may do a knit-along once I have something ready for the rest of the world.

This, by the way, is what you pay for when you buy a knitting pattern. Done well they are gorgeous and simple for the knitter to use. All of the work that goes into making that simplicity is invisible in the finished product, just like we don’t see the hours of practice when we watch a figure skater or a gymnast perform a flawless routine. Trust me, there’s more going on behind the scenes than you might imagine.

This is perhaps 10% of the way to having a pattern ready to ship— if I’m lucky and don’t hit an impossible problem. I’m not offering advanced sales yet because I know I may not find clean ways to solve some of the problems I see in front of me. How exactly am I going to Curl this circle? Stay tuned and we can find out together.

In the meantime, this is the song I took the pattern name from: 

Thanks so much to Hunter, Franklin, and Susan for their inspiration.

Pattern development

December 23, 2014 - 6:56 pm

Today I drafted a pants block in illustrator. I wanted to use patternade.com, but it’s not ready for prime time. So I looked at a bunch of online tutorials for the Illustrator skills, and found this blog post with pants block drafting instructions. 

I started here:

pants block start

Then added landmarks:

pants block landmarks

Then the pattern itself:

pants block all layers

Which ends up looking like this: 

pants block draft

And prints out and assembles into this:

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Next up I will cut a muslin and test it!

Viburnum becomes a pattern

September 17, 2014 - 10:36 am

Shortly after I completed David’s neck warmer, mentioned in the last post, I got an email from Knitty about submissions for the upcoming issue. They were specifically looking for small things, gift sized, and themed for winter wear. 

I mulled over what I might have to submit, and it occurred to me that the pattern I had now knit in two weights could be knit in more or less any weight of yarn, and could be sized up or down as desired to match gauge and style. 

I decided I needed one more size to make my point, so I grabbed a skein of Manos wool and silk and started knitting. I adore the little neck warmer that came out:

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It has been given to my Aunt Lynne as a gift. 

I wrote up the pattern and submitted it. On a whim I sent it to Knitty Spin since one of the three samples was handspun. I was pleasantly surprised when Jillian accepted it— provided I knit all three samples from handspun!

The acceptance note arrived shortly after Spinzilla. I spun for Team Storey, as I have several friends with books published through them. One of the yarns I spun up for the contest was a light purple fulled single from merino/silk top my friend Heidi dyed. It’s the skein in front on the right:

End of Spinzilla

The final yarn was much less kinky— this is the freshly spun picture. 

This style of yarn is one of my favorites. I first made it in imitation of the Malabrigo and Manos worsted singles I adore, and have knit several sweaters and other smaller projects from it. The yarn is quickly and lightly spun, and then heavily fulled to get it to hold together and to balance out the twist. I find this yarn doesn’t pill as badly as a two or three-ply yarn from the same fiber that’s finished less roughly. It will only work with non-superwash blends that are made mostly of feltable wool.

To make it I spin a middling sized single using a supported long backwards draw from the end of top. I spin it only to the point that the single loses the stretchy taffy-like feel, and then run it into the orifice and onto the bobbin.

Pull back, treadle a couple times, run the yarn in. Slide my fingers back down the top a bit, pull back, treadle, run in. It’s as soothing as a rocking chair. The rhythmic motion helps me maintain consistency in the single, and I can spin up a sweater’s worth of yarn in a couple afternoons. Delightful!

Once it’s spun I skein it off on a swift, tie it up well, and beat the living daylights out of it. I wrote up a tutorial a few years ago on learning to spin long draw and finishing a single with a hard fulling wash. There are bigger pictures in my flickr stream, and I think these two capture the spirit and vigor of the finishing: 

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I swish the single in boiling hot water fresh from the kettle with a bit of soap, then dunk it in an ice bath, and move the yarn back and forth again and again until it shrinks and hangs limp in the skein instead of curling up. To finish the yarn I “thwack” it vigorously against a wall or the edge of a basin. The photos show me doing it in the kitchen sink, but that makes a big splashy mess. Most of the time I use the wall of the shower. This action further “sets” the yarn, helping the fulling process along.

Once the yarn dries I put it back on the swift and re-skein it, gently separating the strands where they have stuck together. Generally I have to adjust the swift in several pegs from where it was originally skeined up because fulling causes the yarn to shrink in length and bloom in diameter.

The end result is a soft fuzzy yarn that is, nevertheless, as solid as a hard twisted multiply plied yarn, for a fraction of the effort. It doesn’t have the glossy sheen of a worsted yarn, but it’s lighter and warmer. It’s generally a bit uneven in diameter, but that disappears in the knitting. 

The end result is the neck warmer I wear the most: 

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Yummy.

2 hour knitted skirt

April 8, 2013 - 9:13 pm

Tonight at Metrix I knit a skirt in two hours. Which is kind of awesome.  It was my first time using the bulky knitting machine for an actual project.

I started with a bag of Nashua Handknits Geologie wool in Citrine:

Nashua Geologie Citrine

And knit through one skein across the full bed of needles on the bulky machine at tension 5. It was about the perfect length for a skirt, which was my dream for this yarn. I had seen this skirt:

And wanted to try something similar.

So I joined on another ball, put 10 std in hold, and began short rowing, adding two needles per pair of rows to the hold position until I had worked across the bed, then shifting all the needles back into work at once and picking up the short rows. The triangle was just about one more ball.

I continued working a plain panel for one ball and a short rowed panel for one ball, working through 8 balls total.

The skirt is gorgeous.  I need to kitchener the seam together, add an elastic waistband and lining, and decide how I want to finish the hem, but I’m ecstatic. Pictures tomorrow. Everyone at Metrix was gobsmacked that I churned out yards and yards of fabric in two hours.

Squee!

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