CO Monday: DIC Wisp design project

Hooray! My design submission to Dream In Color was accepted.  I’m making a lace shawl: crescent-shaped, bottom up, with optional nupps — in two sizes no less! DIC’s new Wisp is super pretty — according to the Ravelry page for Wisp, they released this yarn in a different put-up as part of the 2012 yarn club. I for one am glad to have it become part of their line.  The hand-painted colors just glow on the merino-silk blend.

My design will be in the “Brilliant” colorway:

This isn’t Wisp, of course — some other base.  But I will show you WIP photos to prove it’s just as pretty on the lace-weight Wisp!

Once the pattern is complete and fully tested and tech edited, I’ll be hosting a knit-along on my Ravelry group.  It won’t be a mystery this time — you’ll know what you’re getting into! — but I will provide support, cheerleading, and prizes to help motivate you.  The full size of the design will use two skeins of Wisp, but the pattern will also provide directions for a scaled-down version that only needs one skein.



Cast-On Monday: Prototype Shawl the Third, Sept 2012 RSC Sock

I designed and cast on for the third shawl in my upcoming three-shawl collection.  Although I originally had a very sweet and romantic set of names picked out for these three designs, I have come to understand that they feel differently about themselves.  I have heard authors talk about their characters having minds of their own, and subverting the plot, and now I feel I have experienced something similar.  There’s nothing naive or light about these shawls — instead they bring to mind the current spooky season.  I toyed with naming them after some of my favorite leading ladies of horror, but I worried about being too off-putting… and I don’t want them to be purely seasonal, either.  I think I know the names now, but I’ll wait until I’m sure to announce them.

I’m planning to do a mystery KAL with at least one of the designs — so I’m not putting too many pictures out there.

I also received my September 2012 “Rockin’ Sock Club” shipment.  This month’s sock pattern uses a toe that’s new to me, and a technique that’s new to me too!  Nothing could make me happier or more intrigued.  I’ve finished a good chunk of the first sock already.

Book Review: Cast On, Bind Off (54 Step-by-Step Methods), by Leslie Ann Bestor

My in-laws sent me books for my birthday too! Yay!  This one is especially awesome:

Cast On, Bind Off is small but packed with immediately-useful information.  In fact, it contains all the information I was hoping for when I first paged through The Principles of Knitting.  It contains an exhaustive yet succinct list of 33 cast-ons and 21 bind-offs.  Each method is clearly described in words and pictures. The spiral binding allows the book to lie flat while you copy the excellent photographs.  Best of all, the methods are grouped by purpose: cast-ons are basic, stretchy, decorative, circular, double-sided, multicolor, provisional, tubular, and mobius, while bind-offs are basic, stretchy, decorative, and sewn.  Each individual method has close-up photos of what the results look like, along with bulleted characteristics and “good for” tips.  Some of the trickier methods also have a highlighted “getting it right” section to help knitters avoid the most common mistakes.

The thing that makes this book better than Principles is the awareness of different names for the same method.  While Principles is frighteningly complete, one thing that bothered me was the re-naming of several techniques.  Now, I understand that the re-naming served to distinguish and clarify etc., but if you look for a “long tail cast on” that that book, you won’t find it by that name.  On the flip side, Cast On lists a variety of alternate names for each method, which will help readers find the cast on they’re looking for even if they don’t know it by the most common (or “best”) name.

One thing Cast On does assume is that the knitter works right-handed, and with Western stitch mount (leading leg in front of needle).  Lefties may be best served by viewing the pictures in a mirror, and I’m not sure what to do for the leading-leg-in-back folks.  (Though, they all seem exquisitely aware of stitch mount, and can likely compensate on their own.)

A few things I learned just browsing through the book:

  • the way you hold your left hand during long-tail cast on can be described as “slingshot” and everyone will hold their hand correctly, yay!
  • “my” way of doing the knitted cast-on is a common variation, with exactly the purpose I imagined
  • I don’t actually do Emily Ocker’s cast on for circular items … somewhere along the way, I changed to the “invisible” circular cast on
  • there are all sorts of cool two-color cast-on’s that I’ve never heard of before (I like tri-color braided cast-on best!)

Cast-On Monday: Shawl Project (Prototype #1)

I’ve spent the last three-ish weeks knitting almost exclusively on a fingering weight sweater prototype for The Sock Report 2 (yay! still excited about this publication!).  If you know me at all, you know I am the exact opposite of a monogamous knitter.  In the last few weeks I know that I spent an hour working on  my Catkin shawl (as a reward for finishing the back of the prototype sweater), and I made about one hexipuff a day.  That’s it!  Normally, I will bring 3-4 projects along to a given knitting session, switching every hour or so to keep it fresh.  That’s just how I roll!

My work paid off: I finished the prototype with a few days to spare, and sent the pattern and sample off to the good people at The Sock Report for photography and tech editing.  You can imagine how antsy I was to cast on something NEW and DIFFERENT!  But of course I had all those neglected projects for me waiting in the wings too … so I compromised, and cast on for a new design project with this gorgeous BMFA Socks That Rock LW (Rare Gems):

I’m planning a three-design collection of one-skein fingering-weight small shawls.  I want to feature small/indy dyers — the STR for the first shawl is the most “mainstream” skein I’ll be using.  I’m also using a skein of “Cranberry” Merino/Tencel from Mind’s Eye (on the left) and a skein of “Walker” Barefoot Bohemian Sock from Bohemia Fibers. I had initially planned to use a fourth dyer as well … but the two skeins I picked from that dyer just didn’t “go” with the other three.  I will still design a fourth shawl, but it won’t be part of the collection.

So here’s a question, dear reader … what shall I name these three shawls? I had some pretty horse-related names picked out, but between the “Walker” skein (legit zombie) and the red/purple/blue of the other two, I’m sort of thinking of a zombie/monster theme might be better.  But, I don’t want to put off people who aren’t rabid zombie fans like me.  Hmmmmmmm.

Cast-On Monday: C-ATCH William

On Friday night, I realized I really, really wanted to make my friend Julie an itty bitty knitted Scottie dog from “Knit Your Own Dog.”  Her (real) Scottie, William, was up for a big agility title this weekend.  I cast on late Friday, and after a busy day at agility on Saturday I knit for about 8 hours to finish.  William earned his C-ATCH on Sunday — hooray! — and I was able to give Julie a mini-Scottie to celebrate the accomplishment.  I’ll give more details in another post, but here’s a little preview:



Tips and Tricks: Crochet Cast-On

One of my favorite cast-on techniques for small items where the edge will be seen is a crochet cast-on. It creates a flexible, sturdy edge that looks exactly like a traditional bind-off. After watching some friends, I realized that I do it a little differently than other people.

2714 cast-on edge

Above: crochet cast-on edge

Below: traditional bind-off edge

2715 bind-off edge

See how similar they are?

You can watch the video …

… or read through the photo tutorial.

Step #1: Make a slip knot and put it on your crochet hook (the hook should be about the same size as your needle).

2716 slip knot on crochet hook

2718 tighten slip knot

Step #2: Hold the knitting needle below and parallel to the crochet hook, making sure to have the working yarn behind the needle.

2721 position knitting needle

Step #3: Wrap the working yarn around both the needle and the crochet hook (under and in front, over and behind)

2722 wrap yarn

Step #4: Pinch the yarn and knitting needle with your left hand; use your right hand to pull a loop through with the crochet hook.

2725 pull loop through

Result: one st on needle, one loop on crochet hook, one loop of edge created

2726 one stitch on needle

Continue: Wrap yarn around both needle and hook, then pull a loop through

2727 wrap yarn for 2nd st

2728 pull loop through

Result: two stitches on needle, one loop on hook, two loops of edge created

2729 two sts on needle

Continue in this manner until you are one stitch short of the total needed  (N-1) on your needle.  Slip the loop on the crochet hook to the needle — this is the final stitch.

Tips and Tricks: Old Norwegian Cast On

Recently, I’ve been teaching my friend Susie to knit.  She’s a great student, in large part because she’s knit before, not to mention she crochets already (including teeny tiny crocheted bracelets made with quilting thread and #11 seed beads).  As I do with most new knitters, I first taught her the knitted-on cast on, because it uses the knit stitch.  This means the new knitter doesn’t have to learn some bizarro two-strand loopy thing in order to have a nice, firm cast-on row. (I never teach the backwards-loop cast on as a first cast on, because new knitters invariably stretch it out and get very discouraged.)

Susie, having finished her first project (legwarmers for her little girl), wanted to learn a stretchier cast on for the second pair.  Enter the Old Norwegian Long Tail Cast On, aka the Twisted German Cast On!  (The latter name always makes me think the Germans are kinky… ) I showed Susie how to do it, and made up a little set of words to say while doing it.  She said it made sense to her, and wished there were a video … so without further ado, this video is for you Susie!