Posts Tagged ‘Yarn’

Mystery Mitts KAL – 2nd Clue

January 23, 2011

Posting one clue at a time for a mystery knit is fun!

I didn’t realize that splitting up a pattern would basically necessitate retesting each portion – it’s easy to inadvertently change or overlook a detail in the process of breaking up the instructions for each clue, so the original pattern testing doesn’t guarantee accurate instructions.  No major hiccups, just a lesson learned in tracking versions of a document.

Now the second clue has been published to Ravelry FGF Group, we can post our pictures of completed clue 1:

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I’m loving the shades of green in this yarn, and I’m almost regretting not saving it for socks since the yarn has a delightful, firm and springy quality that would feel marvelous on the soles. Maybe I’ll have enough left over for a pair of short socks or slippers.

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My cotton gloves are soooo pretty! I find it interesting that the stripes start with a knit row, yet appear to be just a purled row. If the first row were not knit in the contrast colour, the purled bumps would have been half white/half pink. Unfortunately, purling the second row means the technique to avoid “jogs” in circular stripes (lifting the stitch from the row below and knit with the first stitch when working the second round) doesn’t work. I plan to use duplicate stitch when sewing in my tail-ends to neaten up if necessary.

The second clue focuses on the thumb gusset. The increase stitches for thumb gussets are important. It doesn’t matter if you substitute your preferred method, but you should choose an increase that can be worked in mirrored pairs if you want to create a balanced “V” shape. You should also consider whether holes in or under the increased stitches are desirable. Although Mystique has small and large eyelets, I did not plan to have holes in the thumb shaping, so I chose lifted increases. Lifted increases can be worked right-leaning or left-leaning, and they do not make holes.

Lifted increases are easy-peasy but most things knit are easier when you’ve seen someone else do it. I’m posting a video here because all of the great tutorials I normaly refer to are either a little blurry, or they demonstrate the left-leaning increase incorrectly. I only have a wee, little, basic camera so I hope this little video (my first!) is good enough to be helpful.

You may download the pattern here:Chris Abbott Ravelry Designer Page

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Mystery Mitts KAL – First Instalment

January 8, 2011

This is the time of year that some of us will still be needing warm FGs (fingerless gloves), but some will already be wondering what non-wool yarn can be used to make FGs suitable for warmer weather?  I have designed this pair of FGs to be done either in sport-weight cotton, or sport-weight sock yarn.  In fact, there are lots of choices that the knitter can make throughout the project, which should make this a good mystery project.

Here are the materials I’m using for both pairs:

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This is sport-weight, 100% cotton that I picked up in Tokyo. I had just received a lovely prize of stitch markers (you can see one of them in the picture) from Wendy Ganiggle and wanted yarn to coordinate with them. I’m going to make the stitch markers part of the finished FGs so they’ll be handy next time I need one (often can’t find a stitch marker when I need one). These will be totally girly-girly mitts.

Mystery

This sport-weight sock yarn from Slackford Studios is one of my favourites. I really want to make me some socks from it, but while I’m finding it difficult to get anything bigger than a postage stamp knitted, I’ll stick with the FGs. See the beads? Those are optional too. I plan to use them to make the FGs row counters. These options are not added until the FGs are being finished, so the knitter may decide right at the end which way to go.

Gauge is 6 stitches and 9 rows to the inch over stocking stitch. I used a US 4, 3.5mm circular needle – mine is 40″, but I like plenty of length. Instructions will be for magic loop, which are very easy to convert to two circulars. If you prefer to work on dpns, and have questions, we can handle those easily (that’s what KALs are for).

Summer Glove

June 27, 2010

Here’s my latest fingerless glove design, Summer Glove:

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I just love how the shaping for the thumb fits in the design:

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This pattern is currently only available at Robin’s Nest, and is part of the Summer Mitts Kit. I believe there are still kits available and, while I haven’t seen the Summer kit yet, I know the Spring kit had lots of lovely extras included.

The yarn for my pattern was supplied by Craftsmeow. Its really nice to work with – I had no problem coming up with a design that would show off the pretty raspberry & mango sprinkles. (I’m adding Craftsmeow to my very short list of favourites).

New Cast On?

June 15, 2010

I started a simple top in Silk 2 from Lotus Yarns.  I needed something that I could just keep knitting in stocking stitch while I was studying for an exam since I have the hardest time sitting still with a dull book.  Mindless knitting helps me sit still while focusing on the content of my reading. 

This will be a short-sleeved t-shirt with a pleated neckline. Since the top will have pleats, and should have a little drape, I needed a cast-on edge that is stretchy and not bulky. So regular cast-ons were out, as well as any kind of cast-ons that involve making a hem, which I believe would cause the lower edge to stand away from my body in an uncomplimentary fashion.

I settled on a variation of the Channel Islands cast on, and I think I may have created a new one here since I can’t find anything like it.  I added a k1, p1 row just above, then a couple of rows later a K3, p1 which does not create the bulk of a rib, yet has stopped the edge from curling up:

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 I couldn’t find a similar cast on in any of my knitting books – has anyone seen a cast on that creates picots and eyelets like this?

I haven’t decided whether I’ll publish to pattern for the top yet, I guess I’ll see how the top and sleeves turn out.

Lovely Lavender

June 5, 2010

I’ve been working on socks a lot lately, and its necessary to keep a pretty tight tension on those for good fit and wear.  I decided I’d like to work on something with a looser tension for a change, which brought lace shawls to mind.  However, I didn’t want to start on another large project so I decided to do a miniature shawl using some Silk 2 that I bought from Lotus Yarns when I was in China. The yarn is very strong and makes lovely lace:

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I used this mini-shawl as a way to practice attaching a border to a square. I’m going to try some more ideas out this way. Seemed to me that this is a swatch that I can turn into something useful. It so happens that I got a harvest of lavender from my neglected courtyard this week. My dining room (temporary lavender-drying room) smells heavenly right now.

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I plan to remove all the flower heads to fill a silk square topped with my lace mini-shawl. Lavender repels moths and smells wonderful (to me) so I think this would be a super project to keep around my precious stash or maybe it should go into my best sweater drawer?

Shanghai Queen

April 8, 2010

Our final port!  What a stunning morning we had.  I was aware of city lights long before the sun began to rise, Shanghai is a very, very big city.  Anyone up for breakfast moderately early was treated to this view:

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Impressive until you realize that the haze is not going to burn off as the sun comes up, the pollution is bad – you can smell and taste it in the air, and there’s no such thing as a clear view or sharp picture. This was as good as I could manage:

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Today we were whisked away to Nantong, which I think was a good three-hour drive out of Shanghai, to meet Janet Chen of Shanghai Queen Wool Yarn Company. Although the air was thick in Shanghai, you can tell that they’re trying to clean it up. By morning, the litter is gone, and the streets have been sprayed (presumably with water). Not so farther out into the country, where you can see piles of trash alongside the fields of crops. No trash in this picture, but you can see that the polluted air is still all around:

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Where the houses were closer together and nearer the road, I could see that they are covered in little tiles – you can just make out the patterns and the detail atop the roof in this picture:

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Different building materials interest me. I noticed that this scaffolding is made of bamboo:

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There were a lot of trees around the cities – finally, I see one in bloom:

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This is a street in Nantong. You would think that having three distinct areas, that pedestrians, cyclists, and cars would all be in their place, but it was still a challenge for us to safely navigate ourselves from the coach to the restaurant:

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The drive really did seem long, and the farther we travelled the more foriegn I felt. At the gas station, the toilets were not designed for us Western gals. Travellers washed themselves at sinks attached to the outside walls of the bathrooms. These people had been on the road a long time….and from the way they stared at us (and their children giggled and tugged on their parents’ sleeves to look our way), I’m guessing they had not seen many tourists. I was hungry and excited by the time we arrived at our lunch venue:

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This is impressive, but only about a third of the appetizers have made it to the table so far – the dishes just kept coming

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So good – some dishes were reminiscent of food I enjoyed with a Chinese family I worked for in England (don’t ask me how many years ago); some were completely new to me. I’ve always like seaweed as it is a local delicacy near my hometown, here I got to try seaweed served with barnacles. I didn’t know you could eat barnacles!

We had a very interesting conversation with Janet Chen over lunch. She owns a big yarn producing company and pioneered “fancy” yarns in China. She studied and worked in several countries before returning to China to start this business. We were taken to her yarn store, which was packed with bargains for us. This is yarn was not the luxurious silk and cashmere we were treated to in Beijing. However, the yarn was of good quality (such as 80% Merino lace weight) in stunning colours. I understand now, why her yarns are successful in the Chinese market, where apparently, only plain yarn in basic colours were available to knitters until Janet came along.

After we loaded up on yarn, we visited Janet’s home office. Here, we saw samples of cashmere sweaters she produces, it looks like this is a showroom for visiting retailers. The details and quality were stunning, and we were advised we could buy them at wholesale prices. I tried on a jacket, and asked if there were other sizes…this was the largest size they produced for women (it was only one size too big for me, and I’m a petite 5’1″). We asked why Janet did not make larger sweaters for the US market, and she responded that she wasn’t sure her designs would be appealing – I hope after our encouragement she finds a way to export these garments as the quality was far superior to any cashmere sweaters I have seen in US department stores. I bought myself a jacket, and we all chipped in to get Lily this chic jacket. OK, not good light for a picture with my basic camera, but I had to show you how delighted she was with her gift:

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The drive back to the city did not seem as long – maybe because I was petting my new cashmere jacket. The city of Shanghai was lit up by the time we arrived. They have an astonishing number of high-rise buildings lit up with lights that change colours. Of course a still photograph won’t capture the changes – you’ll just have to go there yourself. This is a restaurant in which I believe I counted five huge floors of diners:

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Even the freeways were lit up. I really liked the continuous lights under the roads, much easier to see where you are going than with conventional lamps, and cool-looking too:

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At the end of this very long day, I was disconcerted to find that I was booked into a different hotel than the rest of my group. Same name brand, different location, and no, they couldn’t change our reservation. Poop! SisterFriend took care of Tokyo, I had Shanghai, and its messed up. Our coach driver got quite distressed when asked if he could ferry us to the other hotel. He could not go anywhere other than originally instructed. Fortunately, a cab turned out to be a better experience than I’d expected, and the hotel we checked into was huge, CLEEEEAN, and closer to the airport. I was content to settle for the luxury of room service in a very nicely appointed room with a 16th floor view of the city.

One more look at my photos – seems like so long since we left the ship, did I really take this just this morning?

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Beijing & the Yarn Bus

April 2, 2010

We’ve finally arrived in China! 

Everything is a little different here – like they had real immigration people (that looked real serious) to check our passports.  The Lotus Yarn company awaited us….with a bus FULL of yarn:

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Got cashmere???

They had all our pre-orders ready, plus lots more good stuff. I got silk, silk, and more silk, some cashmere, bamyak, bamboo, and some cotton with a touch of cashmere blended (Autumn Wind). I swatched the cotton blend right away and am in love with it. Finally I’ve found a yarn that will be good for Oklahoma weather, and with the cashmere, is soft enough to be a pleasure to knit. Uh-oh, I just spotted some merino lace-weight that I have to buy….(and all this without getting out of my seat!)

We have a long drive to Beijing so occasionally I set my knitting down and took a picture:

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When we arrived, I really didn’t pay attention to what we were going to do, I just (barely) kept up with the group and took the odd picture of my foreign surroundings along the way:

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Here I am, just inside the forbidden city – yes, the layers were necessary (so glad I took some warm knits with me). Although we were blessed with a sunny day, it was chilly to say the least.

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This place is amazingly beautiful

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…so much to look at

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Everytime you go through a gate or doorway, there’s even more ahead of you than you’ve already seen:

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I was fascintated with the ceramic roofs. They are incredibly ornate, and glistened like gold in the sunshine:

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Evidently, I’m drawn to golden things

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…but I did try to remember to look down from time to time

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(and up)

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There’s me again, still uncomfortable with being on the other side of the camera:

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“Look at those knockers!” (couldn’t help myself)

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The First Day in Tokyo

March 22, 2010

started with room service:

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After breakast we wandered to a bus stop and bought drinks (there are vending machines and potted plants everywhere):

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…and bicycles

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I found it interesting that in a place that displays so much concern for safety, adults are allowed to ride bicycles on very narrow paths along with the pedestrians and plant pots.

Now if you see a huge, mouse with horns knitting over a store entrance, you should go in and buy yarn (I think its meant to be a sheep, but it looks like a mouse to me). This is the sign for Yuzawaya – although the one we cleaned out visited was actually across the street from the sign:

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Here’s what I scored:

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I’m not sure what the last yarn is, but I think the symbol for the fibre is flax – I’d love to know if anyone recognizes it. The stuff feels wonderful.