Day 5

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Today has been a mixed day. I didn’t want to go to knitting this morning. It starts early so it’s always a bit of a pain to get up and get going but I enjoyed myself well enough when I got there. As usual though, I knit not a stitch. Part of that was because i had breakfast at the cafe but the other part was because I helped fix a friends knitting then helped another friend wind some yarn skeins into balls. Useful tip – sequins look very pretty in the yarn but they catch in the yarn as you’re trying to unskein it so proceed carefully.

I have an important meeting tomorrow that has me a bit more tense than usual so as well as my knitting meditation I did day 1 of ‘Get some headspace’s’ 10-minute meditation. The app has been on my tablet for more than a year and I kept meaning to try it so today I did. I really enjoyed it. It’s really nice to take 10 minutes to just be. I recommend it. Their website has lots of information.

Today’s music has been Handel’s ‘Water Music’ which I’ve not listened to in its entirety before. I love Handel’s music. I was going to keep listening to the CD (lots of knitting for today’s square) but the rest of the CD is the ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks’. It’s a little more energetic and I find myself listening to the music instead of knitting. Not a bad thing, but not the point of the exercise.

I’m using Regia yarn today. This yarn is self-patterning and is from the Brasil Color range. This specific colour pattern is called ‘Salvatore’.

I made a big  square today. It’s the size of all four that we’ve just made so it took quite some time longer. Knitting is straight forward though.

Starting at the tip of square 4, pick up 31sts evenly along edge of squares 2  and 4 (15 on square 4, 1 at the tip of square 2, 15 along the edge of square 2), side cast on 32sts – 63sts on your needle.

You’re going to follow exactly the same pattern as you’ve been working for the smaller squares but you will start with larger number and knit for longer –

Row 1: k30, sl2 together, k1, psso, k30, turn – 61sts
Row 2: k across
Row 3: k29, sl2 together, k1, psso, k29, turn – 59sts
Row 4: k across
Row 5: k28, sl2 together, k1, psso, k28, turn – 57sts
Row 6: k across
Row 7: k27, sl2 together, k1, psso, k27, turn – 55sts
Row 8: k across
Row 9: k26, sl2 together, k1, psso, k26, turn – 53sts
Row 10: k across
Row 11: k25, sl2 together, k1, psso, k25, turn – 51sts
Row 12: k across
Row 13: k24, sl2 together, k1, psso, k24, turn – 49sts
Row 14: k across
Row 15: k23, sl2 together, k1, psso, k23, turn – 47sts
Row 16: k across
Row 17: k22, sl2 together, k1, psso, k22, turn – 45sts
Row 18: k across
Row 19: k21, sl2 together, k1, psso, k21, turn – 43sts
Row 20: k across
Row 21: k20, sl2 together, k1, psso, k20, turn – 41sts
Row 22: k across
Row 23: k19, sl2 together, k1, psso, k19, turn – 39sts
Row 24: k across
Row 25: k18, sl2 together, k1, psso, k18, turn – 37sts
Row 26: k across
Row 27: k17, sl2 together, k1, psso, k17, turn – 35sts
Row 28: k across
Row 29: k16, sl2 together, k1, psso, k16, turn – 33sts
Row 30: k across
Row 31: k15, sl2 together, k1, psso, k15, turn – 31sts
Row 32: k across
Row 33: k14, sl2 together, k1, psso, k14, turn – 29sts
Row 34: k across
Row 35: k13, sl2 together, k1, psso, k13, turn – 27sts
Row 36: k across
Row 37: k12, sl2 together, k1, psso, k12, turn – 25sts
Row 38: k across
Row 39: k11, sl2 together, k1, psso, k11, turn – 23sts
Row 40: k across
Row 41: k10, sl2 together, k1, psso, k10, turn – 21sts
Row 42: k across
Row 43: k9, sl2 together, k1, psso, k9, turn – 19sts
Row 44: k across
Row 45: k8, sl2 together, k1, psso, k8, turn – 17sts
Row 46: k across
Row 47: k7, sl2 together, k1, psso, k7, turn – 15sts
Row 48: k across
Row 49: k6, sl2 together, k1, psso, k6, turn  – 13sts
Row 50: k across
Row 51: k5, sl2 together, k1, psso, k5, turn – 11sts
Row 52: k across
Row 53: k4, sl2 together, k1, psso, k4, turn – 9sts
Row 54: k across
Row 55: k3, sl2 together, k1, psso, k3, turn – 7sts
Row 56: k across
Row 57: k2, sl2 together, k1, psso, k2, turn – 5sts
Row 58: k across
Row 59: k1, sl2 together, k1, psso, k1, turn – 3sts
Row 60: k across
Row 61: sl2 together, k1, psso – 1sts. Break yarn and pull tail through.

(I’ve gone back to day 1 and added in stitch counts for each row, and corrected the number of stitches to knit after the decrease. That’s what happens when you cut and paste, then don’t properly proof-read).

Phew!

day5

 

But Charlotte, what *is* sock yarn? 

Firstly, you need to know about ‘yarn weight’ vs. ‘gram weight’. Yarn is available in maaaaaaany different thicknesses. These thicknesses have been divided into general categories based, I believe, on how many strands of thread to be twisted or plied together for thickness way back when. This doesn’t hold true so much any more and yarn thickness is measured more by how many strands of a finished yarn it takes to fill the width of an inch on a ruler. This is called wraps per inch (WPI) but is rarely referred to outside the craft of yarn spinning (but is a much more accurate way of determining if one yarn can be substituted for another).

 

Gram weight is how much a ball of yarn weighs when placed on a set of scales. Much simpler to work out.

The most common yarn weights used these days are 4-ply and DK (double knit or 8-ply, therefore double the thickness of 4-ply) but yarn can be as thin as thread or as thick as your finger. Some people even knit with rope, and some with fine wire.

Sock yarn is a subtype of 4-ply (if you’re in the UK/Australia, or fingering if you’re in America), and refers more specifically to the fibre content than the thickness of the yarn. Sock yarn is 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon. Superwash means that the wool is machine washable. If non-Superwash wool is washed in a machine, it shrinks and the fibres matt together. This is called felting. You don’t want this in a pair of socks. Nor do you want holes forming within a few wears. This is what the nylon is for. Wool is hardy but nylon adds longwearing to it.

Sock yarn is available in a variety of colourways. It comes in plain or solid colours. It can come in semi-solid colours – a bit like variegation but more subtle usually. It is also available in self-striping or self-patterning colourways.

These last two work best as socks as the patterning is designed to be knitted in the round and in stocking stitch. When knit flat or in garter stitch you lose some of the patterning or get colour ‘pooling’ – where one colour seems to gather in a particular spot rather than spread out as it is designed to. In garter stitch, because of the way the stitches interlock, you lose half of the pattern in the troughs between the peaks of right side rows. This means that you need to work 2 rows of a colour to get the same sort of striping you would if you worked in stocking stitch.

You can see how the number of stitches and rows affects how the colour gathers in todays square. Some of the rows have half a row of one colour while the other half of that row is part one colour and part another. The yarn I chose still made a good pattern in the square but some yarns have very short sections of colour which gives you only a few stitches of each colour. That can look like *clown barf when knitted in garter stitch. Be careful to match your yarn to your project and test your self-striping yarn in any stitch pattern you plan to knit. You don’t want to spend days knitting beautiful lace only to have it get lost in the bright colours of a self-striping yarn.

 

*No, I am not actually going to explain this term. You ought to be able to guess 😉

Day 4

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I used this project as an excuse to buy a copy of the Brandenburg Concerto’s by Bach today. So pretty – melodic and sweet and not overwhelming. Partly because it is not a full orchestra playing the music, I think. The recording I have is conducted by Benjamin Britten for those who are curious.

We’re using an Austermann yarn today – their sock yarn is called, appropriately enough, ‘Step’ and I am using a colourway called Berry (#165 in their catalogue). The yarn is dyed mostly in a series of broad stripes in pink, purple and a very pale khaki, with occasional splashes of white.

This fourth small square is going to complete a larger square. With the right side of your work facing you, square 1 is at the bottom, and starting on the  far left, pick up 15 stitches along the side of the lefthand square (the one you made yesterday), pick up one stitch from the very tip of the first square you made, then 15 stitches more on the edge of the righthand square. You will have 31 stitches on your needle.

All 31 stitches picked up across the 3 completed squares.

All 31 stitches picked up across the 3 completed squares.

Detail of the central stitch picked up.

Detail of the central stitch picked up.

Following the pattern from day one (again) complete your square. If you’ve picked everything up correctly, it should look something like this with the  decreases in line with the central point of the square and with those of the first square you knitted.

day4-finished

When you’ve finished your square, it’s time to start sewing in the ends. We’ll be starting with the 2 tail ends in the centre (the bind off end of square 1 and the cast on end of square 2) and the cast on end of  square 1. You can leave sewing the tails in until the very end but I am not a  masochist 😉 I have no desire to sew in 600+ tail ends, one after the other. Also, I find that doing them as I go makes the whole project more pleasant, but I don’t sew any ends until I have worked all of the pieces adjoining the tails position.

Turn your work over – you should have 8 tails. In the picture below I’ve tucked the ends I won’t be using behind the work, leaving on the ones I will sew in. I weave the yarn tails into the seam rather than into the knitted fabric but if you prefer another technique, the  work is yours so please yourself 🙂

day 4 - back

Tomorrow I am going to add a larger square to better show the pattern in my yarn.

In other news, we are awaiting the arrival of a new motor for the electric spinning wheel I  constructed last August. The original  motor is not strong enough, nor is it designed for use longer than a few minutes. I have spent half a day spinning yarn with a traditional wheel in the past so I needed a better motor. Electric machines don’t actually have a wheel but if I say ‘spinner’ too many people think I mean some sort of exercise…. and no. Just, no. I’ll stick with yoga.

Day 3

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Today we are using Opal yarn by Zwerger Garn. This brand was my introduction to sock yarn. I fell in love with self-colouring softness in shades of pink and green. Honestly, if you were ever a knitter and you love colour but can’t be bothered with fairisle or intarsia techniques, take a look at the self-striping and -patterning yarn available today. Noro yarns from Japan is indescribably beautiful and often surprising in the combinations, both the colour and fibre content combinations. And of course there is the unfathomably large selection of sock yarns. And not just the commercially dyed yarns either. There is a steadily growing magnificence of independent dyers out there, many of whom will dye your yarn to order. I will be including some of my handdyed stash in this project, including some yarns that I have spun from handdyed fibre. Etsy and Artfire, and even eBay have some truly incredible artists selling their handdyed yarn and fibre.

The colourway I am using today is called ‘Pflaume’ (‘plum’ in German) and is from the ‘Sweet and Spicy’ range. The colourway uses a long repeat of mauves, greens and turquoise but we are starting today at a blue and white section designed to imitate fairisle. I knitted an irregularly shaped shawl designed by Heidi Kirrimaier called ‘Windward’ with just over a ball of this yarn so I have quite a lot left in my stash, which is great because I really like it.

The beginning of the Windward shawl. The colourway is designed in part to look like fairisle.

The beginning of the Windward shawl. The colourway is designed, in part, to look like fairisle.

Today we are listening to the Peer Gynt Suite. Not because of any particular affection but because my extensive music collection is surprisingly lacking in meditation friendly music. Even my classical collection is too upbeat. I shall be remedying that. Recommendations would be welcome.

Nope, we went back to The Swoon Collection. The original CD this time and started with Dvorak’s ‘Song to the Moon‘, voiced beautifully by Yvonne Kenny. (Peer Gynt was too distracting.) I love this piece of music. It is from the Opera ‘Rusalka’. I know nothing about the opera but I do know that rusalka are from Russian folklore. They’re a type of mermaid/succubus/nymph/demon who live in waterways and lure men to their drowning deaths. Which moral tale shall we draw from this representation of women? Or is it simply a warning to stay away from waterways in the woods? I have to say though, I’m still trying to work out what exactly the moral tale is in Hansel & Gretel…. The ‘witchhunter’ movie is truly awful but is pretty funny in its awfulness.  (MTV was one of the producers. I didn’t watch it expecting anything profound.)

On to the knitting. We’ll be working on the lefthand side of the square we made on day one. cast on 16, then pick up 15sts starting at the cast on edge.this can feel a little awkward but it will have a consistent look to the outer edge of your work if you do it this way.

day3-caston

By the way, that weird looking stitch, the last one you cast on before you started to pick up stitches, will not always look so weird. It’s part of your first decrease so it’ll be evened out.

Continue on with the pattern from day one. You will probably notice that you are needing the pattern less often already. the trickiest part will be where to put the decrease.

So I shall share a few words on row counts, and an even fewer on the use of stitch markers:

In this pattern, you start with 31 stitches and decrease by 2 using a centrally placed, double decrease on every right side row. This means your total will decrease by 2 every other row and it will *always* have an odd number for the total.

I get that Charlotte, but I put my work down and the dog is chewing on the pattern and the cat is fishing with my knitting and I can’t remember how many stitches I should knit before I decrease!

Heads up, here comes the maths bit. Count the stitches on your needle. If it’s an odd number, congratulations! We can move on. If not, you need to look at your work and find where you missed a decrease (or added one). When you’ve fixed that, count again. Odd number of stitches? Awesome.

To determine how many stitches are not included in the decrease you need to subtract 3 (the number of stitches you do use in the decrease) and divide that number by 2. That number is how many you will knit before and after the decrease. The number of stitches on each side of the decrease will reduce by one on every right side row.

So, say I have 15 stitches and i want to know how many to knit before my decrease. 15-3=12. Divide 12 by 2 and you get 6. So, I knit 6 stitches, slip 2 as if to knit them together, knit 1 stitch, pass the 2 slipped stitches together over the last knitted stitch to decrease by 2. I will have another 6 stitches to knit to finish the row.

As an equation  — (total # sts – 3)  divided by 2 = the number of stitches to knit before and after decreasing.

Incidentally, the number you get before dividing by 2 will be your new total number of stitches on the row you just finished and the next row you knit. I tend to count my stitches when I am working the plain knit, wrong side row.

Happily, you will learn to ‘read’ your knitting if you can’t already, and will be able to see where the decreases will go without having to count every stitch. But then, counting every stitch helps quiet my mind so I will continue to count 🙂

As for stitch markers, you will notice that I do not use them in this project. You can if you want to but I find them an unnecessary fussiness. Putting them in the right position is tricky and they have to be repositioned all the time. If i had a hundred stitches, I might persevere but I have so few that I can see all of my work as I go.

We’ll start sewing in ends tomorrow so make sure you have an appropriate needle to hand.

In other news, the shawl that you can see in my little icon at the top left of the screen continues to grow. I have the lattice/mesh section to finish (the black bit I am working on), some plum coloured lace, then a few rows of garter stitch in black. Maybe by the weekend?

traveling companion 3

Day 2

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So today I’m discovering a problem with this project.

I don’t want to stop working on it! I love sock yarn – so much colour! and the squares are such small pieces there’s a lot instant gratification in the project. The highs of casting on and casting off and all that new yarn. The trickiest part is knowing that I may yet I will likely forget about this occasionally so if I do a few extra squares when I feel like it I will be able to keep up to date without actually falling behind but that’s not what I want with this. So I shall give in and do my square for today now instead of later when I was planning to. It helped me fall asleep last night to have taken the time to calm myself.

Today’s music is from The Swoon Collection III published by ABC Radio (Australia). First track is Giulio Caccini’s ‘Ave Maria‘.  Not the usually played version and beautiful for being different as much as for the actual composing.

The yarn for today is a sock yarn (75% superwash wool/25% nylon) by Schoeller+Stahl – ‘Fortissima Shadow Color’ in red. The yarns being produced in Europe – Germany, Italy and Spain particularly- are gorgeous. Lovely against bare skin and fabulous colours. The colours in this particular range are deep, saturated colours. I have skeins in red, grey, teal, green and purple and they will each make an appearance in this blanket at least once.

Today is the first time picking up stitches. Holding your first square by the cast off stitch, like a diamond rather than a square, and the cast on edge pointing down. Starting at that cast off stitch, pick up 15 stitches evenly along the right hand side of the square. I pick up the strand between the nobbly bits at the end of each row. You will be working from left to right, I know. Trust me, it works better this way.

Now cast-on 16 stitches. I use the cable cast-on method almost exclusively but use whatever you are comfortable with. If you use the thumb method be aware that if you are doing so with a single-ply yarn – like KP Chroma or Malabrigo lace – you may unravel the twist which could cause your yarn to pull apart.

Day2-CastOn

You should have 31sts on your left hand needle, ready to knit your first row. Follow yesterday’s pattern, knitting as normal (for most that is right to left).

Ta-daaaaah!

Day2-finished

In other news, I am currently cataloguing my yarn stash which includes my handspinning fibre and handspun yarns. More of my house than usual is my ‘craft corner’ at the moment. The fibre for cataloguing today is between the sofa end and a bookcase.

I’d like you to meet Eris. She’s our 8-year-old German Shepherd who likes her comfort. She’s pretending not to look at me because she knows she’ll be shoo’d off the wool and is trying to prolong the inevitable.

fancycushion

P.S. I take all my photos with my phone. As such, they are more likely than not going to be pretty terrible and not at all colour accurate. You have been warned.

Day 1

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Inspired by another knitters project on Ravelry, I have decided to knit a square a day to make a blanket for my home. Further, I have decided to dedicate that time each day to contemplation and reflection. For me, this means clearing my mind of the ‘busy’ and focusing entirely on the piece of knitting I am working on. I am training myself to slow my breathing and my stitches during this time each day by counting each stitch as I make it, thereby living purely in the Now for a little while each day.

The space for each project on Ravelry isn’t really big enough not designed to accommodate this sort of project where more than 10 scraps of yarn are used so I will be using this blog to record what I use and what I think about as I’m knitting these squares.

Day 1

~ Listening to Holst’s The Planets as conducted by Andre Previn. Starting with Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity before going back to start again at Venus, the Bringer of Peace. (Mars, the Bringer of War didn’t really fit with my intention to calm myself so even though it’s a favourite, I skipped it today.)

I am a knitter of some years experience and knit quite quickly without looking at my work. Today I made myself slow down, to breathe slowly until I felt my heart rate slow and counted each stitch as I watched my hands make it.

Each square I make will be small. I am using 4ply yarn and 3.25mm needles to make mitred squares that will be joined together as i go along by picking up stitches, rather than making many individual pieces then sewing them together later.

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The pattern I am using is simple :

Cast on 31 sts
Row 1: k14, sl2 together, k1, psso, k14, turn – 29sts
Row 2: k across
Row 3: k13, sl2 together, k1, psso, k13, turn – 27sts
Row 4: k across
Row 5: k12, sl2 tog, k1, psso, k12, turn – 25sts
Row 6: k across
Row 7: k11, sl2 tog, k1, psso, k11, turn – 23sts
Row 8: k across
Row 9: k10, sl2 tog, k1, psso, k10, turn – 21sts
Row 10: k across
Row 11: k9, sl2 tog, k1, psso, k9, turn – 19sts
Row 12: k across
Row 13: k8, sl2 tog, k1, psso, k8, turn – 17sts
Row 14: k across
Row 15: k7, sl2 tog, k1, psso, k7, turn – 15sts
Row 16: k across
Row 17: k6, sl2 tog, k1, psso, k6, turn – 13sts
Row 18: k across
Row 19: k5, sl2 tog, k1, psso, k5, turn – 11sts
Row 20: k across
Row 21: k4, sl2 tog, k1, psso, k4, turn – 9sts
Row 22: k across
Row 23: k3, sl2 tog, k1, psso, k3, turn – 7sts
Row 24: k across
Row 25: k2, sl2 tog, k1, psso, k2, turn – 5sts
Row 26: k across
Row 27: k1, sl2 tog, k1, psso, k1, turn – 3sts
Row 28: k across
Row 29: sl2 tog, k1, psso – 1st. Break yarn and pull through.
Finished.

Today’s yarn : After commenting on the beautiful colours of a friends piece of knitting, she sent the remainder of the yarn to me. I have been knitting that half ball into part of a shawl and finished its section today. The yarn is Knit Picks Chroma fingering-weight in the Lolipop colourway, though all that remains is the blue and green stripes. I really,really love this yarn. It is soft, and colourful, and smooth, and is just lovely to work with. Heresy though it may be, I think it’s nicer than Malabrigo.

All told, I am feeling much calmer and more centred than when I began so we can count today a success ( and by today I mean Saturday. On the clock it is Sunday but I haven’t gone to bed from Saturday so I’m still counting it as Saturday :p)