Day 99

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Well now, will you look at that! One more sleep at I’ve been doing this for 100 days which is very nearly 1/3rd of the way to my goal. Very awesome.

Tomorrow will be a party tune I think. Today is a song that has been whispering in the back of my mind for some time now. In my mid-teens, I did a lot of singing at school and church and the occasional paying gig. It was not a career I was ever particularly interested in pursuing but I enjoyed sharing my love of music with others  and occasionally introducing them to something new. At that time, there was an album released to celebrate the 80th birthday of a harmonica player called Larry Adler. He had been friends with George and Ira Gershwin, and his birthday recordings were all Gershwin tunes. The one that I heard first was new to me – ‘Stairway to Paradise’ and was sung by Issy Van Randwyk and was a style that I quickly came to love. That’s not today’s song though. Today I’m going to share Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’ as played by Larry Adler and famed violinist Itzhak Perlman.

A harmonica duetting with a violin is not a pairing that immediately springs to mind but it is beautiful and suits the tune so very well. The haze of the heat and the lethargy that accompany it hold true in the hands of these masters.

The trapezoid for today had to be joined in a similar way to yesterdays but because it is the opposite way around with the angle on the right, the decreases and pick up are done at the beginning of each odd numbered row eg

pick up 1st from day 81’s large triangle and knit together with 1st stitch on needle, (slip 1, knit 1, psso) then continue with pattern.

Not too difficult I think. I’m also not sure the join is as pretty as yesterday’s but I did try a few options and this was the nicest.

day 99

The blanket is big enough now that it’s hard finding somewhere to lay it out that I can also pin it and then take a photo. My bedroom is too dark. My son has bunk beds. I’ll work it out tomorrow though because I want to post a picture of the whole thing so far.

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Day 98

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Ok, so we’re back with the scheduled program today.

The blanket plan had me knitting a trapezoid for yesterday. Simple enough pattern but this time I needed to join it angled side to the angled side of day 96’s trapezoid. The solution was easier than I’d expected.  I’m not going to put the whole pattern here because I only made a minor, repeated change to make this work. The full pattern for this shape is on day 13.

The change that I made is at the end of every odd numbered row (rows 1, 3, 5 etcetc).

You’ll want to pick up/cast on the 47sts of the base and the right hand side.

For row 1 – k14, (slip 2 sts, k1, pass 2 slip stitches over),  k27, k2tog. You will have one stitch left on the left hand needle. Slip this stitch, pick up the nearest stitch from day 96’s trapezoid and knit this stitch, pass the slipped stitch over.

NB – you’re going to pick the stitch up as you have been doing for the rest of the blanket. It’s the stitch “leg” that shows between 2 ridges.

Turn and knit the next row (row 2).

For row 3 – k13, (slip 2 sts, k1, pass 2 slip stitches over),  k25, k2tog, slip last stitch, pick one up from day 96, pass slipped stitch over.

Keep going like this – working the pattern to the last stitch, pick up and work those 2 stitches together. On the last row , when you only have 3 left, slip 3 together, pick up and knit the last stitch on the angled side of day 96’s trapezoid then pass all three slipped stitches over it.

Ta-dah! All done except for the sewing in.

day 97-98

Today’s blanket piece is a simple square, knit in the same yarn as the trapezoid but further along the repeat. They don’t look like they’re the same yarn, do they?

Music for today…… The song most forward in my mind  is a very appropriate but very swear-y song by Limp Bizkit so I will be choosing something else. Something completely different in fact.

We’ve been enjoying some incredible summer weather here in St Albans for the last couple of months so let’s have a summer-y song. It’s another Stooshe tune – ‘My Man Music’. Bar B Que’s and dancing with friends in late afternoon sunshine with a caribbean lilt. Sounds good to me.

Day 18

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In deference to the Epic that is my photo tutorial in this post, I will keep other commentary to a minimum by saying that today I knit my blanket square with a turquoise coloured Fortissima Mexiko yarn by Schoeller + Stahl.

Day 18

Photo Tutorial : Picking up stitches

This photo tutorial will deal with picking up stitches in garter stitch – specifically the techniques I use for my meditation blanket project.

I’m using a thicker yarn and larger needles to make it easier to show you how I do this. I am using fewer stitches than in the pieces I’m making for the blanket. The technique is the same regardless of the number of stitches you are working with but this tutorial will be worked referring to the number of stitches I am using for the samples.

I will make a large square equivalent to 3 squares x 3 squares, using 2 squares, 2 trapezoids, 1 rectangle and 1 large triangle. In the diagram below you can see my layout plan. Each shape has a dot and an arrowed line. The dot represents the starting point, the arrow is the direction for casting on/picking up. You will cast on when the line doesn’t touch another shape. where the lines are shared between 2 shapes or more is where you will be picking up stitches. The plan and therefore this tutorial will cover how to pick up the stitches for each of the shapes I am using in my blanket.

layout

We’re starting with a completed square. I have used 21sts to make a square with 10 stitches along each cast on edge and 1 in the corner. the cast on edge is placed to the left and down with the line of decreases going  from lower left to upper right. we will be picking up stitches from the top edge.

1 - square

2 - edge detail

Detail on the edge for picking up stitches.

Cast on the stitches you will need for the longest edge of the trapezoid (shape #2), in this case 22 stitches. Once I have those stitches on my needle, I can start picking up the remaining 10 stitches needed to make the trapezoid. I start with the stitch created by the slip knot used at the start of casting on the square then move along the edge from left to right. In each case, I insert the needle into the fabric of the square under 1 strand of yarn between 2 bumps.

3 - picking up

Loop the yarn around your needle as if you are going to knit.4 - yarn round needle

Then gently pull the stitch from the square over the yarn loop and off the needle.

5 - new stitch

The last stitch is picked up into part of the last stitch of the square. If you are following my pattern, you will know that the square is finished by working 3 stitches into 1. To pick up the last stitch for this edge, I put the needle into the stitch along the edge. This is *not* the one you can see when you look straight at the square. It is the stitch that you knitted into before passing your stitches over in the final decrease of the square.  It is the bottom-most stitch of the trio. It will make no difference if you go into the one you can see on the top, but I prefer to separate the stitches that will be worked into this corner instead of having them crowded into the same space.

6 - cast off pick up

7 - all picked up

All stitches picked up.

8 -  back of work

Wrong side of the work after picking up.

part A

Pieces 1 and 2

Working piece 3 (the second trapezoid) starts with the cast off stitch of piece 2, or rather with the stitch under the top stitch. After picking up this stitch, pick up the rest of the stitches you need as described above. You will need to pick up an extra stitch between pieces 1 and 2. This is where you use the centre stitch in the trio at the point of square 1.

9 - centre pick upPick up the remaining stitches, working the last stitch into the cast on edge. To do this, locate the 2 strands of the last cast on stitch. Pick both of those up and work as you would for a normal stitch.

10 - cast on edge pick up

11 - picked up end of edgeI now need to cast on 11 stitches before I begin working the trapezoid pattern.

Part B

The large triangle is next and is pretty straight forward. Pick up 1 stitch as already  described along the angled edges of the trapezoids + 1 where they join to have 21 stitches.

This piece will pull in on itself. I could have picked up double the number of stitches which would make the next couple of pieces easier but I didn’t. I could have done the decreases in the middle instead of at the sides but I didn’t. The triangle will stretch when it is knitted into. It will stretch when you wash and block the final piece of fabric into shape and it will look just like all the other pieces.

Part C

So, the next 2 pieces have some tricksy picking up in that you will be picking up both between the bumps and the bumps themselves. also, for this first piece – a rectangle – you will have to pick up stitches from halfway down the side of the triangle.

To make the rectangle, cast on the 11 stitches you need for the side then, including the bump of the final stitch worked in the triangle, count 5 bumps down the edge. Our first picked up stitch is the length of yarn you would normally pick up. For the next stitch pick up, you will be picking up the yarn that is crossed over between the straight thread and the bump. In the photo you can see that my finger is directly behind this spot. If you pick up the bump itself, it will all still work out but won’t look quite as neat.

12 - picking up bumps

 

Pick up and work as you would for any other picked up stitch.

13 - picked up bump

 

Continue to pick up stitches alternating with picking up the stitch between bumps and the bump stitch itself for a total of 21 stitches. Cast on the stitches for the other side of the rectangle so that you have 43 stitches.

You can see that it looks a bit more crowded than the other rows of picked up stitches.

14 - picked up detail

 

But it works out.
Part D

for the final square, pick up 10sts along the remaining section of the triangle side you have already worked in the same way. Pick up one in the corner between the triangle and the rectangle (11 stitches on your needle). Your last 10 stitches are picked up along the first cast on edge of the rectangle. This is another stitch that is picked up by putting the needle under 2 strands of yarn on the cast on edge.

15 - cast on edge pick up

 

pick up a total of 10 along this cast on edge for a grand total of 21 stitches on your needle.

16 - final pick ups

Knit the square as you did the first one. Congratulations, you have a complete large square!

Part E

Yeah, it’s a little wonky but if you pin it out you can see what it will look like if you block it.

Part E - blockedSo there you have it – how I pick up my stitches for the meditation blanket project. Let me know in the comments if you want this as a pdf.

 

 

Day 17

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My Travelling Companion is Off The Needles!!!!! Insert a happy dance here, to the tune of ‘Graceland’ by Paul Simon.

travellingcompanion-cast off

Things I changed and why:

* The rainbow section is about twice the length as the pattern calls for. I had half a ball of this yarn (KnitPicks ‘Chroma’ in Lolipop, if you’re curious) and wanted to use it all and knew that it wouldn’t complement the lace section. (Why wouldn’t it work with the lace pattern? Visually the rainbow yarn is ‘busy’. Lace is busy with texture and pattern. I chose to let the lace stand on its own merits in a solid colour).

* The second large section of black eyelet pattern is meant to be twice that width. I had already added rows in the stocking stitch section and didn’t want the black to overwhelm the rainbow colours but did need it to make them stand out.

* The purple lace section should also be twice this width. This was kept short only because I was running out of yarn. I do have more but it’s in the loft and I wanted to be finish the shawl tonight. I am exceedingly impatient. Also, I like it how it is. The rainbow section remains the feature this way.

What happens next?

Next I will wash it. I have a small bottle Eucalan leave in wool wash that has been with our laundry detergents for more than a year now. Time I used it. I’ll roll it in a towel to remove as much water as possible before I pin it into shape on foam mats where it will stay until dry.

The Verdict?

I am really pleased with this shawl and despite my changes, I really like the pattern. In fact, one of the reasons I like the pattern so much is *because* of its adaptibility. I used 3 different types of 4-ply yarn in this project – KnitPicks ‘Chroma’ which is only one strand of wool/acrylic, Austermann ‘Step Classic’ in black, and ‘Coton Fifty’ by Bergere de France in purple. I usually try to match yarn textures in my knitting but these have worked together really well.

Day 17’s blanket piece is a square, knitted in Step, colour #51 ‘Tricollete’. The pattern is on Day 1. Picking up the stitches on the triangle is a little different to what we usually do.

Because of the way the triangle is constructed you will have to pick up stitches between the bumps on the edge like normal but you will also need to pick stitches up through the bumps.

day17

From the point of the triangle, I counted 7 edge bumps down then picked up my first stitch in the 8th bump. From there I alternated picking up stitches  between the bumps and in the bumps until I had 15 ad had reached the corner where pieces 14, 15, and 16 meet. From there you pick up stitches as usual – 1 stitch in the corner, 15 stitches between the bumps as far as the middle of the rectangle (where you cast off).

Don’t worry if that makes no sense. I’m preparing a photo tutorial for how I pick up stitches in this project to post tomorrow.

Now follow the pattern on Day 1 from row 1.

FYI – I’m reeeeeally tired. as in, falling asleep mid-word. So I’m not entirely sure this all makes sense. I will check it when I wake up…

Day 15

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Today’s knitting is accompanied by Triple M radio in Sydney and their Almost Acoustic Sunday. Gotta love online radio streaming. I miss Triple M since coming to the UK.

Today, using the green version of the pink Austermann Step I used on Day 7, I tackled the triangle and I am pleased to report that the technique I used for the angled side of the trapezoid works for the triangle.

So, working left to right across the angled sides of the 2 trapezoids we’ve already made, pick up 15sts on Day 13’s shape +1sts between the 2 shapes +15sts from Day 14’s shape. You’ll have the standard 31sts on your needles.

Your decreases are made 1 stitch in from the edge on both ends of the right side row.

Row 1 – k1, sl1, k1, psso, k25, k2tog, k1 – 29sts

Row 2 and all even numbered rows – k

Row3 – k1, sl1, k1, psso, k23, k2tog, k1 – 27sts

Row 5 – k1, sl1, k1, psso, k21, k2tog, k1 – 25sts

Row 7 – k1, sl1, k1, psso, k19, k2tog, k1 – 23sts

Row 9 – k1, sl1, k1, psso, k17, k2tog, k1 – 21sts

Row 11 – k1, sl1, k1, psso, k15, k2tog, k1 – 19sts

Row 13 – k1, sl1, k1, psso, k13, k2tog, k1 – 17sts

Row 15 – k1, sl1, k1, psso, k11, k2tog, k1 – 15sts

Row 17 – k1, sl1, k1, psso, k9, k2tog, k1 – 13sts

Row 19 – k1, sl1, k1, psso, k7, k2tog, k1 – 11sts

Row 21 – k1, sl1, k1, psso, k5, k2tog, k1 – 9sts

Row 23 – k1, sl1, k1, psso, k3, k2tog, k1 – 7sts

Row 25 – k1, sl1, k1, psso, k1, k2tog, k1 – 5sts

Row 27 – k1, sl2tog, k1, psso, k1 – 3sts

Row 29 – sl2tog, k1, psso – 1st. Break yarn and pull through your stitch.

There you go Stuart, a triangle! (I was asked for a triangle earlier this week).

day15In the photo, you can see that I have pinned the piece out. You can also see that between some of the pins, the fabric is bowed. in the final item this can be taken care of with blocking (more on that in a later post). But right now let me explain.

I’m knitting with the same weight yarn (4ply sock yarn) for each of these shapes, on the same size needles (3.25mm), using the same techniques, stitches and dimensions. do you remember that I said in an earlier post how just because several yarns say they are all 4ply, some are thicker than others?  That’s one part of it – because a thicker yarn fills the stitch space more fully. Another part is that whether the knitter is tense or relaxed effects how tightly they knit. A chilled out knitter is more likely to knit loosely than a knitter who is contemplating stabbing you with her needles despite the blood it will get on her yarn (and believe me, in that moment, the potential damage to the yarn is the only thing saving you :p). There are other factors involved but those are the two most likely to make a difference in this project.

Hey Charlotte, did you make your husband go into the loft today?

I didn’t actually, but he remembered and went without me nagging. He’s clever like that. So along with 7 or 8 other projects, I now have the project I’ve been  wanting to work on for a week. It’s a lace shawl made with yarn that’s about as thick as a couple of strands of sewing thread (for the curious, the yarn is JaggerSpun Zephyr – a wool-silk blend, lace weight yarn in the colour ‘Peacock’).

Anyway, the pattern is called ‘Aspen Grove‘ and has been designed by Miriam Felton to look like, well, like a grove of trees. I’m about half way down the tree trunks and haven’t had the focus to work on this for more than a year.

aspen grove

 

Lace work needs a lot of attention – counting stitches and working out if you’ve put the yarn overs and k2tog’s in the right place. Anyway, I haven’t been in the right fame of mind for that until now so I wanted to strike while the proverbial iron was hot.

Yes, it is entirely normal for me to be working on his many projects at he same time.

 

Day 13

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We’re listening to Sky Arts 1 today -Muse in concert in Rome Olympic Stadium. Yeah, it’s a rock concert and it’s awesome. But I’m not going to talk about that. I’m going to share a Facebook post of mine from earlier along with a YouTube clip…

You know how sometimes there is music that is ‘Joy’? It’s the music that makes you tap your foot or bob your head no matter what mood you are in. It sends shivers of ‘This Is Good’ up your spine and across your scalp every time you hear it. There might only be one song in your life that gives you this feeling. And sometimes the song that does that for you will surprise you. Sometimes the ferocity of it is the surprise. But whatever it is, you can’t articulate what it is about that piece of music that makes you feel this way.

Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ is one of those songs for me but watching the composers and original artist react to this performance just made it that much more sweet.

Today’s knitting is a new shape and I’m holding J responsible. I asked her what shape I should do but didn’t specify what the choices were. So today, trapezoid. I’m basically creating a square with a right angle triangle attached.

day 13-trapezoidStarting at 1 stitch after the tip of square 10 and working from left to right pick up 15 sts from square 10, 1 st where squares 5 and 10 join, 15 sts from square 5, 1 st where squares 5 and 12, 15 sts from square 12. This will  give you 47sts on your needle.

The working for the first part of each row will look familiar – it’s the same as making a small square. The second part is where we make the triangle.

So, the first part – knit 14, slip 2 stitches as if you are going to knit them together, knit 1, pass slipped stitches over, knit 14.

For the second part, we want to make only half of the mitred square shape. We did not cast on for a third side like we did with the rectangles so the decrease only needs to be one stitch at this end instead of the 2 sts we have been doing so far. Continue knitting on this row until you have only 3 sts left on your needle, knit 2 stitches together, knit the last stitch.

FYI – we are doing the second decrease on each row 1 stitch from the end to make joining other shapes to this edge easier. Keeping this a solo stitch instead of a stitch knitted together with another makes it easier to see and to pick up.

So here is the full pattern, which includes the row I have just walked you through.

Row 1 – k14, (sl2tog, k1, psso), k27, k2tog, k1 –  44sts

Row 2 and every alternating row – k

Row 3 – k13, (sl2tog, k1, psso), k25, k2tog, k1 – 41sts

Row 5 – k12, (sl2tog, k1, psso), k23, k2tog, k1 – 38sts

Row 7 – k11, (sl2tog, k1, psso), k21, k2tog, k1 – 35sts

Row 9 – k10, (sl2tog, k1, psso), k19, k2tog, k1 – 32sts

Row 11 – k9, (sl2tog, k1, psso), k17, k2tog, k1 – 29sts

Row 13 – k8, (sl2tog, k1, psso), k15, k2tog, k1 – 26sts

Row 15 – k7, (sl2tog, k1, psso), k13, k2tog, k1 – 23sts

Row 17 – k6, (sl2tog, k1, psso), k11, k2tog, k1 – 20sts

Row 19 – k5, (sl2tog, k1, psso), k9, k2tog, k1 – 17sts

Row 21 – k4, (sl2tog, k1, psso), k7, k2tog, k1 – 14sts

Row 23 – k3, (sl2tog, k1, psso), k5, k2tog, k1 – 11sts

Row 25 – k2, (sl2tog, k1, psso), k3, k2tog, k1 – 8sts

! Pay attention – this is 3 consecutive rows of pattern

Row 27 – k1, (sl2tog, k1, psso), k1, k2tog, k1 – 5sts

Row 28 – k1 (sl1, k2tog, psso), k1 – 3sts

Row 29 – sl2tog, k1, psso – 1st

Ta daaaah! 🙂

day 13Btw, the yarn is Schoeller+Stahl’s Fortissima Shadow Color again. I’ve used the red yarn twice now. This time it’s a gorgeous shade of petrol blue.

Day 10

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It’s a Bank Holiday here in the UK so I am enjoying All The Movies! As I knit my square I shall be watching ‘The Magic Roundabout’ movie.

I am knitting with Austermann Step’s ‘Fresh & Easy’ range in colour #160 – Turquoise and after picking up 31 stitches you will follow Day 4’s pattern.

 

I will be working from the middle of yesterdays rectangle and across the remaining stitches of day 5’s square. Find the stitch you cast off with in the middle of your rectangle, pick up the stitch next to it and the following 14sts, pick up 1 in the corner where the 2 shapes meet, then 15 stitches up the side of the large square. Do not pick up the cast off stitch.

Follow day 4 from there.

day 10

I am planning to write about a few important topics for knitters this month – ‘Ballbands and why you should read them’, ‘Blocking – what is it and how is it done?’, ‘Swatching – but it’s so booooooring!’, and ‘Circular Needles – not just for knitting in circles’. These topics need samples and photos and some research so they aren’t ready yet.

I will also share my rant about why we need a single unit of measurement for knitting needles and yarn-weights but being a rant, it’s a little incomprehensible at this point so I shall refine it until it has at least a veneer of coherency but the bare bones are this – the world is shrinking courtesy of the internet – Ravelry.com has 4 million members who knit, crochet, spin and weave. Could we please choose one unit to measure the size of the needles and yarns we use? Come to think of it, a standard format for patterns would be nice too.

Actually that’s about it for the rant…. Some places have assigned a number system without any measurement unit which, for me at least, is just annoying. Friends have also had experience of needles all labelled ‘4’ actually being different diameters. Other places use the metric millimetre to measure diameter. Doing this means your needle either is or isn’t correct and it’s much easier to make this determination.

As for the yarn-weights – there are many names for the weights between countries. For example, yarn that is labelled DK in the UK is light worsted in the US and 8-ply in Australia. 4-ply in Australia and the UK is called fingering-weight in the US (though no one has been able to explain that to me…). And yarn in a given category can be thicker or thinner compared to another within the same category. Measuring yarn in wraps per inch would be more accurate. However being sure that the yarns are being measured at the same tension presents a new set of problems.

Given all of that, if you are trying to substitute a yarn, try to get a similar yarn content between what you want to use or have available to you, and what the pattern suggests. Next you want to compare yarn length (aka yardage or meterage) to the weight. So if the yarn suggested for your pattern is a 100g ball with 400m, you want to get something similar. A 50g ball with 300m will be too thin. 100g with 200m will be too thick. This information is all on the ballband. I will cover how to find all of that on said ballband tomorrow so stay tuned 🙂