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.