29 January 2007

Double knitting redux

The adventure in double knitting project that became a cheque book cover is a classic walkabout what if project. I worried it quite a bit before finally giving in and making two pockets alike and joining them with a 3-needle bind-off.

I wasn't thrilled with that solution because I'm a bit of a purist. When I'm working with a technique I like to continue with it as far as I can. Ultimately, if the technique won't allow me to get the result I'm after I'll shift gears. Ultimately is the key word in that sentence as I'll worry, play and what if over and over before deciding that what I want to do can't be done or is otherwise totally impractical (usually falling into the too fiddly camp).

The sharp pointies (US 0/2mm) that I used to create the cheque book cover also put a rather painful hole in my left forefinger so I decided to explore possible solutions with ack-rylic and larger, blunter needles. The finger's still a bit less than healed enough to go the way of very sharp's but it is improving and not sore enoughto stop knitting.

I cast on 16 stitches and worked a couple garter rows before starting the encased double knit pocket. The set up row is pretty simple stuff: knit 2, knit into the front and back of each of the next 12 stitches, knit 2. After that it's a knitting two stitches at either end of the row and doing knit 1, slip 1 with yarn forward on the 12 centre stitches.

When the pocket is deep enough, the centre stitches get separated and half of the centre stitches are bound/cast off. This is just a basic pocket knit from the bottom up -- no biggie.

At this point, it's back to 16 stitches and knitting a single layer of fabric and this is where my _what if, can I, I wonder_ side kicked in.

If I were doing a plain double knit piece that started with a open end, I'd just cast on each side's stitches onto a double pointed needle and start the double knit (
alternating the knit and slip stitches) by knitting with a 3rd needle but I was already established in the piece and all of my efforts to just cast on the additional stitches were less than satisfactory.

I tried a couple of different variations of increasing across the centre 12 stitches (just as I had to create the closed pocket) before I had the duh realisation that if any two stitches come from the same root thread/loop, they will be connected on a layer and won't yield two separate layers.

My next solution involved waste yarn to later be removed. I knit into the front and back of the 12 centre stitches but unlike when I created the closed pocket, I knit into the front with my working yarn and into the back with my waste yarn.

To anchor the stitches, I knit the first two and last two stitches on each row with both my working and waste yarn.

On the next row, I went back to double knitting with the working yarn, until the pocket reached the desired depth. I finished the pocket with a K2, (K2tog)12x, K2 and then a couple of garter rows before casting/binding off.

Next I removed the waste yarn and picked the raw unfinished stitches up with my needle. I simply bound these stitches off with, in this case, my contrast ugly orange ombre yarn.

Doing a row of 1x1 ribbing on the stitches that were formed from the waste yarn would have eliminated the need to bind/cast off the stitches after the waste yarn was removed but I had some difficulty keeping the yarn positions straight in my mind (and in my instructions) so I've back burned that solution for later exploration.

Okay, so maybe a cheque book or other book cover doesn't seem like a very reasonable thing to knit or anything worth all this fuss. Truth be told, I had a VICP (very important crochet person) tell me that no one would ever bother to go to this much trouble and that I should never even consider writing this up in a pattern and that she couldn't really see the point of doing what I was doing -- oh well.

I've made it a general rule to ignore that sort of conventional wisdom in search of solutions that suit my knitting needs. There are knitters who wouldn't dream of trying to master knitting with double points and knitters who think that the magic loop method is loopy -- it's a big circus tent with plenty of room for different choices.

But, VICP's opinion aside, as a practical matter, this whole experiment yields a nice way to form a pocket when knitting from the top down that doesn't involve a second yarn source.
Compare this to the pocket in the "still on the needles" cuff down sock with pocket.

Most discussions of double knit pockets assume a bottom up construction that begins with a closed tube and most double knitting that starts with an open tube assumes that you're working in a double knit vacuum.

Look for more on double knitting including open tubes and ribbing solutions in later postings (this time I actually have the project and photos at the ready).

I think the biggest problem with the casting on solution comes from needing at least a 3rd needle that late in the project and then there's the whole juggling of stitches thing. That said, I'll probably play with that at some point too.

28 January 2007

Walking pedometers and such

The pedometer I lost somewhere along the way to TNNA is just one in a series of foot notes [insert groan here] about life and fitness.

In a huge flair for the obvious (note name of blog, domain, email and other junque) , walking is a big part of my life. Trying to measure my mileage has been an ongoing challenge.

I started with analogue pedometers which, while not always very accurate, were better than nothing and they gave me the option of taking them off and not measuring the short little jaunts into shops etc. where the stride measurement would be totally distorted.

Even the most accurate pedometer needs to be placed on the body in a fairly vertical position at the waistline and in line with the knee. That has an inherent wardrobe bias (toward slacks, shorts, skirts etc.) but it also means that if, say, your waistband rolls or something else happens to put the pedometer out of proper body placement and it doesn't measure properly. Worse still, it has a tendency to fall off and that gives rise to a universal truth about all pedometers -- drop them often enough and they stop working.

After killing a few analogue pedometers, I grudgingly ventured into the land of the digitals and discovered additional odd problems, like if it has a cover it won't count steps unless the cover is closed/latched and if the latch fails duct tape doesn't always work.

The most recently lost pedometer was already on a highly probationary list with its mileage being checked against my truck's odometer and/or the google g-maps hack. Some days it measured high, some days it measured low and some days it didn't measure at all.

I've been looking for a replacement and mulling over more accurate options but for now, I'm sticking to my known routes and logging the mileage in my notebook, spreadsheet and, in a surprise to many since I am so not a joiner, at Runagogo.

27 January 2007

Sleeves, swatches and bells on a Saturday

I promised snaps of the Universal Yarn swatch so here they are -- wrong side to the left and right side below. I like both.

The yarn is Party Time in Classic Worsted Tapestry and it feels very very nice for an 80% acrylic and 20% wool blend and that's not just my opinion. It got good reviews from natural fibre types at the Whistlestop on Sunday.

Ball band suggested needle size is 4.5/5.5mm (US7-9) and loose knitter that I am, I'm working with a 4mm needle and getting a nice fabric.
The swatch is 67 stitches across and I like the self-striping I'm seeing at that width. I may push my luck and see how far I can take it before the patterning falls apart. This yarn looks like a good candidate for some of the bias, strip & modular knit stuff I've been playing with seemingly forever.

Speaking of forever, the sleeves of the subject line are part of the project last seen on this blog back in October. The now dye-lot blended front and back body of the sweater reached 11.5 or so inches last week and that means it is time to frog back the sleeve that had the same dye lot problem (only an inch or two of knitting) and start making decisions about how to shape (or not shape) the body to attach the sleeves and what I want to do with the neckline.

I've laid out the completed sleeve and the body pieces against the more traditionally shaped/constructed sweater and now I'm wondering whether the sleeves should or shouldn't be tweaked a bit. Whatever I do, these sleeves will have a more generous armhole drop than its commercially produced cousin. For the moment, I'm content to reknit the 2nd sleeve with the right dye lot, lay it out and see how I feel about the shaping then.

If I can reach a decision, I could have this one finally finished by my next guild meeting and a first draft of the pattern shortly after. Given the stops and starts of this project the time line isn't that terrible.

Last Saturday I did my usual thrifting through the 'hood tour. After I'd given into temptation and picked up a couple of too good to pass on bargains (all merchandise 50% off) , John the manager pointed out something in the case that he thought I'd be interested in -- oh yeah.

Can you say H. Walker Bell Gauge? Sure you can.

Its crest looks to be a unicorn and lion rather than the often seen Archer. It was a rather outrageous bargain and I'm delighted to have it join my other gauges in the tool pouch.

Tania, who I hope hasn't washed overboard during the cruise, mentioned trying the new Skacel/Addi lace needles at TNNA and I also had a chance to give them a try out and I was very impressed. Given the fact that I was working with cut the finger sharp double points at the time (double knit cheque book project) I was very in tune with what makes for a good point with lace or other fine knitting. I cannot wait to see these in the LYS arena I knit some rows on the sample that was on the needles and then did a p3togtbl (aka a purl 3 together through the back of the loops) without a hitch, a split or dropping a stitch. I didn't even have to do much poke about coaxing to execute the stitch so I'm seeing some of these in my future and hoping for an even wider range of sizes than their initial offering.

25 January 2007

Walkabout to The Whistlestop

Last year TNNA rubbed shoulders with the Extreme Sports trade show. This year it was Mary Kay. I don't know if there was any overlap but the Extreme Sports folks are back at the convention center this week.

In a totally unrelated note, while I was distracted by heading off to work on Thursday morning, I narrowly missed a little neighbourhood drama. Apparently there was a police chase that started about 6 blocks away, involved a naked guy and ended not far from my apartment. My neighbourhood is weird but naked guys and car chases are pretty far from the norm.

On one of my many duh camera days I didn't capture the walkabout to the Whistlestop. On Sunday I corrected that omission and not only managed the walk (there and back is about 4.5 miles) but also to take some snaps.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I need to get back to writing about knitting circles, TNNA etc. but I also need to do laundry and I'm not doing that right away either.

Since I seem to be losing the same three pounds over and over again before moving down the scale, I figured that tackling the hills along the way would be a good kick start to my metabolism. So I set off with swatch knitting and the body of the pentagon sleeves project for walkabout knitting.

The route starts at Robinson & Park Boulevard and ends at Fern/30th/Juniper. It is about 2.25 miles one way and has two significant uphill climbs.

East on Robinson to Indiana, South on Indiana to Cypress. If you're not feeling up for a hill challenge, you can go cross Florida and go down to the "end" of Cypress and take the stairs up to Alabama. Then South on Alabama to Upas.

If you're feeling a bit more energetic, head South on Florida until you see Upas to your right. It's a steep downhill that starts at Park and Upas by the Blind Recreation Center. If you feel really ambitious on the return trip, you can tackle that hill instead of the slightly shorter (but also steep) walk up Cypress to Indiana.
To your left, Upas continues up a sidewalk that looks rather daunting from the base.
I don't know what the rate of the grade is for the hill but I don't recommend it when you've any lung congestion going on. When I topped the hill, I had worked up enough of a sweat to want the hair off the neck. My hairsticks were hiding, but the honking huge needles that were part of a very clever package of yarn samples that I had from Universal Yarn served the purpose quite nicely.

In one of my career incarnations, I was involved with packaging so I have soft spot for clever packaging and not only do I like the yarn I've been swatching with (photo coming) I really like this sampler packaging:

At the top of the hill, go South on Alabama to the intersection of Alabama, Upas and Morley Field Drive. Continue East on Upas to 28th, South on 28th to Palm, East on Palm to 30th, South on 30th to the intersection of Juniper/30th/Fern and you've arrived at the Whistlestop.

The Upas to 28th is mostly on the downhill until Texas Street when you get another little hill to keep things interesting.
The 28th street route gives you some great views of the Balboa Park and the city skyline with a nice green zone. Continuing on to 30th (or coming back that way) will give you the option of stopping in for a bite at The Linkery or zensei Sushi.

Besides the Universal Yarn knitting needle and swatch knitting, there's another TNNA tie-in to this story. Sunday, while I was waiting for a ticket for one of book signings, I got to talking with Kerry at the STC (table over at Unicorn) about both the Knitting for Peace and Punk Knits titles and somehow, huge shock, the WhistleStop and the whole local indy music scene came up. Just a a few hours later Share and I ran into each other at the Unique Kolours booth and chatted up a storm. I even modelled Bucket O Bones for her amusement.

23 January 2007

Fashionable Fridays

After leaving The Field on Friday night, I made my way down 5th toward
the convention center and joined a group waiting to cross the tracks and
street. Our way was blocked by a train that had apparently already done
a couple of forward and back maneuvers none of which had made the way
clear for pedestrians or traffic.

At the convention center, helpful staff directed the Mary Kay and TNNA
crowd to different escalators. No, no one mistook me for a happy pink lady.

The Galleria is well named as it feels a bit like an art gallery (think
small boutique gallery) with panel displays. The idea is graze, gather,
view and bide your time until the fashion show.

Although there was no discussion of Michelangelo there was much coming
and going as the grazing and greeting was in full bloom.

I was more interested in the meet and greet aspect of the event. I was
also interested in the fashion show if only to see the range of what's
getting published.

I got a chance to at least say hey to plenty of locals and visiting
knitting luminaries (no long list of name dropping here) before taking a
gander at the Galleria which was nearing in tear down mode.

Once inside, my eyes immediately went to the Kollage display because I
was really curious about commercially available corn yarn. While there
wasn't a hank to handle, there was a design by Melissa Leapmann
prominently displayed so I had at least one name to ask how the material
worked up.

Fashion show? I missed quite a bit of it. The event was very well staged
but with 120 plus garments (and a lamp shade) in the show I wouldn't
have had the patience to sit through it all under the best of
circumstances. Since the event is a group exercise with lots of
different contributors, it is very clear that knitting is a big tent
with plenty of room for different styles.

Afterward, I noticed that the Mary Kay folks not only had the big fuffy
hat thing happening but they also had a band. Instead of trying to
infiltrate the ranks of the well coifed, I joined another group of
industrious types working their way through the Great Wall of Yarn &
Thread before heading home via transit. While waiting for the #10 bus in
Old Town, I was glad that I'd stowed my fingerless gloves in my bag.

Just to add a bit of knitting content, here's a look at the finished tiny needle project that still has me pondering cast on choices and wondering why it is that I always seem to mis-knit one (and only one) stitch when I doubleknit.

17 January 2007

Covers and cubes

I finished the knitted cube before heading down to TNNA on Thursday . Each of the six sides is about 10 cm or 4 inches square.

Knitted curiosity, teaching tool, sculptural work, bit or something to keep the knitting fingers nimble or a way to use the polygon project sample up -- all are valid views.

When my slightly sliced finger heals a bit more I'd like to knit a few of these in one or more types of wire or other material that doesn't need reinforcement, stuffing or starching to hold its shape.

I live approximately four miles from the San Diego Convention Center. On site parking is $8 with no on and out privileges. Parking in the Gaslamp area is so iffy that even the business association has "insider parking tips."

While I have no trouble walking there, if I'm losing daylight a walk back can be a very bad idea. So I've figured that the best way to do a show there is to do the public transit thing and either trolley it to Washington Street and the #10 bus (and maybe pop in for a pint at the Shake's) or catch the #7 up Park Boulevard. At $4.50 round trip this is a bargain.

The Transit store sells day passes that allow for unlimited rides on MTS buses and the trolley and I opted for a 4 day pass at $15 because it is a good deal and a lot easier than exact fare.

So on Friday when I walked down for the Galleria & Fashion show I stopped off at the Transit Store to buy a 4-day pass and activate it. Since I was still running a bit early, I opted to stop in at The Field for a pre-Galleria pint or two.

I usually only get to The Field when I'm downtown for an event at the convention center, jury duty, or shopping at Horton Plaza. I have, on occasion, been to The Field on other occasions and done myself a bit of a mischief. I limit that behaviour these days. But The Field does factor in to my TNNA weekend and at least some of it involves TNNA knit content.

On Friday, I found an open spot at the bar and was knitting away on the Ganpi Abaka project while waiting.

A rather less patient gentleman next to me was trying to order drinks and convince his visiting friend (who I caught a brief glimpse of) to drink up, hurry up and head over to some eatery with oysters and apparently a happy hour that only lasts an hour. The establishment and the local friend's name (might have been Bob) are not stored in memory but I do know that his sister's name is Heather.

Apparently the visiting friend was in town for TNNA, in publishing and although local friend invited me over and promised a business card and intro, they were gone before I headed over to the Galleria/Fashion Show.

14 January 2007

Baby it's cold inside and some TNNA twaddle

My handy dandy (gods I love gizmos and gadgets) High Gear keychain reports that it is 62 degrees Fahrenheit in my apartment (slightly warmer in the computer room). My nose is roughly the same colour as my red sweatshirt but I'm still not relenting and turning on the heat so my 20-something year record of not resorting to indoor heating remains intact.

I spent most of the day down at the San Diego Convention Center doing the TNNA thing. I'll do my best to get some quality blog time in the next few days to give my impressions of my first totally solo TNNA experience.

I walked down on Thursday to pick up my badge and see whether any of the still available classes could tempt me -- they didn't but it more about schedule than anything else.

I was rewarded with some good conversations with TNNA/Offinger folks and others. I got some idea of the amount of work that goes into the putting together The Great Wall of Yarn (let's just say that I'm even more impressed with how hard working Barry Klein of Trendsetter Yarns is). Instead doing dinner in the Gaslamp, I took advantage of the remaining daylight and walked back home to Hillcrest. Not only was that decision part of the see less of heather more often game plan, I also had some minor hope that I'd find my pedometer (I discovered it missing at the registration desk). No joy on the pedometer so I consoled myself with a stop in at Hash House for warming soup and a test of Johnny's excellent taste in wine -- still excellent in both red & white btw.

06 January 2007

Bits and bobs

Blogging has been on my list of things to do for the last couple of weeks. Clearly being on a list does not translate into getting done and I have been mentally composing things but somehow sitting down and writing has not been priority one.

This weekend is the first Sunday of the month so there should be knitting and drinking at The Whistlestop this afternoon but I probably won't be part of the mix. Instead I'll be looking like a mature responsible adult at a local alumni event at the University Club. In theory since the knitting starts at 2:30 and the other event at 4, I could so both but the dress code's a bit different.

I finished knitting what I've come to refer to as Chris' Elegant Ribbing Wristlets. The design took three three attempts and lots of gnashing of teeth before I got it right.

In other strange small projects, I finished a prototype thong project.
It made for a less than Norman Rockwell Christmas moment and I'm not totally happy with the design but it is an improvement over the bikini I did some years back.

Plenty of other projects are still on hold while I play with a knitted cube just because I can.
I'm also mucking about with a double knit chequebook cover from Noro Ganpi Ababka. The double knitting technique has some very real appeal for use with hand dyed yarns even if the small scale of this project doesn't really have legs.