31 January 2008

Cakes, chairs and charting new territory

While Brilla was sidelined and visions of knitted comfy chairs with odd construction techniques filled my brain, cream coloured (think butter cream frosting) cotton filled my needles.

Enter Mandarin Petit, an Egyptian cotton from Norway.
It's been in the STASH for some time now.

My original swatches told me that I would killing my hands working it on 2.0 mm needles versus 2.5 for virtually no benefit. The Crystal Palace bamboo 2.25 dps make for a reasonable compromise.

The knitting has been easy, the lining issue and staying under 4 inches while still having a design have been the bigger problems. I finally worked out a combination of cardboard base mixed fabric to sort out the lining issue but I'm running up against the 4 inch size limit at every turn.

The comfy chair is also taking shape with a slightly different solution to the shape and base piece problem.

For the chair, I'm using much loved and long discontinued Mama Mia in a great green.

Centre out windmill square in process will either be the bottom of the chair or the "top" of the seat portion depending upon how things work out.

I happened on the idea of using acrylic nail buffers to fill the base. Lightweight and just about the right shape and size

Hey, if I can't find emery sand why note use a slightly different form of emery? The buffers come in different grits and feature a soft centre.

At a little under 4 inches in length, they are already well sized but they can be trimmed to size with a bread knife.

In working on the chair, I've had a few start and stop issues. I got the brilliant idea that I could do a knitted welt instead of a purl ridge at the transition between increase plane and the perpendicular side.

The welt would allow me to snake some floral wire in to combat the
structure problems inherent in working with knits.

Great idea right? Sure, size 2.25mm needles, and dark green cotton yarn with 22 stitches on a side? Yeah right, find the purl bump four rows below and work it together with the next stitch. Not happening with these eyes -- ten years ago maybe but not happening now.

Next the idea of
some form of icord banding applied icord or an icord bind off popped to mind. The icord could house the wire but binding off tends to also mean picking up stitches and I don't like picking up stitches.

That's when I happened upon Annie Modesitt's horizontal icord banding technique. Annie uses it in several pieces she's designed. She writes about loving the technique but she doesn't really give details on the technique on her blog other than some issues about the nature of the next row after the technique is used.

I asked around within my knitting circles and couldn't find anyone who had used the technique and could show/explain it to me.

So knowing that I'd once again be breaking new ground, I dug around, found a couple of sources that use the technique and tried to wrap brain and or needles around it.

I came to the conclusion that it breaks down to combining an icord bind off with a cable cast on. I never quite could get my fingers to work the technique without a unacceptable distortion (elongation) of the next row of stitches. That's the same problem I was running into with my dabbling in dividing a double knit start. My sense is that, if Annie's technique isn't considered a fatal design flaw, perhaps I was too hasty in rejecting my discovery.

Meanwhile I've come up with a variation on both themes that resolves the elongated stitches on the next row.

25 January 2008

Another pin cushion thought I had is doing a knitted love seat or an undersized oversized comfy chair ala Wallace & Grommit .

The how would I build/knit such an animal has been bubbling up and out in various forms. Sometimes it is paper and pencil and sometimes it is sticks and string.

It struck me that the comfy chair or loveseat might involve a knitted rectangle for the back of the chair and that a centre out one would provide more options for connecting to other shapes that would make up the chair.

I've never actually knit a centre out rectangle so I turned to my Ste. Joan shaping shawls class hand out and looked at the centre out method. The basic idea is to start with a provisional cast on and graft later.

I'm not keen on provisional and later grafting so I'm always looking for alternative solutions. I've been playing with the idea of casting on 2x the number of stitches needed to knit in one direction and dividing the stitches in a "North & South" orientation for a while.

I started down this path when picking up stitches for the trapezoid section of the rayon Polynesian Popoki shawl resulted in terribly distorted stitches. It works but with issues. I used it for the Baby Bobbi Bear instead of picking up stitches to work the top and bottom of the bear.

As I said, the centre out rectangle recipe's basic idea is to start with a provisional cast on and graft later. The details sort of eluded me. I read the text a couple times, cast on and knit what I thought I was reading a couple of times before just firing off an email to that higher power (Joan of Schrouder) asking for clarification.

Turns out my older copy of the handout had been updated and the newer text supplied in an email from Joan made the underlying principle much clearer and put me on track to do a modified version that would start from double knitting.

23 January 2008

Java Happy Birthday Java?

J D K 1.0 is 12 years old today.

The idea surrounding the more or less magenta Senso circle pin cushion was to create a sweet little slipper chair as an entry for the TNNA/Piecework pin cushion competition. The size of the circle put me more in mind of another idea I had of making a three tiered wedding cake pin cushion – knitted with a bit of silk ribbon embroidery for flourish.

Meet Brilla. Isn't it pretty? It's a lovely little yarn that I originally bought back in May 2007 with a mind toward a KAL or shadow/net knitting project that morphed into the 07-07-07 heptagon project. More on shadow/net knitting on another day. It has nada to do with illusion knitting but more about playing sanity check back up as another knitter spreads wings or tests a pattern,

Brilla is a shiny, fingering weight and a mix of mostly rayon (evil but beautiful) and cotton. It's white, it's lovely, it's vision of confectionery beauty which would make a lovely knitted wedding cake. It would make a lovely knitted wedding cake but IMO a not so great knitted wedding cake pin cushion as the snaggy nature of rayon would have it looking tattered and sad all too quickly.

I know that I'm going to have to purchase fillings and such for this project but I'm not keen on buying yarn for just this purpose. So I'm on a small gauge cotton round up in the STASH room.

Brilla's beautiful but a better bride bag or ring bearer cushion than something to stick stuff that will snag it.

18 January 2008

Pish and pins

The pish part is multi-phased.

First bit is that work got in the way of a night out of catching up with bud Rick. So no sashimi for me.

They were doing a long edit day on his training materials and he had to book it back to Michigan early the next day. Hoping that all's well on that front.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that I would have could have should have pushed the lunch and debrief with Liz into Tuesday.

Second oops/pish is on the pin cushion front. I finished my first round (and I do mean round) effort in Senso cotton. I filled it with lizard litter and there are issues.

First, trying to get it nicely over stuffed was an even bigger PITA than when I finished off the 07/07/07 ring bearer heptagon pillow.

Second, mostly the lizard litter doesn't leak but if I constrain the fabric to make the fill tighter there is some seepage on the sides with increase and decreases,

Potentially t his is an argument in favour of not working the piece as a closed loop bit of knitting. Seaming can occasionally be your friend but it's hard for me to shift those gears.

I'm thinking that a trip to the hardware store might be in order. Some sort of mesh, like shade cloth might be a good barrier against seepage and not have run/ladder issues.

Another choice might be polar fleece to the rescue -- cut in the shape and held in place with a bit of spray adhesive, it has potential. I just happen to have a bit left over from a hide those ends by backing the afghan cheat.

Third, is a pish on me moment.

There was a CWRU alum thing last night that was all about engineering and so speaking to my inner geek. It was a reschedule from the fires and I was excited to not have a schedule conflict this go 'round, I even went out of my way to shift my schedule round and work much later than usual to fit it in.

But I ended up getting lost, turned about and generally frazzled out in the burbs. By the time I made it to the entrance to the gated community I was already more than 30 minutes late.

When I finally made the drive from gate to host house it was later still and with no sensible parking solution in the highly exclusive enclave I turned about and drove home.

Ending on an eye candy note, here's some Lonesome Stone sock yarn posing with a bit of Plymouth DK Wildflower that might be teamed up for pin cushion round 2. The Lonesome Stone is in the Plymouth is iffy.

16 January 2008

Lizard litter -- who knew

My current quest is a local source for emery sand.

The quest is not going well but today I called Rosie's thinking that if anyone would have the stuff it would be them.

If you know of a source in San Diego county, give a shout out. I don't really want to do mail order for my time line.

No joy so my visions of including a "strawberry" in my pin cushion submissions is not looking good. I did, however, get a lead on an alternative to dry rice or sawdust as a pin cushion stuffing -- lizard litter.

Lizard litter? Turns out that it is crushed English walnuts and unlike dry rice, it doesn't draw pests.

It's actually finer than rice so it could pose a problem for a knitted pin cushion unless there's a death grip gauge involved. I'll give it a go and make the appropriate adjustments.

The woman ahead of me in the line at Petco bought two tiny dog sweaters. The sweaters weren't memorable but they were
on the most adorable hangers.

When the cashier offered her the hangers she declined. In a don't ask don't get moment, I asked if I could have them. I think they'd be great presentation pieces for miniature/samples.

Although I'm groaning about budget issues, I did make a recent Knitpicks purchase -- books and needles. Never too many of either.

I test drove their new wooden circ needles when grafting the recent mad maths knitting project.

So far, and this could just be because I wasn't doing that much knitting at a shot, I like the points and don't think they are as wickedly sharp as the metal circs.

13 January 2008

Sunday Surprise and Soccer

Although visions of pin cushions are swirling in my head, most of the weekend walkabout knitting was abortive efforts at the knitted soccer ball. I dug out some white and black Senso, short dps and started in on the 12 geometric pentagons and 20 geometric hexagon modules required.

I'm thinking grafting and returning to my very old complex construction notions of doing some of the shapes as centre out and others as perimeter in for closed loop construction.

Since I don't just happen to have a soccer ball kicking 'round and I have no plans to add one to clutter central, I've been surfing Google images and places like Wolfram for diagrams that I can use as construction guidelines.

Needing to do 32 individual shapes and not having a construction plan is sort of a recipe for disaster and since I'm in an under four inches square mind set (see pin cushions) that's a lot of little pieces to keep on holders. No surprise that a number of those shapes ended up jumping needle and annoying me.

The surprises for Sunday came in two flavours. The first was a back from TNNA message from the lovely Liz who was gracious enough to attend the SnP Committee Chair meeting for me on Friday indicating that Monday could work for a debrief and that RB wasn't a huge stretch for her.

The second was my friend Rick (also known as my Polish younger twin brother and drinking buddy) calling to say he'd slipped back in Cali when we weren't looking and when could we do sashimi, sakes and shooting the shit.

Suddenly I've gone from Cinderella in the cinders who can't go to the ball to juggle the social schedule. Not a bad thing but the odds of all the juggling working out is a slim to none proposition.

12 January 2008

Moving on or the maths add up

My dithering over whether to make the drive to Long Beach for TNNA finally got a nix.

Going to the show when it is in San Diego is a no-brainer, justifying the expense when it is somewhere else is a bit tough. I'm banking more designs than I'm selling and I'm not banking as many designs as I would like.

Budget issues that mean I'm not starting my master's this month also mean the expense of gas, lodging and other incidentals are tough to justify. So I'm staying home and not going to the ball.

The Russian grafting solution was a better choice than the other, more constraining, choices but the flexibility of the grafting was a tad too flexible once the form was stuffed. Very much a be careful what you wish for and/or some solutions just create other problems.

I was a little concerned about grafting the last few stitches was going to work out when the stitches are effectively parallel in their orientation. What worked for me was to use two circs and only moving a few of the TBG (To be grafted) stitches onto the working portion of the needles as needed.

That worked brilliantly so any concerns about how this would or wouldn't work with stitches that can't all be positioned as the lesson plays out are out the window. It works, it's a bit fiddley but it works and it is worth it.

I decided to over stitch the graft edges with blanket stitch embroidery. It sharpened the lines and also helped to close the gaps that resulted from the short row extensions.

Those extensions, btw, are worked without wrapping of any sort. In all the years (and there are many) I've been doing this sort of stuff I've yet to find a good fill the gap solution for this kind of use for short rows.

After sharpening the edges with the embroidery, I "tufted" the centres of the modules with a bit of perle cotton to further define the diamonds within the extended pentagons.

I'm very happy with the result and I already have the long planned but not up to now cast on for soccer ball polyhedron.

And am I back to the mittens and other cold clime projects?

Yes and no, the yarns and needles are back in the WIP bag. My notes on the Franken-mitts have been updated.

But I'm being a tad distracted by the idea of knitted pin cushions as I stumbled upon the Interweave Press/Piecework magazine competition for Excellence in Needle Arts for 2008.

08 January 2008

Joint Mathematics Meeting Knitting Circle -- report form the field

The mystery about how San Diego local knitting folks, got word on the recent math knitting circle has been solved -- Sarah-Marie not only knows math, she knows Google.

She searched for San Diego Knitting
Groups, found my web page and used the contact information to get the word out.

Even though my "homework" wasn't quite finished I took the mad maths project, my knitted cube and a few other bits along to The Marriott last night for the Joint Mathematics Meeting Knitting Circle.

Supposedly there was seating for 45 people, if that was the case then
were way more than 45 people in attendance. An alternate theory is that the seating for 45 was way not elbow room suitable.

Everyone was graciously coerced into signing in so
to record attendance and justify even bigger facilities at future events and also to get everyone's contact for a mailing list.

It was a very social event with most of the talk being about knitting, crochet and the occasional discussion where math (and especially theoretical math) intersected with craft. It wasn't just academic mathematicians in attendance, there were also spouses/companions who were eager to explore San Diego during their stay so it really wasn't an entirely egghead experience. Not, of course, that a wholly egghead thing would be a bad thing.

There were plenty of socks in progress
and sock envy/technical sharing. Honestly, most of the technical discussions seemed to be about knitting techniques. Surprisingly many didn't know about Debbie New so that was a discussion point.

My unfinished homework and my knitted cube got a lot of discussions going and I even ended up giving yet another mini-session on Russian grafting.

The grafting generated almost as much interest as the
object and I expect that my blog entry with the mini-tutorial and the Positively Polygonal link on my web page will be seeing some hits and/or links in the days and weeks to come.

I got a look at the book that Sarah-Marie and Carolyn co-edited and it is a very nice looking book. At $30 it is a bit pricey but it's a small mostly academic publisher -- btw, the publisher's web page for the book has an endorsement from Norah Gaughan yet another polygon and math/science obsessed knitter.

Quite a few of the people at the get together were contributors to the book so it was a bit of a big disorganised show and share.

I promised that I would blog about both the event and the in progress and completed homework.

The blog entry is mostly a tarted up version of the posting I sent to my local email list with photos added.

Since Monday night I've grafted the first of the two multi-colour only modules and can see the end, well actually ends, in sight. Each short end extension has two yarn ends to be dealt with given this particular construction choice.

Had I gone with a short row and long row back (girl can't have too many needles) centre out, perimeter in some sewing required construction there would have been fewer ends but more sewing.

07 January 2008

Rainy Sunday

I had every good intention of walking over to the Whistlestop this afternoon even though I knew that the weather was likely to suck and my most active projects were portability problematic.

So I started out LAU (Late As Usual) and just as I was reaching the top of the Cypress Street stairs, the rain decided to get a bit more serious making a sort of miserable day even more so.

With another two miles before I could kick back with knitting buds and Guinness, the wiser choice seemed to be maximising daylight mileage totals rather than being social.

did a detour and ended up doing more mental than actual knitting along the way. I walked down the Upas street sidewalk to Florida but rather than going up Upas to Park , I went left on Florida and up Zoo Drive/Morley Field Drive.

The grade is quite a bit less steep and the foliage is way different. I'm not sure what sort of evergreens flank the road but you could almost believe that your were in a much more Northern clime.

I followed Park round to President's way into the park and back out to 6th. When you turn onto President's Way and walk into the park, the assuming that you're on the North side of the street, here's a little take a look next time moment. The horses that patrol the pack are housed in a small canyon area below the World Beat Centre -- there's also a small hidden parking area that should be reasonably secure during daylight hours as some of the slots are reserved for the mounted police.

04 January 2008

Mileage, WIP progress and Baseball

My recorded mileage on Runagogo last year was 665 miles. I actually logged more miles but my record keeping sucked so it's onto to the next year. Tracking the miles last year really helped get me off my bum to, even on the most unmotivated day, log at least a mile.

I'm having a lot of unmotivated days lately so hopefully it will be Runagogo to the rescue. If, like me, you need a bit of motivation and sense of community to get your butt in gear and your feet on the ground, if you've not yet found Runagogo -- go here and start the year off right.

The mittens and other Winter knitting projects for friends in colder climes are still in the queue, they've just been bumped as I know that they will still be needed/wanted come February but the Joint Mathematics Meeting traveling road show will be gone not to return for another five years. So I'm still pondering my joins and playing mad maths modular games.

Modular front, pish I'm being annoyed as the modules keep slipping needles and I clearly do not have enough stitch holders to make my construction technique work without looking for under writing from the stitch holder folks.

On the games front, now that the Cleveland Browns have done their duty in dashing my hopes and blowing their play-off chances -- up side is that I can now officially not care about American football again and wish only good things for my friends with teams still in the running -- it's onto baseball or at least Stitch N Pitch planning phase.

Got a call, am I willing to be involved again? Yes. Am I willing to chair? Yes, well, maybe.

After a couple of "if you're in I'm in" emails and here we go again. Hopefully best of last year's committee and some new additions will keep the event going and growing.

01 January 2008

Some work in progress

Got the usual all clear run away early word at about 1pm yesterday so I ran some errands on the way home with an eye toward being safely home before the first of the happy hour drunks hit the roads.

What followed was a nice boring that had me tucked up and tuckered out well before 2008 made its entrance here on the Pacific Time Zone.
Onto the current non-functional mad maths knitting project. So far I have several modules done using the multi colour for the centre pentagon and purple for the short row extensions.

Since I haven't been able to find the additional purple ball of yarn, rather than delay the knitting for the search, I've been working the centre pentagons and storing them on a single circular needle on the outside chance that the other ball of purple shows up. If it doesn't I'll go to plan B once I figure out what plan B is.

I've been worrying joining the modules on several fronts.

First, although I'm sure that somewhere there's an additional ball of both the purple and the blue of the crap acrylic I picked up at Rite Aid, I can't find either one of them. I'll need to mix things up make three colours work for this bit of knitting rather than risk running out of the purple and having to throw an odd ball blue sore thumb module into the mix.

Second, I've been trying to use a variety of different drawing tools to diagram how the parts combine.

So far none of the tools I've played with allow me to get the angles right. In some, I can draw pentagons and triangles but trying to join them to each other, when successful, results in a group that can only be manipulated as a whole. In others I can't even get a good mating of the two different polygons. It may just be that I've not mastered the tools but it has been annoying to put it mildly.

On the last front there's the technical knitting side of things. I already know that the short row extensions, when bound off, tend to give a rounder/softer edge than when they are long rowed back or left as live stitches.

That has been a factor in this project too as the inspiration pieces have sharp angle joins. Indeed, the quilted version used cardboard to give definition.

Knitting will generally yield a softer soft sculpture than sewing and if I didn't have the short row extension issue this would be a good reason to bind off and sew (or mimic that with three needle bind off) rather than grafting.

And my original idea was 3-needle bind off or 3-needle join followed with a bind off to provide stability and provide structure. I'm also considering i-cord bind off and/or an applied bind off.

For now though, the live stitches of the modules to be blocked have been prepped and are sharing space on various stitch holders so that I can work a 3-needle bin off using 2 needles.