Monday, February 23, 2009

Project progress reports

Right now I have two knitting projects on the go, slippers and a beret.

Here is the status of the beret project. I am working from a pattern in Anna Zilboorg's 45 Fine and Fanciful Hats to Knit, using Cascade yarn. I've been choosing the colours I want to work with, graphing them into a particular beret design in the book, doing up swatches in different needle sizes (the book calls for a 5 stitch per inch gauge) and experimenting a bit with how the colours will go together as well.

I graphed the design in black and white first, then redid it with coloured pencils to get a better idea of what it would look like with the modifications I was making.

Over the past year I have been buying skeins of Cascade Peruvian highland (Cascade 220 and The Heathers) yarn and stashing them away, four of these colours I used for Sam's toque. I use paper bags to hold the yarn balls I am currently working with, to keep them from rolling away and also to keep them clean.

The colours I chose for the beret are blue and green for the background and yellow and pink for the design elements. The beret is started on 3.25mm circular needle (lower left). In the centre are a series of swatches all knit together to test different needle sizes and see how some of the colours will go together.

The slippers are almost finished, the knitting part is done. I used Judy's Magic Cast-on and a toe-up short-row design that I got from Vogue's Ultimate Sock Book. The yarn is Atkinson yarn, a locally spun yarn that is not really good quality, it has a lot of dry grass in it and is quite coarse. But suitable for slippers.

For the toe, I started with 32 stitches total, 16 for the top and 16 for the bottom. Working the 16 bottom stitches, I shaped the toe using the short-row technique, until there were 6 stitches between yarn-overs, then back up to 16 stitches and then continued knitting in the round until I the point at which I wanted to split the cuff.

An inch before I reached the start of the leg (and two inches before the start of the heel), I switched from circular knitting to back and forth knitting, creating a gap in the rows to separate the cuffs. I increased at each end of every other row (the knit rows) until I had added an extra sixteen stitches to the row length.

I worked the heel exactly the same as the toe. When the heel was completed I began decreasing at the back of the heel, two decreases every four rows. In the meantime, after adding the 16 stitches at the front of the cuff I began to decrease, this time every row instead of every other row. I continued to decrease until there was only one stitch left on the needle, at the very back of the heel, and tied it off.

Many years ago my brother gave me some scraps of leather which I have saved "for a rainy day". Pack rat.

I don't know if you can see it so well, but right now the slippers are covered in Dobby dog hair. Them's the hazards around here!

My intention is to cut soles for the slippers and sew them on, in part to protect the bottom of the slippers (from wear and hair!) and in part to make them less slippery on the wood floor. But I need an awl or leather punch to make holes in the leather, so for the moment the project is on hold until I get one.

And as you can see, Phelan has already been by for a visit, the chickens have been put to bed in the living room. This time he didn't cover their heads, I guess for daytime naps he lets them peek out.


20th Century Woman said...

I am really impressed at the careful preparations you make. I know that everything I do, knitting, painting, drawing, blogging, cooking, would be better accomplished if I planned before hand. Alas, I usually just plunge in, and sometimes it comes out okay, but often not.

Zabetha said...

Ha! I wish!

I'm not sure about the benefits of careful planning, so far I'd say I do as much frogging with or without planning. In spite of swatching, I cannot for the life of me get the gauge right on this beret. It seems to be a moving target. Part of the problem is trying to replicate the gauge of circular knitting on straight needles, but the swatch would have to be as big as the beret to do it on a circular needle, soooo....

As for the slippers, the first one took weeks, the second one was done in a day or so. Kept trying out ideas and scrapping them till eventually I thought "not perfect, but good enuf!" (besides, the dog hair was accumulating at an alarming rate)

Planning is a very good idea in principle, but I am resigned to do-overs, with or without planning ;-)

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

Anne, I have never been able to sit still enough to do handwork.
Oh, did make some simple afgans years ago. Wish I could knit. If I lived near you - you could teach me.
Your creations are beautiful. I am impressed. I plan homes and gardens and dig in the dirt. LOL

Zabetha said...

Hi Ernestine, thank you for saying that, and yes, if you lived nearby I would teach you to knit! But of course, designing houses is no small feat either! From your descriptions, your new house is going to be beautiful!

What a bunch of creative women we all are!

Wisewebwoman said...

I've knit 21 berets this season. Trial and error, I don't plan either. Best one is on 5 dp bamboo needles, 4mm and 6mm. I bought a huge pile of these needles on E-Bay, they're cheap, light and get better with usage.
I love love love the sock pattern. Elfin.

Zabetha said...

Hi WWW, what weight of yarn are you using for the berets? This will be my first so it's a confusing mix of planning, following instructions and trial and error. I find the first of anything I try really difficult, then I get the hang of it and the rest are comparatively easy. 21! Wow!