My current work in progress:

1. Drachenfels, designed by Melanie Berg, knit from Madelintosh Pashmina in the Black Walnut, Seasalt, and Mineral colorways on a 4 mm (U.S. size 6) needle.
2. Myriad stealth projects.

Zoom!

lucy083106 Zoom!

First off, here is a link to a Zoom Groom on Amazon — I believe this is the exact one Lucy has. Her daddy got it for her for Christmas — two years ago, I think. If you Google “Zoom Groom” you’ll find lots of sources for it, and a number of different “models.” They’ve got them for cats and dogs. I’m sure it’s available locally in pet stores, too.

I think the reason Lucy likes it so much is that the large rubber “fingers” on it give her a gentle massage while she’s being brushed.

We’ll Just Agree to Disagree

If y’all have read the comments to yesterday’s entry, you’ll see that some people prefer the stockinette side, some people prefer the reverse stockinette side. Different strokes, etc.

I prefer the reverse stockinette side because of what some people said in the comments — the colors seem to melt into each other on the reverse stockinette side, while on the stockinette side, you can see definite little blobs of each color. I really like the melting effect.

A bunch of you mentioned being surprised that you like the reverse side better. Me too. I really don’t like reverse stockinette for much of anything (just like I don’t like garter stitch for much of anything, apart from the Log Cabin blanket), but I do like it here.

kimono083106 Zoom!

A bunch of you suggested seed stitch. Actually, if you look back a couple of entries, you’ll see that I mentioned that the borders are seed stitch, and it does look very nice. However, I don’t want the whole jacket in seed stitch. Apart from the obvious drawback of me going insane from knitting an entire jacket in seed stitch, what I’m going for is drapey. Seed stitch in this yarn is not drapey.

kimono083106a Zoom!

Finishing the seams so that the jacket is reversible is a very clever idea, as some of you suggested. And if I thought I would ever wear it with the stockinette side out, I’d consider doing it. But as I am completely happy with the reverse stockinette side being the “public” side, I’ll stick with that.

Alrighty then. Thanks for weighing in with your opinions!

Woo-hoo! It’s Thursday night! Usually I don’t think Thursday night really warrants a “woo,” much less a “woo-hoo,” but I have tomorrow off from work, Monday is a holiday here in the U.S., and I took Tuesday off from work.

Five-day weekend!

I have plans. Plans to muck out my condo and give away two-thirds of my belongings. Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I really want to downsize. So clothes and stuff will go to Goodwill and the Salvation Army. Crap will go in the trash.

Yarn? Any stash yarn that I know I will not use in the near future will be set aside. I’ve got an idea for a way to send my stash out into the world in a coupla-three months. Like, starting the end of November.

Okay, I’ve put it in writing. So that means I realy do have to buckle down and muck out this weekend. But I’ll take plenty of knitting breaks.

And of course, Lucy breaks. But I know she’ll be right beside me — pitching in to help. She’s such a li’l trooper.

Stockinette or Reverse Stockinette?

UPDATE: There was an error in the Fir Cone Lace chart (rows 9, 11, 13, & 15) in the Fir Cone Wrap pattern I put up a couple of days ago. I’ve corrected it and uploaded a new pdf (with today’s date on it). Profuse apologies, and “profuser” thanks to Chris for catching the error!

An interesting comment from Alisa:
Out of curiosity, why did you choose to do the jacket with reverse stockinette on the outside rather than on the inside? I must admit to having a personal aversion to the look of reverse stockinette in variegated yarns, and was wondering what, stylistically, you were aiming for.

The simple answer is that I like this yarn knitted in reverse stockinette stitch. While I think the stockinette is pretty, I think the reverse stockinette side is gorgeous.

I don’t like most handpaints in reverse stockinette, particularly if they stripe. Then it just looks like the wrong side of the work. But this handpaint is very subtle, I think, and the purl bumps give it an interesting texture.

Just a matter of different people liking different things, I guess. If we all liked the same stuff the world would be a dull place indeed.

Just out of curiosity, what do you think?

Stockinette?

stockinette083006 Stockinette or Reverse Stockinette?

Or Reverse Stockinette?

reverse083006 Stockinette or Reverse Stockinette?

Leave your answer in the comments. Don’t worry about offending me — if you think the reverse stockinette looks like crap, say so. icon smile Stockinette or Reverse Stockinette?

(I tried to set up a poll, but my favorite blog poll site seems to be experiencing technical difficulties so . . . )

Sock Yarn! Sock Yarn! Sock Yarn!

My friend L-B and I did a sight-unseen sock yarn swap and I received my yarn from her yesterday.

sockyarn082906 Stockinette or Reverse Stockinette?

This is dk weight superwash wool from Holly Spring Homespun — Kathy’s new Scarlet Fleece line of handpainted yarn. The colors are “Raspberry & Kiwi” and “Olives & Pimientos.” Each 3.2 ounce skein has 230 yards, so I have enough for two pairs of knee-socks. (One skein will make a pair of shorter socks.)

So I of course cast on for a sock.

sock083006 Stockinette or Reverse Stockinette?

It goes much faster knitting 5.5 stitches to the inch than 8 stitches to the inch. Duh. I’m using 3.25mm needles.

I knit a little gauge swatch and calculated my starting number of stitches based on my foot circumference. I measured my leg circumference in three places, and figgered out increases to accomodate the calf shaping. So we’ll see how all that turns out.

The Olives & Pimientos looks very autumnal to me, so I started with that. I’m ready for autumn.

Lucy’s Beauty Tips

Lucy says thank-you to Suzanne for noticing how well-groomed she is. Lucy gets brushed two to three times a week. We start with a Zoom Groom, and finish up with a wire brush. She loves the Zoom Groom. The wire brush not so much. But she adores the attention so is always happy to be brushed.

lucy083006 Stockinette or Reverse Stockinette?

Ragdolls have medium-length non-matting fur, so her coat is surprisingly low-maintenance. Since she came to live with me, she’s never had a mat or tangle in her fur. When I first got her, her coat had not been properly maintained, but I still only had to cut one or two small mats out of her fur to begin with.

She’s just a natural beauty. icon smile Stockinette or Reverse Stockinette?

Buttons, Blocking Wires, a Free Pattern, and Socks

Wow! Thank you for all the great resources for buttons you all left in the comments for me. It amazes me that I hadn’t stumbled across most of them in my quest for the perfect button. A few of them I knew about, but the majority were new to me.

If you are in need of buttons, check out yesterday’s comments — there is a wealth of resources there.

I ordered some buttons based on recommendations for sources, and will have a button-off when the time comes to choose one.

So . . . what exactly is the button for?

I’m knitting a kimono jacket from aran weight tussah silk, handpainted by that dye genius Jennifer, of Spirit Trail Fiberworks.

silk082906 Buttons, Blocking Wires, a Free Pattern, and Socks

(It photographs bluer than it actually is.)

The yarn has actually been marinating in my stash for a while, waiting for me to find the perfect use for it. One of my favorite article of clothing is a silk kimono jacket (by Chico’s) that looks fabulous over a plain tank dress.

chicos082906 Buttons, Blocking Wires, a Free Pattern, and Socks

So it occurred to me to try to duplicate the jacket in knitting. Fairly easy to do, as the construction of the jacket is pretty simple.

I’ve got the back done.

kimono082906 Buttons, Blocking Wires, a Free Pattern, and Socks

The bottom border is seed stitch, and the body is reverse stockinette stitch. While the yarn label recommends a gauge of 18 – 20 stitches to 4 inches, I’m knitting it to a gauge of 16 stitches to 4 inches (on a 5mm needle) because I want the fabric slightly looser and drapier.

Blocking Wires

blockingwires082906 Buttons, Blocking Wires, a Free Pattern, and Socks

A few questions in the comments about blocking wires. They are long thin slightly flexible steel wires that you thread through the straight edges of your knitting and pin in place while blocking. By using wires, you ensure that your straight edges are straight, and you don’t have the little points in your blocked piece that you would have if you just pinned it out. Very hand things!

I have two sets of them. Both acquired ages ago. I have several different thicknesses of wires — very handy. You’d want to use the finest wires for very fine laceweight.

I’m afraid I can’t quite recall where I bought my wires, as it’s been a number of years since I got them, but if you google “blocking wires” you’ll find a number of sources, including Knitpicks.

And as PennyT pointed out in the comments:
As for blocking wires, I read somewhere that stainless steel welding wire works perfectly and is much less expensive than the ones designated for blocking. So I bought some and used them last week on the Icarus shawl. They worked perfectly.

Speaking of blocking . . . I’ve uploaded the free pattern for the Fir Cone Wrap. You can dowload the pdf file here. It is linked to from my main knitting page as well, in the “free patterns” section. Enjoy it in good health. icon smile Buttons, Blocking Wires, a Free Pattern, and Socks

Oh, I almost forgot — I finished the Cherry Tree Hill Potluck blues/purples socks.

socks082906 Buttons, Blocking Wires, a Free Pattern, and Socks

Alert the media.

lucy082906 Buttons, Blocking Wires, a Free Pattern, and Socks

Fir Cone Wrap

Thank you so much for all the nice comments about the Fir Cone Wrap!

This morning at “holy-crap-it’s-early o’clock” I unpinned it, pulled out the blocking wires, and released the Fir Cone Wrap from its bondage.

Here it is, being ably modeled by the lovely Gwendolyn.

fircone082806 Fir Cone Wrap

I am extremely pleased with how this turned out. It’s always something of a crap-shoot knitting lace in a variegated yarn, but the simple all-over pattern seems to be just the ticket for this colorway.

fircone082806a Fir Cone Wrap

The measurements pre-blocking were 18″ by 56″ and after blocking it grew to 25″ by 66″ — just about perfect for me. I like rectangular shawls to be about as long as I am tall, and I am 65″ tall, so this worked out well.

The Sea Silk blocked beautifully. I soaked it briefly in warm water with Eucalan, then gently squeezed out as much water as possible. I used blocking wires held in place with pins and blocked not too severely. Silk doesn’t have the stretch that wool does, so it didn’t block out as large as it might have if I’d made it with wool. I left it pinned out for about 16 hours. It was bone-dry when I unpinned it, and I was pleased to see that as I pulled the pins out, it didn’t bounce back to a smaller size.

To recap, this wrap was knitted from Handmaiden Sea Silk in the “Paris” colorway, on 3.75mm needles.

I’m putting the finishing touches on the pattern, and I’ll post it as a freebie tomorrow.

I have to say, Lucy was extremely “paws-on” all during the blocking process. As soon as I put the wet shawl down on the carpet, she had flung her furry little body on it. As I was threading the blocking wires through the edges, she was helpfully batting the other end of the wires. And as I pinned the wires in place, she was head-butting my hand.

In short, I couldn’t have done it without her.

lucy082806 Fir Cone Wrap

Shawls for Beginners

Michelle asked me for recommendations for first shawls and yarns to use.

I think a good shawl for a lace newbie is one that doesn’t have a lot of complicated construction, like knitting on an edgiing after completing the body. So, the pattern for the Fir Cone Wrap will be a good one — the edges are simply garter stitch, knitted as you go. Other good beginner shawls are the Leaf Lace and Flower Basket Shawls, both by the extremely talented Evelyn Clark.

As for yarns . . .

For a first attempt, something heavier than laceweight. One of the nice things about the Evelyn Clark shawls I mention above is that they are written for several different weights of yarn.

If you are unwilling to make a shawl in a heavier yarn because you really want something light and airy, just go up to fingering weight. I’ve knitted a number of shawls from fingering weight wool, and they are beautifully light and airy. The Sea Silk I used for my Fir Cone Wrap is, I think, closer to fingering than laceweight.

Looking For One Perfect Button

And it doesn’t have to be the fifth element.

Okay, peeps, I’ve googled my fingers to the bone. I’m looking for a button. A button that’s 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter, to use in conjunction with a loop as the single button closure for a knitted jacket. The fabric of the jacket is handpainted purple/lavender/blue tussah silk:

silk082806 Fir Cone Wrap

I’d love something handmade, or something antique. In my mind’s eye, I see and irregularly-shaped purple shell button, or a one-of-a-kind glass button. Alternatively, an antique filigree or engraved silver button.

I’ve spent a fair amount of valuable knitting time searching for such a button, to no avail. I’ve searched eBay, and a bunch of button sources.

Do any of you know of a source for uber-cool one-of-a-kind buttons? Or do you happen to make one-of-a-kind uber-cool buttons? If so, leave me a comment!

Sunday Afternoon in Photos

Fir Cone Wrap, pre-blocking:

fircone082706 Sunday Afternoon in Photos

My little helper blocking the wrap:

fircone082706a Sunday Afternoon in Photos

Blocking:

fircone082706b Sunday Afternoon in Photos

Close-up:

fircone082706c Sunday Afternoon in Photos

Closer-up:

fircone082706d Sunday Afternoon in Photos

Yarn left over:

fircone082706e Sunday Afternoon in Photos

Tuckered out little helper:

lucy082706 Sunday Afternoon in Photos

I’ll give some project details tomorrow and post the pattern within a couple of days. icon smile Sunday Afternoon in Photos