Tag Archives: pointe covers

Modern Technology Has Ruined My Life

Right now, I don’t have internet at my apartment, my laptop keyboard is broken, and my phone isn’t playing nice with WordPress. I’m typing this on a USB keyboard hooked up to my laptop, and I’ll post it later this afternoon when I’m at the studio. I’m hoping that it’s just the keyboard, because that’s a relatively cheap fix, but it could very well be something more expensive. In other news, I’m tired of Hazel already, to the point of giving up on my fuzzy pants, and thinking that my pointe covers are silly and pointless.

Hazel is awkward with the double knitting and all of the stockinette, simple ribbing, and increases. It just doesn’t have an interesting, predictable pattern to it. Figuring out the progression of the stitches and being able to predict what comes next is one of the better parts of knitting for me. I’ll go so far as to alter patterns so that they have a more logical progression, but I can’t do that with Hazel. The pattern is pretty well put together (there are a couple of unusual typos/errors in the pattern that haven’t been resolved in the errata yet) and I don’t want to mess with it. She’s a very good facsimile of a living creature, and any changes to make her more logical or interesting to me would change that.

I’ve set Hazel aside for a little while now, so that I can come back to it with a fresh perspective in a couple of weeks. As for the fuzzy pants, I tried picking them up again, but I’m so used to my new style of knitting that going back to my old throwing technique seems way too slow. I’m afraid that switching to my new method will change my gauge, so I’m just putting it off. The pointe covers are just making me grumpy for unknown reasons. It might have to do with the repetitive mock-cable pattern, or the fact that I’m scared of turning a sock heel, but whatever it is, I’m giving them a rest until we head into full cast run-throughs of Coppelia. Full-cast means that there will be many small children running around, and I don’t have a huge amount of actual stage time. The corps dancers have to stand onstage for pretty much the entire production, but I have a solid chunk of dancing and then I get to hang out in the wings or backstage waiting for my next entrance. During the run-throughs where everyone is getting used to the show order and talking through the blocking (i.e. herding small children), I’ll have some time to knit.

In the meantime, I cast on for Courtney Kelley’s Bramble Beret from “Vintage Modern Knits.” It’s the perfect cure for my Hazel-and-the-pointe-covers-are-boring ailment, since the cables, moss stitch, and bobbles all come together in a very nice, logical, and mildly complicated way. Also, it means that I’m finally knitting my beret.

As far as apartment organization goes, I now have a bookcase ready for assembly and bookends with which to organize my books on my new bookcase. The problem is that I need floorspace to assemble the bookcase, and I need the bookcase to clear the floor of books. I’ll probably resort to stacking the books precariously on my desk chair, but you have to admit that this is a funny little catch-22. I do have some over-the-door organizers that are currently holding dance tights and various pairs of dance shoes and shoe accessories. I also found several pairs of nasty old ballet shoes and toe pads that I ended up throwing out, and the total effect is that my bins of dance stuff are much easier to deal with now. On top of this, by organizing my tights, I spend much less time finding the right pair, and I was finally able to spread my leotards out enough that I can see them all in the drawer. It’s a miracle!

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Heavy Package From Knit Picks

It was the books.  Those lovely, lovely books.

First, Knitted Lace of Estonia, by Nancy Bush, was a delightful surprise. I usually buy books that I’ve checked out from the library or obsessively researched, but I wanted this book after seeing some of the patterns on Ravelry. I trusted that with Nancy Bush as the author, and Interweave Press publishing it, it would be a good book. When I actually looked through it, I got to discover the wonderful first section, with information on the origin of Haapsalu shawls, complete with plenty of photographs. Then came the patterns, beautifully photographed, charted, and with notes on construction. Finally, and perhaps the best surprise for me, was a section of traditional stitch motifs, photographed and charted, sourced from old publications or simply learned from the Haapsalu knitters themselves.

Then, The Knitter’s Book of Yarn and The Knitter’s Book of Wool, both by Clara Parkes. They’re just as wonderful as I remember from when I checked them out from the library in December.

The Knit Picks Stroll sock yarn is great, too. This is the same yarn that I’m using for my fuzzy pants, and I’ve been pleased at how it knits up, so I decided to go for that same superwash merino and nylon blend for a hard-wearing baby toy. I’ll knit it up on some US 0 needles, which is smaller than the US 1-3 range that is recommended, and gives a thick, relatively stiff fabric. It will hopefully help to keep the shape of Hazel the Humpback Whale. The Midnight Heather colorway is a lot more green/teal than it appears on my computer screen, but I think I like it. It does correspond with Knit Picks’ description of “an intense dark blue color with black undertones […] with the flecks of blues and blue greens that add visual interest.” The teal flecks make me think of light filtering through ocean water.

For comparison, this is, from left to right, Patons Lace Sequin in Aquamarine, Knit Picks Stroll in Midnight Heather, and Knit Picks Stroll in Black:

The Dove Heather shade that I chose for Hazel’s markings is a bit more creamy than I had thought, but I think it will still look lovely as an accent color. It’s a creamy, almost pale oatmeal base color with tiny strands of black and gray thrown in. Knit Picks uses the word “slate” to describe it, but I’d say it’s much less blue than that implies. Still, don’t the colors look nice and whale-y together?

Now, I’m off to chart Hazel and get some more done on my slowly-but-surely progressing fuzzy pants (which now have more than 10,500 stitches) and pointe covers.

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Progress! Then Frogging! Then Progress(ish)!

Progress on the pointe covers has been all right.

Progress on the hair baubles has been equally exciting.  (Or not.  It depends on how much you love bright colors and novelty yarns and crochet.  I don’t really, but I went through an eyelash yarn phase in high school and the balls have been sitting in my stash for nearly a decade now, so I figure I’d better use them, and they look cute as hair thingies.)

My little yarn cakes are squishy and adorable, too.

I also cast on for the narrow ribbing at the bottom of the legs.  And, yes, they’re on size 0 needles, and, yes, I’m totally insane, and, yes, it’s going to take forever.  I like knitting on small needles (this will change to a US 1 for the legs and a US 2 for the skirt/waistband) and I have several long plane trips scheduled in the coming year, so I’ll have hours of uninterrupted airplane and airport time.  I’m also under the impression that smaller needles are easier to get through airport security.

That being said, casting on with these tiny needles is a pain in the butt, and I’ve already done it twice.  The first time, I cast on and went to knit the first row when I realized that I hadn’t carried the reinforcing nylon along with the yarn.  Seeing as that edge is the one that falls apart first on this type of pant, I decided to rip it out.  The second time, I cast on, knit two rows, and on the third row realized that I’d cast on the wrong number of stitches on one of the pieces.  I’d counted those stitches three times, and I still ended up with the wrong number.

There are 72 stitches on the right needle here, and 71 on the left.  I’m proud to say that there was no swearing when I discovered this.  I just calmly set it down and went to pet my sewing machine for a while (because it soothes me).  Then, I cast on and knit the heel patches, finished them last night, and I felted them with the laundry that I did today.  Now I have to decide between knitting from the waist down, picking up from the heel patches, and casting on those same 71 stitches again.  Twice.  In theory I know that casting on for the waist means that I’ll be casting on more stitches, but at least I won’t be counting to 71 again.

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What Is Woolly Nylon?

For my fuzzy pants, I wanted a strong, warm knit fabric.  I’m using a 75% washable wool, 25% nylon sock yarn, Knit Picks Stroll Sock Yarn, but, especially with the washable wool, I wanted to add a bit of extra strength and shape retention.  The swatches I knit stretched a bit when washed and hung to dry.

I’d read of woolly nylon, and when I asked at my LYS, everyone said that it was a good idea but they didn’t carry it, so I ordered some from JoAnn.  I was a little skeptical, mainly because I didn’t quite know what it was and couldn’t find any pictures of what it looked like off the tightly-wound spool.  But here it is:

Before I cut open the plastic cover on the cone, I still wasn’t sure, but the second I pulled the tail loose, I knew that I’d seen this stuff before.  It looks like the same kind of nylon that’s used in the microfiber tights that I wear for ballet, and, let me tell you, that stuff is strong.  I have some pairs of tights that I’ve been wearing once every week or two for the past 5 years. I can’t wait to see how it holds up in conjunction with the yarn.  It’s relatively stretchy, and I think it should provide what I want without cutting into the wool.

For size comparison, here’s the spool of 1000 m of woolly nylon next to the two most common sized Coats and Clark thread spools:

And, just for the sake of keeping me going, here is a gratuitous shot of the progress on my knit boots:

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Knitting in the Round on Two Circular Needles

I haven’t gotten much done with my knit boots, but I can safely say that I’ve knit at least a bit on them every day since I’ve cast on, so they’re progressing, if slowly.  I’m liking the mock cable pattern because it’s simple and pretty.  I have made a couple of discoveries about the ins and outs of knitting two items at once on two circular needles.

Remember that when knitting on two circulars, you knit with only one needle at a time.  Leave the other needle hanging at the back of your work.

The first discovery is that, in order to prevent ladders, it’s easiest to move the back needle so that all stitches are on the cable for the very first stitch on the front needle.  That way, a light tug is all that’s needed to tighten up the tension.  (It’s also worth it to note that I knit with the yarn held in my right hand, which is taking the picture here, so the yarn is just hanging.)

My second discovery is that, even when the last stitch on the needle is a purl stitch, it prevents tangling to take the yarn to the back of the needle, like you would when preparing for a knit stitch.  Here the last stitch is a purl, so the yarn ends up in front.

However, I moved it to the back before continuing, so it’s coming out the top of the work and heading straight to the ball.

When I get to the end of this row and turn the work, it looks like this:

If the yarn were going under the front needle cable here, when I went to knit the first stitch on the left piece, I’d have to move it to the back.  Then it would be going through the middle of the loop created by my front needle.  It’s possible to knit like this (and I’ve done it a couple of times already on this project) but it’s a little trickier to keep tension because the yarn can rub and pull against the work hanging down from the needles.  At the ends of the needles, when you’re turning the work, you don’t really have to worry about this, since the yarn is more free there.

My woolly nylon should show up tomorrow, so my next dilemma is whether or not to cast on for the fuzzy pants then.  If I keep knitting at least a bit on the boots every day, it’s less likely that they’ll end up in the bottomless pit of unfinished projects, and they’re a better size for airplane knitting than the pants, so I can get a lot done on them while I’m on my way to my parents’ house for Christmas.

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How Two Circular Needles Changed My Life

When I first learned how to knit in the round, it was on a set of four aluminum double points that my great grandmother had.  I hated it.  I kept on poking myself in the wrists or in my stomach when I tried to rest my arms, and my ladders were epic.  Granny told me to give the yarn a little tug when I was doing the first stitch on each needle, but there were still ladders.  To this day, I hate double points.  I can handle them now, since my gauge has both loosened up and evened out, but I still poke myself when I’m not paying attention, and I still get the hint of a ladder.

Six years ago, I decided to knit myself a pair of gloves.  I’d knit mittens before, but they were always knit flat and then seamed up the outside edge, if they were finished at all.  The intended gloves never came to be, because after I’d divided the stitches into fingers I discovered that my hand proportions are all off and nothing was going to fit, but I did discover that the magic loop was a clearly better method than the dreaded double points.  Shortly after that, I knit myself a pair of mittens using the magic loop and some black yarn that I had on hand.  They were loosely based on a pair that my mom’s cousin had knit for her in college and which had never fit me because they were small on my mom’s tiny, dainty hands and I have gigantic, manly hands.

Then I was using the magic loop for everything.  This was the era of not finishing anything, so there isn’t much to show for it, but I did get pretty good at wrangling those needle cables into the proper shape.  I recognized that I was suffering from second mitten syndrome, so I tried to knit two mittens at once using the magic loop.  It was an epic failure.  The ladders made a comeback in a big way, my gauge tightened up like crazy, and the project got abandoned for all eternity to the black hole that is my under-bed zippered storage thingy (aka the cover that come on my mattress pad).

For my pointe shoe covers, I did some research and decided that knitting two at a time on two circulars would be the option for me.  (Credit goes to Sheron Goldin’s 2 Socks on 2 Circulars for the method that I used to cast on.) After checking out the technique on an ancient, stiff-cabled circular from Granny’s collection and a Knit Picks needle whose cable keeps popping out, I decided that it was worth it to buy two Addi Turbos, both US 8, in 24″ and 32″.  (I love Addi Turbo needles.  I love them especially now that they’ve changed to the more flexible blue cables.)  I made a variety of swatches in a variety of cable patterns, and cast on this morning using a 2×2 rib with a mock cable in each rib every 4 rows.  It’s the simplest of all the patterns I tried out, but for trying a new technique, I think that might be the best idea.

I also wound my gigantic skein of Caron One Pound into two yarn cakes, put them in a plastic bag with the top tied off, and cut holes for the yarn to go through.  The best part of this is that I can pick up the bag and haul it around without worrying about the yarn getting twisted and tangled near the balls, and the yarn cakes lie flat so the bag doesn’t roll around.

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Organizing Swatches and Knitting Boots

I knit tiny swatches.  They’re usually about 2″ square.  I’ve just never bought into the idea that you need a 4″ or 6″ square to check gauge accurately.  Maybe it’s just that I’m cheap, but I’ve never had any problems checking gauge and stitch patterns over 1.5″ and then converting.  Sometimes, I don’t even check the gauge at all, since I’m always so close to the listed gauge for every yarn, and it just doesn’t matter that much for some things.  Of course, this leaves me with lots of little squares of knit fabric that got lost in my stash with astonishing regularity, and were always unlabeled.  Enter the index cards.

A 3×5 card is the perfect size to hold one of my little swatches (or 2, if I’m testing a couple of different stitch patterns) and my notes on what yarn it is, what needles I knit the swatch(es) on, and what the measured gauge is.  I can even paper clip the ball band to the card when I finish the ball.  Then they get stacked together and tossed in a box, where I can flip through them whenever I need to look up care instructions or check what the original gauge was.

I just cut a 1.5″ square piece of muslin or other scrap fabric and staple it to the top of the card.  I make my notes, and pin the swatch to the muslin.  This way, I can remove the swatch whenever I need to examine it more closely.  For things that I don’t swatch, I still note the gauge that the finished item ended up with, and I pin on the trimmings after I weave in the ends.

It’s working pretty well so far.  I’m going to need to pick up more index card boxes eventually, because the swatches and paper clipped bands are thick, and I need to figure out how I’m going to organize things.  Should I order them alphabetically by yarn manufacturer?  By yarn weight or gauge?  By color, fiber, date, or how much yarn remains?

Regardless of that, my latest consideration is my pointe shoe covers.  I’m putting the pattern together like a top down sock, but I’ve never knit a sock before.  I don’t know how I managed to knit for 16 years of my life and never even cast on for a sock, but that’s how it goes.  I bought some worsted weight Wool of the Andes from Knit Picks, and the gauge, of course, works out exactly as it’s supposed to on the recommended needles, but now I’m afraid that I don’t have enough.  With that in mind, and considering the fact that I’ve never encountered a heel gusset before and I haven’t done short rows in several years, I’m going to knit up a test pair in some Caron One Pound cheap acrylic.  The swatch for that, on a smaller needle to get a tighter fabric, is on the far left in the photo above.

I’m making them large, with no calf shaping, so they’re bulky and warm over the ankles and can fit over my pointe shoes.  I’m looking at cable panels for the front and back of the boot, and some intricate cabling to go down the side and split half to the instep and half to the heel flap.  I’m just glad that with this yarn cabling without a needle isn’t a problem!  My Cornflower Cowl was an exercise in patience with the slippery yarn on fast Addi Turbos.

My fuzzy pants are on hold until I get a JoAnn shipment with some woolly nylon.

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