Tag Archives: tights

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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Distracted Knitter, Bad Sewer

Seamstress?  Sewist?  Whatever it is, the apartment is nowhere near clean enough to cut fabric in, and my Denver Fabrics order is supposed to show up tomorrow.  It’s going to be so sad to get a big box of wool and not be able to do anything with it.

The thing is, I’ve been spending too much time trying out my new knitting style.  I’m still knitting some on my fuzzy pants every evening, but I’m in love with my new way of holding yarn, so I’ve been knitting and ripping little scrap-yarn swatches over and over.  I know it’s pointless, but it’s addicting.  I’ve started to think that I need a new knitting project for all of that excess energy.  New knitting projects don’t require a clean apartment what with balls of yarn being more compact and portable than large pieces of heavy fabric that needs to be pre-washed, carefully dried, ironed or steamed, laid out, marked, cut, and basted before anything really useful happens.

You may recall that one of my current projects is a pair of mock-cabled pointe shoe covers to use as warm ups at dance.  I had bought some Knit Picks Wool of the Andes for them. When it arrived, it seemed strange that I should have so little yarn for such a big project. I then figured out what went wrong: I scrupulously calculated the necessary yardage based on a rough calculation of the gauge that I’d be using and the surface area of the completed project, but I forgot to account for the fact that I, apparently, have two feet.

(I find myself compelled to mention here that I have a degree in mathematics.  I had several very good and entertaining professors, but one of the most memorable moments was when Professor C. walked into class early and heard someone complaining about how this math course was so much harder than previous ones.  Professor C. responded, “This is not math.  Calculus?  Differential equations?  That was math.  This is mathematics.”  So here I say, I’m pretty good with mathematics.  But with math?  Not so much.)

Now, having realized this serious error in the math, I think I should use my pretty purple wool for something else.  I’m considering a beret and a pair of gloves.  I really like the Ashwyn Beret and Meret for lacy options, and the cables on Nine Dwindling Cables, Laurel, and Brambles are very pretty. Then again, the color would look nice with my Cornflower Cowl so I might do some skinny cables like those. Whatever I do, I’ll either be finding or making a matching glove pattern. I’m bad at making decisions. Feel free to tell me what to do or offer more pattern options.

(Also, am I the only one who feels like a creepy stalker type when I comment on another person’s blog?  It’s like offering unsolicited advice to a stranger on the street, but from even further away, which is somehow worse.  “Oh, hello.  I just reached through the internet to spy on you and comment on your life.  Have a nice day!”  Conversely, I love it when I get comments from random people whom I’ve never met before.  Maybe I’m just too socially awkward for this whole interacting-with-other-people thing.)

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Pants Progress, Books, and Baby Toys

My fuzzy pants are now a whopping 3.5″ in length.  Now, you’ll say, “But how did you manage to accomplish so much when you have so many other things going on right now?”  I know, it’s impressive.

On a serious note, or to make myself feel better about things, I feel the need to point out that these things are now 53 rows long so they do have nearly 10,000 stitches in them so far.  The Fisherman’s Rib that I’m using has all knit stitches taken in the stitch below, so it gathers up in length as you go.  It makes for a very thick, fluffy, and warm fabric, but it takes for-freaking-ever.  I’ve known this pattern for so long that I can’t remember learning it, which probably means that it’s one that Granny taught me before I was 10 years old.

Fisherman’s Rib:
For a fabric with a 1 st wide selvage, cast on an odd number of stitches 1-2 more than needed for gauge.
Prep row (wrong side):  P2, *K1, P1* to last stitch, P1
Row 1: K1, *K1 through the lower loop, P1* to last two stitches, K1 through the lower loop, K1
Row 2: P2, *K1 through the lower loop, P1* to last stitch, P1
Repeat rows 1 and 2 until desired length is reached.

Without a selvage, this stitch pattern looks the same on both sides except for the prep row, so it’s great for fold-over cuffs, etc.  I like the long tail cast on for this since it works so nicely with the prep row’s initial and final purl stitches, and provides a stable but stretchy base for the rib.

In other news, Knit Picks has a sale going right now on books, so I picked up The Knitter’s Book of Yarn and The Knitter’s Book of Wool, both by Clara Parkes. I checked them out from the library a few weeks ago and decided that I need them in my collection. I can’t recommend them highly enough. The illustrations are wonderful (imagine line drawings of angora rabbits, alpacas, spinning equipment, fiber close-ups) and they’re full of pertinent information and photographs of different fibers and yarns. There’s even a pattern section with discussion on why each yarn was chosen for that particular pattern.

I also grabbed Knitted Lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush, because I’ve been coveting Queen Silvia or Crown Prince for several years now. I even have 2500 yards of 2-ply baby alpaca lace weight on hand.

The final piece of news is that I firmly decided on Hazel the Humpback Whale to knit for a friend’s baby due in late May, and I ordered some more Knit Picks Stroll in Midnight Heather and Dove Heather. Now to get past the idea of intarsia… This Ravelry project shows the lighter colors stiched over by hand, which I think sounds less painful that intarsia. (I really, really, really hate intarsia.) I’m also considering just using double knitting; it might make for a thicker, sturdier fabric, and I think the color work would be easier. The last time that I tried double knitting was more than a decade ago, but it turned out very nice.

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Compulsively Counting Rows

I don’t strictly need to count rows on my fuzzy pants.  The pattern that I put together for them is written in terms of “knit [stitch pattern] for [length],” but I’m just the kind of person who counts things.

I was the kid in the grocery store who had to step on each set of colored tiles an equal number of times with each foot.  I could step on the cracks and color changes, but I had to make sure that my other foot stepped on a similar piece of tiling, too, with each color lining up with the corresponding part of my foot.  I even went so far as to allow myself to walk normally through the store, but I had to even things out before we left, which made for some strange footwork on the way out the door.  I would chant to myself (in my head, of course) the patterns: One left half blue half white, one right blue, two left green, two right white.  I always kept track of everything, even when the list seemed impossibly long.

I also memorize numbers.  Phone numbers, credit card numbers, library card numbers, and the series of temperatures that the weatherman on TV says.  I can’t help it.  I actively tried to lessen this power in college, because it was creepy that I knew my roommate’s and several random friends’ student ID numbers, and now I only remember numbers when I actively try.  I succeeded in turning off the part of my brain that copied down every number encountered without conscious effort on my part.

Unfortunately, this means that I no longer know without conscious effort what row of knitting I’m on.  I’ve actually resorted to writing things down now.  Which is ridiculous because, did I mention? I don’t have to count the rows on this pattern!  Why am I still counting?  Because I’m just the kind of person who counts things.

Obligatory (slow) progress photo:

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Doctor Who Marathons Breed Cowls and Fuzzy Pants

I knit up two last minute Christmas gifts in Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick using the very simple GAP-tastic Cowl Pattern from Ravelry. It’s not actually designed for this weight of Wool-Ease, but I cast on the recommended number of stitches and knit for the whole two skeins of yarn, and the cowls turned out huge and warm. Plus I was able to make both in two days, even with shopping and dance classes and family dinners and visits thrown in. I think working through the entire fifth season of the new Doctor Who with my parents helped.

(As a quick aside, that black and white table in the second photo is my great-grandmother’s enamel kitchen table where my grandmother and mother both learned how to make pie crust.)

I also made a good start on my fuzzy pants.  The fisherman’s rib pattern is super thick and fluffy, and progress is slow, but they’re getting easier now that I’m several rows away from the cast on edge.  The trick that I’ve found with the woolly nylon is that you have to pull out a good length of it with the yarn so the strands stick together and the tension doesn’t get uneven between the two strands that you’re knitting with.

I also pulled out the old sewing machine to stitch the elastics on a couple of pairs of ballet shoes (flats, not pointe shoes), picked up some purple felt for knitting needle cases, and made pie.

My next big project is to start thinking seriously about making a new wool coat to replace my L.L.Bean pea coat which is in its 11th winter right now. I love that wool coat. I’ve re-stitched the buttons several times, run it through the washing machine, shoved it in suitcases and dance bags, and worn it over both light layers and the hugest sweater known to man. I’d like to make something like it, since it’s such a flattering shape and fit, but I want something with a bit more neck coverage. I could just make a pattern from it, but McCall and Vogue patterns are both super on sale starting tomorrow at JoAnn, so I’ll probably pick up one or two new patterns and put something together using a combination of all the best attributes. I like McCall 5525 and Vogue 8346.

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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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