March 25, 2008

Knitting: Stockinette Cardigan

I have continued working on a plain stockinette stitch cardigan from Cast-On magazine that I started early in the winter. It is a seamed piece done in straightforward k1p1 ribbing and stockinette stitch. I have completed the back and left front panel. Now I have just started the right front panel (and have gotten about 2 rows done but I confess I was sucked in by Dancing with the Stars which does not lend itself to fiber arts as you must stare at the screen to pass judgment).

As I have worked on it, I realize how much easier this piece would probably be to do in the round. Well, you couldn't do it in the round because it is a cardigan, but you could knit the body in a single seamless piece using circular needles and avoid the seaming business. I am terribly anti-seaming. However, I have already made a lot of progress so I will follow it through to completion. Because it is in stockinette stitch, is not too interesting once you understand what you are doing, but it goes FAST.

Working on it reminds me that I have a goal to do an Alice Starmore sweater. I have two of her books, including the much coveted Aran Sweater, but have not yet got up the nerve to start one. They require DK or thinner yarn and are extremely complex, so a bit overwhelming. I always tell myself I have too many UFOs to start a new project and thus put Starmore off a little longer. However, if I can finish the Russian Coat, the Stockinette Cardigan and an Aran hoodie I have been working on, I'll be ready to go.

Turnberry Ridge: Tent Stitch

I have progressed on Turnberry Ridge to the tent stitch (aka basketweave) in the middle of the piece. At first, this was a very interesting endeavor as a seemingly simple stitch is quite complex in execution, mostly from a planning standpoint. I was very cautious in starting and fortunately have not seen any canvas warping that apparently can come with tent stitch even when correctly done.

However, I have found, now that I have the basics down, that it is a pretty boring stitch to me. I greatly admire people who can do entire canvases in tent stitch because I. Would. Go. Insane. As a result, I've been focusing on knitting more than needlepoint recently, I think. I need to buckle down and get through it, as it looks like the following stitches are going to be really fun.

February 27, 2008

Turnberry Ridge: Four-Way Continental

I finished the Four-Way Continental around the inner diamond of Turnberry Ridge. Although I started out using a vertical orientation for stitching, I moved to a horizontal one, as I found it much easier to manage against all the diagonals and stepping eyelet stitches. It looks good and I finally got the hang of managing the tension of Fiesta -- I don't have any actual lessons to impart there other than to be firm yet gentle. Helpful, eh?

The next stitch I am working on is framing the eyelets. I believe it is a back stitch. The stitching guide provides for fully framing each eyelet in a square before moving on to the next one, but I found that that involved a lot of carrying of thread across the back of the work (through the gobelins, an overworked row of stitches if there ever was one). Instead, I've modified the instructions to do the back stitches down a cascading step, framing two sides of each eyelet on the way down. Once I've completed on cascade, I start at the middle left and do the stitches down the other sides of the eyelets, making them completely framed. I am still able to follow the stitching guide, just in longer lines of stitches without any carrying of thread. Since this is also in Fiesta, it is very helpful for managing the tension, as I think every time I have to carry it, it slips somewhat.

I am only a quarter done with the eyelet framing. I am very anxious to make progress, as I received the first batch of Jim Wurth's Dodecahedron kits and am dying to start those too!

February 23, 2008

Russian Coat: The Big Error

For the Russian Coat, I am almost done with one of the underarm diamonds in Peruvia. It's gone very easily, I am quite used to the pattern and can dash each section off pretty quickly. With only two repeats of the pattern, also, the diamonds are a snap.

I did discover a huge error which I cannot describe too well here. Basically, when I started each side of the bodice, I did a triangle in Peruvia, than began the first hexagon with Jasper. When that hexagon is finished, I started the next hexagon by picking up along the edge of the first one. WELL, on one side of the bodice, I discovered that I picked up stitches for the second hexagon on the wrong side of the hexagon. This makes it impossible for me to pick up the stitches for the Peruvia diamond. D'oh!

However, I have determined I can fix this problem by cutting off and unraveling the very first Peruvia diamond. Then I'll pick up stitches on the correct edge of the first hexagon in order to rebalance the entire piece. This should work but hurts me, what a terrible error I made so early on and did not notice until now. It really kills momentum. However, I am very relieved that the fix is entirely doable and I don't have to frog the entire piece. Ouch.

Turnberry Ridge: Eyelets, Part 2

I have completed the eyelets portion of Turnberry Ridge and moved onto the four-way continental just outside the center diamond. Jean put a lot of helpful information of things to avoid when doing eyelets in her book. Did I read this information? Yes. Did I actually heed it? No. I am both blessed and cursed by the need to actually make mistakes on my own in order to learn. For some reason, I guess I sometimes unconsciously think I will beat nature when it comes to rules.

The particular problems I had were with the size of the eyelet hole. I was supposed to stop and enlarge the hole while part-way through the stitch in order to assure it stays a good size. I did not do this. By the time I really understood I needed to do this, it would have caused the piece to look lopsided (some holes small, some large). So I learned the lesson but did not really apply it to this piece. Luckily it still looks good.

The other error I made was not paying attention to the direction of the thread when carrying it across the gobelins to the next stitch. This ends up being important because if you carry the thread in the wrong direction, it can end up stretched across the eyelet hole. Fortunately, I only made this mistake one time and it is not very noticeable at all.

The four-way continental I am really enjoying. I am not sure the back of the work looks as good as it is supposed to in terms of stitch placement but I am gaining consistency. The one thing I have learned is that Fiesta! is a very slippery thread, more so than any I have worked with up until this point (perhaps not quite as slippery as Neon Rays). When burying the ends I have to really make sure I turn it a few times while weaving it in. I hope that the one I didn't bury that well hangs in there!

February 16, 2008

Turnberry Ridge: Eyelets

I have been working on Turnberry Ridge and I have to confess -- I have deviated from the stitch order presented in the booklet. I skipped two of the corner triangles done in Neon Rays for two reasons:

- I love the look of Neon Rays but was getting frustrated working with it. I decided to move on to something I felt I could be more successful with to rebuild my confidence and then go back.
- The two remaining triangle patterns are not as appealing to me. Granted, I can substitute patterns in here, but I really want to experience all the stitches in the project.

Instead I have been working the eyelet stitches. These stitches use a very light-hued, lightweight thread but still standout quite well (although not so much from a distance). I thought they would be a snap but since each one is made up of about 12 sub-stitches, it actually takes quite awhile (and quite a few lengths of thread).

I am not quite done with them but my next effort will probably be to weave in the ends from all my away knots. I usually let them build up quite a bit -- unless they are very dark colored threads) in the hopes they will gradually get buried as I work further. Sometimes this works out but normally it does not.

Russian Coat: Progress!

I have finished the last trapezoid on the back of the Russian Coat. Next I will start on the diamonds on the sleeves which ought to go pretty fast. I am not looking forward to the long part of the back -- it requires casting on hundreds of stitches .. hundreds!