Posts Tagged ‘stranded’

The Story of Corrie

So, my Corrie Vest kit arrived back around September 13th. Only a couple of weeks before Coronation and before the Warrior Dash and Montpelier Fiber Festival weekend. I dove straight into knitting it, just going with it.

For whatever reason, stranded knitting goes extremely fast for me. I think it has more to do with keeping highly focused and the frequency with which the pattern changes, and less to do with the actual technique. I am much more likely to set a plain knitting project down for just about anything than I am to set down a fair isle project because I don’t want to get lost where I am in the pattern. Also, I am more likely to say “Just keep going until you change that left hand yarn.”

Closing in on Coronation, I was knitting a couple of hours per night, but the weekend of the event itself, I was barely able to knit at all. In the back of my mind was this fleeting fantasy that maybe the sweater could be done in time for me to wear it to Montpelier, but you have to understand that it seemed impossible at that point. I had steeks and short row shaping, and purling in pattern and 3 needle bind offs in my future, most of which I was completely unfamiliar with.

But I didn’t let go of the little idea in the back of my head.

So I knit. And knit. And knit. Fiendishly knit.

Tuesday night last week, another knitter looked at it and agreed with my assessment that completion by Sunday was exceedingly unlikely. But I kept knitting.

By Thursday, I had completed the body of the sweater and it was time to steek. I found my sharpest sewing scissors, my silk sewing thread, which I then quadrupled, and started backstitching along each side of my cuts. That took a good long while. Then, after pacing around, wringing my hands, forcing back a nervous tear or two, and 3 or 4 false starts, I made the very first snip. The world didn’t end. The sweater didn’t instantly unravel or turn to dust in my hands. So, I kept going.

Snip, snip, snip. One stitch at a time, one float at a time. Snip. Snip. Snip.
Steeked
When it was totally cut, I had a beer and didn’t look at it again until morning.

Friday was a desperately slow day at work, and I knew I was 90% of the way to home plate. With the race on Saturday morning and going to the State Fair on Saturday night, I knew Friday was my do-or-die day to finish the vest if I wanted to wear it to Montpelier on Sunday morning.

I picked up and knit the first armscye with my longest 2.75mm circular needle was which just too long and uncomfortable to knit with. The shorter, 24″ one was holding the live stitches on the neck line, so rather than go on to the second armscye like the instructions said, I went ahead and picked up and knit the neckline with the longer needle, freeing up the shorter one for the second armscye. Worked like a charm. I left work about half way done with the second armscye, and, probably to my family’s dismay, proceeded to knit through our lovely dinner at the Mexican restaurant, knit in the quickly darkening backseat, and cast off while we were waiting at the pharmacy for some medicines.

I broke the yarn in the dark in the car, and we came home from our evening out and I displayed my now finished sweater vest.

When I pulled it over my head and it fit perfectly, I could have cried.
Photobucket Photobucket
I wove in some ends while Grace was in the bath and while Byram was putting her in bed. The whole body is woven in, but I still have a lot of loose ends around the upper left armscye and the back of the neck. That was fine. I could wear it like that.

And I did. I wore it to the State Fair on Saturday night.
Its Under There
I wore it around the house.
Bemused
(Grace took the photo which partially accounts for my completely amused expression.)

And best of all, I wore it to Montpelier on Sunday morning.
Montpelier
One of the highest compliments I think a knitter can receive is to go to a fiber-centric festival and have people look at the knits you are wearing and then be shocked when you tell them that yes, indeed, you did handknit that vest. When seasoned knitters gasp with delight, you know you have done good work.

I wore it to work yesterday along with my Warrior Dash finisher’s medal. Almost no one at my office understood the importance or the pride I took in each of my hard-won accessories, but I knew.

This past weekend will go down as the most insane and wonderful weekends in my memory. In fact, the whole month of September 2011, will be firmly stuck in my memory as one of the most extreme months of my life, between beginning with an extended power outage, a wonderful family BBQ over Labor Day weekend, fun in the mud at Coronation, fun in the mud this past weekend, and lots of ups and downs in between. Onward now into October, my favorite month of the year usually, and I am particularly looking forward to a week off from work next week. I opted for a “stay-cation” to get my house in order and hopefully some personal time to recover from the insane summer and get my head and heart ready for the holidays to come.

Steek, Steek, It Rhymes With EEK!

A steek or steeking is a knitting technique originating from somewhere along the North Sea; the Fair Isles of Scotland or Norway depending on who you ask. I can see each region independently coming to the same conclusion given their tastes for beautiful stranded colorwork knits.

My definition of steek sounds like this: the process by which one tests the health of her heart against wool and sharpened steel.

Stranded or colorwork knitting is dramatically faster to knit for most knitters (me being chief among them) if you never have to purl. The only way to achieve this is to knit your garment completely in the round, and then go back later and make openings for the neck and armscyes. There is only one way to make an opening in knitted fabric.

That’s where the sharpened steel comes in. You have to cut your knitted tube of fabric.

(This is the part where all the knitters take a deep breath and brace themselves at the very thought of it, whether they have done it or not…)

Some of the most seasoned knitters (I always imagine them as hardened old ladies wearing 18th century style garb from Scotland) go forth and snip without any reinforcement; they have total faith in the power of sticky wool.

Most use some method to reinforce the stitches around the point where the cut will be made. I will be going with a hardcore zigzag stitch from my handy sewing machine. I am reading every article I can find about steeks to get myself ready.

I believe in the power of Eunny Jang and Wendy Johnson.

That is the 5-stitch steek insert for the neckline of the Corrie vest. That is one of three places I will soon be slicing through with scissors. The thought gives me a little frisson…

What’s my motto these days? Aut viam inveniam aut faciam.

I will find a way or I will make one.

Seems quite literal in the case of steeking.

It’s K N I T Spelled Backwards, You Know

I began my morning with the Corrie more than half-way through Chart 3, the main detailed band around the midsection of the vest. Here is a photo of where I ended last night:

Chart 3 is basically a mirror image of itself after the center blue detailed band that I finished last night. So I should just be using the contrasting color I was using before I switched to the bright blue in the center.

The question I am asking myself is WHY DIDN’T I???

Rather than the very dark Rainforest heather color, I picked up the bright green Grass color, and happily knitted 4 rows, identical to the ones that came before the blue detailed band, in ALL ways except for the color.

It wasn’t even close. Not close enough to fudge. Not close enough to think no one would notice. Not close enough to squint and pretend it was okay.

So why in the name of Merino did I fail to notice that until the 4 rows were done?????

Simple answer is probably because I am, in general, incompetent at this, with only rare moments of proficiency.

Tink, tink, tink.

(It’s knit spelled backwards, you know. Get it?)

First Look at Corrie


What do you think?

Sorry the photos are so dark. They have all so far been taken around 10 pm each night when I finally am too tired to go on any more.

I love photos of the wrong side of fair isle knitting. Can’t explain it.

A close up of the detail from Chart 1.

I am working right now on the detailed section of Chart 2, putting me at almost one third of the way up the body of this sweater vest now. My only real difficulties come with “deleting” pattern stitches out of the charts where I have decreased for waist shaping. That takes just a few moments of making sure you know exactly where your knitting is as opposed to what the chart says, but that isn’t too bad.

I did have to tink out two rows yesterday when I misinterpreted the shade of blue on the chart and worked in the wrong color. Not the end of the world, it just slowed me up a bit.

I am keeping this short because any moment I am blogging is a moment I do not have real life work to be doing, which means it is a moment I could be working on the Corrie vest.

More tomorrow if all goes well.

Up She Goes

Too tired to form words today.

But there’s this:
Corrie Kit
I would describe the comedy of errors that have lead up to the point we are at with the vest (about 9 rows of ribbing so far) but that takes too much brainpower.

I left most of my brain on top in Libby Hill Park, on top of Church Hill. The haul up the hill from Poe’s Pub to the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors monument is only 70 feet. Ha. Only. Those are 70 gut busting feet. But the view was spectacular.

Next time, I will try and remember a camera.

Tomorrow, I want to do the long 3.5 mile run around Belle Isle. I am cycling right now between fast runs, hard runs, and long runs to get ready for Warrior Dash. Looking forward to the 60 degree weather that should help speed that run along tomorrow.

I do so love autumn once it gets started. I love the smell of the air, the falling leaves, the taste of winter squashes, and best of all seasonal beers.
Legend
That was my view from the deck at Legend Brewery last Friday evening. We couldn’t get sunlight to shine through my Smoked Chocolate Stout. A very tasty beverage.

All that beer explains all the gut busting I have to do before October 1st, of course.

Two Autumn Challenges

This entire year is proving to be a roller coaster of a year. Ups and downs, 180 degree turns, and sudden stops. I am ready to embrace autumn with open arms if for no other reason than maybe it will provide some relief from the nonstop hits.

I finally made up my mind and placed a KnitPicks order today, following up from my post a couple of weeks ago.

Rather than take the Triple Dog Dare challenge and go for the Dogwood Blossoms Pullover sweater, I ordered the Blue Corrie Vest. I could better easily afford it and I am twice as likely to finish it, I think. I am looking forward to what will probably be a significant challenge for me, between the small gauge, the intensive charts, and simply because I don’t usually finish really large projects. I wanted something to keep my hands and brain busy this autumn and I think this vest will do it.

I also ordered the appropriate needles, a set of Harmony 2.5mm dpns, and because my balance was then $46 and change, and less than $4 more would get me free shipping, I went ahead and ordered a skein of Shadow Tonal Lace yarn, in colorway Pearlescent. I will get a small shawl out of that.

While Hurricane Irene was raging and the power was out, I did something I haven’t done since probably as far back as March. I sat down at my spinning wheel. I had already spun up more than 4 ounces of Ashland Bay colonial wool, and it was a matter of spinning the second half and then plying.

On Monday, a holiday, I spent 2 hours plying.

That is a uncomfortably full bobbin of about 8 ounces of fingering weight, 2 ply handspun beauty in the form of wool. No clue on the yardage. I need to find my niddy noddy and get it into a couple of skeins, wash, whack, and then contemplate its future. Once I have a better grasp on its yardage, I will decide on its ultimate purpose, I think.

Autumn puts me in a knitting mood. I hope so anyway because I have lots of socks to finish for Christmas and the 2011 Self Created Sock Club has washed out for the past several months. Autumn also puts me in a cooking kind of mood. Squashes, stews, beans, and the like. I already did mashed butternut squash a few nights ago and it was very yummy. I got a single volunteer butternut squash out of the garden, completely by accident, and after it has had some time to cure and let its natural sugars build up, it will probably become butternut squash soup.

Last year I made stuffed acorn squashes that were delicious. Then this blog post got me interested in things I can make with pumpkin.

The week I got home from Pennsic, I was so frazzled, so crispy, weary, and worn thin, in spite of just having had a vacation, that I requested another week off, this time for the week of October 10-14. That request was granted and I have been thinking up fun things to do with my time and with the time Grace and I will have together. I decided I will take her to Chesterfield Berry Farm and she and I will pick her Halloween pumpkin, and I think I will pick up a few baking pumpkins. I want to try my hand at pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie NOT out of a can this year for Thanksgiving.

In fact, I have been toying with the idea to attempt a 100 Mile Thanksgiving Feast Challenge. How much of our Thanksgiving spread can we get from a 100 mile radius to our table? The fact that we have already ordered a Heritage Breed Turkey from Empress Farm is the inspiration behind all of this. We did it for two reasons: first, because I have wanted to try a turkey from a small farm for years, and second, because my sister-in-law cannot eat the nitrates that are injected into CAFO turkeys that help make them moister and more flavorful, and every year we go through a whole list of hoops to jump through to make sure her food is safe for her to eat and not become ill.

Maybe no one else at the table that day would care but me (and probably Byram, as he is getting on board with eating local too), but how fun and cool would it be to serve dinner and then announce at the end that pretty much everything we served came from a local farmer? Admittedly, some of the stuff we normally serve like corn and green beans, can be purchased from almost anyone at the farmers market, but they have to be bought soonish and preserved, either through canning or freezing, because late November is honestly kind of a lousy time to celebrate the harvest that was done 2 months earlier. But I think this will be a fun opportunity to challenge myself and challenge my ideas about what a Thanksgiving Feast should look like.

I will post ideas, recipes, and progress throughout the Autumn as we head towards Thanksgiving.

Anyone want to join in on the fun?

Solitude

So, what day is it? June 7th? Sounds like the perfect day to debut my April 2011 SCSC socks.
Vellamo
I actually finished them on Saturday (yes, the April socks were finished in JUNE). Wet blocking did wonders for what otherwise looked like a stranded mess.
Socks
Pattern: Vellamo
Yarn: KnitPicks Stroll Solids, one skein each of Aurora Heather and Mustard (Mustard is being discontinued)
Needles: 2.75mm DPNs
Modifications: My only modification was to change the cuff. I felt like the socks were so fancy they needed a showier cuff, so rather than a 1.5 inch 1×1 ribbed cuff, I went with a picot edged cuff. My first ever picot edge. I am a little disappointed that the socks are not all that “clingy” since I don’t have a nice stretchy ribbed cuff to help hold them up, but they look like some fancypants knitting, so I can live with them being somewhat saggy.

In other news, the week before Sapphire, I cast on the Summer Mystery Shawl that Wendy Johnson of WendyKnits started publishing. I wanted a distraction and something to invigorate my will to knit once the event was over, and it seems to have worked. I cast on in the handspun green merino/tencel (or it might be bamboo) blend I bought on Etsy last year and spun last Autumn. I don’t know how I feel about the yarn. Having never spun something like that, I didn’t know what to expect. I overspun a lot of it, and some of it is underspun. None of it is especially consistent. It is knitting up a lot like pure silk with little give. I think it will look nice once it is blocked out, but right now, I am somewhat taken aback by the mess every time I look at it.

Anyway, Wendy has put out all of the charts now, but the main body chart came out the day I was loading the Uhaul to go out to Sapphire, so I only started that chart over the weekend. I am taking my time with it, but the project is speeding up as I go because I am getting very familiar with the chart and because each right side row drops off two stitches.

I bypassed May’s Sock Club socks altogether. I had a feeling when I set up the club that May might wash out and sure enough. It doesn’t hurt that the socks are intended for a pair of Size 12 feet, and those feet belong to someone on my Not Too Happy With list, at the moment. I had little heartache in skipping over those socks. My June socks are waiting to be cast on very soon. The pattern is Falling Tears, and the yarn will be more Knit Picks Stroll in Dusk colorway. My main delay is that I need to replace my 2mm DPNs and I really need a 2.5mm set too. I think this sock is going to need me to go down a size from my normal 2.75mm needles.

Maybe this weekend I will have time to cast on while I am back at Tom Scott Park for Warfighter.

I am really suddenly looking forward to the event this weekend. We won’t have an “encampment” to speak of. It will just be Byram and I alone in our normal location, and there is a better than average chance that one night, it might even be me by myself. He will understand (I hope) when I say that the idea of a night alone in a tent, completely by myself, is deeply appealing right now. In the wake of Sapphire, of autocratting, of my job, of life in general, I feel a bit like I have had a 60 grit beltsander applied to my soul and I need some time to heal up. I need some quiet time. I need some solitude.

You wouldn’t think going to an SCA event would be the balm I need, but the way this weekend is looking, I think it is going to be perfect.

Now, I would like to leave you with some photos from my lost month of May.
Grace and I are exploring the River.

Admiral Achbar gives us a warning from what is one of the most random tags I have ever seen in the City.
Photobucket
My Beloved. Both of them.

A blooming magnolia; the scent took me straight back to my childhood in Hampton.
Magnolia
One of the most hellacious storms I have ever driven through.

My goofy girl and her wax lips.

Going for a run with a little added weight.

The Civil War memorial on Belle Isle.

And Grace.