Welting and Knitting 2

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Need I say more?

No, but I’d like to say a little about the bag, which I made from three different upholstery samples (you know those squares or rectangles that often come in a pad of several colours). I was totally constrained by the size of my samples. The bag is a good size though — it fits an 8 x 12 book or sheaf of paper. The single welt pocket will hold wallet and phone. It’s unlined because, well, it’s upholstery fabric. I copied the handle design from a leather or pleather bag I saw in a store last week. It is a long length of fabric folded wrong sides together and serged. At the shoulder point it is folded again and sewn. I think this will help the straps stay on the shoulder. I have an identical square of fabric in blue and plan on using it to make another.

The knitting is the body of the EZ yoke sweater. I removed the needles and replaced them with screw-on caps. I’m now using the needles to knit the first sleeve, using the “magic loop” method. That’s a really bizarre way of using circular needles, but it works! (there’s good info online about this method)

Welting and knitting

I’ve decided I’d like to do a little learning for the rest of this summer. I have enough summer clothes, so it seems like a good idea to take a diversion. Welt pockets — they seem like a great thing, but I only had two sets of instructions in my stash, both Vogue. One of them was incomprehensible. So this week I watched a youtube video and read about a half dozen sets of instructions. I’m pretty clear now on how to make them, although I see not everybody does them the same. Some people sew only the two long parallel lines next to the cutting line, but others sew the two short lines also, making a complete box. I tried both, and think the box is preferable (that may be different if the fabric is really heavy). Some people secure the welts by stitching in the ditch, but others topstitch a box around the opening. I think that too would depend on the type and weight of fabric. My Vogue patterns made no mention of interfacing, but most people seem to use it. I suspect it’s helpful except where your fabric is stiff and crisp (when you may not need it). Anyway, I practised a few times. Here’s my final attempt, on wool, with interfacing.

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It took me a few stitches to get to the ditch. The right side has the sewn short edge, which I prefer to the left side. I will take this newly acquired skill and try it on a simple carry bag.

 

I’ve also joined Kate at Fabrickated and a few other people, knitting an Elizabeth Zimmerman seamless yoke sweater. This is full of learning opportunities, as I’ve only knit one and a half sweaters since I took up knitting again a few years ago, and both are unwearable.

I’m using an aran weight wool that I bought a couple of years ago. It’s meant for fishermen knit sweaters. I’ve got four stitches to the inch on 5.5 mm needles, which is exactly what the label on the hank calls for. It’s a bit heavy, but I hope it will generally hug my body and look good. I’ve got about 11 inches knit up so far and am enjoying it.

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I did have a couple of minor problems to solve already. I split a stitch somehow, tried to fix it, knit another round and discovered when I got back to the stitch that it was a mess. The only thing to do was drop the stitch (gasp!), let the threads of the yarn that had been split find each other, and use a crochet hook to bring the dropped stitch back up. It worked! I also discovered I was using a cable that was too long. So I had to figure out how to change to a shorter length in mid-stream (I use a set of needles with separate nylon cables that are screwed onto the needles.)

I got the Zimmerman book that Kate mentioned (“Knitting without Tears”) out of the public library and am reading that too. I like the approach. And because of that, I’ve decided to try to learn to knit “continental”. I’ve tried it for a few stitches and it works — it makes a lot of sense actually. So one day I’ll swatch continental style and see if I can get comfortable with it. It’s supposed to be faster.

And finally, here’s a pic of some ducks. They were swimming in a body of water we call “False Creek” which has become a lovely place to go for a walk (in the past it was surrounded by industry). I like the colours in the water. Have a great week!

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sock it up

Yarn and I  do not have a great working relationship. You might say it’s tangled. I remember knitting two items as a teenager (with my mother doing the ‘specialty’ tasks like casting on and decreasing stitches). One was an orange orlon cardigan, and the other was a fantastically bulky and gruff ‘manly’ turtleneck sweater for my first ‘boyfriend’. Does anybody *not* knit a sweater for a boyfriend?? His mother, who actually liked me, ruined it in short order by, apparently, hanging it on a line to dry after washing it. I didn’t take knitting up again until two years ago, when I went to my local knit shop and took two courses. The first was an intro in which we knit scarves and hats, and the second was a sock-knitting course. I knit a perfectly fine hat in a lovely teal-coloured wool in the first class, but then realized I don’t like toques! I gave the hat away, in an uncharacteristic act of generosity. When I found some strange kind of unrefined and undyed yarn in a thrift store — it looks kind of like straw with hairs sticking out of it — I decided to try again. This time I knit little holes around the edge and threaded a leather thong through them. Not bad. Not sophisticated, but not bad. 2015-04-23 11.54.24 I’d found a big ball of yellow and pink spotted wool at a thrift shop which I used for the socks. They look lovely, I couldn’t have asked for better. But when I wear them I really feel how they don’t clasp my foot as store-bought socks do. I keep them in my drawer and admire them more than I wear them. 2015-04-23 11.53.44 Then I knit a sweater on my own. It called for a little waist shaping, and I thought I was being clever when I altered the shaping to fit my high waist. Now I have a bulky wool sweater that looks like it has an empire waist. Not good. 2015-04-23 11.51.40 Then I knit three quarters of another sweater with a whole pile of yarn my mother donated, at which point I realized the sweater was ALL WRONG. It seems you do need the right number of stitches both horizontally and vertically in the gauge. I put everything including a brand new complete set circular needles away. But this winter when I was travelling I spontaneously picked up some balls of lovely baby merino wool and started knitting a scarf that’s wide enough to be a shawl. I love it. And I realized I like knitting. Knitting allows me to empty my mind. And believe me, I really do need regular de-cluttering above the neck. So I pulled out two balls of sock wool that I had bought two years ago. It was a bit pricey, but I loved the look of it. Such a soft red, I thought. There were no pictures of how the yarn knit up, but I love red as an accent colour, and this seemed like such a soft red, a baby red if there could be such a thing. I figured if I could remember how to knit socks, and remember how to read the pattern, and remember how to knit with four skinny needles, it would “prove” I was ready to return to knitting. I did remember all those things, and was able to confirm by watching youtube videos. 2015-04-23 10.26.02Now that I look at the ball I don’t see it entirely the same as I saw it before I knit it up. I swear it looked like a soft, warm, soothing baby kind of red. I thought I’d get an irregularly patterned red sock. Here’s what I got. 2015-04-23 10.22.51Look at that horrible rusty orange. And what’s that awful spotted green doing in there? I didn’t see those colours in the ball!? And the stripes are so rigidly regular. I wanted spotted, not stripped. This is not my sock. This is some country grrrl’s camping and hiking sock. Pout. So what to do? Well, first knit the second sock. I’ll just pretend I’m a country girl next time I hike into town to catch an opera. Then look for a good sweater pattern and STICK WITH IT. No adjustments, no creative touches. But that’s so not me ….

Roman-Bolognese scarf

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This is a scarf that I started knitting in Rome, where I stayed for three weeks as part of a backpack ramble through Italy and France. I was staying in a small apartment behind the Vatican and enjoying Rome (it was the Christmas season), but increasingly restless in the evenings, which I largely spent reading in the apartment.

During the day I pounded the pavement, or should I say the cobblestones, exploring the various piazzas and neighbourhoods of the central historical district. One afternoon, on my way to the Piazza Navona, I suddenly realized I had walked past a wool shop — those were balls of wool I’d seen out of the corner of my eye. I backtracked to have a closer look.

It was a tiny shop, about the size of my bathroom. An L-shaped counter made it even smaller so that only two or three customers could squeeze in at one time. In addition to wool, it sold lingerie.

I only started knitting a couple of years ago, when I took a couple of courses at a local knit shop. I’m not a skilled knitter, so I thought a simple scarf would be the best project to travel with.  I scooped up a handful of balls of blue and green baby merino, along with a pair of needles and went to the piazza to knit up a swatch.

I was trying to imitate the wool scarves I was seeing for sale at several street stalls. They were wide and loosely knit from fine wool so they draped nicely. By the time I’d knit a couple of inches, I realized I needed bigger needles, and fewer stitches. I went back to the wool shop, asked to try larger needles and stood at the counter for half an hour or so, knitting, while customers all around me bought bras and stockings.

Naturally I realized pretty soon that I didn’t have nearly enough yarn and by the time I got to my next stop, Bologna, I knew I had to get more. The first thing I learned as a novice knitter was never use yarn from more than one dye lot, but in Bologna I had to buy yarn from a completely different manufacturer. I can see the difference, but I’m not sure anybody else can. And for me, the flaw, the slight differences in colour and also in weight of the wool, will always remind me of this trip, and this story.IMG_0916 Maybe it’s always in the imperfections that the stories lie.