Wednesday, July 21, 2010

FO: Taiyo Top

Yarn: Noro Taiyo
Needles: US 8
Body Plan: sleeveless drop-shoulder, no shaping below the neckline/shoulders, knit flat and seamed

Ravelry details and more photos here.
It was my intention to blog throughout the design process, but I accidentally finished the sweater in a week and a half! I think it's still long and wide-necked enough to hint at 80s styles without looking dated. I wanted to keep the neckline practical and fuss-free to wear to work, so I measured bra strap distance and added 2 inches to allow for an inch of ribbing on either side.

I took Deborah Newton's awesome advice from Designing Knitwear and used a string to decide on a depth and general shape for the neckline. Trying to figure out the exact rate of shaping was driving me nuts. After staring at several reference books, I finally got out some knitter's graph paper, marked the width and depth, and sketched in the curves until I thought it looked ok. This turned out to be a perfectly fine way to do things. For the back neck depth and shoulder shaping depth, I just used about an inch. I shaped the shoulder with short rows in 3 chunks, and used a 3 needle bind off to seam the shoulders. I'll probably never do a stairstep bind off again. I had been worried about getting visible wedges from the short row shaping in self-striping yarn, but the number of rows was really trivial.

I used the new book Knitwear Design Workshop to sanity-check my shaping and math. It has promise to be an extremely useful book, but it was a little difficult for me to navigate. The first several chapters are detailed information and example calculations for several basic construction styles, then has separate chapters on alternate necklines, collars, sleeves, etc. at the back. I had to do a lot of flipping back and forth. The Deborah Newton book is a little less about the math (though it has plenty of info) and more about aspects of fit and how to make decisions about them. It has a ton of tips and suggestions that she learned the hard way.

I also looked at Knitting in the Old Way. It had example schematics with percentages for many different neckline styles. I thought this was perfect, and would be really easy to use. When I used the percentages, I got some pretty nonsensical results. The chapter I was in didn't exactly say percentage of what. I thought it was referring to the stitch count all the way around the bust, as in EZ percentage systems and earlier chapters in the same book. Now I think perhaps it was referring to percentage of cross-back width.

In fact, that was a recurring problem with several reference books because I didn't have a cross-back width. As a sleeveless drop-shoulder garment, there was no armhole shaping at all. It was silly of me to try to go by guidelines anyway, but I have a habit of wanting to do things the "right" way. Going by measurements is always the best, and I already extolled the benefits for using a string to experiment with necklines.

I kept an eye on the stripes to make sure they mostly lined up on the front and back. I made sure that the new ball I attached for one side of the neck matched the color sequence on the other side of the neck. I didn't worry about the stripes in that area being twice the depth of the stripes on the back of the garment. It was such a small depth that it isn't really noticeable.

In retrospect, I might make the back narrower than the front or put vertical darts on either side of the back waist, but I'm fine with it as it is. I wanted something comfortable and modest for work that was also simple to knit. I used a slightly loose gauge to get some drape so it wouldn't look too boxy.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

CSA Box Recipes for Summer

Here's some of the stuff I've been doing with the Two Small Farms CSA box this summer. No photos for the most part. Too tasty to wait!
In general, I do a lot of stir-fry, often with Trader Joe's beef Bulgogi. When I get way behind, I do soup in the slow cooker.

Lori's peaches/CSA strawberries- preserves
This is the same recipe Pam used with her girls. I used about 4 cups sugar because I had less peaches than it called for. I didn't add any pectin. I don't do canning, and I like to have a really chunky, oozy result to put on toast or desserts.,1923,154171-246195,00.html

Lori's peaches- peach ice cream
This recipe is for a giant ice cream maker. I halved it and left chunks in the puree. I added a dash of nutmeg too.

Walla Walla onions, tomatoes, lettuce, scallions- cast iron burgers from Cooking Light
This is one of my favorite things to make. I use the Semifreddi's buns from Lunardi's that probably have more fat in them than the burger. They're worth it, though.

Tomatoes & basil- tomato sauce
I cooked and milled the tomatoes and basil ahead of time, then seasoned this with salt, sugar, oregano, and lemon salt when I reheated it to serve with pasta.

Cabbage- Kalua pork
I love Hawaiian fast food!

Avocados- avocado pie
The bacon avocados from the box seem to be naturally a lot more stringy than Hass avocados. The moisture content may also be different because the pie didn't set up. I froze it, and then it was pretty awesome!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

July Phat Fiber Samples!

July's Phat Fiber theme is Seaweed, Ships, and Scallywags!
I sent in some Merino/bamboo top in Kraken and 50/50 Merino/silk sock yarn in Dagon.

Here's what the full size items look like-

All of these are in the shop now except for Merino/bamboo top in Dagon. I am saving the last one until boxes arrive, but I will dye some in other fibers tomorrow. My source of this particular Merino/bamboo top has dried up, but I am happy to start a waiting list for when my new shiny fiber bases arrive.

All purchases from my Etsy shop in July qualify you to enter the contest on the Phat Fiber Ravelry group. I'll post the link to the thread when it starts.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

WIP- Taiyo Summer Vest/Tunic/Something-or-other

So, I've been on a bit of a neon kick lately. See here and here for inspirations. I impulse-bought these 8 skeins of Noro Taiyo at work last week. I decided I needed something brainless to knit on and a finished garment that I could actually wear in the summer. It's not the thinnest yarn (heavy worsted), but I like it a lot. I'd probably be wearing it most at work (which has a/c) and in the evenings, anyway. I can't stand 100% cotton, but Taiyo is great. It's like a much softer version of Silk Garden. It's 40% cotton, 30% silk, 15% wool, and 15% nylon.

Unfortunately the mindless knitting is about to come to an end, though I'm extending it by putting the front on hold and working the back to the same point. It's getting close to time to decide on neck and shoulder shaping. The original idea was to do a simple tee sort of like this one but without the cowl.

I've since decided to go with a somewhat oversized 80's look since I'm knitting with neon yarn and a somewhat thick yarn. I'm pretty sure I'm set on a fairly long length, and the bottom ribbing is made to be the same width as the garment instead of pulling in. I haven't done any shaping in the body.

I decided to work it flat and seam it because I don't want the stripes to be thinner and I think the structure that seams give would be nice to help keep the garment from stretching. That means I should be as careful as possible to make the stripes match front and back. One of the skeins on the front had 1 notorious Noro knot that didn't seem to affect the color sequence. The first skein of the back so far has had 1 knot that drastically changed the color sequence. I had to go digging in the skein to find the right spot to continue. Another good reason for buying extra yarn when it's Noro.

My plan is to skip any armhole shaping and pick up in ribbing around the arm. This is how my Catronia vest is made, and I really like it. It results in a sort of baby cap sleeve. Catronia has shoulder shaping, so I should probably do some here as well. Not a big deal, but I have to decide the most attractive way to do it. Short rows and a 3 needle bind off are appealing, but I have to be careful not to create wedges with the stripes. I have boatloads of extra yarn and it's not all that many short rows, so I should be able to pull it off.

I'm still trying to figure out the neckline. Something off-the-shoulder or close to it would be the literal interpretation. An actual traditional boatneck where you knit lots of ribbing and sew it up wouldn't work with the drop shoulder "sleeves." It would result in ribbing dropping down over the shoulder and being connected to the armhole ribbing.
The remaining options are a wide and shallow squared off neck or a wide and shallow scoop neck. I think the wide and shallow scoop neck wins.

While grabbing links for this post, I noticed that Ravelry is releasing a new search feature and every pattern needs to be reclassified. I'm about to go do all of my designs. Starting in a few days, they are going to ask everyone for help and you will be eligible for prizes if you help classify designs that aren't your own that still need it. Details here.

PS- I've finished the handspun pillow panel. I just bought a 20" pillow to use with it. Now I have to decide how to make the rest of the pillow. Does anyone have any experience sewing handknits to fabric pillowcases? It seems like a bad idea to me. My new default idea is to knit a back panel in black Manos del Uruguay. It would either be on the bias like the front or center-out with square increases.

Tour de Fleece (sort of)- Finished Targhee Supercoils

I'm not really much for rules, but I tried to get some spinning done over the long weekend. I finished plying all the Targhee supercoils.

I had 3 bobbins of singles and could fit about half a bobbin of singles on the plying bobbin after plying, so I had lots of chances to play with the singles twist. I was happiest with the results when I added a fairly high amount of twist. I did weight the skeins during drying, but with only 1 plastic coat hanger*. The skein I made from singles with moderate added twist seemed to need it least. Most of the time, the coils looked too loose at a point where the yarn seemed to be close to being balanced.

The strands you see above were made with singles with an almost horizontal singles twist. I thought that would make the most sense in terms of physically being a balanced yarn, but it was harder to work with. (The common problem of keeping enough tension on a thin spot of a high-twist single.) The skein still twisted around itself quite a bit when skeined off the bobbin, so I'm not sure if it really achieved the goal. The result is firm coils that would work for jewelry that might see a bit of wear. It is a littler harsher in spots than a typical knitting yarn.

Janice asked me what I'm going to do with them, and I'm still leaning towards making the strands into necklaces. I need to look for findings. I like this necklace. It looks like it can be work with the strands loose or twisted together.

* Normally I am against weighting skeins at all, but that is for applications like knitting where bias is a possibility and unwanted. I knew this yarn would be used as an accent (as in a scribble lace scarf) or used as individual strands.

Thank You!

A huge thank you to everybody who came out to the Oakland Fiber Festival. It was amazing!
The sunlight really showed off my bamboo blend and silk blend yarns, which was totally great. It also gave me a dorky clog tan.

Rachael Herron was signing books a few feet from my booth. When she finished the project she was working on, she started a toe-up sock in one of my self-striping yarns. I had to sneak away from the booth every so often to feel it. Love that MCN! I get to start a sample of my own soon because I messed up the dye job on a skein of the purple/black/turquoise. I'm going to be doing a few new self-striping colorways soon, especially "guy-friendly" ones.

My first yarn customer ever, Ana, posted to Ravelry (and Flickr) an adorable clutch she knit in my aran weight Merino. It's the first FO I've seen in my yarn! Squee!

ETA- Janice is spinning up some of my Merino/bamboo top for the Tour de Fleece!