Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Brief Apology

My dears,

I'm sorry to not have been more attentive. A trip out of town, combined with an inopportune illness, have done me in temporarily. I'm reading through the March chapter and trying to decide what spin to put on it.

In the meantime, the baby shawl from February continues. I've ripped it back once again - not because I don't like it, but because I like it so much I want it to be perfect. And the tulip pattern is deceptively difficult, at least for me. Since it only repeats four times around the shawl, and since the full pattern is more than 30 rows, there's no real rhythm to it.

I also owe an apology to Dory, whose beautiful sweater arrived and did not get posted.

I seem to be back on my feet, so off we go.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Picture Friday!

Hey y'all.

It's picture Friday, and first up we have the Gull-Stitch baby sweater (in progress) by Megan. I don't know about you, but I'm certainly impressed. Check this out.



Then, to prove that I am, in fact, knitting, here's where I am with the baby shawl.



Now, there should be more of it. Why isn't there more of it? Because your correspondent was convinced he could knit lace on the train, that's why. And he can't.

The pattern is Tulip Bud II from the first volume of Barbara Walker. For the complete newbies in the group, Barbara Walker published a series of treasuries of knitting patterns that have become almost a compulsory item on the shelf of any knitter who occasionally likes to strike out on his or her own. They're so well-known that you'll often hear a knitter say something like, "I got the lace panel on the back from Barbara Walker," without further explanation.

I chose Tulip Bud II because it spreads left and right, and also has strong vertical axis. My hope is that the four tulip "stems" running diagonally up to the corners of the panels will make a nice counterpoint to the yo's that divide the shawl into four quarters.

The first thing I did (okay, the first thing I did after ripping out the lace on the first try) was to get some graph paper and translate Barbara's written instructions for the pattern into a chart. Since switching to the chart, things are going better. I still miscount now and again, but I catch it sooner and don't have to rip back three rows to fix it.

Of course, right now it looks like I'm knitting a bonnet for a hydrocephalic baby. EZ's comment about the Pi shawl that it "makes its own knitting bag" now makes sense to me. And I am, in fact, tucking the ball of yarn into the shawl whenever I put it away.

This is the first time I've done a project with Dale Baby Ull and can I tell you how much I love it? A pleasure to feel running over the fingers.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Fun with the Baby Shawl

Hello all,

As scheduled, I cast on and began the Baby Shawl this weekend. So far, I'm in love with it.

Emily Ocker's cast on took a few tries before it came out right. My first problem was not realizing that each stich really is the result of two loops: one through the initial loop of yarn, and one through the previous stitch.

My second problem, which just took a little practice, was casting on eight stitches of roughly equal size.

Then there were the first three or four rounds of knitting on the dpns. Not a walk in the park, since when you have eight stitches on four needles, the needles flop around and twist and wiggle. If my new meds were not working so well, I might have run mad.

If you're going to try it, I recommend that you absolutely not start until you are assured a good stretch of time when you have peace and quiet, good light, and reasonable energy (i.e., not when you're sleepy).

I can report that the quick increases in the first few rows take care of the wiggling in short order. Persevere. Suddenly you will have a sweet little patch of knitting that looks almost like a snowflake. Or at least it did with my yarn/needle combination.

I'm using Dale Baby Ull in pale yellow, and plan to switch to pale green when the yellow runs out. My needles were bamboo US 4.5, and I've switched now to a 16" Addi Turbo US 5 circular. The switch upwards hasn't caused any notable change in gauge.

And in the spaces between the increases, I've just begun adding a lace pattern that I think will be quite pretty and put me in mind of the coming of warmer weather.

After a January thaw, we're back to our usual frigidity, and spring likely will not arrive until late May. It feels good to be creating something in bright colors, lighter yarn, and with a floral motif.

More on the lace pattern, plus some photos, in the very near future.

All the best,
Franklin

Friday, February 03, 2006

Welcome, February!

Hey y'all,

Here we are in the second month of the Almanac. I've spent some time reading, then re-reading, then pondering, and finally I've decided my project for the month will be Elizabeth's baby shawl - the one that starts in the center.

It reads like a miniature take on the larger Pi shawl that's still far down the pike in July. Since I hope to knit the Pi shawl, a dress rehearsal might not be a bad idea.

I'm also, frankly, on a lace kick, and this sounds like a fun way to play with new patterns. I intend to use Dale Baby Ull for this - I have enough skeins of it laying around in baby-esque colors to make a decent-sized shawl. I'll be casting on this weekend - my first shot at Emily Ocker's cast on method.

A word of reminder: this is a knitalong, not a forced march. There's no such thing as being "behind." If you want to skip a month, or if you would prefer to continue working on Arans in February, there's not a thing wrong with that. As the ostensible co-host, I'm going to try to stick to the monthly theme, but I'd rather you all had a good experience and learned something than that you felt as though you were being dragged by the mohair.

Why knit, after all, if it's not going to be fun?

So, welcome to the newcomers (I'll be adding you all to the list today) and hail to the current members. Let's make this a month to remember!

All the best,
Franklin

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Playing Catch-Up

Hey y'all. Remember me?

Thank heaven this knitalong attracted good and helpful people right out of the starting gate, as I certainly have not been much of a co-host. Our numbers continue to grow, though. I think I have the full list now in the sidebar. If you're missing, do please let me know.

I decided from the outset that an Aran sweater in a month, particularly this month, was not going to happen. So, in order to learn something of the technique while being realistic about the project, I decided to do a hat composed mainly of the "fishtrap" pattern.

Like many of you, I'd never done right or left twists (or any sort of Aran knitting) before. And also like many of you, I confess Elizabeth's perhaps too-pithy directions on how to perform the right twist drove me to alternate sources of information. In my case, the Vogue Knitting Reference (which is illustrated) was just the ticket.

As it turned out, this was my favorite knitting learning experience since last year's lace class with Nancy Bush at Stitches Midwest. I love the process of knitting lace. And I've found I love the process of knitting these twisting stitch patterns.

But there's one big difference.

I get to wear this.

Here it is last night. This morning on the train, I made it to the final row of the pattern. Happily, the size of the pattern has yielded a perfect hat for my head. I'll begin the decreases tonight to finish it up.


Jo Sharp DK Aran, Addi Turbo US6 circular

Mind you, this hat is not going to win any prizes at a county fair. I wouldn't even give it as a gift. There are oodles of mistakes all over the place in it. But I've enjoyed the process–in fact, I may knit the hat again in a different yarn–and right and left twist are now readily at my command. I'm not afraid of them, so I suppose that's a decent accomplishment for the first month.

Meanwhile, Over at Wyvern's Blog
You'll find a far more accomplished piece of work. She very kindly sent along a picture, and here it is:



You can see more at her blog.

Looking Ahead

Now that my shoulder is back in business and my affairs are, in general, more in order, I look forward to being more participatory in February. Not to mention that I'm terribly excited to knit baby things. I've just had my first taste of it, and want more.

No babies of my own to knit for, mind you, but one of my coworkers just had a beautiful baby boy. Let's see how much wool I can cover him in.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Picture Friday

Linda (OH), who is determined to make us all eat her dust, has sent in a completed ganomy hat, as seen at left.

Good to see others among us are also speeding along, or at least beginning well.

I'm still hoping to make progress on my Aran piece this weekend, pending cooperation from my bum shoulder. You'll find out next week.

Keep clicking.

-Franklin

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Pictures and Useful Groups

Greetings, all.

I blush to admit that my own January project remains purely hypothetical. This week is full of innumerable deadlines, which means my own cast-on will have to wait until this weekend. In the meantime, I'm happy to read how many of you are well-begun.

And remember, if you choose not to knit in January, it's okay. This is not a twelve-month, all-or-nothing forced march.

Pictures

As many of our participants don't have blogs in which to show off, I'll be pleased to do Picture Progress Fridays here in the knitalong's own blog. Send me your progress photos at franklin at franklinhabit daht cahm by Wednesday for inclusion on that Friday that follows. One per person, please, and don't forget to make sure in the body of the e-mail to include your name as it is in the participant list, so you get proper credit for your work.

If you do have a blog, of course be sure to direct us via the comments to have a look when there's something new and noteworthy.

Yahoo Groups

A few knitters have been kind enough to alert me to Yahoo groups of interest to those in this KAL. A group already exists (with a large membership) devoted to the Almanac. And there are also groups for EZ's patterns in general, as well as a group with a special interest in the Pi Shawl - also known as that big round thing on the front cover.

As you have realized, this KAL is less regimented than many. As we all follow our own paths through the year, look to sources such as these for additional help and inspiration.

All the best,
Franklin