August 28, 2014

20 On My Needles Tour -- August 2014

Let's round up the WIPs, shall we?  If you follow my page on Facebook, you'll definitely see the different things I am up to here and there.  However, nothing is quite so pleasing (and yet so alarming) as piling them all on top of each other!


1.) The bottom two are not actually WIPs, as they are finished and are truthfully in their own To Be Blogged sub-pile.  The very bottom one is my adventure using the new Rowan denim replacement: Original Denim.

If you know anything about denim yarns, they are meant to act like old-school denim, shrinking and fading with washing.  This is imminently scary to any knitter, I'm sure, so I'll be taking you through how to choose a pattern that isn't written for Denim yarn and how to adapt it.

See my Cascade in Original Denim on Ravelry


2.) The second finished one in blue, green and black is probably my last piece from Rowan 55 for the year, Alma by Carlo Volpi.  I have always scoffed at the Spring/Summer editions of any knitting magazines, but I really adored this issue.

Can you guess how many designs I made?  It's totally a record for me (in clockwise order):  PrudenceWharf, MadonnaSally, and now Alma.  FIVE!

You can see my progress on Alma on Ravelry, but here is a cool spooky window curtain view to show off the alternation of thick Rowan Summer Tweed with Kidsilk Haze.


3.)  Okay, okay, you must have noticed that really hairy one.  The cross between 80's bling mohair and eyelash yarn?  Well, if you didn't, it's because you were frightened and your brain shut off.  I have 6 skeins of the most outrageous (both in form and price) novelty yarn: Ironstone Showstopper.

Yes, it stops shows... but in awe or disgust?

This super mega bulky yarn (like, 1 stitch per inch?!) is a gift from 9 years ago.  It's actually 3 strands of different yarns twisted together, and believe it or not, it really is a blast to knit.  I decided to go for a pattern that is actually designed for eyelash yarn from Drops.  I give you total permission to laugh at me!  I fondly refer to it as Chewbacca At His Birthday Party....


4.)  The little pink strip you see in the pile is SUPER SECRET!  Okay, it's not really a major secret, but I won't show you more, hee hee.  All I can say is that I'm making something from Alexis Winslow's new book Graphic Knits that comes out in October, using Rowan Pure Wool Worsted.  I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy and will be participating in a blog ring of patterns from the book, so stay tuned!

Check out all the patterns from the book on Ravelry!  Can you guess which one I am doing?


5.)  I'm excited about the beige lacy one simply because it has been a 6-year To Do chore, and I am FINALLY DOING IT.  Do you have knits that you love but just don't wear because there is something really wrong with them?  As in, something you can fix, but you cast-on something new every time instead?!  Well, this is on top of the pile.  My years-old Ravelry picture of the Embellished V-Neck from Vogue Knitting looks pretty good.  That's just a ruse.

There are actually quite a few things wrong here, but the major problem is that the upper arms are way too large (as has been noted on almost every Rav project for the pattern).  I feel like a football player when I wear this, and so it never gets worn.  I'm in the process of ripping out the sleeves and using my pick-up short-row top-down sleeve formula I've been using a lot lately.  This should be a fun post about Making Things Fit, which was always what I wanted my blog to be about.


6.)  I thought that the new Rowan Silkystones was shiny, but wow, seeing it on top of all these other things, it is positively glowing!  I had this yarn as a free sample for a long while, but only recently got enough to make a complete garment.  If you are an Addi Turbo fan, GO SOMEWHERE NOW AND BUY A BALL.  The yarn is a unique 50% silk, 50% linen mix, and I don't know what it is, but the feel of this yarn sliding across Addis is positively delicious.  The yarn is a bit hippie, in the sense that there are slubs and particles and all sorts of unexpected changes here and there... but still, I am loving every oily? slippery? slide-y? stitch.

I'm making a Bergere de France pattern from the 2013/2014 catalog (in French, too).  It's has really modern details (broken ribbing, drop sleeve), so I might hate it in a few years, but I'm loving it now so who cares?


7.)  Yes, finally!!!  I had to save the best for last!  You know I love very complicated knits, and so it isn't surprising that I fell for the crazy "cabled" Fretwork Pullover from the new Fall 2014 Vogue Knitting.

It turns out it's not cabled at all; you actually weave 4-stitch cords in and out for a cabled effect.  It's soooooo much fun, but I would only recommend it for the adventurous knitter.  It's not hard, per se, but the instructions peter out at the end of each panel, expecting you to figure out the logic on your own.  Me?  I love that kind of stuff.  I'm using a Bergere de France yarn stockpile I have from our local warehouse sale in the Montreal Area.  I'm going to miss it when I move... I'm still hoping to make a Big Firm Announcement soon on that, can't wait to finally pop some champagne!

August 21, 2014

20 Lighten Up Your Knits! A Rowan Cotton Glacé to Truesilk Switcheroo

I've always had trouble knitting with cotton.  It's my left side that can't take it.  Something about the way I push my stitches along the needle stresses my wrist, and cotton never wants to play nice when traveling down the needle.  Even if I dipped my Addi Turbos in Teflon, the little suckers would still require coaxing to come down!

Back when Rowan released Studio 32 I fell in love with the cover design Sandy by Marie Wallin.  I loved the Fibonnaci-esque stripe progression and the fact that it was intarsia.

But then, it was written for Cotton Glacé, and I wasn't ready to flirt with carpal tunnel.  I waited a bit and was rewarded by the release of a new Rowan yarn, Truesilk... which dun-dun-DUHN.... was the identical gauge!

Ooh this was good.  First, Truesilk is 100% mulberry silk, and let me tell you, I have nooooo problem pushing those slippery delicious stitches down my needles.  BUT even better, the yardage was much longer per ball because silk is lighter than cotton.  Did I mention that I also don't like heavy garments?  Here is a post I made about a tank top that was heavy enough to be an X-Ray blanket.

Poor lady.  Nice bangs!

By my calculations, Sandy needed at least one ball less of each color in Truesilk than Cotton Glacé, taking 100g off my back.  NOW: this is not a money-saving maneuver.  Truesilk is the ultimate luxury yarn, and yes, it will cost you.  But let me take a moment to describe this yarn to you and pique your interest, because it is really unique:

1. The silk is woven into a chainette structure which completely changes the properties of silk you are used to: elongation and no elasticity.  Because the chainette collapses on itself like a tape, you end up with THE most elastic fabric you could imagine.  I swear, it's like I knit me up some spandex.  This stuff will never elongate when worn, I can't imagine it is possible!

2. While the silk is smooth in the ball, it almost takes on a rough texture when knit.  I've never seen something that is both silky smooth and textured at the same time.

------->  There are a couple of downsides, which are solved with care:

1. The fibers of the chainette easily catch on skin and nails.  If you have any hangnails or badly filed nails, do not touch the yarn or your piece until you fix the problem.  If just one fiber catches, the chainette will kink.  This happened many times for me because I don't take care of my hands. If this happens, snap the yarn taut and roll the needle up and down through the kink to help it straighten.  It won't always work, so be prepared to cut and start a new end.  At first I was mad about this, but then I remembered all the delicate fashion items I have that need just as much care when worn (@%$# earrings and rings!).  You are paying for silk because it is silk, and silk comes with a price no matter what the form.

2. Because we are dealing with a slippery fiber, the cut ends of the chainette can unravel in a flash.  I mean //blink// and it's gone!  Abracadabra!  How to deal with this:

When you cut an end, tie a knot near the end.

When you come back to weave it in, cut the knot.

Weave in the end, leaving enough yarn so that you can make a knot right up to the edge of the fabric.

Inserting your sewing needle will help get it closer to the fabric.


The front and back are made using intarsia.  This part is very fun and goes quickly.  I used full balls and snipped when I had more than 2 rows to carry the yarn (I didn't like how carrying it up showed through).  I suggest using the end from the inside of the ball and securing the ball with a "yarn bra".  Ha, yeah, I didn't know that was a term until someone saw my silky mess and said, "You, my friend, need a yarn bra."

Deborah Kerr can't believe you said that.

(I discovered that a foot pantyhose, the kind you use for trying on shoes, worked excellently.)

Everything slows down when you get to the moss stitch top (which is quite lovely), because you need to increase your stitches and use a smaller needle to get the right look.

I wanted to improve the sleeves from the original, as I thought they were too wide.  For slim sleeves, I always turn to my top-down picked-up short-row sleeve technique.  See the instructions here.  They came out well.

I also made sure to stop the sleeve above the elbow because I didn't want wrinkles in the silk.

Truesilk might not be for everyone, but I simply love the feel of this top.  It was a pleasure to knit with as long as I was delicate!  I really recommend it for those of you who really want to create a haute couture fabric for special occasions, which you won't find for sale in any store.

See my Sandy in Truesilk on Ravelry

August 12, 2014

16 On Running Out Of Yarn -- Prudence from Rowan Mag 55

There's nothing quite so irritating as constantly second-guessing whether I will have enough yarn to finish my project.  The worst thing is that it's not a one-time thought -- no, it may start days or weeks before I am at the finish line, nagging and tugging at my brain with every stitch!  Obviously in a perfect world you would have more than enough yarn in the correct dye lot and you would never taint your glorious knitting time with these petty thoughts.

But the most beautiful yarns (especially the laceweights) cost money, and the lovely Rowan Kidsilk Haze is no exception.  Imagine my delight when I saw that this sweet little top by Marie Wallin from the Spring/Summer Rowan Mag 55 only took TWO BALLS!  That's a $26 dollar mohair and silk top?  Total bargain.

I guess that by now you've figured out what happened!  Yes, I ran out of yarn and had to find something else for the sleeves.  I picked a size between small and medium (both requiring 2 balls) and lengthened it only a tad (6 rows!) but started getting that horrible nagging i'm-not-going-to-make-it feeling at the end of the body.  Shoot!

I did knit the sleeve to see if it would work, but with weighing I figured out, nope, it wasn't going to happen.  Of course at this point, the sale for the KSH had finished, and I would be adding $16 to the cost of my little barely nothing top.  And I just didn't want to!

I went through my KSH stash, which is rather nice I must say, for a contrast color.  But despite ALL THESE COLORS, very few actually seemed to match.

Oh, there's a lot more than this in my stash!

I came up with 2 options and canvassed my wonderful Facebook Page readership for their opinions (do come join the fun here!).


Pink: 9
Gray: 27
Neither: 5
Both: 6

See, I listen to you my dear readers!  (though I still think the pink would have been great, I do have to concede with one reader saying it was too Howard Johnson's, lol).  To make it seem like it wasn't a desperate move, I made sure to trim the sleeve in the teal color (just do the garter stitch up to the beginning of the stitch pattern).

The pattern is quite lovely, it's a shame you can't really see it in the Mag (I have access to the Rowan image database and reduced the brightness considerably so you could see the piece here).  I hope my version will inspire others to tackle it.  Here is another great one by paulamarie.

I do want to say, however, that I found the sleeve challenging.  You see, the stitch pattern is quite difficult to integrate into the constant raglan decreasing.  You think you are making up for the lost stitches correctly, but then find you are quite off.  I used a spreadsheet to remind me how many stitches there should be at the end of each row, and I frequently had to add yarn-overs near the ends to bring me back to the right stitch count.  Sometimes it will seem ridiculous because you will decrease a stitch and then unexpectedly balance it out with a yarn-over, but trust me, you will continue to decrease the raglans, because of the way the stitch pattern works.

Here is a link to my spreadsheet for size Small, if you would like to use it, I typed a little X every time I was done with a row:

Our urban life will most certainly be ending soon (on to new more rugged adventures, why not?), so husband and I are maximizing on the local landscape.  As usual, near the train tracks of our beloved Mile End:

I'm not sure if Prudence was very prudent to knit in the summertime, the mohair sure was sticky on my sweaty hands!  But I must say this top is perfect to cover a dress on a more chilly summer evening, I highly recommend the pattern if you're willing to get through the sleeves.

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