Sunday, December 2, 2012

Ripping Out is Not a Bad Thing

There is nothing more frustrating than finding an error in your knitting far back in your work. It's happened to all of us. The first thing that runs through your mind is, Can I live with it?

I am pretty fussy about my knitting, but there are some errors I can live with. If the error cannot be easily seen or if its fixable after the fact, I let it go. Unfortunately that's not typical.

Rather than being frustrated with the need to rip out, I have decided to change my attitude. Ripping out is a good thing! I no longer think of it as moving backwards, but rather I'm moving forwards towards a better result. I am always happy that I ripped out after I've done it, because I have a better finished product.

I can also use the need to rip out as an opportunity to practice the skill of dropping down the stitches above the error to fix the error. Since I have to rip out anyway, nothing's lost but a little time.

So, take a new attitude to ripping back. You can practice new skills and have a better finished product. (...and don't forget lifelines when the knitting gets complex.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Heartmade Show and Sale

I know this is a knitting block, but I don't mind a little shameless plug for this event where I will be selling my jewelry. If you are in the area stop by.

I will be showing my Jewelry at heartmade in San Jose, CA from December 7 through December 16.

The show will feature the works of many local artists. There will be blown glass, jewelry, knitwear, paintings and more. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Using Mathematical Style Notation for Pattern Written Directions

I take notes on every pattern I knit. I am particularly interested in saving a description of my pattern modifications and what rows I've knitted in order to either repeat what I've knit or to aid in further modifications of the pattern for future knitting. This has resulted in a need to be able to quickly write down what I've done. Since my background is engineering, I have borrowed from Mathematics and Software Programming to create a notation that is useful for quickly writing down a pattern.

This notation consists of parenthesis, brackets, asterisk and numeric values to indicate what is repeated and how many times.

So here goes.

Repeat a Single Stitch for an Entire Row

Knit a row of knits: K*
In this example I am using the asterisk to indicate the pattern repeats to the end of the row.

Repeat a Stitch a Specific Number of Times

Knit 4 knit stitches: K4
This one is seen in many patterns.

Repeat a Pattern to the End of a Row

Knit a row of 1x1 rib: (K1, P1)*
Knit a row of 2x2 rib: (K2 P2)*
Knit a row of alternating rib: (K2, P2, K1, P1)*
You may use comma's or spaces to separate individual stitches. Its up to you. I typically use commas so that stitches such as K2tog tbl are clear.

Repeat a Pattern a Specific Number of Times

Knit 4 repeats of 2x2 rib: (K2, P2)4
In this example we want to repeat a 2x2 rib 4 times. The end result is 16 stitches. In standard written notation we have: "knit *K2 P2*; repeat from * to * 4 times". We are starting to see the savings provided by this notation.

Repeat a Pattern within a Border

Stockinette within a Garter an YO Border: Row 1: K3, YO, K*, YO, K3; Row 2: K3, YO, P*, YO, K3. In this example we start with 4 border stitches, repeat a single stitch until we get to the last 4 stitches where we can perform the border.
Repeat a Ribbed Pattern within a Garter Border: K3, YO, (K1, P1)*, YO, K3
This example is only slightly more complex than the last. In this case we have 3 border stitches followed by a YO. We then repeat K1, P1 until 3 stitches remain and then finish off the border with a YO, K3. If we were to write this out in standard written directions we would say: "k3, YO *K1, P1*, repeat form * to * until 3 stitches remain, YO, K3"

Now lets get a bit more complicated. We can nest parenthesis and brackets to create smaller repeats within larger repeats.

Nesting Brackets and Parenthesis

[(K1, P1)3, PM, (K1, P1)4, PM]*: This example is ** *K1, P1*, repeat from * to * 3 times, PM, ***K1, P1***, repeat from *** to *** 4 times, then repeat from ** to ** to end of row. Ouch!! Writing this sort of repeat out can get very complicated. In this case I use both parenthesis and square brackets for clarity. Mixing parenthesis and brackets is really up to you.

Hopefully this technique will be useful to some of you. I am including this notation in all of my patterns.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Can You Skew?

Another goal bites the dust. A friend at Green Planet Yarn started the Skew Sock. This is another one of those patterns that has fascinated me for a long time. Since I was looking for another sock to start, this seemed like the appropriate time to start Skew. The sock is knitted on the bias and goes through a couple of phases where its hard to envision the final product. It is easiest to see this in pictures.

The sock's big toe. At this point it looks like a normal toe up sock.
The mid-toe. This section is increasing only on one side in preparation for knitting on the diagonal.
The foot. This section is knit on the diagonal, maintaining a constant width.
The inner ankle. Extra increases are inserted on one side of the sock. At this point there are 84 stitches with 12 stitches between the newly placed ankle markers.
The mini gusset. Additional stitches are added for the gusset. At this point their are 102 stitches on the needles.
The right heel. At this point we are maintaining the 15 heel stitches. The sock is looking pretty bizarre at this point.
The right heel after kitchener and magic happens. Suddenly we have a heel and a sock foot that can be tried on.
The gusset decrease. This section decreases the stitches increased in the previous mini-gusset section. I made some modifications here to increase the size of the leg. I also added a couple of extre repeats to increase the leg length.
The short row leg. Short rows are knitted back and forth to level out the leg in preparation for the cuff.
The finished socks.

My Skew Sock can be found at Amaranth Skew.

This sock is a wonderful use for those highly variegated yarns that we all stash, but don't know how to use them. So take a stash dive for an appropriate skein and start your Skew.

Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry

Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits;

Friday, March 16, 2012

My First Dutch Heel

I recently completed the Twirl Sock by "numma numma Yarn". This is the first time I have knit a sock with a Dutch Heel. The sock is a top down sock with a heel flap knit in pattern.

Lets say the heel flap is 36 stitches across, then knit the heel as follows:

Row 1: k23, ssk, turn
Row 2: sl1, p10 p2tog, turn
Row 3: sl1 k10, ssk, turn
Row 4: sl1, p12, p2tog, turn

Repeat rows 3 & 4 until all stitches are worked. Now knit across heel stitches and pick up the appropriate number of stitches along the side of the heel flap. Knit across the instep, in pattern and pick up the appropriate number of stitches on the other side of the heel flap. A few decreases may be needed along the gusset to return you to the correct number of stitches, in the case of this example, 36 stitches.

The finished heel:

How does this heel compare to a traditional heel flap with gusset? The heel created is narrower than the traditional heel flap / gusset combination. The Dutch heel seems to wrap the heel nice and snug. The decrease stitches are at the bottom of the Dutch heel while they are at the back of the heel, where heel flap and sole join, in the traditional heel flap / gusset heel. The dutch heel doesn't have much of a gusset, while the heel flap sock has a gusset. I didn't feel the decrease stitches when walking in the sock, but I can imagine this won't be true for everyone since the heel flap and hence the decrease stitches wrap under the heel. I can also imagine that on a less stretchy pattern, it may be hard to get a sock with this heel on your foot. Guess I need to do more dutch heels.

Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry

Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits; Twirl pattern copyright numma numma llc

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Knitting up a Holden

I needed a break from knitting socks, so I decided to knit up a Holden. I had the pattern in my queue along with my target yarn, Malabrigo Sock.

As I do with most my knitting, I skimmed through the pattern and poked around on Ravelry to see what other people had done. One of the interesting things mentioned had to do with an oddity in the pattern repeats. On each side of the shawl would be a number of 13 stitch repeats followed by a 15 stitch repeat followed by a number of 13 stitch repeats.

The oddity was that the 15 stitch repeat added 2 border knit stitches to the 13 stitch repeat. So, I decided to only knit the 13 stitch pattern repeats. In addition, I wanted to have more lace than the pattern called for. Here are my modifications. I also modified the SKP into a K2tog TBL. I made this modification because it was quicker for me to knit. Either stitch works. You are free to use these modifications, but the original pattern has some copyright restrictions which still must be observed.

Prairie Willow's Holden Modifications

Follow the first section up to row 5, then repeat rows 4 & 5 30 times.

At this point you will have 3 edge stitches, 65 body stitches, 1 center stitch, 65 body stitches, and 3 edge stitches. Knit the chart as follows: Row 1: K3, Knit a row from the chart for the required number of repeats, K the center stitch, Knit a row from the chart for the required number of repeats, Knit 3; Row 2: Knit 3, purl, Knit 3. Repeat the chart 3 times and then repeat the first 6 rows once more.

For each repeat of the chart, the pattern (red outline) will be repeated on each side as follows:

Chart RepeatPattern Repeats
4 (first 6 rows only)11

Finish off with the picot bind off specified in the pattern. The pattern doesn't mention which bind off stitch to use, so I used the K2tog TBL bind off.

Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry

Photos & charts copyright Prairie Willow Knits; Original Holden pattern copyright Mindy Wilkes

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Classes at Stitches West

This is the first year that I took classes at Stitches West. I took 2 classes from Cookie A and a knitting ergonomics class. Both Cookie A classes were interesting. The first class was traveling stitches. A little too much storytelling analogies for my taste, but good overall. The second Cookie A class was intuitive cable chart reading. This was a much better class and I can now read cable charts - yeah! The interesting thing in the Cookie A classes, is that there were people who took her classes just because she was teaching them. Personally, if I'm choosing classes, I choose them because I want to learn the topic of the class. Hopefully they learned something new about knitting along the way.

My third class was a Knitting Ergonomics class. I would highly recommend this class for all knitters. We should all be aware of how our body responds to the task of knitting. Having gone through the start of Carpel Tunnel Syndrome and Ulnar nerve problems from computing, I know I don't want to go through the same problems with knitting. So, keep an eye out for this class and take it! Protect your ability to knit.

Would I take classes again? Most definately. I took one class a day, which gave me time to peruse the market.

Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry

Friday, March 2, 2012

Trouble with Oeste

The February Stephen West Shawl is "Oeste". In an earlier post, I selected 3 yarns that I might use. I finally decided upon Malabrigo "Chocolate Amargo" and "Primavera".

When the pattern arrived I was not a happy camper. I really didn't like the pattern. I started knitting the first triangle anyway. I liked the color combination, but still, didn't like the pattern. It was such a waste to use these two colors on a shawl I really don't like. So, I'm not doing the shawl. Life is too short to knit something you really don't like.

Ok, Ok, I know, this seems to contradict what I said earlier about "Sharktooth". Sharktooth presented me with some interesting knitting. I learned how to do the picot bind off and how to modify the back of the shawl so that it had some detail. Oeste doesn't provide me with any of these things. Oeste requires the knitter to knit and bind off seven triangles, then knit the back piece. The final shawl/scarf is created by sewing together the pieces - no interesting new techniques here.

While I'm not planning on knitting this shawl, I know a couple people who are knitting it. Once I see the finished product I might change my mind. In the meantime, I need to figure out what to do with these lovely yarns, another Chadwick maybe?


Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry.

Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Stitches West Recovery with Sock Yarn

I love working with fingering weight yarns. While we have wonderful weather in the Bay Area of California,it is difficult to wear heavy knits. Lightweight knits have a longer wearing life throughout the year. So I spend a lot of time looking at sock yarns when I'm in the Stitches West market. This year I focused on yarns that I cannot buy locally.

I found some Cephalopod Yarns "Bugga!" and "Skinny Bugga!" at the Little Red Bicycle booth. This is a lovely skein of Rose Weevil. What can I say, I can't resist a good red and love red socks. Unfortunately, I didn't see any yarn from Verdnnt Gryphon. Maybe next year.

While in their booth, I picked up a skein of Tandem Sock. This will make a nice pair of socks for my husband.

While I was avoiding highly variegated yarns, I saw this yarn at the Lisa Souza booth. This yarn would make a good sock in either the Hexagons or the Ziprelaxagon Sock by Kirsten Hall. Both would highlight this yarn.

I saw this yarn at Kattickloo Fiber Studios booth. While their purchasing process was antiquated, the yarn is lovely, and surprise, it will make a nice pair of socks.





Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry

Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits

Monday, February 27, 2012

Recovering from Stitches West with Silk

There are many blog posts associated about experiences at Stitches West, so I might as well join the crowd. This is my second time at Stitches West. My first time was 2 years ago, where I just went to the market. If you haven't been to the market, its quite an experience. Its best to go with a plan, which I didn't the first year.

This year, I took a three classes. I'll talk about them later. Taking classes allowed me to have several days exploring the market. My first day in the market was mostly wandering around noting the things that interested me. My second time through, I started some purchases and my final day allowed me to map out those booths which I had to explore further. Luckily on the third day of the market map provided by EGarcia on Ravelry. I downloaded this map to my Ipad and ad highlighted the booths I wanted to explore. (there is also a printable version). This was wonderful and I hope EGarcia provides this service next year.

Some of my highlights:

ArtFibers - I bought some beautiful silk yarn, Tantra. The yarn is supposedly sport weight, but it looks more fingering weight to me. I love silk that is in more of a "raw" state. This yarn still has a little sheen, but it has a lovely slight fuzz and from the samples will create a beautiful fabric. This will be a sweater or a tunic some day.

This is a raw silk yarn from Tess. The yarn has absolutely no sheen. I only have 900 yards, so it will have to be a short sweater or tank.

And then there is Habu. I love Habu. This time a bought some Tsumugi silk. This yarn has no sheen and a lovely heathered texture. This color is a taupe with hints of an aqua green. I also bought the Tsumugi which is the same color of green. Options are open here. I'm thinking of mixing the two yarns together. This would make a lovely casual sweater such as a henley.

More recovery with sock yarn to follow....

Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl.

Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Road Trip Yarn Shop

I'm on a trip to the Atlanta area and decided to find the "Eat, Knit, Sleep" physical shop and stop by. I have been buying yarn from them online for some time. They always seem to have a good selection of MadelineTosh. Their physical location is in an industrial / office office park in Smyrna, just outside of Atlanta. The place is just full of yarn. It's a joy to walk down their aisles and peruse yarns that aren't normally available for me to see. I know several MadelineTosh lovers that wouldn't be able to control themselves in the Tosh section. If you go, note their hours as they are not normal retail hours. Location and hours can be found on their website.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

First Sock of 2012, Second Goal of 2012

My first sock of 2012 is Chrissy Gardiner's "Slip n Slide" sock. This is also the February selection for the Green Planet Sock Club. As socks go, this was a pretty easy knit. I opted to do the heel in pattern. In the past I have always done a heel stitch heel. We'll see how this wears.

Since this was a top-down sock design, this sock gave me the opportunity to use the German Twisted Cast On. I like this cast on as it is very stretchy. I'll need to reinforce this knowledge in another sock.

I pulled from stash for this sock and used my Pagewood Farms Glacier Bay in Maple Leaf for these socks.

More details about the construction of this sock can be found at Forest Floor Sock






Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl.

Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits

Thursday, February 9, 2012

February West Knits Shawl Pattern

Here's sneak peak at Frebruary's WestKnit shawl. Now, the big questions, what yarns should I use? I happen to have a skein of Malabrigo "Chocolate Amargo", which is one of the colors used in the February shawl. So I think I will go with that color as well. I am not fond of the pink and brown combination, so I'm going to choose a yarn with a green base. I have 2 possibilities to choose from in my Malabrigo Sock stash, "Primavera" and "Lettuce".

My choice will depend on whether I want to go subtle or bold. I'll make the final decision when I get the pattern.

Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl.

Yarn photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits
Shawl photo copyright WestKnits

Sunday, February 5, 2012

I Love Yarn Swaps

I just came back from a yarn swap at Uncommon Threads in Los Altos, CA. I love these swaps since I can get rid of yarn I will no longer use, that hopefully someone else will find a useful. In exchange, I can sometimes find interesting yarns that I wouldn't normally see. I have seen everything from acrylic to hand spun and dyed, so you never know what you will find. Its a yarn treasure hunt. This time I focused on picking up cotton yarns.

Some nice finds:

Now I have to figure out what to make with them.

Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl.

Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits

Friday, February 3, 2012

Slip and Slide is the Next Sock Club Sock

The next sock that the Green Planet Yarn sock club is knitting is the Chrissy Gardiner sock, Slip and Slide. The pattern for this sock can be found in the Sock Knitting Master Class Book. So far an easy knit, but the directions for the bridge stitch weren't particularly clear to my brain. So, I created this photo tutorial to demonstrate the stitch.

First, with the yarn in front, slip 5 stitches, stretching the stitches across the needle. the stitches shown here are purl, bring yarn in front, slip 5, purl.

After knitting another row, the SL 5 looks like this.

On the row where the bridge is actually created. First, we knit 2 stitches and then we need to lift the strand.

The strand is lifted over the middle stitch and placed to the left of it.

The center stitch is then knitted.

The strand is then dropped off the needle. This results in the strand being dropped behind the center stitch.

Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl.

Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Icord Bind Off Makes a Lovely Edge

I have just completed my first goal for 2012. I loved the "Tangerine Trifle" pattern by Amy Gunderson when it was published. On top of the wonderful design, this pattern was written for Ella Rae Lace Merino - one of my favorite yarns. So, how could I resist this pattern?

The pattern calls for the icord bind off and as you can see it creates a wonderful top edge to this scarf.

The scarf ends with 2 garter ridges followed by the icord bind off which creates a 3 stitch tube. The bind off can be better seen on the reverse side. I can't wait to find a use for this bind off in other projects.





Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl.

Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits
Tangerine Trifle and Amy Gunderson can be found on Ravelry

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Tropical Garden Shawl

In my previous post I went through my thought process when selecting colors for a shawl. I decided to go with Mums, but went with a darker green-black yarn from MadelineTosh. The color of this yarn is terra verte. This color really made the colors in Mums pop.

Here is the finished shawl.

Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl.

Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits