Monday, February 24, 2014

3 Weeks in Australia + Stitches West

I returned from Australia at the beginning of the week. Luckily, the jet lag wasn't too bad, as Stitches West started on Thursday. More on that later. I visited many yarn shops, a sheep ranch, saw many animals; but did i knit? No!! I managed to get through another repeat of Harbor Nights and that's it!

Looks like I took too much yarn again.

I'll be talking about the trip and Stitches West over the next few weeks, but for now, I need a little sleep.

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 17, 2014

Travel Knitting for Australia

Do you have trouble planning your travel knitting like I do? I'm looking for 2 types of knitting: Simple carry along knitting and and easy but relatively interesting knitting for the plane. I do not want to have to figure anything out while I'm on the plane. I just want to knit.

I'm traveling to Australia for 3 weeks. (I hear a lot of conflicting stories on whether or not I can take my knitting on the plane to Australia. I'm flying a US carrier so the flight there should be no problem. Its coming home that will be interesting. According to the Australian Governments site, Travel Security Site, knitting needles crochet hooks are no longer banned as of December 25, 2009 and they are not listed on the current Prohibited Items List page. My concern is that many of the stories of prohibition are more recent than 2009.

To deal with the possible confiscation of my needles, I'm not taking my favorite Hiya Hiya Sharps on the trip. Instead, I'm taking my Knitters Pride Wood interchangables. This way, if my needles are confiscated, I only need to unscrew the tips and off I go. While I'm not fond of the cords or of wood needles in general, the tips on these needles are sharp and that is my overriding concern when knitting because I am a tight knitter.

Now, I've decided what needles to take, I need to decide what patterns to take. The first need is easy. I'll take some yarn for simple socks and simple mitts. These patterns are mostly in my head. All I need is a simple table and the ability to count rows. I usually carry knitting like this wherever I go anyway. This knitting won't be for the plane, but will be with me once I'm there. Again, I'll use my knitters pride wood circulars just in case.

My first plane knitting project was an easy decision. I have wanted to knit Brickless with my Miss Babs club yarn in the Berlin colorway for a while. A friend of mine just completed her Brickless where she replaced the 1x1 ribbing with a brioche rib. I liked the look, so I started knitting the pattern to figure out how the brioche will work.

Now I need to figure out a second pattern that uses a larger needle for backup plane knitting. I thought a simple lace pattern would be nice, so I started looking at Japanese Waves Rectangled Shawl. After looking at the pattern directions, I decided it required too much "figuring out" to get started. Once started, the pattern is easy enough but the directions are bit vague. The next shawl I looked at was Zephyr Cove. This one has way too much garter for what I need for this trip. I then took a look at Iron Maiden. Again, not too difficult, but there was too much pattern interpretation for a backup project. Finally I settled on Sweet Jazz. The shawl is long and thin the way I like them.

Like always, I'm sure I'm taking too much knitting with me. Starting at the lower left,
  • Miss Babs Yummy Sock in Woodland Violet for a pair of simple stockinette socks. Should I finish them, there will be enough leftover yarn for a pair of stockinette mitts.
  • Abstract Fiber Mighty Sock in Laurelhurst (also the center skein). I'll use this yarn for Sweet Jazz. There will be enough leftover for either a pair of simple socks or a pair of mitts.
  • Some leftover Miss Babs Yummy Sock in Mums for a pair of mitts.
  • Miss Babs Yowza what a skein in the Berlin colorway for the Brickless shawl.
  • Some leftover Abstract Fiber Supersock for a pair of stockinette mitts.

    Too much yarn? I think so, but I'm taking it anyway.

    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. Patterns are copyright by their authors..

  • Monday, February 10, 2014

    Fitting Top Down Socks: Fitting an Integrated Toe

    Most top down sock designs have a simple stockinette toe. A stockinette toe doesn't require any special considerations when fitting the toe. Some socks end with a "continuation" toe. In this toe design, some attention has to be paid to maintaining the pattern, but still pretty straight forward. A problem arises when the toe design is strongly integrated into the sock design. Some examples of this type of sock are the Lingerie Sock by Maria Naslund and Uloborus by Claire Ellen.

    I have a small foot, so I had to modify the toes of these socks to get the socks to fit. The first step to getting a good fit is to

    analyze the toe chart for working space, space where adjustments can be made. In the case of the lingerie sock the working space was found outside the lace pattern. In the case of Uloborus, the working space was found inside the lace pattern.


    To adjust the lingerie toe, I went old school. I made paper copies of the toe and cut the lace portion of the pattern out.
    I then overlayed the lace pattern over a pattern free version of the toe, adjusting the pattern within the toe. The result moved the pattern further down the tow, reducing the length of the toe by 6 rows,


    The Uloborus sock called for a different approach. The pattern calls for stopping the leg at any even row. In my case, the stopping point wss row 22. Now, I could have stopped here and continued with the toe, but I thought it important to complete the leg pattern repeat.

    I used the center free area of the toe and continued the leg pattern into that area. The chart shows the changes I made to the first 2 rows of the chart.

    Since I only needed two rows, the center area had enough room to incorporate the pattern stitches. Stitches 10 - 22 are the leg pattern stitches that were inserted into the toe. I only saved 2 rows, but it allowed me to use a full pattern repeat on my smaller foot.

    Every sock is different and presents new challenges. Can't wait to see what future socks bring.

    These projects can be found at Lingerie Sock and Poison Orchid.

    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 Uloborus pattern copyright Claire Ellen; Original Lingerie pattern copyright Maria Naslund.

    Monday, February 3, 2014

    Cats in the Garden

    I have a cat whose name is Rondo. Rondo has always been an escape artist. Even though we do not allow our cats outside (We live in a city) and have never allowed them outside, Rondo knew where he wanted to be -- OUTSIDE.
    When I saw Cats in the Garden, I new I had to knit it as I love knitting stranded socks. This is the first cat pattern that appealed to me. Then throw in the fact that its an abstraction of a cat in the garden and Rondo's Escape was born. The colors of the original sock are actually my colors, so I chose to stay in that color palette.

    I chose cascade heritage sock yarn for this project since it comes in many colors, isn't overly expensive and I can purchase it at Green Planet Yarn, my LYS.

    This sock is sized for a US 8 - 8.5 shoe size and I'm a US 5.5 - 6. I'm going to have to modify the sock to fit, so I'm going to have to do a lot of chunking. For this sock, I'm going to chunk around each pattern motif / color change.

    My first chunk is the cuff. I cast on 72 stitches using Tilly Buddy's Very Stretchy Cast On with US 1.5 (2.5mm) needles.. Since I like a shorter leg, I'm knitting 15 rows in 2x2 rib, for about 1 1/2". I complete this chunk by knitting the first row of chart 1 with a US 2.0 (2.75 mm) needle. I distributed 6 M1L (instead of 4) evenly while knitting this row. There are now 76 stitches at the start of stranding.
    I noticed that the first flower chart had an odd column of stitches in column (stitch) 1. I removed these stitches and arranged the flowers so that there are 2 stitches between each flower. Since this is a paid pattern, I'm only showing the columns between the flowers in the chart.
    Twelve chart rows completed.
    Row 13 is a stripe of color A. I am knitting 2 rows, instead of 1 row for 2 reasons. 1) I can create a jogless stripe; 2) when decreasing the 2 stitches, I can decrease them in row 2 so they won't visible decrease the pattern above.
    I didn't need to modify the cat pattern, or so I thought. I should have realigned the pattern so that the cat was centered in the leg. I'll see if I can do something about that when I get to the heel flap. I completed this section with 2 rows of brown, for consistency with my earlier 2 row brown stripe. I may not be able to maintain the 2 row stripe when I get to the foot.
    I decided to modify the blue sky section for length. I didn't knit rows 45 & 46. So I only have one set of leaves. This helps to compensate for the 2-row brown stripes. It also might be useful when shortening my foot.
    Since the cats weren't centered, I rearranged the stitches on my needles by moving the last 3 stitches on each needle to the other needle to better center the cat. Its not perfect, since the leaf band is actually 7 stitches wide.
    I thought the heel would look better with a more vertical pattern, rather than the specified horizontal look, so I initially went with the alternate approach of a corrugated rib heel. I tried this on both a US 1.5 (2.5 mm) and a US 1.0 (2.25 mm) needles. Both created a heel flap that was way to long. So I decided to do a stranded heel stitch heel. This required a little thought. I needed to carry the slipped stitch color across when working the right side. I did this with a US 1.0 (2.25 mm) needles. The end result is a thick, cushy heel that still has a corrugated rib feel.
    My pickup resulted in 18 pickups. I didn't realize that I would be knitting across the instep in color A. Next time I would end the leg with only one round of color A, so my 2 row color A stripe would be maintained throughout.

    Because of the 18 stitch pickup, I have an extra stitch on each side of my gusset. To account for this, I added an extra background stitch on the "inside" of the decreases. I continued with the extra stitch until row 12, where I added an extra set of decreases.

    I wanted to continue with my large flower chart, but my stitch count was off. I needed 39 stitches and had 38. I did a PU&K after the 38th stitch, in my pattern color. The stitch will be decreased out in the second row of the brown stripe.

    I also realized that the rearrangement of my stitches to center the cat results in a different alignment of the large flowers. Oh well. Recharting chart A to center the cat would fix this issue.

    I changed needles from US 1.5 (2.50 mm) to US 1.0 (2.25 mm) in the second row of brown following the large flowers.

    I recharted chart A to center the cat on the foot. This played with my brain because the color of the sole alignment was altered as a result of the chart A changes and I didn't take the time to rechart the sole to correspond with the instep changes. I ended up accidently changing the foreground background relationship of the sole. Luckily it looks good. I stopped with the end of the small flowers and changed colors, knitting 1 row in brown. Foot is now complete.
    I knit a simple round toe as follows: Round 1- K; Round 2- K 1, SSK, K to 3 stitches before end of needle, K2tog, K1, k1, SSK, K to 3 stitches before end of needle, K2tog, K1.

    Some modification ideas that I didn't try:

  • Adjust the cat section by shifting the pattern so cat's are centered
  • Narrow the blue sky section by 2 stitches so that the flowers are evenly spaced. This would require an adjustment in the sole chart as well.

    More information on this sock can be found at Rondo's Escape.

    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. Pattern is copyright by Sonja Launspach