Monday, September 29, 2014

Knitting a Pente

As promised, here is how I put together my Pente. The sweater has interesting construction and even though the designer rates the sweater as 4 out of 5 difficulty, it really isn't that difficult. The sweater makes use of several techniques that could be tricky:
  • Provisional cast on (I used Judy's Magic Cast on instead)
  • Turned Hem
  • Increase / decrease shaping to get the wings.
  • Stripes
  • Short rows
  • 3-needle bind off.
  • Cast on to cast on edge grafting. (I should have used judy's magic cast on here, since the grafting took patience and precision.
  • The fit. The sleeves are knit horizontally, making for a trickier fit and creating a lot of pieces that flop around.

    Here's how I did it:

    I chose the specified yarn for this sweater as it is very light. This is a big sweater and the lightness of Loft really helps. I think if knit in a standard sock yarn, the front wings could weight the sweater down and pull.
    I cast on using Judy's Magic Cast-on. As you may gather from previous posts, I try to use this where ever a provisional cast on is called for. I have to say, this was my longest one ever, 628 stitches across 2 needles. I like using this cast on because I can establish such a good rhythm and whip out a large number of stitches very fast.
    The pattern starts with knitting the turned hem in the contrast color.
    The inside of the hem is knit in stockinette...
    ...followed by one row of reverse stockinette to encourage the hem to fold.
    The color is switched to the main color and the stockinette continues for the required number of stitches.
    Time to knit the 2 sides of the hem together. Since I used Judy's Magic Cast-on, all I need to do is to start knitting the stitches together: 1 stitch from each needle is knit together. This is similar to the 3-needle bind off, except you are not binding off. The front side of the hem...
    The back side of the hem...
    Completion of the initial main color section.
    Completion of first stripe section.
    Completion of the 2+4 stripe section.
    Completion of the 2+2 stripe body section. The bottom of the sweater is complete and its time to start the arms and shoulders.
    I cast on 70 additional stitches for the sleeve. (I should have figured out how to use Judy's Magic Cast-on, but I thought about it too late.) I continued with the right front and completed the 2+2 stripe section.
    Sleeve shaping is completed next. Short rows are used to shape the sleeve.
    Shoulder shaping follows, again using short rows
    I completed the front left shoulder.
    ...and the back.
    Sweater shoulders are bound off using a 3-needle bind off with the chain edge showing on the outside. The color is added and the main body of knitting is complete.
    The sweater is blocked before I seam the underarms. I soaked the sweater in water; squeezed the water out; wrapped it in a towel to remove any excess water and then laid it out to dry.
    Time for the underarms. I chose to graft them together -- think Kitchener, but flat. The grafted row is in the middle of the picture.
    The results.

    I really need to knit more sweaters. I can fit a sock in my sleep, but sweaters are still a little iffy. Gomoku is my best fitting sweater to date, so I have to keep up the momentum.

    My project can be found on Ravelry at Gomoku.


    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. "Pente" pattern copyright by Carol Feller..

  • Monday, September 22, 2014

    I'm Branching Out

    I've been toying with the idea of buying a loom for some time. I've always admired the wonderful woven fabrics that show up in higher-end craft fairs. I have also admired the speed with which a simple project could be completed -- and I have plenty of yarn to use!! (See my social experiment posts.)

    So, I picked up a Schacht Flip 15" rigid heddle loom back at the start of my social experiment. While there are limits to a rigid heddle loom, the rigid heddle loom has one really big advantage. The loom is easy to warp. In order to determine if I like weaving, I need the simpler start. If I get so addicted to it that I want a shafted loom, I'll be ready for the warping complexities involved.

    Why did I pick the flip over other models?

  • It folds in half, even while warped for easy portability
  • It supports 2 heddles without accessories
  • Its well constructed and beautifully finished
  • A mini class came with the loom purchase (from Purlescence Yarns, the LYS where I purchased the loom). The class covered the basics, making sure that the loom was correctly assembled, warping and laying down weft. I started with a skein of sock yarn. I chose a skein of Cascade Heritage Paints in the London colorway. When you choose to weave both warp and weft with a handpainted yarn, you end up with a plaiding effect which depends on the length of the color runs. The unintentional plaid can be quite attractive.

    I plan on taking more weaving classes so I can master the basics and whip out those scarves! (I wonder how long I'll be satisfied with scarves?) I signed up for the intro series, a 6-class series which started in September.


    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. .

    Thursday, September 18, 2014

    Pente Knit-along at Green Planet Yarn Complete!!

    Well, we finally all got together to photograph the results of our knitalong. From left to right (on Ravelry): Pond Scum Clowns Pente by nonnibaloney, Pente by bear-ears, my Pente, Gomoku and Truffled Almanac by br8kfree.

    I will discuss the Pente construction in a future post.


    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. "Pente" pattern copyright by Carol Feller..

    Monday, September 15, 2014

    Using Bonk! as an Inspiration for a Baby Hat

    After completing my Forest Sprites, I had some leftover yarn and wanted to complete a monster hat as well. First I went to the book, Knit a Monster Nursery, as I thought I could make use of one of those patterns to knit a hat. (The Green Planet Yarn knitters are using this as a source book for the baby shower.) Then it occurred to me, I could use Bonk! as the inspiration for my hat. The ears on this monster are super cute, so I decided to go for it.

    I decided that the hat would be knit using US 7 (4.5mm) and US 8 (5mm) needles. Since I'm emulating Bonk!, I'm using the same yarn I used for the monsters themselves. Here's what I did:

    Start by casting on 64 stitches using German twisted cast-on on US 8 (5.0mm) needles, joining to work in the round. I'm going for a newborn to 3 months size. Adjust this count if you want a bigger hat. Knit 8 rounds of 1x1 rib.
    Switch to US 7 (4.5mm) needles and knit 30 rounds of stockinette. (Bigger hats may require more rounds of stockinette. I would suggest 5 more rounds for every 8 stitches extra -- this is a guess!)
    Time to reduce for the crown. For this crown, I started with a (k2, k2tog)* round, followed by a knit round. Following the same pattern, I reduce 1 knit stitch each time and then repeat the final decrease round once more:

    Round 1: (K2, k2tog)*
    Round 2: K*
    Round 3: (K1, K2tog)*
    Round 4: K*
    Round 5: K2tog*
    Round 6: K*
    Round 7: K2tog*

    If you have increased the stitch count for the hat you may need to add additional decrease rounds or finish a round with a K3tog instead of a K2tog.

    When decrease rounds are complete, cut yarn leaving sufficient length to finish hat. Thread yarn tail through remaining loops and pull tight. Weave in ends.

    So far we have a simple stockinette cap.

    Time for embellishment. First we will start with the face. I'm using my contrast color and a US 7.0 (4.5mm) needle for the face. This is a larger needle than the needle used for the original monsters, so I've had to make some adjustments. Ive reduced the number of rows and the number of stitches. My face is knit as follows:

    Cast on 16 using long-tailed cast on.
    Row 1 (WS): P1, PFB, K12, PFB, P1
    Row 2 (RS): K1, KFB, K14, KFB, K1
    Row 3: P to end of row.
    Row 4: K to end of row.
    Row 5: P to end of row.
    Row 6: K to end of row.
    Row 7: P1, P2tog, P14, SSP, P1
    Row 8: K to end of row.
    Row 9: P1, P2tog, P12, SSP, P1
    Row 10: K to end of row.
    Row 11: P1, P2tog, P10, SSP, P1

    Cast of using K2tog tbl bind off, leaving sufficient tail for attaching face to hat.

    Buttons would be cute, but since this is for a baby, I'm adding the eyes with a duplicate stitch. I've embroidered the nose with 2 straight lines.

    To attach the face to the hat, I first align it with the 6th round of stockinettes, horizontally centered on the front of the hat (the front is the opposite of the start of cast on). The face is whip stitched in place. If you have made larger hat, you will probably need to align the face differently.

    Time to make some ears. Again, I'm using a US 7 (4.5 mm) needles and making adjustments to the original pattern to account for size.

    Cast on 40 stitches using long-tailed cast on, leaving sufficient tail to whip stitch the ears closed and attach them to the hat. 30" is more than sufficient. Join to work in the round.

    Rounds 1 & 2: K.
    Round 3: K to 2 stitches before marker, K2tog, SM, SSK, K to end of round. (38 stitches remain)
    Round 4: K to end of round.
    Repeat rounds 3 & 4, 2 more times. (34 stitches remain)

    Round 9: SSK, K to 2 stitches before marker, K2tog, SM, SSK, K to 2 stitches before end of round, K2tog. (30 stitches remain)
    Round 10: K to end of round.
    Repeat rounds 9 & 10 until 6 stitches remain. Remove marker.

    Round 21: CDD, CDD.

    Cut yarn and thread through remaining 2 loops & pull tight. weave in end.

    Make a second ear.

    Using the yarn tail whip stitch the ear closed.

    Fold the corner of the ears over and tack down using yarn tail.
    To attach the ears, flatten the hat and arrange the ears with the folded portion of the ears towards the center of the hat. I started my left hear at the center of the hat and moved the second ear of to the side. Move the ears around to find an arrangement you like. Using the yarn tail, tack the ear in position. Whip stitch the ear to the hat. I started at the fold point and moved around the front of the ear front fold and then around the back. When you get near the end, fold a little bit of the corner forward and stitch it down. This will help keep the ear from flopping as much.
    The finished hat.

    My finished hat, can be found at Baby Sprite. There won't be much information (basically, no pictures) in the project until after the baby shower.


    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. "Bonk!" pattern copyright by Susan Claudino..

    Monday, September 8, 2014

    Casual Knit Along at Green Planet Yarn

    Back in May, several Green Planet Yarn regulars went on a field trip to A Verb for Keeping Warm to see the Brooklyn Tweed trunk show (We would love to see Brooklyn Tweed yarns at GPY, since its a traffic laden, time consuming trip to AVKW. Hint, hint, Brooklyn Tweed.) I tagged along since I like the AVKW house yarns. I already had a couple of sweaters worth of loft, so I wasn't planning on any purchases.

    At first I did OK, and only bought some buttons. Others bought some sweaters worth of yarn. We left and went to lunch.

    ...and then we went back! I made the "mistake" of trying on the Pente sweater. In print, this sweater didn't interest me. Then I tried it on. It looked amazingly good. Not only that, but the sweater looks good on multiple body types. Well as you might of guessed,

    I bought a sweaters worth as did two others. We decided on a knit along. A fourth person decided to join the knit along using her hand spun.

    Since we are knitting sweaters of different sizes, the knit along can't be competive knit along. Hopefully I'll have a group shot by the time this post is published.

    My project can be found on Ravelry at Gomoku. I'll discuss the sweater construction in a later post.


    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. "Pente" pattern copyright by Carol Feller..

    Monday, September 1, 2014

    Fiber Arts at Recent Shows in the Bay Area: San Francisco ACC

    I try to go to the San Francisco ACC Show every year. Since I've been in the bay area, I've only missed a few. I love high end crafts. If you have one in your area, you should make the effort to attend since the overall quality is high. This years show had an abundance of fiber art. There were knitting, felting and weaving artisans at this show. I'm going to follow the order I worked through the show.

    The first artisan I encountered was Andrea GEER Designs. She had a lot of stylish and fun knits. I wish I was taller so I could where some of these.
    Across the aisle was Muffy Young Handweaving and Cloth Design. As you can see, there were many wonderful scarves and shawls in this booth.
    Teresa Ruch Designs was also present. I have purchased her hand dyed Tencel yarns at Stitches 2014 and Knitting Lab 2013. She manages to get beautifully dark and intense colors. Her hand weaves were no exception. (The spots are from my camera - I need to clean the lens!)
    Kathy Colt artisan textiles makes use of Nuno Felting to create wonderful shawls and spectacular wall pieces, pillows and other decorative pieces.
    Another interesting knit designer was Kaoru Izushi Knit Design. This artisan had many Asian inspired silhouettes

    This was a particularly good year at the show. I can't wait for next year.


    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. All designs shown are copyright of the designers.