The Daily Skein

All the craft that’s fit to make.

Better Late Than Never October 27, 2008

Filed under: Knitting Projects,Musings — Cailyn @ 1:39 pm
Tags: ,

Um.  I’m a bit late with this post, aren’t I?


I did finish the Estes Vest, although I was too optimistic about finishing it all on Tuesday night.  I was still doing that i-cord trim well into Wednesday night.  I went out and took pictures on Thursday, sans buttons.


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All finished! Ignore the incredibly dorky look on my face- I’m looking into the sun and aren’t sure when the shutter was going to go. (Sun in eyes + small flashing red light = no idea what the camera is doing.)  I really love the contrasting trim, even though (as Lowell can verify) I was really regretting my choice when I started.  The trim is curling pretty aggressively at the bottom/corners.  I’m hoping that another blocking will help that (in real water this time, not steam!)  I know that I can’t make the curl go away completely, but I hope I can to lessen it. 


I just have to find some good buttons for it now.  I know I said I’d like to make the buttons, but I tried that on Thursday and nothing I made seemed, well, any good.  Which seems to describe the whole last week, truth be told.


My sister asked for a scarf for the holidays.  (I have two sisters, both younger.  The other one asked for some of these shopping bags.)  Easy, I thought!  I’ve never knit a scarf; I went straight from Calorimetry to socks.  Mainly, I just don’t wear scarves, so I didn’t bother to knit one.  But it’s not like scarves are that hard to knit, right?  It seems to me, scarves are pretty much three steps:


Step 1: Pick yarn.

Step 2: Pick stitch pattern.

Step 3: Knit until yarn runs out.


So, I picked the yarn.  I picked a stitch pattern.  And I started to knit.  For about three inches.  Then I decided that the pattern wasn’t really… good.  So, pick new stitch pattern.  Knit three inches.  Look critically at pattern.  Frog.  Pick new stitch pattern.  Knit three inches.  Look critically at pattern.  Frog.  Throw yarn across room to impress upon it the importance of listening to the artist.  Take a deep breath and try again.  And again.  And again.


I’ve been knitting for days… and I have nothing to show for it!  I’ve frogged everything I’ve done so far.  This scarf is seriously starting to weigh me down.  I really should have taken a picture of all the various attempts at scarfage, but I was far too annoyed at having to frog again to pull out the camera and go up to the light box.  I kept saying, once I figure out this pattern, I’ll post about the scarf on my blog.  Of course, I still haven’t gotten it figured out.  But,  I think I’m finally getting closer.  I’m at least running out of stitches to try.  Stupid scarf.


Things I Learned… October 21, 2008

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 4:36 pm
Tags: ,

No, the vest isn’t done yet.  I still have to do the i-cord trims.  Hopefully I’ll finish those tonight and make the toggles for the front tomorrow.  My cat, Arwen, has developed quite the fondness for this vest.  She likes to snuggle on it, wherever it is.  My lap is irresistible when the vest is on it.  I left the vest in the middle of the couch the other night, where the cats don’t like to sleep even when we’re sitting on the couch.  She spent the whole night asleep on the vest!  I think she likes the wool smell, because she won’t sleep on that spot if we put one of my crocheted blankets in that spot. 


I can try the vest on, though I haven’t taken pictures of it.  It’s very warm and heavier than I thought it would be.  But considering that it’s about 900 yards of bulky yarn, I really should have expected it to be heavy.  The pockets are a little small (I can’t fit my whole hand in one) but that’s ok.  I’m excited to be able to wear it around town.  However, I made some discoveries while working on this project.


Things I’ve Learned from the Estes Vest


Never, ever slip stitches on edges that are going to be seamed. (see previous ranting.)


I’d rather graft than seam.


Picking up stitches on an unslipped edge is tortuous.


What the heck do you do when you pick up a stitch in each row, but don’t end up with enough?


Just because a project only has 1 color of yarn, that doesn’t mean you won’t spend hours weaving in ends.


I’d rather work a Fair Isle with 12 colors where each color is used for only 1 row than seam.


Steam blocking may be faster, but isn’t sufficient for a big project.


Did I mention the slipped stitches issue?


Seaming along two cast off edges- what’s up with that?


Knitting something that isn’t covered by shoes is pretty fun (but mittens and hats go in that category too!)


I’d rather knit with the worst, cheapest acrylic blindfolded with my feet than seam.


I haven’t done it yet, but I have a feeling I’ll learn that I don’t like applied i-cords either.



Pictures when everything is finally finished!  Probably Thursday.  Knitting time is limited by cat naps.


Vest Update 2 October 17, 2008

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 4:06 pm
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Has someone ever told you that slipping the first stitch of a row makes seaming easier? 


Yeah, they’re dead wrong.


I found this out the hard way, when I started thinking about my first seaming and how I wanted to do it.  I realized that I had slipped the first stitch of every row, more out of habit than anything else.  I mean, check out this list of patterns; I am clearly sock obsessed and the only time you knit back and forth for a sock, you’re slipping stitches left and right.  Unfortunately, you can’t really seam slipped stitches very well.  Mattress stitch could work; I’d just have to seam two stitches in instead of one, but since this is a bulky yarn project, that would eat up a good amount of space.  And there’s all the shaping next to the selvedge stitch.  I can’t use the slipped stitches for the mattress stitch because there’s only one stitch for every two rows.


You can imagine how annoyed and scared I was.  Had I knit the back of the vest (almost perfectly, may I add) only to fail on the sewing?! Would I have to reknit the entire back?!  The horror.  Well, it turns out that I have a few options and my panicking and pathetic post on Ravelry was likely unnecessary.  First option, the three needle bind off.  Basically, instead of grabbing a needle and yarn, I’ll pick up a stitch in each slipped stitch for both pieces.  Then I’ll do the three needle bind off on the wrong side and hopefully, voila! Or there’s this crochet hook magic which is a bit like picking up dropped stitches, only with side seams instead.  I tried that out on a swatch and it looked okay.  That one I could do on the right side or the wrong side, thus adding my own “design element,” let’s call it. 


Needless to say, I’ll never make this mistake again.  Slipped stitches are for sock heels, edges on scarves, and mosaic patterns, but not sewing edges!  If anyone else has some suggestions about seaming slipped stitches, I’d love to hear them.


After my panic and then my trip to Albuquerque, I started knitting the fronts of the vest.  Lefty knit up nicely, but Righty is giving me some trouble.  As in, I was halfway done and then had to rip it out.  Oh well.  (Notice our cat Kif in the second picture.  He was chasing the little red light that our camera projects onto the subject, presumably to alert anyone in the area that you’re taking photos thus ruining that nice candid shot or to make them think that they’re about to be assassinated.)


IMG_2225    IMG_2233


I’m really working to finish the vest up so that I can devote myself entirely to holiday knitting.  There aren’t too many handknits to do (my family is pretty small and some of those people want sewn presents) but I’m determined to start early this year.  Last year, I was weaving in ends as the plane landed.  It’s no fun juggling project, tapestry needle, yarn bits, and scissors with your tray table stowed in the upright and locked position.  And I was issued a challenge for the holidays.  My mother-in-law clearly doesn’t understand how knitters (or craftsters in general) work.  If you throw down the gauntlet, we have no choice but to pick it up, cover it in yarn, ribbons, and other fun things, and hand it back to you as a sword cozy.  This year, we’re having Christmas at my house for the first time, well, ever (we always travel down to NM to see the in-laws, this year they’re coming up here).  At one point last week, she says to me, “So, are you going to knit everyone really nice Christmas stockings?”


As fellow knitters, you know what has to happen next.  I’d say that sometime in December, you’ll be seeing some stocking patterns on the blog.  Excuse me, I have to go order a butt-load of yarn from Knit Picks.  (Say, can Christmas stockings count as Christmas presents?)


IMG_2231     IMG_2229


(Also, I’d like to say, for clarity, that I’m very excited about the project and had been thinking of doing it anyway before she mentioned it.  Now I just have a reason not to quit when I have to frog someone’s stocking for the eighth time.)


Vest Update! September 25, 2008

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 4:44 pm
Tags: , ,

I worked on the Estes Vest for a while last night and I’m now halfway between the waist decreases and increases.  I knit a few more rows (7 to be exact) before starting the waist shaping because I wanted the vest just a tad longer.  I’m really enjoying the project so far… but that could be because it knits up so much faster than sock yarn!  If you’ve got the pattern yourself, you might notice that I accidentally reversed the cable twists on either side of the stag cable.  But if that’s the worst “mistake” I make, I’ll be very, very happy!

100_3785   100_3786


As you can see, I’m using the snazzy Knit Picks Harmony Needles.  These are the interchangable ones, which I love.  I used to use the metal ones, but apparently, my hands eat nickel needles.  I swear!  I bought an Addi Turbo circular needle last year and look what happened to it after one project. 

100_3791 Those tarnished areas are not only ugly but they keep the yarn from sliding nicely, which is the “turbo” part of “Addi Turbo.”  So far only one of the Knit Picks Nickel tips has started to show this tarnish, but I don’t use the larger needles that often and not for very long.  I’ve heard that Skacel will refund your money or send you a new set if you contact them, but I haven’t tried it.


It’s not too much of a problem, because I generally prefer wooden needles to metal anyway.  I like the slight grip of the wood as well as the warmth and weight.  I find wooden DPNs particularly much easier to use than aluminum ones.  The only problem is that it’s hard to find a wooden needle with that nice sharp point that metal ones have.  I especially hated knitting the Danube socks with the duller points.  Really, any time I have to do a k2tog those dull tips are an issue.


I had forgotten that Knit Picks made wooden needles until I was ordering the yarn for the Vest.  I had kind of steered away from them because I really don’t like the multi-colored look.  But I swallowed my aesthetics, ordered some, and I’m glad I did!  Their Harmony wood needles are almost as sharp as their metal ones.  I’m not sure how I feel about their cable for smaller needles and I think I’ll really miss the swivel action on my KAs, but I’m going to try to knit some lace socks with the Knit Picks needles and see how it goes.


Just for comparison, here’s the three brands of wooden needles that I have:

100_3799 The top is Takumi/Clover, size 1; the middle is Knit Picks, size 1; and the bottom is KA, size 1.  See the nice sharp point on the Knit Picks one?  I’m excited.  I’m pretty picky about my needles, so I’m sure you’ll hear much more about my search for the perfect needles.  Probably more than you ever, ever wanted to know.


Finito! September 16, 2008

Filed under: Knitting Projects,Musings — Cailyn @ 11:09 pm
Tags: , , ,

What’s this?


Is that a swatch in Wool of the Andes Bulky Scuba?  Why, yes, I believe it is!  Any day you get yarn is a good day and 8 skeins of this stuff took up a nice-sized box.  I love the color.  Sometimes it’s very blue, sometimes it’s kind of green and it’s nicely muted.  I spent much of the morning knitting a swatch, because I seem to have left my brain down by the mailbox.  The first time through, I got perfect gauge.  But then I realized that things didn’t quite look right… Duh, I had crossed the cables wrong, two sts over one instead of one st over two. So, rip out and try again.  This time, I got something close, but not quite right.  Too many stitches per inch.  And here’s the funny part:  I tried to fix this problem by swatching with smaller needles.  What am I, an idiot??  Apparently yes, because I spent a good 15 minutes doing some very creative math and trying to figure out how I had gotten more stitches per inch than before.  Sigh.  Rip out, cast on again, do the cables right this time… No matter how I measure this last swatch, I keep coming up with different measurements.  I’m serious, sometimes it’s 19 sts/4 in, sometimes it’s 17, and a few beautiful times, it’s the correct 18sts.  Even when I measure it in the same darn place, I get different gauge!  I’ve decided to just cast on and hope that it resolves itself into something resembling 18 sts/4 in.  So, I’ll play it a bit fast and loose with the gauge.  I might regret this decision, but it’s a vest.  What’s the worst that happens, right?  (I really hope the Gauge Demon didn’t hear that!)


After a marathon session of knitting on Saturday night, and I do mean marathon, I finished the Aran Tam.  (It’s amazing what kind of motivation  “Every row I have fewer stitches to knit!” is.  I really barreled through this once I reached the cables.  Although it still took me 3 or 4 hours to finish.)

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I really like the diamond cables I substituted, but the rice stitch I used for the half-diamonds doesn’t really pop like I had hoped.  I haven’t decided if I’m going to add a pom-pom on top, as is traditional. (I probably will.) The yarn on top there is the tail that has to be woven in. 

Here’s another picture of the original to compare:

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And here it is on my big head facing, of course, away from the light source.  Really, I’m a special kind of stupid today.


I think I’m going to run a few strands of elastic through the ribbing at the bottom.  I’m not sure if it’s the grip of the yarn on itself or the provisional cast on (probably not) or the fact that the brim was knit on size 3 (!!) needles, but it’s not very stretchy.  But other than that, I’m quite pleased with my first tam!  Thank you again for the yarn, Norman!