How the heel has turned!#knitting
Yeah, another knitting post, and so soon, too! Okay, so this is a post all about Intarsia-style colour knitting in the round, as the title might suggest. See, when I was working on my pacman cap, I had this problem: when you knit Intarsia-style, you basically have colour strands for each “section” of the piece. So, if you’re knitting flat and you’re making a black field with a big yellow section, you’d knit with black, switch to yellow, knit across, then switch to a new strand of black and knit to the end of the row. Going back, you’d do the same thing, and each time you change colours, you do a little yarn wrapping trick to make sure there’s no gaps. The result is, on the back, there is no black carried across the yellow section, which is very nice as it means you have to worry less about puckering and tension, etc.
Problem is, suppose you’re knitting in the round. So you knit in black, switch to yellow, knit across, switch back to black, knit around… and then you’re back to the yellow section. Problem: you now have two black strands, and the yellow is way over on the other side of the yellow section. What do you do? What do you do??
Well, in my pacman hat, I basically cheated. When I got to the section of colour, I switched from round knitting to back-and-forth, and when the coloured rows were done, I switched back to knitting in the round. Then, during the finishing stage, I just sewed up the little seam. Pretty simple, really, but it left a bulky little seam there, and a) I hate bulky little seams, and b) I just hate seams.
So, what’s the real answer? Well, I could explain it, but instead, why don’t I leave it to Sara to answer that question? In an explanation that’s much better than anything I could compose, she outlines three different methods for dealing with the issue, one involving carrying strands around the piece, one using gapless short rows, and a third, far more ingenious technique that I really must try some time…
Here I am, part of the Men Who Knit webring, and I honestly can’t remember the last time I posted about knitting. “Who cares, no one reads this anyway,” you say? Okay, yeah, you’re right. But who isn’t up for a little linguistic masturbation from time to time, eh? If anything, at least it keeps my writing (read: rambling) skills bright and shiny. And, hey, at least Lenore probably reads this thing occasionally. Right?
Anyway, where was I? Oh, right, knitting. So, yeah, I haven’t posted about knitting in a while, but I figured I’d share a little project I whipped up recently. It’s a hat. Yeah, fine big deal, a hat. But it’s a special hat. Wanna see it? Of course you do! You wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t, right? Okay, here it is:
Pretty cool, eh? Cooler yet, I actually designed this thing myself! Though, admittedly, I didn’t actually go through the effort of grabbing the graphics out of the game… a little search for “pacman ghosts” turned up this link, and voila! I was off to the races (oddly, that link is to a website called Sprite Stitch, a, quote, “Video game inspired craft weblog”… apparently I’m not the only one who had this idea). Once I had the graphics, it was a simple matter of charting out the pattern on graph paper, finding some yarn with the colours I needed, and then whipping the thing up.
Of course, charting the pattern did take a bit of effort. The trickiest thing when translating an image into a knitting pattern is altering the images to match your row/stitch gauge. You see, my knit stitches aren’t perfectly square. In fact, they’re a little wider than they are tall. But the images in your average video game are designed to be presented on a display with square pixels. The result is that, if you convert the images directly to a pattern, they come out distorted. So you have to either alter the images to stretch/squish them as necessary, or alter your row/stitch gauge. I opted to alter the images, squishing them horizontally, which was actually a bit challenging, as they’re already very low resolution. But I think the result is pretty nice.
But the question now, is, what next? I’m thinking another classic video game of some kind. One of the Mario Bros. characters, maybe? Or maybe something a little more obscure… Opa Opa, anyone?
Well, I finally have some photos of my latest knitting projects uploaded. First, we have Michelles Scarf, which was actually completed and shipped off months ago, but only now have I gotten to posting a photo:
This is, without question, my favorite piece. The cable pattern is reversible, which is very cool, and the yarn Lenore helped pick out looks really fantastic in pattern (it’s got a glossy, satin-ey finish… very nice, given it’s just off-the-shelf stuff from Michael’s). It was also a heck of a lot of fun to put together (I really love cabling).
Secondly, we have Abigails Baby Blanket, which I just recently completed. It’s a pretty simple pattern, just a nice shell-and-cable deal, but it looks great in the green yarn Lenore, again, helped pick out:
‘course, with all the work on NetHackDS, I’ve had little time to pick up the needles lately. Which is unfortunate, as I really need to begin working on a project for our now-quite-pregnant receptionist. Oh well, I’m sure it’ll be done… you know… a couple months after the baby is born. Ish.
Some of you may remember my entry about the infamous Knitted Pants Suit. I still consider this one of my all-time favorite knitted items, and for the longest time, I bemoaned the lack of a pattern from which I could replicate this masterful work of art. Well, a while back, I decided to send a private message to the poster of the entry where I first encountered this gem (the second link in the aforementioned blog entry), in the hopes that I might acquire the pattern and perhaps create one of my own… you know, to wear around the house, or for one of those wild nights out for which Lenore and I are truly infamous.
Well, as it happens, not a week or two later, I got a response from the individual in question. Yes, he did have the pattern. And yes, he would get me a copy! And so it was that I came into possession of three PDFs which will enable me to create my very own knitted pants suit.
Of course, it would seem unfair to keep this pattern to myself (it’s bad enough I’ve held on to it this long without sharing it with the world), and so I offer it up here (yes, I realize this is copyright infringement, but I just hope Brunswick will understand). Heck, maybe myself and any other interested knitters could each create our own renditions of this masterpiece, that we may then compare our interpretations, and, in the process, enrich the world with the knitted pants suits that it so woefully lacks.
As I mentioned in my previous post, one of the most important bits of advice given to anyone interested in writing is that it’s vital to write as much as possible. After all, how else does one improve at a craft than by practicing it? Furthermore, if one is really serious about improving, it’s important to set some hard, achievable goal which can be used to goad oneself into action. And so it is that I’ve decided to take on the challenge outlined in King’s book: to write 1,000 words a day.
Now, part of me thinks it’s a little premature to announce this here. And I will freely admit that this is quite an ambitious goal (though, what’s the point of a goal if it isn’t at least a little ambitious?). “What if this is just another passing fancy?” a little voice in the back of my head whispers. “What if you get bored or frustrated and just give up?” Well, what better way to strengthen my weak will than to back it up with a public declaration?
Of course, the biggest challenge the past few days has been finding the right time to do this. On a poorer day, it takes me around two hours to pound out 1,000 words (not necessarily good words, mind you, but words nonetheless), and so I need a block of time that would otherwise be unoccupied. I’m also of the belief that it’s important to pick a consistent time of day, so that this becomes a habit (and also helps my brain switch gears from daytime layabout to evening fiction-hack). Fortunately, the two hours after we get home, between 4:15 and 6:00, should work pretty well. We usually spend that time idle in front of the TV, anyway, so at least I’ll be getting something useful (to me, anyway) done.
But as always, one of the biggest difficulties is finding ideas. Fortunately, in “On Writing”, King outlines a simple little scenario and challenges the reader to hack out a story based on it, and so I’ve chosen that as my first project, mainly as an exercise to just get some words on paper. And at 3,100 words, I think it’s making some decent progress. Of course, I have no idea how long it’ll be once it’s finished, and I will freely admit that it’s no Pulitzer Prize winning piece of work, but it’s something, and it’s mine.
Meanwhile, I’ve discovered another difficulty which I hadn’t anticipated: coming up with new, interesting ideas while working on another piece. This morning, while standing half-conscious in the shower (which, as it happens, is where I often come up with my best ideas, whether they be stories or programming solutions), I suddenly had what I think is an interesting idea for a short story. But, of course, being in the middle of something already, it’s necessary for me to set this idea aside for the moment and focus on the piece at hand, something which is much harder than I had anticipated.
As a bit of an aside, no, I haven’t made any progress assembling Jory’s friggin’ baby blanket. I made an attempt to sew the thing together, one day, but was unhappy with the seam I constructed, and so I’ve since felt rather discouraged. On the other hand, I really do need to sit down and just finish it, so I can dispense with all these little red doilie-esque pieces that are laying about our house.
However, for those concerned readers, no, I don’t think my writing goal will interrupt with the progress of the blanket. For one, I’m not making any progress anyway, so unless I start actively unraveling the thing during moments of blind frustration, I fail to see how things could get any worse. And for another, I tend to knit later in the evening while watching TV, anyway, so it should all work out nicely. I hope.
Given that I’m part of the Men Who Knit webring, it seemed like a good idea to write an entry about, you know… knitting.
First off, I gotta thank Lenore for a lovely christmas present. I’d on occasion eyed the Denise Interchangeable Knitting Needles. This set, which comes in a nice, folding case (with the name Denise stamped on the front in gold embossing… did I mention I really dislike the name ‘Denise’? And gold embossing?), comes with a large assortment of needle tips (ranging from 5 to 15US) and cables ranging from 5” to 19”. In addition, the kit comes with joiners, so you can join cables together for larger pieces, as well as attachable stitch holders (of which I’ve already lost one), so you can transform a cable into a flexible straight needle or a stitch holder.
The result is an incredibly compact, yet very flexible kit, which is particularly handy if you tend to knit on the go, as I do. And at ~$50 bucks, the kit is a huge bargain, as it easily replaces a very large needle collection. Highly recommended!
On the project front, the baby blanket continues unabated. All the components are finished and blocked, so all that remains is to sew it together. Yeah… that’s all. I just have to assemble a blanket from the ~30 parts I’ve made. Oh, and did I mention I’ve misplaced my tapestry needles?
Additionally, in my spare cycles, I completed a new toque for myself from some very cool, chunky yard made from part lambs wool… let me tell you, this sucker is warm. And it’s actually long enough to cover my ears! And with that done, I’m working on another Yellow Goofy Toque for Lenore, though this time slightly larger and in the same yarn I used to make Lenores Mittens and Lenores Scarf.
See? I knit. I’m just too busy to write about it. :)
So blanket construction continues unabated. In fact, in the three days I was in Regina for Thanksgiving, I completed another 4 1/2 panels, which brings me to a total of 9… over one third of the way there! On the hex components, anyway. ‘course, I still haven’t blocked them out, but I’m sure I’ll get around to that eventually.
On a separate but related note, quite a while ago, I embarked on a rather ambitious project: to start a knitting wiki. Unfortunately, as often happens with my projects, I made a reasonable amount of progress in secret before life got in the way and it ended up on the back-burner. However, the recent discovery of another knitting wiki project on Wikia (a Wikimedia-powered free wiki-hosting service) has brough the project back to life. For now.
See, apparently someone else had the same bright idea I did… and the same amount of dedication. Thus, the Wikia site had been languishing for about a year, just waiting to be populated. So I’ve decided to try and adopt the project. I’ve already ported all my content over there, boosting the site from a measley 9 pages to a whopping 31, and I’ve started the process of lightly re-organizing things before generating new material. My ultimate goal would be to generate an all-encompassing repository of knitting knowledge. A resource that could rival those found in traditionally expensive (and difficult to find) knitting books. Of course, we’ll see how long it is before I get bored of the whole idea. :)
Of course, by now, you’re probably wondering where it is. Well, feel free to head over to KnitWiki! And in case you’re wondering, yes, those shots with the green yarn are pictures of me knitting. And yes, taking them required some rather odd contortions…
It’s been quite some time since I’ve worked on a major knitting project. I suppose this isn’t surprising… it’s pretty hard to convince oneself to sit indoors and play with yarn when you’ve got the beautiful sun shining outside and a deck begging to be built or a lawn crying out to be mowed. But, the time has come again for knitting and purling, hence my newest project (yes, another one… and yes, my Squeak project is still ever so slowly rolling along :).
But, before I tell you what it is, I must first warn Jori not to read any further or even glance down the page! Not that she’s likely to be reading my blog, but I’d hate for her to spoil the surprise. See, I needed an excuse to knit something. I mean, Lenore and I only need so many hats and scarves and so forth. And I’m not quite ready to start on a sweater project (or better yet, my Jump Suit). So I wanted a project I could foist on someone else, but something that was complicated enough to be interesting. Hence the Mountain Laurel Crib Counterpane (aka, neato baby blanket).
Pretty nice, eh? It will be a challenge, though. I have to make 25 hex motifs, 6 half hexes and 6 edge triangles, and then sigh sew them all together. Good times! I figure it’ll take me two solid months of work. And my progress? Currently, I have two hex motifs done, one of which you can see below (note, it hasn’t been blocked, yet, thus the details aren’t fully visible and the stitching is a little more cramped than in the final piece):
I think it turned out fairly well. It’s a very fun pattern to work on… lots of variation to keep me focused. :) And the beauty of it is I can work on it while riding the bus, as it’s composed of lots of small pieces that are easily transported.
So, I was browsing around on Men Who Knit, a community site for male knitters (yes, apparently there are enough of us that a dedicated website is warranted), when I came across a few posts that I absolutely had to share. Someone came across a publication called “Brunswick Mostly Male” and posted some pics from patterns therein. And trust me… the name fits:
I think the jumpsuit is my favourite. I gotta gets me one of those!
For those new to this place, my wife and I share our lives with two pet Rabbits, Herbie and Chloe. Well, the last year has been pretty hard on Chloe: so far she’s developed four Abscesses, three on her back feet and, now, one on her front. It’s been fun. Real fun.
Well, her most recent abscess has required me to come up with some method for protecting her foot. The problem is, it needs to be fairly tightly fit, reasonably durable, and most importantly cheap and easy to replace, since she will destroy them, even with the damned cone on.
So, I decided it was about time I actually used my knitting skills for something useful and came up with this:
Pretty basic, but it works surprisingly well. I can custom fit them, which is really nice, and I can bang one out in around 20 minutes, meaning if she does destroy it, I can just make another. I’ve also experimented with a couple other variations, like using decreases near the top to tighten it up, and I even created one using reinforced heel stitch, to see if would stand up to more of a beating. But, in the end, the basic Stockinette pattern seems to work the best. Maybe next time I’ll throw in a couple cables, etc. ;)
Oh thank the lord, it’s done. The Dr. Who Scarf is done! And I even took a picture, just like I said I would:
It turned out pretty darn nice, if I do say so myself… a little wavy on the edges, but I blame the varying yarn weight. I swear, it ain’t my fault! It was all the yarn. Stupid yarn.
Anyway, now I’m on to my next project. I figured I’d make a dent in my largish sock yarn collection by making
a pair of socks! Toe-up socks, no less! You see, typically socks are made from the cuff down. Unforunately, this has two disadvantages:
- You have to sew the toe closed. And for someone who sucks at Kitchener Stitch (like, say, me), this sucks.
- It’s not possible to try the sock on as you make it.
Making socks toe-up solves this problem. It’s also cool. Or so I tell myself. Anyway, here’s a picture of the current work-in-progress:
Amusingly enough, I have a sneaking suspicion it’s a bit big.
So much Knitting, so little time. I’m currently working on a project for a friend of mine (I’d worry about you reading this, Massie, but… I doubt anyone is reading this :): a Dr. Who Scarf. I used to have a decent picture of the original, but it’s misplaced somewhere, and the best I could find is this:
It’s freakin’ huge… probably about 10-11 feet when finished, many colours, and simply a whole heck of a lot of work. Fortunately, it’s almost done. Almost. Probably another foot to go, and then all the weaving-in-of-ends (damn I hate that part). Once it’s done I’ll put up a couple pictures.
On a more Gardening-related note, Lenore and I decided to plant apple trees! ‘course, we bought them over a week and a half ago, and only now, with our landscaping finally completed, have I been able to get them in the ground. One is a Norland and one is a Battleford, with the Battleford going in the front yard and the Norland in the back. Both are quite small right now (I’ll take some pictures soon), around 2 feet tall, so we won’t be getting a yield for a couple years. But, in the meantime, here’s something to look forward to.