Toppings

jenjoycedesign© felted pom pom

A little something that I call  ” the felted toorie ”

toorie 

or tourie (ˈtʊrɪ  )

noun Scottish

1. a tassel or bobble on a bonnet

2. Alsotoorie bonnet

a bonnet with a toorie
Word origin of ‘toorie’

C19: from Scot toor tower

Toorie is just a Scots name for the little ball that goes on top of many of their hats, often looking like little red cherries.

I just made a regular medium-sized pompom,  entirely in Jamiesons Shetland Spindrift — color Sholmit.  I snipped the fresh pom pom right off of the cardboard, then it went through a wild hot & soapy wash while being rolled in my hands, and ended up really bumpy , felted, and generally unappealing  (you can  see my tutorial if you want to see all the steps.)

jenjoycedesign© trimmed toorie.JPG

Until you take scissors to it! Trimmed to perfection , it is ready for this tam.

Two tams are waiting back stage …. nervous, nearly forgetting their lines.

 

A January Day

jenjoycedesign© clouds

The weather has been fabulously wet and the cloud & fog shows as entertaining as can be, and nothing is better than cups of coffee and a little knitting, or in this case,  sweater surgery, as was needed this morning. Can you see the section I have added on? About 4 inches worth!

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Remember this post  from mid November? Well apparently Miss Thirteen has totally outgrown her Autumn Sweater, and it needed lengthening, which I was very keen to do, for it was rather outgrown before she even recieved it. Backstory is that both my nieces were measured for their Autumn sweaters last July, then I had them all knit by mid August , just awaiting the equinox so we could have our Autumn Photo Spree. Well, a couple of weeks before the equinox, the devastating fire which consumed half of the county happened, and everybody was so displaced for weeks (my nieces’ home narrowly escaping destruction)  … and so this year they didn’t actually receive their Autumn Sweaters until Mid November.  Three months after they were measured, and  not difficult to guess that as Miss Thirteen is growing like a  weed,  some lengthening would be in order.

So, I’ve enjoyed doing a little sweater surgery today and made a tutorial to add to Tips From The Table. I hope you enjoy it and that it can be of use to you or any bottom-up sweaters you know which are in need of a little sweater surgery.

Lengthening Bottom-Up Tutorial HERE

jenjoycedesign© fixed

Swirls

jenjoycedesign©yummy-yarn-pasta!

Knitting swirls of yarn so very suggestive of mouth-watering fusilli pasta !

I learned a new technique the other day, (( I’m working on a secret side project))  and that is working three stitches into each cast-on stitch, then binding-off ~~  makes a yarn spiral !  The perfect knit-walking pocket project, I’ve been experimenting on variations in this theme.  I am finding out what happens when a single stitch explodes into 9 stitches in 2 rows, or even from a single stitch into over 50 Almost 30 in 6 short-rows, letting my imagination run wild,  navigating through possibility , and reminding myself that the i-cord in it’s many uses, never ceases to impress me !

Percentage Systems

Rip…rip…riiip…

I would love to discuss the established Percentage Systems of Seamless Yoke Construction. Anybody game?

Here’s the deal,  the sweater heaped on the chair, getting ripped back was because I mistakenly went along my merry way starting the decrease rows from the method I’m use to , a ‘percentage system’ of a kind that I came up from the charts I’ve used,  completely forgetting how this time I wanted to try out strictly Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Percentage system.  (no hybrid!)  Feeling a little bit unsure with the over-all fit of another way, I am trying to anticipate the difference.  I’m laying the math out and taking a close look.

Elizabeth’s Percentage System, or cute little title of “EPS” as it is known among the Zimmermaniacs of the Modern Knitting World, I will extract from her book which I bought recently (used) called “Knitting Around”.  In EPS, the depth of the yoke is to be approximately half of the width of the main body before the sleeves are joined on (not circumferance, but laid flat, measured-across-width-wise measurement~  and then half of that is the “yoke depth”).  After joining the sleeves to the body, all on one circular needle, EPS has you knit up half of the entire yoke depth before beginning the first decrease row, and continueing with only 3 decrease rows total, dividing the upper half into halves, (quarters of the total depth, actually) with the third and last decrease at the neckline.

EPS is roughly as follows: On the first decrease row , the total stitches are decreased by 25% , with *K2,K2tog* repeat. One knits up to I suppose about another quarter section of the whole yoke depth (perhaps after a decorative pattern allows), then begins the second decrease row, where the new total stitches is decreased  33.3% , with a *K1,K2tog* repeat.  The last and third decrease, right before the short-row shaping at the back of the neck, is a decrease row which is a *K1,K2,K2tog* repeat which decreases the new total of stitches 40% and which then leaves the remaining total of stitches to be finished off method of choice.  The last remaining stitches also is around 40% of the original casted-on total of stitches.  That is roughly, a condensed summery I think, of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Yoke decreasing which I am about to try for the first time.

Now,  the other yoke-decrease method , percentage system if you like, that I’ve been using up until now, is what I’ve come up with by following the instructions of the charts of the book of Ann Budd’s called “Handy Book of Sweater Patterns”,  a great book loaded with charts so one can design just about any kind of sweater from any yarn and needle combination (within reason of course).  This book has been my ‘bible’ up to now,  along my adventure thus far of seamless yoke sweaters.

It goes something like this : The total yoke depth is likely the same as EPS,  but one begins the first decrease row after only about 1/4 , or less, of the total yoke depth (instead of half). If you factor in the fourth decrease row at the neck, you’ve got the whole yoke depth divided into thirds, with the last and fourth decrease being at the neck. So far , are you with me ? That’s one extra decrease row than EPS,  but different ratios of decrease.

The way I’ve managed to figure the math from the charts , and from my own ‘imaginary sweater’ which employs the EPS as a template ~ has had the first row decrease of 20% total stitches, with a *K3,K2tog* .  The second decrease row , about half way up the yoke,  decreases the new total of stitches  25% with a  *K2,K2tog* repeat.  The third decrease row about 3/4 or thereabouts up the yoke depth, (depending entirely which pattern one might design into the yoke) decreases the new total of stitches  33.3% with a *K1,K2tog* repeat.  The last decrease row, just before the short-row shaping at the back of the neck opening,  repeats the *K1,K2tog* pattern to arrive at the final neck finish total of stitches.

Are you still with me?  Have I made any outrageous math mistakes yet? (If so, please point them out).  So what I’d like to know, is if there are any of you reading, who has tried different yoke shapings, and can enlighten me to how the end result actually fits being worn.  Until then,  I will finish off my nieces Autumn Sweaters using completely Elizabeth Percentage System, and see for myself.  I will no doubt, be anxious to spill the beans when the finished sweaters are all blocked out.    I have a sweater which I haven’t finished (haven’t steeked yet) which is shaped through the decreases from the Ann Budd charts to compare the EPS yoke shape to.

Sit tight, and see me get giddy with my newly discovered math abilities (Yes, I’m suggesting that I always was a very bad math student).  I’ve quite astonished myself actually !  See you back on the subject in a few posts.

Sock News


I am sort of taking a break from any projects which require  a lot of creativity, for a spell.   Sometimes I want to just defrag and knit a basic project, and contemplate more logical ideas.

For instance, sock knitting. Very basic sock knitting, I’ve decided, is extremely under-rated. I want to cultivate the utilitarian-ness of basic-sock-knitting, and I can’t really see myself ever becoming very decorative about them.   Just two knit/two purl rib sock knitting , where the numbers are multiples of 8, and really, for the adults and teens I know and love and knit for, and using fingering or even sport weight yarn, I’m figuring there are likely going to be two common sets of numbers to work from ~ total stitches being 56, or total stitches being 64.   Sport weight yarn with 64 or 56 stitches,  on #3 needles will be a large-ish sock, maybe a little snugger on size#2 needles (like for Kilt Hose !) , and I’m seeing that fingering weight yarn with 64 or 56 stitches and size#0 – #2 needles is a good variation of size range too. I’m knitting my second pair of Regular Ol’ Socks and  keeping very vigilently to #2 needles ~ this time careful to not accidentally knit with the #3 needles.

(Question: How can one so easily and so often mix them up? Answer: too many needles heeped in a cigar box, unlabelled).

I knit very snugly, and these stitches are super duper fine and …. well these puppies are tight! Imagine what I could do with fine fingering weight, my tight knitting, and size #0 needles !!! I could change the world ! Or… at least… I could knit some very fine, very nice socks for my wee hoofish feet, using 64 stitches, or even introduce a new number of 68 or 72 stitches… just imagine…knee-highs…with delicious rib decreases…and even increases !  I’m salivating !

So here is another observation I’m making : Using two 16in circular needles (a pain, yes, and having to adjust needles every half row is high-maintenance knitting for me, but must be done, because the 56-stitch socks in fine fingering weight yarn, stretched around one 9in circular needle is a job wrestling the whole way, pushing stitches along at their widest possible girth is also high maintenance.

Here we have progress with two 16in circular needles…


And here is progress with one 9in circular needle…

I must admit that I prefer low maintenance for something as ‘easy’ and ‘simple’ as a Regular Ol’ Classic Sock.  I’m thinking that streamlining the two 16″circular needle method is the best bet for a sock that’s not big (like for gent)… but for my feet, which are more like wee hooves of a baby burro… but   I still am sleuthing out the best method.

Edit In : Okay, for the second time , on the second pair of socks, I’ve decided a set of 4 double-pointed needles are actually the least bit fussy and least maintenance.  Suprising, since I have to switch out 3 times in one row !  Most importantly the yarn loops don’t get stressed when getting pushed between the fine cable and over the needle join.. where I’m constantly having to really pull and that I’ve decided , is the agitating ‘fiddly bit’ I can do without.  DPNS are IN.

Speedy(er)

I am struggling with the perpetually fussy and tedious switching between needles in the 2-needle method of knitting socks ~ which I love by the way, as there’s just no way can I stand poking and catching and detangling of yarn using traditional set of four straight double-pointed needles, I’m just not that talented. Or rather, not that patient.  But it slows the knitting rhythm down quite a bit to have to adjust and switch out, (as on any style: 1 needle ‘magic loop’,  2 needle style, and 4 straight dpns)… but I have discovered just now that the 9″ length circular needle I had bought a few years ago and never used, is perfect for the socks !!!  Especially the straight-a-way stockinette section in these …  So yes, I do love the two-circular-needle-method through all the rib and the heel flap & turn, but folks, when it’s time to knit the long foot section of stockinette with microscopic yarn at a gazillion stitches per inch, when no attention is really needed for stitch pattern,  I have just discovered ~finally~ that these little 9 inch circulars work like a dandy !

I remember the lady at the yarn store giving me attitude when I wanted to order them (they were not in stock) and she said ” I don’t know why anybody would want to use them…”.  Okay, well, one of the few physical blessings I guess I was born with, is small hands and feet, and thus I can knit a sock with 9″ circulars.

Mainly, I am trying to learn habits which will allow me to knit in a more speedy fashion, just little time-saving tricks such as this. Now I can do other things while knitting… um… like reading knitting blogs. 

*   *   *

Edit in :  Okay, I’ve changed my mind,  I think I can actually knit nearly the whole (adult) sock (excluding the toe section)  using 9inch needles !  Which is exactly what I will do with my next pair coming up.

Edit in 2:   Evidently I don’t know what the heck I’m doing when I say one method is better than another . Eating my words about now , how with socks I prefer two, or one circular needle method, and never double-pointed needles (they tangle so…and stab…ouch ! ) Here I am in the toe sections of the grey socks, and I happen to have a set of four #2 dpns,  yes, I do, and the tips are sooo pointy…(I think they’re Addi stainless steel)…  and those tips decrease soooo efficiently!!!  I am not only deciding that…wow…the dpns  really *do* make a difference, but, dang it if I don’t really like the super pointy needles (since trying to knit faster is my *thing* right now.  Please pass the salt and pepper…

Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitting Workshop

For the moment I am immersed in knitting-while-watching this instructional dvd I borrowed from the local library.  I am blissfully captivated for hours and hours,  learning all about everything Zimmermann Knitting, even the things I thought I already knew, I am learning again, and better.   Taking a break, while about two thirds the way through the series ~ while working untiringly on Eleanor’s birthday sweater, which is rather ending up quite another  improvisation, I must admit.  I can’t get enough of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s lessons on seamless yoke sweaters, and her Percentage System,  her very creative ways of  hemming ( and with messages in the hem, now that is clever !)… just about every kind of decrease and increase,  and just all those Zimmermann-esque finer touches.

Right now, I’m on the lesson about how to do applied i-cord. I had only suspected before, but now I know for sure that it was Elizabeth Zimmermann who developed the  ‘ i-cord’ in knitting.  The name she called this cord was just her more polite rewording the name idiot cord ( how unbelievably sweet of her. )   I think the i-cord was her way of achieving the same product that was made from  ‘spool knitting’,  and she pretty much figured out how to do on knitting needles, casting on with it, binding off with it, and applying it from picked-up stitches just about anywhere in between. Brilliant.

Oh , but she, the Mother Of Modern Knitting also brought the i-cord into center stage, and demonstrated  just about every concievable way to use it on a piece of knitting or lace border, or for just about everything.  For me the genius of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s i-cord is only just being realized, as I watch her “Knitting Workshop” , oh, she is showing her i-cord applied as edging for , or instead of ~ button bands , and she has created dear little buttonholes too, both invisibly as detached in intervals along the applied border, and also decoratively as loops !  All this she demonstrates and talks so with a manner of teasing,  as if I would want nothing more than to take that piece of knitterly candy right out of her outstretched palm. Genius ! If the Mother Of Modern Knitting wants me to use it , I shall.

Watching this dvd  just today is just perfect timing, it’s uncanny, because I’ve been deliberating on how to do the button bands of Nora’s  pullover, which has a neck button band, which is tricky and I’ve never done one. I do believe EZ’s instruction on how to apply the i-cord as an ‘invisible’  buttonhole band is going to be the answer to my puzzle.  It was meant to be !  I am smitten.

Anyway,  I have SO many ideas coming to mind, and I love most how she encourages thoroughly, total experimentation,  and figuring out as you go.  And well, it’s no big deal because as she always says ~” it’s only knitting “.   How wonderful she is.  I just love her !

And now to quote EZ ~

~~~~Good Knitting !

Edit In :  Just finished the dvd.  I am refreshed with a tenacious desire to knit some textured Fisherman ganseys as well as more traditional Scottish Fair Isle things.  And, well, I have just learned a NEW thing that I’ve never seen before.  EZ’s sideways border and sideways join on front and back of sweaters, looking very much like a saddle shoulder on textured knitted sweater, but it’s especially brilliant because it is more like a yoke and  allows the neck shaping to be easily done.    I always wondered how these things were handled. Now I know.  I will likely go wild with the SIDEWAYS BORDER and JOIN …  so much that I am afraid I will become Sideways !  I will have to watch this over again and again, I think that she just has a way of rubbing off a certain amount of No Sweat, its-only-knitting sort of attitude which I just adore.

Hey ! It’s only knitting !

Refining Details

This cardigan is the second sweater that I’ve bordered my signature rib with a  vikkel braid stitch.  I only say ‘signature rib’ not because I had anything to do with inventing,  but it is a hybrid rib & moss stitch edging I made up for myself  after some experimentation, and which I love so much that I don’t see any end to using.  In particular,  the bound-off edge I use matches it perfectly, or mirrors the vikkel, making the rib nicely bordered by a braid on both sides.  With the addition of the vikkel braid stitch, I feel my edging style is symmetric, pleasing , and finished.


The vikkel works so well as a transition between the ‘body’ and the ‘edge’ because it seems to cover up a sometimes awkward and messy decrease row transitioning into the rib band that seamless yoke sweaters tend to have. Next time I may try two rows of vikkel braid stitch. Or three !

The finish of the two short seems at the join of the body and arms, has become a matter of finer finishings for me. I always do a rough job of sewing seams from raw bound-off edges, but I do love the grafting idea, so I just transfer the stitches onto two short needles (or scrap yarn, or stitch holder) instead of binding off, so they’re all ready to graft together with no hassle. In fact, I think next time I will graft first thing so I’m not having to knit the whole yoke with the hardware hanging out of the armpits. Get it over and done with!

Each time I do this grafting thing to bring the tiny seam together at the ‘arm pit’, I get better ( that is in theory, unless there’s a bit of a time lapse between the last, which in this case, may have been too long).

Practice makes perfect and I’m observing that once the stitches are taken off the needle and grafted together, that trying to take them apart to do over is courting disaster. So, rather than doing the grafting over, I’ll just leave it looking messy and smoosh out the bulky grafted seams when I wash and block.

Measuring Progress


So,  here I am knitting on a Sunday morning, trying feverishly to get at least one of the two kilt hose through the toe section and finished today .

Closer, see that green yarn row marker?

It got caught in the knitting, because I wasn’t paying attention to bring it around to the front on each row.

Ah ha ! I can measure the length of the yarn of the row marker and know how much I knit this morning.

Voila !


My discovery is that if one does this on purpose, say, using a long yarn loop of a row marker with an object dangling on one end, as I do a button, so it won’t slip through, then one can do this quite intentionally. I make row markers like this, lots of them, but I now see the benefit of making them particularly long, so I can measure what I’ve knit in a given time period. Or, if I want to knit a certain length of a section, say, I need to knit 2 inches for example, I just slip the marker to the back and keep measuring the marker from the front. At any point, at the end of the row, the marker can just be slipped out of the knitting and placed back in the front again. Quite Nifty !

Alejandro’s Manos


I pulled out my bags of raw alpaca, and began spinning a few days prior.

The perfect choice of animal fiber for Alejandro’s gloves, he who frequently ski’s the snow of the Andes Mountains, in Patagonia.

Plying natural black with natural grey .

I used the basic charts from   Ann Budd ~ Handy Book of Patterns  as a guideline (especially since I was knitting with handspun and needed a custom gauge). However, I prefered a ‘left’ and a ‘right’ glove, so I had to somewhat re-invented the off-set thumb for myself ~a definite improvement .  I would enjoy publishing my own version of a glove pattern ~ soon ~ because I love making gloves now !

A Walk Among Wildflowers

Red clover in full blossom, is just so beautiful!

Into the vineyard, and into the back meadow along the canyon edge, passing lovely lupine …

And lush yellow blossoms along meadow trail …

many random tiny flowers …

purple brodea …

The meadow filled with flowers !

Along the vineyard rows, poppies.

Top leaf is right on top of San Francisco in the distance.

Beautiful pink Indian Paint Brush flowers along the top row .

Now leaving the little field of many flowers …

… and back home.

Still Steeking

Crocheting the edges, cutting open:  I am beginning to evolve into opinions about when steeking is worth the extra work of all the crocheting, and more importantly, the hassle and lack of ‘couture’ from the bulk and sometimes flapping cut edge on the inside/backside.

Rule : Steek most definitely for patterned knits (both textured relief motifs and stranded color.. yes!), but, for solid backgrounds, especially of anything worsted weight and heavier…um.. I”ll leave it as a very reserved ‘maybe not’ . My preference only. For these  vests, I think maybe would have been better to not steek, as the bulkier worsted weight yarn is quite cumbersome on the backside of the front and armhole openings. Of course, I could have used a different and finer yarn to crochet the steeks, but I didn’t have any around.  Rule reconsidered :  Use finer yarn to crochet steeks !

And who said it had to be the same yarn?  Also,  why not crochet before washing and blocking, then after all that, cut steeks ?

Rule : Use finer yarn for steeking.  When purchasing heavier yarns as worsted or bulky weight, purchase also a lighter weight yarn in similar fiber, and matching color, for crocheting and stitching down the steeks. Oh, and for sewing on the buttons !

Spring Vests Progress

Nearing the finish of the two bodies of vests for nieces. Can you see the steeked front and sleeve holes? (For those of you who are wondering, steeks are extra stitches made into the round of stitches, to be cut open later, allowing the body to be knit uninterrupted in knit or patterned stitches). So far , this is my 3rd project involving steeks, and I am only now *just* getting the hang of it.

Note: After this project for the nieces, I think I will be quite unlikely to knit self-striping yarn for a while, it’s just so ‘been there-done that’ kind of experience. Vivid, cute, in their favorite colors, but I won’t be in a hurry to knit another self-striping yarn project.

Meanwhile, this just showed up, a box full of one-hundred-percent wool yarn for my next project !

Best Vest

I mean it,  I am totally smitten over this vest ! In textured knitting, I think it very prudent to choose or design a very enjoyable pattern, and with a nice yarn,  so that the days, weeks, perhaps months it may take to complete the project , are at least not spent in utter boredom. I personally do not get bored while knitting, but just sayin’.  Here is my  best ever vest project in progress, and enjoying every row !

By the time I finished the body, I was more than ecstatic to take scizzors to it, and open up the steeks, wash, and block.  (Note to self ;  next time wash and block before cutting steeks. )

Next, sew seems and knit the button bands !