The Games that shall not be named.

Surely most of the readers of this blog heard about the kerfuffle about what the name of the Ravelry games to honor the Olympics is called.  The USOC won that battle, but I have the evidence that the Ravelympics did exist:

Ravelympics Pins

Anyway, onto the current games! I was away in Lake Tahoe as the deadline approached, so I’ve only entered a couple of events this time.  I’m knitting the Florina cardigan with Habu’s Nermaki Cotton Slub (N-46).  It’s a very simply-knitted sweater, and I may end up dyeing the natural yarn when I’m done.

Florina1a

There are two different things about Knit Cook patterns.  First, every pattern comes with a recipe, which is lovely. Second, the pattern is written in diagram form, similar to how Japanese patterns are published.  I think I’ll be liking this – as an advanced knitter, I can interpret the decreases and increases myself.  I like learning new things!

The other is a very basic sock, and now that the Afghans for Afghans deadline got extended to August 15th, I’ll be cranking out more than just a couple of socks.  Right now I’m on Sock No. 10 for this campaign! See?

Checkerboard accent sock

So, what are you watching while addicted to the TV and mobile devices?  I’m into the gymnastics (in spite of the sexist coverage by NBC).

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The Guy Sweater

The Guy Sweater. Few projects are more likely to strike fear into the heart of a knitter. You can take a knitter who is unafraid of a myriad of technical challenges, be it intarsia, or steeling, or even every row lace, and then simply say, “Knit for a guy, and let it be a sweater.” Watch them blanch.

Well, last Christmas I promised to make my cousin Dennis (actually my cousin Marie’s husband) a sweater. I knit him socks, but I think they were too warm and thick. But he did like a scarf I made for him a couple of years ago. So I voluntarily offered to knit him a sweater last Christmas.

But there had to be a strategy. I refuse to knit a sweater that someone will not wear – way too much work. So, I knew that I needed a way forward, and I happened to hear a podcast where the dude who wrote Knits Men Love was interviewed, and he sagely provided the way forward.

  1. Ask the recipient to show you his favorite sweaters.
  2. Make something in a very similar style, fiber, and color.

From here I can hear the plainitive cries and laughter. What? Knit something that he already owns? Why would you do that? And then I remind us all that many, many women will buy the same top in a variety of colors – because we know it looks good on us and we like to wear it. Well, this is the guy version of that.

So, a few weeks ago while I was visiting them, I asked Dennis to bring out his favorite sweaters, and I measured them, took note of the fiber content. And here’s what I found:

  • he likes his sweaters loose – 4-6 inches of ease
  • blue, gray or oatmeal color – nothing else
  • cotton and cotton-blends for fiber
  • crew neck.
  • Really, it was that easy.

So, I ordered a few different yarns from Knitpicks (not my usual mo, because I like to support my local LYS) who had a bunch of yarns in cotton blends. I’m using the Cotlin blend in the lovely colorway Rocket.

I even swatched. I kit some garter for fun, and then some stockinette, and then I did a bit of a stitch pattern. After machine washing and drying, I showed him the Swatch and got approval.

And now I’m off to the races. Deadline is finishing by his birthday, in late November. Two for one!

20120718-190824.jpg

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Toe Dipped into Test Knitting

As readers of this blog know, I’ve knit for a lot of purposes – for me, for family, for gifts, for charity, for my own designs and also for store samples.  But until now, I’d never done formally test knitting.

Test knitters take the words (and sometimes images) as printed and try them out – give the pattern a whirl to see if it makes sense.  As a designer, I know how easy it is to make a mistake in a row of knitted directions, or manage to screw up a way of phrasing something.  The test knitter is supposed to catch these problems.

A test knitter is different from a tech editor, who is looking for more than whether the pattern works – that person usually will be putting the pattern into a defined template of abbreviations and customs for however it will be published, as well as checking the math for all the different sizes of the pattern (crucial for sweaters in a multitude of sizes).  It’s also different from knitting a sample, I learned through this process, because there is no requirement (at least in this case) that the actual item be finished in exactly the way that the pattern requires, as long as the actual directions are tried out for accuracy.

Deadlines are very important – most often, you may only have a couple of weeks to complete the item needed – and to be fair to any designer, I wouldn’t agree to something that I couldn’t finish in the indicated time.

I’ve now finished the item that was requested for test knit, and the designer was smart to ask me to knit one of the variations (probably different than the one she knit) to see how it went. I ran into a minor issue that was related to my variation, so I noted the problem, how it could be resolved (two ways), and picked one for the item that wouldn’t change anything else and moved on.  At the end, after trying out the indicated bind off to make sure it worked, I substituted one that I liked better and finished the item.

Test knitting isn’t done for the pay – I’ll probably get a free copy of the pattern when published, sometimes there is a little more provided.  Rather than a profession, I see it as a contribution to the wider knitting community (because it totally is a bummer to run into a defective pattern). If you’re interested in the test knitting world, there are groups on Ravelry that you can check out and see if test knitting might be your thing.

Here’s a small bit of the test knit that won’t give anything away — I’ll post more when the final pattern gets published:

Test knit g

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FO: Eiffel Tower Shawl

This is a lovely shawl, but it was a long, long knit!  Lace-weight yarn on size 1 needles, endless stockinette, then beads and a lace pattern.  But I love how it came out, and so does the giftee, my cousin Marie:

Eiffel Shawl 1f

I didn’t do a hard-block on the shawl because it is already quite large enough, but even without that, the pattern is lovely:
Eiffel Shawl 1j
And I like this photo because it shows off the beads:

Eiffel Shawl 1h

The beading placement was mostly my decisions – I thought the gradual, random placement would be like lighting.  The beads are mirror Size 8 beads.

The Eiffel Tower Shawl, by Natalie Servant.  My Rav project details.

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Summer knitting update

For weeks I have been knitting lace-weight yarn on teeny-tiny needles.  It started like this:
Eiffel Shawl1a

And soon it got bigger, and I decided that adding in beads would be a good idea.  It was, but it made the knitting of the rows with the beads very slow, since I was adding them on the stitches themselves, and not stringing them ahead of time.

Then there was a fancy lace part just as the rows got unbelievably long (over 600 stitches):
Eiffel shawl 1c

But it is now knit, and even though I haven’t blocked it yet (I’ve got to use my queen bed for this baby), I love it,and fortunately, so does the intended recipient – my cousin Marie.  Who else would get a lace shawl, knit with lace yarn on size 1 needles with beads?  Seriously folks, it’s got to be someone who loves handknits!

eiffel shawl 1b
In other knitting news, I’m chugging away at socks for Afghans for Afghans.  These are  now done:

Colorful a4a socks

and I’ve got one more pair going at the moment:

reticulated pattern socks for a4a

There is also some super-secret test knitting underway, which won’t be revealed for a while.  It is not on size 1 needles, thank goodness!

Marin County Fair

I am happy to say that things are improving for the knitters – and the spinners – based on the Fair this year.  There was stunning handspun yarn submitted – a lot of it by my friend Judy.  Amazing garments and accessories handknit on tiny needles with great expertise won awards most deservingly.  It was nice to walk the fair this year and see that the beautiful sweaters won, and the ones done with expertise but not so wearable didn’t get 1st place this year.

One of my sweaters won the best-original design (not sure if I had any competition in that category), but since I am still trying to figure out if I want to make a pattern out of it, or submit it somewhere, or just keep it as a one-off, it is not appearing here.  My cowl out of handspun got a third-place (yay!) and my socks,

Lady try amour socks

which I thought would do a bit better, only got an honorable mention – but it was a tough category this year.

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