Archive for the 'Juliet' Category

And Read All Over

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Tour de Fleece, Day 4.

Some time around the middle of April, Teleknitter posted her spring clip of CVM for sale, and I promptly had a fit. Here were some of the most fascinatingly beautiful fine-wool fleeces I’d ever seen, and I couldn’t justify buying one, because I had just splurged on half a Cormo. (Oh, that’s right, you haven’t heard yet about the Cormo, have you.) Which was also insanely beautiful, as you might expect from a Cormo bred by Alice Field… but it was also WHITE. And I have a lot of WHITE fleece. And I’m a sucker for naturally-colored fleeces, especially in shades of grey. And I was drooling drooling drooling over Florence’s gorgeous silver-grey and Rifle’s fabulous variegation. But seriously. I already had an attic full of fleece (Oh, that’s right, you haven’t heard yet about the Attic Full O’ Fleece, have you). I had just spent very nearly top dollar on the Cormo, and the CVM was in the same price range - and mind you, both of them are worth every penny. But there was something about buying one after the other that would have added insult to injury and overshot my guilt threshold by a country mile.

So I sternly told myself, “No CVM for you this season, my girl. It won’t hurt you to wait. The sheep will make more.”

And that lasted… oh, I dunno… maybe an hour?

I kept going back and looking. And looking. And looking.

Finally I couldn’t stand it and I compromised: I bought Rifle’s neck wool and seconds.

Rifle's Neck Wool

Not a bad compromise at that. A more modest quantity, a more modest expenditure - but I still got all of those colors and all that soft crimp. And a pound and a half is enough to DO something with.

The fleece on arrival was even more marvelous than it looks in Sarah’s picture. I couldn’t believe how soft it was, and how many different colors I was seeing in it.

It’s been waiting for an opportunity, and a couple of days ago it struck me that the Tour de Fleece was exactly that. So I broke it out, semi-sorted it, bagged it up, and scoured it.

While I was waiting for the tub to fill for the first soak, young Fosdick had his very first-ever wool-huffing experience.

By the time it occurred to me that at only two months old he’s probably too young for the hard stuff… it was too late. Don’t tell on me, ‘K? (Friend of mine looked at this and said, “Yup, that’s YOUR kitteh, all right.”)

I am madly in love with this fleece and its symphony in greyscale.

Sorting CVM

I’ve been sort of on the fence about how to spin this, but I’ve never doubted that I wanted to keep the colors distinct and use them to set each other off. I’ve been having fantasies of gradient effects, either in the spinning or in the knitting as the case may be. So obviously the first thing to be done with the clean fleece was to sort it by color.

I wasn’t sure how many colors I was seeing, so I started by picking out all the really WHITE white bits - those went into Bag #1.

Bag #2 is where it started to get interesting.

Sorting CVM

Bag #2 is the home of the pale blends. The locks that are partly or mostly white but are so intimately streaked with grey that it would be insane to try to pick them apart. I’m not being too scientific here, and what I want is to reflect the natural blending that’s already occurring in the fleece. So a lock like this one

Sorting CVM

gets to stay in one piece and it goes to live with its friends in Bag #2.

From that point on it was pretty plain sailing. Bag #3 is a soft and fairly uniform medium grey, with occasional streaks of paler grey. And so on, up until Bag #7, the darkest near-black grey of all.

Yes, sir, yes, sir, seven bags full.

Sorting CVM

(Incidentally, Fosdick is not the only feline in this household with an appreciation for fleece.

Sorting CVM

Not by a long shot.

Sorting CVM

Ptolemy and Juliet don’t insist on spinning theirs in the grease, though. And please do note how I color-coordinate my animals with my stash.)

With seven shades identified, I set out to experiment - those visions of gradients dancing in my head, I wanted to see how they would play out.

I broke out a handful from each bag, and combed each into a little nest of top.

CVM Gradient

I knew I wanted laceweight - I’ve been picturing a big lace shawl in graduated shades of grey, you know the kind of thing I mean - and I knew from my first pre-triage sample that it would be beautifully soft:

CVM Gradient

I broke each piece of top in half, and spun the same strand of singles twice over - all seven shades in sequence starting with the white.

CVM Gradient

Plied it together and wound it off.

CVM Gradient

It’s 84 yards, and it works.

CVM Gradient

Oh, how it works. It’s almost exactly what I envisioned - in fact, I can hardly stop looking at it and fondling it.

CVM Gradient

How I’m going to bring myself to unskein this in order to swatch it, I don’t know. I love it just as it is.

That said… am I going to spin the whole fleece like this?

I am not.

It would be a great parlor trick. And another cool parlor trick would be to prep and spin it as a gradient REPEAT. I can imagine doing exactly that for someone else’s use… but not for my own.

I look at this little skein in all its beautiful mesmerizing greyscaliness, and I realize: that is not the kind of knitter I am. As a spinner, I’d love to play with the color sequence. But as a knitter, I want complete control over what color goes where. It would be worse than counter-productive to make a huge single-gradient or repeat-gradient yarn and then have to cut and paste it into what I want it to be when I’m actually making it into something.

So here’s the plan. I’m going to prep and comb each shade separately, and I’m going to spin most - but not all - of each of them into a separate two-ply. I’ll have enough of each shade left unspun so that I can blend intermediate shades if I want them when the time comes. And when I knit it I will make it LOOK as if I’d spun the gradient skein of my dreams.

One way or the other - I have the oddest feeling that Rifle and I have not heard the last of each other.


Wait for me next year, big guy. I’ll be coming back for more.

Since You Asked

Friday, April 18th, 2008

The comments have been pretty fruitful lately in the food-for-thought department. I try to answer all these via e-mail, but sometimes they bear repeating here.

Janice in GA expressed this concern:

If only the bands are going to be in pattern, you’re going to have all those little ends AND a change to the body yarn — twice?


- to which I triumphantly reply: NOPE! For the same reason it’s not a problem in the sock. This is exactly the kind of application that technique is designed for. It runs vertically through the body, neatly weaving in the base color float as it goes. Ends only at top and bottom. No muss, no fuss, no worry. Exactly why I’m so in love with this form of colorwork!

LauraS suggested that “it would be sort of cool to have angel roof cuffs on the sleeves,” though she then considered that “It would probably be too much, and would take away from the…hmmm, how to describe it…disciplined beauty…of the whole thing, though. Yes, in looking back over the Nine Tailors pictures, the sweater will be perfect with just change-ringing colorwork bands.”

Melissa suggested in response that “the angel roof might be very nifty as the neckband of the sweater. The little bit of beading would be a nice draw-attention-to-the-face accent (a riot of colorful change-ringing potentially being overwhelming right by the face).”

Here’s the deal on that. Laura is right in this case - not merely on aesthetic grounds, though I do happen to agree with her that the emerald-beaded angel roof edging is not in keeping with the look I want for this piece. More to the point, though: those themes don’t really belong here, because unlike the sock this sweater is not specifically intended to be based on The Nine Tailors. Obviously the latter was my introduction to the wonders of campanology in general and campanological knitting in particular, but it isn’t by any means the last word on the subject. The sweater will pay tribute to TNT - as of now I’m still planning to do the bands in Kent Treble Bob Major and to keep the tenor strand green, as a tip of the hat to Dorothy Sayers and Peter Wimsey. But really the sweater is meant to be a salute to change-ringing as a whole. There’s more to it than emerald necklaces and angel-roofs, if you see what I mean.

In fact, if you really get your geek on about this, there’s no reason you couldn’t substitute other ringing methods for the ones I use. As long as you stay with maximus on the body and major on the bands, you’ll have thousands of alternate ringing patterns to choose from, any of which will slot right in. The pattern will supply the style and the framework, but the content blocks, in theory, will be interchangeable. (I won’t undertake to chart every method, though - you’ll be pretty much on your own there, unless of course you offer me some mighty fine bribes for the method of your choice.)

This is not pick-on-Melissa day, I swear it isn’t, but I’m afraid I also have to shoot down her other suggestion:

On the cuffs-and-hem issue, couldn’t you knit the change circumferentially (that is, knit the thin band of cuff longways around the wrist and the hem longways around the waist) then pick up stitches to knit the sleeve and the body vertically from there?

Sorry - no can do. In order to preserve the logic of the change-ringing sequences, you have to knit them from the top down. So I’m going to start at the back neckline, work flat until I get far enough down to join for the front steek, and then keep going in the round. Shoulder, armscye and upper-sleeve shaping will be incorporated as I go, then I’ll separate out the components when I get to the armpit, working the body and sleeves separately but still in the round.

(Incidentally, LauraS? You’ll never see me design or make a knitted garment that is worked in pieces and then seamed. I don’t hold with it. If I wanted to do that I’d be a seamstress, not a knitter.)

The jury is still out on where the actual twist patterning will begin - at the moment I’m leaning toward keeping the upper yoke area plain and not starting the changes on the body until somewhere after the neckline join. (That horizontal line on the drawing is sort of intended to suggest this possibility, though it’s probably lower than it will be in real life). Jury is also still out on how I’m going to place the ringing pattern on the sleeves - this is one of the things I hope to decide based on the results of the megaswatch.

And speaking of the megaswatch - here it is, in aerial view.

Belshazzar Megaswatch, Aerial View

I have to admit I love the idea of going somewhere with this tomorrow* for WWKIP day, because it looks and sounds pretty outlandish and alien with all this stuff dangling off it! Exhibitionist, me? Show-off? Um, yeah, maybe a little.

It’s still too early to see much difference between the two maximus patterns, especially since they both begin with the same two changes and I’ve only taken them up through three so far.

Belshazzar Delight Maximus, Three Changes
Belshazzar Delight Maximus -

Lynx Little Alliance Maximus, Three Changes
Lynx Little Alliance Maximus -

And here are the two bands of Kent Treble Bob Major, at half-lead - with the colors in different starting orders.

Kent Treble Bob Major at Half-Lead

Beth in WI was happy to see her little bells gainfully employed again. Don’t worry, Beth - for the next six months or so they will have their work cut out for them!

Incidentally, Juliet has been helping me with this project. I know I don’t mention her often. She is a discreet little thing, content in a quiet way, but usually pretty reserved with us except when she’s cold or hungry. But yesterday, even though she was neither, for some reason she felt moved to curl up on my shoulder - and she stayed there, snoozing and purring, for several hours while I worked on the megaswatch.

My New Assistant

It’s just about a year, now, since our association began - and this might be a milestone. I hope so. She is a very good assistant, except when Beth’s little bells get a little too interesting.

Lynne, Mardi, and Jesh all expressed interest in the two-color brioche thing. Cool, huh! I don’t have any new progress to show on that, but I thought it would be fun to put up a recipe anyway. Mardi is right - you only work one color at a time, and here’s how:

It’s a four-row repeat, and you have to be working on a circ or DPNs or some other arrangement that allows you to slide the stitches to one end of the needle or the other.

I’ve seen this explained a bunch of different ways and framed a bunch of different ways, so the stitch count is sort of a crap shoot, but the important point is that no matter how many framing stitches you use, fundamentally you’re working with a multiple of two stitches. The basic figure alternates between working one stitch normally and working one through the next stitch IN THE ROW BELOW. The important thing is to read your knitting and make sure that in each row the single stitch aligns over the double-deep one from the previous row, and vice versa. (This is why in the instructions below I’m not specifying the NUMBER of framing stitches - it’ll be k1 or k2 or whatever it takes to get you to the first spot where you’re going to knit into the row below.) Once you establish that, once you see the logic of it in progress, you can practically do this in your sleep.

Note that after rows 2 and 4 you are not only switching colors but beginning at the opposite end of the needle, that being where you last left the color you need to use next.

Setup: Cast on with color A and work one row plain.

R1: With A, [framing sts], * p1 into st below, k1, rep from *, [framing sts]
R2: With B, [framing sts], * p1 into st below, k1, rep from *, [framing sts]
R3: With A, [framing sts], * k1 into st below, p1, rep from *, [framing sts]
R4: With B, [framing sts], * k1 into st below, p1, rep from *, [framing sts]

That’s all there is to it. Try it! It is way easier to do than it is to think about.

One other thing, speaking of responding to the comments. And, um, speaking of things that look and sound alien. I wanted to share a couple more samples of word salad from filtered spam, just in case they turn out to be important messages to our universe from Somewhere Out There:

complete ramfeezled outslide peritrichan teutondom undivided polymagnet gentile

cellulation easting agnosis asphyctic unbelied pataria inoxidize disrupture

I quite realize that these are generated by machines, not people, but for some reason they fascinate me. They must mean something, to someone, somewhere. I still just can’t help thinking one of these days they will resolve into “Hamlet.” In what language… who knows?

* Hmmm - not tomorrow, then. Apparently I don’t know how to read a calendar. Thanks for setting me straight, Helen!


Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

OK, you guys, the next time I get all grouchy about something trivial, do please feel free to clunk me one upside the head, willya?

I have frogged the black edging all the way back, recaptured the live stitches, reballed the yarn. It took - what - all of a few minutes. And now I have that good clean feeling of a fresh start in the offing. I will re-knit it on smaller needles, because the scale wasn’t quite right - hey, what the hell, I think I’ll even SWATCH it first to see if I like the new aspect ratio, and to determine whether or not I can get away with matching its rows one-to-one with the grey stitches. I couldn’t at the old gauge, not if I was honest with myself (which we all have to be eventually, even if we take a good long swim in De Nial first) - though I think it was close enough that going down a needle size will solve the problem.

Yes, I’m familiar with the philosophy (not exclusive to American Indians by any means) that one should always have at least one error in one’s work, because we puny mortals have no business encroaching on Somebody’s monopoly on perfection. Fair enough. But trust me, there are already plenty of small errors and inconsistencies in the grey section without me going out of my way to draw attention to my own fallibility with a decapitated horsie! (And BTW… Lyrel? Don’t panic! What gets done, gets done. Concentrate on merry. Relax.)

Actually, the imperfection was on a larger scale than that. The fact that those things looked like horsies at all is a tribute to the wrongness of the gauge. Never before have I made a classic Shetland Wave Edging that looked so little like hydrodynamics and so much like fauna. Seahorse, kelpie, whatever. It wasn’t what I wanted; it had to go. I have other nautical projects up my sleeve; I can’t hang about reimagining this one all day!

At this rate it’ll be a while before the blocking problem becomes a reality - but that’s OK, because when it does… I’m no longer seeing it as a problem. Great minds think alike: as several of you pretty much saw, the solution is simple.

How to block the Grey Thing

I really don’t want to bend my brand new virgin welding rods into a zillion little curves; I don’t think it’ll be necessary.

What I’m thinking is that if I run them straight, near the edges, and put them through the same stitch in each pattern repeat, I will get the necessary stretch and maintain the alignment between repeats, without compromising the edge itself. Once the piece is laid out to my liking I can pat the curvy edge bits out smooth, and I think - I think - that will allow me to eat my cake and have it! and that without having to pin out individual points where no points should be.

I may decide to pin some points on the black edging - we shall see - but I’m hoping not.

So that’s THAT problem solved.

As for the Design Problem Thingie, last night I finally figured out how the numbers should work, so now it’s just a matter of knitting. I’m on the case.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch… The BoyTM has been supplying us all with our Minimum Daily Requirement of Cute. He is a big fan of the Woot, and every once in a while strange packages arrive and result in unexpected changes in our domestic landscape.

Today he produced an excitingly multi-colored box and triumphantly announced that he’d “gotten a present for the kids.”

“The kids” being one dog, two cats and one BoyTM.

The box is labeled “Ages 3 and up,” so that lets out the two cats. Sure enough, they were not as excited as he’d hoped about the Q-Tip Express.

Woot Track

As for Luke, when it started running around the track he gave one excited bark, bounded toward it, and then… bounded away from it, grabbed his duck, and settled back onto the couch. He is a bird dog, after all….

But just LOOK at its cool little headlight, shining onto the track! And LOOK at its Q-Tip freight!!!!

Q-Tip Express

All is well. A new toy is not a failure as long as one of the kids really has fun playing with it.

Inching Along - IV: Allied Forces

Friday, October 12th, 2007

Shaping up, I think:

Kitri Shawl Spread Out

Seeing it laid out like this, I got a little nervous about the proportions, so since taking that picture I’ve done another couple inches of fagotting. If I had a lot of time on my hands were a Really Good Person I would probably be doing some big broad curvy shaping at the bottom; as it is I think I’m going to let a little trick blocking solve the problem for me. Got just past the insertion last night and am now going to do a few more rows of fagotting under that and then… bind off. Oh frabjous day. I’m leaning now toward continuing the slightly heavier edging down the sides of the fagotting section after all; partly because I feel it will make for a better visual balance, but mostly because of weight distribution (it will still be fairly straight, following the existing contour of the edge, but I’m thinking I want the dagger beads for ballast). We’ll know soon - almost soon enough.

Meanwhile, as the deadline looms closer and the days get chillier, I wanted to assure you that my expert staff is rallying round me and contributing its share to the great work.

Snuggling Weather
L-R: Juliet, Me, Ptolemy, Luke

Snuggling Weather
Yeah, that’s me under there somewhere….

It’s snuggling weather.

High on the Hog

Friday, September 14th, 2007

The Yarn Hog, that is.

Yes, it’s official. As of today the Kitri Shawl is no longer a Red Blob.

No Longer a Red Blob

It’s a Red AND BLACK Blob!!!!!

No Longer a Red Blob

If you take a look at the updated Kitri Shawl Progress Page you will see that this is not exactly because I completed the projected row/rep/stitch counts. It’s because I made an Executive Decision.

At the end of the 12th row of fansfansfansfansfansfansfansfansfansfans, I just had a feeling that the piece was long enough. Hey, it’s lace - not an exact science. The numbers might just lie, you know? More to the point, swatch measurements might have been just that teeny bit off, just enough to skew the length over multiple iterations.

It was worth a try. I don’t want to suggest that I was getting bored or distracted or fanned-out or anything, but let’s just say the idea of not having to knit a whole ‘nother row of fansfansfansfansfansfansfansfansfansfans was not about to break my heart.

Besides - I don’t have any particular problem with the number 13, but some people do. And 24 x 12 just struck me as a pleasing and appropriate ratio… assuming it was right, that is.

So I threaded the whole thing back onto its hunk of nylon cord, and I dry-pinned it again.

Blob, Pinned Out

Not the whole thing this time. Near as I can make out, the width hasn’t changed any - if it had I’d have way bigger problems than knitting another pattern repeat. So I just pinned a representative section in the middle.

You’ll be glad to know I had skilled assistance.

Blocking Assistants


I needed a vertical measurement of 20 inches, without any cheating or distorting.

Blob Measurement


Let the fagotting begin!

One additional side benefit of this exercise, a blessing in scary disguise - while I was spreading out the blob, right smack in the middle of it I happened to spot… this:

Black Hole of Blob-cutta

What th’–????

How did THAT happen?

Well, OK, we know how. But when? Why? How could I not have caught it at the time?

And just how lucky am I that I did catch it before it got any worse?

Black Hole of Blob-cutta

One stitch missed. In the 14th and final row of the repeat, the row with the lifeline, no less - but fat lot of good a lifeline does if it ain’t threaded through every stitch in its row. If that stitch had run at all it would have dropped that whole line of decreases and YOs and made a nasty little mess. A controllable mess, in this case, but still the stuff of nightmares.

Whew. A narrow escape, much too close for comfort; I’m still palpitating.

A Fine Year

In other news, after a couple of days of cursing and struggling I am happy to say I have solved the structural puzzle of the Vintage toe and am ready to take it into the straightaway (the first 2/3 of the foot is plain stockinette - Readin’ Knittin’). Here it is:

Vintage Toe

Ignore the strands of yarn running upward from the top center of the leaf - they’re just there to indicate where the stem will go - and see if you can tell me how this was done.

Vintage Toe Closeup

I know, I know, never never never underestimate the commenters. I don’t for a moment doubt that you’ll figure it out. But I’m proud of it, and I may even have semi-in/un/vented it, so I get to show it off.

Minor Karmic Synchronicity Dept.

Hey, for you Patrick O’Brian readers - if you haven’t seen Annie Modesitt’s blog lately, check out today’s entry. Danged if she and her group haven’t been KIP-ing in Collioure!

Minor Breathtaking Jumping-Up-&-Down Excitement Dept.

Hey, get this. You’ll never guess what arrived just as I was sitting down to prepare this post.

My Ravelry invite!

I set up my account right away, but in a rare display of self-discipline I refrained from peeking. Not a single click, I swear. First, finish blog post and update Kitri Shawl Page. Then walk dog. Then, and only then… go play with the new toy.

So I guess we all know what I’ll be doing this weekend.

The Pause that Refreshes

Sunday, July 1st, 2007

Noro Swatch, Little Herringbone
Hey, I needed a short break. And at least it isn’t that crazy lace thing.

Peaceable Kingdom
Peaceable Kingdom. Paws refreshes too, you know.

And now… back to the salt mines. See ya.

P.S. - Next time I’m designing a “simple” sock, would somebody please remind me not to invent a complicated new heel for it?
Thank you.