Saturday, June 16, 2007

I recently found out about an effort that I think is very important and special. It's called Sew Much Comfort and you can learn more about what they do on their website. Briefly- volunteer seamstresses retrofit and custom make adaptive clothing for soldiers who have been wounded. Store bought boxer shorts, T-shirts, basketball shorts- are all reworked so that they have velcro and snap openings on one side or both to make it easier to get dressed over braces, casts or halos. They also make pants with larger legs and a velcro side opening to accommodate a brace. These specialty garments are in high demand and not only are functional- the feeling of wearing real clothes and not a hospital gown is a big morale boost.

This first set I did has been sent off for quality control - hopefully I did good with these, their instructions are very specific about how it needs to be done. Hopefully then the regional director will have some advice for me how to manage the tax deductible donations end of getting new garments to retrofit. I'd like to make more of these basketball shorts, they say they are the item in highest demand because they are the most expensive item to purchase. These shorts were only $7 on sale... I don't think that's too bad.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Meme from Joyce

#1 Is it about the finished item or about the process of knitting? Some of both? Has your focus changed one direction or the other over time?

For me it's a little of both. I think I used to be much more product oriented, but now I get much more satisfaction during knitting that it balances out. When I finally get the satisfaction of having finished a project, seeing it complete- I want to take a little break from knitting and then jump right in to the next thing.

#2 How do you view mistakes? Do you think they give your project character? Is it important to have one, as my Aunt says, because only God is perfect? Or would you rip all the way back to row 5 of your husband's finished sweater knit on size 3 needles to eradicate a mistake no one else would notice?

I enjoy fixing mistakes, but ripping out is hardly ever a reasonable solution. I usually catch mistakes soon after making them. I love doing difficult laddering fixes, like if a cable was twisted the wrong way. I also enjoy fixing mistakes for other people. It's fun to save the day. I don't fix mistakes because I'm a perfectionist- I fix them because I can, and because I get as much pleasure from fixing a mistake as I do from knitting- so why miss an opportunity? .... a question like the one you posed- rip back to row 3 of a finished sweater? No I would never do that... but I might actually cut the yarn back at the mistake- pick out the mistake and use a piece of scrap yarn to graft a seamless perfect patch in that spot.

#3 Would you rather knit a project that is comfortable for your skill level, or do you prefer a challenge that requires you to figure out new things?

I love a challenge. I enjoy the thinking and the rewards. I feel annoyed when I encounter people who are afraid to try new things in crafts- knitting, fiber arts- are such a low risk activity- there is nothing to lose in failing- so why not at least shoot high for succeeding!?

#4 What is something you really want to make but haven't yet? What holds you back? Is it money, skill level, time, fear of the unknown or something else?

I would like to make a blanket that I saw in the Knitter's Almanac. It's a blanket of mitered squares which are grafted together to produce a magical effect she claims looks of having been knit from all directions at once. Her blanket is of one solid color- but I would like to try a variation on this with color.

First I would knit one mitered square so that I could measure the length of yarn needed to do it. Then I would create 12 individual pieces of slow shading yarn. (for a 3x4 block blanket, or 20 for a 4x5) Now you might be asking yourself- what is the point of grafting the squares seamlessly if they are going to be different colors? Well- I dream that the finished blanket would be rainbow tones- and the blocks would be two color families- a warm set and a cool set- but both sets would finish with a common color.

For example- one set would be *green blue purple red* and the other set would be *yellow orange red* So all the squares would have red edges and when grafted the red would actually produce a grid effect. I think the shading between warms and cools as well as the angles and perpendiculars would be pretty. I can't decide if I'd like to spin dyed roving or dye spun yarn- but I am fascinated by the idea of an individaul strand that is created to play a specific role in a piece of knitting. ...imagining the project shoe-box containing 12 wound cakes of colorful yarn radiating color out from their cores, arranged in a little miniature plump grid version of the blanket they will be extrapolated into...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Denali Dawn

I once lived for a brief time in a landscape with a mountain which rose above the treeline. It was in Austria and the Mountain was Otcher. One thing that was so striking about the mountain was that sunrise came so much sooner to the mountain that to the rolling farmlands in the valley. There was a brilliance and magic to see the beautiful colors reflected on the glaciers, to think of the silence and wind, the proximity to heaven.
It's been a while since I have posted any knitting, I've been working on this gift for a baby who is going to be born in Alaska this summer. This is the Jojoland yarn I purchased back in March. The colors of the yarn reminded me so much of the beautiful sunrises I've seen on mountains, I have named this one of a kind design "Denali Dawn" For a real picture of a the morning sun catching Mt. McKinley, check here. The beads are Czech glass and were all strung before knitting. there are even a few beads up at the "tiara zone" of the hood. What's an arctic princess to do!?

I used many of my favorite stitches in this sweater, the beaded smocking I learned doing "Crumpets" The lower edges are seed stitch to prevent rolling, the sleeves are very elastic mistake rib, the sides are seed stitch, there is a lot of braided cable, some calculated decreasing in ribbing to make the yoke, some calculated increasing to shape the hood, a tiny bit of linen stitch and lots of picking up stitches so there are no seams.
From the side view you can see that the cable runs from the wrist right up the outside of the arm- the textured pattern of the yoke is interrupted for the cable, which aside from changing color at the top edge of the yoke, goes on uninterrupted over the shoulder, and up into the hood until at the very end- the two sides of cable are grafted together.

This close up of the back of the hood shows that the shoulder caps (peach) were actually shaped with lightly increasing short rows (bouncing back and forth picking up stitches off the blue yoke edge) to the neck- at that point the hood is knit as if it were a flat piece with either edge forming the hood sides which will frame the baby's face. I this knitting on little double pointed needles. I don't have a circular needle that small. Unfortunately one needle was a little bigger than the others and it did mess up my stitch tension some.

As I shaped the hood I had to have a lot of faith that the shape was going to come together- I had the work split onto 3 DPN's One in the center and one on each side with the cheek and cable. When I finally had enough rise in the hood and it was time to begin shaping the top- I reduced the stitches on the middle needle by 50% by K2tog. My plan was to nibble away at the remaining 50% by decreasing on each side at every other row. I knew that this would produce a triangular shape to the top center and I wanted one that was more round- so I decided to use the linen stitch for that triangle- because the linen stitch does not grow lengthwise at the same rate as stockinette- I thought it would bide me some time till I got all my stitches decreased. it worked... up at the very peak of the triangle- I simply quit knitting the linen section all together and slipped 6 which helped me round off that peak.
Then there was a matter of a big graft through the cable- but it was long awaited and enjoyed.

I wanted to add an underlayer to the gift- but could not find any jammies in the right shade of salmon pink to go with the sweater- (I was shipping with the sweater and all the needles hanging out of my bag) Finally I remembered this beautiful dye kit that I have been too chicken to try and I thought there was a light purple in it... so I bought some white onsies and white romper pants and dyed them "Wysteria" What a great match! Lucky me! I also made the little skirt- it's yellow chiffon with the prettiest tundra flower trim (the ribbon flowers are yellow warp with a purple weft poking out the edges in little spikes) Under the chiffon is a salmon pink petticoat with a white ruffle.
This whole project has been so much fun!