Monday, October 29, 2007



Objective: To knit a black hat in the round with a four letter word in blue on the front.

Is Intarsia the proper technique to tackle this problem? NO... most obviously because the contrast color yarn would wind up on the wrong edge of the design after one round.

How could we employ two color knitting with floats without making the full circle with our contrast color?

I devised a strategy which uses my ambidextrous knitting technique and three strands of yarn.

This process is a little like rubbing your belly and patting your head while walking and chewing gum. No one element is that difficult- but together they may make quite a muddle. Thankfully it's not important to do all aspects at the same time and if you break it down there are specific events occurring all around the circle of your needles (making the long stretch of no design a little more interesting to knit even!)

First- a person really needs to know how to knit in both directions- we won't be flipping back and forth in and out and purling inside our tube of work. If someone would like to translate this ambidextrous technique for the purlers- please be my guest. But for today- we knit in both directions. Oh- and before I forget- I made this up- but that's not so say that it hasn't been done before- if you have seen this method elsewhere- I'd love to see how it's presented!

The Action of Knitting

We are going to pick a point in our unpatterned stockinette to have our "seam" now this seam will be virtually invisible, perhaps a slight stiffening of the material and minute distortion of the stitches- so if you are doing this on a sweater knit in the round- I'd put the seam on the side not down the middle of the back. It's not important where the seam is- just make it somewhere away from your pattern zone. Mark this point with a stitch marker.

You can see in the above illustration the break where we "bounce" off that stitch marker like a tether ball- we swing back and forth bouncing off that marker without ever crossing it with our knitting. (think of knitting as the verb- our action of making stitches)

OK Sarah- Won't that just make a flat piece of knitting? We have all made blankets on circular needles doing that.

Yep- you are right- it would - if we were only knitting with one piece of yarn... but I'm going use two pieces of yarn. Now in my sample hat here- I used two strands of the same black yarn- so the difference is invisible. But for the diagrams here I am showing red and gray yarns for contrast.

One strand is going to travel in a clockwise direction and the other will go counterclockwise.... throughout the whole process these pieces of yarn will be put down to rest and picked up again- but continue in the same direction they were originally headed.

Now here is the tricky part - at that seam marker- Say you are approaching the marker from the right side with the gray yarn... when you get to the marker- pick up the red yarn in your other hand- hold both strands good and tight as you knit the first couple of stitches because they will want to loosen up- but you change direction and begin knitting with red- backwards. This will bounce you back toward your design and you will find your contrast color waiting there for you where you left it- ready to be knit backwards across the design with floats. When your red yarn has made an almost full circle and you are now approaching your marker from the left- you pick up the gray yarn- hold tight- and reverse direction- knitting with gray now.

The crossings of these two strands are almost like shoelaces crossing and climbing- and they are almost invisible - little x's instead of the = of a typical purl bridge.

When you knit past your design- it's pretty self explanatory- your contrast yarn can go back and forth- almost as if you were knitting flat- while your background colors will interlace row by row and produce the background field (come to think of it- it might even be fun to do this with two colors of background yarn!) The only tricky thing I can think to add is that you should carry a small float past the end edge of your design (I've been going 3 stitches past the end) and then twist the contrast color around the working yarn to hold it in place for when it doubles back. If you don't float past your design- the design will not be motivated to spread out wide and might just crunch up on it's supporting floats- by tacking the contrast yarn out into the stability of the stockinette it's going to work out better - but it will produce a slightly quilted effect when put under heavy tension. You will also (this will make sense when you do it) need to twist the contrast yarn so that it goes smoothly upward toward the next row it will be worked in.

Shooty aplenty
A fantastic visit last week from friends from Nebraska... they brought cameras (if you notice the outstanding jump in photo quality here), guns, ammo... and even empty Starbucks Double Shot Espresso cans. I got to try out all the guns and really enjoyed shooting this rifle with the scope. ... which actually allowed me the pleasure of hitting a target- over and over. (about 45 yards) One (surprise) can was still full of coffee and afforded a spectacular gusher when hit- wow!

The pistol grip shotgun here... although very fun to look at, I didn't enjoy quite as much shooting from the hip as the precision of that scope.

Yesterday John and I went out for a little more shooting practice and I got to try a single shot shotgun and a .22 revolver. Once again... eh... not liking a shotgun too much. The revolver was fun as all get out- and although I was very close to my targets (about 30 feet) I was able to get all six shots on the same board! -lol

Here's a look at some of that.
The boards were about 18 inches square and these scans- they are just a portion of that-
the larger circles are about 4 inches across.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Win some / Lose some

Did you know that there is a holiday called "Sweetest Day"? I don't. I never heard of it before I moved to the midwest. I don't have a Hallmark store nearby that pushes the idea into my periforal guilt cortex. I don't feel that Valentine's Day is only half of the semianual celebration of romance. I mean... if you include a couple's anniversay and birthdays- that would make 5 love holidays a year... and comon folks... isn't every day a love holiday?
So I confess that in this duo- I am the schlepp who totally - without even a twinkle of recognition- misses this moment to dump a fivespot on a card. My husband, never defeated, persistently reminds me of the holiday with sweet, caring tender gifts and cards. This year, he bought me four very expensive tires for my truck... and then for the little box that makes every woman's heart race... there was an iPod nano. (which came free with the tires)
oh wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. STOP/EJECT REWIND ....
Last week I stumbled across a box of cassette tapes. It was a mix of tapes which belonged to John and I in the years before we were married to each other. Most home made tapes from friends, and due to our unusual musical tastes- some very underground stuff... Hoist from Philadelphia, Bucking Strap from Cincinnati, Theater of Hate from a show in Sweden, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, CCM of Pisa, Joan Jett live... lots of unmarked tapes too. I'd been recently lamenting the loss of music to my life, when it used to play a pretty big part. While the hip music scene has evolved to mp3 downloads, I'd been left behind. I dusted off this box of tapes and resolved to listen to them, and either mark or toss them...
Then, before I got to start on that project- I got the new iPod. I went to my mom's house to use her high speed connection to do some downloads. In the mean time, John came home to a cold empty house and was feeling under the weather. He lit a fire in the woodstove and went out to the garage to do a little work. When he came back in, he found the fire roaring and the CD/Cassette player and box of tapes beginning to melt to the top of the stove....
Did I say how much I LOVE my iPOd!?
If you have any suggestions of music you love to listen to on your iPod- for working out or just working ... I'm all ears! I have been enjoying KT Tunstall, Muse, No Doubt, Nickleback, Emmy Lou Harris... it's all over- try me!

(in purple costume)