Tuesday, November 30, 2004

ok so I have finished the other handle and as I sat back to look at what I had done I was not pleased. The pale green at one end seemed longer than the other. After much checking and double checking there is no question about it, the handles are wrong. Both of them. One more than the other.

The pattern calls for the handles to be knit in halves and grafted at the center rather than knit as one and grafted to the bag. Still the two halves are mirror images so it should have been simple enough to work out. Or so I thought, but apparently not. I knit the pale green until I had decreased to 17 stitches then changed on the next row to dark green. For the first handle once I passed the mid-line and started increasing to match my decreases I changed colour (back to the pale green) as soon as I had 17 stitches on the needle rather than at the end of the 17 stitch section (ie 3 rows early). The second bag I was clever enough to remember that the decrease to 17 stitches was worked in the pale green and then the switch to dark green was made. So for the second strap I changed to the pale green before increasing to 17 stitches, 4 rows early. Only one row earlier than the first handle, but it seems to have made the difference between noticing the mistake or not.

The question is, will anyone else notice? Jesse reckons they look fine. Felting will change things too. Should I unpick at the colour change, add a few rows of dark, remove a few of pale and graft it back together or should I just leave it well enough alone? So far I have made a habit of fixing almost every mistake I have noticed but I don’t know if this one is worth it, what do you think?

french market handle

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

It’s a handle without a bag. After emailing Polly (the designer of the French Market Bag), who was gracious enough to send me a very helpful answer, I decided to order a fourth skein of the Cold Harbour Mill yarn so as to make a taller bag. Even with the extra skein my plan is to use every last scrap of yarn, so I am knitting the handles first and will then knit the body until there is no yarn left. I am finding this yarn quite easy to knit and the colours are lovely. I don’t see myself ordering it again because it doesn’t seem special enough to get from overseas when Jo Sharp yarn is available locally for the same price or less, but I will certainly enjoy using it this time.

Speaking of yarn from overseas reminds me that I never mentioned how much I LOVED using the Lambs Pride Worsted for my Booga Bag. I loved the feel of it and I really like both the colours I have received so far, particularly the Khaki that the guys at Thread Bear chose for me. There was something about the combination of the colour and texture of the Khaki that made it just so comforting to play with and knit up.

the upside of a heatwave

Monday, November 29, 2004

Pattern: Booga Bag
Yarn: Brown Sheep Company Lamb’s Pride Worsted. MC: Khaki, Contrast: Rasberry
Needles: 6.5mm/60cm Crystal Palace bamboo circular, 6.5mm Tulip bamboo DPNs

The upside of a heat wave is speedy drying of the felted object! I put this one through the washer yesterday morning and it was nearly dry by late afternoon - just in time for Jesse to point out that I had blocked it with the fabric twisted to one side. So I wet it again and it dried for a second time by late this afternoon.

It’s cooler today, but the fear of tomorrow’s weather had us off to the shops to buy a wading pool. As it happens we already had a wading pool but it was so enormous that after 20 mins pumping with the foot pump the first ridge was less than half full. I spent that 20 mins considering whether it was morally acceptable to waste enough water to fill such a large area even 4 inches deep and what a hassel such a big pool would be in our tiny yard. So off to the shops we went to get a pool that could be fully inflated in 10-15 mins and use FAR less water to cool and entertain my little fish.

Isabelle had a ball and I got to assemble the Booga Bag during daylight hours - daylight knitting is a novelty round here. Making holes big enough to get the strap through was nigh on impossible and involved forcing two 7mm DPNs through each hole at the same time (not easy) and then attaching the strap to a stitch holder and using that to pull it through the holes. I think I will actually knit some holes into the fabric next time…

I hope the intended recipient likes it, if they don’t Isabelle is hoping they will give it to her.

is the washer free?

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Look at that - a Booga bag ready to felt! I started this on Tuesday night, knit the base and about 7 rows of the body of the bag. Wednesday I spent working on the Phildar Hoodie. I finished the body of the bag Thursday and Friday nights apart from the icord bind off which I added this afternoon. Tonight I spent a very long time knitting a very long icord, six feet to be exact (btw it is exactly the same colour as the bag, just bad light in the photo).

Quick and easy - apart from a small problem with that icord bind off. On the left is my first attempt at joining the two ends of the icord, I was trying to convince myself that it would be ok when I took this photo. What is it about a photo that makes you see that it won’t be alright at all? I took it back to the couch, prepared to rip the whole thing off if I had to, unpicked the join and somehow it just came together the second time round, nice and neat, certainly neat enough for felting.

happy news….

Friday, November 26, 2004

I received an sms on Wednesday morning to let me know that my cousin Michelle has had her baby - a little boy by the name of William Isaac, who is to be known as Will. I took a moment to be grateful that mother and baby are both well and then went into a finishing frenzy. Buttons were purchased, trim was applied and here you have it - one Phildar baby hoodie.

Pattern: Pattern #10 “Paletot” from Phildar Magazine #413 - Layette Autumn/Winter 2004/05
Yarn: Heirloom 8 ply “Merino Magic” in colour #202 (Red) and Heirloom 8 ply “Easy Care” in colour #765 (black)
Needles: 5.5mm Addi Turbos, 5.5mm Tulip babmboo circs
Gauge: 10cm = 18 stitches by 40 rows in Garter Stitch

This is my first sweater and I am quite pleased with it. It was all very straight forward and easy and though I didn’t love the Heirloom Merino Magic yarn to knit with, it is soft and I think the end result looks quite nice.

shhh it’s a secret

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Pattern: Bella Bag
Yarn: Hawthorn Cottage 5 Ply in colour #15
Needles: 6.5mm/40cm Crystal Palace bamboo circular

Bella (and swatch) consumed 65g of my 100g hank. I think I am going to try to squeeze another, smaller, bag out of what is left. I am really very happy with how Bella turned out, although I wish I had twisted the handles a lot more. I was going to give her to Isabelle as soon as she was done, but now I am thinking my own little belle may need to wait until Christmas to see her Bella.

where did the time go?

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Recently Jesse came home with another one of those software development timeline rules of thumb. Something like “the last 10% of the project will take 90% of the effort”. This is not dissimilar to the “pick a number and triple it” rule. I think the 10/90 rule is actually more accurate and it obviously stuck in my mind. As I spent 2.5 hours making icords, grafting them on and weaving ends last night it came back to me. Where did the time go on this project?

Thursday: 20 mins choosing yarn, 2 people * 2hrs winding it into a ball, for a total of 4 hrs 20 mins choosing and preparing yarn

Friday: 1hr swatching and about the same measuring other bags and doing some maths, for a total of 2 hrs pattern preparation.

Saturday: 2.5 hrs knitting first half of the bag

Sunday: 2 hrs more knitting

Monday: 30 mins finishing the body of the bag 2.5 hours making icord, grafting, weaving, etc.

Tuesday: 30 mins felting & blocking.

Now making icord is not my idea of fun and as a result I have put it in the “finishing” category. Which gives me the following stats for this project:

Preparation: 6 hrs 20 mins (44%)
Actual Knitting: 5 hrs (35%)
Finishing: 3 hrs (21%)

Of course without the whole ball winding debacle the prep time would have been about 3 hours shorter giving us more like 5 hrs knitting to 6.5 hours prep and finishing (still more than half the time spent on the project)…. Deceptive isn’t it? The knitting may be quick but the rest takes time too… Here’s what Bella looked like pre felting:

Bella just came out of the washer and I am VERY pleased - no creases or funny patches to be seen. So my new ASKO frontloader felting recipe is: put item straight in the washer (no pillow slip) with a couple of nappies on super quick cycle at 75 degrees celsius, with a teaspoon of wool wash, no spin. I’ll post a picture once Isabelle is asleep and I can block the bag.

bags, balls, swatches, drills, one of these things is not like the others…

Monday, November 22, 2004

The body of Bella is done, handles and possibly even felting to be completed tonight. I am guessing that I have used less than half the ball of yarn Jesse and I wound with the drill and I am not loving it, the winding that is, the yarn is fine. It was all fine and dandy for the first 1/2 of the bag, possibly even two thirds, but suddenly my center pull ball stopped pulling. In the end I dragged a huge tangle out of the middle of my ball and painstakingly untangled it before I could get back to my scheduled knitting. Ever since then I have also had to carefully mind not to create another tangle. The lesson here is that the drill most likely does not belong in my knitting tool kit…While I am sure that better technique feeding the yarn onto the ball could probably eradicate this problem but I won’t be trying again anytime soon. The only yarn I have in need of winding at the moment is the ColdHarbour Mill for French Market Bag #1. I have to decided to deal with this by knitting bag #2 first and then prevailing upon my Gran to wind my ColdHarbour for me (or allow me to do it at her place) when we are in Adelaide next week.

Speaking of the French Market Bags, I have a problem - you see the 4.5mm needles called for in the pattern seem awfully small to me. I swatched the 5 ply yarn I am using for Bella on 4.5mm, 5.5mm and 6.5mm needles and got the best fabric from the 6.5mm’s so it just seems odd to me to knit significantly heavier yarn on smaller needles. What’s that, do I hear you saying “just swatch with bigger needles”? Well I would, BUT the real problem here is that I want my Market Bags as much taller than the pattern as my yarn will allow. It is my intention to knit the handles before starting the body so that I can then knit right to the very last scrap of yarn on the body of the bag. I don’t want to waste any yarn swatching, it’s nto like I can rip it out and reuse it after its gone through the washer now is it…. I can swatch for bag#2 because I can easily get an extra ball of Jo Sharp both quickly and fairly cheaply and I can return it if it turns out I really didn’t need an extra ball after all. Not so the ColdHarbour which has to be ordered from the UK and comes in 100g hanks instead of 50g balls. So even if I swatch and recalculate for the Jo Sharp bag on 6.5mm needles what should I do about the ColdHarbour version? Apparently all yarns felt differently and while I could just assume that if I knit on different size needles to the same pre felted dimensions it would be ok my Bella swatch tells me different - the Bella swatch shrank more the looser the gauge…

I could just knit the ColdHarbour bag on 4.5s as called for in the pattern. My reasons for wanting to use bigger needles are two fold - firstly I liked that there was less stitch definition on bigger needles with my Bella swatch and secondly I am time challenged (christmas is looming) and bigger needles = less stitches = faster project. What would you do?

a slight miscalculation

Saturday, November 20, 2004

I won’t be needing 90 rows for the body of the bag. 90 rows of garter stitch maybe, but since I am knitting stocking stitch it won’t be 90 rows… This is 25 so I am guessing somewhere between 50 and 60.

a pattern, of sorts

Saturday, November 20, 2004

I feel so grown up, not only did I swatch for Isabelleís bag (which shall hence forth be known as Bella) last night, I also felted my swatch. Does it say something about what sort of grown up I will be that my swatch tells me lots, but not enough? Not enough to be SURE of what I am doing.

It tells me that the fabric is just as nice, if not nicer on 6.5mm needles as 4.5. There is actually less stitch definition the bigger the needles get. So my swatch helped me choose needle size and the good news is that the 6.5ís were the needles that appealed to both my lazy and stingy streaks (bigger needles = faster, plus I donít have the right length circ in the other sizes and I donít have 5.5 mm DPNs either). Unfortunately I was getting worried about wasting yarn by the time I got brave enough to try the 6.5mms so it is the shortest part of the swatch and I donít know if I should trust the results.

The swatch is 27 stitches, maybe 26. I thought I had 27 but I forgot to count them again before casting off and when I counted the bumps I kept getting 26. So it started off like this: 24 rows of 4.5mm needles was 5 inches wide and 5.5cm long. Yes, I really did measure one width in inches and length in centimeters. Donít ask. 16 rows of 5.5mm needles was 6 inches wide and 4cm long. 11 rows of 6.5mm needles was 6.25 inches wide and 3.25cms long. Note the progressive slackness of my swatching, less and less rows as I went along….

I was scared of waking Isabelle with the washer when I was done knitting it, so I tried felting it on the stove. This did not work. AT ALL. So I got desperate and whacked it in the washer - 75 degrees Celsius on cycle #7 with the quick wash button pressed in and a nappy for company, no zippered envelope was used and I think it is just about perfect:

It is now like this:
4.5mm section 3.625?/4.5cm
5.5mm section 3.875?/3cm
6.5mm section 4.25?/2.4cm

Which my calculator tells me gives the following percentages of original size after felting:

4.5mm section 72.5%/81%
5.5mm section 64%/75%
6.5mm section 68%/73%

But I donít think I am going by percentages anyway, I think I am best off going by stitches/rows and the post felting dimensions. So here is my pattern:

use provisional cast on to cast on 3 stitches, knit 14 inches icord. Make 3 more the same.
cast on 38 stitches
knit 16 rows garter stitch
pick up 8/38/8 stitches
knit 90 rows in the round
divide icords into pairs, twist together and choose positions for handles
cast off between handle positions leaving 4 stitches for each handle insertion
graft handles on with two stitches each of the two icords overlapping
felt it

I have no idea if any of this will work, I am aiming for a bag 6 inches wide, 7 inches tall and about 1.5 inches deep with two twisted icord handles (one front, one back). Anything approximating these dimensions will do.

I forgot to mention the best part of the swatching process. I left it out on the couch overnight for Isabelle to find. I heard her exclaiming as soon as she went into the lounge and she was saying ďThese colours are PRETTYĒ all the while jabbing the swatch with her delicious little fingers.

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