Posted in Worsted - Wait!

Scarf of Wizarding

My older daughter, S6, has been pre-invited to a birthday party.  The birthday honoree (who has been planning her upcoming party since the day after her last one) is a huge fan of  all things Harry Potter, and has let it be known that her party will have a Harry Potter theme.  I say we have been pre-invited because the party itself isn’t for two months yet.  Invitations haven’t even been written, let alone sent out.  But damn if I don’t appreciate a gift recipient who gives plenty of notice.  That’s how you get nice knitted gifts, friends.  You let your attendees know long in advance exactly what’s going on so they can mull over patterns, pick over yarns, and get knitting.

Little M6 idolizes Hermione and has a complete (and alarmingly accurate) costume, complete with a school tie in Gryffindor house colors and a little plastic wand that looks suspiciously real.  She has everything for her costume except a scarf, as her mother sensibly made her choose between that and the tie (somehow the tie won out, though I hear it was a difficult battle).  So really, it seems completely and totally obvious that I just had to knit her a Gryffindor scarf.  I don’t see any other options- do you?

I enjoyed the HP novels and saw most of the movies, but I wasn’t enough of a fangirl to just jump in and start knitting without a little research.  I soon discovered that the Gryffindor colors have changed somewhat over time.  In the earlier movies, the burgundy is a reddish brown and the scarf has wide stripes of burgundy and gold in equal thicknesses.  The later movies have changed the burgundy to a more plum shade, with two thin gold stripes repeated over the length rather than the symmetrical blocks of the earlier style.  Fortunately, M6 hasn’t seen the later movies (she’s 6, and they’re kind of violent).  So it’s wide stripes of reddish brown and gold.

I’m using Lauren Kent’s Hogwarts Scarf pattern and a cheap Lion yarn (Vanna’s Choice- hey, it was on sale for $2.50 a skein) on two pairs of size US 5 (3.75mm) circular needles.  The scarf is knitted in the round, which is kind of neat since you (a) don’t have to purl and (b) (more importantly) can leave all those color-change ends inside the tube, and just sew the ends of the scarf shut once you’re done knitting.  Voila!  No weaving in!  Even better, you could do that nifty three-needle-bindoff, which I hope to attempt IF AND WHEN THIS MINDLESS STOCKINETTE EVER ENDS.

We’re making progress, though.    There are 12 burgundy and 11 gold stripes (23 total), plus fringe, and I’ve got 10 stripes done already.  It’s a nice mindless pattern for teevee knitting, but boy, am I tired of stockinette.  (In case you hadn’t noticed.)  If I finish this quickly and have yarn left over, there are a few other Gryffindor-related patterns I might consider for a second part to the gift.

HP scarf

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Posted in Worsted - Wait!

Socks and Sensibility

This may very well be the year – or at least, the season, depending on how long it lasts- of socks. I’ve got three pairs on needles at the moment: Aragorn, Be Mine, and a toe-up DK weight sock. Aragorn and Be Mine are lovely cabled patterns. The toe-up sock is part of a class at a LYS (okay, it’s an hour away but seriously, that’s the local-est yarn shop going at the moment.)

After doing several really large projects, I’m liking the smallness of socks. I appreciate the smaller needles, the finer yarn, and the manageability of the work. I can knit them anywhere, unlike big afghans that require lots of space. And best of all, I can try out new techniques without a huge time or cash commitment.

Aragorn

Aragorn in progress

I found this pattern while lurking around Ravelry’s pattern database. It’s a gorgeous sock, but the thing that really drew me to it were all the new techniques I’d never tried before: tubular cast on, knitting a sock on one long circular needle, twisted stitch ribbing, and a gusset on top of the foot. And that’s all before you even get to the heel. L and I both cast on for it during the winter Olympics opening ceremonies with the vague notion of doing this as a Ravelympics event, but it worked out better as a vague KAL instead. We both have other projects we want to work on in addition to this one. Plus it’s nice not to feel obligated to knit something in an impossibly short amount of time. I think I like it more than she does, which is fine considering it was my ridiculous idea to begin with. She’s a good sport for playing – er, knitting- along.

Aragorn

Aragorn was not originally written in English. The translation is very good but there are a few subtleties that may have been lost along the way. Still, the pattern is not as difficult as I thought, and the directions are thorough enough that I’ve been able to figure it out without a lot of difficulty.

Be Mine

Be Mine

Be Mine is from 2-At-A-Time Socks and has been both a blast to knit as well as a pain in the butt. This is the first pair of socks I’ve done simultaneously on one cable needle. I like the technique, but it’s fussy. There are two balls of yarn connected to the project, which already feels precarious enough perched on a 40″ needle. Every time I pull it out of my bag or slide stitches around, I’m terrified the cable will get pulled out and stitches will go flying. Pros: My socks are basically identical, including tension. I’m likely to finish both of them at the same time instead of having one lone one languishing next to a ball of unknitted yarn for all eternity. Cons: feels slower going, I can only do one or two rounds (on both socks) at a sitting before getting bored/tired. And if I were to do socks again on one needle, I’d get a longer cable.

Be Mine- 2.5 repeats

Toe Up Socks on Two Circulars

Toe up DK weight socks

I like this technique a lot. Similar to magic loop in that you let the stitches for the side you’re not currently working rest on the cable, two circulars has got to be about the easiest circular knitting method I’ve tried. I had a 16″ needle in my circulars drawer and bought a 24″ at the shop. The cast-on is brilliantly simple and produces a seamless toe without any fuss at all. I tried a few different increases and decided that the lifted increase from Aragorn was my favorite: for a right-leaning increase, pick up the right leg of the stitch below your next stitch to be knitted. Knit it thru the back loop, then knit your next stitch and proceed from there. For a left-leaning increase, knit the stitch before the increase, then pick up the left leg of the stitch now two below the last knitted stitch. Place it on the left needle, knit thru the back loop, then proceed. It made a very snug and attractive increase. The bar increase also seemed to work. The instructor also suggested an “e” increase which I’ve never seen or tried, but I think it is akin to a twisted YO and in my mind would leave a little gap. Any increase near a toe, in my opinion, ought to be firm and snug or else you’re asking for disaster.

Toe up sock

After finishing the increases and starting the foot, my right hand started to ache. I’ve come to the conclusion that the 16″ was workable but uncomfortably short. Later, I rooted through the circulars drawer again until I found another size 4 needle, which thankfully had a 24″ cable. Things were much better after that, and I sailed through the 50-odd rows of stockinette for the foot.

Our homework was to finish the foot so we can begin the heel in the next class. I finished the foot in about two days and decided to slip it onto another cable needle and cast on the second sock. There are about three pairs of increases done already and it’s coming along nicely. While I adore the other two cabled patterns, this is plain stockinette and gives me a chance to simply knit without having to really concentrate. It’s good teevee and social knitting, unlike following a chart, where I scowl and my tongue hangs out from all the mental gymnastics.

Second toe

Of course, I mean that in a good way.