Monday, April 30, 2007

Memoir #1: Silkworms from my childhood

Have you ever raised a silkworm in your life? I have. Here is my story.

When I was a second grader, like most other kids in the class, in the spring semester I kept several silkworms as pets. Hey, they are cute little animals, really! Cool, shy, and unbelievably silky, they constantly engage themselves in munching mulberry leaves.

In early spring, we put a few silk seeds (aka eggs) in a padded matchbox, and tucked it under our sweaters to hatch the babies. We checked our matchboxes so frequently that our teachers had to stop us. In a couple of days, tiny black silkworm babies appeared, and they were immediately provided with freshly picked mulberry leaves, sweet and juicy. Their diapers got frequently changed, too--seriously. (No unpleasant smells, I assure you.) Each week they got moved into a new house, for they were growing FAST!

In four or five weeks they were already fully grown, ready to wrap themselves with fine silk. The silk gland had always been there--when they accidentally fell out of the box, like spiders they hang on a lifeline. But now, they have finished their last meal ever, become semi-transparent, angrily running around to pick a nice corner. Sometimes two would fight for one ideal corner, then you have to move one to a new box! Once settled, a silkworm would start a few trial runs and carefully attach its silk thread to the three surfaces. If satisfied, it would start the real work.

[Traditionally, the silkworms are provided with bundled rice stalks. That's easier for them to use than corners of a paper box, and the aeration is superb.]

They were diligent workers, busy wrapping themselves without rest. Within a few hours I bid them goodbye. Then the beautiful cocoons stopped moving and all of us waited patiently.

[In that year, every cocoon I had were in bright lemon yellow color. They turned out to be all girls, so I ended up borrowing a guy from a friend. Lucky guy...]

Silkworms are different from other moths, there is no mouth so they can not eat--reproduction is the only mission. After completing their job, My silky girls only lived for a day. I buried them under my mulberry tree, and their babies were kept for the next spring.

Years later when I was in university, we had a professor in cell biology class who studied fluorescent proteins. He had a box of beautiful neon-colored cocoons, produced by silkworms carrying different types of fluorescent protein gene tags. They were so stunning that the whole class turned green with envy. Such beautiful things can never be forgotten, and I hope one day I can see the naturally colored silk again--in my local yarn shops.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

New yarns, new tests

Today I jumped and hopped to my mailbox to get these:

Zephyr lace weight, clockwise from the top: Mushroom, Lilac, Pewter, and Violet. I love the soft pastel hues--Lilac and Violet, always chic for spring and summer. Although there is a deceivingly cool tone in this shot, there are actually two warm colors and two cool ones here.

And sweet Sarah included these sample skeins in the package:

Clockwise from the top: lace weight naturally dyed linen, kid mohair silk, spun silk. The little one perching on the top is cashmere/silk 2 ply. Must find time to swatch them...

No, the Zephyr skeins are not for shawls. Somehow I am not into shawl knitting, and have only made a couple as gifts for family members. Nevertheless, I enjoy gasping at how beautiful and intricate other knitters' shawls are. Well I did make a lacy scarf in Zephyr a while ago and Kerrie accepted it for the now canceled April '07 issue. Don't know when it will come out ;-).

Coming back to Zephyr. I want to try them on big needles for draping tests. If you have looked at the spring/summer runways, you'd know what I'm talking about. So many romantic pieces that it almost broke my heart. Look at the palettes from LV , all soft pastels and lovely neutrals. Oh and did you see Rowan Studio 4? They are pursuing the drapy look too, in neutral colors. Their Iras has an attractive back (which I sketched, see the photo below), but the front is way too boring...

Zephyr has a fuzzy surface (due to the short length of Tussah silk fibers) and pills, but that's OK. The slightly worn look will give an "airbrushed" effect. The finished fabric won't look like chiffon or linen, but there is no plan to copy the texture in the first place. I want the color, I want the drape.

I'm satisfied with the trial run.

Many more trial runs await me, but for now I'm going to the park to play with the swans, wild geese and ducks. What a beautiful day!

I'm about to make a free pattern for Pencil Sketch. Since this a close-fit knit, there is a lot of calculation and proof-reading and will take a while. If you are interested, please tell me what size range you want to see, plus any modifications that you fancy. I thank you for your input sincerely.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Aegean the Octopus Bag Pattern

Aegean is an adorable and practical bag with drawstring closure. Large enough to hold a small purse, a cell phone, keys, and a lipstick. You can be creative and give it funny expressions, or follow the pattern to make a weeping octopus. It is also a good idea for gift giving, especially to the little ones in your life.
You can read more about Aegean here. And don't forget to take a look at my free patterns ;-).

Finished size
Head circumference: 12.5 inches (32 cm)
Depth: 6 inches (15 cm)
Length of tentacle: 1.5 inches (4 cm) and/or 1.8 inches (5 cm)

• Approximately 100 yards of DK weight yarn. Shown in Elann Esprit (cotton/elastic, 100 yd/90 m relaxed; 186 yd/170m stretched per 1.75 oz/50 g ball), 1 ball in 3085 (pink pearl)
• One size 5 (3.75 mm) circular needle, 32" (80 cm) or 40" (100 cm) in length, or a set of size 5 (3.75 mm) double pointed needles
• Tapestry needle
• Stitch marker
• Small amount of black or deep blue DK weight yarn
• One to two yards of smooth and strong worsted weight yarn for drawstring
• Sewing needle, fine thread, and a blue glass bead (all optional)

Skills needed
Cast on, bind off, knit in the round, knit stitches, increases, decreases, three-needle bind-off, and I-cord

Instruction on how to make the knotted flowers is given in the pattern.

$4.95 - you will be sent a link to download the pattern as a .pdf file (170 kb)

Thank you,


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Meet the Weeping Octopus

Something cute this way comes! An octopus, she is, with large polka dots on her face. Can you see the two knotted flowers?

She is sleeping on my design sketch above. After watching a fantastic documentary on Discovery Channel, I have been haunted by these beautiful and intelligent absorbed that I knitted my octopus in one evening ;-). Changes were made, as usual; her eyes are closed with a blue crystal teardrop dangling. Somehow I recalled that in Homer's Iliad, there was a scene in which Helen appeared before the wise men of Troy. After lines of abstract praises on her beauty, it ended with "...a teardrop on her face". So be it.

I wanted it to be both fun and practical, so I chose a cotton/elastic yarn that produces a soft machine-washable fabric which stretches and does not need to be lined. It is large enough for my cell phone, purse, and keys.

Her tentacles are not fully functional yet, for now there is no beads in fitting colors around the house. Somehow I like how she looks already, without the suction cups. What do you think?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Belt Fish the design challenge

It's been three weeks now since I decided to blog about my knitting life, and I'm so happy that I did! I have made new friends, and your kind words always make me smile. Thank you.

On the knitting side, I swatched Zodiac. Many knitters have talked about how strange this thing is, and strange it is. It did not split or snag much, for I took the advice to trim my nails (and I usually remember to put lotion on my hands). However, what does this swatch look like?

Belt Fish! Thick and stiff, covered with tiny shiny silver scales.

I can not make a summer cardigan with it.

It then became a challenge--to find a good design to showcase Zodiac. I searched over the internet and decided to do a fall/winter coat. The 2007 F/W trend is quite clear in terms of coats; many are bell-shaped with dramatic collars. By the way, there are numerous dramatic cowls around; including some over-the-top ones. Maybe I should make myself a nice cowl this fall. To analyze fashion trends by oneself is fun, especially if one do not cheat by visiting Women's Wear Daily.

There are two problems now. Color, and texture.

Most coats on the runway are seriously dark, with a few exceptions, say, Balenciaga and Chanel. However, white/silver/beige is nowhere to be seen.

Then comes the structure. What interests me most is that the runway coats simply can not be called A-lined. They are three-dimensional on their own, extremely hard to capture with knitting.

I finally found two designs for further study. They are Kaffe Fassett's China Clouds from a Rowan magazine, and Tiggy by Anna, whose talent I greatly admire. But who knows, maybe I will turn to Balenciaga's lean jackets in the end. That's the fun of doing your own design, right?

Now guess: what are these?

Answer: a new design, full of fun. Hopefully I will finish it soon. Happy Knitting!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Pencil Sketch; Knitting Tip No.1

There has not been much knitting going on recently, except that Pencil Sketch is now finished. To my satisfaction, this lovely cami washes well and dries quickly.

Very random picots (BOn, picot; n = 1, 2, 3,...) decorate the neckline, and the sleeve openings are trimmed with plain stockinette stitches. To reduce curling, I bound them off in K1,P1 ribbing.
The yarn used for trimming is Adrienne Vittadini Celia, a woven silk tape purchased from one of my LYSs, and this very pale blue compliments the tones and the mood of the cami. And it fits...

I can see myself in it for the whole summer!

No.1 How do you count your rows? Except for using a row counter?

When the yarn is smooth and the stitch definition is clear, no problem.

When knitting with novelty yarns, I turn the piece over and count the purl bumps.

Now my favorite method: count the shaping stitches.

It goes something like this: say I am knitting a sweater(bottom up). After the ribbing, I work a rows of plain stockinette stitches. Then I start shaping as follows: decrease 1 st on each side of the piece every b rows c times. The K2tog and SSK stitches are easy to find, and I always rely on them to see which row I am at. If I see 3 K2togs below plus 2 rows above the latest K2tog, I know that now I have worked (a+3b)+2 rows.

When increasing for chest, I often use the "knit from the horizontal thread" method to create a tiny hole intentionally, because this kind of shaping stitch is easy to see and count. Since they are always symmetrical, they look decorative, too.
Do you have similar tips to share?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Book Review: Runway Knits

Runway Knits by Berta Karapetyan

Reviewed by Iris G, April 19, 2007

The name Berta Karapetyan belongs to the short list of extremely accomplished high-end knitwear designer. Over the past twenty years, in addition to her work for top American fashion houses, her own house brand Karabella has become synonymous to luxury yarns of fashion forward colors and textures, supported by sophisticated and feminine patterns. It is somewhat astonishing that she had not published any knitting book until April 2007.

Runway Knits, Berta's new book, is a hit in every sense. The thirty patterns cater to different tastes, yet they are consistent enough to fit in one woman’s wardrobe. This consistency lies in several aspects: style, construction, and detail.

The overall style of the book reminds me of fashion magazines. The color and layout are bold and clean-cut like Vogue and Elle; the photographs are in the line of Vogue Knitting and Karabella patterns, which means that the knits are modeled by young slim models in clean indoor settings and that the details are clear. Now comes the best part: the pattern pages have the (our old favorite) Interweave Knits layout. Love that.

The book has four sections, namely spirited, playful, demure, and driven. To me, the lines between the sections are subtle. The major differences I noticed are the color and size options. Spirited and playful are full of fun colors such as hot pink and vivid green, and are written for bust sizes range from approximately 89 cm to slightly over 100 cm (knitted), or XS to L. Most pieces are body conscious yet with enough ease. Demure and driven are absolutely classic and slightly understated, wear-to-work pieces, in neutral tones, and size from XS to XL. For instance, there is a beautiful tweedy/boucle A-line jacket that sizes up to 117 cm (knitted).

Great taste simply exudes from the designs. Most knits, in my opinion, are so uniquely beautiful and so well tailored that they can only be found from the best design houses. The fine details and smart shaping are amazing.

The patterns are written in Berta’s usual style which she is obviously proud of. The sweaters are done in flat front and back pieces, and clear charts are given for the lace works (needless to say, there are many of them). The patterns are of the line-by-line style, which are often found in British knitting books.

As you would have guessed, the yarns used in the book, from lace weight mohair to the beautiful aurora merinos, from mercerized cottons to cashmere blends are all from Karabella. Brief suggestions are given to yarn substitutions at the end of the book.

I almost forgot to mention that there are several accessory sets in the book; all are unique and functional. I particularly admire the Russian style hat and scarf set, made with cashmere and fur. There is also a lovely hat and scarf set with cables and laces, done in white Aurora bulky.

There is no chapter of knitting basics; and Berta suggested that the readers try and learn new techniques from the book, be it a stitch pattern or a beautiful and functional construction. Most designs require intermediate knitting skills.

In short, this book is a rare breed: a well-planned high-end designer knitting book. I would love to knit most of the pieces, and in doing so, I would become a better knitter and designer.

Brava Berta! I salute to you.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Pencil Sketch the Lacy Cami; the design process

Sometimes I'd come across a yarn with some unique personality. Jaeger Trinity, the yarn I used for my Pencil Sketch Camisole, surely is one of them. The yarn looked and felt so rugged that at first I simply wanted to toss it. Fortunately I didn't. Working on my cami, I realized that Trinity is not merino and it'll never be, it's fiercely inelastic and nubby, but if you listen to it then you get something worth to be seen. The finished fabric has a good drape, authentic tweedy surface, and feels like old cotton jersey.

Now comes the design process, I hope you'd find it interesting or useful (it can't be both, I know) ;-)

(another sketch showing the possibilities)

After reading all the comments (here and at KR, thank you all!), I decided on designing a hybrid neckline. Before that, I needed to finish the back. The advantages are:
1. There is always less shaping for the back neckline, so I can focus on shaping the sleeve openings.
2. In the end I can get the number of rows to reach 7" (in this case), and plan the front neckline decreases accordingly.
Now the back is all knitted up:

The bind off stitches at the neck opening were worked in two directions, so that the edge will not get stretched towards one side. The joining at the center can be seen if you click on the photo.

Here's the plan for the front, I just scanned my actual scribbles. You can click for a larger picture; the finished neckline will look like a hybrid between V and scoop, with a tiny "wrap" at the center, over the lace stitches.

The center lace stitches (17 in total) are picked up twice to form the mini wrap. I worked the right front first, knitting through the 17 sts and the rest 26 sts on the right. After the right shoulder has been finished, I turned back to the center 17 sts, pick them up through the back "purl bumps" and purled through the remaining 26 sts on the left.
Although a proper edging awaits to be done, the body of the cami is ready for pictures!

The back looks neat too:

By the way, it fits me perfectly and I love it, I promise to give you modeled pictures next time ;-).

Now that I have made friends with Trinity, I have my eyes on another yarn with personality, which is Zodiac from Berroco:

Not Wren, no plan yet. Maybe I should get myself familiar with them first...

Monday, April 16, 2007

Buridan's Lacy Cami

Last night I picked up my Pencil Sketch project-in-progress, and decided that it would become a camisole for hot summer days.

Then I had to design a neck opening. Which one looks the best, the scoop, the wrap, or the halter style?

Hard choice isn't it? Wait, we are not finished yet:

Which finishing (around the neck) is better, a simple eyelet lace stitch, or a picot edging?

Hmm... I feel like Buridan's donkey facing more than two stacks of hay! Please tell me what you think ;-) and Thank you!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Malabrigo Gloves: a free pattern

Do you remember me? I am that single crocus in Iris's yard-- I have survived!

Let me begin today's post with a big Thank You to all my visitors-- Thank you for stopping by! I have a little gift for you. A Malabrigo Gloves Pattern--You can download the free pattern here, in pdf format, for personal use, and I hope you enjoy the soft-as-cloud gloves like I do!

This is the hyperlink to the pattern downloading page:

If you prefer to copy directly and do some editing, then here it is. Discussions on the pattern are welcomed and appreciated! You can post your opinions here at any time (commenting is enabled and I read all comments), or drop me a line here.

Malabrigo Gloves

To fit average sized woman’s hand (size 6 to 7)

Hand circumference: 7.5 inches
Wrist circumference: 6.5 inches

Malabrigo merino worsted, 215 yards per 100g skein, 1 hank each in color A, B, and C
(Photographed in Tuscan Sky, Orchid, and Natural)
Any worsted yarn can be used for this pattern.
Small amount of waste yarn

1 set of US #5 double pointed needles, a couple of extra needles may come in handy

20 sts and 32 rows to 4 inches (10 cm) measured over stockinette stitch

• For the right glove, work the palm with the first and second needles, the back of the hand with the third and fourth needles. Reverse this for the left glove.
• You may want to try the glove on when knitting the fingers to ensure a perfect fit.
• When working on the fingers, you can always put the remaining sts on waste yarn/ holder/extra needles before working on them.

Cast on 30 sts loosely with A and divide the stitches evenly over the 4 needles, 7 or 8 sts per needle. Work the cuff in stockinette stitch as follows:
With A, Knit 1 row.
Change to B, K 7 rows.
Change to C, K 1 row.
Change to B, K 1 row.
Change to C, K 1 row.
Change to B, K 1 row.
Change to C, K 4 rows.
Change to B, K6, increase 1 st by knitting twisted out of the horizontal thread (M1), K to within 2 sts before the end of the row, M1, end K2 (32 sts in total).
Change to C, K 2 rows.
Change to A, K 1 row.
Change to C, K 3 rows.
Change to A, K 4 rows, increase another 2 sts in the fourth row as follows: K7, M1, K to within 3 sts before the end of the row, M1, end K3 (34 sts in total).
Change to C, K 2 rows.
Change to A, K 1 row.
Change to C, K 3 rows. Now the glove measures 4 inches (33 rows).

Thumb Stitches
Change to A, K1; using waste yarn, K6; slip the 6 sts back to left needle and knit them again with A; K through the row.
Change to C, K 8 rows.

Pinkie Finger
Work to within 4 sts before the end of the second needle. Work the 4 sts and the first 4 sts on the third needle, and cast on 2 sts from the back of the glove to the palm (for fourchette). Divide these 10 sts among 3 needles, work in the round for 18 rounds, or 2.2 inches. K2tog 5 times; cut off the yarn and draw the 5 sts together with the yarn.
Start with a new piece of yarn, K2 from the fourchette, then work 1 round over all the sts to the ring finger.

Ring Finger
Work to within 4 sts before the end of the second needle. Knit the 4 sts, the 2 sts of the fourchette, and the first 4 sts on the third needle, then cast on 2 sts as the next fourchette. Divide these 12 sts among 3 needles, work in the round for 22 rounds, or 2.7 inches. K2tog 6 times; cut off the yarn and draw the 6 sts together with the yarn.

Middle Finger
Put the first 5 sts on the first needle and the last 5 sts on the fourth needle on waste yarn for the forefinger.
Start from the back side, with a new piece of yarn, K4, K2 from the fourchette, K4, and then cast on 2 sts as the next fourchette. Divide these 12 sts among 3 needles, work in the round for 24 rounds, or 3 inches. K2tog 6 times; cut off the yarn and draw the 6 sts together with the yarn.

With a new piece of yarn, K2 from the fourchette, K10 from waste yarn. Divide these 12 sts among 3 needles, work in the round for 22 rounds, or 2.7 inches. K2tog 6 times; cut off the yarn and draw the 6 sts together with the yarn.

With a new piece of yarn, K6 from waste yarn, M1, K6, M1. Divide these 14 sts among 3 needles, work in the round for 18 rounds, or 2.2 inches. K2tog 7 times; cut off the yarn and draw the 7 sts together with the yarn.

Since all the fingers are worked symmetrically, only the position of the thumb has to be changed; the rest are worked in the same way. A detailed instruction is as follows:

Cast on 30 sts with A loosely and divide the stitches evenly among the 4 needles, 7 or 8 sts per needle. Work the cuff in stockinette stitch as follows:
With A, Knit 1 row.
Change to B, K 7 rows.
Change to C, K 1 row.
Change to B, K 1 row.
Change to C, K 1 row.
Change to B, K 1 row.
Change to C, K 4 rows.
Change to B, K2, M1, K to within 6 sts before the end of the row, M1, end K6 (32 sts in total).
Change to C, K 2 rows.
Change to A, K 1 row.
Change to C, K 3 rows.
Change to A, K 4 rows, increase another 2 sts in the fourth row as follows: K3, M1, K to within 7 sts before the end of the row, M1, end K7 (34 sts in total).
Change to C, K 2 rows.
Change to A, K 1 row.
Change to C, K 3 rows.

Thumb Stitches
Change to A, K to within 7 sts before the end of the row; using waste yarn, K6; slip the 6 sts back to left needle and knit them again with A; end K1.
Change to C, K 8 rows.
Work the fingers as for the right hand.

Weave in ends; block lightly if desired. Enjoy!

Pattern & image © 2007 Iris G. All rights reserved.

Now the non-knitting part...
We had only one single Spring day this week, and I did not miss the chance to go playing in a park:

Proudly modeling my new sweater:

Like before, there were many wild geese and ducks in the park. Also like before, I forgot to bring them any bread crumbs, so they walked away and never looked back!

I promise to bring you some little treats next time, Mr. Duck!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Silkroad Sweater

As promised, here comes my finished new sweater!

Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran, Empire (137), 7 balls. Ribs are done in Zephyr wool-silk DK, which is actually a worsted weight.

My own, a plain vanilla v-neck with hourglass shaping.

I LOVE this yarn. Jo Sharp yarn collection is always fabulous in both texture and color. Next time I will try her dk tweeds for a cabled cardigan, or a vest.
The sweater is a completely seamless one, which means that the body is knit on circulars; the shoulders are finished with short rows and the three needle bind-off; and I used the top-down method for the sleeves for the first time. It must have taken a big genius to invent this (sleeve knitting) method! Did BW say anything in her top-down sweater book?

Ever since I washed (no bleeding) and blocked my new v-neck, I have been lounging in it merrily. This baby is next-to-the-skin soft and so cozy, and it pairs well with both jeans and pants. Zephyr is not as sturdy as Silkroad, which can be explained by its fiber content. I happen to like the worn effect of the cuffs, so that's not a problem but a bonus :-).

History (yes it has a history...)
The yarn was originally purchased for a scarf and hat set, at least four years ago. Then I changed my mind and worked it into a heavily cabled vest. It has never been worn, for I did not like the fit. Then last winter I found it in my stash. After some frogging, I started to modify it into a cabled sweater. Still didn't like it. Finally I frogged the whole sweater and started from scratch two weeks ago.

You see, sometimes a knitter can be very stubborn, and very patient!

During the weekend I have made some progress on the lacy shrug. A shrug is a perfect project right after scarf-knitting: no huge commitment, easy shaping, and simple sewing.

There is another work-in-progress. It's a tank top, or a T-shirt, haven't decided yet. I was trying to use up my two skeins of Jaeger Trinity. Regretted the moment I opened my mail. Everyone who have seen the swatch could not help but telling me how much it looked like a rag. "Are you really gonna wear something like this?" Obviously a wrong choice of color...

To rescue it, I threw in some soft merino in a darker grey. At least there are tonal effects now. Perhaps this piece can be named A Pencil Sketch?

Friday, April 6, 2007

Swatches, failures, and new plans

I just started to make This. There is a ball of Babykid sleeping in my stash, and it gets fondled a lot, what a cute yarn. I've been wondering what "one ball wonder" I could do with it until I saw this airy shrug from Garnstudio. Their patterns are so beautiful, and who doesn't like free patterns? The pattern calls for two balls of a similar yarn, so my version will have shorter sleeves.

I picked Vine lace pattern from A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, a beautifully simple one and started working on size 10 Brittany. So far so good:

The cold weather has definitely promoted knitting! I've just finished a warm sweater. Pictures will come later.

Also swatched is this extremely squishy merino, Santa Fe, it feels like a nylon stocking on needles, really. Great yardage, too. Tahki (and FDC and SCC) is a great yarn company, imho. I enjoyed working with every yarn I tried from them.

I am not sure what to make with Santa Fe yet, I have seen a couple of vests but was unimpressed. One interesting thing about bulky yarns is that they have to be made into closely fitted clothes, or huge accessories. A fitted bulky sweater can be very attractive, while a baggy one may look horrible. Exaggerated accessories have been "in" for several years, and they are still everywhere.

Speaking of bulky yarn, I have some Rowan Big wool fusion for a jacket. This yarn is very soft, but clearly different from those extrafine merinos. I like this cool color. At first it was a cabled one, here is the debris:

It was frogged because when I tried it on, it was too baggy. Then it became this:

Can you see the second one was an unfinished, slightly modified Twinkle design?
This time it was a bit tight, for my gauge changed in the process!

Three is a charm, and I will probably make this jacket:

or this pretty pretty pullover:

Which one do you like better?

Thursday, April 5, 2007

On glove knitting

This week has been a cold one, it almost feels like winter. The single crocus flower in my yard has just been killed...sigh. Let's talk about something warm and cozy!

I love knitting gloves, fingerless ones especially, for they are truly functional. Teva Durham says in her famous Loop-d-loop that there was something "ironical" about knitting gloves, that one's hands were making coverings for themselves. To me this is not ironical at all, just fun. The only boring part is when one gets to the fingers-- neither dpns nor magic loop can make it fast, and one has to stop and count the rows all the time. I always hope that some company would make extremely short and tiny circulars for glove knitters... hey maybe I should do that myself?

One has to make several decisions when planning a pair of gloves. Would you make it flat on two straight needles, or on circulars/dpns? How do you like the ribbing? Which method to use for the thumb?

I only made one pair of flat mittens, and sewing took longer time than the actual knitting. Rowan patterns and some other English patterns are always done on straight needles. Well I must admit that I absolutely lack the patience to sew the seams for ten fingers. That's why my gloves are always done on dpns/circulars.

To my knowledge, there are two major ways to place the thumb.

One can be found in EZ's books: you use a piece of waste yarn and knit half number of stitches for the thumb at the right place, then knit these stitches with the working yarn and go through. In the end, you pick up the upper and lower stitches of the waste yarn and voila! You have a thumb opening instantly. A thumb done in this way looks feminine, as it stays on the palm side. But if you use a bulky yarn, this is what happens:

The thumb protrudes and never look right when I slip on the glove. However, a thinner yarn won't give you this trouble. For instance, the very popular Fetching looks great.

The second way is my favorite as the thumb fits snuggly. In this method, the thumb stitches are gradually added as you work up the palm. When all the stitches are there, you place them on a piece of waste yarn, and cast on several stitches for the gusset, and knit through. In the next rows, stitches are decreased over the gusset stitches until only one stitch remains.

That's how you get a triangular piece between the thumb and the palm, and it adds flexibility.

You also need to decide how to increase for the thumb stitches. You can either use one stitch as a base, and add one stitch both before and after this stitch (see below), or you can add stitch before and after the whole thumb piece.

To close today's topic, I proudly present some 2006 and 2007 FOs.

This pair is done in Malabrigo worsted merino on size 5 dpns. They pilled crazily, but oh how soft and warm!

Perfect indoor fingerless mitts, in beautiful Jaggerspun Zephyr on lace needles. The right one is beaded. The lace pattern is from a Barbara Walker's treasury.

And these are done in Koigu and a white sock yarn on size 2 and 4 dpns. The fact that Koigu is actually a light sport yarn is quite obvious here. I like the subtle textural effect of the central cable:

Don't you think they look like two cute sea anemone?

My favorite, not shown here, are a custom-made pair for my father. The reason why I started glove knitting was simple: I wanted to make a warm and handsome pair for dear Dad. I remembered that when I was a kid, he used to wear a pair in a navy color, and after many years they were beyond darning. Although he had other pairs, those were his favorites. So I started learning and practising. It took me several years, and finally I gave him a pair of fine gauge navy colored gloves in some best yarns, as '07 new year's present. "Great job, I'll be wearing them all the time", he said, and I, of course, was grinning like a happy fool.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Something about me and my knitting

This is my first post, and this blog would be mainly about my hobby: knitting!

Well, some random stuff might creep in here now and then, let's wait and see.

Like most other knitters, I picked up needles when I was little, learned how to knit, turned away, did not come back until I started working. At first it was mainly for de-stressing and gift making, then it became a pleasure.

I started writing patterns quite recently, for sometimes there can be an urge to share with other knitters something beautiful to me. My designs are usually based on a theme, be it an ancient poem, a delicate flower, a fractal, or simply a pretty yarn. I always try to make it simple, comfortable, and elegant, but the results may vary...

Let's begin,