One knitter's battle to conquer the intended gauge . . .

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Contrary Cabled Cowl - Worsted Weight Version

Now that I have finally published my Contrary Cabled Cowl pattern, I can show you the first one I made. It is in worsted weight yarn, so to adjust to the thinner yarn I made the cables 8 stitches instead of 6 so that changes your cast on number a bit. And I used size 10 needles. Other than that it is the same pattern. With those two adjustments I was able to get the same dimensions for the finished project as mentioned in the pattern. 

I made it for my little Maeve last Christmas (sad that it took 9 months for me to make time to publish the pattern!).  Malabrigo yarn is the perfect yarn for her.  So soft. Her itch factor is high, she is easily irritated by uncomfortable things. It is a Rios yarn in the Zarzamora color way. One of my favorites. I'm pretty partial to purples when it comes to my knitting. I borrowed this a few times last winter to wear while skiing, when my older daughter, Adelle, wasn't wearing it...

Let me tell you a little story about Maeve and I this weekend. She had a play date on Friday after school and by the time I picked her up a little after 6 she had not eaten since lunch time. Apparently she said she didn't like anything that the other mom offered for an after school snack and Maeve didn't give her any ideas of things she did like. So as soon as Maeve got in our car she was a GROUCH! Hot, tired, or hungry really does Maeve in. Unfortunately dinner and a good night sleep didn't help her attitude and Saturday was pretty brutal too. 

It didn't help that I had decided that Saturday we were going to do some spring fall cleaning in the house and weeding in the garden as a family, two of Maeve's least favorite things to do. We had to take separate time outs in our rooms to survive the afternoon without hurting each other. That night as I prayed for forgiveness for losing my patience and to be filled with a greater love for her, to be filled with Charity, with Christ's unconditional love for her, I immediately felt the Holy Spirit strongly. I was forgiven and the Lord was comforting me, helping me to feel I could be/do better the next day. The Spirit is real. It brings a warm, peaceful feeling, like being wrapped in our Heavenly Father's arms. He understands that parenting is difficult at times but that with His help we can do it. I am so grateful for this experience!

Sharing with Ginny, Nicole, and Andrea.

Oh yeah, I finished two books lately that I really recommend. Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. I finished that Saturday while I was taking a timeout in my bedroom. I'm still a little sad about how the book ends for the main characters, even though you see it as inevitable as you are reading, I was still sad that it didn't work out. And One Came Home by Amy Timberlake. It is a Newbery Honor Award winner. It isn't really about the passenger pigeons but they play a part in it. It was interesting to read about them. I didn't know anything about them until Paula from the Knitting Pipeline podcast talked about them a few episodes ago. She talked about the Fold the Flock website, people who are remembering the 100 year anniversary of the passing of the last passenger pigeon by folding one million origami pigeons. It is one of those things that I want to do with my kids but have not yet...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Book Review: Up, Down, and All Around Stitch Dictionary by Wendy Bernard

Thank you so much for the positive feedback concerning my new design! I really appreciate it. Designing has really been an educational and fun experience for me. When I first heard about this book by Wendy Bernard I was so excited about the possibilities. I've been checking out a lot of stitch dictionaries from the library these last few years and was frustrated that most of them only gave instructions for bottom up construction. So I was thrilled that this book might make designing from other directions a lot easier.

I'll talk about the thing I didn't like and then the things I did. First off it claims to have "more than 150 stitch patterns to knit top down, bottom up, back and forth, and in the round." But right from the beginning I was annoyed that 3 of those 150 stitches are stockinette, garter, and seed stitch. To me those didn't really needed to be added to the book. They seem pretty simple to figure out how to do in various directions. It seems a little cheating to list those as part of the 150 but maybe I'm being [k]nit picky. :) But actually that is really the only thing that bothered me about this book.

This milanese lace stitch pattern is one that I have had marked for a design for awhile and I was thrilled to find it written out in all directions. Isn't it beautiful! 

This swedish weave is another stitch pattern that I really liked. I don't remember seeing this in other stitch dictionaries. One of the things I liked about this book were the pictures. I like that they are in color and big enough to see details. And that the instructions are written out and charted. Yay!

Now the next two stitch patterns thrill me to no end. Remember that poncho that I was working on before I started my Summer of Socks? Well I've been wanting to add a border other than the fringe shown in the pattern but all the borders that I've seen in stitch dictionaries before gave directions from the top up except the feather and fan stitch pattern. I believe this is the first one that gave other directions at all for borders. I haven't decided which of these 2 borders I'll use but I am really liking both of them.

Here is Wendy. She has also published a book called Custom Knits to "unleash your inner designer" which I am excited to check out. And one last thing I like about this book is the binding. It has the spiral binding so it will stay open on its own which is great for being able to knit and read from it at the same time. But also the spiral binding is covered by the outside cover so it won't catch on things and/or being tangled and broken. Smart move.

I'm pretty frugal when it come to books. I mostly check them out from the library over and over again. So when I say that this is a book that I will total buy that says A LOT. It is on my short list of books that I want to add to my home library just as soon as I stop spending my pocket money on fiber every month. :) But seriously this book has opened up easier possibilities for designing which is making me rethink my stitch pattern choice for my triangle shawl that is in the works....

Joining with Ginny, Nicole, and Andrea this week.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Contrary Cabled Cowl Knitting Pattern

I am so excited to publish this new design. This snug fitting cowl has an interesting texture where stockinette and garter stitch cables meet. With aran weight yarn, held double, this is a quick knit. It is September after all so we need to start thinking about Christmas knitting! :) The top circumference is able to accomodate children (see my cute daughter wearing it in the picture below) and adults, with the bottom widening to fit comfortably on the shoulders under a coat. It is the perfect accessory for winter play, ensuring no one’s neck or face get cold in the wind and snow.

It is knit with Dyeabolical Aran Singles yarn.  If you have not checked out this Indie Dyer, you have to! She has a wide variety of colors. They are really vibrant and beautiful.  The aran singles is wonderful to knit with. And very soft. Perfect for this "next to skin" cowl.

I love knitting cables with thicker yarn. It just makes such a fun, squishy fabric. You can better see how the garter stitch and the stockinette stitch cables meet in the middle in this photo. It makes for a really unique looking cable.

The Contrary Cabled Cowl is now on sale on Ravelry and Etsy for $3.99. The pattern has been test knit and professionally tech edited. For today only, September 3, you can buy the pattern for $.99 as a thank you for being a loyal reader of The Gauge Wars blog. I really appreciate your visits to the site and your encouraging comments on my knitting. The promotion code is DARTHVADER.  :)

Isn't my friend Melissa beautiful? When I texted asking her to model my newest design for me, she responded with, "you do know you texted Melissa right?" Lol. She did wonderful. And it was hot modeling a wool cowl in August!

 I really enjoy designing. The challenge of coming up with new ideas and then figuring out how to knit them is fun. The math part can be frustrating. But so rewarding when I figure it out! I recently have been obsessing over this new book, Up, Down, All- Around Stitch Dictionary by Wendy Bernard. It gives the directions to knit over 150 stitch patterns from the top down, bottom up, or in the round. Brilliant idea! Most stitch dictionaries that I've seen just give instructions for one direction. Anyway I'm working on a review of this book so come back next Wednesday to read that. Thanks!!

Sharing with Ginny, Tami, and Nicole.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Yarn Along: Oomingmak Musk Ox Producer's Co-operative and Qiviut

Guess what? SCHOOL IS BACK IN SESSION! I can't say I'm excited about my girls being gone all day and I'm anxious about the time commitment I'm making to homeschool my kindergartener, but I am THRILLED to be back on a regular schedule after a summer of vacations and exciting visitors. It has been wonderful to finally get my children and me in bed at a regular hour so I have my early morning quiet hours to myself again. Yay!

And hopefully I'll have time to write all the blog posts I've been meaning to all summer. We will see about that. :)

But here is one to start. I've been wanting to post this since this summer when I returned from Alaska. While I was there I went to downtown Anchorage and visited the Oomingmak Musk Ox Producer's Co-operative shop.  It is a small shop that is mainly for tourists but the idea of the Co-operative is fantastic. It has been around since 1969 and has produced amazing Qiviut knitted items, (pronounced "kiv-ee-ute") which is the downy-soft underwool from the Arctic Musk Ox. On a side note as a child my father hunted a Musk Ox whose head currently hangs on their living room wall (check out my Instagram photo of that). Now that I know how expensive Qiviut is and how amazingly soft it is, I REALLY wish Dad had kept that fiber for me. Didn't he know 25 years later I would be a spinner?!?

Anyway the Co-operative is owned by 250 Native Alaskan women from villages all over Alaska who knit and sell the items to help with their subsistence living in remote villages. Each village has a signature pattern from traditional aspects of their village life and Native culture. The women don't design but just knit the patterns and the Co-op only sells the finished goods or yarn kits, no fiber. Mostly they sell scarves, smoke rings, hats, and one tunic ($625).

They had a board up at the shop with swatches from every animal product you can imagine and Qiviut is BY FAR the softest, most amazing fiber there. But considering that the kit for a baby hat was the cheapest thing in the shop at $90 I couldn't really buy my Alaska souvenir there, only these 2 postcards above.

I wanted to take pictures in the shop but it felt awkward because it is so small and personal. You walk in and there is a front counter where you place your order and one table off to the side where a woman was blocking a smoke ring. So I didn't whip out my camera. But I did take this blurry photo from their brochure because I thought it was a brilliant way to block a cowl, on one of those dress making boards that my mom used when I was a child, only a smaller version. I'm not sure what those kind of boards are called. Mom use to measure and cut her fabric on it but it can't be used as a cutting mat with a rotary cutter because it is kind of made of cardboard like material. I want one to block cowls.

I talked with the man working the counter at the Co-op about the Musk Ox. He said they have a Musk Ox farm in Palmer, an hour from Anchorage, where they get about 50% of the fiber they need. And there are also a few wild Musk Ox herds in Alaska out by the villages where the woman can get fiber. He said that some women chase the Musk Ox into the woods on 4-wheelers and then stop and pick up the fiber that sticks to the trees as the Musk Ox run by. Quite an adventure. The whole place was really fascinating. Someday I want to buy a smoke ring there, when $185 doesn't seem like too much money to spend on a piece of amazing clothing for myself. :)

I've been finishing up a design this week and I finishing Julie of the Wolves. It is a Newbery Medal Award winner, which I am interested in reading these lately as they are clean, easy, but interesting reads. Julie is a young Alaska Native girl and it is about her experience living alone on the Artic Tundra. I thought it was really good. And a fitting book for me this summer.

My design is a cowl, in the beautiful Dyeabolical yarn in the colorway King of the Pond. It is really a fantastic yarn. It is a single ply aran weight but I am using it held double and loving how soft it is. It will be nice and warm for snow sports this winter. My pattern is currently with the test knitters. I am planning to release it next week. As always there will be a discount code here for readers on the release date. Stay tuned!

Sharing with Nicole and Ginny and Andrea.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Spinning Straw into Gold: Navajo Plying



Here is the free fiber I received from the yarn store in Homer. The dyer didn't like it but I think it is fun. It is mostly wool but I think she told me it had some nylon and maybe tencel too, I can't remember. It has such different colors I wanted to protect that and not muddy the yarn together so I learned to Navajo ply or chain ply instead of making a barber pole-ish 3 ply. I really like the result.

Here are some Navajo plying tutorials I found useful:

Sarah Anderson's youtube video
Lee Juvan's article in Knitty
Knotty Gals picture tutorial for Navajo plying on a drop spindle
Simply Notables picture tutorial for Navajo plying on a drop spindle

I found Simply Notables to be the best for me. It help me finally understand what I was trying to do. I still need a lot of practice but I'm pretty pleased.

I really want to see how it knits up. It is only about 36 meters but I thought that it could make a fun accent to a hat if I used it with some similar weight mill spun yarn. We shall see. I have two projects that have to be finished before I can cast this yarn on.

Have a great weekend. One more week until school starts again here. I'm not thrilled about the early mornings with the kids but I'm looking forward to getting back into a routine again.

Sharing with Andrea, Linda, and Tami.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Finished Object: Vanilla Socks with a Plaid Twist

This may be the only socks I finish during my Summer of Socks but at least I have 3 more cast on and in progress...

I've talked here before about how I don't like following patterns for socks. It is a portable project that I prefer to not have much thinking involved so I can use sock projects as social knitting time. But I also want the socks to be interesting and not just stockinette or ribbing. I really like the Vanilla Latte pattern but with this tonal yarn I wanted a little more design going on.

So here is what I did:
  • Every 9th row (or so I just eyeballed it) when the pattern called for a knit and purl row, I did a row of purl stitches to make that square plaidish look. 
  • When I got to the foot I had three columns of squares still going down the foot. About 4 inches from the end I stopped doing a purl row on one column. Then I knit another repeat of the 9 row square ending with a purl row and then stopped knitting a purl row in that column. One more repeat ending with a purl row in the last column and then ended the purl rows. So the last 2 inches of the foot are just straight stockinette. On the second foot I alternated the columns that I ended the purls rows with first so that the socks were not identical but mirror images. It makes the pattern a little more exciting but didn't require much thinking. 

So now look at the left big toe on the last picture. See that row of ladders that look like a dropped stitch but isn't? Why does that happen? What am I doing as I decrease for my toes that causes those gaps on the stitches? It is annoying and I can't figure out why it is happening. Any suggestions?

I gave these socks to my sister, Michelle, the crazy photo bomber from my last post and the foot model here, for her birthday. It is challenging to give away something that took weeks to make. But I purchased the yarn with her in mind 2 years ago so I wanted to stick with that. You better wear them Michelle!! :)

Sharing with Linda, Tami, and Andrea this week.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer of Socks and Apricots, Vacations, Family...

Remember when I use to blog regularly? Before I left on an epic adventure driving to Alaska and taking pictures of half knit socks and sock yarn in the most beautiful places? (You know it has been awhile since you last posted about knitting when all your sidebar ads are about Alaska now.)

Yarn: Candy Skeins Spearmint
Pattern: Vanilla Latte Socks with Modifications (come back Friday for finished photos and modification specifics!)

My Alaska souvenir: Fingering weight yarn from Knitty Stash in Homer, AK.
Colorway: Chugach Forest (except that it was labeled "Not Quite Perfect" so it was discounted!)
And mysterious fiber (mostly wool) that was on the free shelves left behind by a dyer who was less than pleased with it. I love it!

And then I came home to a gigantic apricot tree full of ripe apricots.  I mean FULL. I was buried in apricots here for a week or two or three. I gave them away to everyone I could. I preserved them in every form I could think of. Jams. Syrup. Leathers. Puree. Dried. The syrup is really amazing. I just used some to sweeten by peppermint tea. So good.

And then I played with my family as they came to Utah for a reunion. Hiking to Cecret Lake in Alta to see the beautiful wildflowers.

And hosted a cousin party for my 70 cousins (okay only 30 came) as part of our family reunion weekend.  There is my sister Michelle photo bombing my picture of my favorite cousin, Larry (in the middle), my little sister Suzanne, and my cousin Ben, who miraculously survived a heart attack in his 30's. It is so fun having a large family!

And that is it. That's why I've not been around here a few weeks. Now I have 3 weeks to get my life back into some recognizable order just knit before school starts. :) (And read my new book, Julie and the Wolves. It is a Newbery award winner and really interesting so far.)

Joining with Nicole, Ginny, and Tami.