Sunday, 26 June 2011

Random rows

It has been fun devising the colour bands for my Modern Throw, but after a while I found that I was repeating myself.  So I looked for a way to get a true random sequence.  I had decided on an even number of rows for each band, and it seems that 6 was the maximum, so I was looking for a sequence of 2, 4 and 6.  The easiest way would be to throw a dice where 1 and 2 = 2, 3 and 4 = 4 and 5 and 6 = 6.  But no dice was to hand, so I had to find another way.

The obvious solution would be to use the random function in Excel.  With a little bit of manipulation I could get it to produce the random sequence I wanted.  But to do that I would have to turn the computer on - not something I want to do in the middle of knitting.

Then I remembered my scientific calculator.  It has a random function that returns a three digit decimal number.  Perfect - easy to keep by my knitting and it gives an immediate result.  I pick out the 2, 4 and 6es, ignoring all other digits, and I keep on pressing the key until I have the number of numbers I want.  For one block the total should equal the number of rows in the block.  This is even more exciting knitting - not having control of what the block will look like.

I understand that there are websites that will produce random numbers, but why let somebody else do the fun bit?  I love maths, nearly as much as knitting.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Another blanket

I have finished blanket #140 including fastening the ends.  I liked working with it; the mohair made it feel very pleasant.  I still think there were two many disparate colours in it, but since I'm limited to the yarn in the yarn store there is little I can do about it.  I was disappointed to find that although it was knitted in aran weight yarns it only weighed some 150 gr more than a DK blanket.  The blanket was some 10 cm narrower than a standard blanket.  I didn't do a tension square - I calculated on the basis that aran is usually 4 stitches per 10 cm fewer than DK.  Obviously my tension is closer.

I decided to knit my next blanket, #141, to DK weight, because I enjoy it.  I will do others in aran, to experiment, to get rid of more yarn even if it is only 150 gr.  This blanket is pink blue violet, and I keep thinking it has not come out very well.  From a distance I like it better.  Close to I like the look of plain DK yarns.


The first garment I unravelled was this shetland vest, complete with label saying Shetlands from Shetland.  It looks like a traditional fair isle pattern knitted in authentic shetland wool.  Very pleasant it is.  I had to think very hard before I decided to unravel this, because it seemed such a shame.  But then what else would I do with it?  I bought it, very cheaply, in order to unravel it.  I tried it on.  It was the right size but it felt stiff and unpleasant.  So now it is gone, and the wool is very nice.

The second garment is another of my Kaffe Fassett garments.  I decided to unravel them in order to knit a blanket solely of yarn from them.  This pattern is called Big Crosses and it appears in Kaffe's Classics, but in different yarns and colours.  It says there that the pattern also appeared in an early Rowan book, so perhaps this one came from there.  I thought it might have been a kit, but Kaffe does not say anything about a kit - he says it was not initially popular.

I thought it was knitted in a DK and 4 ply yarn combined throughout, but when I unravelled it I found only two DK yarns.  The rest were 2 strands of the same 4 ply combined.  Most were a very nice shetland with a few ordinary wool yarns.  It was very well knitted, good tension and it looks good.  It was enornous - no chance of me wearing it at all.  The ends were just knitted in, so it was easy to unravel.  I like the colours and the yarns are lovely, but I'm having second thoughts about doing a blanket just with them.  Using just short lengths would end up with too many ends.  So perhaps I will use them in the standard blankets.  I will hold off for now.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Geo Modern Throw C8

The yarn came first.  I found some chunky Icelandic yarn in a charity shop.  I knitted with similar yarn some years ago, and I think it is lovely, so I bought it.  Then I found more similar single ply chunky yarn to complement it.

I came across the pattern on the Knit Picks website last year.  The thing I like about it is the stripes, that you can vary the widths and it still looks good.  And that's why it is suitable for using up different kinds and colours of yarn.  There are two versions of the pattern, the Geo Modern Throw and the Retro Throw.  The main difference between the two is that the Geo Modern has two stitches between the decreases and the Retro one.  I liked the sculptural effect of two stitches, so mine is a Geo Modern Throw.  The pattern also uses chunky yarn - it gives  a choice of several - so the tension will be similar to mine.  (Knit Picks have changed the site since I printed off the patterns.  They are both called Retro Throws now.  My pattern is the purple green one.)

But tension doesn't matter.  You cast on stitches working in the round from the outside, decreasing until you run out of stitches - or get to about ten - when it should meet in the middle.  I went for large blocks of about 40 cm, and cast on the number of stitches I thought would achieve this.  The blocks curl up around the edges, so it is impossible to say if they will now.

The other yarns that I included are:

The Annabel Fox Chunky Donegal.  I found eight 100 gr hanks of this eight years ago, and I have finally found a use for it.  It is thicker, more solid than the chunky yarns you find now, and it is thicker than the other yarns used , so it is a shame that I included it.  I like the brown tweedy colour.  Annabel Fox designed for Rowan at the end of the eighties and she published at least one book of patterns and obviously went on to do her own brand of yarns.

Two Patons yarn: Husky and Moorland.  The shetland type Moorlandhas a note to say that it is distributed by Susan Bates in the USA, so at some stage it has made the journey back to the UK.  I think both yarns originate from the 1970s.

Some Icelandic yarn spun in Great Britain.  This is slightly thinner than the real Icelandic yarn.

I enjoy knitting this and it is so easy.  The only tricky part is making sure that the stitches aren't twisted when you join the cast on row.  The pattern does not specify how to cast on.  I didn't want to use my usual method, long tail cast on, because I would end up with a lot of ends from tails too long.  I tried cable cast on but mine was too tight.  In the end I went for the simple single cast on.  I will have to see what it looks like when the blocks are joined.

The first long rows are peaceful, and they soon get shorter.  I started with 80 cm circular needles, and I had 60 and 40 cm ones ready but I found I can get straight on to 20 cm double pointed needles.  When you get that far the rows take no time at all and the block is soon done.  It is nice to plan the colour bands.  I try to limit the bands to an even number of rows because it is easier that way to keep track of the decreases every other row.  Stitch markers are essential.  Mine come from the markers from electric toothbrush heads.  I saw an even better suggestion in Adelheid's blog - rings from discarded bras.  They have a nicer feel.  The beginning of the row is marked with a loop in a different yarn.