UndyedYarnpire’s Fiber Opera

December 30, 2008

Knit Adopters

Filed under: discussion — Tags: — UndyedYarnpire @ 5:00 pm

or Methodology of a selfish knitter living in a warm climate…

I like to knit things. I like to wear knitted and woolly things when it is January or February and I am freezing even with the heat on. (Which is really psychological since it rarely drops below “shorts wearing weather” around here. But most definitely when it is bucketing rain, my bones ache with chill.) But this is not a long season and often I want to knit things I would never wear or use. 

My solution has been to ask people what they might want. When there were no requests from family. I started making up projects and knitting them. Then I would put up pictures and offer things free to a good home. 

But many times no one wants these things, and it does not have anything to do with quality in any objective sense. Sometimes the really excellently made things are snapped up. Sometimes the excellent things languish. 

It seemed like a good idea to knit things I wanted to make and then find homes for them. It is still all about me and what I want to spend my time doing, right? 

What I would like to know is what other people do. Not those hand-wringing women who honestly believe being anything but self-sacrificing is immoral, but regular people with time commitments and a sense of their own worth as people.  I have no problems being a selfish knitter. But just because I do not want something does not mean it should not get a good home.

My current plan is only to knit things for myself. I suspect I would adore having handmade socks. I know I want that cowl neck sweater. (Want is a really underpowered word for my feelings there.) 

But what about the things that seem like they would be fun to knit, but not fun to wear?

December 28, 2008

Project progress

Filed under: knit, project lists — Tags: , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 4:38 pm

I am almost done with a whatever you call a shaped scarf meant to be worn indoors as a decorative thing. It is not for me. I know I am almost done because I am almost out of yarn. I combined that mitered corner idea (double-decrease at the diagonal) to make a U shape thing. I am making it out of garter stitch because the only time I have done this was for that EZ pattern, and I know the corner is the proper 90 degree angle when done every other row on garter stitch. I found a ball of navy blue llama wool in Aran weight. I know I planned to use it with something else, but I bought it years ago, so repurposing is a good idea, especially since I cannot remember what I wanted.

I found a ball of white raw silk. I could come up with some lacy design and make a buttoned neck wrap thing. That will require some thinking.

Next on the stack is a mobius ring from fawn alpaca. Well, maybe. I know I do not want something made from that and I need a neck warming thing a lot more than I need to make gifts.  Plus the recipient is the one who was getting that Woodland shawl (there are several with that name, but it’s the Nikol/cupcake one). That seems like it might be overly ambitious. 

I have not made any progress on my sweater. I talked myself out of the helix idea because of the hassle and because after I sketched it, I realized it would just look striped and horizontal stripes are not very attractive. I think I could come up with a way to visibly spiral something using short rows, but that seems like biting off way more than I can chew knitting-wise. For making the ordinary sweater, well, I just need to start on it. 

No spinning progress. I found an end on the bobbin with the catastrophically broken single, but am still very bummed. 

The hand things and hat were well received. And now I can show them off here.

Getting old is a life-long process.

Filed under: discussion — Tags: — UndyedYarnpire @ 3:24 pm

I saw another instance of the “only grandmas knit” myth. 

Where do people think grandmothers come from? If you ask any of those knitting grandmothers and probably most of them have been knitting their whole lives. It is just something people stopped teaching their children, or at least stopped expecting them to do. So now we have adults who have never knit anything and [great] grandmothers who started because you could not buy socks in stores. 

It reminded me of an inset story in Neal Stephenson’s book, Cryptonomicon. In the book, there is this main storyline that is sort of amateur archaeologist/historian based, the history parts are mind-numbing. It flashes back to the historical time period in question and the characters then are really dull and more than a lot offensive. But what made this book for me was the little inset stories, especially the fictional one the main character pulls off a colleague’s computer. In that story, a man notices that the passion has gone out of his marriage. One day he sees his wife in sexy clothes and he remembers why they got married in the first place. She tells him that she likes those kinds of clothes, but their furniture would destroy nice silk things. So the man realizes if he wants to be happy, he has to make his wife happy and she wants heirloom-quality furniture. He wonders where you go to buy grandma furniture. 

Since most people become grandparents around age 50 now (plus or minus 10 years, depending on regional societal expectations, education, etc.) and most people are expected to live to about 75. That means an entire generation of people who have zero hope of inheriting grandma furniture before they are adults in their own right. So someone must sell it. Plus where did grandma get hers? It is not like she was born a grandmother and was endowed with nice furniture at her baby shower. 

Honestly. Where do people think grandmothers come from? 

Grandmothers are women who have lived to become mothers and whose children have become parents themselves. They did not stop being people and turn into grandmothers.

December 27, 2008

Tom’s Helix

Filed under: knit — Tags: , — UndyedYarnpire @ 12:31 am

I came up with them most glorious idea. 

I read in Grumperina’s blog ( here and  here) about helix stripes. (I have since stopped reading her blog because this was an apparent anomaly.) 

I have 4 4-ounce balls of “moss in the dark” yarn and 2 4-ounce balls of  “cadberry“. (clickable thumbnails respectively)

If I helix striped a sweater (4::1, mitd::c), I would have an extra ball of yarn, plus some that could be used for the cuffs and hems if needed. I would minimize the pooling by using several balls of main color (and pooling in this case would be a bigger deal gauge-wise than color-wise because it is handspun) . It seems really ideal.

Until I think about knitting a 240-stitch around sweater while managing 5 balls of yarn. 

Obviously whitewashing this here fence is the bestest and most funnest thing to do on a summer’s day. But I, Tom Sawyer, do heartily swear that ya’ll will love helix striping a sweater just as much as for a winter’s day pastime. 

I guess I need to get bitten by a radioactive [genetically altered] octopus.

December 23, 2008

Yokey sweater plans and Scowling

Filed under: knit, spin — UndyedYarnpire @ 11:59 pm

Sweater progress: I have notes. I did a sample swatch to test whether I could use the larger needles (no. resulting fabric looks like crap) and got a quick gauge from that. 

The notes are coming from Knitting in the Old Way, I like the wireframe diagram and the explanations as to whence the percentages are derived. I especially like the paragraph which explains how to adjust a sweater for a non-average body type. Obviously, I have no idea whether this will work, but it certainly helps in terms of making me feel more confident. As a design encouraging book, I really like it. It talks about how to make sleeves for people with different shape arms. Everyone else makes sleeves like a truncated cone— which guarantees baggy elbows and bicep binding on me.

I am making a “round neck” sweater. This is the style used for Bohus sweaters, though I will not be doing the colorwork yoke. On the whole it appears to be more forgiving than the raglan style where decreases must be carefully placed. I like things that are forgiving when I am knitting with handspun yarn. There is just too much variability. I think I also dislike the raglan seams… they look like the seams on Frankenstein’s monster to me. 

Scowl thing: I finally know what I want to do. I want a textured 12″x24″ scarf with the ability to fasten the ends together. That way it wraps around my neck like a scarf, but ouroboroses into a cowl. I will have to think about the fasteners because I will not want to pull the cowl up as a hood if there are going to be buttons next to my face. Maybe this will have to be a 2-piece ensemble. Berate and Scowl. 

(yes, actually, I do think I am funny.)

Spinning: There has not been any spinning progress. I broke the single while spinning. I broke it and I could not find any ends. I really have no idea what to do. I pulled the bobbin off and held it under a bright light and searched for the end for almost 40 minutes. Blerg.

December 20, 2008

If I cram 39 inches onto a yardstick, I can call it a meter!

Filed under: discussion — Tags: — UndyedYarnpire @ 6:38 pm

I had an epiphany yesterday. I understand why the constant bowing and scraping to the almighty GAUGE! really irks me. Gauge is a measurement of reality. Reality does not conform to agree with predetermined measurements and it should not. What if I say that all women should be 170cm because that is the “right” height for women to be. Personally I would be hobbling around on thick platform shoes, but tall women would be crunched into a stoop or crippled. You knit the yarn so the resulting fabric has the desired characteristics. That is obviously what should happen.

Instead we have people who are afraid to knit with anything other than the designated yarn for the pattern. Instead we have people who are willing to knit in an unnatural style for vast swaths of fabric. Because if you “get gauge” “Then the pattern magically works!” Assuming you are exactly an average size on an average height body. 

This is what makes the EZ modular method seem so phenomenal. Even though EZ has done none of the work of creating the use!pattern; her work is always as a designer who provides guidelines. Because her guidelines are modular, they encourage people to branch out from rote instruction following. I hate how it takes as much effort as creating the pattern yourself to use her designs because, actually, that is not a pattern, but if I made one, I would get no credit for any of the thinking that went into it. As much as I resent it for myself, I am starting to recognize that most knitters do themselves a disservice in their extraordinary slavish devotion to “getting gauge” and making a pattern exactly as it is written. 

We need to knit yarn so it looks good, then measure the gauge and find or adjust a pattern so it suits the gauge. Because gauge measures reality, it does not cause reality to conform. Gauge is the benchmark; it is the result of the test. Forcing gauge is invalid procedure. I am not saying that there is no measuring needed. If I am building furniture, I know how big I need a piece of wood to be. Then I would cut it to be that length. But I am saying if I need a 4’6″ piece of shelving, it could, in theory be filled by latticed rod iron or by walnut or by pine or by stone. The space needs to be filled, but that does not dictate the design of the shelf’s material.

People should not create overly dense or loopy fabric in order to “get gauge”. Gauge should be measured from the knitted swatch of the desired fabric. Then the math should be recalculated to suit the fabric.

December 19, 2008

I Queue This

Filed under: knit, project lists — Tags: , — UndyedYarnpire @ 7:39 pm

I need to make a list of things I want to have, please bear with me. 

  • I want a woolly blanket. I would like a throw blanket made from superwash wool. (My mother once said she wanted a “really big throw” that would cover both her and my father on a chilly evening. So I got her a queen-size fuzzy blanket that was edged on all four sides and put a sticker over the “Queen” sticker on the bag. The sticker said “THROW BLANKET”. Because to me the difference is just nomenclature. But in this case, I am looking for a small thing to pull over my legs while I am watching TV, not to share.) Since I will be knitting it myself feel free to suggest stuff that is ridiculously easy.  I am not one of those knitters who looks for fancy stitch patterns or colorwork to keep my interest. I would have no problems with an all-garter blanket. I don’t think it would hold up all that well without some sort of edging. If you have a suggestion, feel free to drop in via comment or email. 
  • I want a cowl neck sweater. I have the yarn for this. The needles are free. I am just getting my head together for winging it with intent. I am looking at Knitting in the Old Way for the round neck sweater wireframes, because I like that style better than the pure raglan. And I should be able to pick up at the neck for the cowl. 
  • I want a cowl/hood thing that sits around my neck normally to block chills while I am at my desk but can be pulled up if I go outside. 
  • I want a black cabled vest. Um. Tyrolean style. But that one will take ages to plan out, so I would like something simple and bulky-weight for now. If you have a pattern to recommend– preferably one that does not have “arrows” of cable pointing out the breasts— I would appreciate it. I have been vaguely considering “Abrazo” from Knitty or the Amy King vest pattern from 2004’s Knitty (it has some name like “vest” so I just cannot remember it).
  • I want to make a bag from Wensleydale yarn. Pattern chosen is the “Slant Pocket Bag” linked in sidebar. And the variegated yarn is spun. I have some Knitpicks WOTA if I want to use that. Or I could spin some naturally black Wensleydale. That might need to have an adoptive parent to chivvy me along.
  • I want woolly socks. I want woolly socks enough to actually knit some. Maybe. Assuming there is less fail than the previous attempts. Just in case, could someone leave a pointer to the “I Suck at Socks Support Group”? 
  • During the summer I want to knit a shawl for me. It would be really nice if there was something I could pull over my shoulders when I am going to be sitting still but which is easily doffed when it is time to cook supper or do laundry. I know I would not want to do lacework in the winter. 
  • In 2010 I will make myself house gloves from something ludicrously soft+expensive. 


This list is not necessarily organized. I have not finished the yarn for the cowl/hood thing. So I will probably start the sweater soon. In between I had a gift idea that I might do. I think I want to do a itty bitty scarf/shawl thing from navy blue worsted llama yarn. I will call it a “scəwl”.

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