Sunday, October 25

New Books!!

I LOVE FALL. I love everything about fall. The colors, the smells, the sounds, the food, the list goes on and on. Of course knitting takes on a whole new dimension in the fall. The wools and alpacas come out to play and the new fall knitting books hit the shelves. I have been waiting for these two books to come out and I was not disappointed.

First up is Susan B. Anderson's Itty-Bitty Toys:
These are some of the cutest toys ever. Here are a few of my favorite projects.

I am going to make these for me to use!

Need I say anything???

These ducks are on Wheels. How brilliant is that!!

Princess and the Pea

She has about 4 or 5 "topsy-turvy" dolls. Turn one inside to get the other one. I have not looked to see what the process for knitting these little guys are but I love love love them.

I have already got this little guy on the needles.

Kristin Nicholas is one of my favorite color knitters. She has a wonderful blog about her knitting and her life on the farm. She has been blogging about the patterns in her new book with lots of pictures.

My favorite part of the book is the beginning. She talks a lot about using color and the how to do so. There is talk about swatching for color (another reason to knit up those little squares).

Lots of instruction on fair-isle, steeking, making up your own patterns, the magic of embellishing and duplicate stitching.
She talks about where she gets her inspiration, which surprise surprise is all around her.
These are my favorite pics in the front of the book before you even get to the outstanding patterns.

This is just the inside cover!

I want a stack of knitting like this sitting on a chair in my living room. Could you pass that and not smile? I sure couldn't!

You're smiling aren't you??

This is one of my favorite things in the book and I am going to make me at least one. Call it a design board, inspiration wall, Walk by and smile space?? Call it anything you want but what fun is this??

This covered ottoman has inspired me to cover my poor beat-up ottoman and possibly the chair that goes with it. I will do the ottoman first so that if I am over this idea at the end of that project I will not be without a chair.

I am thinking this pattern from Mason-Dixon "Outside the Lines" could be nice.
I would knit it with a much smaller gauge yarn so the pattern won't be as big. Haven't really checked to see if it will work but could be prudy!

There are more books to be talked about and a few magazines. What have you been inspired by?

Sunday, October 18

Swatches: An Esoteric Science

I started The Sweet Pea Coat for a christmas present.
For all garments I swatch and I almost swatch properly.

What is swatching properly?

My understanding is:
1. Knit a 6" inch square. How many stitches will be about 6 inches? If your gauge is 20 stitches=4" then 30 stitches should get you a 6 inch square. 1 1/2 times the number of stitches equaling 4 inches.

2. Knit your swatch with a garter boarder by knittig for 2 rows. Then start the stitch pattern noted in your directions. Knit the first and last 2 stitches. Knit till swatch is about 5". Knit the last two rows.

3. Cast-off and wash and dry your swatch the same way you will wash and dry your garment. Then measure you stitches.

This is my reality:

I do cast on 1 1/2 times the stitches need for 4" gauge.
I do garter ridges because I hate dealing with the curling edges.

Then my short cuts take over.

I knit about 3" and then take a measurement of my stitches per inch. If I am on gauge I would do a few more rows, cast off and do the washing and drying.

But what if I don't have gauge?
I knit 2 rows which creates a ridge so I know when I changed my needles and then I go up or down needle a size to get the right gauge.

I repeat the above until I have gauge. Cast off and wash and remeasure.

Of course that sounds like a lot but it is worth the hour or so to have a good chance of a fitted garment.

Here is where knitting a swatch leaves the Scientific realm and moves into the Esoteric side of things.

I have no good explanation for why a swatch doesn't put you on the right track all the time. In the perfect knitting world it would.

You have given your time and energy to making friends with your new yarn. You have married the perfect needle with the yarn and the pattern. All should go swimmingly as far as measurements go. But then for no good reason the science of "stitches per inch" leads your project astray.

After knitting a few inches of the back of the jacket the measurements for the width is not correct.

What? Not the right measurements??
The right number of stitches? YES
The right gauge? YES
But it is not the right measurement?? OMG
The back is not even close to being the right measurement. It is 2" too small. 16" instead of 18 1/2".

Could I block it to fit? Yes.
But I really don't want to. This is a jacket and is going to be worn over clothing. I want it to have enough ease.

So Now What???
Put the project in time out?
Go clean the bathroom and scrub really hard?
Find another project that I can use the yarn on?
Start a scarf that doesn't need a swatch???
All of the above??

I really want to do this jacket and it is a Christmas present. I really need it done. So on I go..........
I did time it out for a few days.

I am not going up a needle size. I am on a size 13 and a 15 makes the fabric way to loose (why is there only 1/2 stitch difference between the 13 and the 15 needle? Those needles are very different. There is a bigger difference between the 11 and the 13. More esoterics at work).

Actually I would like to go down to a size 11. I like the fabric better. If I go down a needle size to a smaller gauge then I will have to adjust the numbers.
Oh no, the "M" word (math).

I swatched on a size 11. My gauge is tighter, the fabric looks better. How many stitches do I need to get the right number of inches for the size I am knitting? I do a little of that "M" stuff and.....

Oh look, it is the same cast-on number as two sizes bigger.

So this was my answer to the project.

I am knitting the Medium size and using the extra-small measurements.

It is working perfectly. It sounds tricky but really you just have to make sure you highlight the right numbers in the pattern and it is really a no brainer.

How do you Swatch??

Friday, October 9

Arlington Gardens - The Secret Garden Revealed!

As the weather is actually turning cold here I am a little saddened that I have just found this garden and didn't get to enjoy it over the summer. You can bet I will be taking advantage of as many sunny days as possible.

The Garden in Located on Pasadena Avenue South of Huntington Hospital. It was one of the Caltrans Properties that would have been used if the freeway extension had gone in.

The city leases the property from Caltrans and asked a local couple to spear head what to do with the property. Thus the garden was started and built by many volunteers. It is a wonderful jewel and I hope you all come buy sometime and enjoy it.

Here is the official Website

Tuesday, October 6

More Secret Garden Clues!

More Pictures of my new knitting place. I was there just yesterday for about an hour in the late afternoon. What a joy!

Sunday, October 4

Shhhh........Don't Tell Anyone!

I have found a most wonderful spot for knitting, reading, contimplating or just for enjoying nature in the middle of the city. It is a wonderful garden that you pass all the time if you live in my area. It is off a very busy street. It was an empty lot for years and years. Then about four years ago landscaping went in. It has been wonderful to drive by it and see a lovely lot with native plantings.

But what I didn't know until this last week is that it is a 2 acre garden that is open to the public!. It is not a park but a garden with all these wonderful seating areas and different zones. I am in love!!

So on this wonderful cool, cloudy, breezy, fall like day I went up to knit, listen to a book on my ipod and take some pictures to share with you.

I am going to keep it a secret for a few more days to see if any of you know about this place. I will add more pictures over the week and then let you in on my new sanctuary at the end of the week.

Do you know where this is??