Friday, June 13, 2008

How to knit a circular swatch flat

Sounds wrong doesn't it? But yes, you can knit a circular swatch flat. If you've ever knit I-cord, it's the same idea, only you don't pull the carried yarn tight. Knitting flat means you can work the swatch on fewer stitches than you would if you were trying to knit a tube to measure. But because you'll still be knitting every stitch, the result will be the same as if you had knit a tube.

You'll need double pointed needles or a circular needle (the ones you are using for your project, obviously). Cast on roughly 4 inches worth of stitche
s (look at the ball band and see how many stitches you should get in 4 inches and cast that many on). Now your stitches are all sitting on the right needle (in flat knitting you would turn and work back). I've knitted a few rows to make it easier to photograph, but this is approximately what you'll be looking at. Your last stitch and working yarn are at the tip of the right needle.Slide your knitting back across the cable so that the work is on your left needle. The last stitch worked and working yarn will be at the cable end of your needle.Now bring the yarn LOOSELY behind the work and knit the first stitch. Don't pull the stitch tight, you want a big loop of yarn on the back (this will ensure that your swatch will lay flat when it comes time to measure). Knit across the row as usual. The last stitch or 2 may be very loose because of the slack in the carried yarn. This is fine. Just knit the stitch as best you can. Continue in this manner until the swatch is big enough to measure. The back will look a mess...
And those end stitches will be sloppy, but you'll have a perfectly accurate gauge swatch for your circular project, without having to cast on enough stitches to knit a tube. These swatches are not usefully for anything else, as far as I can tell. Maybe some kind of punk rock bracelet. But I usually rip mine out anyway.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A happier post

Well, it's not all bad news in the garden. We've got babies...
Two little mourning dove babies are nesting in my garden.
They are the cutest little things. They just toddle around, nibbling at the clover. We had one last year, but only saw it once or twice. We've seen a lot of these two. They tend to just sit there and watch me work in the garden. If I get too close, the scurry away, or flap their wings and fly a few inches. But mostly they just sit there and stare at me. Too adorable. Some days I find them nestled in the straw around the onion plants, but I think they are nesting under the honeysuckle. I know birds and bunnies are all God's creatures, but it's so much easier to love the cute, non-destructive ones.

Here's a picture of the honeysuckle.It was planted 6 years ago to mark where my first pet, Winston, was buried. We originally had it on a small metal trellis, but had to cut it way back a year or two ago and remove the trellis. It's filling out nicely again and we hope to put up a sturdier wooden trellis. It smells divine. Especially at night when we sit out on the deck and the scent is carried up on a breeze.

We grilled out over the weekend and it reminded me I have another Favorite Thing to talk about. Chimney Starters
If you like to grill with charcoal these contraptions are a godsend. You stuff some newspaper in the bottom and load your charcoal briquettes in the top. Then you light the paper and wait. Within no time, the coals are ignited. I believe I first saw these used by my uncles & male cousins at the Miller family reunions when I was a wee one. When I got my first grill and tried to start my first fire without, I realized it was not an easy task. I remembered these from my childhood and sought one out. I've had it for years and have never once had a problem getting a fire started since then.

And finally, here is the view out of my back door right now.
Storms are called for tonight, but so far they are staying west of us. Except just now, we had a brief rain shower and the sun setting in the west cast this rainbow do east. You could actually see the entire rainbow, side to side, if you looked real hard, but only the left arm was photographable. Hopefully this is a sign of cooler temperatures to come!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Ressin, fressin rabbits!

To quote the infamous Yosemite Sam "I hates that rabbit!" I swear the little bugger is reading this blog (maybe it wasn't such a good idea for the library to become a wi-fi hot spot after all). No sooner than I took the cans off the broccoli last night and posted my confidence that they were now big enough to survive then I go out this morning and find the rascilly rabbit had eaten one almost back down to the stem! They are now re-armored.And look who was hopping away on the other side of the wall when I just went out to take the picture...
I'm no longer dealing with the cute, but unfortunate domestic bunnies (we know one was hit by a car, not sure what happened to the other but haven't seen it in a week or so). No, now we've got the ninja wild rabbits to contend with. I've been avoiding fencing. It's unattractive, cumbersome to work around in such a small space as I've got and expensive. But it may soon come to that. For now, old coffee cans will hopefully do the trick.

I received my most recent fiber stash enhancement in the mail today. Two lovely rovings from Keri (UpTheMudCreek on Ravelry). She posted a huge destash list earlier this week and I snapped up these two. First is a merino roving from FatCat Knits. The colorway is Chasm and it is gorgeous autumn looking to me.
This one is from Spunky Eclectic. It was the April club fiber called The Perfect Storm in Wensleydale. It does put one in mind of a stormy sky.
I've never spun Wensleydale and I'm excited to see how it goes. I believe it is a long wool breed which I find a bit hard to work with at times. Unfortunately the weatherman was right and it is pushing 95 at the moment so spinning is not in the picture for today (the room with my wheel is not air conditioned.) However, I may bring the wheel into the a/c tomorrow. It's been about 2 weeks since I've been able to get any serious spinning in and I'm in withdrawal!

I was just looking back over my blog posts and realized I completely missed posting a very important announcement. My good friend and fiber pimp, Jen has gone big time! Her fabulous custom blended batts are now carried by Paradise Fibers! You can still find her on her website and on Etsy as well, but be sure to check out Paradise Fibers too.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Gearing up for the heat wave

We have been fairly blessed this year with mild weather. We didn't have a lot of snow this winter, the spring has been relatively cool. We've only had a few days in the 80's all year. But that's about to change. They are calling for temps in the mid to upper 90's the next 4-5 days. Yuck. If it weren't for wanting a garden (which does do better with the warmer temperatures) I could happily live out my days in the upper 60's and not complain. But that's not how nature works and the heat is coming. I plan to spend the weekend in the coolest spot I can find. I hope to spin and knit if it's not to unbearable to handle the wool. I've got a book (The Dark is Rising) and a magazine (the new SpinOff came today) to keep me occupied should fiber crafting prove too warm, not to mention at least 10 other books and magazines waiting in the wings.

The garden is thriving now. We've had some rain lately and the bunnies have stopped visiting so I've removed the cans. The broccoli is doing pretty well.I planted a cherry tomato plant there on the right where we lost one of the broccolis. You can't see it in this picture, but the 3rd broccoli that was just a stem that I didn't protect is starting to come back. Maybe we'll end up with 3 plants after all!
The Table Treat squash seems to have recovered.
Although the butternut squash is only just sprouting so I'm not sure if it's going to give us much of a harvest. We've got a few little tomatoes forming. I can't wait for those to start coming in.

I pre-ordered my Harry Potter Opal yarns from The Knitter. The cost is insane, $22.95 a ball, but I don't care. A lot of folks over on Ravelry are bitching the colors don't represent the characters, that Opal just slapped Harry Potter names on the yarns for marketing to sell yarn. Again, I don't care. I think they are gorgeous yarns and the ones I ordered do put me in mind of the characters. I ordered Hedwig, Draco and Dumbledore. The yarns are set to ship in October. I hold no hopes of getting socks knit in time for the movie, but who knows, maybe it will happen.

I also ordered some cotton sock yarn. I adore the lo-rider socks I made last year and want to get a few more pairs made for this summer.
This is Catania Color from Schachenmayr nomotta in color 11. It is 100% cotton and has a fabulous sheen to it.This is Fortissima Cotton Colori from Schoeller Esslinger in a retired (I think) colorway 7. This is a 75% cotton/25% nylon blend which will probably make a more durable sock than the plain cotton. Yeah I know, I hate knitting with cotton. But I'm hoping little ankle socks that don't take very long will be doable. I fear I may not finish Milan before fall if the weather turns hot. The acrylic yarn tends to be a bit sticky in hot sweaty fingers. I'm 3/4 done with the second sleeve. Then it's the front band, which isn't such a big piece of knitting to hold in your lap, but the last bit is the collar which is knitted on. There's no way I'm going to hold a whole sweater in my lap when it's 80 degrees out. This is also quite bad news for Flyingdales. But at least I'll have these treasures to look forward to for cooler days.

The biggest news in my knitting world this week??? SOCK BLANKS! KnitPicks has announced they are now carrying sock blanks. A sock blank is a tube of knitted fabric that you hand dye and then unravel to knit the socks. Theirs are double stranded so you end up with matching socks. You can also get slightly more predictable results than with painting yarn in skein. For example if you want a striping yarn, you need to skein your yarn really long, but with the knitted fabric, you can paint the stripes where you want them without needing miles of space. I've restrained myself thus far from ordering, but know my resolve will break any day now. The only thing that is holding me back is the double strand thing. Yeah, it's great that you get matching socks, but the downside is you have to knit them 2 at a time. I'm not sure I really desire to do that. I did get the 2 at a Time Socks book, but I never really intended to knit the socks two at a time. One could unravel the fabric into 2 separate balls, but this requires 2 people to be done effectively and I'm not sure I can sweet talk hubby into winding yarn with me. I'm thinking I'm just going to go for it. Order the sock blanks and a 40" needle and give this 2 at a time thing a try.