Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Knitting in circles

I've always loved knitting in the round for many reasons: no seams, no need to worry about end of row issues, and being able to knit until you use up all of the yarn. The ease of circular needles makes it portable and fun, and the amazing variety of needles available now means there will be a needle available for any project.
This winter I joined the BadCat Infinity group, where Andrea is leading us on a merry journey knitting moebius scarves and cowls, with a bit of fractal math joined in. You can see her project details on her blog here:
As is typical for me, I get all excited and then my mind runs to the various alternatives I can see, so with my newly learned enjoyment of moebius knitting, I had to play with the concept and design my own moebius cowl.The trick here is to create a stitch pattern that is nearly reversible, because you will see both "sides" of any stitch pattern with this method of knitting. I had heard about the legendary Cat Bordhi's magic Moebius cast-on many years ago, but had not had the urge to try it before. Luckily, there is a You Tube about it here:   It is magical indeed, and the video explains it very well.
 Above is my first attempt at using a reversible leaf lace to work the body of the cowl. I loved using this blue yarn, A Hundred Ravens' Aesir, which is a sock weight superwash yarn dyed in the most glorious colors. This is the "Tardis" colorway, and it is heavenly.
Here I worked a slightly different leaf lace at a bigger gauge in Madeline Tosh "Vintage", and I am trying to decide which stitch pattern I like more. The first one has more texture, and springs back after blocking into a more bumpy effect, while the bottom pattern is a smoother look.The edgings are the same, and I love the pointy edges. Blocking a moebius is tricky, because there is a twist in the cowl, and so you can't block the whole thing as easily as you can block a simple tube, but you do get both edges in the same go, so it has that advantage. When you are done, you are done. The trick I found was to let it mostly dry flat, except for the area of twist, and then re-position the whole thing, spray water only on the part that had been twisted and let that part block like the rest of it. Here is a blocking photo from the first cowl:
Another fun "twist" on knitting in the round!

Monday, January 06, 2014

Snow Fun

It has been a very snowy season already! As someone who does not ski, snowboard,sled or skate, I dread each snowstorm and think only of the terrible road conditions, scary hills, endless shoveling and being trapped in the house or stuck on a hill in my car. On the other hand, it is a good excuse to stay home and work on projects, read, cook or knit, but sometimes one needs a bit of exercise or a reason to don boots, gloves, hats and coats besides the effort of shoveling, which I have to do very carefully because of my neck and arms, which are often in pain and are needed for other things like sewing and knitting! This year I hired a snowplow service for the driveway, but there was still the deck and the walkway to do.
But it sure is pretty.
Recently I ran across the amazing snow art of Simon Beck: ,
who spends many hours creating his precise and elegant masterpieces. I got to thinking about my huge back yard, and the flat expanse of snow outside, and thought it would be fun to try my hand at “snow quilting”.I had to clear off the deck so I could get to the back yard, and by the time I did that I was pretty tired, but the lure of design was strong, so I envisioned a big flower and set out to “quilt” the snow. I used the big tree as a center, and started walking the design. Ithe snow was a foot deep, and pretty soon it became apparent that running in the snow was easier than walking,because of the effort to pull each foot out of the snow was less at a run. I thought about the line I was creating and that it might be better to walk toe to heel, but worried I would fall down. Then I decided I was stitching the snow, so it was fine to leave space between footprints, so I started running. It was exhilarating to canter through the snow but rapidly exhausting, and I had to stop and rest a lot. As it was 34 degrees out, I quickly became overheated, and sweaty, but I was determined to finish the outline of the design and see what happened before I had to leave for an appointment.
My first design was rough, and messy, but I could see the possibilities, and it was a lot of fun. Finally a winter sport I could enjoy!
Today it has warmed up a lot, and the grass is poking through the melted snow, so the daisy shows up even more:
It is funny, but I find myself captivated by this idea, and the possibilities, and actually looking forward to the next storm, as I now have a way to interact with the snow that pleases me. As long as I take it in short bursts, I might be able to get good at this! And it is less boring than being on the elliptical machine. Last night I had to sleep for 12 hours, and I'm sore, but it was interesting and enjoyable to be outside. As an impermanent and evanescent art form, I suppose it is philosophically interesting, but it supplies a few needed factors: winter exercise, creation of unique designs,infinite possibilities and transient results, which is good because it does not add to my stash and clutter my house. Plus, it is free! Now I am eager to see the snow fall again!