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e_moon60

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Photographing Knitting [Dec. 11th, 2011|02:49 pm]
e_moon60
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[Current Mood |awake]

As with everything else at all technical around here, I'm trying to document my return to knitting, especially for things I'm making up as I go along, or where I want to check stitches against a pattern. 

Yesterday's knitting was relearning ribbing--not a hard thing, but something I hadn't done since at least 1971 and more likely '69 or 70.   I wanted pictures of this yarn (worsted weight, recommended needle size 7)  made up into 2x2 ribbing on size 10 needles (the size 10 needles making it easy to check my stitches while working and making a "looser" knit.   I could see and feel the ribs forming, but the first pictures came out like this:



I had the swatch positioned near the window to get some shadows, but also had the top room light on.  It's cloudy outside.  Even though the image was clear--and even in closer-in images--it was hard to see the ribs as the flash washed out the shadows between them.   I  turned off the flash and the texture showed much more clearly in this one:

As with any other subject, there are tricks to getting the photograph you want, for the purpose you want.

The yarn is Berroco's "Blackstone Tweed" color 2608.   Not the kind of color I normally choose, but I want a wool vest to wear when out on the land in dank weather, and it shouldn't show dirt too easily.   Not for this winter (I'm slow) but maybe by next winter.   I actually kind of like it done on the size 10s.  We rarely get the kind of cold where I need dense knitted things, and the looser knit would give better air circulation if I wore a light jacket over it.    I'll do a swatch on the size 8s, just to see which I prefer.  I know the 8s would show the ribbing more "sharply" but here the point isn't looks but utility for my (not average) uses.  Clearly, I've relearned how to do ribbing (though there's a mistake in this swatch...lucky it's just a swatch.    I can keep using this yarn for trying out other things where I might use a different color...of course if I use this ball up I'll have to go get another one (oh, pity, pity, pity...)

The nice people at the friendly yarn shop told me more than one thing I didn't know, one of them being that lace knitting isn't necessarily done with teeny-tiny needles and thin-as-spiderweb yarn, but with needles that are larger for the yarn's diameter.   That any yarn (though the mind boggles at doing it with a super-bulky) can be made into "lace"; it just makes bigger patterns.   I had sworn never to try lace because both hands and eyes rebel at teeny-tiny needles and teeny-tiny stitches...but they showed me a shawl someone had done with 7s that was lovely.   My mother never did lace knitting (that I know of; she made warm sweaters and socks) so this was a whole new concept, and (though I will try to repress the urge to experiment with the really big needles and this workaday tweed yarn)  I already know I'll have to try some more lace-looking patterns at some point.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: incandescens
2011-12-11 09:35 pm (UTC)
Ribbing never looks like anything for the first few rows, I find. It's very disheartening. One has to get by on faith. :)
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2011-12-11 11:39 pm (UTC)
Well...this looks like ribbing enough that it's telling me firmly it's part of a sleeve and why didn't I knit it in the round? Silly me.
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[User Picture]From: incandescens
2011-12-11 11:42 pm (UTC)
Sometimes one just doesn't get these inner messages till annoyingly late. (And by annoyingly late I mean "when it's annoying to have to rip it all back and start again".)
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2011-12-12 05:04 am (UTC)
Well...this was just a swatch and intended to be a swatch, so ripping it out isn't that painful (in fact, I could just cast it off and save it...it didn't use that much of the yarn.)

And I'm not ready (quit PUSHING, little bit of ribbing) to start a sweater. Seriously. I have things to learn before then, that will be learned on swatches ("Oh YEAH?" says the little bit of ribbing. "Quit ribbing me!" I say.)
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[User Picture]From: incandescens
2011-12-12 11:29 pm (UTC)
You could always put the swatches together to make a blanket later. That might appease some urges. :)
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-12-12 02:00 am (UTC)

Knitting in the Round

Hi! My name is Karen, and I don't do the stuff it takes to be anything but anonymous, but I'm thrilled that your knitting has really taken off and would like to encourage you to get books by Elizabeth Zimmermann if you're serious about knitting in the 'round.

I'll post on a few more of your points, but even though her books aren't free from Youtube, I think you'll find her old-fashioned, say-what-you-mean-and-mean-what-you-say (but feel free to disagree at any point) approach refreshing, as well as her mathematical approach to knitting, despite the old-fashioned formatting of her books (i.e. few good pictures).

She basically exposed me to the idea that Madame Defarge's knitting code was absolutely possible, since basic knitting is just binary code (knits are ones, purls are zeros), and that fancier stitches just introduce increasing base numbers.

But if the ribbing looks silly, Incandescents is absolutely right. Until you have enough rows established for the inherent curling properties of knits and purls to assert themselves, it always looks silly -- even in the round!
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2011-12-12 05:17 am (UTC)

Re: Knitting in the Round

Hi, Karen, and welcome. I'm serious about knitting in the round, because it's one of the things my mother taught me (and demonstrated on multiple sweaters)...I just haven't done it since way back when. Somewhere there's half a sleeve of the sweater I started, still on its double pointed needles (the baby's cap is long gone.) OTOH, my mother's impeccable engineering math is not in my head (she used to knit my initials in my sweaters in Morse code--I had no problem believing Madame Defarge could knit code, binary or other) so I will definitely need to check out Elizabeth Zimmermann's books.

(I don't think the ribbing looks silly...it's just loose because it's knitted on large needles for the yarn's diameter...the problem I was having was photographic. The first two rows just barely showed the pattern, but by row three it satisfied me that it was infant ribbing.)
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[User Picture]From: fair_witness
2011-12-11 09:39 pm (UTC)
Lace, as my online knitting buddies have reminded me, is nothing more than deliberately placed holes organized in a pleasing pattern.

I found this handout to be VERY helpful when I was getting over my lace anxiety. First, and what I consider to be most important when trying something new, each project is fairly short: a washcloth. Washcloths are great projects when it comes to learning new techniques, IMO, because kitchen cotton is cheap and easy to get hold of, which means you don't have to worry that you're going to waste a cashmere/silk blend in a gorgeous colorway.

The Meret was technically my first lace project, but it was hard for me to think of it as lace, even though it fits the definition. That may be why I enjoyed knitting it.

I also love Stephen West's Colonnade shawl because it features a big simple lace pattern. Plus you're prompted to place markers at strategic points, which is oh so very helpful.
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-12-12 02:35 am (UTC)

Knit lace, glorious knit lace!

Karen again.

One of my favorite things to knit is lace -- in Mohair. You can use large size (size 8 is my usual gauge) needles and simple yarn overs (base 3) matched with paired decreases (again, EZ gives matchless explanations of how different approaches to decreases, meaning you may move up to base 6 or even seven, depending) control the total stitch count, keeping your total number of stitches in a row constant (for great patterns, see .

I've got a multitude of mohair sweaters, vests, and scarves as a result of her teachings that lace knitting is just pattern analysis -- and the fact that mohair makes gorgeous lace that knits up faster than you can sneeze.

One of the projects I'm most proud of was a knit mohair afghan for dear friends for their wedding (done on 40+ inch double-pointed needles). They still rave about its beauty 20 years on (and I suspect it's done its job of encouraging canoodling :-P).

So have no fear of lace. It turns out to be tremendous fun, and the simplest patterns only require you to know how to do a yarn over and a knit-two-together. It's the yarn that makes the lace, not the size of the needles.

As for lace knitting patterns, Barbara Walker is the dowager, yet still reigning monarch. Granted (like EZ's books) the pictures are in black and white. Granted that the instructions are in abbreviated text, instead of symbol-diagrams. On the other hand, if you don't find the exquisitely planned increases in levels of complexity (no matter what kind of knitting you're trying to sink your needles into) and the gorgeousness of patterns that have too many lines of instructions to meet your aspirations in her "Treasury of Knitting Patterns" and her "Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns" inspiring, I'll give you double the value of this two cent comment.

I know these references seem old school, but I challenge you to find many patterns for lace that weren't "inspired' by Barbara Walker's books, and EZ's mathematical systems for knitting any garment, in any style, to fit any body can't be beat since it both accounts for your personal gauge and for quirks in the body being considered.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2011-12-12 05:22 am (UTC)

Re: Knit lace, glorious knit lace!

Karen, another of my reservations about lace is that the root reason I'm knitting again is therapy for the hand pain I get from hours at the keyboard (and it does work.) I need to be sure that whatever I knit doesn't aggravate the ouchy joints...and complicated patterns might, with too many changes of stitch. I'll be testing that on some of the stitch patterns in the book I bought last week. I already know that garter stitch doesn't, extended purl does a little (as in the long rows on one of my other project where I'm working in stockinette, and the ribbing seems not to.

Simple patterns that need only yarn-over and knit-two-together are right where I am, at this point.
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-12-12 08:02 am (UTC)

Re: Knit lace, glorious knit lace!

Karen again:

Since a yarn over is just the yarn held in a position to purl, but you knit instead, and knit-two-together is just, well, knitting into two stitches instead of one, I'd say you're ready to knit lace.

As I said, Barbara Walker documented hundreds of lace patterns, and an enormous number were just that easy.

Remember, it's just pattern analysis, however long or short the pattern.

I have more than a remote suspicion that you can do this -- without stressing your joints.
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-12-13 12:49 am (UTC)

Re: Knit lace, glorious knit lace!

Very little lace consists of any purl stitches, (unless you knit flat, in which case, you'll have to purl back, just as you would with long rows of stockinette). If you can analyze the pattern (or use a stitch diagram), almost all lace can be easily knit in the round without a single purl....

In other words, it sounds like you're more than ready for lace!
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[User Picture]From: jcbemis
2011-12-11 10:59 pm (UTC)
I'm working on socks - a very basic ribbed one
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2011-12-11 11:40 pm (UTC)
Socks may be next for me. We shall see. That or the Peruvian hat.
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-12-12 03:12 am (UTC)

Fulling is the old-fashioned word for felting

Karen again.

I hope you don't mind all of my maunderings, but the knowledge that there's a whole new generation of knitters out there, enthused by your enthusiasm, who haven't necessarily had contact with old knitters who aren't grandmas (now) makes me want to encourage people to explore the revolution in knitting in the '70s and '80s that enabled the current knitting circles to take hold.

I think a Peruvian hat sounds wonderful (although not so wonderful as hand-knit wool socks that fit my tootsies perfectly -- but those are actually much harder).

If you're tempted by a Peruvian hat, I'd like to introduce you to an old-fashioned knitting concept called fulling. Most modern knitters call it felting, but fulling doesn't require you to submit to wearing a hat that will hang from a rack, with its shape intact.

The key to both fulling and felting (as I'm sure you've figured out) lies in the fact that all animal hairs have scales that want to tangle. Use cashmere, mohair, alpaca, merino, yak, malamute -- or anything long enough to have been spun, and this tendency will kick in given moisture and heat.

In other words, your drier may be the perfect knitter's accessory.
What's the difference?

Just knit to shape, with a vague idea of the correct size, and make sure that it's always consistent in size compared to your head (here's where I think EZ's formulas are so brilliant that they're worth the fact that they're more about theory than they are about 21st century fashions).

Next, soak it in the sink overnight and roll it in a towel to dry it enough that it's not soggy. Put it in the drier, on high heat, and wait a couple minutes, then pull it out. Sit it on your head, and decide if it fits right. If it's too tight, it can be stretched while it's wet (expect to use your muscles or find a friend). If it's still too loose, dry, check; dry, check; until it's about perfect. Once you declare that it fits, let it dry over something with a dome shaped (and preferably sized, even if you have to pad with a towel) like your cranium.

Foreverafter, wash and dry in cold water. Technically, the difference between fulling and felting is that a fulled hat is just a little fuzzier than the garment with which you started. Practically, it will be just a little stiffer, just a little warmer, and just a little more water-repellent (provided you don't use soap that removes lanolin or a "shrink-fast wool") than what you had when you started. Oh, and just a little thicker and (as I said) stiffer (which is the reason I don't recommend this method for socks).

The result should be warm, wind-resistant, and, depending on color, much more "cunning" hat than Jane's favorite chapeau (but probably made using the same methods).
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2011-12-12 05:27 am (UTC)

Re: Fulling is the old-fashioned word for felting

We'll see how it works when I do it.

First, however, I MUST finish the book and quit gloating over my new knitting books and equipment...(must say I'm not that pleased with the new crochet hook: bamboo, but I don't like the shaping at the throat. The temptation to get out the wood-carving set and whittle it into something I'll like better should probably be resisted.)
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-12-12 07:55 am (UTC)

Re: Fulling is the old-fashioned word for felting

Karen again:

I'm sorry, but you just had me ROFLOL at the idea of finishing a knitting book and bringing an end to the gloating.

Haven't you figured out that that's the whole joy of knitting? Getting new books, trying out new tools, trying to figure out how a tool could work better if only....

Enjoy!
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-12-13 01:14 am (UTC)

Re: Fulling is the old-fashioned word for felting

Karen again:

The last thing I want to do is delay your writing.

On the other hand, what's wrong with encouraging a little bit of knitting therapy? One of the best things about knitting is that, once you've got the hang of it, it really encourages contemplation (so think of it as both time to rest your hands AND allow your plot demon to work!).
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[User Picture]From: mrs_redboots
2011-12-11 11:27 pm (UTC)
I think lace is best left until one feels really confident as a knitter - I am a confident knitter, but I find lace can be challenging, partly because it's difficult to "take back" when you realise you've made a mistake a few rows back. Having said that, I'm wearing a lace sweater that was knitted on size 7 needles with double-knitting wool If you're on Ravelry I can post a link to a picture of it. It was fun to knit, but don't look too closely....
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2011-12-11 11:44 pm (UTC)
I completely lost my Ravelry login info so I should probably just start over.

I don't want to do fine lace--I know I'll never be that experienced--but would like to do a shawl with some open spaces because I fell for the one http://teriegarrison.livejournal.com/ made me (it's crochet, but there's not a chance in whatever that I'll get that good at crochet, and I think I could learn to put yarnover-holes in a pattern, if nothing else.)
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-12-12 03:17 am (UTC)

Never say never

Karen finally:

When I started, mmmph years ago, I said what you said.

Now I say that the only thing that can limit your creative urges is the fact that your closet gets overstocked, your friends are overstocked, and suddenly the impossible seems like the best way to slow your output while retaining the joy of learning.

May you never lose the joy of learning (no matter how much you manage to produce!).
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[User Picture]From: mrs_redboots
2011-12-14 08:41 pm (UTC)
Lace is easy enough to knit, but murder when you make a mistake - it's very difficult to correct. Try a simple eyelet pattern just at first.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2011-12-19 02:17 am (UTC)
I finally pulled the ribbing swatch off the 10s and changed to 6s. Yup, better for wrist-warmer thingies with the 6s.. But I did this in a particularly silly way. I had it on a 24 inch cable with interchangeable points. Instead of changing the points on the cable from 10s to 6s, I put the size 6 points on another cable and then moved the whole thing over, realizing halfway along that, um, it was not as efficient. DUH. I blame the book I'm working on.

The problem with buying more cables and needle points...is that I am tempted to take out other yarn I've bought and haven't done anything with yet...and start something. I could at least make swatches, right? Just to see? Uh-huh. NOT until the book is finished.

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