Monday, February 26, 2007

One day skirt

Okay finally a nice finished product to blog about.
I made this today. It is made from a quite heavy, stiff jeans fabric, which was pretty cheap. The pattern is developed from a Onion wrap skirt pattern. The red stuff was some fabric I got lying around. Sorry if it looks a little ill fitting, I had to lean down to reach the pleat. I really like how the stripes came out.
Lazy me just zick-zacked the hem, if I had done it the traditional way it probably would have been too bulky.
And I was in luck, even if the fabric is quite heavy and dense, the needle on the sewing machine did not break.
This is a winter skirt, so the heaviness is intended.

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Ok long time no blog. We had crunsh time at work :-P and afterwards I just plainly forgot to blog. I have bought some nice colorful cotton just for the fun of it. I just started some swatches to try some lace patterns.

Like this one. I actually like, how the colors blend. The pattern is pretty simple, because the colors are strong enough.

I got this pattern from the absolute fabulous book.

Lisl Fanderl

Bäuerliches Stricken

Verlag : rosenheimer

ISBN 3-475-52781-2 , this is the version with all three books.

Sorry probably only available in German and probably not available at all, because it is out of print. I was happy to snatch the books at a sale.

The title is rural knitting. There are three books with old knitting patterns from the alpine regions, i.e. Austria, Bavaria, Switzerland.

There the ethnic costume calls for intricate white lace socks and it was the pride of every girl to have the most complicated lace patterns on her socks. Because of the famous Lederhosen, men also needed long socks, which were highly visible. There is a well-known folk song about a girl, who doesn't want a guy with thin calves. So socks where important, often overlong and pushed down to emphasize the calves.
There are also cardigans and vests and some patterns are especially suited for these. If you ever find these books, buy them, even if you don't understand one word of German. I will post a translation of the stiches, once I have puzzled it out. This book just contains the patterns, it is not for the beginner, it does not explain how to knit socks or cardigans, it just has the patterns, some history and some examples of old socks.

An other book I love, because it is a great source of inspiration is this one :

Here you can see the principle of the method. Make little colorfull swatches and paste them together.
This book is available in English. Here is a review. More examples of his work.

And one more book, this time in English. I bought it in a obscure bookshop somewhere in Scotland and I really, really love it. I bought it before the Schulz book, but somehow it takes from there and goes further, way further.

It is about knitting without rules.

Just start, make a swatch, a small one, take some stiches out of it, somewhere, anywhere, knit a little bit. Take some stiches somewhere else, knit some pattern, ribs or bubbles or lace, repeat. The piece you get out of it has no direction, it grows organically and is, at the first glance, not really identifiable as knitting. The title image shows this really well, look for the blue ribs, in the lower middle, the only point where you actually see the knitting.

Oh and you can felt the stuff afterwards :-).

The examples on the photos are just breathtaking, it looks like moss, stones, flowers, but not like knitting.

It does not really explain how to knit, but somehow it could be the book for the beginner, especially kids. No frustrating do it right, just do. The knitting grows really fast and you cannot do anything wrong, because there is no right. And you can use all the unhappy, lonely little skeins in your stash. You probably need a fair amount of wool in the finished piece, to hold it toghether, only cotton or silk won't work.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

TESP : 1 Preparation

As I said, this pattern is ideal for beginners and impatient people. You don't have to have a clear picture of where to go. You can let the sweater grow and change the pattern as you go along. You can even work around accidents.

Things you must be able to do
In the very basic form, just know how to knit and know how to increase. The most basic method is ok, even if it gives holes, because the holes will look like decoration. If you don't know how to work circular, some sewing will be required, especially if you don't want a cardigan, but a sweater. Just follow the easy tag. If you are comfortable knitting circular, you can avoid sewing altogother, you still only have to knit garther stich, follow the basic tag. If you are a experienced knitter I will post some variations look at the variations tag.

Stuff you need :
1) Yarn for easy and basic

-> Touch
Don't try to start with something fancy, do not use mohair, angora or anything very hairy. It has the tendency to stick and you cannot correct, because the hairy part breaks, if the yarn is unraveled. And if your hands are only slightly sweaty, it will make knitting harder. Do not use something with too much lurex, because it will sandpaper away your fingers. Do not use cheap acrylics. My motto is : a handknitted sweater is a luxury item. It never will be cheap, because you needed ages to finish it, don't make your hard work cheap, by using cheap yarn. I don't say anything against the new modern microfibre, but I talk about really cheap plastic yarn.

-> Costs
In Germany (and as far as I have seen in the US and the UK too) the yarn for a normal size sweater will be around 30 - 40 €/$, if you are lucky you can get decent yarn at a sale for less. You can spend a lot more, but if this is your first major work, do not spend more than a 100 €/$ in yarn.

-> Recommendations
Use Cotton, soft wool (there is hard wool too, if it feels like wire, thats not the right one), if you want to have some luxury, use alpaca, which is a dream to knit. Do not use handspun wool, except you trust the person making the stuff. If you can talk to this person and she/he can show you a sweater made with the yarn, you want to buy, its ok. But if the person who made that yarn, isn't good at it, there may be problems, you don't need for your first big work. Things like uneven thickness or places where the yarn is not spun properly and breaks. Too much alien material, like twigs and moss, which is bad for your skin. I have experienced all of this, so don't flame me. I know there are people who make wonderful handspun yarn, but there are also others. And for the first project you should go the easy route.

-> Gauge (yarn thickness)
Needle size should be around 6-8 mm, don't go below 5mm and not over 9mm (You can find conversion charts here, but I am used to the metric system :-)). If the yarn is too thin you need lots of stiches and the probability you will finish, goes way down. If the yarn is too thick it will be unwielding and too heavy to hold. You will have too few stiches and no room to manouver, because 1 wrong stich will be 1 cm, which shows. If you have a middle size you should need around 500-600g of yarn, if you need more than 1 kg of yarn, don't use it. The sweater will be too heavy and break your arms, remember you will have to lift it during work.

-> How much yarn
If you are middle size you are lucky, you can trust the stuff written on the yarn, if you are unsure, ask the person who sells it. Take rather more than less and ask if you may bring unused yarn back. Don't panic, if you later find out, that you don't have enough yarn, I will tell you, how to fix that. But rather buy more than less. I usually buy around 10-12 50g balls, the dummy in the photos has my size and I am 1.65 m tall, i.e. European and American average.

-> Important !
Use yarn you really like. Use yarn you don't want to leave your hand ever. Use yarn you want to cuddle and take to bed. Never use yarn you don't like the color or the touch. At the store fumble it, touch it, play with it, arrange it in rows to see how the color looks, look at the color in daylight and don't be ashamed to use hours to find the right one. You will invest lots and lots of work in this yarn, be sure you like it. And be sure the color suits the person who will wear the sweater, probably you.

2) Needles :
-> For lazy people (me) and people following the easy track
I usually use one pair of circular knitting needles with a length of 60 cm. Thats why all my sweaters have a opening at the top. See the black sweater with the buttons and the tshirt. I have also made sweaters with the opening in the raglan part (which I don't have anymore). Even if you don't plan to knit circular, use the circular needles, the weight of the sweater will rest in your lap and not on your arms, which is very, very important.

-> For perfectionists
If you can start with 40 cm (see measurement later) you can use the small circular needles, they don't come much shorter in a decent gauge. Or you can use double pointed needles. And you will need a 60 cm circular needle. What with starting one gauge smaller, tried it, don't think it necessary, you can do it if you like.

-> For large people
If you have a circumference of more than 90 cm you will probably also need a circular needle with 80 cm length to knit comfortable. Never underestimate comfort.

-> What needle material
If you don't really have to have bamboo or wood I recomend steel. Easier for the beginner, nearly unbreakable, no hassle. Bamboo and wood tend to chip at the most inconvenient moment.

Measurements :
-> With a flexible meter and a mirror
Stand befor the mirror in a rather tight fitting garment and put the meter, where your sweater should start, take the size. Thats it.

-> With a string
Take a liberal amount of string, put it around your neck where the sweater should start, make a knot, measure it, finished !

Swatch :
-> Very lazy persons
Look at the yarn, there is a standard measurement swatch size printed somewhere on it, take this. Take your neck measurement divide by length given multiply by stiches given presto number of stitches you need, give some stiches extra, its easy to make the neck smaller afterwards, but very hard to make it larger.

-> Default way
Make a swatch with the same needles you plan to use. Take 12-14 or 22-24 stiches and knit at least 8 rows, better to make the swatch quadratic (if you fold it diagonally base row to side, the corners match, no measurement required ;-)). if you want to be a perfectionist you can wash the swatch and block it (if you don't know what I am talking about google it, there are lots of basic knitting sites available). If you feel that all this hassle stops you from ever starting, use the first way or skip the washing and blocking. The pattern is pretty forgiving. Lay the swatch flat on the table, take the 10 or 20 stiches in the middle, without the edge stiches and measure them. The next step is the same as above your start number of stiches is (neck measurement) times (stitches measured in the swatch) divided by (length of the stiches measured).

Thats all, ready to start.

Black sweater detail

Originally uploaded by craftingchaos.

Rainbow T-Shirt detail
Originally uploaded by craftingchaos.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Stash found ...

Found a missed stash of lovely blue yarn. Lots of different yarns. Searched ages for it, finally found it. Significant other tells me that the stuff got lost during moving and was not intentionally hidden from me, mhmmm.

Friday, October 28, 2005

TESP : 0 Introduction

I actually started this blog to share a simple raglan sweater pattern, henceforth called "The Easy Sweater Pattern" (TESP). It is a knit-in-one-piece, fit on the go, no-hassle pattern, ideal for the first ever sweater or the 10th. It is astonishingly variable and quite forgiving of accidents and bad decisions.

You can make cardigans with it,
click here for more photos.

But I have also made sweaters and t-shirts and no two look the same. I will post more examples (see links at the bottom) and detailed instructions along the way. If you look at the cardigan, you will see that the raglan part and the increase holes are quite prominent, I like to emphasize this structual detail and make it part of the design. As you can see by the dummy (which is really my size) I am pear shaped with a defined waist. Emphasizing the raglan part broadens the shoulder and the pattern is easy to fit around the bust and waist. Actually I fit it, by trying the stuff on during knitting (needles and all). This pattern is ideal for impatient, lazy knitters, only the most basic measuring required. And if you make the effort to buy the right needle lengths, you don't have to sew it together, it will be finished the moment you drop the last stich.
You can find photos of a t-shirt with basically the same pattern here. Photos of a very old (and very worn) sweater, one of my first, which is very suitable for beginners here.

Simple pattern, complicated result

Originally uploaded by craftingchaos.
It looks complicated, but it was very simple to knit. I didn't have a plan, I just started with the squares you see at the bottom and this was the result. This was one yarn type, which changed colors. Because sometimes I had a lot of stiches (at the top) and sometimes there where only a few (the squares) the pattern varies from stripes to color blocks. The top and the sleeves are knittited in one piece.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

On days like this ...

Ok, my digital camera has lost a battery and I have to work during the weekend :-P, actually I wanted to start with some example photos of things I knitted and some things in progress. So the universe is set against it, but chaos is used to chaos. On the bright side, this being a blog, I am halfway through the Nintendo DS pyjamas and I have a virtual black Labrador called Kiko, she can sit and lay down on command ;-).
My scanner hasn't yet left me. The PDA cover I knitted in about 3 hours, after they told me at the store that they only have this ugly, military looking, hardboiled, black leather cover, which costs a fortune, so I bought some cheap cotton and got to work.

And the DS pyjamas in progress, you can faintly see the D, which is illusion knitted, an S will follow. I knit it in one piece, because I hate sewing things together and I am incapable of producing 2 equal things, this is a mental block. My brain gets bored, my hands would have no problem with that, my eyes don't get involved anyway.

I apologize for the quality, I just put the items on the scanner, not the best way to get nice pictures of nonflat things, but it works, somehow, anyhow, whatever.

Maybe I can use my webcam for the larger things, will see tomorrow or rather today.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Lets start !

This is maybe less a Blog , than a howto to make a sweater without swatches, counting and acurate measurements page for impatient chaotic, like me. That is the plan, in any case. But I never finish the same sweater I started, so maybe this will lead to something different. Maybe I will throw in some movie, game or book reviews and share some of my photos. Some of the posts will be in german and some maybe even bilingual. Don't be to shocked if there is some science and software stuff also, I make my money this way, so sometimes I feel the urge to communicate stuff ;-) . And I love gadgets, I don't have an IPod, I did get a PDA instead, I am more into reading than listening to music. And I bought a Nintendo DS today, this thing is amazing, not because of the machine, which is in my case a nice blue, but because of the innovative games. I am now the proud owner of a virtual black labrador. Yes I bought the Nintendogs Labrador and Friends game bundle, maybe I will write something about this game later. Oh and I am knitting a bag for the DS ;-).