Started on the Princess Mitts



I must confess that I’m still in vacation mode so knitting sometimes is easier than reading. Well, as you can see my knitting is also in vacation mode. I made a couple mistakes in my cable pattern. I refused to rip it out though so it’s a done deal.

Actually, I had a bit of an issue with the cable chart. The whole pattern is made up of even number of stitches for the k2, p2 ribbing. How can there be a cable chart over 17 stitches that will come out like the picture. I sort of fudged it to make it work. Spoken like an adventurous knitter!

Next step is to create the second mitt and redeem myself.

Oh and by the way, the gauge issue didn’t seem like much of a problem. The mitt seems to fit just fine!

Yarn and swatching



Another week has gone by and I’m happy to report that I’m up to page 177 out of 252. Progress is being made on the reading and observing part. Actually it’s a bit of a cheat as I only really covered 3-ply and 4-ply yarns sections (lots of projects to pursue in these sections). I now know that 3-ply yarns are perfectly balanced – amazing – who knew?

On to the project-making part that has been weighing heavily on my mind. Not really so heavily, but it sounds good. I feel like I’m going one step forward and two steps backwards.

Mistake 1: I purchased a lovely variegated yarn for the project and then realized that the mitts have a cable pattern. How will it ever show up with this yarn? Back to Michael’s for a pretty solid blue wool. By the way, this yarn has 3-plies.

Mistake 2: I actually purchased a set of double-pointed needles in size 7 (4.5mm) when I probably have at least 3 sets (since my last purge of needles and hooks). So I get home with my solid yarn and dutifully swatch a good-sized swatch. No good – gauge 18 sts and 24 rows over 4″.

Mistake 3: I tried a swatch with straight size 6 (4mm) needles (before I buy another set of dons). Well this gauge is 19 sts and 26 rows over 4″. Ugh! Not good. I can’t go much lower in needle size with this yarn.

Brilliant idea! I exchanged the size 7 (4.5mm) double-pointed needles at Michael’s. Forget that I had made a swatch with 2 of the needles (hardly used) for a set of bamboo double-pointed size 6 (4mm) needles.

The result: 20 sts and 26 rows over 4″. I give up! I’ve knit more swatting than one whole finished mitt. I’m going to knit the mitts with the bamboo needles and hope for the best. I know this is technically wrong – knitting gods, please forgive me!

Yarn for the project

variegated yarn

This week I feel like I’m sitting in the cat-bird seat being away from the snow that the whole Northeast is experiencing. In Florida all we got was some fairly warm rain. But I digress.

Back to the book.

This week I’m reading “Ply me a River”. Very puny! I’ve gotten through single and two-ply yarns that come along with a number of projects for each type.

I’ve decided that one thing I really like about this book is the way the patterns are laid out. As a former knitting editor, I take this very seriously. Easy to find all the info you need about size, yarn, needles, notions and gauge. Clara gives a nice personal note at the beginning to tell you a little more about the yarn, designer or the project. Really nice touch.

This week I also decided on yarn for my Project #8 Princess Mitts. Not having a ball of worsted yarn suitable for the project in Florida (OMG – so much yarn at home!), I ventured to Michael’s. Yes, no local yarn shop, but I did Clara Parkes proud buying on ball of 100% variegated wool. I could do no less in my journey through her book! The yarn was on sale – so even better!

Moving on the Making Yarn

make_yarnI’ve finally finished all the fibers, ending with cellulosic (not to be confused with cellulose made from plants) that are plant-based such as rayon but extruded. This is complex – you’ll have to read the book! The last section was on synthetic fibers – something I’m really familiar with having worked for several yarn companies who specialize in yarns from synthetics. Basic take-away on these sections is that both cellulosic and synthetic fibers were created to replicate natural fibers such as wool.

So, moving along – I can see this year of reading is going to go pretty slowly if I don’t accelerate!

Making yarn starts talking about small spinners that make yarn – sometimes for themselves and sometimes for other small yarn companies. I must admit that most of my experience is with huge companies that create tons of yarn a year rather than a limited number of pounds/kilos.

Clara added an informative page with fiber festivals throughout the US by month. I didn’t know there is one in CT in April. Will add it to my list of must-dos this year.

Moving on to Cellulose Fibers

project_8OK! Finally done with Protein Fibers. The last was silk. Silk is considered a protein even though it isn’t shorn or plucked from an animal. My big take-away was the two different types of silk – from silk worms that eat only mulberry leaves (bombyx silk) and those who eat all kinds of leaves (tussah silk). Obviously, bombyx is finer and fancier. Bottom line: silk is great when mixed with other fibers.

Onward! Cellulose is today’s reading (actually yesterday – but I digress). These are cotton (mainly discussed) plus linen and hemp. My big take-away: I now know why I’ve always loved mercerized cotton the best – shiny, receptive to dyes, and less likely to stretch out of shape.

I’ve decided in this journey that I should make at least one project from each book. Right now I’m leaning to Princess Mitts from the 4-ply project #8. Let’s see if I change my mind as I read on….

Section 1 – Fiber Foundations

proteinFibersI’m off and running with the first section of the book. Today I started where many knitters begin – protein fibers. No they aren’t lean chicken or God forbid – steak. These protein fibers come from animals such as sheep and alpaca. Clara made it really easy to follow. I started out with sheep wool (the largest part of this section).

What did I learn about wool – It varies depending on breed. Also wool fibers are covered with scales – the more scales the finer the yarn (such as Merino. I learned how super wash wool is made – wouldn’t you like to know.

I also read sections about mohair and cashmere (both from goats) and a couple of other goat breeds that were new to me. On to angora (from bunnies), camels (yes, camels), alpaca, llama and I gave up at ! Who knew there were so many animals producing fibers – actually I did know, but learned interesting facts that hopefully I’ll store away for good cocktail banter…..