Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Stitches West 2015

Stitches West is the weekend immediately following GallifreyOne, which didn't give me much time to catch my breath in between weekends.

I went off with friends, and it was a fun time. We saw a ton of geeky and nerdy knits! I met a fellow knitter from the Who Knits? forum on Ravelry, and she had made this Doctor Who themed shawl

And one of the vendors showcased everyone's favorite Joker with their new colorway.

And who can resist a bit of Harry Potter?

I got a chance to wear my Eagle Twist shawl, which got a ton of compliments. Everyone loved the cable down the middle of the back. Then on Sunday, I wore my St. Brigid sweater...and again got a lot of compliments on it. At least one person recognized the pattern; she had knit it herself.

Nothing like showing off your hard work at Stitches!

Of course, I picked up a few things at Stitches that were just too pretty to pass up. A lovely orifice hook for my wheel. I love the shape and it fits in my hand well.

A fair trade basket. It's larger at the bottom than at the top. It carried everything I bought at Stitches. I tried very hard not to fill it up.

And of course, there was the yarn.

I stopped at Miss Babs booth where I picked up a Wowza and Yummy skeins (along with two mini skeins).  I also picked up a sweater's worth of Madeline Tosh at Webs. There was also a new vendor called "Yarns on the House" whose yarn base was absolutely lovely (80% Superwash Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon). They had nearly sold out by Friday, but I picked up a skein to play with at my leisure while they restocked.

I hope ya'll had a good time at Stitches.

Monday, February 23, 2015

GallifreyOne: Convention Report!

This past weekend was the Doctor Who convention, GallifreyOne, located at the LAX Marriott hotel in Los Angeles. This convention is spectacularly fun, and a great place for cosplayers, costumers, and crafters to really show off their work.

There was a lot of different skill levels. There was some pre-made / purchased costumes, and a lot of hand crafted ones. There were costumers of all ages.

I was glad to see many parents getting their children started early in the cosplay world.
7 month old twins dressed as Amy Pond & River Song.
I LOVE their hair

Or you can get them even younger with this customized Dalek stroller!

There were costumes everywhere. One of the panels for the day was "Iron Costumer", which is a take of "Iron Chef". There were two teams of costumers (Team Omega and Team Rassilon). They were given sewing machines, a motley of different fabric, and 45 minutes to build a costume around the following theme:

Romana has regenerated. The President of Gallifrey needs a new outfit 

The costumes they came up with were pretty spectacular. Each team divided up into "Props" and "Sewing". There were extremely inventive! The gentleman's staff are whiteboard markers that are attached to each other then covered with foil.

We had costumers ranging from beginner to full-fledged prosthetic masters.
Dream Crab anyone?

And what's nifty is that there are a lot of fiber artists at GallifreyOne as there are many knitted costume pieces in the very show itself! This young lady had her own take on the 7th Doctor, played by Sylvester McCoy.

Her underbust corset is duplicate stitched. 
She initially did Intarsia for her gloves, 
and opted to duplicate stitch for her underbust

There were many variations of the 4th Doctor's scarf running around. I wore my gloves on a couple of days and received a lot of compliments.

In addition to one-person costumes, there were a lot of group costumes as well.

And for those not doing group costumes, there were plenty of meet-ups for cosplayers doing a specific costume. For example, there was a Missy Meetup as well as a Companion Meetup. It was a good way to meet other cosplayers who love the same characters you do.

The number of cosplayers is pretty large at Gallifrey. The masquerade alone had 40 entries! I'm already starting to plan my own set of costumes for GallifreyOne next year. I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

My Opus Medius -- Finishing my Aran Sweater.

Remember the St. Brigid sweater by Alice Starmore that I started nearly two years ago? Well, this past weekend, despite, many trials and tribulations, I finally finished it! (kinda sorta).

This cardigan has become somewhat of a opus magnus for me. (Okay, maybe not quite opus magnus, more like opus medius....) Nothing about it was overly complicated, but, it did take a lot of work and effort to finish. It is definitely one of those things on my knitting bucket list that I can now cross off -- completing an Aran sweater!

But, before I could cross it off, I still had some finishing work that needed to be completed over the weekend. And I was very determined to finish this cardigan!

First, I had to do surgery on the sleeves that were much too long for me. My Viking had helped me determine where the sleeve needed to end.  I cut nearly four inches off, and then proceeded to tink back several rows.

Then carefully seamed the sleeve band onto the sleeve.

This process took nearly two entire weeknight evenings to complete. After work, I would eat dinner, then sit down and work on a sleeve. The cutting of the sleeve was quick. The tinking back to the appropriate location took a while to finish. And I had to carefully graft the band onto the sleeve.

At this point, the cardigan looked pretty darn good....or so I thought. When the weekend rolled around, I hoped to have the cardigan fully completed and wearable after the weekend. At one point during the weekend, I wasn't sure I was going to live up to that early expectation!

The nearly finished cardigan...or so I thought

The second thing I did was all of the necessary finishing work, including:

  • Putting an edging treatment on the sides of the cardigan to keep it from rolling and to add a zipper later.
  • Reinforcing the seams (shoulder, side, and neck) with a single crochet. (For how's and why's, see this article by Tech Knitter or this old blog post by the Yarn Harlot).
  • Adding grosgrain ribbon down the length of the saddle shoulder.
  • Adding grosgrain ribbon along the edges of the cardigan.
  • Adding a backing ribbon on the sleeve cuffs and collar.

I used Nancy Wiseman's book, "The Knitters Book of Finishing Techniques" to help guide me.

It was a lot of extra work, but the extra finishing work that I put into this sweater helped take it to the next level. I actually finished one side first (all the seam reinforcements, etc), and wore the garment for my Viking. He told me he could see a difference in the finishing work, and pointed to the correct side that I just completed.

Finishing Work Details

Edging Treatment: For the edging treatment, I was undecided between an icord edging or using a crochet edging. There are pros & cons to both, and the hive-mind of Facebook suggested using icord. I took my original swatch for this sweater and tried both things, and found I could get the look of an icord using a crochet hook with a lot less hassle. I completed both sides.

Sleeve Band Facing: At my local sewing store, I found a pretty ribbon (width= 2 inches/5cm) that I wanted to use as a neckband and facing to the sleeves. The ribbon has very little give so would act like grosgrain.

Sleeve cuff band

Attack of the Sweater

At this point, I tried it on, and saw my first big issue. If you look at the photo of the finished cardigan above, you'll notice something about the collar. It's TOO BIG. I tried to fix it....using darts, taking it in at the back of the collar, but to no avail. The collar band was simply too big by nearly 10 inches, and I was going to have to completely undo a lot of the work that took me a few hours to complete.

Why 10 inches? Because I measured the length of the seamed body and came up with a number (26 inches). However, where I wanted it to sit only required 17.5 inches of collar......

Isn't amazing how it only takes 20 minutes to undo about 2.5 hours worth of work?!? Ugh...I was kicking myself while I ripped out the edging and remove the collar. My Viking was nice enough to help me figure out how much of the collar to rip out. I put the sweater on myself, where I wanted it to sit, then he took the collar and marked where it should end. The collar was SIX inches too big.

I pinned the sweater on my dress dummy, Esmerelda (or maybe Harley? Or Morticia? I have still yet to decide....), where I wanted it to sit as the finished garment, and pinned the collar to it. There was some easing that needed to occur, but it wasn't too bad.

Afterwards, I seamed the collar onto the body with the aforementioned easing. I added seam reinforcement to the back of the neck, and then added the crochet pseudo icord back.

Neck Band Facing: With the neck finally completed (and sitting correctly), I added the grosgrain ribbon and neck facing. The grosgrain and crochet seam reinforcement would help keep the saddle shoulders from slipping and stay where they should when I wear the cardigan.

Grosgrain down the side saddle (along with seam reinforcement)

The ribbon would add additional structure to the collar and keep it from flopping over.

Neck band with the edging grosgrain pinned to a tailor's ham

It's looking pretty darn sharp! I really like the splash of color that the ribbon gives.

Now, I just need to find an appropriate length zipper in a matching color. My local sewing supply store didn't have them in the correct length of a matching or similar color. Nor did any of the other colors work. :-(

I love these cables!

As a costumer, I know how much finishing work can make or break your costume.
I'm really pleased with how much the finishing work helped pull the cardigan together....even if it took two days to finish all of the finishing work! For a sweater that took nearly two years to complete, what's an extra two days?

I might wear it as is, until I find a zipper of the right color / length. I'm extremely happy with it.

Could this be one of my opus magnus? I'm not sure yet. I'll let you know when I work on something far more complicated.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Phoenix Wing Shawl

My Phoenix Wing shawl (pattern: Eagle Twist) is FINALLY done. It only took about 3 months to knit, and most of that time was over the holidays. I worked on it a lot over the past few weeks to ensure that I got it done in time for Stitches West!

The pattern is fairly easy. I particularly like the cabled spine. However, there are a lot of short rows, which I didn't realize when I got the pattern; I hate short rows. But, I made the shawl anyways.

The pattern called for sport weight yarn, but I ended up using fingering weight -- Dreams in Color Smooshy with Cashmere. Consequently, I added one more short row section (with 6 short rows) to the shawl to give it more height & width, as I was afraid it was going to be more of a shawlette.

Boy, was I wrong. The rows kept taking longer and longer to finish. I actually worried that I would run out of yarn. My bind-off took at least an hour to complete. But, it felt GOOD to do do the last stitch on the bind off.

I was left with 10 grams of red and 14 grams of the gold yarn. While not cutting it "super close", it was getting down to the wire!

Of course, I found a problem once I washed it and laid it out to block. I had to tink back a couple of times on the bind-off to ensure a consistent tension, and apparently, during one of the tinks, a stitch had dropped.


I had a wet shawl that was already pinned to the blocking boards. I wasn't about to rip back and redo it. So after I had a small minor heart attack, I came up with a viable solution. I used a crochet hook to bring the dropped stitch back to where it should have been, then used some waste yarn from the skein and seamed it into the shawl. You can barely tell it's there.

Out of curiosity, I measured the wingspan of my Phoenix Shawl. I obviously didn't need to worry about length, as the wingspan is 82 inches!!!! The heigh is only 18 inches, but it's completely lovely to wear.

Because we're doing a Potter Craft-a-Long on the podcast, I'm dubbing this shawl as part of that CAL, since 
  • a) it's Gryffindor colors, which apparently, is the House to which I belong
  • b) I had already called this shawl, "Phoenix Wing", which ties into Fawkes (Dumbledore's Phoenix companion)
  • c) Because I can :-)
I love the cabled "spine".

And, it wraps around me several times over. I can even tie it in the back to make a sontag, although, the back isn't quite long enough to be a full sontag.

So many ways to wear it.

I love it! And with a touch of cashmere, what's not to love?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

How to Knit Long Fingerless Gloves

I like to knit a lot of fingerless gloves as I find them extremely useful in a variety of situations. I particularly like long fingerless glvoes (elbow-length), for when I want a little bit of extra warmth when I'm wearing a t-shirt, but don't want to wear  coat. (And it's easier to carry around gloves than a jacket.)

I've written up a general recipe for how to knit yourself long fingerless gloves, specifically in relation to my knitting of my Doctor Who Scarf Gloves. However, you must know your knitting gauge and you must have your arm measurements, as shown below.

If you don't want a generic recipe, I've included pattern instructions for *my* size gloves below. I hope this helps you. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below, and I'll answer as best as I can.

Choose from one of the following:

Generic Recipe

  1. Make a gauge swatch. 
    • Get your stitch count - number of stitches per inch
    • Get your row count - number of rows per inch.
  2. Measure your arm. You are going to need someone to help you with this part:
    • A -- the measurement around your wrist
    • B -- the measurement around your arm just below your elbow (or wherever you want the gloves to end)
    • C -- the  distance between A & B. This measurement helps determine how much you need to decrease from your elbow to your wrist.
    • D -- the measure around your arm at half the distance of D. For example, if C = 9 inches, then you want to measure your arm at 4.5 inches.

Now for the math part:

  1. Number of stitches at A =  A x stitch gauge
  2. Number of cast on stitches = B x stitch gauge = ___
  3. Number of stitches at D =   D x stitch gauge = ___
  4. Number of stitches to decrease (E): = #2 - #1 
  5. How many rows to decrease:

    • (C x row gauge) ÷ #4 = Decrease 1 stitch by ____ rows 
NOTE: These measurements are for ZERO ease. If you want negative ease, reduce the number of stitches by 5-10% (or more, depending on what you want)

I put together a worksheet if you don't want to do the math. Fill in the GOLD boxes.

Dealing with the Thumb:

Personally, I like thumb gussets, but you can do any sort of thumb treatment for your gloves. Here's some ways you can deal with the thumb. I've linked some tutorials that I found (but will not vouch for... so caveat emptor). I've tried all three treatments and prefer thumb gussets
NOTE: Make sure to use the Jogless Jog method for any stripe color work.

Pattern for Small-Medium Gloves

If you don't want to do the math, or want an example, the following are MY numbers for gloves that fit me.
  • A: 6 inches
  • B: 10 inches
  • C: 9 inches
  • D: 8 inches
  • Gauge:
    • Stitch gauge: 8 st/ inch
    • Row gauge 9 rows / inch 
Consequently, the numbers for my pattern are:
  • At B, cast on 80 stitches = B (10 inches)  x stitch gauge (8 stitches/inch)
  • At D, I should have about 64 stitches =  D (8 inches) x stitch gauge (8 stitches/inch)
  • At A, I should have 48 stitches = A (6 inches) x stitch gauge (8 inches)
  • For decreases:
    • I need to decrease my stitch count between A & B by 32 stitches ===> 80 stitches - 48 stitches = 32 stitches
    • I have 81 rows to decrease 32 stitches == C (9 inches) x 9 rows/inch
    • 81 rows ÷ 32 stitches = 2.5 rows per stitch
    • So, I have to decrease by 1 stitch every 2.5 rows. The .5 rows is a bit of an annoyance to remember, but I can double the row count (2.5 x 2 = 5): Decrease 2 stitches every 5 rows

Consequently, my general pattern is this:
  1. Cast on 80 inches and do ribbing for 1.5 inches.
  2. Switch to Stockinette and decrease 2 stitches every 5 rounds. 
  3. Continue Step 2 until you reach 4.5 inches (C ÷ 2).You should have 64 stitches (or thereabouts)
  4. Continue Step 2 until until the glove is 9 inches @ 48 stitches.
  5. Knit rounds until reaching the base of the thumb.
  6. Work glove and thumb gusset until you have 17 stitches for the thumb. (See thumb gusset tutorials above).
    • Place 17 thumb stitches on waste yarn.
    • Continue working the rest of the stitches (47) in the round.
    • Make 1 stitch to get 48 stitches.
  7. Continue working in the round until 1.5 inches from desired length.
  8. Do 1.5 inches of ribbing.
  9. Cast off
  10. Thumb:
    • Pick up 17 stitches of the thumb + 4 more stitches
    • Knit thumb until desired length.
Note: These are general pattern instructions.
Please make any modifications as you need for yours.

Stripe Pattern

For the Dr. Who Stripes, I followed the original scarf pattern as listed on the Doctor Who Scarf webpage. I started the stripes as follow, using either end of the scarf to start a new glove. Although, frankly, you can probably start anywhere in the pattern and get your own unique looking set of gloves.

The following illustration should help you get started. Remember to follow the rest of the original scarf pattern.

(Divide row count by 2)

In order to make it scale correctly for the gloves, I divided the number of rows by 2. For example, if the pattern said,  22 rows of Red, then I would only knit 11 rows instead. (I was also contemplating dividing by 4 so I could incorporate more colors into the gloves, but in the end, I chose to divide by 2.)

Monday, February 2, 2015

Knitting Doctor Who Scarf Gloves

Despite having multiple projects on the needles, I got a bug in my ear to add one more project to the list -- a Doctor Who set of fingerless gloves! I had made a full sized scarf on the knitting machine years ago for my Viking, and it's an impractical thing to wear on a regular basis -- except for when cosplaying the Doctor! Fingerless gloves would be a little easier to knit and wear.

However, this new project required the purchase of some yarn, in specific colorways. A trip to my LYS yielded colors that were close to what I wanted. (Some colors were slightly off, but it's what the LYS had in stock and I really wanted to cast on right then and there!)

Cascade 220 Sportweight superwash

An initial test swatch told me that the yarn weight was wrong -- the fabric was just too thick for my liking, and the bright yellow was going to bother me. Plus, I had missed one colorway So, I went back to my LYS and scoured their yarn selection. I wanted a thinner fabric, hence, I needed a thinner weight yarn. Consequently, I ended up the Cascade 220 sock weight yarn (Heritage solids).

(Note: I had PLENTY of left overs from each skein.)

While most of the colors were exact, the brown is slightly too dark and the tan is a little too light, but as a design choice, I decided to go with it. Here are the colorways I selected from Cascade 220 Sockweight:
  • 5662 Maroon (maybe too red, but it works)
  • 5663 Wine 
  • 5631 Charcoal (there might have been a better darker grey for this)
  • 5639 Brown (slightly too dark)
  • 5643 Sunflower
  • 5681 Limestone (slightly too light of a beige)
  • 5640 Cinnamon 
Another test swatch later told me that this yarn was the right weight. So I started knitting.

As a scarf reference I used the "definitive" Doctor Who Scarf website that lists out the color combinations and number of row repeats for each color. Specifically, I used the original scarf pattern, which is called the Acheron Hero Scarf.

I chose spots in the pattern that I felt were representative of the scarf and that looked good and started knitting there. For these, I selected the ends of the scarf and knitted towards the middle.

In order to make it scale correctly for the gloves, I divided the number of rows by 2. For example, if the pattern said,  22 rows of Red, then I would only knit 11 rows instead. (I was also contemplating dividing by 4 so I could incorporate more colors into the gloves, but in the end, I chose to divide by 2.)

NOTE: Make sure to use the Jogless Jog method when switching colors.
They aren't too shabby.

Plus the Cascade 220 Sport superwash is really soft.

I love these. I might make another pair using a different scarf or maybe even Romana's scarf. I still have a ton left from each skein.

I'll be posting the actual pattern for the gloves very soon, so you can make your own.