Thursday, November 29, 2007

Got needles?

I think I mentioned not showing another photo of Plissé until it's finished, but who knows when that will be? Looks closer though, right? At any rate, this isn't about you, Miss Plissé, this is all about the needles.

I've written before about Knit Picks Harmony (wooden) needles. For this project I'm using the interchangeable Options.

The specs: nickel-plated, available in US sizes 4 - 11, cables available in lengths of 24" - 60". Prices range from (US) 4.99 - 7.00 for the needle tips (larger needle = larger price) and the cables are (US) 3.99 regardless of length. You get two cables, end caps and a tightener tool in the cable package. Also sold as a set -- which contains all sizes needles, two cable lengths, 8 end caps, tightener and storage -- cost, (US) 59.99.

I purchased the two smallest needle tips and two different cable lengths for purposes of testing them out. My usual choice when I select a metal needle is Addi Turbo. I find I most often reach for a bamboo needle though, as the lighter weight and comparative warmth are easier on my hands,

As compared to Addi, the Options needles have a similar nickel-plated, slick finish and slightly pointier tips, which I like. What really pleases me about the Options though is the cord -- it's flexible and pliable, and is ready to go right from the package. No worries about removing kinks before use, and no fighting against a cord with a mind of its own while using them -- bravo!

The joins are smooth, and the screw seems a bit longer for added security against coming apart with use. I did experience some loosening of the joins while working. Never to the point of actual separation, and easily fixed, so I didn't find it excessively annoying. Your mileage may vary. I should also point out that I didn't use the little tightening tool -- which may have had an effect. I was switching out cables as the work got bigger, and because I have hand strength issues I didn't want the cables too tight for easy removal. Thinking about it, I realize I'm an idiot -- I could have used the little tool for loosening too. Next time! I should also say that I knit "English" style -- not sure if that increases, or decreases the likelihood of loosening the joins. I've heard reports that some folks have had full separation of needles from cables while in use. That may be, but I find it very hard to understand how they wouldn't have noticed the yarn catching on a loose connection long before the needle would have come apart. In any event, my guess is that loosening would be an issue with any interchangeable set, but as I mentioned, I didn't find it a huge problem.

I liked these needles, and I'll use them again. Loved the flexible cable -- which I believe is also the cable used for the Knit Picks fixed length circular needles. It's nice to have the option of changing points/cables, especially if you haven't (yet) built up an extensive needle collection. I'll plead the Fifth on how many I have. The wooden Harmony interchangeable needles can be used with the same Options cables, which is nice.

So, are they perfect, one size fits all? Nope, but I don't think any needle is right for every yarn or project. Different jobs -- different tools. They are, however, a very nice interchangeable metal needle at a very attractive price. If you're looking for that, you may want to give one a test drive.

Monday, November 26, 2007

"Shine on Me Tonight, Allegheny Moon"...

...or maybe we should wait until later for some shine, as today is rainy and foggy. Didn't want to wait to post a photo, though, so here it is --

The specs: Allegheny Moon Mobius by Doris Chan, from her book Amazing Crochet Lace. The yarn is Ritratto by S.Charles Collezione, color s85, the pattern calls for 3 skeins. I made the mobius a bit longer than called for in the pattern so that it would drape a bit lower on the bodice, and had plenty of yarn left in the third skein to do so.

This is certainly not an everyday item of apparel, but I had wanted to work with Ritratto, and this seemed like a nice, simple project. It worked up easily, almost mindlessly, and I probably will wear it at some point, as I really like the colors. What I don't care for is the scratchiness of the metallic strand in the Ritratto. Now granted, this isn't meant for next-to-skin wear, but it was harsh on my hands while working with it, and I wouldn't want to use it for anything that might rub up against the skin -- say, like a muffler. A pity really, because the colors are lovely. Here's a closer look, which may be a little more 'color true' than the foggy view above:

Next up? Well, I'm thinking about doing an update of a vintage pattern if I can find a suitable yarn in the stash. And Plissé? I am about 7 cm from the end of the knitting, and since I just started the last ball of yarn I'm feeling pretty confident that I will not only have enough yarn, but enough to lengthen it just a bit. Which means that I will not actually be just 7 cm from the end -- oh please, just stab me with some sharp pointed needles, it would be a lot less painful!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A trip down Nostalgia Lane...

I love to collect old needlework patterns, most are knitting, but there are some for crochet scattered throughout the years. Let's take a look at a few. (Apologies for the lack of clarity -- old photos plus my poor skills do not a sharply focused photo make. Clicking 'should' make the images larger, which may help.)

First up, a filet nightgown. This is from 1918 - Royal Society Book 12. This is actually just three sections of filet work in the cup and under bust area of the nightgown -- the rest is fabric, no instructions for sewing. I suppose there was greater general knowledge of such things back then!

Next, another filet garment, this time a tunic from Bear Brand's Blue Book (1920). It's worked in Shetland Floss, with a size 2 bone or amber (?) crochet hook. Gauge is listed only as 3 rows = 1 inch. It's worked in one piece from the front bottom hem, increase for sleeves, up across shoulders, and then down to the back bottom hem. Sleeve cuffs are added later. The filet motif (on both front and back) is a butterfly.

Another Royal Society pattern, this one an infant's saque from 1943.
Worked in Royal Society Six Cord Cordichet size 30 -- steel hook size 10. Gauge: 9 loops make 4 inches; 5 rows make 1 inch.

Jumping ahead to 1954, we have a couple of Vogue Knitting Book patterns. Details are hard to make out, even on the original, but notice the soft folds on the sleeve of the "Soft, lightweight cardigan." It does indeed appear to have a nice, soft drape. It's worked in Bear Brand or Fleisher's Wonderized DeLuxe Sock and Sport Yarn (that's a mouthful!), Bucilla plastic No. 2 hook, and is trimmed with over 400 4mm beads and 90 rhinestones (sewn on later). Gauge is 14 stitches = 2 inches and 11 rows = 2 inches.

Or, how about a crocheted ribbon dress in shell stitch from the same issue? Thirty plus spools of Unger's Gossamer Silk Organdy Ribbon is worked with a No. 3 plastic hook. There are 5 covered buttons plus a side zipper to insert. Dress is to be lined with nylon tulle, but you're on your own as to how! Gauge is 1 shell pattern = 1 inch and 2 rows = 1 inch. I wonder how much each spool of silk ribbon cost back then?

Our last stop is Vogue Knitting Fall/Winter 1965. A two-piece dress made from Unger's Les Coraux (translation, anyone?) and an F hook. Gauge is 4 stitches = 1 inch and 8 rows = 3 inches. You'll need some tulle to make facings for the blouse, which is worked in separate pieces. The skirt is worked from the waist down in one piece, and is later stitched to a purchased (tailored) slip.

(Editted to add -- babelfish translates Les Coraux as coral(s), and the nifty discontinued yarn guide at list Unger's Les Coraux as a wool, mohair, vinyon blend. Now we know.)

That's all for now -- hope you enjoyed the trip!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sneak Peek

  • Allegheny Moon Mobius
  • S. Charles Collezione Ritratto
  • Amazing Crochet Lace by Doris Chan

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Another fine Mesh...

...Mesh Peplum, that is. A Lily Chin design from the current issue of Interweave Crochet. Made using Filatura di Crosa Zara yarn. Changes: Made sleeves longer, left out front/side decrease darts, but kept them in the back. After making the bottom mesh section according to pattern directions, I thought there was not enough flare -- so, I increased the hook size (as per directions) but also increased the size of the mesh, as was done in the mesh bodice section.

As for the yarn -- I absolutely LOVE this stuff, and wish I had much, much more. Given the prices I have seen for it at various sites online, that probably isn't going to happen. I certainly will be keeping my eyes open for any closeouts (which is how I bought it originally, at Elann). In any event, I highly recommend it -- I think it would do very nicely for textured knits, too.

Are you all sick of hearing about Plissé? Yup, me too. I think I will wait to show another progress shot -- perhaps when it's done? Please, no breath holding.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Autumn color

A few short weeks ago it felt as if summer's heat would never leave. Now, a hint of winter is in the air. So save them quickly before they're gone -- some random bursts of color from around the yard.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Paying the piper

Fun always comes with a price tag, doesn't it? And payment has come due for my little fling with crocheted floozies -- Plissé is not pleased.

The problem with cheating on your main WIP (work in progress) is that you need a good memory to keep your facts straight. And this week my memory went walkabout as far as Plissé was concerned.

I was blithely knitting away on the second sleeve, almost to the part where I needed to start the "pleated" inset. In other words, very near the end of the "takes forever to knit *&^#* second sleeve." And then it hit me -- I had altered the length of the first sleeve, making it considerably shorter. And guess what happens to your rate of decrease when you shorten a sleeve? That's right, you need to decrease more frequently. As in -- much more frequently than I had done. Please, take a moment to feel my pain as I ripped out days of work -- improperly done work, but lots of work nonetheless. Each stitch pulled out was a stab to the heart, but rip we must.

I offer myself up as an example of cheating love gone wrong in earnest hopes that you can profit from my pain. I've learned an important lesson my friends -- don't cheat on your projects. Or, put another way -- don't stray until you've finished the part that has to match another part.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

No tricks, a couple of treats

Our fourth Halloween here, and once again no little ghouls and goblins knocking at the door. Guess the long driveways and lack of street lights is just too daunting. Oh well, off to make another sacrifice on the altar of Snickers.

This little number is quite the treat though:

Sera Lace Top, by Doris Chan, in the current issue of Interweave Crochet. I used OnLine Linie 199 metallic yarn instead of the Sera, and did one less repeat on the body. The sleeves were shortened to three-quarter length, I think that was two repeats less (or fewer -- I can never remember that grammar rule!) The top is worked in one piece from the top down -- my first time doing any garment like that. Actually it was easier than I thought it would be. I made this a smaller size than I would normally make, the pattern stitch is v-e-r-y stretchy; pattern notes describe it as growing in length -- my experience is that it is fairly forgiving in width too.

So, you would expect that now I have loads of free time to devote to poor neglected Plissé, no? Not exactly, here's what jumped on the hook immediately after I finished Sera:
It's from the same issue of Interweave Crochet -- Mesh Peplum something something, by Lily Chin. Also worked in one piece from the top down (see, I'm reinforcing recently learned skills!). I'm using Filatura di Crosa Zara from the stash, and boy am I loving this yarn. Here's a close up of the neckline detail:

Oh Plissé, will you ever be done?