Friday, December 31, 2010

Doily Craze!

I am officially crazy about knitting doilies.  I am most fascinated with their construction.  It's probably my math teacher brain that is so intrigued with them.  Well, not probably, it is.  I love all of the symmetry and constructions and proportions.  For example, here is a doily:

Not overly unique but it illustrates the basics.  The whole thing is made up of repeating sections.  All you are ever doing is knitting this section of knitting eight times.

This doily has a cast on of 8.  Eight pattern repetitions equals eight cast on stitches.  Basically, what you are doing is building a piece of pie from the point up, or for math teachers, a sector from the center to the circle's edge.

I have been trying to find a set formula for the amount of increases necessary to have a flat piece of work.  This is my thinking.  Let's say that I cast on 6 sts and just keep knitting round after round after round; my finished product will be a tube.  If I add increases, evenly spaced and every round or every few rounds, my piece will grow outwards and lie flat.  The problem is here, if I increase too little, my work will start to look like a bowl; if I increase too much, my work will have ripples.  So, what is the right amount of increase?

 I'm finding that there is not one set answer, rather a range of possibilities.  This bugs me.  I like my math to have a nice clean answer (this is probably why I don't teach that fake math, Statistics). 

Designing is another level unto itself.  I sort of played with a simple design using constructions and symmetry.  I ended up with a nice little picture.  But how to translate that into a pattern?  When do you know to end a motif and continue with a new one?  I was banging my head against that wall trying to figure this one out and after almost a bottle of wine and several sheets of paper, the math bubble broke open in my brain...Proportions!  The thing I use consistently in knitting and cooking eluded me for most of the evening.  Obviously, I was trying to make things WAY to hard.

So, now I'm at the point of trying to put it all together.  Tomorrow I'll start the knitting and charting.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Holiday Stress is Over!

I am a huge fan of the Holidays but lately they have turned into a ton of work.  Last year, my entire family showed up for Christmas.  It was so stressful, that when the last one left, I came down with a cold and spent the rest of my winter break on the couch.

This year, it was just me, Jeff and our nephew Alex.  We participated in our neighbourhood block party (we did dessert) and held our annual party on the 23rd.  Both were amazing successes.  Jeff and I have leaned to to entertain quite well.

Our good friends and neighbours , Paul and Gail, had us over for Christmas dinner.  It was so nice not having to cook that meal too.  Even with the lessened work from last year, I'm still tired.  However, this has not stopped me from knitting. 

I've been jumping around from project to project of late, not quite being able to get interested in just one.  For some reason, I am being sucked into this vortex of lace knitting.

I know that I said that I wasn't fond of it after completing my sister's shawl but I'm changing my mind.  I think the problem with the shawl was the pattern; not enough going on, too much of the same over and over again.

I am now fascinated by knitting lace doilies and circular shawls.  I totally blame MMario for this.  It was his Queen Ann's Lace pattern that got me going.

I really enjoy teaching all about circles in my Geo class and I really like circular trig and I think this just falls in to that realm.

In order to understand the process better, I am working on a lace doily and sort of dissecting it while making it.  I have been taking copious notes on what stitches to what and when and how increases are happening. etc.  It has been super informative even though Jeff thinks I'm a total dork for doing this.

On the yarn front, I'm finding as I progress through my knitting experience, that I'm not finding the colours that I like at my LYS(s) or, if I do find yarn that I like, they never have enough and it's super expensive. It's driving my nuts.

I'm really into kettle dyed yarn in one colour group. I just love the way one colour flows from light to dark and back again. Anyway, I think it's time to take matters into my own hands. That's right, I'm going to start experimenting with dying my own yarns. But don't worry, I'll be f'ing up my own kitchen and not yours. The only problem now is that there isn't going to be enough time to do all of my fiber related projects. Sigh...

Also, on the yarn front, I have been hanging on to this skein from Curious Creek Fibers called "Happiness Is."  It was gifted to us at the 2009 Men's Knitting Retreat.  Well, I set out to get a bunch more of it to make it into something beautiful.  Thank the Universe for Ravelry and Men Who Knit for all the kind sellers and donors who enabled me to piece together a enough skeins.

The yarn is a lovely blue-purple.  It's more blue or purple depending on the light.  Here are two pictures that illustrate what I am talking about.

Yum, can't wait for them all to get here!

Okay, enough ranting for now; back to the doilies!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lace Shawl Done

I did my first ever lace project, the Chinook Shawl.  Here it is all laid out being blocked.  Now that I have done lace, I have to admit that it's not going to be one of my favourite genres of knitting.  It seemed to be too much of the same thing over and over and over and over.  However, it could be the pattern and not lace knitting in general.  I'm still thinking that I'm a sweater man.