Feel the New Pathways love

I don’t think I’ve waxed properly lyrical about Cat Bordhi’s New Pathways for Sock Knitters, and how very much I love it, although that’s been implicit in pretty much every sock I’ve knit since buying it, and it’s really obvious now in Clessidra. It’s obvious from this blog that I prefer to knit my socks toe-up, and it’s been one of the things keeping Clessidra in my queue instead of on my needles, but Bordhi has freed me. The Clessidra pattern works particularly well with her master numbers, because it’s several columns of charted cable pattern interspersed with seed stitch, so doesn’t much mind how many stitches it’s knit on, so the sock I am knitting is entirely the visual design of Clessidra, with none of its structural features. This appeals to my web-developer self, because it’s a lot like the separation of structure and content (which is in the HTML, and is different for every individual page) from the appearance (which is in the CSS and is (mostly) the same for all pages in the site). The separation is a little different in socks – the structure comes from Bordhi’s master patterns and is the same for all socks, whereas the appearance (which I guess is analagous to content) is in the pattern, and varies with each pair.

It makes sense. In most cases, the interest of a sock pattern lies in the stitch patterns, the visual appearance, and it shouldn’t matter whether the designer’s preferences for sock structure are the same as mine – I should be able to freely knit the pattern toe up or cuff down, and with the heel, toe and gusset that I choose. I’m interested in designing, but not (usually) in designing the basic shape of a garment – what interests me is the textures, the patterns, the contrasts, and I don’t want to have to reinvent a heel turn or shoulder shaping. So what Cat Bordhi has done for socks is what Ann Budd nearly achieves with jumpers sweaters: Budd’s Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns gives the knitter (almost) as many fish as she wants; Bordhi gives us the tools to catch our own fish ;-) Admittedly Bordhi’s numbers don’t always span the full range we might want – in particular, she doesn’t include numbers for very tight gauges, but I’ve extrapolated her figures to cover a broader range of both gauge and foot size than I’ll ever need, and I’m content that with my spreadsheet, and occasional glances at the book, I can knit any sock I want, in any structure I want (modulo a bit of faffing with the sizes of pattern repeats).

So how is this working with Clessidra? Well, I’m knitting it toe-up, for a start. I’m using a plain toe which starts with increases every row and then moves to every other row, to make the toe less pointy, and then when I’d got about halfway through the toe, I took gauge measurements (look ma, no swatch!). Plugging the numbers into the spreadsheet told me how many stitches I needed, and once I’d finished the toe I started on the pattern. The photos tell me there’s a cable either side of the instep and seed stitch in between, so that’s what I’m knitting. To avoid adding another visual element, I’m putting the gusset increases on the sole of the foot (Bordhi’s riverbed sockitecture), and her numbers tell me how many increases and when to stop, then they’ll tell me the dimensions of the heel (OK, so there’s no choice in heel method in her book, but I’m not interested in different heels so I don’t mind), I’ll start the hourglass cable on the heel flap just because I can, and then the stitch patterns on the leg are also easily translated to a toe-up sock with a different gauge, because there are expand-and-contractable panels of seed stitch between every panel of precise-stitch-count cables. I’ll have to do the maths to decide the calf increases, but it’s easy maths – number of extra inches of width required turned into number of stitches and evenly distributed among the number of rows that will make up the required height. Simple! And when I get there, knitting toe-up gives me the chance to continue the cables into the ribbing without having to calculate where they go – I’ll know where they go, because they’ll already be there.

This is also how I knit Bellatrix, and how I expect to knit every sock from now on. This is my seventh New Pathways pair of socks, and all I need is the master numbers, because I’ve absorbed it into my mental knitting resources, and it’s tremendously liberating :-)

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Plots and schemes

As a result of a long-held scheme, I have finally cast on for Clessidra, only a year after buying the yarn! Naturally, I’m converting the pattern to toe-up, and using Cat Bordhi’s master numbers rather than the numbers in the pattern, but I am following the pattern part of the pattern, so that’s alright. Although toe-up means I’m a long way from the exciting hourglass cables :-(

The yarn is purple Cherry Tree Hill, as seen in my Baudelaires, and the needles are 2.25mm Knitpicks. It’s coincidence that these are the same size needles the pattern calls for – my 2.5mm Addis are otherwise occupied, 2mm is too small, and I only have 2.75mm needles in DPNs.

I’m still plotting my MiL’s Christmas present – the photo to the right is a pile of alpaca rolags I’ve hand carded in preparation for spinning them, on the theory that I might as well card in front of the TV to encourage me to spin, and therefore possibly get the whole thing done in time for Christmas. Still, I saw her this weekend and warned her that the price of lovingly hand-crafted gifts was possible lateness ;-)

The colours in these are deliberately not mixed much – I’m carding to tidy up the fibre, not to blend colours, and I’m hoping the eventual yarn (which will be two-ply) will be gently variegated.

But I really don’t like hand carding very much, so I’m forming a scheme to purchase a drum carder to make the process easier. Space in the library is, as ever, at a premium, so some book weeding and miscellaneous tidying is called for before I’ll allow myself to add to the pile of crafting equipment I’m keeping.

I finished my mini-weaving project, and wove the resulting braid into a small square of meta-weaving, which I’m rather pleased with. In fact, I’m so pleased that I’m plotting a loom acquisition, or rather, scheming to get R to buy me one for my birthday. Only a little one, but I’m already plotting my first real weaving project. My excursion into buying coloured clothes this spring and summer has left me with a problem now the weather’s getting colder: all my mid-layers – cardigans and wraps – are black or purple, and don’t go with some shades-of-red clothes I’ve bought (or the others I may still buy). For a while I’ve been plotting to ply my burgundy merino fibre with something variegated and autumnal (as yet unpurchased), but my original plan was to knit a wrap with it. However, I’m not actually all that keen on knitted wraps, and much prefer woven ones. The loom I’m scheming for is 80cm wide, which should be plenty big enough for a nice wrap, and I’m excited about the colour possibilities in spinning hand-dyed fibre then weaving it :-)

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

This was probably inevitable…

We did a fair amount of shopping on holiday – I bought some undyed Lakeland wool yarn, was given a free bag of Lakeland wool fibre (which is unwashed and may turn out to be unusable, but still), and we bought a number of kitchen implements and, ahem, several books.

One of my books was about weaving (I can’t confirm the title because Cobweb is currently sitting on the book, but I think it’s called Weaving and Spinning, although there’s only one chapter on spinning, so it’s rather misnamed) and includes instructions for various methods of weaving that require minimal or cheap equipment. Such as a pencil and a toe…

The yarn is Noro Kureyon left over from the urban rustic gloves that I never quite finished, twelve strands. The colours are less obviously zig-zagging in the flesh than in the photo, although I did make an attempt to put the colours in order to shade from the pink to the green.

So this is my first attempt at weaving! And I have beside me the new Fibrecrafts catalogue which may yet convince me to buy a starter loom…

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Review: Knitty fall 2008

Twist + shout: maybe it’s because the sample is purple. Maybe it’s the sloping cables. Maybe it’s the blurb about how it fits everyone, but I love it. Now I just have to work out if I’d wear it.

Camden: another good’un. Love the removable sleeves, love the fitted shape, and I even like the bobbles (I usually don’t). However, unlike Twist + Shout, I don’t think this would work on, ahem, a wide range of sizes. I might steal the removable sleeves idea though.

Hermia: the sleeves are too short, and the shape is all wrong. There’s a nice cardigan in there, fighting to get out, but even that’s only nice, and probably not nice enough to do the work to chisel it out.

Retrofit: nothing like a band T-shirt, everything like five million other collared raglan cardigans. Dull.

Mangyle: I do not like the 70s-brown revival in men’s clothes. Yuck.

Abrazo: I do not like chunky ‘sweater vests’.

Versatility: I do’t much like the front view of either the cardigan or shrug styles, but I _do_ like the hood, sleeves and wrap versions, and the pattern details are rather lovely.

Anne Shirley: nice but not something I’d knit, although I’m keen on the reversible pattern…

Kinetic: I love Norah Gaughan. That is all.

Slither: lovely. Again, yes, I’m a sucker for purple, but these are just gorgeous.

Hug: is it just me, or is it slightly sinister?

Waves of grain: pretty, although a) it looks pink to me, and b) it also does not look reversible.

And then we come to the socks! Socks are apparently still the main thing I’m knitting, although since converting body and soul to New Pathways, what I’m looking for in sock patterns is the ideas more than the pattern. I’m not going to knit the toes and heel the pattern says, and I’m very unlikely to knit top down regardless of what the pattern says. So…

Hourglass: lovely pattern, eminently stealable, although I think the lines of twisted stitches are crying out for continuing into the rib.

Garden gate: I have to force myself to look past the colours in the pictured socks, because pink and brown is not a combination I like much, but the pattern is very pretty. My various attempts at stranded socks suggest that I’m sufficiently slow at it that I don’t have the staying power for socks this long, so if I steal the pattern it will be for shorter ones. I might steal it though – my last stranded sock project looks set for a froggin’.

Interlocking leaves: pretty, but adds nothing to my life that Embossed leaves or many similar patterns don’t already add.

Baroque: I don’t even care that these are orange. Cables! Patterns continuing into the heel and ribbing! I love them!

Sidewinder: I don’t like knitted skirts.

Morgan: I don’t like flat caps.

Oncleows: I don’t like leg warmers.

Abby: pretty, but not something I’d wear or be interested enough in to knit for someone else.

Tatiana: very cute, and lovely idea, but totally not me. And I feel faint at just the thought of all those ends to sew in.

Maple: cool, but I don’t need a pattern to make a felted bag, and although the maple leaf chart is very nice, it’s not something I’m ever going to want to knit.

L’illo: not interesting.

Nightcap: I enjoyed the article (and renewed my intention, fuelled by Franklin Habit’s essays for Cast On, to check out his blog), but I’m not especially interested in the pattern.

Op art: rather lovely. I enjoy the idea even though I’m not going to knit the pattern.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Holiday knitting!

I’m just back from a week in Cumbria, land of sheep, and have finished one project and nearly finished another!

The finished project is the autumn Coriolis for female-friend-R (not quite finished in the picture!). She bought the yarn when we were in Hay at the beginning of the summer, and I started them at the Reading Festival with her at the end of August, and have now finished them in Cumbria (well, technically I finished them in Oxford this afternoon, but that was reknitting an applied icord, so I’m not counting it). Truly holiday knitting, these :-) It’s the third time I’ve knit Coriolis now, which is, um, two more than almost any other pattern I’ve ever knit (only one more than the clapotis, and I don’t think I’ll knit that again), and I’m knitting it from memory. I may make more.

The nearly finished project is the Child(no)Hoodie for my niece-to-be. Much as I love hoods, I’m leaving the hood out of this because the pattern says it knits up large and benefits from being tried on, which isn’t possible when the intended recipient is a) in Winchester, and b) not yet an independent entity! I’ve been lax in paying attention to the pattern, and made a couple of mistakes, but one hasn’t turned out to be a mistake after all, and the other will be easily fixable with a feature that I actually like better than the pattern as written. The error I do regret, slightly, is in following the pattern too much, by knitting the back and fronts as three pieces instead of one. The rows are short anyway, and I don’t like seaming, so this should have been a no-brainer, but I wasn’t paying sufficient attention. Never mind. The yarn (Rowan allseasons cotton) feels horrid to knit with, because I’m used to wool, but it feels nice knit up, and I’m loving the red and orange stripes. And I’m hoping there will be enough left to make a hat to go with :-)

Read and post comments | Send to a friend