Monday, February 21, 2011

Long Tail Cast On - Edited 2/23

Long tail is my preferred cast-on so I use it unless a pattern specifically states otherwise.  The knitted edge it gives to garments is neat and once you get the hang of this technique it is a relatively fast cast on.

1- You will need to make a long tail.  How?  By taking the thread at the beginning of the cake and making a dangling tail.  How long?   Well, that is debatable.  One method is to wrap the yarn around the needle to be used 10 or 20 times.  Measure that length and then divide the needed number of stitches by 10 or 20.  So if you wanted 100 sts, then I would wrap 20 times and pull out 5 times the length of the 20 wraps.
That center (on one side the end is dangling down and on the other the yarn is being pulled from the cake) will become the first stitch.  You will be using the tail section and the yarn from the cake at the same time.

2- From that center wrap the yarn around your fingers like this - clockwise around the thumb. The tail is hanging from your thumb and the cake thread from your fingers.  Some folks make a slip knot first (see #4) but I just merrily go ahead without one.  It's your choice.

copyright S Sarabasha 2/2011
Keep the yarn tensioned as shown in #4 illustration below.

3-  Now place your needle just so:  Up through the thumb loop and then under the cake thread toward the thumb 
copyright S Sarabasha 2/2011
and then down and through the thumb loop 

as shown in the illustration below with a dotted line and arrow, making a stitch by sliding the loop off your thumb.
copyright S Sarabasha 2/2011

4- Gently cinch this stitch up on the needle, but not tightly (center is now on the needle). Place the yarn as below and make another stitch.
copyright S Sarabasha 2/2011

In other words, 
a) Start with a slip knot or one stitch made from #1-3 above 
b) Then replace the yarn onto your fingers as shown, keeping the threads tensioned with the middle, ring and pinky fingers
c) Send the needle under the front thread widening the space, 
d) Now move your needle over to the next finger, going under that thread and making a stitch
e) Pull that stitch toward you, going back under the first thread and up, removing the yarn from the thumb
f) Cinch up the sts with your fingers as shown and repeat from b)

A picture is truly worth a thousand words, well maybe several hundred anyway.

 You'll get the hang of it soon.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Avoiding deNile

For the last few weeks, Deidre has been knitting various smallish projects at Knit Knite.  Finally I asked her about them.  She said she is making at least one Holiday Present a month to try to avoid that last minute river some of us seem to fall into without a life preserver.

Once I really thought about it, the idea truly appealed.  Imagine not having that feeling in November and December?  Maybe you can but I can't.  Habits can be changed.  IF one is really motivated.  I could be so motivated. Plus this one project a month thing might just rid my studio of vast amounts of UFO's.  Well... several anyway.

I was going to start on something for my sister when I noticed a paper bag that was slowly becoming a brick in the UFO foundation pile.  Opening it I found 3 skeins of Organic Blue Sky Alpaca Cotton.  Such softness, so pretty.  I remembered having seen the Knit Chicken Pattern on Ravelry and adventuring to a LYS out on the tip of RI to find it and the yarn.  Sadly they did not even know of Blue Sky Alpacas. Perhaps being almost in the ocean is limiting somehow??

Is this not adorable?  And where did they find that 1950's refrigerator?

   However, back in Ithaca I was able to purchase both the yarn and the pattern at Knitting Etc. and the thrill of deciding just which colors would be best for DILLiz.  Liz likes chicken/rooster decorations in her kitchen area.  She has a few although with her husband's spotted cows and decorations from 3 kids you really couldn't tell there was any rhyme or reason to them.  It's mostly friendly and warm.

Then I saw the Fair Isle Option and knew I wanted to do that one. 

 However I needed to wait until a LYS contest was completed so Michelle Mooney could post the chart.  Of course, with fiber ADD I soon went on to another project, leaving this one for the late Nov present crunch.  But starting something of this compexity during deNile cruising is not a good idea so I made her something else.  This became a recurring theme - until yesterday.

YESTERDAY I started a new HABIT.  The feelings are amazing.  I start to tell myself, "OK now this morning you will do 5 rounds, and then after lunch another 5 rounds and then after dinner 5 more."   Then I stop myself.  Why?   Because this is not a fast trip but a leisurely one.  I can enjoy the pattern.  Read the pattern carefully, several times.  

( Liz likes to drink tea.  2 Xmas's ago Matt got her a metal teapot and a heating stand and matching cups.   This past Xmas I sent her those neat 2 walled glass cups and some blossoming tea. So tea presents are a winning idea for Liz. Plus she loves my hand made stuff.) 

 Discussing the size of a teapot with Jim, we decided the medium would be a better fit, necessitating many added chart columns.  And instead of knitting a bottom I made a nice picot edging which changed the potential from a stuffed chicken into a Tea Cosy.  There is no time for such rearranging during deNile.

And now 7 rounds in the chart are completed.  Many days left in February too.
Such fun!

This really opens up all kinds of ideas for presents.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Smokeyblue is the best model

Anyone who has the BareBones Sock Pattern or any of my toe up patterns designed in the last year knows about nibbling up those gussets stitches.

There is a pic of SmokeyBlue accompanying this section.  Most probably cannot really see that he is nibbling up some grass and dandelion stalks as the pic is way smaller than this one.  But, it is a cute accompaniment.

Deciding that cute was not enough of a reason to include the pic....

copyright S Sarabasha 2/2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Once upon a time, long long ago, I earned my living doing Natural Science Illustration.  I was pretty good at it too but at the time just did not know how to wear all the hats necessary to success very well.  I did a book, Prune (horrible title), which was translated into Danish plus some calendar illustrations and a bunch of work for a local press until they moved to CA.  Way back then, sending illustrations by the internet was chancy and too unusual so that work finally dwindled.  I did get other assignments and accounts but, again, I'd much rather draw than beat the bushes for work.

When times were economically unsure I did Home Teaching for the Ithaca School District.  That was very different from Home Schooling.  I would meet with a kid that was sick or suspended and tutor him/her through assignments from his/her teachers.  Actually I liked doing that and the steady money so well, I took the needed credits and student teaching placement.  Drawing for myself and some accounts continued but it dwindled over the years.

Dyeing yarn, working on my website and dyeing fiber, with occasional drawing, is what the creative urges have channeled in to.

Until this week.  

For the past couple of weeks knitting designs have been pouring out of me.  I have written a cowl and a hat pattern. Have rewritten 2 cuff down patterns to toe up and am in process of some really neat toe up socks that will look splendiferous in sandals this spring.  Plus a vest and another shruggy are in the works.
copyright S Sarabasha 2/2011

This illustration is to help with the double cast on for toe up socks.  It uses long tail but the yarn is doubled. Can you follow the direction your needle will go?

I am also toying with the idea of self publishing a book of my patterns, using fingering yarn in many manifestations.   The working title is taken from my last knitting club.   Finger Knittin' Good.
We shall see.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Best of Both Worlds

Lately I have been into knitting more than spinning.  Usually knitting is a process and spinning seems to be for a project but Finishupitis mixed with Startitis (see the Yarn Harlot for definitions) have confuddled my circuits.
A lot of projects  have been completed (see previous posting) and several new designs are started.  Until I know where the designs are going I can't really show them to you which puts a crimp in the sharing of the excitement while making them.  But I just might cheat a wee little bit.

The two diseases got me combining spinning with the already done feature of ready made yarn.

I love Blue Lagoon and even though I thunk it up last summer lately, right now, it is a color that perks me up amid all the white and grey and dark brown and ice.

So I spun up a thin single of  blue Lagoon Polwarth and paired it with some Woody Blue Lagoon. Now I'm knitting it into a pair of socks for moi using the Bare Bones pattern.

I also had a single of some mostly purpley Blueberry Patch that I paired with Blue Lagoon Woody to make the newest hat prototype.  I just knit with 2 strands held together making a heavy worsted weight yarn on size 8 needles.
It works for me, at least for now.