Knit-Strology; Or, Extrapolations Based on General and Specific Nonsense – Cancer

Once every month, I’ll be re-posting from the old blog all the Knitstrology posts

This one was originally posted on January 16, 2012.

Sketching a Personality; Or, How I Have fun with Knitting and Astrology

Cancer: The Crab Photobucket
June 22 – July 22

Hi Cancer!

You’re the knitter who others turn to for support. You’re wonderfully nurturing, and being around you creates an atmosphere of quiet calm that can really balance out a knit night (especially if you’re there with some fiery Aries or Leos!)

Not the centre of attention, and you like it that way! Seated securely and comfortably in your home will make you just as happy as going out to the low-key cafe where you meet your buds to knit. And, don’t stay away from knit night because you think that comment someone made was a slight on your knitting. Cancers can be overly sensitive; sweep the comment away and meet up with your pals – they’ll miss your caring, sweet and supportive self!
You also need the support of other knitters. It’s nice to hear that your knitting really is great. Your projects totally are lovely! They’ll encourage you to try something new, or to keep plodding away at that ambitious lace shawl you’d love to finish.

Your great memory serves as an encyclopedia for yourself and others; no need to lug that heavy techniques book around, or worry about a wifi connection. The Cancer is here! Likely to remember just how to make that tricky entrelac square.

As an emotional, sentimental person, you cherish the hand knit blanket passed down from your grandmother, and you surround yourself at home with items of nostalgia and comfort. You’re also very creative, and likely have at least thought of designing your own work, if not already sporting your very own sweater and hat patterns.

Cancer rules parts of the torso; that’s fantastic for patterns! Knit yourself some pullovers, cardigans, wraps and the like!
Orange and white are Cancer’s lucky colours. When in doubt, grab these eye-catching hues for that hard-to-buy-for Crab.
Try to start new projects on Mondays or Thursdays – you might find that they’re lucky!

Want to knit your own personalized astrological sign pillow? Check out my “What’s Your Sign?” design!

What’s Your Sign?

 

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Knit-Strology; Or, Extrapolations Based on General and Specific Nonsense – Cancer

How To: Wear Bobbles

This is a throwback post published on February 27, 2012.

Oh, poor bobbles.

This much maligned knitwear design element strikes fear, hatred, and disgust into the hearts of many.

Even the most fair-minded knitter can fall prey to the bobble prejudice, and I really don’t blame them. Bobbles are tricky things to get right.

This post is an attempt to make a case for the bobble. Particularly, because I think it’s wise to explain how they’re best worn before I show you how to make them next week. Responsibly.

Please note: while I understand it’s really quite useful to have images to illustrate something done wrong as well as something done right, this blog will refrain from naming the guilty.
You’ll know them when you see them.

Here’s the Rules for Wearing Bobbles

Watch the placement.
Cluster carefully.
Keep yarn weight in mind.
Combine with other design elements sparingly, if at all.
Contain bobbles visually in a motif or other restraining surroundings.

Now, let’s see how these talented designers apply these rules, in variation, to their successful and really very tasteful en-bobbled patterns.

Big Bobbles, Little Bobbles

Yarn weight is very important: obviously, heavier weight yarn’s going to give you larger bobbles. This, though, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. See the large bobble used in the Woodland Mittens.

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© Bethe Galantino

It’s the weight of the yarn that makes these bobbles great, adding visual interest and texture to these otherwise basic mitts.

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Socks, and their attendant weight of yarn, make a great backdrop for bobble play. The Bacchus Socks (photo © Interweave Knits 2008) are one of my favourites (I totally made a pair for myself, I love them so).
Here, the bobbles are well-placed, and not overwhelming to the garment, even though there are a fair number of them. Using bobbles as part of a logical motif (in this case, grapes on a vine) helps to restrain, contain, and maintain order with a knitwear element that could, let’s face it, get easily out of control.

Many Bobbles, Few Bobbles

Let’s compare two similar items, and see how bobbles are tastefully applied to the design.

First there’s the pretty and slightly whimsical Orchids and Fairy Lights.

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Bobbles are used in an all-over motif but aren’t overwhelming. This is achieved through a variety of means: first, they’re visually restrained within the motif. Second, while there are a lot of them, they’re balanced out across the hat. This creates a rhythm, where your eye is drawn through the design equally, waving slightly up and down with the bobble placement. It’s a pleasing rhythm, one which is the central interest point in the hat. It’s not cluttered by loads of other elements (lace, tassles, thick cables, and so on).

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© Vogue Knitting/Rose Callahan

The second example, Bobble Cap, utilizes this element sparingly. There’s a visual rhythm here too, but one that isn’t dominated by bobbles. Rather, this design has them take a back seat to the more eye catching cables and textural stitch. It’s the cables that lead your eye around, not the bobbles. They’re just there, clustered in little contained areas, to add a punch of design interest.

Bobble Placement

The garments we’ve looked at so far don’t really run the risk of anatomically-suggestive bobble misplacement.

This is certainly an issue to keep in mind with bobbles on sweaters. See here some examples of it done right.

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Look at what the Breena cardigan does: rounds of bobbles and cables (again, contained within a motif and balanced out carefully with other design elements) draw the eye upward to the wearer’s face. Always a flattering design tactic. These bobbles are reasonably sized, and kept away from any particularly “bad” placement.

The Grown Up Girl cardigan sprinkles bobbles on different parts of the design, creating a balanced and interesting piece of knitwear (this might be, incidentally, my new pattern crush. I just think it’s awesome).

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Keeping the different bobble placements visually separated (between the back, front and cuffs of the design), keeps the fun and surprise level of this piece really high. Again, note that it’s within a motif, combined sparingly with other elements, and carefully clustered to create popping points of interest.

Bobbles on Items

So far we’ve focussed on en-bobbled clothing. It’s also worth pointing out that they’re a great, and very fun, element to apply to non-wearables.

The Winterberry hot water bottle cover follows the same successful bobble rules as all the above-mentioned garments.

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see the designer’s blog here 

The adorable whimsy Sea Urchin takes bobbles and visual motifs to the next level. The bobble become so much of what describes the urchin shape, it’s really very charming (

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see the designer’s blog here

Hope this defense of the bobble has (maybe? possibly? hopefully!) won over some previous bobble haters.

How To: Wear Bobbles

Dolce Far Niente Due

This is a throwback post published on February 4, 2009.

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on Ravelry

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlign CenterPatternDolce far Niente
Yarn: two hanks of Cascade 220 (for the Main Colour) and part-hank of another shade of Cascade 220 (for the Contrasting Colour)
Needles: 4mm circulars and dpns

Way back when I made my first Dolce far Niente sweater I said I wanted to do another one, only better this time.

I’m happy with how it turned out – the first one is cute, but something about this one (probably the more subdued colours) makes it a bit more “wearable” and less “look at me! look at me! I’m a child of the 80s!”
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Other slight differences are the weight of the yarn (slightly finer) and the fair isle design (this time actual herringbone instead of what I thought would give me herringbone in the first sweater).

Witness the blanket of snow surrounding me. Also witness the slight blurriness to the photo – that’s from my hand shaking. I think I may have lost some of my gloated-about hardiness with the winter.

I’m sure the numerous car whizzing by and people crunching through the snow were wondering why that crazy woman was photoging herself sans coat.

A fast and fun knit, this one was on and off the needles in less than 2 weeks. I want to squeeze as many knits into winter as possible.

Next up: my 70s sweater.
Uh, maybe… truth be telt, it’s sittingly grumpily under my futon, multitudinous ends not woven-in and neckline not even begun.Hope the rising temperatures are echoed by a rise in knitting.

Me and winter are in a race, and I do intend to win.

Dolce Far Niente Due

Dolce far Niente: The Voracious Manos Edition

This is a throwback post published on April 5, 2008.

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on Ravelry

This is what happens when you see pretty yarn and can’t put the accursed thing down:

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Pattern: Dolce far Niente (by me)
Yarn: approx. 2.5 hanks of brown Manos wool
.5 hank of orange Manos wool

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This project was inspired by a D&G sweater from Fall 2006. I didn’t do it justice! (I will most likely be doing another version, in a much lighter gauge, with more intricate fair isle.

This was the softest Manos I’ve ever played with. Two issues arose, stemming from the yarn itself:
1 – the brown Manos was spun with what is an obvious slubby texture. Throughout the body of the garment it blends in decently. But woe to the cast-off edge on the neckline. It bumps in and out rather unpleasently.
2 – less significantly, the orange Manos was bleeding dye on to my hands.
Overall I remain a Manos devotee, though perhaps will be more vigilant in my purchasing in the future (re: slub factor).

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I do realize that it’s April. I do realize that Spring is on the verge of flouncing in and warming up the world. But when a knitter’s got an itch, it’s real hard not to scratch! I churned this puppy out in about one week.

Why, you may wonder, did I introduce it as accursed?
In most cases when I knit, I’m extremely stubborn, and thus go out of my way to either
avoid making any large/noticeable mistakes
or
learn to live with it (the much more frequent route).
I hate frogging, and I possibly hate tinking even more.
For this project, I had to do both those, about 3 times over.

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Gladly, the finished project has come out satisfactory.
I do have one wonder: do you prefer it with a dark shirt beneath, or a lighter one (thus emphasizing the shortness of the sweater by contrast)?
I think, after being christened Dolce far Niente, the project decided simple, it would not be.
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Dolce far Niente: The Voracious Manos Edition

Alauda; or, Elaborate Names and the Year of the Stash

This is a throwback post published on June 20, 2008.

I’ll have to fess up and say that a rather disproportionate amount of joy for me comes from naming knits for designing.
This is a case in point.

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Pattern: Alauda
Yarn: oh, a few scraps. Methinks it was
1) Brown Louisa Harding “Grace”
2) Orange Manos Silk Blend
3) a couple different yellow/golden shades of Handmaiden’s “Silk Maiden”
4) white Elsebeth Lavold “ClassicAL”

Why I made it:
My hands were unbelievably cold at work.
Why it’s got such a highfalutin name?
I love the naming. I love the organizing and labelling and making odd and rather twitsy-turny connections. In this instance, I knew I wanted to use some pretty stash scraps, hence the idea of a “legion”, expand that to a particular legion (one of Caesar’s Gaulish legions, see here)
and to top it all off, this particular Alauda word morphed into the modern French word Alouette, which is denotative of a small bird.
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Gratuitous Butters photo:
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If you want to make a pair:
step 1 – get scrap (all same gauge)
step 2 – measure around knuckles to get # of sts cast on (1” neg ease)
step 3 – cast on and knit knit knit in a rectangle til the piece measures to your wrist (if you want to add the YO row, just work one YO, k2tog across the fourth row).
step 4 – cast off and stitch together edge, leaving thumb holes!

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Alauda; or, Elaborate Names and the Year of the Stash

Wee Spencer Christened the Anne Elliot

This is a throwback post published on May 3, 2007.

Introducing my Anne Elliot
on Ravelry

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Specs:

Yarn: Wendy Yarn – Peter Pan 2 ply
Needles: 2.25 mm
Pattern: My own, after the Guess Spencer (sketchy notes to be added if by popular demand)
Things I’d change:
More careful with buttonholes – they don’t all match up.
Sleeves should be smaller – they’re a bit baggy as is. When I inevitably make a second Spencer, this will be more carefully calculated (instead of just “well, it took 90 stitches across the back…)
Also along button edge – I’ve been knitting for years now and so have no excuse for this mistake, but instead of making the under-button edge garter, I made it stockinette, which of course leads to the wonderful curling-under that is quite visible in the photo.
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The yarn itself is very stretchy, and blocked out quite nicely (except for the rust-stains caused by evil pins).

What colour should I make next? I’m digging the golds and greys as of late.

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Pattern

Please let me know if you see any glaring errors. I didn’t keep the best notes going along. I hope this isn’t too convoluted.

Sized for a 36″ bust. You can read my suggestions for pattern-improvement.
Gauge: 7 sts/inch
Yarn: Wendy – Peter Pan 4 ply
Needles: 2.5 mm
Extras: seven 1 cm buttons, tapestry needle.
Warning: crochet ahead!
Hook: 3 mm

You can block the Spencer to make the lace look nicer. Just don’t use pins that will rust! (yes, I did).

Double Seed Stitch:

Row 1 – *K2, p2. Repeat from * to end of row.
Row 2 – As row 1.
Row 3 – *P2, k2. Repeat from * to end of row.
Row 4 – As row 3.

Clover Lace:

Rows 1 and 7 – K
Row 2 and all Wrong side rows – P
Row 3 – K2, yo, sk1, k2tog, psso, yo, *k5, yo, sl1, k2tog, psso, yo*, rep from * to *.
Row 5 – K3, yo, ssk, *k6, yo, ssk*, rep from * to *.
Row 9 – K1, *k5, yo, sl1, k2tog, psso, yo*, rep from * to *.
Row 11 – K7, *yo, ssk, k6*, rep from * to *.

Back

CO 82 sts
work 1×1 ribbing for 1 cm (0.5 inch)
work double seed stitch for 6 cm (2.5 inches)

Begin clover pattern, and begin increases. Increase 1 st on each side on the Front Side of the work until piece measures 23 cm (9 inches) long.

(I had to fudge the pattern for the increases. What I did was placed markers at the beginning stitches, and continued the pattern as normal within the markers. When there was enough stitches outside the markers – which is seven, I believe – I worked those in pattern).

Shaping armholes:

When piece measures 21 cm (8 inches) long, begin shaping armhole by dec 2 sts on each side of Front of work for six rows. Then dec 1 st each side until piece measures 28 cm (11 inches). Arm holes are now shaped.

Continue in clover pattern until piece is 36 cm (14 inches) long.

Front Panels:

Work two. Just remember to reverse the neckline and arm hole shaping!
At this point, choose which side you want the buttons on, and which side the button holes.
CO 38 sts (this is what I did, but I recommend casting on a few more. I found the front panels to be a bit small).

Do the same shaping for the front panels as you did for the back, save for the 6 sts along what will be the buttonhole edge. Here I just kept the knitting in sockinette.

Button holes:

You create the first buttonhole on the first row of double seed stitch, and from then on place the buttonholes at approximately 2.5 cm (1 inch) intervals.
All I did was work 2 sts on buttonhole edge, cast off 2, and continue in pattern. Then on the next row, you just CO 2 sts over the space created by the 2 you cast off.

WHEN THE FRONT PANELS MEASURE 8 INCHES
Begin neckline shaping. (this is also when you begin armhole shaping!)

Neckline Shaping:
Cast off 18 sts to create beginning of neckline. You should have about 30 sts left.
Now you continue to shape the neckline edge by dec 1 st along neck edge every Front side row. Continue dec in this manner until you have 12 sts left. Work until front panels are same length as Back.

Sleeves:

Make two.

CO 70 sts.
Work 1×1 ribbing for 1 cm (0.5 inches).
Begin clover pattern.
Work in pattern until piece measures 4 cm (1.5 inches).

Begin shaping sleeve.
Dec. 1 st each side of Front of work until you have 2 sts left (my sleeves ended up being 16 cm/6.5 inches long).

Finishing:

Sew up side seams, shoulders and sleeves. Place and sew buttons.
Pick up sts along neckline (sorry, I didn’t count them), and knit two rows in stockinette. This makes a nice edge for you to create the crochet trim upon.

Neckline crochet:
Starting at one edge of neckline, make 1 sc.
Skip 2 sts.
Make five dc in next st.
Skip 2 sts.
Slip-stitch this down.

There you have the mini-shell that I used all the way around the neckline. Just continue the pattern til you get all the way around the neckline. I consciously kept my crocheting a little looser, because I was afraid it would pucker the knitting and look funny.

Suggestions for improvements to pattern:

If I were making this pattern again, I would add an inch-worth of extra stitches to the bust area (I would spread this out across the front panels, so I’d add 0.5 inches to one side and 0.5 stitches to the other).

I would also attempt to do it in the round, at least for the bottom half. I only suggest this because I dislike sewing seams.

I suggest creating a row of garter stitch on the edge of the front panel where the buttons will be sewn. This will make the fabric want to lay flat, rather than curl under like the original does.

Here is a pathetic Paint diagram of the measurement I took of the Spencer. If you can measure your own gauge, you can fit the pattern to you and your own yarn/needles/tension.
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Wee Spencer Christened the Anne Elliot

Malassada Day; Or, Dough-Frying Good Times

This is a throwback post published on March 8, 2011.

Today is Malassada Day!malassada
Amongst the many labels applied to the day before Lent begins, Malassada Day stems from the same gorge-yourself-crazy spirit of Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday and the like.

Things like sugar and lard were meant to be used up before the fasting of Lent began, and what better way to do this, so the São Miguel islanders thought, than to make copious amounts of delicious, delicious fried dough.

Malasadas1 are basically doughnuts, and hoo boy, are they good when fresh out of the pan!

My grandmother’s always made them with a hole in the centre, but apparently the “traditional” way is to simply form a ball of dough, sans hole.

Want to fry up some of your own?
Here’s my grandmother’s recipe

Vavo’s2 Malassadas

Ingredients
2 tbsp soft butter
1 tsp salt
12 eggs 1 cup sugar
sliced lemon rind
2 lbs flour (6 cups)
jar of Mazola oil

Instructions:

Put 2 packets of Fleischmann’s yeast in 1/2 cup lukewarm water, for about 5 minutes
Stir yeast. Put in a big bowl.
Add everything, except flour, and mix with electric mixer. When soft and blended, add flour and mix by hand.

Let rise for around 4-5 hours.

Take small amounts, shaping them into doughnuts, and carefully putting them in a frying pan, filled with boiling oil.

Let both sides get golden brown (this doesn’t take long at all!)

Remove, and coat with sugar.

Oh yes, and consume immediately.

Yum.
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1 Here’s some info about Malassadas.
2 Vavo means grandma in Portuguese.
3 Image sourced from this site.

Malassada Day; Or, Dough-Frying Good Times