Monday, June 25, 2007

It's all in the wood

As in rosewood and ebony.

I have been having issues with knitting cotton for a long while. No matter what I did I could not get or maintain gauge. First I would have to drop down several needle sizes to obtain gauge, then have to constantly measure my work and adjust my tension to maintain the gauge, which is a real pain in the neck. I rarely have gauge problems with wool or wool blend. I thought it was the texture and pile of the cotton yarn. I seem to have much better result with tightly twisted yarn like Karabella Zodiac than with Nashua Ecologie Cotton.
Then I discovered Susanne's and Holz & Stein needles.

I was knitting primarily with Addi Turbo or Denise Interchangeable Needles. I tried Crystal Palace bamboo needles before but did not like the joins which always catch yarn.

Then I heard about Susanne's ebony and rosewood needles and got a pair of ebony to try. They are wonderful. The joins still catch the yarn once in a while, but not enough to annoy you.

The best, is the Holz & Stein needles from Germany.

The ebony is the Susanne's and the rosewood is H&S:

The Susanne's has metal joins where as H&S has none. That's pretty much the only difference between the two but it makes a world of difference. I was able to get gauge! No more loosey-goosey stitches!

I realized my problems were (apart from loosely-piled yarn) the needles. I love Addi Turbo. However, the Addi does not grab the yarn and while there is no problem with wool, there is with cotton. My stitches are too loose and flopping all over the place, making it impossible to maintain gauge.

The top is Addi Turbo, the bottom H0lz & Stein. Both are Ecologie Cotton knitted on #6 needles. The stitches achieved with the Addi are much looser and the gauge far off. The Holz & Stein, however, gives me much neater stitches and the correct gauge.

Yeah!! I can knit with cotton now!

This is Evie, a free pattern from Debbie Bliss. I am knitting it in Blue Sky organic cotton. The pattern calls for needles size 8 and I got gauge with Holz& Stein size 8. Way to go! The only drawback is that the Holz & Stein are very hard to find, and pricey to boot. You can get them at Catherine Knits (you need to call; they don't have online ordering) or at Knitty Noddy . At $30 a pair they are an investment, but in my opinion they are worth every penny!

In the meantime the zucchini plants are producing.

I picked five more zucchini over the weekend. So far I have had nine, which is nine more than I had last year.

Things are looking good in my knitting and gardening world!

Happy knitting.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Stash reductions, garden and love

I found a neat way to reduce my stash!

No I don't mean knitting from stash, giving the yarn away or anything practical like that. I mean physically reducing the size of the stash to make more room for more yarn! The Yarn Barn is having a sale this week. Almost everything in the store is 25% off. Plenty of 50%-off stuff as well. Drop by if you are in the neighborhood.

This is how I reduce my stash:

Method I -- Space bag! Before:

With a little help from the vacuum cleaner:

Method II -- Food Saver to the rescue!

I have more room. Hint, hint...

Outside everything is flourishing. Front yard is beautiful.


And look!

I picked my first three Zucchinis this weekend. Things are looking good. No sign of any bugs, cross my fingers. The tomatoes, beans and cucumbers are also growing vigorously. I should have some cucumbers soon.

Once again I save the best for last.

To my sweet William:

Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart. I love you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Knitting, gardening and grandchildren

I need to come up with more catchy blog titles!

The weather has not been that bad here in Northern Virginia. We had a really hot day last week when the mercury topped 90, but just for a day. So far it has been in the high 70s and low 80s. Quite nice and bearable for this time of the year in this part of the world. I am still struggling with cotton yarn. The only summer yarn I have had luck with so far (and projects finished) has been Rowan Summer Tweed. Here is the Yarn Barn Tee waiting to be sewn up.

The trim is Prism. Just about every Yarn Barn knitter has made at least one of this. If I hurry up and sew it up I might be able to show it off tomorrow. Wednesday is knitting day, show-and-tell, workshop and everything else at the Barn.

In the meantime Kim has been in the creative corner with linen yarn. She and Penny came up with a pattern for a linen shell with wave/seafoam stitches:

Here is mine. In blue, of course.
Handpainted linen lace weight, two strands held together.
I also took Phyl's advice regarding shoes. Shoes come in pair, so always buy two pairs!

Aren't they cute? Comfortable, too.

It's also time for the zuch update. I have three babies in the backyard.



And Three!
Things are looking good in zuchland!

But I save the best pictures for last. Here is my granddaughter Elsa:

Elsa lives in Austin, Texas. She just turned eight months. Here she is again with her big sister Grace.

The most beautiful little girls!

Happy knitting.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Good cotton!

Finally, a cotton yarn that likes me.

Meet Karabella Zodiac. This is DK weight, tightly twisted yarn with a lovely hand. I think "tightly twisted" is the key with my knitting. I simply could not maintain a gauge with several cotton yarns I tried. I started Maddy:

It's moving right along. I also picked up more Summer Tweed to knit yet another summer top. We call it the "Shop Tee" ; just about every Barn girl has made, or is making, one. I'll get the pix in the next post.

Meanwhile here is week three for the zucchini.

Isn't he the most photogenic zucchini you have seen?

A baby is on the way!

The soaking rain over the weekend has done wonders to the garden.

I am dreaming of a summer filled with zucchini....

The rain is also a good knitting weather.

Happy knitting.

Friday, June 01, 2007

There's something about cotton

It doesn't like me.

Summer knitting is really hard, especially so if you are dealing with cotton. For some reasons I can't seem to get gauge with cotton. I am a loose knitter and usually have to go down a needle size or two. But with cotton I have had to go down three or four needle sizes! Worse, after knitting for a while the piece starts to grow, and grow and grow! I have had more luck with cotton blend like Rowan summer tweed. I tried Nashua Ecologie Cotton with a disastrous result. I love the yarn; it just doesn't like me.

Then I came across this pattern in the new Debbie Bliss Pure Cotton book.

It's called Maddy and I want it. Now. Like I need to get yarn and cast on today. But I have to do a gauge and it's pure cotton and I can't get gauge with pure cotton and I know if I insist it will grow and will be all floppy and will not fit. I don't want to knit it in wool because it will be too warm and I want to knit it now and wear it now.

I need to go look for wool blend or cotton blend. What gauge is Rowan's wool cotton? That's DK. The Maddy calls for 18 stitches to four inches. Wool cotton won't work. I need light worsted. Does Penny have anything at the Yarn Barn? By now you must have guessed I am writing this at work and it will be another six hours before I can get to the Yarn Barn. Six hours! I have to work six more hours! Wait. It's Friday. I can get out early. Maybe four hours..
Bamboo tape. That might work. Penny has Bamboo tape. In fact there is a ball in the car.
Four more hours. I'll better get some work done if I am going to get out early.

Happy Friday