The beauty of organization

I’m a process knitter. I don’t work off a written pattern. I create as I go. I figure out what I want to do and start from the top and glory in doing my own thing. It makes me happy. I’m not horribly unusual in the way I do things. I know people who work the same way and I feel I’m in really good company.

In my other life I’m a programmer. I’ve been doing it for years and it’s something I enjoy. I love puzzles and programming in php/mysql is like solving a puzzle. I figure out what I want to come out the other end and off I go.

So here’s how the knitting and the programming mesh.

I wrote a program to give me the calcs for knitting my top down sweaters. It works like this.

I enter my measurements. My measurements pretty much don’t change so this is a one-time thing. Once it’s done, it’s done!

I enter create a record of the project I want to work with using my swatch info for my preferred yarn/needle combo, a record of the yarn I’m using, how much drop I want for the back neck, how much ease I think the garment should have and I’m done. Truly, that’s it.

Then I run the programming. It applies the calcs I have worked out for my conti-something base using my measurements, the SPI/RPI derived from the swatch I knitted on the needle size I prefer and I have sweater calcs! I’m ready to cast on for my sweater in the amount of time it takes me to set my preferences. Yup, it’s really that simple! Organization and automation are truly beautiful things and programming ROCKS!

Here’s what my fun times look like. This isn’t all the projects I’ve done. I’ve got a tunic length henley that’s lovely to wear and other stuff I knit before I did the programming gig. Enjoy!

4-ply blue WIP

This will finish in a dress length. The goal is to use up all this very unique yarn. I’m pecking away at this when I’m in a position I can’t work anything complicated. I have miles and miles of very boring stockinette to go!
Swoop

Mindy loves it so it’s all good! This was a fun knit. The yarn (Valley Yarns Goshen) is a lovely cotton/modal/silk combo with a very nice sheen.
Sunset Vneck

Sunset on the farm, knitted up in Scheepjes Softfun Denim!
Bolero Cardi (WIP)

WIP in Valley Yarns Goshen. All that’s left is the hem. I’ll get there . . . eventually. I’m balking just a bit at the cardigan . . . I may just sew the front shut. I think I’ll like it better . . .
Too Much Sunset (using Sunset on the Farm vneck numbers)

This is all the yarn left over from the Sunset on the Farm vneck. I had a lot of yarn to use up! Okay, okay. I *still* have yarn to use up. The sun took less than a yard of two different colors! The only color I ran out of after this was done was navy.

Too much sunset

I learn by doing. Each project has lessons for me and I embrace them with joy. Each less than perfect spot in a project means the next project will be just that much better because I’ve learned something.

Each sweater I’ve knit has taught me a lot. I can lay a sweater out and show you where I learned something, like how to do intarsia in the round, how to improve the back neck shaping, tweak the shoulder shaping for a flawless fit, perfect faux sleeves . . . the list goes on. I can’t conceive of working a project and not learning something new, not *trying* something new. It’s how I’m wired.

I had a lot of yarn left over from the Sunset sweater. The sun took less than a yard of two different colors. Each block of color used up only a portion of the supply I bought. What I had left over was *almost* enough for a sweater . . . almost. So I bought a couple more skeins of purple and waited for inspiration to strike. And it did!

I saw a sweatshirt on Pinterest that spoke to me. *This* color blocking was what I wanted to knit. Ooo, the challenge!

You can pop this off in raglan . . . it would look great! If you’re interested in trying this, here are the skills you’ll need beyond basic top-down sweater knitting.

Using up the yarn left over from Sunset at the Farm

What? You thought this was hard? Nope. Tedious? Yes. Hard? Not even. The result . . . yeah, that’s pretty spectacular.

The tips on what I will do next time (assuming there is such a thing) are at the bottom of this post. The following instructions are for what I did on *this* sweater.

The angle is created by working a short row turn every fourth stitch starting six stitches from the point at which you want the angle to start. For this sweater it was right under the arm after working the underarm caston.

Place a marker where you want the center top of your angle to start. Work six stitches and then work a SRT (short row turn). Turn your work and work in the opposite direction past the marker and six more stitches, then work a SRT. This completes your angle setup. This next bit is the repeat. Turn and work to the previous SRT. Work the SRT and three more stitches before working another SRT. Repeat until you have ~12 stitches remaining. This is the low side of your angle.

Now work three rows of the background stripe color in the round working all the stitches. Knit the first row, purl the second, knit the third. That’s the separation border between body and striped section.This will be repeated at the end of the horizontal color stripe section before the vertical stripe section.

Now work the horizontal stripes doing the same SRT sequence changing color every second row. Once all the horizontal stripes are complete, work the separation border.

To prep the bobbins for the vertical stripe portion, knit a two-stitch swatch. Do *not* slip any edge stitches. The goal is to get a good estimate of the yarn required for each vertical stripe of color. Knit to the length you want the vertical stripe. Put a temporary knot in the yarn and frog it. Measure from the start of the yarn to the temporary knot. Multiply by 2. Add 10%. If you’ve lots of yarn to spare and are worried that you won’t have enough, add another 10%. That’s the length of yarn you will need for each *pair* of stripes.

Use the *carrying yarn without floats* technique to connect the bobbins to the live stitches. I need to do a video on this. It’s super easy to do but really tough to explain. I’ll add it to my *to do* list. Soon. Maybe.

I worked six rows of seed stitch at the bottom edge of the sleeves and used Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Castoff in the stripe colors. I used an invisible closure and worked the ends in. This, too, needs a video. It’s a tiny bit fussy but the join where the start and end of the castoff occurs truly does vanish, like it was never there.

If I were to do this color blocking sweater again I would make the following adjustments. I would . . .

  • extend the angle up/down onto the sleeves for a more harmonious color break. I would start the SRTs on the upper sleeve prior to the separation of the sleeve. This would require a bit of calculation. It would go something like this. Count the sleeve stitches at the underarm caston point. Subtract 12 (for my measurements – it should be about 1/3 the total count) stitches for the top of the angle. Divide that number by 3 (working with the new numbers – see below). That’s the number of SRTs/rows before the underarm caston where the angle must start.
  • make the SRTs every third stitch to give the angle just a little more heft.
  • start the color change under the arm with a jogless stripe connection at the center of the start of the angle so the end of each stripe on back and front matches exactly in technique.
  • knit three rows of horizontal color so the width of the color bands more closely matches the width of the vertical stripes.

So, there you have it. What I did, what I would do in the future . . . it’s a thing.

Fabulous chili!

Awesome chili!

I made a huge pot of chili last night. It’s fabulous! I’ve finally wised up and am getting my spices from Spicely. No chance of gluten cross contamination and that’s a truly wonderful thing. I’m getting smoked paprika and chili powder in one pound containers and that too is a wonderful thing! Next time I order cumin I’ll do the same. Garlic powder came in a resealable bag. Yummy stuff. So chili . . . here it is.

3 carrots, diced
equal amount of mushrooms, diced (volume, not weight)
sautee in butter

Once the carrots have started to soften add 1/3 pound of ground sausage, 1.5 pounds ground pork, 1.5 pounds ground beef and stir until broken up, then stir occasionally until browned.

Add 3-4 heaping tablespoons of spice mix (listed below). Stir this in and let it simmer just a but. This seems like a lot for a pot a chili but it’s a super mild mix so taste test and add the amount that suits you. If Wadly’s not going to share in the feasting (not a fan of anything spicy) I will add a bit of red pepper flakes for a bit more bite.

Add 1 pint bone broth (I make my own), 1-16oz can of diced tomatoes (organic), 1 pint of kidney beans (organic – I cook them in my crock pot).

Let simmer on the stove for a while to ensure all the flavors are fully integrated.

Serve with a huge dollop of sour cream. Mmm, heavenly.

Spice mix. I can’t take credit for this. I got the recipe somewhere in internet-land. I multiply this times four and store it in a glass jar with a screw-on lid. Don’t be afraid to use this generously as it’s mild . . . and super-tasty.

1 tbsp oregano
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp chili powder
(here the recipe calls for 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce. I ran out and didn’t get any more. Add to the chili making if it suits you, I like it just fine without)
1.5 tsp ground garlic

The original recipe shows a substitution of 1 tbsp minced garlic which cannot be added to a mix you will be storing. If you elect to go with minced garlic, you’ll need to add it to the chili pot instead of the mix.

I decant the chili into pint jars while it’s hot, seal them. Once cooled I store them in the freezer for easy quick meals.

The downside of inventiveness

So . . . I come up with this ingenious thing and before the ink dries on the “how to”, I come up with something better. Such is the life. What has gone before now needs and update . . . before anyone can even assimilate what I’ve done. *sigh*

Here are the videos on Conti-something. Updates to follow. Watch these videos in order and while you watch,  pause the videos as you work. As always, email me if you have any questions.

1. Overview

2. Caston Math

3. Back neck shaping markers

4. Shoulder row calculations and prep rows

5. Working the drop

6. Fading saddle front

7. Second shoulder

8. Finishing the shoulders

9. Setup for faux set-in sleeves

10. Knitting the faux set-in sleeve cap