Deep Space Knit

Yarn arts (knit and crochet) balled up with a heady dose of geekdom. Raise your pan-galactic-gargle-blaster and cheer!

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Location: Vermont, United States

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tales of Hats and Theatre

Tech week.

In theatre tech week is the week directly before opening night.  It is when actors move from thier rehearsal space and into the theatre, and everything comes together.  Set.  Props.  Lights.  Sound.  Actors.

In theory this is an exciting time, full of the nitty gritty "magic" of theatre.

In reality it is five days of hell.

My schedule has been for the past four days:  Get up, work.  Eat animals crackers for breakfast while I work.  Break for lunch, eat lunch (the only meal of the day, really).  Work.  Break for dinner - maybe.  Work.  Watch the run.  Knit.  Get notes.  Go home.  Eat what should have been dinner if we're not too lazy.  Knit for relaxation until exhaustion takes over.  Rinse, repeat.

It's funny how much knitting you can get done in a dim theatre when you know that knitting is, in fact, the last thing keeping you sane.

The show opens tomorrow.  I finally have a maneagable list of notes.

I also completed three hats.  Koolhaas hat?  Done.  Brainmonster?  done.  We call them Pirates?  I had to stop and take a picture of it midway through because I knew I would finish it before I blogged it >.<

I even finished a horn and started another darn pirates hat.

But I'm not crazy... yet!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Hat Update Numba Three

I am a hat knitting fool.

No progress yet on the devil hat.  I will have to knit those horns sooner or later.

But... check these out!

Koolhaas Hat: I called it the twisted stitch hat below... but it has a pretty twisted name to go with it.  This one is being knitted in Suri Merino (which for people who aren't fiber snobs is 50% wool, 50% Alpaca).  It's a lovely soft yarn, but it doesn't have the greatest stitch definition.  

     I love the concept of this hat being based off of Architecture (in this case the Architecture of Rem Koolhaas, which is presumably where the hat gets the funky name).  I am what you could call and Architecture history geek, so I must say this pattern has definite appeal.

It also has forced me to learn to cable without a cable needle as it features 52 (count em'... 52!)  one by one cables every 4 rows.  Yeesh.  That's enough to drive a person nuts.

     I hated this hat when I started it.  Wonky knits, hundreds of teeny tine cables.  About halfway through I started to realy enjoy it.  I don't know whether that's because I figured out the best way to make these teeny cables or because I bought a new hat needle.

Mmm, my very first Addi Turbo.  I usually hate to gush about things, especially things you buy, but hell...  these things make knitting like putting a hot knife through butter.  Buttah!  I am freakin' sold.

This hat would be finished tonight, but I am out of yarn and need to pick up another skein.  >.<

I wanted hair on my Brainmonster.  Partially because I'm a freak, and partially because I found by accident that Jo Ann Fabric's had thier Fun Fur rip off "Cello" on clearance... and the color scheme just happened to match the Nature Wool I wanted to use, and so I figured it was a match made in heaven... or Brainmoster hell... whichever you prefer.

     I admit, I was stubborn.  I wasn't going to change the pattern to knit in the cello, so I stuck with size 7 needles even though I had 2 strands of yarn.  It was like a battle of brawl vs. knitter with no brains, but I perservered.  We shll soon see if the top is tres wonky or fits ok.  Either way I am past the fun fur (ahem...Cello) and into knitting pleasure once again.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hat Updates Numba 2

Spiral Hat

     Hey, this one wasn't on my list!  yeah, an extra hat snuck in there all of a sudden.  I was gifted this pattern by a fellow knitter and I thought it would be a smashing way to use up the leftover 3/4 skein of Boku from the short row hat. I thought "why not, it's kinda cute" so it is paired with some absolutely divine baby brush alpaca.  Mmm, fuzzy!

     This pattern is easy to follow and turns  out nicely.  It is also EASY.  I think a beginner could tackle it as a second project.  Knit, purl, decrease, yarn over, pick up stitches.  That's about it.  Most of it is knit flat.  If I had one complaint it is that there is no decreasing at the very top of the hat.  It makes for a bulky (read: messy) bind off at the very top.  

     Now the rest of the hat looks fine, so if people are inspecting the very top of your hat, they probably have issues.  Then again I'm only 5'4" and I know several people who could easily inspect the top of my hat without too much difficulty.  Still, if they did they would have issues.  Also, with any kind of fragile yarn, there is a good chance of it breaking when threaded though all the top stitches.  Even double thickness, it is a big bind off.  I ended up using the alpaca to sew the side seam, and embroidery floss to bind the top closed.  It's strong, slick, and comes in about eighty bajillion colors.

Devil  Hat: Meh I am lazy.  I knitted the hat part of this one over a week ago and I have yet to add the horns.  Fun pattern, very interesting to knit!

Entrelac Triangles hat.

Ok, remember when you're mom used to look at your craft projects and tell you how "unique" they were because unique was a nice way of saying "It looks like crap"?

Well, this hat is "unique."

Then again most people who I show it to think that's it's really cool so I might just get some of those ultra huge jingle bells and sew them on, call it my "Merry Idiot" hat and be good.

It also doubles as a pretty nice candy bowl for Halloween, tentacles and everything!


Monday, October 22, 2007

Knitting Tip Numba 1

So, as I was sitting, knitting, in the LYS, the one with "sunshine" lights, a lady came in, all flustered saying she was a beginner and asking if she was doing something wrong.  She pulled out a fairly marvelous simple cabled hat, and asked if the cables were all right.

Well, they finally figured out that she was doing right twist cables while the pattern asked for left, but since she did them all the same it really didn't matter.

Anyways, this lady was an avid golfer, and she didn't have a cable needle.  Instead she used a golf tee.

We tried it, and sure enough it it doesn't work marvelously.

So... for cables made with worsted weight yarn or larger on size 8 needles or larger, try a golf tee if you don't have a cable needle.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Some Bug is Going to DIE...

Zander: My God. How could this happen?
Carmen: We thought we were smarter than the Bugs.

~Starship Troopers


It's chilly today in the great white North, and I decided to take out my Harry Potter Scarf.

And what do I find?

Something was munching on it!

After a few trips through the microwave and a gentle washing I set about meticulously inspecting my scarf.  Luckily only one hole, but gah!  It got munched away!

I had to pull out 8 rows of 4 stitches.  bah!

Now I'm a pretty terrible mender, but I got the job done.  It's not lovely, but it's sturdy and from five feet away you cannot tell.

I'm inspecting and washing my stash skeins as I type.

If I see a moth, it's war.

The Hat That Ate NYC

Alright, I know there are blogs out there that show you only the best of what the knitter can do.  The finest projects and the greatest triumphs.

That is not this blog.

This hat is not good.

Ok, seriously, WTF was the pattern writer thinking?!  Did she even knit an adult size hat or did she arbitrarily choose a bigger size of needles and yarn and hope that it would all work out right?  I'm seriously hoping it was the second because if it was the first, man, I feel sorry for her family because this woman does not live in reality.

Ok, maybe I'm being too harsh.  Maybe there's a good explanation for all this, like her husband was regretfully suffering from encephalitis at the time.

I'm going to hell, I already know this.
I think this hat is going to eat me and send me there in a handbasket.

Ok, back to the hat.  It's not just huge, it's monstrous.  It's also kind of cute in this pointy-star jester sort of way.  But that doesn't excuse the fact that if it had a neck hole I could wear it as a tank top.

I am doing a load of jeans tonight.  Though I have slowly switched over from machine felting to hand felting, this hat is getting shown no mercy.  I figure one of three things will happen:

1. It will felt down small enough to fit my head and I'll have a hat
2. It will felt down small enough to fit my head, but it will be so thick and heavy I will not have a hat
3. It will felt down, but it will never get small enough to fit my head and I still will not have a hat.

I am suspecting 1 is a pipe dream, options 2 and 3 are looking far more likely at the moment.  I am prepared for this eventuality!

I always wanted a smashing, decorative felted bowl.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Hat Updates

Short Row Hat

This pattern is beautiful.  It's fun.  It's well written.  It's easy to understand.  I recommend knitting it.

I have never before in my yarn shopping life seen the yarn it calls for ("Ami Ami Faith").  I suppose if I lived somewhere cool like Chicago or New York I could buy it, but I don't.  I live somewhere nice and rural.  And I didn't want to order it online.  I wanted to knit it right away.

Plymouth's Boku makes a nice substitute.  It does the gently shaded self striping thing with a little more regularly and less gusto that Noro Kuryeon, and it's the same gauge as Ami Ami Faith.  Yay!

I had it in progress a few days ago.  It knits quickly.  Two days of concentrated knitting, a week if you're sporadic.  Mine was interrupted by running out of my ball and needing to wait to buy another one.

The Entrelac Triangles hat...

Ok, the pattern writer for this hat was either A. smoking crack or B. has never actually knit a hat for an adult human before.

The adult pattern calls for Crystal Palace Iceland, which is a very chunky yarn, or two strands of Taos, a worsted weight.  On size 10 1/2 needles.  I am using one strand of Galway chunky which isn't as chunky as iceland, on size 10 needles, and the hat would fit a rhinoceros.  Seriously.  Look!

The pattern lists no gauge.  It doesn't even list a size.  This should have triggered my alarm bells.

The idea for the pattern is intriguing, and the actual technique is pretty well written; but the pattern suffers from poor editing.  
Small details like your pick up and knit row is also row 1, not a set up row are poorly communicated.

I intend to finish this hat and then felt it within an inch of its life to see if I can salvage it.  Then I'm going to rewrite the pattern and knit it again in something sane, like, oh...  worsted weight yarn.

Stupid freakin' pattern writers.

I will beat this hat.  I swear I will

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Friday, October 19, 2007

October is Hat Month!

It is officially hat month.  Why?  For no good reason other than I adore hats.

So, on the needles or in the roster are:

1. Veronik Avery's Short Row Hat
2. The Domiknitrix Snow Devil Hat
3. The Crystal Palace Yarns Entrelac Triangles hat
4. The Half Assed Blog's Brainmonster hat (with my own modifications)
5. The "We Call Them Pirates" hat
6.The twisted stitch hat from the newest Interweave Knits
7. Another freakin' beret.

I'm crazy, right?  Though I have several of these almost finished and an entire day of knitting and Ninja Turtles ahead of me.  I can do this, yes I can.

Pictures tomorrow when I'm not so damn lazy.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

How Things Felt, Study 1

We love felting things, yes we do.

I try to keep a record of the berets I make and what they look like felted.  Currently I am amassing quite a stack at the end of my bed.

And, yeah, I know the technical term is fulled.  Sue me.

From right to left we have:
1.Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride, slightly felted (knit on size 6 needles you get a nice, tight fabric that doesn't need much felting.)
2. Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride, unfelted.  Note: both of these hats have a contrasting hatband.  You run out of wool just at the ribbing section if knit from the top down.
3. Altacama Alpaca, fully felted.
4. Cascade Yarns Wool 220.  This turned out very nicely, though I had to put it through both the wash and the dryer.  That may have had something to do with my roommates fiddling with the wash settings -.-
5. Noro Kuryeon.  This felts nicely, but not tightly.  I worked and worked to get it smaller and it still remains a big floppy hat.  A lovely scots bonnet, but not a beret.
6. Altacama Alpaca, again.  This is my signature hat.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Felted Alpaca Dinnerplate Beret: Version 1

I had to post this because a friend of mine kept asking for an easy link to the pattern so she could share it with friends.
This is my trademark hat.  Once I get the direction written up, I have several versions of it, that all basically make the same darn hat.  I have knit it in almost every feltable worsted weight yarn known to humankind, and it works in every one so far.  Looser knit or looser felting yarns give more of a Scots Bonnet feel to the hat rather than a beret.  Either way, I'll add lots of examples.


Felted Alpaca Dinnerplate Beret: Version 1, bottom to top.  (Version 2 can befound  here

Size: One size (to fit an average woman’s head; but see gauge notes)

~About 100g (2 hanks) of worsted weight alpaca yarn (wool can be used but may not felt down as tightly)  This comes out to about 200 yds of feltable worsted weight yarn.  Note: Superwash wool doesn't work!  (See notes at the very bottom for what does work)  The model is knit in Araucania's Atacama Nature Alpaca.

~Size 7 circular needles (16” long); and/or 1 set of 4 or 5 size 7 DPNs [OR SIZE NEEDED FOR GAUGE] (I prefer knitting on circular needles for as long as possible; though it is certainly possible to knit the entire hat with DPNs. Because it decreases to only 8 stitches you need to use DPNs for the smallest rounds.)

~8 markers; 1 must be different from the other 7

~Yarn needle

~11 inch diameter dinnerplate (preferably plastic)

~Size “H” crochet hook (for optional loop top)

Gauge: US size 7 (20 stitches; 26 rows = 4inchesx4inches)
As this hat will be felted very thoroughly, gauge is not extremely crucial; however when I used size 8 needles I get a hat that more comfortably fits a larger head (man’s). However increasing the needle size brings me dangerously close to running out of yarn in the final few rounds; and once I had to bind off a round or two early.

1. Cast 112 stitches on the circular needles using the long tail cast on. Place the different colored marker at the join.

2. Work 4 rounds of K2, P2 ribbing
3. Work 1 round of purl
4. Work 4 rounds of P2, K2 ribbing (The purls should line up where the knits are beneath them, the purl where the knits are)

5. Work 1 round of knit, placing a marker every 14 stitches, which should give you 8 sections.

6. Knit next round, increasing 1 stitch in every section (to make 120 stitches, 15 stitches in every section). In order to avoid a noticeable spiral around the hat; work the increases and decreases randomly from row to row and not always in the same place.

7. Knit next round evenly next row even

8. Repeat steps 6 and 7, increasing by 8 stitches (one stitch in every section) until you have 25 stitches in each section (200 stitches total)

9. Knit one row evenly

10. Knit next round, decreasing 1 stitch in every section to make 24 stitch in each (192 stitches total)

11. Repeat steps 9 and 10 until you have decreased all the way down to 1 stitch per section (8 stitches total). Switch to DPNs when the work gets too small to handle on circulars (usually between 8-10 stitches per section)

12. Break the yarn without binding off the last 8 stitches; leaving an 8” tail (leave a 16” tail if you want a little ‘loop’ at the top of your beret for decoration) Thread a yarn needle with the tail and pull the tail through all 8 loops. Pull the tail tight, and the little hole should close up neatly. If you want a loop top, go to step 13; otherwise tie off the yarn and weave in the end.

13. To create a loop at the top, bring the tail up to the outside of the hat and create a small slipknot in the tail as close to the top of the hat as you can. Chain 12, and slip stitch the end of the chain to the first stitch (or to the top of the hat) to create a loop. Tie off yarn tail and weave in yarn ends.

14. Thread the yarn needle with a length of yarn. Fold the bottom ribbed brim together at the line of purls. (It should flip easily to the inside of the hat, creating a double-thick band.)  Sew the band in place using a running stitch; pull the fabric every 4-6 stitches to make sure it stays stretchy. Tie off and weave in yarn ends.

15. Fill your washing machine with a ½ load of cotton laundry (towels, jeans and/or t-shirts work well. You need the extra stuff in there to increase the agitation). Set the machine to heavy soil (don’t use the delicate cycle!), the water level between medium and high; and the water temperature to HOT. Put in a ¼ to a ½ measure full of laundry soap. (To protect the hat, use soap without bleach or additives. Ivory flakes are the best if you can find them). Throw your hat in there with the laundry and let ‘er rip.

16. Check the hat ½ way through the wash; and again at ¾ of the way. Alpaca can felt very quickly. The goal is to felt it all the way down until the stitches disappear into fabric. If in doubt, put it back in. Stop if the hate shrinks so small that it won’t ever fit around your head.

17. Take the hat out. When first out of the wash it will looks like a wrinkled, tiny, matted mess. Don’t worry. Grab your dinnerplate!

18. Stretch your hat over the dinnerplate, and adjust so you get one flat round side, and so the head opening is centered on the other side. While it is still wet you can stretch the head hole larger or smaller and shape it with your fingers until it is the size and shape you want it to be.

19. Let your hat dry – it will take between 24-36 hours to get it completely dry. You can touch it and flip it over halfway through, but don’t be tempted to take it off of its plate too early! It has to completely dry in order to retain the nice shape you stretched it into.

20. When its dry, take the hat off the dinnerplate carefully, and viola! Hat!


Note on yarns:
Alpaca is a hollow core fiber, meaning it will felt incredibly well.  Some people argue that alpaca is a luxury fiber, and you should not be felting it, but I started out with an alpaca hat because the lite lopi was too itchy against my forehead.  Besides, if you've never used alpaca this hat is a good first project - it only takes 2 hanks and you're done!

Wools that are more loosely spun tend to felt better than those more tightly spun.  Of all the wools I have tried so far, Plymouth Galway felts the tightest, to the point where I lost all stitch definition and it turned into a wonderfully textured fabric.  I was very pleased.  I also had to stretch it quite a bit to make it fit the ginormous melon it was going on.

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Why I Love My Job


Ok, not always, but there have been some times in life that I insist that my job is better than most.

So the question remains, then, why do I love my job, and what the hell is it that I do?  Ah, dear friends, I'm one of those *theatre* people.  No, not actors.  Technicians.  I spend my days making odd things for actors to carry or use onstage (or sometimes they merely sit onstage and look nice.)

So why do I love my job today?  Well, because today my job consists of taking this pack of Club Soda, turning it into vanilla french sodas, drinking it, saving the bottles so I can fill them back up with the seltzer (because the actress will only drink a certain kind of seltzer which, in fact, 
doesn't come in little bottles which the director wants to see).  
     What other job on earth can you say you get paid for making yourself French sodas and drinking them?
     Then again once I had to work on a production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and I got paid for chewing hundreds of pieces of gum (literally hundreds - we had an assembly line of technicians chewing) and hot gluing them to the bottom of a chair.  No, I don't have pictures for that. Be thankful.

     I do, however, have more needleworthy pictures, since this is, at heart, a knit and crochet blog.  Last year for Christmas the show was CATS.  Yup, the CATS that you're thinking of.  Well, did you know that giant singing, dancing CATS wear knit cat warmers?  Check it!

I personally got to knit one of the calico kittens because when we started we didn't have many accomplished knitters working with us.  Halfway through we had contacted the local knitting guild, and a massive cat-warmer knit along commenced.  I also knit the legs for MacCavity.  And the big shaggy cat... Old Deuteronomy?  Latchhooked.  Completely latchhooked.  Not by me, though.  They got a whole passel of volunteers to sit and latch hook a cat.  Latchhooking is really quite simple,  Alot of knitters husbands worked on it!

And for pure comedic value... did you know CATS go to the gym?


The best D**n French Soda Ever

You need:

1. 1 Bottle Vanilla Seltzer (Mine is Polar brand, sold in the Northeast US)
2. 1 Bottle of Vanilla Syrup (Da Vinci is my fav, Toriani works too)
3. 1 carton light cream.

4. A large glass, mug or plastic goblet (I have a thing with plastic footed goblets) fir anyone wanting a soda
5. A shotglass (or a person good at guestimating)

Pour a shot and 1/2 of vanilla syrup into the mug.  Cover it with vanilla seltzer until the mug is 3/4 of the way full.  Stir the syrup and seltzer together.  Add 1 shot of cream.  The cream will cause the seltzer to fizz, creating a creamy, foamy head on top of your soda.  If you filled the mug too full of seltzer it may overflow, so get ready to slurp.

Sip and enjoy!

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