Monday, February 13, 2012

Blocking wire

When I was making 12th scale miniatures I found that if you keep your eyes open, you find all sorts of interesting things which can be kit-bashed into something completely different.

So I started following my husband into bloke-shops, and found lots of treasures (hackle pliers at fishing shops were my fave find).

We live in a rural area, and the local bloke-shops are practical, not pretty. I wandered into the welding section, and lo and behold - blocking wires!! Couldn't believe it. (I had resigned myself to slowly saving up for expensive ones from the USA.) After some restrained shrieks of delight, I bought these, to some odd looks from the man at the checkout.

Their description is 'stainless steel tig wire' which comes in one-metre lengths. The two gauges in the photo are 1.6mm (the thicker ones, for heavier blocking - these bend as far as a half-circle), and 1mm (for lace - these ones are more flexible, and can bend into a circle). - $1.25 and 60cents per wire respectively.
You'll need to wash them in warm detergenty water to remove the manufacturing oils, before you use them.

Any welding supplies source should have these.

In my jewellery supplies I've also found some 1mm tiger tail wire for really flexible curvy blocking.


Stitch markers

I've found out the hard way that an essential part of learning lace knitting is using stitch markers.
So I dug out my jewellery-making stash, and sorted my favourite semi-precious beads. Add some white tiger tail wire, some small end beads and crimp beads - yay! - quick and pretty stitch markers :D

Couldn't stop there! I spent a happy hour making few more. Now I can get to see and use my favourite beads, and the knitting gets easier :)


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Nupps, or, jumping in the deep end

I'm returning to knitting after a long period of absence. It's oh so good to be back :)

I can still do cables, fair isle, intarsia, complex maths (to correct the perverse way I can never follow a pattern and therefore need to re-jig it as I go), frog, tink, sew up, etc, etc.

What I still can't do successfully is lace knitting. It slides off my consciousness like teflon. Always did.
I see a lace chart or pattern and it seems so obvious what to do, but I just mess up every time.
I can see a stormy romance ahead.

Meanwhile I've found Ravelry (bliss!) and seen the fantastic and wonderful things being made in knitland.

Enter the desire to make a lace shawl. The one I have my eye on has a little creature in it called a nupp. What is this thing, I said to myself, and interrogated the internet. It seems that it has emigrated from Estonia and that knitters have a love-hate thing with it.

If I wanted to make this lovely shawl I was going to have to learn to breed nupps.

and 4 days later . . .
This may not be an original method, but this is the only fool-proof way that I can make the little critters consistently without living in fear of the next one, and the next, and the next . . .
It may be of some help to someone else out there :)

My one-row, idiot-proof (if I can do it anyone can), same-every-time nupp generator!

Above - when you reach the stitch (on the left needle) out of which the nupp will emerge, work it with a fine crochet hook held alongside the right hand needle. Here I'm using 5mm needles, fingering weight alpaca yarn and a 2mm crochet hook.
Work as many 'knit/yo' repeats into the stitch as you want.
Above - slide the base stitch off the left-hand needle. Now your 7-thread nupp is ready to be set free.
Put the yarn over the hook,
draw it through the 7 threads,
then slide the 7 threads off the right hand needle.
Put the loop from the crochet hook onto the right-hand needle, and continue knitting along the row.
Nupp made!

BTW I've also tried making a sideways one-row nupp over two stitches, using a fine cable needle held vertically over the stitches. This controls how tight the wraps are, and keeps it neat.
Basically you slip the two stitches from one to the other needle repeatedly (*slip2 onto the right needle, yfd, slip the same 2 back onto the left needle, yb* repeat * to * ad nauseum), wrapping the yarn around the 2 stitches and the cable needle until you're bored, then knit the two stitches. The wraps will sit horizontally.

NUPP = Never Underestimate the Power of Persistence.
Or, the benefits of being a stubborn old woman.