Knitting Projects

Hand-spun and Kool-Aid dyed vest
I made this vest from the first yarn I ever spun. As I learned to spin, I started to spin ever-finer yarn, so to use the yarn in a single project, I had to double some yarns again and again. The red yarn at the bottom of the sweater is eight plies thick to match the other yarns. I decided to try dyeing the yarn with Kool-Aid, because it is safe, reasonably cheap, and it imparts a rather nice scent to the sweater. Even now, years after I made the vest, it still smells slightly of artificial fruit. I had to be a bit careful dyeing the yarn, because it is 100% wool, and it could have felted, but in general it was quite easy to dye. The colors looked like a sunset to me, so I decided to make a blended sweater vest with a dark blue commercial yarn to tie the disparate weights and colors of the handspun yarns together. I chose a garter-stitch based mosaic pattern called Odin's Eagle. This remains one of my favorite patterns. I even made another version in sunrise colors of commercial yarn for a friend.

Cellular Automata knit headband

I knit this headband in two days. The pattern was created using a Cellular Automata algorithm. The color of each stitch comes from the three stitches below it. If the three stitches are all colored or all white, then the stitch is colored. If not, the stitch is white. The edge of the headband is taken to be neither colored or white, so the edge stitches are always white.

Wool Gathering Workshop AfghanThis is the Wool Gathering workshop afghan. Most of the workshop participants knit at least one square for it, even the beginners. I adjusted the size of the squares by hemming a couple of the larger squares and crocheting an edging around some of the smaller squares. We tried to knit love into each square, and we gave the finished afghan to a conference employee who was fighting spinal cancer.

My mother made this beautiful black intarsia sweater for me from a pattern in a magazine. She enjoyed making it, but she complained that the person who designed it must not have been a knitter, because it included very small areas of color that are very challenging to knit in intarsia. I rashly told her that if she made it for me, I would weave in all of the little ends of yarn from changing colors. I did it, but it took me almost as long as it took her to knit the sweater! For Christmas, I decided to design some intarsia graphics for her so that she could make her own sweater. I chose a softer brown color for the background. The original sweater had Southern plants and birds, but I chose to focus on more northern flora and fauna to make my designs special. I used irises on the sleeves, with an oriole and blue irises on one sleeve and an indigo bunting and pink and purple irises on the other sleeve. I also made a wisteria/hummingbird design for the right front, with a blue morpho butterfly and yellow snapdragons. I made my designs the old-fashioned way. Instead of using a graph program on a computer, I freehand-sketched the pictures onto graph paper and filled in the squares for the stitches with colored pencils. I mentally compensated for the fact that knitted stitches are wider than they are tall. This especially became a factor in designing the butterfly, which I made extra-tall so that it would not appear squat. I also used purl stitches to make the butterfly's body more dimensional. Both the black sweater and the pieces of the brown sweater were exhibited in the Traditional Arts in Upstate New York exhibit “Repeat From Here: Knitting in the North Country,” curated by Jill Breit.

Black Intarsia SweaterThe sweaters were featured in the section entitled “Knitting for Creative Expression.” This is what the introduction to the section stated: “The act of making something with one's own hands offers an opportunity to express one's personality through choices of design and execution. Many knitters delight in adapting published patterns to satisfy their creative instincts; others eschew published patterns altogether, choosing to design their pieces from the foundation up. Individuality is revealed through preferences in color, texture, and shaping. A willingness to experiment is essential.”

BrownIt occurs to me that counted-cross stitch patterns would be good for knitting sweaters, because some similar restrictions apply in terms of how far the thread can stretch across the back and how many stitches minimum the knitter needs to anchor a yarn and make it worth the two ends to weave in.