Following my Heart: Part 3

November 30, 2007

Right after we got married, my husband and I had to get ready for a traveling life. My husband had been offered a job that would entail traveling throughout the USA. We felt so adventurous when we gave up our appartment in Manhattan and most of our belongings!

I vividly remember that feeling of freedom: leaving all that we belong behind, and just take off like that. Just him, me and 2 suitcases….Weeeeeee!!!

Toronto, Canada – Chicago, Illinois

Street-Art-Toronto

The very first city we traveled to was Toronto in Canada. Just like in Manhattan, there were a lot of high rise buildings and just like in Manhattan, I felt so small in Toronto!

I spent many hours walking up and down Yong Street, wandering through the underground pathway malls, going to the Farmers Market building and figuring out how the transportation system was set up.

Everything was so incredibly foreign to me… I have to admit, I was kind of intimidated… I found everything to be SO BIG!

After a month it was time to travel to Chicago.

Chicago

Again, everything seemed so incredibly big to me; the streets, the malls, the buildings… just everything. Like a little scared mouse, I would carefully walk the streets of Chicago. I was so incredibly shy and had to get used to the way people were and talked to each other.

I was so happy to see that downtown Chicago was adorned with flowers that reminded me of home: tulips!

Tulips-in-ChiCago

It was in this town that I started to take pictures of the things that would catch my eye. And I was especially visually interested in some sort of patterns like these:

Patterns Patterns2

Not knowing why I was so visually interested in those images, I did not think about it and just made a lot of pictures. Now, two years later, it all makes sense…

It was such an exciting time for me… getting married, travel to two major North American cities, seeing so much new stuff. Fabulous for sure, but late at night, when all the excitement would die down, my mind would wander off to the Netherlands to my friends and family… and a pain in my heart was felt.

Af for Knitting
All stitches are picked up
After picking up all those stitches, I started with my rib section: knit 1, purl 1 with full twist, meaning that every knit stitch will be knitted in the back of the loop.

Now I am a fairly fast knitter, often times, my projects just fly off my needles and I make much progress. This k1, p1 ribbing with full twist, however, is so incredibly sloooooooooooooow. My word, it is killing me. What have I done, I ask myself. Why did I choose this painfully sloooooooooooow stitch????

When I see the results, though, I remember why… gasp, so beautiful! I love the crips and tight stitches! How pretty it looks. I am very very happy how this turns out.
crisp and tight stitches 2
Crisp and tight stitches

Just a few more inches…sigh… and then I can start with the second section of my garment. So far, so good!

Ribbing k1,p1 full twist

Thanks for reading and untill the next entry!


The Importance of a Gauge Swatch

November 27, 2007

Choosing Venezia Cascade Worsted

When I first found out about knitting blogs, I would scout them night after night to find those knitting blogs who would show me in detail the proces of their knitting project. I would absorb every little detail they were talking about and I was mesmerized by every single step they took.

In this entry I would like to do the very same thing. Step by step and in detail I will show and tell about my design, based on Cassie Rovitti’s Tubey.

Start of the Shrug

This design basically consists of 2 tubes: the Shrug and the Body. In this section I am going to show and tell how I determine how much to cast on for my shrug.

My gauge swatch tells me that I have a gauge of 6 stitches to 1 inch in stockinette stitch. So, how will I know how much to cast on?

First, I measure my biceps: 12 inch. I know I have 6 st to 1 inch, so 6×12=72 stitches. However, I want some negative ease in my shrug because I want it to be very close fitted so instead of casting on 72 stitches, I will cast on 60 and keep my fingers crossed it will come out okay. You see, much that I do is trial and error and hoping for the best!

STEP ONE:

I cast on 60 stitches on dpns for the start of shrug and work in the round:

Start of the shrug on dpns

After 4 inches, I will stop working in the round but instead work back and forth because I want to start with the opening of my shrug:
Working back and forth

 

Unfortunately, I cannot get rid of the dpns yet and change to striaght or circulair needles. I have to wait untill my work lays flat enough. Only then can I get rid of the dpns:
Cannot change to circulair needles yet Time to change to circ Changed to circ

STEP TWO:

Now comes the question: for how long do I have to work in straight stockinette? When do I join in the round again to finish my shrug?

I measure my cross back width from armpit to armpit: 19 inch. I keep in mind though, that I want to be able to move my arms around and I do not want the shrug to pinch me in the armpits. So I add 1.5 inches to my 19 inches for ease.

Now I know that from the point I started working back and forth, to the point I am going to join in the round again, I have to work 20.5 inches in straight stockinette:
Measure crossback width Measure crossback width 2

After 20.5 inches measured from where I started to work back and forth, I change back to my dpns, and work for 4 inches in the round again:
Change to dpns again Now finish the shrug

After working for 4 inches, I bind off and mark both side openings of my shrug:
finished shrug

Start of the Body

Now I have to determine how much stitches to cast on for the body. Let’s go back to my swatch and look at the top section:
determining gauge for body 2

For my swatch, I casted on 40 stitches. I see that it yields 5 inches. However, I want my top section to stretch. So I slightly stretch my swatch and look how much inches it then yields:
determining gauge for body

Notice that while slightly stretched, my swatch of 40 stitches yields 6 inches. With this information, I can calculate the number of stitches per inch: 40 divided by 6 = 6.6

I determine my gauge to be 6.5 stitches to 1 inch in knit one, purl one pattern with full twist.

I measure the circumference right above my chest: 34 inches.

34 inches x 6.5 stithces = 221 stitches. However I will cast on 5 stitches less. Don’t ask my why… I just want to cast on 216 stitches because 216 just sounds right… (giggle).

STEP THREE:

Now I have to pick up stitches and cast on stitches for the opening in the front. I have 216 stitches to divide for front and back so 108 stitches for each side.

The back side is easy, I just pick up 108 stitches. Before I do anything, I divide the back section in bite size sections. That way it is easier for me to divide those 108 stitches more evenly:

Bite size sections

For the front side, I have to create an opening of about 10 inches. So in the end I will cast on 60 stitches for the neck opening and on each side of the front of the shrug I pick up the remaining 24 + 24 stitches ( 60 + 24 +24 =108)

Now all 216 stitches are accounted for, they are neatly picked up and/or casted on:
All stitches are picked up

Now I am ready to start the body with my knit one, purl one (with full twist) rib!

This entry may be a bit too techical, but hopefully this will give you good insight why a gauge swatch is so important. Also by doing this I want to show and tell you EVERYTHING, so that there are no mysteries in how to create your very own garment.

Once again, I am just a rookie knitter. Instead of being intimidated and instead of saying to myself that I am NEVER able to make my own design, I say to myself: Nancy, you figure it out. You can do this. Now do it.

Maybe it will work, maybe I will totally screw it up. Either way, only one way to find out. And that is by just doing it. With each mistake that I make, I learn. With each succes that I make, I gain more confidence.

Thanks for reading and untill the next entry!

Previous entries on this sweater design:

Conceptualization of a New Design


Following my Heart: Part 2

November 23, 2007

weddingrings

We got married in New York on a beautiful day in May, 2005. Only our parents and my husband’s brother attended our sweet and very small ceremony.

I remember how a light breeze ruffled my hair as I looked into the big amber eyes of my soon to be husband. I slipped my hands into his hands and as the ceremony began, we were smiling, smiling, smiling!

How did we meet you might wonder? How does a gal from Amsterdam end up with a guy from New York City?

Well, we met in a post office… somewhere on the magical Island of Bali…

Bali – Amsterdam – Manhattan

In August 2001 I traveled with my mom to the magical Island of Bali. How I loved the gentle spiritual and creative energy that was all around present on the island! I was surrounded constantly by enchanting nature, gorgeous beaches, friendly people and so much beautiful art!

One day while I was strolling down the streets of Seminyak, I wandered into a small post office to buy some stamps and postcards. As I entered the post office I noticed that the clerk was carefully packing a stunningly beautiful wood carved art of a Balinese Goddess.

The guy who was sending off this Goddess waited patiently for the clerk to be done while sitting on a bench. Because of his Italian features I assumed he was from Italy and I asked him how much it costs to send of such a big piece of art to Europe.

He rose up from his bench, walked up to me with a light swing in his movements as if he was dancing, and much to my surprise and amusement, out comes this thick New York accent and I could not help but giggle!

Several days later we had our first dinner date and as the sun was setting we found a romantic spot on the beach. I remember how we both gazed at the starry nightsky and how we both pointed at the many shooting stars we saw.

We only spend one evening with eachother on Bali. He was to leave the next day back to Manhattan and I never ever thought we would see eachother again.

We said goodbye to eachother at the end of August of 2001. Little did we suspect that only within 2 weeks something horrific was about to happen in Manhattan on September 11th.

He was in lower Manhattan while the attacks on the Twin Towers occured during that black day in history. Days after he called me and asked if he could please see me again and visit me in Amsterdam. “Life is too short”, I remember him saying, “It can all be over like that.”

And so began our long distance relationship. For 4 years we flew back and forth between Amsterdam and Manhattan untill we finally got married.

How perfect and at peace the world felt while we sat on the beach under the starry nightsky in Bali. And what horror occurs in that same “perfect” world we all live in.

Yes, life is too short… Please enjoy it and please grab every single opportunity to love and cherish every single moment with your loved ones. And please, let us not hate and destroy… bring forth love always and… create.

amsterdam2 NYC2

As for knitting

I am afraid that besides finishing some sock(lette)s, I haven’t done much knitting over the past days.

First sock finished Second sock finished

Instead, I have been very much enjoying ThanksGiving with my husband’s family in New York.

Today, we drove back to Hartford and while I was enjoying the beautiful autumnal colors of the trees my husband put his hand on mine and told me how incredibly grateful he was we met in Bali. I smiled and my heart swelled!

Thanks for reading and untill next time…

Following my Heart: Part 1


Conceptualization of a New Design

November 21, 2007

Inspiration from Magazines

I have taken over the hotel’s lobby and made it my office. Among all the business people getting ready for their meetings, talking on their cell phones with their families back home, touching base with their secretaries, getting their presentation material together, I sit and knit. And browse through all kinds of Fashion Magazines to get inspiration for a new design.

First Sketch

I am probably the very last person in the world to notice that A-lines are in fashion these days. In nearly every single mag, I see A-line garments from cute little tops to cute dresses. Very sixties, very cute.

With Cassie Rovitti’s Tubey design in mind, and inspired by the A-line garments as seen in November Fasion Magazines, I have made a first sketch what is to be a top/mini dress.

 

Choosing Venezia Cascade Worsted

 

The Material/Stitches

I had some Cascade Venezia Worsted colorway grey in my stash and took it with me to Hartford. Since I made my first Tubey with this yarn, I figured it would be good for my second one.

Let us take a look at my 3-section swatch that I made.

3-section swatch

First Section:

First Section

For the section at breast height, I wanted a rib with distinct vertical lines. A knit one, purl one immediately came to mind. Even better for my design would be a knit one, purl one with full twist, meaning I will knit in the back of the loop on the right side, and purl in the back of the loop on the wrong side.

Second section:

Second Section

After the distinct vertical lines in the breast section, I want to be visually pleased with distinct horizontal lines. A band with lots of firmness is required to hold the piece “together”.

Here I decide to knit and purl everything through the back loop. It is a knit one, purl one rib alternated with purl rows.

Third Section:

Third Section

Where the breast section and very high waist section are held togehter with very firm and sturdy stitches, I want the rest of the garment to be more relaxed. Also as seen in many A-line tops, I need to gather fabric, create ruches in the middle top of this third section.

These ruches are created by increasing the number of stitches with KFB (knitting in front and back). I was not sure if this yarn would be drapey enough for my plan, but the swatch shows me that it can handle it.

Last section:

Bind Off Section

For this section I choose again the sturdy stitches like in the second section. The bind off will happen after 2 rows of stockinette stitch. Yes it will roll up that way but that last row of purl stitches will bring it to a halt almost immediately.

After making my swatch comes the question: how do you know how much to cast on? In my next entry I will show you how important this little swatch is. It contains all the information that I need in order to cast on the right amount of stitches.

Let’s see how this all will come out. Conceptualization is one thing, the actual outcome might be very well different.

I would like to end this entry with wishing you all a happy ThanksGiving.

I have many many wonderful reasons to give thanks for… and for that I am very grateful.

Thanks again for reading and untill the next entry!

More entries on this sweater design:

The Importance of a Gauge Swatch


Finished: Shiraz

November 18, 2007

Shiraz1

Pattern: Bit of Textured Tunic, bit of myself
Yarn: 9 balls of Rowan Cashsoft Chunky, Colorway Shiraz
Needles: Addi Turbo circ. 24″, US #10 and dpn US #10

What a quick knit!

First of all, apologies for taking my pics like this in the hotel bathroom… I only have my point and shoot camera with me and left my digital SLR with tripod at home.

My word was this cropped, close fitted, short sleeved top quick to knit! I was done with the body in 2 days, the sleeves gave me some trouble so that took a day. All in all I finished it in 3 days.

I was inspired by the Textured Tunic from the book Fitted Knits to make this top. I really like my Textured Tunic but wanted a closer fit and I did not want another long tunic.

Initially, I was going to make a shawl with my Rowan Cashsoft Chunky stash but changed my mind and I am glad I did. I think I am going to wear this cute top far more than I would wear a shawl.

Specifications in this pattern

The Textured Tunic in Fitted Knits requires that you have a gauge of 13 stitches over 4″. However, my swatch with Rowan Cashsoft gave me 14-15 stitches over 4″. Since I wanted my next top to have a closer fit, this was excellent!

So, more stitches to the inch than required in a pattern, will cause your garment to come out smaller. More over, I decided to take out 4 stitches from the back and front what would yield an even closer fit.

So, instead of casting on 80 stitches, I casted on 72 stitches and worked with that as my base.

At the chest section I have chosen to use seed stitch:

2 rows seed stitch
2 rows stockinette stitch
20 rows seed stitch
2 rows stockinette stitch
2 rows seed stitch

Shiraz3

Then, after this section I started my decreases and stopped at my waist.
At the waist I made 8 rows of moss stitch. I wanted to create a band, sort of a belt.

Then right after that moss stitch band, I started my KFB (knit in front and back) side increases.

I finished the top with seed stitch:
2 rows of seed stitch
2 rows of stockinette stitch
4 rows of seed stitch
Bind off

What I like about this pattern

It is so quick and easy! Working with chunky yarn gives you a quick knit!

I love the heavy texture in this pattern caused by the seed stitch and chunky yarn. It makes for a sturdy knitted garment, and gives it a robust character. Yet the close fit of the top and the little tiny open shoulder slit, gives it a very feminine touch.

I did not have to rip out much at all in the body. Every choice that I made was to my satisfaction and believe me, when designing stuff, that often does not happen (in my case so far).

Shiraz4

What I did not like while designing

The sleeves gave me hard time. I did several stitches untill I came to the final choice of 2 rows seed stitch, 2 rows stockinette stitch and ending with 6 rows of stockinette stitch!

I will not bother you with furter details but there was a lot of ripping out involved before I was finally happy with those sleeves!

How did I like the yarn?

Rowan-Cashsoft-Chunky

I simply loved working with Rowan Cashsoft Chunky. This yarn contains cashmere and microfibre so you can imagine how soft it felt sliding through my fingers!

The stitch definition that this chunky 4-ply yarn gives is simply beautiful. Making cables with this yarn would be so rewarding!

How am I going to wear my Shiraz?

As said earlier, Shiraz is robust yet feminine. I am thinking jeans with this top so I have chosen a button one always sees on jeans. I don’t know what they are called.

Besides jeans, I am also thinking wearing Shiraz with robust boots like Australian Uggs.

Aw yeah… Stylin’..!

Thanks for reading and untill the next entry!


Following my Heart: part I

November 16, 2007

Traveling

Yesterday I traveled to Hartford, CT to meet my husband who is there for work. While waiting in line to check my luggage, I looked around me to absorb the excitement one always finds at airports; the hustle and bustle of people hurrying to catch their flight, people being happy to leave, people being sad to leave. And as I am watching this all, my mind wanders off to that grey and dreary day in April of 2005 when I left the Netherlands.

Come with me as I start the series “Following my Heart” in which I tell you the story of my travels throughout the United States of America and how and when I became a knitter.

Spreading my wings

It was a grey and dreary day that day in April of 2005 when I left the Netherlands. As always, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol was packed with travelers and I remember feeling the fast whirling energy of people on the go, nervous yet exciting arrivals and nervous yet sad departures.

Three beautiful ladies accompanied me to the airport to bid me farewell: my mom, and my two best friends Wally and Cartoon. We were giggly and giddy, not because we were happy but because we were nervous and we tried to push away our final goodbye as far as possible.

Wally with her long curly hair, petite as she was yet a grand personality, kept on looking at me with her big brown eyes and bravely tried to hide her sadness. Cartoon, who always has a naughty twinkle in her eyes, kept on holding me, resting her head on my shoulders while her long black hair tickled my cheek. And my mom, her darkbrown eyes soft and friendly smiled as she watched the three of us.

It was with pain in my heart when I decided to leave them, but there was a great joy for the reason why: to marry the man from New York City who I had met in August 2001.

When we no longer could postpone our farewell, we slowly walked to the security gate. How bravely they all pushed away their tears when I started to cry. They were strong, to make it more bearable for me. We hugged for the last time and as I walked away I looked back one more time.

All of a sudden, everything became silent, the busy sounds of the airport died down, and there was only me, Wally, Cartoon and my mom. Motionless I stood there for several seconds as if I wanted to freeze this moment in time.

My mom broke the spell by gently saying: “It’s okay, dear… you’d better go now”. I nodded… and walked away.

When my plane took off I just could not hold it together anymore and I cried so loud that the poor passenger next to me started to panic and so cutely tried to comfort me. “I am leaving my best friends and family”, I loudly sobbed as he petted my hand.

My family and friends knew I had to follow my heart. They knew that there was no other way for me. And allthough they love me dearly, and did not want to see me go, they so unselfishly accepted my departure, supported my choice and let me spread my wings.

There is no greater and no more unselfish love than that.

As for knitting

Great traveling project

Socks are perfect for traveling! While I knitted at the Pdx Airport waiting to board, I chattered away with two ladies I had befriended while waiting in the check in line. When one of them, told me she owned an Alpaca farm in Tuledo, Washington I nearly peed my pants and shouted “Really??? I am a knitter!” Needles to say, we had a lot to talk about.

My trip was long yet very pleasant because of my nice fellow travelers. I wore my textured tunic and got a lot of compliments by women! Even a guy made a nice comment. I was so proud to say: “I made it!” And smiled from ear to ear as I saw their eyes grow bigger in disbelief.

But the best compliment I got was from my husband. When I met him at his hotel, he just gasped at my tunic and gave me a big warm hug.

So now I am in a nice hotel somewhere in Hartford, CT. If you see a lady knitting away in the lobby, with a laptop on her side, come say hi. It most likely is me, Nancy from Getting Purly With It!

Hotel Lobby

Thanks again and untill the next entry!

Following my Heart: Part 2 


Nothing can stop me from knitting

November 12, 2007

Except for a power outage…

Candlelight

I was happily knitting away the other night when suddenly the power went out. Oh shoot… now what..? I guess no knitting…

Will you believe me when I tell you that I felt rather lost? I just did not know what to do with myself and after lighting some candles I just sat in my knittingroom, motionless for several minutes.

If one cannot knit, one can phantasize about it! I picked up my Chunky Rowan Cashsoft swatch, held it in my hands and closed my eyes…oh my word, it is so soft… wouldn’t it be heaven to feel this on my bare skin?

Swatch-Rowan-Cashsoft

After some more phantasizing I knew what I wanted to make with it: a fitted cropped short sleeved little top.

Inspired by the Textured Tunic I have come up with this sofar:

 

Fitted Textured Top

I simply love the color… it makes me think of a sexy yet robust red wine so I have named it “Shiraz”. And what a coincidence, the colorway I am using is also called Shiraz!

Needles to say, I had to rewrite the whole pattern. I took the base design of the Textured Tunic and added different textures to it: Seed stitch and moss stitch. I do not know yet how I am going to finish it at the bottom.

Maybe ribbing all the way down? Maybe KFB (Knit front and back) increases at the side? Have to think about it…

 

Socks!

3 Socks

Other than Shiraz, I am working on 3 different socks. From left to right you see Koigu in grey and teal colors, Claudia Handpainted Yarns in a beautiful autumnal colorway called John B and last but certainly not least Great Adirondack Silky Sock in colorway cappucino.

Thanks for reading and untill the next entry!