Mittens for a musician
Well, the guitar-player’s mitts are finished. They were incredibly quick, compared to the Io gloves I made for myself. Partly that’s because they were in DK not 4-ply, but most of the reason is that I didn’t have to knit fingers or thumbs. I haven’t timed it, but I’m convinced that at least half of the time expended on a pair of gloves goes into the fingers and thumbs, they’re just so fiddly.
The latest mittens were knitted from a free pattern on Ravelry called Good Time Fingerless Mitts. However, I also made use of the Phalangee technique, which turned out to be straightforward and logical. Instead of casting on or picking up extra stitches between the fingers, an equivalent number of stitches are increased. Then, the stitches on one side of each finger are connected to their opposite numbers and cast off in one continuous, figure-of-8 stretch. You can see it in this photo.
The method is kind of hard to explain, but having done it once I’m sure I’ll never forget how, it’s so intuitive. It can be adapted to any method of glove construction. I really like the way it produces mitts with maximum finger and thumb exposure (important for a guitar player) but without bulk between the fingers or any possibility that the finger opening will ride up and leave the hand cold. Jane has an outdoor gig coming up that will be televised and she’s promised to wear her new gift.
With these mitts finished, I’ve filled the woolly gap in my life by casting on Kelmscott by Carol Sunday, a sophisticated cardigan with a beautiful lace front. The yarn I’m using is a Drops one called Air, and it’s unusually constructed – instead of being spun, alpaca and wool fibres are blown into a mesh tube of very fine nylon. The result is a yarn as light as swansdown. I’m just hoping it stays that way after being worn and washed.
Air is somewhat thicker than the 5-ply that Kelmscott is designed for, and I haven’t been able to hit the correct tension. Going down a needle size produced a swatch that was too firm, so I’m sticking with the recommended size. I’m only 1 stitch per 10cm adrift, so it’s not going to make a huge difference.
Kelmscott is knitted flat, in pieces. I used to knit all my sweaters like that – didn’t everyone outside of Scandinavia? – but it’s been a while since I’ve knitted a whole garment on straight needles. The back and sleeves are plain reverse stocking stitch, with just a small lace motif at the bottom, in the middle. This is how it looks so far.
In contrast, the fronts and collar are exuberantly lacy. I can’t wait to get to them because I’m finding the back rather boring. I’m also wondering whether it would look better with the right side of the stocking stitch on show. I think I’ll knit the fronts next and then decide. If the worst comes to the worst, I can cut the back above the lace insert, rip out the start, re-knit it with the lace on the knit side and then graft it back together. But ripping out might not be feasible, given the fluffiness of this yarn.
Android app development for beginners
For some time now, I’ve been dabbling in developing apps for Android devices. I’ve still got an awful lot to learn, but I am making steady progress. When I started out though, about two years ago, the learning curve was very steep. The main problem was my total unfamiliarity with all the terms, and with Android devices – I didn’t even have one then. It took me quite some time to work out what I needed to do to gain the necessary skills, what needed to be done first and how best to set about it.
With this in mind, a current challenge on the Instructables website took my eye. It’s called Digital Life 101 and any instructable with a digital theme that is aimed at complete beginners is eligible to enter. This prompted me to prepare one on developing Android apps, filled with all the things I wish I’d known when I set out on my journey two years ago. Please pop by my Creating Android Apps – for Complete Beginners tutorial if you’ve ever wondered what’s involved, and vote for it if you like it.