All posts by BookCatat938

Sock Yarn Shawls – part 3 – triangles

When I made the first circular shawl, I varied the shape of it by using short rows to create the extensions over the shoulders to allow it to be tied.

Short rows were the key to altering the shape of the basic circle in interesting ways.  I made simple triangles, squares, hexagons and also rather abstract irregular shapes using short rows.  Also, the short rows allowed me to isolate or group colors that occurred in the repeating color changes of the various yarns I used.

This was a first effort using a Paton Kroy Sock yarn (75% washable wool, 25% Nylon) in the “Blue Striped Ragg” color.

I started with the basic circular pattern, using extra knit rounds between the pattern rows to break up the spiral, then, when at about 256 stitches, I divided the work into three roughly equal parts (85/85/86 stitches) on three separate needles, and worked short rows over each section.  I did this by knitting/purling back and forth, decreasing the number of stitches in each row  by making the turn one stitch short of the previous turn each time until one or two stitches remained in the short row, then knitted along the edge of the triangle just finished over to the next section, where I repeated the process.  This created a triangular shaped piece.  Also, the short rows resulted in isolated grouping of the colors as you can see in the photo.

At this point, the shawl could be finished off by simply knitting around the perimeter using whatever variation of the pattern you like.  Remembering to make increases when needed.  When to make the increases is a matter of judgement, as there is no longer the regular repeats of the circular pattern due to the irregular shape.  The best advice would be to make the increases, by doubling the number of stitches when ever you think it might be needed to keep the piece flat and relaxed.  It is always better, and easier to block, if there are too many stitches rather than too few.

In the shawl pictured, however, I decided to use short rows to continue to make small blocks of solid colors as I worked around the perimeter of the piece.  The technique is simply to knit along in whatever pattern you are working until you get a solid color, then work a bit in that color before switching direction and using short rows back and forth until the color changes again.  Working in this manner will give you the opportunity to play around and make patterns as abstract as you may like.

I also did some short runs of stitch increases and additional short rows over the points of the triangle to keep the shape very sharp and maintain the acute angles of the corners.

This is a fun exercise in adapting your knitting pattern to the color changes of the yarn you are using.  The possibilities are endless, and each piece unique.

Here is another triangular shawl early on.  You can see that I have continued the basic yarn-over-knit-2-together pattern into the three triangular short row shapes to maintain the spiral look of the piece.  The basic three points of the pattern are now established.  I added two stitches to the 256 stitches of the basic circle (258 sts) so the three points would have equal number of stitches (86).

The piece is also now on a single 60″ circular needle with markers placed at the points where the three sections join.

Here the same piece is, farther along.  I have added some additional short rows to keep the shape “point-y” as the diameter increases.

And another shot of the work in progress.  As you can see, it is outgrowing the single 60″ needle.  At this point I will add another one or likely two 60″ needles so I can periodically stretch the piece out to monitor the shape of it as it progresses.   Once I finish another piece in progress, which has three 60″ needles in it and the needles are available.

The yarn for this shawl is Patons Kroy Socks yarn, color Purple Haze.  At this point, I am into the second 50 gram ball, and will use a total of about 150 grams.

Here is the finished shawl, on the blocking mats:








And here it is on a manikin.

Vesuvius Hull – Superstructure 1

Vesuvius – main cabin

I fabricated the cabin from card stock and thin plywood to keep the structure light, as I intend to ballast the hull low to keep it stable.

Here is the start of the cabin on the workbench.

I cut out for the windows and doors, saving the cut outs to make frames later.

The cabin sides are fastened to the plywood base and trial fitted into the deck recess.

The circular chart table is modeled, but I later decided not to detail the interior of the cabin, so it just serves as reinforcement.

The plywood top of the cabin is trial fitted  in place, and the windows and doors are framed with cardstock trim.


The cut outs of windows from the cabin are re-cut to make frames for the windows.  Painted and glued to plastic, they will be installed before final gluing of the top plywood piece for the cabin.

The upper deck is 1/64″ plywood, planked with cardstock planks, as the main decks.  Once it is detailed, it will be fastened to the upper plywood former of the cabin.

Windows in place, upper deck planked and installed, smoke stack and life boats roughed out and railings started.


Time to take a summer break and head to Santa Fe!  See you in September.

Sock Yarn Shawls – 2

The first project, described in the first post, turned out pretty well, but had a few areas for improvement.  First, using the two needle technique resulted in an gap made up of more open stitches due to reduced tension at the point the knitting moves from one needle to the other.  Largely the result of my somewhat sloppy technique and poor attention to tension, it can be cured by more precise knitting, or by simply knitting one or two stitches from the second needle onto the first when making the switch to the second needle.  I chose the latter method.

The modified pattern used for basic circular patterned shawls and for starting some of the shawls of different shapes and also for the small circular patterns incorporated in some of the other more abstract patterns is here:

Circular shawl pattern basic

This is a shawl made using the basic pattern and finished as described in the instructions.




This is the piece in on the blocking mats.  It was blocked using stainless steel blocking wires pinned to rubber blocking mats and pinned out to just about 48 ” diameter.  You can see the spiral pattern created by the repeated pattern – the yarn over/knit 2 together with a single knit row between created a definite right-handed spiral pattern, which is attractive and also makes the piece quite elastic with a lovely drape.  Also, you can see the results of the doubling of the number of stitches as the spiral “ribs” double in number with increase.  And the increasing number of rows between each increase is also apparent.

The yarn used for this scarf is from “Viking of Norway” and is the Nordlys superwash wool.  75% wool, 25% nylon, it is a single ply, soft spun yarn that knits up beautifully.  The color was #965.  The yarn comes in 100 gram balls, and I used one ball and about a quarter of a second ball, so it took about 125 grams (about 475 yards/435 m) for a 48″ diameter scarf.

Here is the finished shawl:







You may wish to vary or break up the prominent spiral pattern of the basic shawl pattern.  This can be done several ways.

One easy way is to vary the pattern by doing some knit stitches between the yarn-over-knit-2-together basic pattern.  Such as yarn-over; knit two together; knit 2 (or 3 or 4) then repeat.

Another way is to use the basic yarn-over-knit-2-together row but knit two or three rows of plain knit/stockinette between.  Or even insert a row of garter stitch, by purling around once.

And a third way I have broken up the spiral pattern is to slant the decrease stitch in the opposite direction by doing the opposite of knit-two-together:  slip one stitch as to knit; knit one stitch; pass slipped stitch over.  This works well, but is a bit slower, at least for me, so I don’t use it much.  It was used in the green shawl below as noted.

Here is a circular shawl made using a modified version of the basic pattern above.  Basically, I just varied the yarn-over knit-two-together pattern by knitting several rows of stockinette between.  Sometimes I  also did some garter stitch for interesting texture variations.

This shawl used three 50 balls of Paton “Kroy Socks” yarn, in the “blue striped rag” color.  The shawl is about  40″ in diameter, after blocking.  You can see the ruffled edge in this photo, due to the final increase in stitch count just before binding off.

Below are some detail shots of the shawl, showing how the color changes of the yarn look in the circular pattern, and showing how the pattern was varied to break up or eliminate the spiral.

Here is the finished shawl:














Here is yet another variant of the circular pattern, made also with a Paton Sock Yarn in the “clover colors” version.

In this shawl, I took advantage of the fact that the two row pattern repeat of the basic pattern causes the spiral look as the pattern is repeated, because the yarn-overs all slant in the same direction, and when separated only by one row of knitting, are superimposed and give a slant to the look.  For the last section of pattern repeats, I changed from a yarn-over, to a slip-one-Knit one-pass-slipped-stitch-over, as noted above,  which largely neutralized the slant of the pattern in earlier sections.  In the grey/red/blue scarf above, the interposition of several rows of knitting has a similar effect.

This is another shawl that blocks out about 40 – 45 inches in diameter.  Below is a detail of the pattern showing the spiral and the non-spiral sections.

In the next post, we will talk a bit about starting to vary the shape of the shawl, and also about how to vary the pattern in interesting ways, using short rows.



Shawls from sock yarn – 1

Recently I decided to try knitting a circular pattern shawl from some left over sock yarn in the stash.

The inspiration for the project was Elizabeth Zimmerman’s “pi” shawl, as described in her “Knitters’ Almanac”.  (Dover, 1981)

The book is available from Amazon:

In this project, she uses a crocheted start for the circular pattern.  It is described in the “Almanac”, but not I a way I could understand, so I found a better presentation of the “Emily Ocker” method on YouTube:

In Zimmerman’s project, she starts with 9 stitches, knits a round, then doubles the stitches, with a yarn-over-knit-one increase, (18 sts) then knits three rounds, doubles the stitches again (36 sts), then knits six rounds, doubles to 72 sts, knits 12 rounds, doubles to 144 sts, knits 24 rounds, doubles to 288, knits 48 rows, doubles to 576, and ends soon after, probably just tired of the project.

I modified the basic pattern in a couple of ways,  Although I used the basic plan for doubling stitches and the same number of rows between increases, I used circular needles, beginning with two 16″ needles and working up, through two 24″ needles until I was using one, then two, 48″, later one 60″ needles, switching back to the shorter needle when doing the tails/ties.  I also used a more lace like stitch in the knitted rows rather than straight knitted stockinette stitch.  The stitch I used was basically a yarn-over-knit-two-together pattern which I varied.  Sometimes I did the stitch all the way around, sometimes I did it once or twice and used a varying number of knitted stitches between to create more interesting patterns.  Also, once the piece was near the desired diameter, and I was running out of the yarn leftovers, I used short rows to make two extensions, as ties, so the piece might be a bit more useful.  I did not have enough yarn to make it large enough (60 – 72″) for a circular shawl, so this seemed a reasonable compromise.

For an edge, I made a final round of doubling increases, taking the stitch count to around 1200 sts, then bound off the next row.   This made a rather dense edge which ruffled a bit and permitted blocking with the wires we use by sliding the wires though the holes created by the increase row.  This created a very nice finished edge, a sort of combination of ruffle and picot edge when blocked out.

Here is a snap of the piece on the blocking mats:

The mats are 12″ square, so you can see the piece ended up about 24″ wide and 36″ long.

Detail of the patterns used:

The piece turned out so well, I decided to make more shawls based on variations of the circular pattern.  This decision resulted in trips to yarn stores and purchase of additional sock yarn, entirely neutralizing any benefit of reducing the amount of yarn in the stash.

Here’s a shot of the final result:

The variations used will be discussed in the next post.  Some were straightforward circular patterns making use of the variegated sock yarns to create interesting patterns.  Others were variations is shape, mostly created using short rows.  If you need to refresh on short rows, you might like to do it now, before looking ahead.



Vesuvius Hull – Decks -1

As mentioned before, the unusual shape of the hull led me to ballast heavily low in the hull and to keep the upper portions of the decks and superstructure as light as possible, lest the model turn turtle when in the bayou.

There are basically two decks.  A main deck about two thirds the length of the vessel, and a higher forward deck.  The shape of the bulwarks of the hull reflect these two deck levels and have in addition a third level in the extreme forward part of the hull which is also decked and covers the hawse pipes.

For the deck camber, I used formers cut  using the ship’s lines from the plan as a guide.  I first rough cut out the two main deck pieces from 1/32″ plywood, using the actual hull as a pattern.  Then I laid out locations for the deck formers so they would fall between or adjacent to existing deck beams in the hull.

the formers were extended about half an inch or so to each side and then glued to a building board.

This snap shows the building board, after removal of the deck as discussed later, and two of the extra formers.



After gluing the formers to the board, I then glued the deck pieces to the formers and held the deck in place with rubber bands.

Both deck pieces were constructed similarly.

Once dry, the formers are trimmed to the deck width and then trial fitted to the hull, further trimming the remaining center portion of the formers to fit in the hull.

I then trimmed the decks to more precisely fit the hull, and notched the lower deck to fit inside the forward portion of the hull where it overlaps the upper deck by about half an inch.

For deck planking, I used strips of cardstock cut from manila file folders.  One plan I have shows deck planks on the forward deck and on the cabin top to be narrower than those on the main deck, and I duplicated  this feature on the model.

I glued the cardstock down with waterproof glue then lightly sanded and coated with several coats of polyurethane varnish, which provided a pretty decent white-wood finish for the deck..

This is a snap of the two main decks trial fitted to the hull.

Here I have marked out the position of the main cabin, as I will be cutting out the deck so the cabin will fit just inside the cut out.  I plan to have necessary running controls and switches accessible through this opening so it will not be necessary to remove the entire deck when running the model.


Vesuvius Hull – Part 3

Once the ballasting had been worked out approximately, it was time to move ahead with rudder installation and then the deck and superstructure.

The rudder was a bit challenging, as the hull is very narrow at the rudder post making installation of the usual rudder arm impractical.

One solution would have been to install a wheel or gear on the rudder shaft and link it by belt or gear train to the servo.

The approach I decided to use was derived from the old whipstaff/tiller arrangement used prior to the development of ship steering gear and wheels.   I first drilled and tapped a 3/16″ set screw collar and then threaded a 1/8″ rod to fit.

This shows the collar with set screw and the separate location for the threaded rod, with locknut.  The forward end of the rod has a wire loop soldered on, and it accepts an intermediate link made of 12 gauge brass wire.  This link passes through a collar which allows it to pivot as it swings back and forth to move the tiller.

In this view, you can see the plywood support for the pivot.  The wood is glued to a deck beam and the pivot glued to the wood.

This is a shot through the hull to show the pivot collar for the rudder linkage.   With this arrangement it was possible to set the pivot point wherever needed to get the greatest amount of tiller swing within the limits of the hull width, and the servo arm rotation.  I will install a heavy duty standard size servo with the rotating arm or disk beneath the forward end of the link.

Once the running gear was installed, it was time to begin the decks.









Knitting – modified lace stitch sweater

This pattern uses a lace stitch variation in the main panels with a “honeycomb” cable stitch in the pattern panels.

The cable stitch uses a 4 row repeat, and the lace pattern uses a 6 row repeat, so the pattern is worked in 12 row multiples.



This photo shows the main pattern and the cable pattern.  In this sweater, I continued the cable pattern up over the shoulder and edged it with a few stitches of garter stitch for contrast.  I also continued the cable pattern through the ribbing at the sleeve ends, the bottoms of the sweater, and the neck ribbing.


The pattern for this sweater is here:

Sweater 2

As with the other patterns, this was knit with Vanna’s Choice worsted weight acrylic yarn.  Vanna’s is still my favorite for working up prototype patterns and it makes great gifts for my wool-sensitive family.  And those who do not like hand-washing sweaters!

Knitting – Diagonal garter stitch sweater


This pattern evolved from my attempts to develop a sweater with diagonal rows.  The first iteration used a simple stockinette stitch in the diagonal panels, but the unusual direction of the rows was not very apparent in that stitch.  So I did another iteration with garter stitch in the panels, which nicely accentuates the diagonal direction of the rows.

The concept evolved from the simple method of adding a stitch on one end of a right side row by a simple yarn over to create the slant.  In order to keep the stitch count constant, the last two stitches on each right side row are knit together to decrease one stitch.  This process does create a slanted row, but it will cause the edge of the piece to also slant or scallop.  It is the basis of the many patterns used for afghans in the chevron strip version, or the feathers and fan pattern.

Since I did not want a scalloped or pointed edge on the sweater, this pattern starts with a standard knit-2 purl-2 ribbing, which is then bound off in the areas where the diagonal pattern will be used.  The diagonal is then created by  the yarn over stitch increase on one side of each right side row and a second stitch increase made by knitting through the bound off edge of the ribbing.  Once all the bound off stitches are replaced, the work is worked across on all stitches.  The yarn over increases on one side of each panel are then offset by the knit-2 together decreases at the other end of each panel.

This creates a nice shape, with gently sloping shoulders and a hollow for the neck.  I felt the neck hollow was a bit too deep and wide, so I used short rows to build up the center a bit in the front, and fully in the back.


This is an unusual pattern.  The diagonal rows are not terribly obvious, but if done carefully, they can make a bit of a puzzler to show off your skills.

The complete pattern is available here as a .pdf file

Sweater 3


Vesuvius Hull – Part 2

Once the hull was off the building board and well coated with epoxy on the inside and polyurethane varnish on the outside, I did some buoyancy testing to get a sense of how stable this rather extreme hull would be.  As expected, without any ballast, it floated high and turned turtle quickly.  I added ballast to the bottom of the hull to increase stability and to also get a measure of how much weight it would take for the hull to float at about the proper waterline.  I determined that 4 to 5 pounds would be the approximate capacity of the hull.  Later, I re-tested the hull floatation with the motor, drive gears, ESC, and battery in place and used paper-wrapped rolls of 25 copper pennies as additional ballast.  These rolls fit snugly between the frames and against the keel.  Eight such rolls seemed about right, but I will re-adjust later in the process as needed.

The next steps included installation of propeller shafts and the drive system.  Because of the weight limitations and the need to keep ballast low, I decided to power the model with a single 550 brushed motor linked through gears with about a 2:1 reduction in speed to the two propellers.  Power will be from a 7.4 volt  LiPo battery, again a weight saving feature.

This view shows the drive in place.  The gears used at standard Dumas gears fitted into a piece of aluminum L-channel.  The motor mount is made similarly.  The ESC is in place, and you can see some of the paper-wrapped penny rolls used for additional ballast in place.

The prop shafts were set as low in the hull as I could manage and still clear the gears.  They emerge from the hull through a long stuffing box and then pass through struts at the very back of the hull, just before the rudder.  The result is a sort of Jules Verne looking rig, which seems right for the era of the vessel and is pretty consistent with the original plan.  The propeller shafts are made up from 3/16 ” brass rod, and the stuffing boxes are 7/32 ” brass tubing.  The boxes are also built up with telescoping 1/4″ and 9/32″ tubing where they emerge from the hull to better duplicate the original.  The stuffing boxes were then epoxied to the hull with marine epoxy inside and out.

Prop shafts, struts, and stuffing boxes in place and epoxied


For props, I used plastic props of 2 inch diameter.  I cut them down to 1.5 inches and also sanded the blade edges to make them less modern in appearance and more consistent with what I thought the original vessel’s propellers may have looked like.  The propellers are notched and fit against pins soldered into holes in the shafts.  They are then held in place with 3/16″ collars anchored with set screws.

At this point, I also installed the rudder stuffing box.  I drilled through the center plywood of the keel between the additional material on each side of it and epoxied the stuffing box in place.  The rudder post will be 1/8″ brass rod, so the stuffing box was made from 5/32″ tubing.  The sides of the stern at this point were also built up with additional wood, wood filler, and epoxy on the sides.

After the preliminary assembly, above, I decided to further modify the propellers to more resemble what I thought the props on the original vessel might have looked like.  With the heavy stuffing boxes and the large diameter prop shafts, and the struts holding the props away from the hull, the ship was taking on a Jules Verne look, so I modified the props to fit with that.

This snap shows the props modified for the Vesuvius.  The original is on the left, painted bronze, and the modified props to the right.  They will be also painted bronze prior to final installation.


Vesuvius Hull – part 1

Using the plans for the ship’s lines, which I had long ago photo-reduced to 1/8″ scale from the original plan, I first enlarged them to 3/16″ scale.

Here is the portion of the plan with ship lines showing the profile of the hull at the marked stations

The plans had about 27 stations and I simply used them as templates to cut bulkheads/ribs for the model.  Through the wonders of a copier with zoom and image reversal, I could make up full size paper patterns for the hull at the stations.

Here is the combined plan for hull sections in the forward part of the hull




Here is the combined plan for hull sections in the after part of the hull.



I extended the ribs and keel as described below to extend them and allow them to be glued to the building board, then glued the patterns onto 1/8″ birch plywood from a hobby shop and cut them on a scroll saw.  I did the keel similarly.  I glue the paper onto the plywood with school glue, so the paper can be removed easily after cutting.

I use the “Hahn Method” to build the hull.  The hull is framed upside down by gluing to a building board, and is planked while still on the board.  Then the hull is cut free from the board and further finished off.

To use this method, it is necessary to extend the ribs and keel as above to a line corresponding to the building board. The Vesuvius has a hull with a long run of a straight horizontal keel, so it is particularly easy to use this technique.  First I drew a line on the plans about an inch above the top of the sides and a similar line on the side view, above the keel, making certain the location of the lines corresponded.  Then I extended the patterns for ribs and keel up to that line and cut the ribs out with a scroll saw.  I cut away the center on most of the ribs, leaving about a quarter inch thick rib along the side, and half an inch at the bottom, and notched the ribs to fit on the keel.

A 7″ x 48″ piece of half inch plywood from another project made a fine building board. I drew a line for the center of the hull/keel, then marked off the locations of the stations using the plan.  Then lines for the stations/rib positions were drawn perpendicular to the center line, and longitudinal lines at half and one inch intervals parallel to the center line.  These lines make and easy guide to positioning the ribs and greatly speed up the process.

In this photo, I am starting to set up the frames on the keel.  The small squares used to true the frames are above, and the remaining frames are lined up ready to glue in position.  The center frame in this photo is not glued yet, but is just holding the keel upright as the frames are glued into place starting at the bow.

Once the keel was spliced and set up on the board, the ribs were added working from front to back and using a small square to make certain they are perpendicular to the board.  The ribs and keel ends are glued securely to the building board.

The ribs are in place and ready for the planking.   At the stern, there are additional plywood pieces glued to the keel to accommodate the rudder shaft to be installed later.  The stern is so sharp, the rudder installation needed to be modified a bit, as will be discussed later.  At the bow, the keel is stepped up at the location of the most forward frames until it is at the height of the deck beam.

After the glue has dried, the hull is planked with 1/16″ thick pine planks, 1/4″ wide.  I cut the planks from 4 foot pieces of quarter inch think pine, available at the local lumber/hardware store.  Using 4 foot lengths of planking allowed me to run the planks the length of the boat and eliminated the need for butt joints in the planking, except as noted below..

Since the original vessel was made of steel plated riveted to steel frames, the wooden planks running longitudinally are hardly authentic, but it was an easy way to get the job done.  I ran several planks along the keel, using a slightly wider (1/2″) plank for the first plank, tapered fore and aft to fit snugly against the keel.  A garboard plank, if you will, as shown in the photo above..  These were only 24 inches long, as that is what I had on hand.  I followed with the first of the 48″ long 1/4″ planks.  Then I ran several planks along the top of the sides, and began to work down from that point, beginning to taper planks as needed to accommodate the shape of the hull.  Again, not the way I would normally plank a wooden hull, but quite satisfactory for this model.

Once planked, the hull was sanded, given two thin coats of epoxy, and then given several coats of polyurethane varnish.  Once the hull is varnished, it is cut free from the building board.  With the hull off the board, I made up a couple cradles for the hull and glued them to the board to hold the hull for the next steps.

 The hull cut free of the board.  The next steps include some additional planking along the top of the sides, trimming off the extraneous rib and keel material above the side, and epoxy coating the interior of the hull.