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December 23, 2010

Santa Re-Styling

To those of you who wouldn't believe that I actually bought a Santa hat without seeing a picture, here you go:

The sweater I have on is a bolero that I finished some time ago. Its spent the past three years sitting in my closet, unworn. I had a few holiday parties to attend this past weekend and wanted something festive to wear, and this sweater came to mind.

However, when I tried it on the heavy glass button just didn't work. So I cut it off and fastened the fronts together with a shawl pin that I also bought years ago at Maryland Sheep and Wool and have never worn.

Voila, new sweater. Or that's what it feels like to me.

It is now time for me to put together my tiny little tabletop tree, and commence preparations for a family Christmas. To all who celebrate, have a great holiday!

October 14, 2009

Urban Aran - The Fix Is In

So, when I was taking the photos for Monday's entry it never occurred to me that it might be a fabulous idea to check the fronts for mistakes. I set up the photo shoot, snapped happily away and then posted.

Monday night, though, the shit hit the fan so to speak. I was sitting on the couch minding my own damn business, and picked up the knitting. This is what I saw:

urbanaranproblem.jpg

Feel free to click for bigger. Can't see the problem? Check out what the other front looked like.

Yeah. Problem.

Of course, there was no way I'd unravel the whole problem front five or six rows down. Instead, I dropped down just the stitches of the side cabled panel and put them on a bamboo double point.

urbanaranfix.jpg

Then I simply knitted all the dropped stitches back up, row by row, making sure to use the float appropriate to that row and not from the row above it. About a half-hour later, all was forgiven:

urbanaranallbetter.jpg

It never ceases to amaze me how much knitting on auto-pilot I do. If it took me five or six rows to notice a glaring error, then I'm certainly knitting pretty darn mindlessly most of the time. And, that's OK. Anything in knitting can be fixed. Well, anything that didn't involve scissors.

October 12, 2009

Urban Aran - The Fronts

I've made a good start on the fronts of my Urban Aran cardigan.

urbanaranfronts10122009.jpg

Once again, I really marvel at the ingeniousness of this pattern, as modified by Brooklyn Tweed. The placement of the side-slanting cables to draw in the waist. The splitting of the big cable down the front, where it was just BEGGING to be split up into a cardigan. What fun!

Clearly this won't be a "Rhinebeck sweater", but I confess to not really getting the need to show up at a fiber festival in a hot-off-the-needles new garment. If I see you and you have a nice sweater on, I'll compliment it but I certainly won't ask (or remember) if its a new one.

Go ahead. Call me a heathen. I can take it.

October 05, 2009

Urban Aran Progress

It seems that with a little sittin' around time this weekend, I was actually able to finish the back of Urban Aran.

urbanaraback1052009.jpg

The mug shot view.

urbanaranbackarty.jpg

The arty view.

I'm now deciding whether to cast on for the fronts (I'm doing the cardiganized version) to to buckle down and do the math required to finish the sleeve cap, a chore which I've been putting off for some time..

Really, now. A sleeve cap isn't difficult. I'm just being a big ole (lazy) wussy.

September 28, 2009

Urban Aran, Unearthed

Indeed, Sunday was a rainy, cool day. Eminently unsuitable for the planned ride. However, the enforced indoor-ness gave me the opportunity to act on my intention of unearthing my Urban Aran.

urbanaransept2009.jpg

It wasn't buried very far: flung carelessly on a chair in the Fiber Room. But far enough away to be out-of-sight, out-of-mind. I knit on it a little (OK, 2 rows is very little but a start) and I reminded myself about how much I enjoyed the yarn (Rowan Magpie Aran Tweed ripped out and reclaimed from this sweater) and the pattern.

And, after all, 'tis the sweater season with the leaves falling and a crispness to the air. There is hope for my knitting mojo yet.

July 08, 2009

Alice Rises Again

Just about five years ago, I knit a project from Rowan 25 called Alice. But I knit the sleeves too long. I wore it once or twice, then stashed it in the Drawer Where Imperfect Sweaters Go to Die in the dark and loneliness.

I'm not sure what possessed me to unearth this. Perhaps it was all the dismal, cold, rainy summer weather that had me thinking a cotton sweater was worth wearing.

aliceshortened.jpg

Alice, reborn. (click the photo for bigger)

In any event, ripping off the sleeves, ripping a good six inches out of them and then reknitting the sleeve caps really wasn't that big a deal. In hindsight, I should have done this much earlier. Seriously, this sweater was knit with tiny yarn on size 3 needles! My knitting time investment in this thing was huge. A couple of hours of fixing-up was nothing in comparison to the hours spent knitting this sweater in the first place.

Margene recently asked "How many times does a knitter need to learn the same lesson?". My answer was, "Until the lesson is well learned."

Perhaps I need to take another look through the Drawers of Death.

April 06, 2009

A Moment of Repose

Knitting steadily, I have reached the underarm point of my Urban Aran sleeve. And, I find myself at a loss.

I cannot knit the sleeve cap as writ. My row gauge can't be right, the sleeve width is substantially narrower than the pattern, and the shape of the sleeve cap will concomitantly suffer. Maths must be wrought.

Yet, I am so lazy, so uninspired to do math.

Instead, I did what anyone would do in my place. I emailed my sister and admitted that I'd forgotten everything I ever knew about re-jiggering a sleeve cap.

Silvia to the rescue, reminding me that everything I needed to know was right here.

Now, I just have to do it.

March 30, 2009

Urban Aran

Indeed, those of you who guessed that I am swatching for the Urban Aran (Rav link) by starting a sleeve were exactly correct. I'd cardiganize it a la Brooklyn Tweed.

urbanaransleeve3302009.jpg

This pattern is written to a chunky yarn gauge, whereas the yarn I'm using (Rowan Magpie Aran Tweed) is decidedly of aran gauge. Although the pattern masquerades as providing a size for a 32 inch bust, the finished measurement for this size is a whopping 38 inches around. Six inches of ease! I don't think so, skippy.

The quandary I'm in though, is this. I'd rather not have to resize this sweater. My hope is that if I simply make the smallest size in my smaller gauge, the sun will shine, the birds will sing and I miraculously will end up with the correct size cardi for me.

The sleeve, however, seems a bit tight. However, seeing as most of the sleeve is plain 2X2 ribbing, I know that I can wet-block that ribbing flat and increase the sleeve size that way. And, I'm looking for a close fitting sweater in any event.

Even though I've thoroughly washed this yarn, I may finish this sleeve and wet block it for this reason. Also, the Magpie Tweed yarn did grow amazingly during its first incarnation as Rogue. I wouldn't expect that to happen again, given the yarn's pre-washed state, but one never knows.

March 27, 2009

Swatch or Not?

A swatch? Or a sleeve?

March 25, 2009

That Was Really Fun

I'm not sure what it says about me that the most fun I've had in recent memory whilst fibering was ripping out my Red Rogue. Ah, destruction. It casts a deliciously evil spell.

We've gone from this:

rogue1.JPG

To this:

ripping1.jpg

Unraveling directly onto my skein winder. Its the only way to keep the unruly yarn under control. Then I tied four figure-eight ties per skein. Less than four, and you'll be really, really sorry later when you are untangling exploded skeins.

Then this:

ripping2.jpg

So crinkly! And sadly, so dusty. An embarrassing amount of dust flew off the yarn as I rather violently unraveled.

And finally -- after a good long soak in some hottish water and coconut shampoo, then a nice rinse with a little hair conditioner -- to this:

ripping3.jpg

Look at that lovely pile of otherwise un-gettable Rowan Magpie Aran Tweed. Mmmmm. Yarn.

This is why, in my opinion, knitting beats sewing all to hell. Once you cut the fabric, you are committed. Knitting, on the other hand, can always be taken apart and made into something better. Score one for the knitters, baby.

Despite some desultory on-line searching, I'm not yet totally hot for a pattern suitable for this yarn. Here are my requirements:

1. Cardigan in an aran weight.
2. No hood, or easily convertible into a garment with no hood.
3. Preferably sizing down to a 32 inch bust (XS). I'm a lazy girl, but can re-work the pattern if I HAVE to.
4. Something cute and hip. Not, as girlreaction carolyn so colorfully puts it, old lady.
6. No turtleneck/cowl necks. This yarn is not next-to-the-skin soft.

Have a suggestion? Fire it up in the comments.

February 02, 2009

Return of Apres Surf

I have been knitting for a long time. I am far, far removed from that first heady, intoxicating lust for yarn, pattern and needles, very reminiscent of a new crush on a cute boy. My relationship with my knitting is more akin to a long-married couple, holding deep affection for one another, a shared sense of history and a tolerance for the ups and downs of any long-term relationship.

In recent months, my head has been turned away from the knitting and on to different pursuits. That never was my intention. I still love the yarn and the needles, the knitting rhythm and resultant wearable item. But I don't chase down the latest hot patterns or yarns on Ravelry. I pass by the yarn shops without a second thought. My heart is not captured.

My knitting mojo is low.

Lately, I've been knitting mindless socks. As anyone knows who reads here. Socks are like a telephone conversation, where all you input into the exchange is an occasional "uh-huh" and "oh, really". They don't require much planning or engagement. They serve a purpose: keep the hands busy whilst doing other boring things. Long on results (warm feet), short on creativity.

Through all of this, my Apres Surf Hoodie has been patiently waiting. Shoved to the back of the coffee table, the issue of IK holding its pattern sprawled on the floor on the side of the couch where no-one walks.

Over this weekend, I noticed this project. Pathetically bunched right there in plain sight, but invisible to my eye. Hmmm, thought I. Maybe a little simple lace might do me good.

apressurfback222009.jpg

So, I picked up the needles. Quickly figured out my place in this simple pattern. And knit a few rows. Not alot of rows, and not for alot of time. But enough time to feel the entertainment of making planned holes in a pleasing pattern using silky wool and a lovely color.

I'd love to report that I just couldn't put the project down and am fully back on the knitting wagon. But I did put down the knitting.

But, I'll pick it up again. And again. Because that's what I do.

November 17, 2008

Measuring Up

One of my biggest knitting challenges is measuring. It seems so straightforward: put down the knitting, whip out a tape measure and measure it. No sweat, right?

measuringup.jpg

Well, not really.

The first issue I always run into is the actual mechanics of taking the measurement. Knitted fabric is stretchy and flexible, which is great in the wearing but not so great in the measuring. This is especially true for a lacy pattern like my Apres Surf Hoodie. Depending on how hard I yank it into place, the length measurement can change by as much as an inch.

Of course, its absolutely essential to spread out the piece carefully on a flat, large-enough surface (see Tip No. 10). I usually use my carpeting for measuring, but I find that sometimes the deep pile carpet spreads out a piece a bit too much. For me the best solution is to measure on a couple of different surfaces: deep pile carpet/floor/flat carpet -- choose two. This way I can get a feel for what the average measurement is, and if its close enough to the pattern specs.

I also avoid taking measurements at night, after a long bout of knitting. Knitting decisions are best made when the mind and eyes are fresh. My fresher morning eyes tell me that I'm about a quarter inch short of the specified measurement to the armhole. Last night, however, I would have sworn to you that I was right on.

If mindlessly knitting to pattern specs was all that a successful knitted piece requires, I could stop right here. Knit a quarter inch more and then do the armhole bind-off. But, honestly, that is stupid. How does the designer know whether that sweater length is too long or short for my particular body? Answer: she doesn't. She is counting on me, the knitter, to use my knitterly sense and make changes to dimensions if what is written down in the pattern won't suit me.

So, the second part of measuring has to be a critical assessment of "this is sweater piece gonna fit me the way I want it to??" I certainly wouldn't want to wait to make this judgment after all the pieces have been knitted and I've sunk countless hours into the project. Too dangerous. Too risky.

The sweater you see in the picture under my Apres Surf Hoodie is my Thermal. I picked this sweater as a template because its made out of the same yarn (Knitpicks Gloss) and its fit will be (or should be) somewhat similar to the Apres Surf. Using a template sweater with a similar armhole depth is critical here.

I do wish that I made Thermal longer. So when I measured the length of Apres Surf against Thermal, I was happy to see that Apres Surf was longer by several inches. But, I don't like sweaters to be too long and thus hit me at my widest point. Although the pattern specifies that I'm to knit about a quarter of an inch more to reach the armhole bind off, I think that I'm going to bind off now. After all this measuring and comparing to the template sweater, I'm pretty sure this sweater is long enough.

But, I thought that about Thermal too.

November 10, 2008

Apres Leaf Hoodie

Knitting (me) and raking (hubby) co-produced this picture.

apressurfback11102008.jpg

This is the back of the Apres Surf Hoodie, done almost up to the beginning of the armholes. So nice for my hands to get re-acquainted with the needles, my butt to get re-acquainted with the couch. It takes so little to make me happy.

October 27, 2008

A Picture is Worth....Alot!

While looking over the wares of the vendors at Rhinebeck, this little number caught my eye at the Windy Valley Muskox booth:

gracietopmodel.jpg

I really liked the neck shaping of this sweater, with its interesting draping. At home I have a skein of beautiful Sundara Silk Lace in the color Bronzed for which I've been looking for a pattern match.

But when I sought out the pattern, this is what I found:

gracie-top.jpg

For a close-up of the picture, click here.

That pattern picture couldn't be any more unattractive. The sweater is way too big for the model, and the harsh flash lighting helps neither the model nor the sweater. Had I simply seen the pattern, I would never have given this "Gracie Top" a second look. However, I think if this sweater is knitted to a snug fit in a drapey silk lace yarn, it could be really cute.

But without seeing the actual knit-up model, the photograph would have put me right off it. Beware the bad photograph, vendors seeking to market to knitters!

October 01, 2008

BANG! and Finally. Knitting

Sure enough, the Bicycling as Transportation/Knitters Alternatively Transporting Project went out with a Big Bang:

Final BAT/KAT Total: 2132 trips taken by knitters who walked/bicycled/scootered/took public transportation instead of a personal vehicle from April 2008 through September 2008.

That adds up to a whole lot of gas not used and carbon not put into the atmosphere. Nice job everyone!

Sarah described her participation in the BAT/KAT project as being part of a larger effort for "mindfulness in consumption". Indeed, I've really seen this project as forcing me to make conscious decisions about transportation, instead of just mindlessly getting into my car. More mindfulness can only lead to good. But without the peer pressure of reporting to the blog, will I continue with such mindfulness? Only time will tell.

Laura won the glass knitting needles by submitting the 2008th BAT/KAT trip! Through the miracle that is the random number generator, Lea K. won the Tweed book and Donna won the Son of Stitch and Bitch book. Congratulations to the prize winners, and to all the BAT/KAT participants!

Now that I've carved out a little more mental space to knit stuff more challenging than socks, I've returned to my long-stalled Apres Surf Hoodie.

apressurfsleeve1012008.jpg

I started this sleeve -- the FIRST sleeve -- in June and I finished it in September. How lame is that? I started the back piece immediately so as not to fall into the trap of having to start up this project again cold. Does anyone else do that? Leave a project after finishing a piece because casting on for the next part all of a sudden (and for no rational reason) seems hard and scary? Knitting is truly a mental game.

My sister Silvia is knitting the very same sweater, except (1) she is beating my sorry assfurther along and (2) she decided to knit the body in the round up to the armhole division. Although I thought about converting this pattern which is written flat to in-the-round to avoid side seams, I was chicken and decided against it. Why?

Well, I struggle with every project to get an appropriate row gauge. Generally, the particular way I hold the needles and yarn results in compressed row gauge: too many rows in a four inch space. This means endless rewriting of patterns to get shaping that isn't short and squat.

With Apres Surf Hoodie, the Knitting Goddess has smiled upon me and given me appropriate row gauge when I knit the lacy pattern back and forth. Because my purl rows are looser than my knit rows, I know that if I knit this sucker in the round (which of course eliminates the purl rows), my gauge will change. Frankly, I do not wish to tempt this particular fate. Back and forth it is.

July 24, 2008

Yes, She Still Knits

I know that its time to show some knitting when people write to me and ask after the health and welfare of my projects.

apressurfsleeve7242008sm.jpg

Click here for bigger.

Poor Apres Surf Hoodie. She doesn't deserve this. The pattern is lovely, well-written and easy to work. The yarn (Knitpicks Gloss in Pumpkin) is a pleasure. The problem is lack of knitting time.

Or is it?

Lately, when people say or write that they "don't have time" for something, be it bicycling to do errands, exercise for health and fitness, or to knit and spin, I think back to part of Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. She asks the question: what are people doing that is so important that they don't have time to cook healthful meals? For lots of people (maybe you, maybe not you) the answer, according to her, is watching television or surfing the internet.**

Thus, it isn't a question of having 'time" -- everybody has the same 24 hour day -- but priorities.

I've spent more time recently at work and doing household chores than is the "average" for me. Thus cutting into the block of time available for recreation. I've spent less time bicycling than is normal for a typical summer day, but some of that time is taken up being an incipient gym rat. But I'd say that I've spent about the same time as usual surfing my beloved Internet (other than the Tour de France, I watch relatively little television).

So it appears that I've prioritized keeping my surfing time intact at the expense of the knitting and spinning. I love surfing. A lovely, generally mindless and relaxing activity. I love knitting too. Until my amount of recreating time expands again, it appears I've got some choices to make.


**She grants that there are indeed people who work double-shifts and literally do nothing for fun and recreation. Obviously, this doesn't apply to them.

June 04, 2008

Something New

With the closing of the Eiffel/hemp chapter of this blog, I'm itching to start up something new. In casting about for the right yarn for the Apres Surf Hoodie, I realized that the perfect yarn might be right under my nose.

apressurfgloss-swatch.jpg

Awhile back, I knit Thermal in Knitpicks Gloss, a fingering weight wool/silk yarn. Its a comfortable light weight and the pilling situation is very manageable (this means that yes, it pills a little, but below my pilling expectations for this fiber and the yarn's softness). I really enjoyed working with it then, and eventually I realized that all of my internet/Ravelry searching for yarn was really a search for this one -- yet again. So, I pulled out my left-over skeins of Cocoa Gloss and swatched away.

This yarn is finer than the called-for yarn, but surprisingly not by very much. I swatched the stockinette portion in US size 4 needles for the knit rows and US size 3 needles for the purl rows, and got a nice, drapey fabric that is about 26.5 sts to four inches. I used US size 3 needles for all rows of the lace swatch and got about 26/sts to four inches when the pattern calls for 24 sts/four inches.

So, close. Close enough that I may just make the 35 1/2 inch finished size, knowing that it may be just a tad smaller which is fine for me. I wasn't looking forward to doing a pattern re-write, and now perhaps I can use the Gloss and not have to.

There is yarn on order, and I'll bet that you guys can probably figure out which color I picked.

MS Ride Prize Basket

Today, an extra-special prize hand-sewn by my sister:

Silvia-ms-bags.jpg

She made a set of three environmentally friendly cloth shopping bags using this Craftster tutorial. So cute. So practical. For every $10 donation to my MS Ride you get a chance to win this prize and the other great prizes in the Prize Basket!

For all youse guys who looked at the tandem picture on Monday and guessed that hubby made it off the couch -- wrong. He's still on the couch with a big-ass cast on his leg. Here's another hint:

tandemhint.jpg

hmmmmm. Could it be.....

June 02, 2008

Eiffel Revealed

After quite a few months knitting with hemp yarn during winter wool season, my reward is a seasonally-appropriate knit.

eiffelfinished.jpg

Picture credit: Cheryl.

Project Details:

Pattern: Eiffel from Knitty.

Yarn: I used the called-for yarn, Hemp for Knitting, allhemp6 and I'm pretty sure there were five skeins at least. There might have been six. I ended up having all of a skein left over except for a few yards that I needed for the neckline edging.

Needles: I used Addi Turbo needles in US size 5 for the body of the garment, and US size 3 Addis and DPNs for the edgings.

Mods: I knit the pattern as written except for the neckline: I hate boatnecks with a searing, white-hot passion and would never wear this sweater with that neckline.

I followed the pattern up until the point the raglan decreases had all been done. Then, instead of immediately knitting on the edging as instructed, I put most of the center front stitches on a holder and short rowed about five more rows, doing extra raglan decreases and decreasing a couple of more stitches at the front neckline edges. I didn't do any fancy wrapping or anything, I just knit until I hit the center front stitches and could go no further, turned the work around and knit another row. This technique is discussed in Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Without Tears on pages 74-75. Then I knit on the edging and called it done.

I'm happy with the mod. The neckline sits comfortably on the back of my neck without shifting and sliding (my issue with boatnecks).

The upsides of this sweater outweighed the downsides by a considerable margin. The downsides were mostly yarn related: the hemp yarn is somewhat ropelike to knit and the dye came off all over my hands and knitting needles. However, after throwing this in the machine wash just once the yarn did soften up somewhat. Its supposed to continue softening up with each additional wash which would make it a super-comfortable garment.

The positives of this sweater are the fit: very good and the style: cute. I think I probably continued the lacy bottom of the sweater slightly too high. The design calls for an empire waist and a little ribbon threaded through the eyelets below the boobal area (I am not a little ribbon sort of gal, so I skipped that part) and were I to do that the ribbon might sit a bit high. But this is a sweater under which I'd wear a camisole in any event, since its a bit sheer, so too-high lacy bits won't be a problem.

I do question whether there is a place in my wardrobe for a summer sweater of this weight. We shall see.

BAT/KAT Project*

My bicycle trips instead of car trips this past week: 2
Total BAT/KAT project bicycle trips by me: 10
BAT/KAT project trips by all participants last week: 34
Total BAT/KAT project trips by all participants: 243

So, who has been BAT/KATing this week? Inquiring minds want to know.

This is a picture of one of my BAT trips this week:

peetsBAT.jpg

Hmmmm. What could be going on here??

While you ponder that question, have a look at today's fabulous MS Ride prize:

Pam purse.jpg

The generous Pam H. has donated this pink and white houndstooth Jordana Paige Knitter's Messenger Bag, brand new with the tags on it as a prize that YOU could win. For every $10 you donate you get a chance to win this great prize and all the great prizes in the Prize Basket. Thanks for considering it!


*Bicycling as Transportation/Knitters Alternatively Transporting Project. The goal of which is to substitute at least one bicycling/walking/alternatively transporting trip for one car trip every week. Join us any week you like by making a BAT/KAT Trip and tell us about it here in the comments on Mondays.

May 30, 2008

Friday Blocking

I wonder what could be going on here?

eiffelblockingtowel.jpg

It appears that Eiffel is on the blocking towel. Long, skinny tubes no more.

How about another MS Ride prize to take us into the weekend?

gatheringoflace.jpg

Katrina T. is graciously donating a copy of the book "Gathering of Lace" by Meg Swanson. A $10 donation gets you a chance to win this prize and all the other prizes in the Prize Basket.

Have a great weekend!

May 21, 2008

Return of the Long Skinny Tubes

I've said before that I am knitting the oddest assortment of long, skinny tubes that ever I have done.

eiffel5212008.jpg

There comes a point in every project where continuing the knitting is just a crawl to the finish. I think I've reached it. Although the hemp has been interesting and the easy patterning of Eiffel has been entertaining but not too taxing on my poor little brain, its time to end this thing.

The top part of this garment is insubstantial -- a very short raglan decrease and a wide boat neck. Frankly, I hate boat necks. There is always much slipping to one side or another, bra straps broadcasting their whiteness to the world. I may have to mess with stuff.

Next, I'd like to make the Apres Surf Hoodie by the talented Connie. I'm dithering about the yarn choice, though. The called-for yarn, Rowan Cashcotton 4 ply is lovely, but I haven't yet found a color with which I'm in love. I'm mulling substitutions at the moment, glad to have the distraction of yarn shopping to think about.

MS Ride Prize Basket

Let's add a delightful item to the Prize Basket:

Bets STR Cracked Canyon.jpg

Here are two brand-new but already-wound balls of Socks That Rock sock yarn in the Cracked Canyon colorway. Considering the enormous knitter-line for STR purchasing at this past Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, its not a bad deal at all to just enter to win some without all that line-standing effort. As always, go here for all the details.

April 14, 2008

Long Skinny Tube--Stretched

I am knitting Eiffel....theoretically. In actual fact, this project has been looking like a series of long, skinny tubes.

To allay my increasing fears that this just really wouldn't stretch to fit me, I put most of the stitches on some waste yarn and tried it on.

eiffelapr142008.jpg

Luckily, the thing will fit me. However, looking at this photo and comparing it with the pattern picture....hmmmm. It looks like I stopped with the lacy ribbing and started with the regular ribbing far too soon. Sure enough, what I swore up and down was nine inches of lacy ribbing when I measured it while knitting, turns out to be BARELY eight inches after being viciously stretched out after the try on. And, even the nine inches (the pattern spec for the smallest size) looks a little scant.

So, off with the last couple of inches and I'll knit more lacy ribbing. Honestly, I'd rather know now than later. Moral of this story: if one is knitting stretchy tubes, try them on before making biggish knitting choices.

2008 MS Ride Prize Call

Several kind folks have asked if I will be riding and fundraising again this year for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Indeed, I will be riding the first 75 mile day of the MS Ride this year, and will be starting the fundraising effort right after the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.

As you might recall, last year Knitters Against MS were the NUMBER ONE fundraisers in the entire ride! For this year's ride I will be wearing the number 1 on my jersey to honor all the knitters who so generously gave to help out their fellow knitters (and their friends and loved ones) who would so greatly benefit from finding a cure for this awful disease.

So, it might be nice to show up for this years ride with a few bucks.

To that end, we are going to have an Enormous Raffle just like last year when 180+ prizes went out to lucky winners chosen by a random number generator from 1145 generous donors.

If any of you would like to donate a yarny prize for this year's big-ass raffle, I would really appreciate that. All you need to do is email me at the address in my left sidebar. Thanks in advance for considering this request!

March 31, 2008

Long Skinny Tubes

I am knitting long skinny tubes. Long skinny tubes I am knitting.

eiffel3312008.jpg

Some sweater projects demand faith. Faith that diligent swatching and careful knitting will indeed produce the hoped-for garment.

Eiffel is one of those sweater projects.

When I look at these tubes, my cranky pessimistic knitter brain thinks "no effing way this will fit, you moron." My cheerful optimistic knitter brain (notice -- evil twin brains) thinks "hey you tried it on and fits around, so go for it!" Said in the sing-song, lilting, annoying way that people talk to babies and cute puppies.

Short of dunking the finished part in water and blocking it out (considered and rejected), there is no way to know for sure what the outcome will be. Which is really the essence of sport, isn't it?

Regarding the comments: many people who have been kind enough to comment on recent blog posts have hit POST and then gotten either an error page (Internet Explorer) or nothing at all happens (Firefox). Yet, their comment posts as usual and the software sends me an email with the comment just as it should. In attempting to fix this, I have run into the sad playground game of the server company pointing at Movable Type, and the Movable Type folks pointing at the server company.

Nice.

So, to commenters: sorry about that. Any blog software gurus out there?

March 17, 2008

And Now For Something Different

Generally speaking, I knit with wool. Although I've been known to knit with cotton or silk or ribbon yarn on occasion, wool is my primary knitting love.

Yet, one of my goals in the 2008 knitting season* is to seek out and find knit-things that I haven't previously tried. Given that tomorrow I'm apparently celebrating my 25th Knitting Anniversary, meeting this goal is harder than it first would appear.

But. I've never knit with hemp. So, let's fire up a hemp project shall we?

eiffelsleeve31620082.jpg

Here is a sleeve-swatch of Eiffel knit up out of the suggested yarn for the pattern, allhemp6. This yarn was a gift from a destashing friend who knew I would like this. Thanks babe!

At first, I was a bit taken aback by the ropeyness of this yarn. Its not soft or squishy, but hard and firm. Wool is forgiving and slides easily through my fingers. Hemp, not so much. The closest fiber to this that I've worked with before is probably cotton, but hemp is really its own thing. Perhaps linen is the closest analogue, but I've never worked with linen so I can't say.

But after working with this fiber for a few days, my paradigm shifted and I began to really enjoy the odd, new feeling of the hemp in my hands. The lacy beginning of this pattern is an easy four row repeat, and so far I've found the pattern to be easy to follow.

Knitting along one evening, I happened to glance down at the pattern print-out. Mmmmm. How did those pink smudges get on there? I look more closely.

Fingerprints. Reddish fingerprints.

I look at my fingers. Reddish fingers. I look specifically at my index finger. Indeed, where I carry the yarn Continental style wrapped twice around, I see two parallel red lines.

It appears that this yarn is crocking. When I then went to look up this yarn/project on Ravelry, I found an entry by a knitter describing how her previously bright purple Eiffel had significantly faded after washing.

Now, a red Eiffel appeals to me. But a PINK Eiffel -- somewhat less so.

When I don't know a dyeing answer -- and having no experience with hemp, that was the deal -- I call upon the Dye Maven. Hemp is a difficult fiber to dye, says Sara, because the fibers are long and designed to wick moisture up from the soil, not absorb through the *side* of the fiber. Absorbing through the side of the fiber is how things get dyed, so clearly hemp is going to have dyeing issues. And, a deep red color is going to be difficult to get not to crock, even when dyeing something easy like wool or cotton.

So, this finished sweater is going to get a nice soak in water laced with soda ash to better set the dye. Although it would probably have been more effective to soak the yarn rather than the finished product, the red on my fingers during knitting doesn't bother me too much and I'd rather not have to unravel the sleeve I've already started.

Adventures in hemp knitting have commenced!


*Unlike say, the baseball season or the basketball season, knitting season runs the entire year.

December 12, 2007

Winter Autumn Rose

Technically, I know its still autumn. But this Autumn Rose looks to me like she's showing off in winter.

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A view of the back:

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Overall, the sweater fits well. Due to my lack of back and shoulder-age, there is a tad more ease to the rear than I really need. But that is a minor quibble. For a detail of the neckband and shoulder, click here.

Project Details:

Pattern and Yarn: Autumn Rose by Eunny Jang, Simply Shetland 4 book and Jamieson's Spindrift kit purchased at Two Swans Yarns. I bought the yarn designated for the smallest size, and probably due to my serial sleeve swatching failures -- which I did not rip out -- I ran out of Old Gold and Sunrise, the two main colors. Luckily Two Swans still had the same dye lots and speedily sent me one extra ball of each. I've heard tell of other folks running out of these two colors, so a knitter might be well advised to buy extra upfront.

Needles: Clover Bamboo DPNs and Crystal Palace Bamboo 24 inch circular needles in US size 3. For the neckband, I used Addi Turbo 16 inch circulars in US sizes 2, 1, and 0 in that order.

I thought that there was a HUGE difference in gauge between metal needles and bamboo needles in this project. With the Addi needles, my gauge was enormously loose, in my view because the needles were too slippery for me to exert a proper pull when executing the fair isle colorwork two-handed technique. I got a nice tight gauge with the bamboo needles because the "sticky" yarn grabbed onto those suckers and made yanking on the yarn while knitting it easily possible.

Mods: Almost none. I trusted Eunny's design and knit as writ. The only thing I consciously changed was to knit the sleeve cuffs an extra half inch to deal with my compressed row gauge and thus to avoid a too-short sleeve. However, I say "consciously changed" because I inadvertently DID mod this sweater in a critical way.

My row gauge, instead of the called for 32 rows to 4 inches (8 rows per inch), was 36 rows to 4 inches (9 rows per inch). Now, ordinarily an extra row per inch wouldn't be a big deal. But this design is an all-over chart, so absent big-time mods you have to knit every row as given. Given that the raglan depth on my sweater is 7 inches, and I lost a row per inch (7 total rows), my raglan depth was almost an inch shorter than the design specs. Now, this COULD have resulted in a tight armhole and higher neckline. But it didn't -- its perfect. This evidence, together with the experiences of Cate and Deb suggest to me that the raglan and neckline might be a little long as written.

If you make this sweater, watch your row gauge carefully. Consider hiking up the neckline at least one inch to keep the original design proportion and perhaps more if you are modest or, unlike me, have significant boobage (the neckline is quite a plunger).

Verdict: I had lots of fun knitting this project and I've renewed my love of colorwork. I'm looking forward to see what other fabulous patterns this designer produces in the future.

Am I jumping for joy that this project is done?

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Indeed.

December 10, 2007

The Blocking Towel Is Out

The blocking towel (a twenty-year old KMart special) is out and Autumn Rose is on it.

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Here is a closer view:

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As I predicted, this is Neckband version 2.0. Neckband version 1.0 failed because I over-thought myself and tried to be a bit too tricky. You see, when I tried on the sweater I thought that the back neck was hugely too wide. I figured that if I picked up less stitches for the back neckline using a ratio of roughly one picked up stitch to every two edge stitches, and then picked up pretty much every stitch around the U neckline, I'd draw in the problem area.

Mmmm. No.

What actually happened was that the back neckband ended up puckering the back of the sweater into unattractive ripples and the U neckline pooched out. Bad in every way.

The second time around, I abandoned trickiness and simply picked up roughly three stitches for every four edging stitches all around the neckline. This seems to have worked out, but we will see for sure post-blocking.

My next crisis was the neckline corrugated ribbing bind off. I so rarely use a "normal" bind-off for an edge that will show, defined as K2, pull the first K over the second, etc. But on Wendy's good counsel, I tried it and it looks quite nice.

Just a word to the wise: corrugated ribbing has a nasty tendency to flare and curl. Although the pattern tells you to "bind off loosely", and I did so on the first neckline attempt, I honestly thought that looked like ass and encouraged the neckband's natural curling tendency. On the second and final neckline, I bound off tightly and I'm much more satisfied with the look. Usually loosely binding-off a neckband is a great idea to prevent a popped edging and a ribbing that won't expand to accomodate a head fitting through it. But seriously. This is the deepest neckline I've EVER knit onto a garment and there is no way any sized human head will fail to fit through this gigantic hole, tight bind-off or no.

Behind the scenes at Claudia's Blog: Today is a dark, icy, altogether craptastic winter morning. There is no hope of good natural light, and Autumn Rose looks much less than stunning in flash pictures. In order to get today's blocking pictures I leaned heavily on my brand new tripod, a birthday gift from my lovely and generous mom. Check this setup out:

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The tripod's center column slips out and can be mounted horizontally, which gives me the new ability to shoot straight down onto the knitting without having to handhold the camera or take a great picture of the tripod's legs. Yeah!

The key to natural light pictures in low light is a long shutter speed to let as much light onto the digital camera's sensor as necessary for a good picture. The reason you need a tripod for this is that the longer the shutter speed, the less likely it is that even a person with steady hands can hold the camera still enough to get a sharp picture. The blocking pictures were taken in a dark, dark room but you'd never know it. Thanks to the tripod, baby.

December 05, 2007

I Have Scissors....

I have scissors, and I know how to use 'em.

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The knitting on Autumn Rose is done. Now she needs some sharp, cutting love.

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Before putting scissors to the neck steek, I move the loose strands of yarn out of the way of the cutting line from the wrong side.

Then, I slip a hardcover book in between the front and back, so I don't inadvertently cut the back during the steeking.

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Time to cut carefully between the two middle rows of steek stitches.

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Here's another view of the slice-and-dice.

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A moment later, the neckline is freed and folks we have a sweater!

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Just as I thought, the cut edges are not unravelling even a tiny bit. Heedlessly I pulled the sweater over my head to try it on, and still. A rock-solid cut edge.

Fear not the scissors.

December 03, 2007

Four More Rows

Four more rows:

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If I hadn't watched the Project Runway Season 3 DVD I would have finished Autumn Rose.

If I hadn't had to play with my new flash for my big-ass camera I woud have finished Autumn Rose.

If I hadn't had to shovel the driveway this morning, I would have finished Autumn Rose.

Except for the last item, I'm not sorry. However, I'm close enough to be warming up the scissors....

November 26, 2007

Joined and Steeked

My Autumn Rose is looking like it will become a real sweater.

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I am working my way up from the armholes to the neck, steeking the deep "U" neck opening.

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I choose to knit my steeks in a checkerboard pattern, although you can knit stripes of color as well. I don't plan to reinforce or sew down the steeks before cutting them. Live on the edge, I say.

The major-league upside of the steek is that I don't have to purl back while trying to knit two-handed color work. The downside of the steek is that it scrunches up the top of the project so that there is no real way to try on the sweater as I knit. Thus, I have no way of knowing whether the raglan armhole depth combined with the deepness of the neckline will fit me correctly until after the steek is cut. This mystery-until-the-end has already caused some heartache for a couple other Autumn Rose knitters, so I remain cautious.

Every third round I decrease eight stitches. Although I'm really enjoying this knit, at the same time I'm loving decreasing it out of existence. The collision of process and product?

November 07, 2007

Autumn Knitting

The first time I tried fair isle knitting, back when I'd only been knitting for a few years and Alice Starmore had just burst onto the scene, I remember thinking that it was like painting with yarn. That by using two colors per row, one in each hand, I could make marvelous colorful shapes and patterns miraculously appear.

Although that first effort was doomed because of my bad style and color choices, the thought of painting with yarn stuck in my mind.

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Now that I've gotten comfortable with the Autumn Rose pattern, and the orange highlighter tape on the chart allows me always to see where I've been and where I'm going, I'm painting with yarn again. It sucks me in.

"Just one more row."

"Oooh, one more row and I get to use Madder again."

"Look how clever that shape is."

Fundamentally, I think I'm a very simple person. How else to explain the fascination with a few balls of Shetland yarn and weird wooden sticks?

October 29, 2007

An Autumnal Autumn Rose

Photographing the same project, over and over, week after week, has its challenges. But I am knitting a project called Autumn Rose. And its autumn out my window. So the following photo opp should not surprise.

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The first sleeve is done. Well, as done as it can be until the body is done, the twin of this sleeve is done and all bits can joyfully be joined together to knit the armholes and shoulders all of one piece. I did cast on for the body using US size 3 circular needles (Clover bamboo, 24 inch). First impressions? Over two hundred and fifty stitches goes alot slower per round than did the seventy-plus-or-minus of the the sleevage. Duh.

It is too soon to begin the gauge worrying because I'm still mired in the corrugated ribbing. Actually, I rather like the mindlessness of the corrugated ribbing. My general rule is to put the color the particular row uses most in my left hand, leaving less stitches to work via my clumsy attempts at English knitting. However, because I cannot purl in the English way, I work corrugated ribbing by knitting the more numerous knit stitches with the yarn in my right yarn, throwing as well as I am able, and I purl in the Continental fashion with the purl color in my left hand. Its quite slow, but then I'm not the speediest knitters under the best of circumstances.

There is no prize, I remind myself.

Now I know among the serious practitioners of fair isle knitting there are equally serious discussions of which color should be in which hand as the predominant one. I choose to remain blind to any benefit that I might gain from paying such careful attention. I dislike knitting in the English way. I prefer knitting in the Continental style. Less of the first, more of the second makes me happy. The end.

Jennifer recently made me aware of a great cause in the Boston area that needs the involvement of knitters. Go here for information on how to help a fellow knitter make a difference for the homeless folks in my area.

October 19, 2007

Kitties 1, Autumn Rose 0

Heard from a distance:

Meow, MEOW. Hissssssssssss. Screech!

SWAT, SWAT, SWAT.

WHOMP, WHOMP, WHOMP!

Crash!

Investigation revealed:

destructokitties.jpg

No cats or knitting were permanently harmed in the making of this blog entry. Professional cats on a closed course. Do not try this at home.

October 17, 2007

See Claudia Fair Isle

How's that Autumn Rose coming along?

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I pinky-swear I did not stage this picture. This is how I found it this morning. Stabbed through the heart.

Although perhaps subliminally I appear hostile, I actually am enjoying the project thus far. Here are some wishes that things could be different, though.

1. For a reason which I cannot fathom, the publisher (I know better than to blame the designer) decided that the chart for this sweater should have the light colors shown as BLACK squares and the dark colors shown as WHITE squares. Schwah? This makes it so that the design that emerges from your knitting is the negative of what you see on the chart. Putting one more hurdle in the path of my ability to learn this pattern and become more chart-independent.

2. I need a better system of marking my current row than the free and readily-available, but low-tech, solution of the post-it note. I'm able to tolerate that the post-it note often just falls off. But because it covers the rows that I've just knit, again this makes it harder for me to internalize what is going on in the pattern.

Things that are going right:

1. It looks like the US size 3 needles are the appropriate size from a stitch gauge point of view. I am waiting a bit more to make a decision on exactly how far off my row gauge is. Interestingly, the mosaic pattern has a more compressed row gauge than the roundy-bit (perhaps "medallion" is a better term) pattern. Perhaps some folks' gauge difficulties on the pattern have to do with the likelihood that stitch and row gauges are different in the two main fair isle patterns of this sweater. That appears to be true for me to some as-yet-underdetermined extent.

2. Dudes. I totally love the colors Eunny chose for this sweater. If you like fall palette colors (as I do) this color selection is beautifully done and frankly, irresistable. In addition, the shading is subtle, but never so subtle that the patterning is lost. My compliments to the designer.

October 15, 2007

Not Stopping Too Soon

You smarties can figure out where I am in the saga of Autumn Rose just from this picture:

Yes, I know I said that US size 2 needles gave me 30 stiitches to 4 inches (pattern stitch gauge), but I was sadly mistaken. When I got to the roundy-bit pattern I measured my gauge again, and once again there were too many stitches. I even had my mom measure, just to be safe, and she found too many stitches as well.

Oh the many ways gauge can fool, lie, obfuscate and in all ways bite a knitter in the ass. Cry me a river.

There was nothing for it but to run out to the local yarn shop and buy US size 3 needles to start again.

Now, I could look upon a week's vacation knitting and see no progress. It is still too early to tell whether US size 3 needles are the appropriate ones for this project -- my gauge seems to change with the type of fair isle pattern that I'm knitting, so I'll knit up to the roundy-bit pattern again before deciding. So, there is really not even a final cuff of one sleeve to show for my efforts.

But I'm not looking at it like that.

On Saturday, my good friend Becky and I set out to visit artists on the Sonoma County ARTrails. We spent alot of time at the studio of Micah Schwaberow, an amazing artist who works with color woodblock prints. He explained all the testing and experimenting he does before starting to work on the actual prints with 150 sheets of expensive handmade paper. With great candor, he showed us a story-board progression of one print (which turned out beautifully in the end) where he "stopped too soon" with the testing and had a devil of a time saving the print run due to unexpected interactions of color.

I do not fancy myself an artist; I'm simply aiming faithfully to translate the Autumn Rose pattern into a knitted sweater that will fit me and have the look and feel the designer intended. But the idea of "stopping too soon" with the testing and experimentation before commiting massive amounts of time and expensive materials into a project really resonated with me. I've certainly done that on numerous number of prior knitting occasions.

This time, I'll take the time I need before committing to the needle size best suited to this project. I'm home now with my needle collection, which is pretty comprehensive, so there won't be any more need for emergency needle runs (hmmm, that last bit could be open to various interpretations....).

October 10, 2007

The School of Autumn Rose

Last time I told you about the gauge issue that struck down Autumn Rose v. 1.0. But there is so much more carnage to share. First, the good news.

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I've almost reconstructed the sleeve to where I was on Monday, using Clover bamboo DPNs in US size 2 that I procured from a nice yarn shop in Santa Cruz, California. In which I spent the sum total of five minutes -- locate needles with laser-like focus, pay and leave. There are many more interesting things to see in Santa Cruz than even the best-stocked yarn shop.

The pins in the swatch denote the width of 30 stitches, which thankfully is four inches -- just like the pattern specifies. However, my row gauge is considerably compressed (which means way more rows in four inches than the pattern contemplates). This happens to me all the time. Apparently I am a freak of knitting nature. This will be a problem because this sweater is charted, and if I just blindly knit it as writ, I'd end up with a much shorter sweater and shallower raglan than the pattern calls for. Luckily for me, Deb shared her kick-ass colorized spreadsheet with me, that will make this fix a whole lot easier.

So, what really dumb-ass mistakes have I made?

1. Knit a new color with the tail of the yarn rather than the ball side of the yarn. (at least twice)
2. Failing to realize that this chart needs to be read from left to right, rather than right to left which is the usual. The tip-off that I failed to see was that the side shaping was clearly drawn in on the left hand side.

Oops. So much more dumb-assity, so little time. Gotta go ride now. Vacation and all.

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October 08, 2007

Win Some, Lose Some

Turns out, Eunny Jang must be as loose a knitter as I am. Although I usually have to go down two needle sizes, apparently in this case the stated needle size (US Size 2) was actually correct.

autumnrosereject.jpg

Sadly, this sleeve-swatch is knitted on US size 1's.

If I had been smart, I would have brought size 2's with me on vacation.

I am not smart. Time to troll the local yarn shops.

October 05, 2007

Goodbye Work Hell, Hello Autumn Rose

Yesterday was Freedom Day. The day which marked the end of a four-month long forced march through seven briefs and two oral arguments, one before my state's supreme court and the other before the federal court in my area which is one level below the U.S. Supreme Court -- both this week, might I add. Thankfully, all went well. But I'm tired, and I really, really miss my knitting.

Maybe some of you miss knitting being on this blog too.

How do I celebrate (other than the lovely pedicure -- OPI I'm Not Really A Waitress for those who care)?

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I celebrated by casting on for Autumn Rose. (The link is indeed where I bought my kit, and those nice folks sent it along as soon as the yarn was available).

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I debated with myself (and, I debate pretty darn well) hard and long before firing up this purchase. Although I am very drawn to the style and the colors of this fair isle sweater, as a rule I don't wear clothing this highly patterned. And, as nice as the yarn is, it is NOT next-to-the-skin soft. This sweater is, however, designed to be close-fitting and designed to be worn with a cami or t-shirt underneath, leaving plenty o'skin exposed to the woolyness of the yarn.

So, I see wearability issues with this project which would usually nix it for me under a strict application of my Rule Number One.

But, in all my years of knitting (twenty-four, give or take) I've never completed a fair isle sweater. My last attempt ended in abject failure. I take this situation as a personal challenge, and as I've recently discussed, knitting challenges are becoming more difficult to come by.

So, Autumn Rose it is. Wish me luck.

I have not swatched, as I think that is a complete waste of time for me with this project. There is no way that a swatch, however knitted, would actually give me a straight answer on gauge. Instead, I cast on for a sleeve using US size 1 needles (the pattern calls for US size 2) and I'll knit for a bit on a sleeve-gauge-swatch. Knowing fully, of course, that the chances are better than 50-50 that I'll be ripping this out.

No matter.

I'm free and I'm knitting. No more is required.

September 10, 2007

Kyoto Bolero

Finally finished.

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And, of course, the back view:

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If you'd like a close-up view of the sweater, click here.

Pattern: The idea for this project came from this Twilley's pattern, found in the "Freedom Spirit 455" booklet. However, the yarn called for in the pattern was of a completely different gauge, fiber and hand than what I used, so I re-wrote the whole pattern to change gauge, and modified the collar to suit my drapey, floppy yarn.

Yarn: Six skeins of Artfibers Kyoto that I dyed a screaming shade of red. I have 28 grams of the final skein left over plus a few random tiny balls. Knowing that I started out with 305 g. of yarn, this little bolero designed to fit a 33 inch bust took a bit over five skeins of this yarn to make. Were I knitting a full-length sweater for myself, I'd buy seven skeins of Kyoto to be safe.

Needles: Addi Turbos in US size 9 for the ribbing and US size 10 for the stockinette bits. I hadn't worked on a bulky yarn/big needle project in awhile and it was a nice change to see lightning-fast progress after every knitting session.

Mods: This entire sweater was born out of the design enthusiasm generated by my watching a whole season of Project Runway. The challenge here was to take a design that I liked and translate it into a different gauge and incompatible yarn. I feel that I met my challenge and turned out a nicely fitting sweater that was appropriate for the silk/mohair yarn.

Button: The striking glass button was custom made for this project by the talented artisans at Moving Mud. You can find a close-up picture of the button in this post.

Its not a bad idea to haul out an unfinished cold-weather project at the tail end of summer so that it will be ready just in time for chilly fall days. Although this is an incredibly light sweater, silk and mohair is super warm. I'm the sort that is always cold, so I do expect to use this alot in the coming months.

So, its time for a new challenge. What will it be?

September 04, 2007

Bolero Blocking

Turns out, there was plenty of yarn to knit the sleeves.

boleroblocking.jpg

I do have a question as to whether the sleeves turned out too narrow. That's why I decided to dunk everything in warm water and wet-block before sewing it up. This was a decision made more...interesting...by the fact that back in the springtime I had decided to sew up the body part of the bolero for a try-on without wet-blocking. So, I could have continued in that vein and sewn up first.** But with so much ribbing on the sleeves that I knew would flatten out after blocking, I decided to wet-block it all.

This all should be dry by tomorrow, so I'm sure hoping that this project, begun so long ago will be done soon. Ooops. I shouldn't have typed that. Now the Knitting Goddess will smite me for sure.


**The one option I'd never take is to wet block only the sleeves, then sew them on to an un-wet-blocked body. That is just asking for trouble.

August 27, 2007

The Return of the Kyoto Bolero

A long time ago, I was busily and happily working on turning a bunch of Artfibers Kyoto yarn into a cute little bolero. There was much scratching of the head, playing with paper and pen and doing of the maths (hate maths) to take this drapey, floppy, but beautiful silk/mohair yarn and turn it into something approximating this. I've got the button for it and everything.

Where I left off was designing the sleeves. Why did I leave this sitting for months and months? Well, partly because there has been major suckage on the work front for many months and I had not the time nor mental space to work through maths. But partly due to the bane of all knitters' existences, the dreaded, the horrible...

Yarn Famine.

Let me demonstrate the problem in pictures.

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When Yarn Famine looms, I have learnt not to ignore that niggling, sinking feel of impending doom. Before starting the first sleeve, I searched the Fiber Room (sadly neglected lo these many months) for all remnants of the Kyoto. I placed the yarn on my trusty drug dealer's scale (its actually a very respectable old Ohaus Scout) to get a total weight -- 173.6 grams.

Then I divided that number by 2 and calculated that exactly half of the Kyoto would be 86.8 grams. So I wound one hank into a ball and progressively put more and more of that ball on the scale until I had reached this magic number.

kyotoleft.jpg

And, now I have the yarn split exactly into two halves. This way I can start on the first sleeve and if I run out of yarn on it, I know that I have to re-think. This saves me from knitting the first sleeve, then starting the second one and running out of yarn on THAT, wasting even more time and causing consequently more mental anguish. Being the huge doofus that I am, I immediately did this to avoid messing up my carefully constructed plan.

Will this amount of yarn make a full length sleeve? I'm hopeful, but appropriately cynical all at once. I could buy more Kyoto, but I hand-dyed this color and I'm not hopeful of being able to match it exactly. Let that be Plan B.

Onwards to the sleeve design....

May 23, 2007

Thermal Arrives

I am almost paralyzed with indecision over what to bring out of the Prize Basket next for my MS Ride raffle. There are so many wonderful things! Alright, I'm just gonna reach in and pick.....

Books! Each one of these is a separate prize:

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Two copies of the Celtic Collection, one donated by our newest knitting doctor Kristen and one donated by the generous Debbie D (who also took the picture).

And there's more! Check out this great Knitter's Journal kindly donated by Jule D.

And to top things off today, how about autographed copies of the Yarn Harlot's new book and Amy Singer's fabulous No Sheep for You courtesy of commenter extraordinaire Rachel H?

As always, rules for the raffle, where to donate and all the prizes revealed to date can be found here.

Now, my version of Thermal has been several months in the making and was not without its drama. There was a race which, without putting too fine a point on it, I today hereby win. There was cursing and not only the THREAT of scissors, but the actual hacking at knitted fabric.

However, today there is only sunshine and the happiness of a project completed.

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(Click on the picture for bigger.)

Project Details:

Pattern: Thermal by Cosmicpluto Laura.

Yarn: Knitpicks Gloss in the Cocoa colorway. I used six skeins to make the 32 inch size, with about a third of the final skein left over. This yarn is amazingly cheap, but I really liked working with it. I'd definitely use it again, as it makes a light but warm fabric which is perfect for an "indoor" winter sweater.

Needles: Addi Turbos in US size 3. Random bamboo DPNs in the same size for the sleeves.

Mods: Well. Where to begin. First, as detailed in this post I could not get my gauge to match the designer's no matter what I tried. My stitch and row gauge were substantially smaller (more stitches per inch and rows per inch than specified). This ended up fine, as I really wanted this sweater to be close-fitting. I made the 32 inch size as written, knowing that the sweater would be smaller. However, I had to redo all the shaping for the armholes and neckline to account for my differing row gauge.

Speaking of shaping, I changed the top of the sleeve cap. The pattern specifies to finish the sleeve cap by binding off seven stitches on each side on the last two rows, then binding off the remaining stitches. I thought this resulted in pointy bits on each side of the sleeve top which would be difficult to sew in without showing. Instead, I bound off four stitches at the beginning of the last four rows to give the top of the sleeve cap a more rounded appearance. Indeed, it was easier to sew in and I think this mod was an improvement to a close-fitted version of Thermal.

I did shorten the sweater a bit from waist to armhole, and I'm happy with how this came out. As for the neckline, although I thought the low neckline of the original Thermal was extraordinarily cute, I just didn't think it would be practical for me. This is a sweater that I would wear in the winter, and I'm a cold person. I want my boobages (such as they are) covered when its freezing out. So, I raised up the neckline about a half an inch, and I'm happy with the final product. Still low enough to show off a cute necklace, but high enough so that I can wear a shirt underneath it without looking dumb.

This is a good pattern, and I think the design of the sweater is both original and very cute. I'd recommend it as a project.


May 21, 2007

Something Pretty To Look At

Monday mornings are difficult. In the interests of easing into the week, lets all look at this lovely yarn for a quiet moment.

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The very generous Susan P. donated three 100 g. skeins of Handmaiden Sea Silk in the color "Pinata" as a prize in the MS Ride raffle. So soft. So happy-inducing. Let's look at that again, shall we?

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If you want a chance to win this fabulous prize, donate to my MS Ride and check out the rest of the Prize Basket here.

The blocking towel is out.

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Dry, little Thermal. Dry.

May 16, 2007

Taking Scissors to Thermal

Before we get to the hacked up knitting, lets look at a pretty picture first to prepare ourselves.

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Today's MS Ride prize is, frankly, something I want to keep for myself but won't. A canvas messenger bag with the Maryland Sheep and Wool logo! This is an extremely cute bag, great for carrying knitting projects or a laptop or actual...work. For a chance to win this or the other great prizes donate here or by using the Paypal button on my sidebar.

Moving on from the pretty to the ugly.

There has been carnage chez Claudia's Blog.

In the last post, I bitched and moaned profusely about the trouble I'd been having with the tubular bind-off for 1x1 rib. My eventual solution was to place the stitches on two DPNs and graft those suckers together. Stitch tension was kicking my ass and, honestly, the result was only the barest squidge above merely acceptable.

Yet, I stubbornly persisted in the grafting because I just was unwilling, unable, NOT GONNA RIP that bind-off again.

I don't know if anyone else is like this, but I find that out of five possible ways to explain a new technique or concept, I might stare blankly at four of them. But a slight change of phrase, or a video instead of a picture or just one question answered allows the light to dawn on Marblehead. Also, sometimes I find that I take a dogmatic approach to a problem like this, which doesn't allow me to really see a solution which is literally in front of my nose.

When I posted my whine I really didn't expect help. But what happened was that each of you who took the time to comment exposed me to a different angle on the problem. Dragging me out of my mental rut, so to speak. There was a helpful video (thanks Laura) which, although not solving my problem, gave me a better understanding of what was going on in the bind-off. Then Anna answered a critical question for me: she explained that the reason its better to do two rows of tubular knitting before doing this bind-off is to keep the stitches from slanting.

Oh.

See, telling me (as the Stanley book did) that it is "easier" to do this bind-off with the preparation rows didn't register at all. But I could see the slant problem on my knitting, and once I understood the REASON for this recommendation, well...my choo-choo jumped right back on the track.

And, I broke down and did a test swatch -- which I should have done right off but was too focused on GETTING THIS DONE to bite the bullet. I did two rows of tubular knitting (knit all the knits and slip all the purls with yarn in front). This ribibng is twisted, so I twisted the tubular knit rows as well. Then I went back to Jody's excellent tutorial and lo and behold, my bind-off looked fantastic! See:

betterbindoff.jpg

The difference? I had put away the Stanley book and just looked at Jody's instructions. Before I'd been trying to look at both at the time same, and there is obviously something in the Stanley instructions that was screwing me up.

Next to that swatch, my neckline -- half bound-off -- looked ass-like and clearly needed to be gone. Could I bring myself to un-pick that nasty bind-off?

My unsharp, cheap, paper scissors were on my desk. I sidled up to them and picked them up.

I looked at Thermal.

I looked at the scissors....

carnage.jpg

When I came back to myself, there was lint everywhere and the offending bind-off was scattered in a million tiny pieces all over the desk and floor.

Faster than unpicking? Nope.

More satisfying? Definitely!*

*Dudes, please do not try this at home unless you are prepared (as I was) to completely reknit the neckline if all hell broke loose. This has been a public service announcement.

May 02, 2007

Seamly

Well, look what we have here.

thermalseaming.jpg

You see correctly: the last bits of sleevage on Thermal are finally knit.

The last steps of sweater construction are always the least fun, but sadly they are the most important. When I finished the first sleeve cap and basted it in, I noticed that due to the non-rounded manner of the bindoff, there were little "horns" of fabric on each side of the final sleeve cap bindoff. I was worried that due to the stretchy and close-fitting nature of this sweater, these bits of extra fabric would show up after sewing in.

Thus, when I got to the final five rows of the second sleeve, I decided to modify the pattern to provide for a more rounded sleeve cap. Instead of binding off seven stitches at the beginning of the last two rows, I bound off four stitches at the beginning of the last four rows, then bound off the remaining stitches. Upon sewing in the modified sleeve, I really liked how change smoothed out the "points" on the sides of the sleeve cap and would recommend it for anyone knitting this sweater. Indeed, I ripped out the last five rows of the already-completed sleeve and repeated the modification.

The picture shows the method I use to sew in sleeves. I turn the sleeve inside out, then pin the sleeve to the body at the bottom center and the top center. Then I ease in the sides by first putting pins at "9 o'clock" and "3 o'clock", and then I pin halfway between each pin. Then I take out my trusty blue plastic Susan Bates needle and mattress stitch as carefully as I can manage it.

One more sleeve to sew in, and then its on to the finishing touches: the placket and collar. YEAH!

April 30, 2007

So Close. So Far

Some weekends I'm able to meet all my goals, knitting and otherwise.

Some weekends, I can't.

thermalapr302007.jpg

Here is Thermal in her unfinished glory. The second sleeve is sitting atop the finished first one, and it is plain to see that maybe an hour of focused knitting will complete it. Sadly, an hour that I did not have.

I don't know about you, but at the beginning of every weekend I really consciously have goals in mind that I want to complete. Believe me, I'd much rather not. And just lounge around in my PJs as that is my natural inclination. But such sloth invariably makes the coming week difficult, so I try hard to be grown-up about it all.

Anyway, I had it in my mind that in addition to meeting my work goals and my bicycle riding goals and my chore goals, I could at the very least finish the Thermal knitting and do the sewing up of the sleeves to the armholes. Secretly, I think, I was hoping that perhaps a finished Thermal would accompany me to Maryland next weekend.

Alas. I have let that secret desire go.

But that isn't what I wanted to write about today. I know that different knitters have widely divergent expectations for this hobby. For me, upon reflection, I think its perfectly reasonable to set knitting goals and strive to meet them in the same way I might set a work goal, or a bicycle training goal. I don't find that this focus takes the fun out of knitting, but I understand that some other knitters might. This behavior reflects the importance that I place on the time spent knitting. Frankly, if I didn't set goals for knitting time spent or progress made, some other thing would elbow it out for priority.

In fact, I set knitting goals as matter-of-factly (and hopefully as reasonably) as I set work goals. Some fabulous knitters (who shall remain nameless but know who they are) set up outrageous deadlines for themselves providing the rest of us with unbelievable entertainment watching the drama unfold. For better (me) or worse (you), its pretty boring in that respect 'round these parts.

So, if I had to describe my approach to knitting in one word, it woud be.....workmanlike. I love the process. I love the product. I take pride in the execution. I plan for knitting time like I plan for other things in my life. And sometimes plans get changed.

That was a long way of saying, "Thermal -- not done", wasn't it?

April 16, 2007

Claudia's Favorite Holiday

Today, my dears, is my very favorite holiday of the whole year: Patriots' Day. Sadly, we are having a nor'easter and it is raining and windy. This likely means no pansy planting, no tandem bike ride to see the Boston Marathon, no parade.

sigh.

I do however get to do my taxes today. WOO HOO! Um....not.

In anticipation of today being a rainout, we rode into Marathon central on Saturday to check out the preparations.

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Runners got to take pictures of themselves at the finish line, which I gather was what this girl was up to. The baby, however, seems too young to be running a marathon.

For what is lacking in Patriots' Day news, I make up for with Thermal news.

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I completed the front and used the suggested Three Needle Bind-off to join the shoulder seams. Then I basted on the previously completed sleeve to check for fit of the sleeve cap and length of the sleeve. After all, why would I want to knit a second sleeve before determining whether or not the first one sucked?

I am very happy with the fit of the sweater, and I think the length of the sleeve cap will work. The top of this sleeve cap design is not very rounded, leaving pointy bits at the side which may result in puckering upon the actual sewing in. I won't, however, do the sewing in quite yet because I'll need the first sleeve as a pattern to make the second and that wouldn't work so well if the first sleeve was already sewn in.

One last picture, this one showing the progress of Thermal in comparison to the Ariann sweater I'm trying to size-match.

thermalarianncomp.jpg

Pretty darn close. I'm working on the second sleeve in between the tax debacle. Wish me luck with both of them.

April 09, 2007

My Weekend with(out) Thermal

One Easter Dinner cooked.

One work deadline met.

The Thermal.....well. It was pretty far down on the priority list this weekend. Despite my Thermal neglect, a back is done, and the front is emerging.

thermalapr92007.jpg

The color in this picture isn't the best, but if you can imagine the color of a Hershey's bar (sorry for the non-worldwide reference) that is what is really going on in this sweater.

Right now, I've got twenty stitches going up one of the fronts. Frankly, that's about all I've got the energy for, so YEAH! Back and forth on 20 stitches! Some may consider it proof of how easily I'm entertained. And I'm OK with that.

April 04, 2007

Thermal Decided

I bound off for the armhole shaping, and here's what I've got as worn over the Ariann sweater on which Thermal is being patterned.

thermalapr42007.jpg

I've got it pretty darned close, I think.

Life is intruding on my ability to knitknitknit. I think Stephanie is inching ahead in the Great Thermal Race of '07!

April 02, 2007

Thermal Decisions

The best part of sweater knitting is when there are rows and rows of uncomplicatedness. No decisions to make, no judgments to call. Just the joy of pure knitting. Round and round and round.

There comes a point, though, when a knitter reaches a crossroads. When important decisions must be made that will be a huge pain in the butt to unravel if decided wrongly. The point on Thermal where one reaches this crossroads is the placement of the neckline placket seen in the pictures here.

The placement of the placket makes acute two separate but related design decisions. How long the sweater should be to the armholes, and how deep and low the scoop neck should be. Now, you might ask, doesn't the pattern specify all these things? And of course, the pattern does. But like every well-written pattern, this one includes a caveat..."work until work measures 12 inches (or two inches less than desired length to underarm). The reason pattern designers say this, is they cannot know what length of sweater will flatter your particular body. In this case, the schematic shows me that for the smallest size, the length to the underarm is 14 inches. This is the length the designer chose, probably because it looked the best on her.

As I've mentioned before, I am trying to knit Thermal to the dimensions of my current favorite sweater, Ariann. The template sweater is only 11 inches to the underarm. Now, I might talk all big about making changes to patterns, but I engage in an interesting inner dialogue whenever I do this. Am I SURE that I want to change the pattern? Doesn't the designer know best? What if my changes suck?

What that dialogue really is, is my inner LazyAss mouthing off. The easiest thing in the world to do is just to blindly follow a pattern. But blindly following a pattern, when I KNOW that a 14 inch sweater to the underarm will make the ribbing hit me quite unattractively right at the widest part of my buttal/hippal area is....you know...stupid.

So clearly I'd have to start the armhole shaping significantly before I reached the 14 inches specified by the pattern, and I've decided to start it at 12 inches. The related issue is that the placket is 2 inches long, with an additional inch of ribbing knit on later. So the bottom of the scoop neck will hit a total of three inches after I start the placket. The designer shapes the entire placket during the two inches before binding off for the armholes, putting the finished neckline at 1 inch above the armhole shaping. I thought this was a wee bit low, so I moved the beginning of the placket up about a half an inch relative to the armhole shaping and started it at 10 1/2 inches.

Enough blahblahblah. Here's a picture of where I'm at showing the division for the placket.

thermalapr22007.jpg

I really hope this mod doesn't suck because I seriously don't want to have to reknit any part of this sweater. Size 3 needles. Race. Need I say more?

March 26, 2007

The Amazing Thermal Race

There may be an unofficial Thermal Race between me and Stephanie. There may have been fighting words exchanged, a gauntlet may have been thrown down, and perhaps some subsequent speed knitting may have occurred. Anything is possible. Or, I may just be unable to put this knit down.

thermalmar262007.jpg

A sleeve is born. I've started on the body next, but that is currently too uninteresting to photograph.

I am still really enjoying this knit, and I'm hoping that the momentum lasts all the way through a speedy finishing. The waffle stitch pattern is, if anything, more enjoyable without the pain-in-the-ass sleeve increasing.

You may recall that I wrote about the Knitpicks Gloss having a strong smell when it arrived. Here is an interesting postscript to that discussion. Originally I ordered the recommended seven skeins for the smallest size, feeling positive that this was enough due to the yarn requirements being the same for the next largest size. Then, my gauge swatch came in with severely compressed row gauge, and I began to doubt whether I had bought enough yarn. So, quick as a bunny I got on the phone to Knitpicks and ordered up one more skein of Gloss, which luckily they still had in the same dye lot.

Well, it arrived the other day and.....no smell. None. Same yarn. Same color. Same dye lot. I have no explanation.

March 21, 2007

Thermal!

When I showed the picture of the chocolatey Knitpicks Gloss a few days ago, several of you guessed that a Thermal was in the works. Smartypantses.

thermalmar212007.jpg

My first Thermal sleeve is almost at the underarm, and I've got to say that so far I'm really enjoying knitting this sweater. The waffle stitch pattern is an easy four-row repeat....not too easy so as to become boring, not too tricksy to be relegated to stay-at-home-with-full-attention sort of knitting.

My first surprise with this sweater was inherent in the yarn itself. When I opened the package of Knitpicks Gloss, I immediately got a strong, strong wiff of sericin, a natural coating on silk fibers that in my experience makes silk sort of "crunchy". This blend is 70% merino wool, 30% silk but it smelled like 100% silk to me. Honestly, I didn't want to smell this the entire time I was knitting.

My past experience with strong-smelling silk taught me that I needed hot, hot water to dissolve this protein. So, I filled my top-loading washer up with hot water, added a bit of shampoo and let the skeins soak for a good long while.* Then I spun them out, removed them from the washer, filled the washer back up with warm water, added some hair conditioner and let the skeins soak a bit more. Happily, after a final spin-out and a hang-dry, the yarn completely lost the silkworm smell. An added bonus is that because I've already washed the yarn, the swatches that I made with the washed yarn did not change dimension one iota after I washed them. You do wash your swatches, right???

My second surprise with this sweater (why are there always lots of surprises?) was with the gauge. The pattern calls for a fingering weight yarn knit on 3 mm needles, which roughly corresponds to a US size 2.5. Now, I am the loosest knitter I know of -- other than my lovely sister who is even looser. When I see the suggested needle size in any pattern, I automatically start my swatching with a needle size one or even two sizes smaller. This is a testament to how cute I think this sweater is: I was willing to knit an entire sweater in fingering weight yarn on US size 1s if neccesary. Now that's enthusiasm!

So, predictably my first try at a sleeve-swatch was with US size 1 needles. Way too tight and the stitch and row gauge were nowhere near pattern specifications. Shocking. Then I tried a real swatch with the recommended needle size of US size 2.5 (3 mm). Still too many stitches per inch, and the row gauge was compressed so much I had to measure three times before I believed it. At this point, I began to suspect that Laura is even a looser knitter than I -- confirmed when I visited her blog and read the entry in the link.

For my final swatch I used US size 3 (3.25 mm) needles, which frankly looked way too big for the yarn. The stitch gauge was still slightly too small (too many stitches in 4 inches) and the row gauge was still amazingly compressed (way, WAY too many rows in 4 inches). However, the fabric that I was getting pleased me and I really felt that I couldn't go up another needle size or the fabric would become too holey.

So, the happy surprise is that I'm NOT knitting a fingering weight sweater on teeny-tiny needles, and the US size 3 needles are making this sweater go much faster than my expectations. So, if you liked this sweater too but passed it by because of the small yarn and needles, if you are a tight knitter you could easily go up to even bigger needles than I'm using and still get the look that the designer intended.

One last thought: because of the small diameter of the sleeve which is knit in the round up to the underarms, I'm knitting the whole thing on double point needles. For me, this means that the waffle stitch pattern is ever so slightly distorted at the needle join, which you can see in the picture. This happens to me every time I knit with double pointed needles, and after a good washing the "laddering" goes away. I expect the same will happen with this sweater.


*Some of you might be cringing and shouting at the screen "IT'S GONNA FELT!" Actually, you can wash wool/silk yarn in very hot water with detergent and nothing bad will happen unless the washer agitates. If that happens, indeed you will be screwed.

March 19, 2007

Kyoto Collar (Again)

Last week when the collar that I had planned for my red Kyoto bolero fell absolutely apart, I was kind of pissed off. I really did want a nice collar to be on the sweater that I made with this silk/mohair blend. And, at that point, the new fresh delicious chocolately yarn had arrived, and I wanted to be well on my way to DONE with this red sweater to free my time for the new project.

You can't always get what you want.

This weekend I faced the hard fact Floppy, drapey, bulky weight, inelastic silk-and-mohair is fundamentally unsuited for the collar I wanted. I could knit this stuff on size 1 needles, redesign the collar and mess with it until hell freezes over and it would make no difference to the floppiness.

It was time to rethink.

At this point in the life of a problem sweater, I always ask "is this cute enough to bother?" Ripping out the whole project, rewinding the yarn and setting the whole thing aside to marinate is often an option worth taking. Reassured that the idea of this sweater was cute enough to continue, I took up the suggestion of a simple ribbed band consistent with the bottom edge, all the way around the top edge.

redkyotomar182007.jpg

Its not a collar, but I like it. This stays.

However, you may notice in the picture that the ends are hanging out. I've learned through hard, hard experience never to weave in my ends until the very, very, VERY last minute. Like, after blocking. One never knows when suck-age will strike and something will have to be ripped. Nothing will drive a knitter to the brink of felony use of a pointy stick faster than having to unpick hours of meticulous weaving-in of ends to fix a last-minute problem.

One of the issues that came up with this ribbed band, is that because the ribbing is picked up and knit from the sweater body out, the bind off edge will be very visible. Especially with 100% more ribbing. Although the "normal" bind-off that most knitters think of (k1, knit another one, slip the first stitch over the second, etc.) is fine for edges that will be hidden in seams, I think this cast-off looks sloppy when the edge is showcased like this.

My first thought when a cast-off edge will show up prominently is to use the "outline stitch" cast-off featured on pages 23-24 of Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Without Tears.* This is a sewn cast-off that mimics as much as possible the look of a cast-on row. That's the upside. The downside is that if you want to rip it out, you have to unpick the cast-off, stitch by stitch. At which, by the way, I am now expert.

Judge for yourself if all this cast-off effort is an improvement over the look of a standard cast off.

*If you don't own this book, I'd suggest you get a copy. It was my ONLY knitting reference book for many years. There is alot of wisdom in there, written so as to be accessible and funny.

March 14, 2007

Houston, We Have a Problem

I will let the photo do the talking.

redkyotoproblem.jpg

Whereas the pattern, knit in sproingy, resilient and more tightly knit wool, has what I would call a perky collar, the Kyoto, being drapey, inelastic silk and mohair has a suck-ass droopy collar. FUCK!

I should have known this would happen. Entirely foreseeable. I'm glad that I took the collar off the needles half way through knitting it and did a try on.

Right now, I'm thinking that a short-row shawl collar is the only solutiion to give this bolero/shrug the "look" of the pattern without the droop at the bottom collar edge. However, I'm taking suggestions.

March 12, 2007

Kyoto Construction

It's March 12th, which is Happy Birthday Silvia Day!. Since I could not ask for a better sister, today I will eat chocolate and knit as a celebration of Silvia Day. Won't you join me?

When last we left our heroine, she was engaged in mortal combat with the knitting math monster. Who won?

redkyotomar122007.jpg

Why, ME! I have tried it on, and it fits perfectly so far. This silk/kid mohair blend is rather difficult to photograph because the silk is so shiny. Here is a close up view. But I think you get the idea of a super-saturated red color, that glows softly in the light.

This bolero/shrug like thing is knit in pieces. The back, then the stockinette parts of the front, then the ribbing front bands are picked up and knit around the curved edge. I decided to sew the bits together and start on the collar, mainly because I am still worried about Yarn Famine. I'm willing to sacrifice sleevage for collar-age -- to a point, at least -- so I want to knit a healthy collar then assess how much yarn is leftover to be divided exactly in half for the two sleeves.

No, I did not block before sewing up. The pieces were laying quite flat and were easy to seam. Plus, knowing that I had to knit a big-assed collar on there, I was reluctant to block the remaining pieces, only to knit on a collar with unblocked yarn. Granted, all the yarn has been through the dye bath, so I don't expect washing to make alot of difference. But still, I tend not to block if a significant amount needs to be picked up and knitted on post-blockage.

The only thing about this that gives me a bit of pause, is that I did not use the Kyoto yarn for the sewing up. So I'm hopeful that eventual washing will not result in puckering or slack seams if the sewing-up wool and the Kyoto react differently to being wet. I dissed the Kyoto for seaming up because its bulky and softly spun and I judged it inappropriate for seaming.

I was considering dyeing some smooth lightweight wool to match when......oh yeah. Already done that. This is one of those times where predictably dyeing a favorite default color comes in really handy. I had plenty of leftover Opal sock yarn dyed the same exact color as the Kyoto for seaming.

As much as I'm loving this fast-knit bulky project, I'm hankering after a tiny-needle project. Wonder what it could be....

March 07, 2007

Fudging Knitters' Math

Anyone that knows me knows that math is not my strong suit. That is an understatement, and a true statement and we'll leave it there.

However, I picked a a Twilley's pattern for my red Kyoto yarn (available at Artfibers) which was wildly incompatible gauge-wise. Now, it is perfectly possible for even the severely math challenged to pull this off. Let me show you what I do.

The first mental hurdle I've got to get around is that the pattern is not a *pattern* anymore -- its an idea. My job is to take the idea and translate it into my yarn. So, all the little numbers throughout the pattern are going to have to change, but the idea (the shaping, the dimensions) has to remain intact.

This particular pattern was even more challenging because there was no schematic. I consider this the worst case scenario for pattern alteration, but its allowing me to show you all the steps.

Step 1: Figure out the pattern gauge and your gauge PER INCH (or cm if you prefer). This means knitting a swatch. Now, it is a well known fact that swatches lie, but here I've got no choice but to dance with the devil. I knit a biggish swatch and then I wash it to avoid nasty surprises later. In this case, I measured 13.5 stitches and 22 rows to 4 inches. That translates (divided by 4) into 3.38 stiches and 5.5 rows per inch. The pattern gauge is 19 stitches and 26 rows per 4 inches, or 4.75 stitches and 6.5 rows per inch.

Step 2: Figure out how wide all the pieces of the sweater are. With a schematic this is easy -- its written for you how wide the bottom edge, the bust, the sleeves are. With no schematic, dreary maths are the only way. So, say the pattern says to cast on 79 stitches for the back. How wide is that? Well 79 divided by the pattern gauge per inch (4.75 sts) = 16.63 inches. So, what the pattern is telling you to do, is cast on enough stitches in YOUR NEW GAUGE to get to a width of around 16 and a half inches. Before doing thiis, first say "hey, is that an appropriate width for me?" If the answer is yes, go ahead. If the answer is no, pick another pattern size to work with.

OK, now bear with me. Here is the important part. If you need to get to 16.63 inches (or so) in width and your gauge is 3.38 sts per inch, you are going to multiply those two numbers together to get the number of stitches to cast on.

(Target number of inches) x (Your stitch gauge) = New number of stitches
16.63 x 3.38 = 56.21 stitches to cast on (or in the real world 56 stitches)

For each stitch count number in the pattern, I would do the same calculation: figure out the width the pattern is asking for, multiply that by MY gauge per inch and change the stitch number accordingly.

redkyotopattern.jpg

Step 3: Figure out the shaping. Clearly if your row gauge is way different than the pattern, you can't just change the stitch counts and then merrily "inc. one stitch at each end of 6th and every following 4th row" or whatever the pattern says, because the shaping will be wonky. This is the hard part for me. Although I can wrap my head around the above math calculation, changing the rate of increase or decrease to shape sleeves, waist shaping, sleeve caps, armholes etc. is just beyond me.

This is where I use my pattern design software, Knitware.** Now you might ask, if I have pattern design software, why don't I just let it deal with the stitch gauge numbers too. Well, the answer is that I do, to a point. However, I've found that the software has limitations...for example, it can't design the curved front of the particular sweater that I'm making. Also, it is limited in the design elements that one can choose. Lastly, I would do the math on the original pattern just to check that the software has designed the same exact sweater. I'm like that.

However, the software is great at calculating shaping for waist shaping, sleeves, sleeve caps and such.

But without a schematic, in order to tell the pattern software how long a ribbing or a sleeve or an armhole should be, often I have to do more math. For example, if the pattern says to "continue in ribbing for 17 rows" I'm going to have to figure out how many rows to knit in MY row gauge. I do this by taking the number of rows specified and dividing it by the pattern row gauge to get the number of inches the ribbing should be:

(number of rows specified in pattern) / (pattern row gauge per inch) = measurement of ribbing
17 rows / 6.5 rows per inch = 2.62 inches of ribbing (I would probably round this up to 2.75 inches).

No further math is needed, you can just knit in your own gauge until you get to 2.75 inches.

So, once I have figured out all the width dimensions for the sweater and figured out how long the sweater should be from bottom to armhole, armhole to shoulders, bottom of sleeve to armhole, etc., I put all this information into the software, and it spits out a pattern where all the shaping is done for me.

Then I staple the altered original pattern to the Knitware pattern, and work off of both of them. I use the original pattern for the unusual shaping bits (like the curved front in my pattern) and the Knitware pattern to tell me how many stitches to cast off for the armholes, and how to shape the sleeves and sleeve cap.

If all goes well (and it might, who knows) this method will produce the sweater that I want in the gauge that I want. There are probably lots of other ways of doing these calculations, but for me I am able to visualize what is going on with the numbers doing it this way.


**I bought my Knitware software through Artfibers, but it doesn't look like they sell it anymore. However, the website link offers a free trial download and a way to buy it from them directly. I'd certainly recommend trying it before you buy.

January 03, 2007

Not Knitted By Me

I feel a bit fraudulent showing you guys this beautiful Ariann, but she's pretty and I've got something to say about her.

ariann.jpg

Nope, not knitted by me but by my lovely sister Silvia. Mind you, not that she intended the gift. Rather, the sweater just turned out a bit small. However due to my shoulderless state and smaller boobal area, it fit me just fine.

But what I really wanted to say about this sweater, is that I totally love it. Yet, I probably would never have picked it to knit. This disconnect got me to thinking (always dangerous).

I have many preconceived, knee-jerk reactions to sweater designs. Lace in wool, think I, is impractical. Why put holes in a sweater designed to keep you warm? Garter stitch collars, think I, look homemade and unstylish.

Wrong.

Lace in a wool sweater is just right for a sweater worn indoors during a warmish winter. A garter stitch collar in black/brown springy Cormo-blend yarn looks killer stylish. Dismissing whole groups of design elements for asswich reasons is clearly just not smart. Every design element has a proper use (well, except maybe bobbles...I truly hate bobbles) and a true challenge for me is to recognize that.

September 04, 2006

Project KnitBlog Runway

I recently watched the first season of Project Runway on DVD. It was fascinating for me to see the designers work from idea to garment in a matter of a day or two. As I've discussed before, it is the IDEA portion of this equation that is not my forte.

Although I would not normally jump into the shark-infested knit-design waters, my mess of maraschino cherry-red Kyoto (gaudy, but in a GOOD way, people) is really forcing me into it. Since I don't have Tim Gunn to come into my workroom, give me helpful suggestions and make sure I'm not making something butt-ugly, I'm counting on you.

My original idea for this yarn was a shawl-collar, wide sleeve cardi. Then I slapped myself up the head -- I've got only six balls of Kyoto. That is way too little yarn for that sort of design.

Thinking more along the lines of an Audrey Hepburn-esque fitted, waist-length, ballet-neck cardi, I came up with this design using my Knitscape design software:

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Those of you interested in seeing the full pattern print-out generated by the design software, click here. (WARNING: PDF)

This software has a handy-dandy feature that calculates the area of the knitted fabric and tells you how much yarn you need for the project. I simply weighed my swatch on my DDS (drug dealer's scale) and it weighed 6.8 grams. Out of this 6.8 grams of yarn I got 20 stiches and 23 rows of knitting. The software took this information and calculated that I need 308.6 grams of yarn to actually make this. I happen to have 305 grams of yarn, so this design will (if I'm living right and the creek don't rise) work with my yarn quantity.

I could have saved yarn and gone with three-quarter sleeves (very Audrey) but if it is cold enough outside to wear a sweater like this, I want my arms covered. This is the same reason I chose not to go with a scoopier back or front neck, or a one-button-at-the-neck open front design. Brrr. I used a half inch of ribbing for edges and the collar band for lack of a better idea, and the fact that I hate garter or seed stitch edges.

So, I throw this open for discussion. Within the parameters of my limited yarn supply, what would you do differently and why?

August 21, 2006

It's Crinkle Finishing Day!

It may be Monday for the rest of you, but its the Official Crinkle Finishing Day on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Do you want to see Crinkle in the "down" position?

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There are various positions between totally "up" and totally "down" to experiment with. Although my initial thought is that I'd be more likely to wear the sweater not hiked up.

Project Details:

Pattern: Crinkle from Rowan 39
Needles: Addi Turbo US Size 2 for the body of the sweater, and Addi Turbo US Size 1 for the picot edging
Yarn: Rowan Cotton Glace, about nine balls for the smallest size
Mods: I could not get row or stitch gauge to save my life. Because this sweater was such a basic shape, I used my new design software to generate a new pattern based upon my gauge and the measurements of the smallest-size Rowan pattern sweater. Other than a slight re-jiggering of the pattern numbers to suit my gauge, I knit the pattern as written.

The ribbon (click for a close-up) came from France courtesy of Becky. This ribbon is incredibly cool -- a rustic sort of straw, delicately held together with translucent nylon thread. It was featured in a recent fluffa entry (on the left). Thanks Becky for stylin' me!

I'm happy with the fit of this sweater, and I think the style is cute. But so far this summer, I haven't really worn any of my cotton or cotton blend summer sweaters. Its just been too hot and humid for hand-knits. Perhaps August will be the month for my collection of lacey summer sweaters.

July 31, 2006

Sewing Up

You would think that having gotten to the end of a long-ish knitting project would result in joyful dancing. But that would be wrong.

I look ahead at the acres of mattress stitch, and in Crinkle's case the miles of knitted-on picot edging, and it feels to me alot like work. Although I give a merry wave to those of you Backtackers and sew-alongers, honestly, I don't care for sewing of any kind.

But, like most things that we have decided are unpleasant, the starting is the biggest hurdle. I convince myself to sew up the side seams (they're short), then the shoulder seams (even shorter) It starts to look like a sweater and I am given heart to continue.

The Crinkle pattern then directs me to knit the picot edging on the bottom of the newly sewn together sweater body. Yet, I pause. I've never used this particular type of edging before, and experience tells me that the first time through it my edging will suck ass. Perhaps the 50 picked up edging stitches of a sleeve bottom will result in less cursing than the closer-to-200-stiches of the body when, inevitably, it all goes wrong? Right! A plan.

Using US size 1 needles, I pick up stitches across the sleeve bottom and start in on the edging. My first try produces ENORMOUS spikes, rather than dainty picots. Always ready to second-guess the designer, I try another picot edging, but quickly realize my normal stockinette to YO, K2tog edging will be too stiff. I try the original edging again, this time pulling the stitches tighter. Only slightly spikey. So it can stay.

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After a bunch of telling myself "just a couple more mattress stitches", I've succeeded in wheedling one set-in sleeve out of myself, with one more in progress. In the picture, you can see my favorite pins for sewing up -- T-headed pins so they don't get lost in the knitted fabric like pins with little pin-heads always do.

The last odd thing about my sewing up visible from the picture is that I don't weave in any ends until the very end. See, weaving in all the ends is a commitment to the sweater. Ripping out after the weaving in of ends is like a all-expenses paid vacation to one of the inner circles of hell. So, I wait -- sometimes until after the wet blocking -- just to keep my options open.

Because one never knows when suckage will strike.

July 27, 2006

Ripping out Some Crinkle

Finally, I get my knitting evening and I'm tearing through the last sleeve cap of Crinkle. Now, the way the eyelets of this pattern happen to fall, there would have been an eyelet hole on the edge stitch of each side of the cap. When I knit the first sleeve, oh....a month or two ago....I had made the decision to not-eyelet at the edges of the sleeve cap. My thinking was, that an eyelet hole at the very edge of a cotton sweater is just an open invitation to sagging and stretching out of that seam.

I thought I was fine with that decision. But last night -- inches away from Crinkle knitting completion -- I kept thinking about how large the swatch of stockinette was on each side of the sleeve cap. Hmmm....

So, here is my rule of thumb on ripping. If I keep thinking about an issue, even if I keep coming to the conclusion that "its fine", well it isn't fine. After about 20 minutes of this, I realized that my personal ripping threshold had been crossed. Here are pictures of before and after, so that you can reach your own conclusions.

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You can see that there is a distinct triangle shape to the eyelet pattern on this sleeve cap. About half-way up the cap, the angle of the shaping changes slightly, giving me one more stitch to work with in pattern before the edge stitch. That top bit is where I thought that the expanse of stockinette was most noticeable.

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The re-done version has an extra eyelet hole on each side starting where the angle of the sleeve cap shaping changes slightly and gives me one extra stitch to work with per side. Now, I'm still not wild about having an eyelet hole butted up against the seam, but it was more important to me not to compromise the lacy effect of the pattern stitch.

I still have to rip out and redo the first sleeve cap. But sleeve caps are small and easily done.

Don't think that I didn't consider leaving the caps as they were, simply for the relief of being done with the knitting. But, there is no prize for speed. And screw-ups made better blog fodder anyway.

July 19, 2006

Thinking About Crinkle

I've been continuing to knit on Crinkle.

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The bloom is a bit off the rose on this project, and I'm looking forward to being done with the final sleeve.

I've been thinking ahead to the the blocking and finishing of this cardi. The pattern calls for me to join everything up, and then pick up and knit a picot edging around the back, fronts, collar and sleeves. The question I'm contemplating is whether to block the pieces prior to sewing up or wait to block until everything is sewn up and the edging is knit on.

Here are the variables relevant to this decision. My swatches in Rowan Cotton Glace grew considerably after washing. I normally wet-block my knitting. I wet block my knitting because I WILL wash my sweaters occasionally and I want to know what I'll be getting after the first wash. Pressing or steaming is all fine and well, but that isn't how a cotton sweater will be cared for after the knitting is long said and done.

So, if I wet-block my knitted pieces and then sew up I will have the advantage (perhaps) of flatter, less rolly seams. However, if I then knit the edging onto the blocked fabric, I'll be knitting the edging at a different tension that the now-flattened and relaxed knitted pieces. Then, when I re-wet-block the finished piece, I think it will be a crap-shoot whether the edging blocks out nicely.

If I abandon wet-blocking and steam the pieces, sew up and then knit on the edging, I'll have the same worry. I mean, at least I've swatched how wet-blocking will change the knittted pieces. How steaming will affect the knitting, I've got no clue.

Right now, I'm planning to just sew up the non-blocked pieces. Then knit on the edging. Then wet-block the whole she-bang, maybe pressing the seams with a steam iron if the sweater dries with less-than-flat seaming.

Luckily, there are no knitting (or blocking) police to stop me.

Here's a request for the foodies in the bunch. I'm looking for a tasty pasta salad recipe. No mayo, light and flavorful dressing, maybe chicken and fresh veggies in it. Anybody got a recipe for me?

July 05, 2006

Checking In on Crinkle

After seeing that Alison has finished her very cute Crinkle, I think its time to turn back to that project.

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I've finished the back, one front and one sleeve. This order of progression is calculated to allow me to baste the pieces together and have a try on before committing to knit the rest of the sweater parts. After all, if the sweater is too small or too big or just not right in some other way, I really want to know this at the earliest possible moment.

Really. I do. If it sucks, then I'm gonna do something about it.

Turns out, that the sweater fits fine, if a little snugly. This does not worry me unduly because my swatches did grow quite a bit when I washed them. If the sweater behaves like the swatches (maybe they will, maybe they won't....I am cynical, suspicious girl) then it should fit me similarly to the model.

On the MS Ride Prize Police front, I have succeeded in emailing everyone at least once who won a prize. If there are any unclaimed prizes by next Monday, July 10th...well, I've kept the dyepot filled with the remainder of the little slips, so I'll be selecting new winners then. If you are a prize donator and have been unable to contact your winner, please email me. If you won a prize and haven't been contacted by the prize donator, also let me know that. Thanks!

June 30, 2006

Where is My Mind?

Sometimes I am just knitting along. In a space-cadet fashion. La, la, la....

When I look down at what I've knit and wonder if I've lost my damn mind.

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Note the missing eyelet hole in what will be the right front edge of Crinkle. A missing eyelet hole smack bang in the middle front of a cardi would need fixing under all circumstances, but ESPECIALLY when the closure for said cardi involves stringing a ribbon through the outermost eyelet holes.

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I was in no mood to rip out the rows down to the mistake. The problem was eminently fixable by dropping down stitches. All I needed to do was get down to and re-knit two stitches that I'd mistakenly done in stockinette, and turn those two stitches into a K2tog and YO. First I secured the last two stitches on the needle with a bambo double point. I'd advise NEVER trying to drop down and reknit the first/last stitch of any piece. That will make you crazy. This has been a public service announcement. Then I took the two offending stitches off of the needle and dropped them down to the row where I had screwed up the yarn over. Once down to the right row, I put the two stitches back onto another bamboo double point.

I use wooden needles for this job because they are less likely to slip out of the stitches, causing much foul language to spew forth. See, at the point of fixing a bad mistake all knitters are already stressed and unhappy. Having your fix-it needles fall out at a crucial point might result in great bodily harm to yourself or hapless and innocent others.

Then I took a third bamboo double point and re-knit each row using the floppy laddery bits. The trick here is not to skip a ladder or take them out of order. Take it carefully and slowly and all will be well.

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All is now happiness and light in Crinkle-land.

June 12, 2006

Where Claudia Waxes Rhapsodic About the Sun

The time is fast approaching for me to climb onto the back of that tandem bicycle and ride back-to-back 75 milers. That is, 75 miles (120 km) on Saturday June 24th and then another 75 miles on Sunday June 25th. And, the Sunday bit starts at the ridiculous hour of 5 AM. Stop laughing, those who know what a pathetically slow-starter I am in the mornings.

To train for this, people, I need SUN! as riding a tandem bicycle on wet pavement is a wee bit dangerous. Said orb, however, has been in woefully short supply here in the Northeast. So, where knitterly types might gaze at this picture and see good progress on Crinkle, I see dappled sunlight and warm breezes rustling the (dry) grass. Time to ride!

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There is a sleeve here, and the beginnings of the back. Cropped sweaters really knit up quickly even on tiny US size 2s. I just started the back on Saturday, and now only a few more rows and then onwards to the armhole bind-off.

MS Ride Prizes

Do I have absolute fabulousness to show you guys today:

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The talented Julia of Vesper Sock Yarn fame is offering four lucky winners the opportunity to get her to dye a custom Vesper sock yarn skein just for them. If the very thought of this is making you drool on your keyboard, well, you can't win if you don't play. Thanks Julia!

And more thanks to Booga J Julie of the Stitch Cast podcast and Brenda Dayne of the Cast-On podcast for playing a little info-mercial I recorded about the MS Ride. Check out these great podcasts and hear me try to pronounce "sclerosis".

June 07, 2006

Beating Crinkle Into Submission

Hmmm...that title sounds a bit violent doesn't it?

As I discussed in earlier entries, I've been having severe gauge problems with Crinkle. I did my usual sleeve-as-swatch routine, and discovered that US size 3's, 2's and 1's all did not give me the pattern stitch gauge of 23 stitches to 4 inches. The size 1's were close, but still not quite. And the row gauge.....oh my goodness, can we talk about the compressed row gauge that the size 1's yielded? Instead of 32 rows to 4 inches, I was getting 40 rows to 4 inches! This completely changed the drape and look of the fabric, and the eyelets became much smaller and less prominent to the texture of the piece.

So thusly I reached the crossroads. Either give up on making Crinkle and use the Rowan Cotton Glace for something else entirely, or rewrite the Crinkle pattern to my preferrred stitch and row gauge. I swatched for this very cute pattern but decided that the Cotton Glace was not the right yarn for it. sigh.

And despite it all, Crinkle still called to me.

Then, I remembered that a few weeks ago I had purchased Knitscape software from the nice folks at Artfibers but hadn't yet had a chance to sit down and try it out. Re-writing the Crinkle pattern to my gauge would be the perfect first test.

Because Rowan schematics SUCK, I first had to do math to figure out all the dimensions that they had not seen fit to include in the pattern. This is straightforward -- if you want to know how wide the sleeve should be at the armhole cast-off, for example, divide the number of stitches the pattern gives you by the stated pattern stitch gauge per inch. So if the pattern says to have 75 stitches at the armhole cast-off and the pattern gauge is 5.75 stitches per inch, the sleeve should be about 13 inches at that point.

So, once I had figured out the dimensions of the design (and reality tested those dimensions against my own measurements) I entered them into the program and told the program I wanted a cropped cardi with no button bands, moderately tapered set-in sleeves and a round neckline. Then I entered in the stitch gauge and row gauge I was getting from the post-wash US size 2 swatch. I picked this swatch because the look and drape of the fabric pleased me the most and I still enjoyed knitting with the size 2 needles. The US size 3 swatch was a little too loosey-goosey and I thought it would stretch out. The US size 1 swatch was too stiff and knitting this yarn with those needles blew.

Then I pressed the "pattern" button and the software generated a new Crinkle pattern for me. YEAH! No tedious reworking of stitch and row gauge. All done for me and served up on a silver platter.

So far, so good on the new pattern. I'll keep you guys updated on how this turns out.

MS Ride Prizes

There are more delectable prizes to entice you to donate to my MS Ride. Todays Prize Police is brought to you by Bliss a generous and accomplished knitter who happens to have MS. Thanks Bliss!

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Look at all this good stuff....a 100 g. skein of Colinette mohair in "Jamboree", a 400 yd. skein of Briar Rose superwash (75% wool, 25% nylon) sock yarn in "Sweet Freedom", and an 880 yd. skein of handpainted merino laceweight yarn. Bliss also sent an extremely cute keychain sock blocker. That's four more donees to the cause that will get fabulous thank-you gifts!

May 24, 2006

Reason #386 Why Gauge Is Evil

I am certain that we have discussed here before that gauge is evil. Evil. Gauge will trick you every way it can. Stealthily like a cat stalking a toy mouse, invisible until it POUNCES. Or openly, mocking you with a sneer like a grade-school bully on the playground.

Today, I will show you an example of the latter kind of gauge evilness: open mocking.

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Here we have the beginnings of two Crinkle sleeves....er...swatches. First I picked up US size 3 needles (the recommended size on the pattern) and knit the bottom sleeve/swatch. I measured for gauge as best as I could considering the holey nature of the stitch pattern and, at first, the results were encouraging. About 23 sts/4 inches -- pattern gauge. Then I knit a bit more on it and began to suspect trouble. Well, I actually suspected trouble all along because I am a notoriously loose knitter and rarely find the suggested needle size to be appropriate. I remeasured and this time I was getting 22 sts/4 inches. Grr.

So, I did what I knew I had to do. Picked up another ball of Rowan Cotton Glace and cast on again for a sleeve using US size 2 needles. Ordinarily if I were trying to clamp down on gauge I would next try a needle size two sizes smaller because for me there is rarely significant gauge difference within one needle size. But there ain't no way I'm knitting an entire sweater with Cotton Glace on size 1 needles. Nuh-uh. So size 2 is as low as I'm prepared to go.

The top sleeve/swatch in the picture is what I get using the size 2 needles. Now, looking at the picture you would think (well, I thought anyway) that there was a significant difference in width. Not so. There is, however, a big difference in the fabric. The sleeve/swatch knit on the bigger needles is quite floppy, and I know that floppy is B-A-D when it comes to cotton sweaters. Cotton sweaters have a distressing tendency to stretch out with wear, so a tighter knit is always better.

But have I "gotten gauge"? Well, maybe. Frankly, I won't know if this gauge is going to work out until much further along when I can actually try an almost finished piece on. Rowan schematics are notoriously poor, and there are no widths given for the sleeves. Doing the math (55 cast-on stitches divided by the stitch gauge which is 5.75 sts/in.) yields a cuff width of approximately 9.5 inches. That is pretty much what I have. I will do a similar calculation at the armhole sleeve width to be sure I'm hitting the sizing.

This is an enjoyable knit. The stitch pattern (though easy) is entertaining and the yarn is pleasant enough to knit with for being cotton. However, you can be sure that I'm keenly aware that gauge is openly mocking me with every stitch.

PRIZE POLICE

More fabulous prizes up for grabs to folks donating $10 or more to my MS Ride:

Margene has generously donated some delectable yarn:

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Bearfoot Bitterroot Rainbow by Mountain Colors

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Four balls of Elann Baby Cashmere

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Two skeins (250 yards each) of Lavender Fields alpaca.

And look what Rabbitch has made to tempt you:

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Mmm...stitch markers, and another beautiful set here. Thanks Margene and Rabbitch!

May 15, 2006

So Close and Yet So Far

Intellectually, I knew when starting Hyrna with three stitches that the piper would have to be paid at shawl's end.

That time is now.

For days I've been looking hopefully at the chart. "Look! Only five pattern rows left!" Then hours of knitting pass and I've done...two rows. Woo, but no Hoo.

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I've just begun the second-to-last pattern row. Then one more row of purl, the last pattern row and the last purl row. The delights of the crochet bind-off then descend upon me. Despite the fact that Maryse stepped forward to finish and rescue the World's Oldest Crochet UFO, you crocheters are conspiring to get a hook into my hand. I know it.

The subject of my next project certainly generated a fair amount of opinion recently. The clear popular vote was for the Peace cardigan from Rowan 25. Yup, nice sweater. But I just can't face that much stockinette on US size 2 or 3 needles. After much reflection, I think that this here is the sort of sweater one BUYS IN THE STORE. In trying to balance Will Wear v. Fun to Knit, this lovely design doesn't make the cut.

This summer, I've decided to go heavy on the Fun to Knit side and I will be making Crinkle from Rowan 39. I'll admit, I've been egged on by Fluffa who wants to make this too. And I've been enjoying watching Alison's progress as she knits hers up.

Will I wear this sweater once finished? I hope so, but I go into this project with the understanding that it may see limited wear. Summer knitting, I guess, is more about the entertainment for me than the finished product. Whereas I truly need and love wearing my winter knits (its cold here, people and my handmade wool sweaters are much better than store-bought). Let's just say my summer sweater wardrobe this year is already all set.* The compulsion to actually make my own summer clothing is...um...gone.

Hyrna first. Then entertainment knitting, here I come!


*This sweater cuteness found courtesy of the impeccable taste of Grumperina. In addition, there was a complete overall of my summer top situation (styling by my lovely sister who is much better at picking out my clothes than I am) at the Columbia Nordstrom's and local T.J. Maxx recently.

April 28, 2006

Indecision

A while ago, I rescued a ten ball pack of Rowan Cotton Glace in one of my favorite colors from Carolyn's ample stash. I'm feeling the urge to work with this yarn, but I'm totally undecided as to what I should make.

This right here is the main reason why stashing yarn holds so little appeal for me. My preferred method of choosing a project is to see a fabulous pattern and then buy the yarn for it and start it right away. That way I know I really love the garment and will actually wear it once it is completed. When I work backwards from yarn that I own (and like) to a suitable pattern for it, I am left to wonder, "would I make this pattern if I didn't already have the yarn?"

I've swatched a ribbed pattern in this yarn, and it sucked. There is a definite reason why this yarn is usually shown in a lace or stockinette pattern: those stitches show off this yarn to its best advantage. At the moment, I'm really looking for an easy knit: defined as not having to rewrite a pattern for yarn substitution. I would love to find a Rowan pattern for Cotton Glace that would be fun to knit, but would produce a summer cardi that I get wear out of. Here are the contenders so far:

1. Agnes from Rowan 35
I like this sweater's shaping, the cuffs at the sleeves and the collar. Pros: I don't have a sweater like this already, and its the sort of style that I would wear. Cons: A whole lotta stockinette, which I'll have to work using US size 3s for the knit rows and..gulp...US size 2s for the purl rows to have any hope of a smooth fabric. Will the fabric be too heavy with the color floats? I will also have to get another ball of Cotton Glace in a contrasting color for the accents. Lastly, I only have 10 balls (which is what is stated for the smallest size, and I'm cynical suspicious girl about stated yarn amounts).

2. Crinkle from Rowan 39
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have a somewhat unreasonable liking for this sweater. Pros: It would be fun to knit. It would provide lots of blog-u-tainment. I certainly don't have another sweater like it. Cons: Will I really wear this?

3. Peace cardigan from Rowan 25
Pros: Honestly, I think this would look good on me, and I would probably get alot of use out of it. Cons: Boring stockinette stitch again, but it does have interesting shaping. But prior to yesterday, I never even considered making this despite owning this book for a couple of years. Is this one of those occasions where the yarn is driving the pattern choice train?

What does the blog think? One of these? Another choice?

I'm all ears.

October 02, 2005

A Prize? Or Not?

So, once every few years I get it into my head that my closet needs a good cleaning out. Believe this or not, but instead of knitting yesterday I attacked the poor, defenseless closet (and attendant dresser drawers) with a fiery vengance.

I am not a packrat, in yarny, stashy ways or anything else. If I haven't worn a garment or even looked cross-wise at it in a year, that item is outta here. However, in past purges there are certain items, although unused during the requisite year, that have survived for sentimental reasons. You know, the sweatshirts with the alma mater's name emblazoned on them, t-shirts from charity bike rides of the past and.....

....handknit sweaters that just, well, didn't work out.

This purge, however, relentlessly plowed through sentiment in favor of a minimalist, clean, expansive closet. But, I was about to toss a handkit into the garbage bag for the Goodwill folks when instead I put it gently to the side. What got a conditional reprieve?


The Teacup Sweater. Why, Claudia? Why?


A fuller explanation for this miracle of design can be found here.

Which brings me to the point. Should there be anyone out in blog-land that might want to give this neglected and unwanted sweater a home, let me know. I'd be happy to send it to its rescuer, where-ever in the world such kind soul would reside.

If not, in the Goodwill pile it goes. Heartless, thy name is.....