Monday, November 30, 2009

NaKniSweMo 2009: Completed

I did it!

I finished my February Fitted Pullover in time for NaKniSweMo. The knitting was done on November 24, it was put out to block on November 26 and final seaming was done November 29. See? One day to spare!

And you should not be surprised to hear that I wore it the very next day...to much critical acclaim. (One friend declaring it "best ever.")

The fit is really nice; the wool is very warm but ok to wear every day because of the lace pattern.

I love the dark burgundy colour (even if it is difficult to photograph) and it will "play well" with the other things in my wardrobe.

I do need to find some shirts with 3/4 length sleeves to wear under it, but that'll just be a nice excuse to shop around for some clothing!


The lace is nice; the sleeve length is nice; the garter edging is nice; but I think the feature of the pattern that really sets it apart is the scoop neck:
Amy (the designer) did a great job of producing a very even and smooth scoop shape. You had to use a lot of markers (non-knitters, you can think of markers like bookmarks) around the neckline as you knit, but she made it clear as to what you had to do.

Here are a couple more shots that are a little over-exposed to show more of the lace detail:

As to modifications I wish I had made, I should have made it a touch longer before the waist shaping. I recall I went a little longer than the pattern called for, but it could have used more. Next time I wash/block it, I'll have to see if I can stretch it out a little more.

I'm also not terribly pleased with the waist shaping. The pattern removes a full lace repeat (7 stitches) on each side over the course of several rows. This allows you to cleanly continue the lace pattern as you knit about an inch even at the waist size. On paper, it's very elegant and appeals to the purist in me, but in practice it just didn't quite make it. Project Stats
Started
: 1 Nov 09
Finished: 29 Nov 09
Pattern: February Fitted Pullover by Amy Herzog (free)
Materials: Manos del Uruguay Wool Clasica (colour 54), 5 skeins $32.50

The shaping is quite sudden and comes out blocky. I'm not sure how I would fix it though...maybe take the same idea but just do the increases/decreases over more rows.

The thing about the construction that bothered me the most, however, is that the pattern instructs you to start working the left and right fronts and the back separately as soon as the neck shaping starts. This results in having to sew about an inch of the side seam together.

Ok, so this sounds minor, but it would have been so easy to continue to knit all of these pieces as one while shaping the right and left front neck edges and then working them separately when the armhole shaping begins. I'm still kicking myself (a little bit) for not reading ahead and seeing the problem sooner. If you're knitting in the round, you shouldn't have to sew side seams. That's the whole point.

But these are just little things I can't help but look at as I evaluate the project and try to learn things for next time. In all, this pullover is a breeze to make and a dream to wear.

As to the 50,000 stitch goal, I didn't make it. This pullover took 26,967 stitches. I knew it would be low (bulky yarn, small size, 3/4 length sleeves, and large open neck were all working against me) but chose to focus on the Knit a Sweater in a Month part of the challenge.

I have wondered about stitch counts on previous projects, but have never had the tenacity to actually keep track or even to estimate it. I have to tell you the Woven Cables Sweater I'm working on for Troy would have several times that many since it's knit with DK (much thinner) and is much larger. But need I say it? The more time I spend counting, the less I have for knitting.

For the really curious, I have included a chart of stitches done per day:

It was interesting to keep track, but unless there's some good reason I'll take knitting over counting any day.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Bibs Bibs Bibs

About the time I first heard the idea for the Holiday Sale, I also realized that I had a great-nephew due to arrive soon and I had some responsibility to send a gift! So baby things were on my mind.

I decided bibs were the way to go. (Other great-aunts were taking care of quilts and receiving blankets so I had to go another direction.)

I also thought they would be nice cute items for the sale. And I needed just about any excuse to work with the colours of this Spud and Chloe wool/cotton blend! The colours are gorgeous and it's washable (very important) and should work great for a face wipe after the meal's done.

First up were a few orange bias bibs...same as the pink one done previously for friends.
I was very pleased with the buttons I found to go with. In the same colour family, but still with plenty of contrast.

Next up, I grabbed the pink and changed the pattern to an asymmetrical cable pattern.
It also called for a button finish, but by the time I was making the third I decided to forgo the button and sew the strap to the other side instead.
I also switched it to a mock cable to make it lie a little flatter.

The final set was done in blue (my nephew was expecting a boy, after all).
It's moss stitch (seed stitch, to some) on two and I doubled the stitch on the third. (As I've said before, I can do things twice but by the third one I just can't do it again.)

Bonus:
I had one bonus bib I made out of all the leftover ends. It came out a little shorter than I would have liked, but some people have called my bibs a little large. I guess this one will work for them and for smaller babies. (Who are already eating real food...ok, might be a small niche market there!)

These bibs were great small projects to take along anywhere and get done fast. I hope they will be a nice little useful item for whoever gets to use them!


Pattern links:
Bias bib by Merin McManus Collins
Asymmetrical cable bib by Andrea Pomerantz
Seed stitch bib by Beverly A. Qualheim

Yarn used:
Spud & Chloe Sweater 55% superwash wool / 45% organic cotton
Colours: 7508 (orange), 7512 (pink), and 7510 (blue)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Girl's Pinwheel Cardi

One of the items at the Red Purl Holiday Sale that I haven't shown off yet is the Girl's Pinwheel Cardi. I really tried to have "modeled" pictures for you since the garment would make much more sense that way, but I couldn't get it done. Having no rugrats around makes it a little harder!

But we will press on. I will try to explain and you can do your best to understand. (I'm very sure you can...)

Here is the cardi laid out for the larger size:
And here it is smaller:
Do you see how we did that? Take the top of the first, flip it to the bottom and it makes the shawl bigger but the size smaller. Roll up the sleeves a little further and it'll fit a wee munchkin.

When they grow, flip it so the shawl is smaller, but the length is longer and unroll the sleeves a little. Voila!

Here's the back (larger size):
You can see the pinwheel effect here on the back. The knitting is started in the middle and spiraling increases create the shape.

Here's the smaller size:
The large shawl hides a lot of the back detail, but it works.

This may help you picture the construction method:
As I said, it's started in the middle and knit around and around to make a big flat circle. A few stitches are held separate at some point and later worked out as sleeves.

Speaking of the middle, here is my starting point:
For anyone that's tried to start knitting at the center of the circle, you have to admit it's pretty sweet. (Not the picture; I have to find a way to photograph reds and purples properly!) Project Stats
Started: 07 Jun 09
Finished: 15 Nov 09
Pattern: Pinwheel Sweater by Shelley Mackie
Materials: acrylic rescued from unfortunate 80s sweater
I had promised in an earlier post to demonstrate how I did it, but now is not the time.

I will say that it's done with a figure 8 cast on (a type of provisional cast on) performed over the starting tail. When you get a couple rows in, you can pull on the tail and tighten the opening up as tight as you want. It really looks like the stitches just start up from nothing.

But you do have to have a good sturdy working yarn. I used the same method on my hat-heel socks since they also start with a knitted circle. When I pulled on that yarn, it broke on me! Not good!...but I did recover. I'll show you the method sometime, but just not right now.

And one last look at the loopy edge:
It took me forever to finish this because it was very low on my priority list, but it was a fun easy knit. I think it would also be a fun thing for a girl to wear. It would probably need a pin to hold it shut in the front, but what girl doesn't want just one more accessory anyway!?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Holiday Sale

Red Purl Holiday Sale
207 N 2nd St, Niles

Sun Nov 22 1-5
Mon Nov 23 noon-7
Fri Nov 27 11-7
Sat Nov 28 10-2
I spent the afternoon helping Amy set up for the sale. There's a lot of good stuff to see!!

There's a whole table of jewellery--necklaces, bracelets, shawl pins--plus some stitch markers and wooden ring holders.
Conveniently set up under the mirror. It's nice when things like that work out! Jewellery needs a mirror. That's a fact.

There are a lot of knitted and crocheted hats. Here are a few of the more "precious" ones:

We went next door and were able to borrow this lady for display. She's wearing a lovely cowl and elegant beret:
She's so mod nouveau. (Ok, ok, I just made that up.) In any case, I love her.

There are some beautiful calligraphy pieces.
And what's that to the far right? Why, that's my Kitchener Stitch photograph...also for sale!

And, of course, we also had some knitted things. This is the "baby" corner:
Bibs, vests, cardigan, jumpers, blankets, and more hats!

I thought the Sahara look pretty good on Amy's mannequin:
There was a perfect necklace to go with it. And then we saw that the shawl was the perfect colour too. Very nice little display. (And the whole outfit could be yours!)

There were also some adult sized things: sweaters, scarves, vests, slippers, mittens...all the usual suspects.

Did I say there was a lot of hats?
We also did up the front window. Out with the spider web and in with Mary Ann's sleigh:
We filled the sleigh with gifts wrapped in yarn and with Amy's peculiar people. They normal reign on the couch but thought they would like a ride in a sleigh for a bit.

And who's pulling the sleigh?
Why, Amy's sheep of course!

I hope you'll check it all out for yourself. Local stuff by local people. What more could you ask?

Friday, November 20, 2009

HOLY FREAKING AWESOME

That's all I could think when I saw this project on Ravelry:

This one was done by westknits on Ravelry (Rav project link).

And this one is by almak (Rav project link).

The design is by Erika Knight published in Simple Knits with a Twist. (There's a picture of another chair on the linked page if you look at the "customer images.") Erika's the same designer whose book, Glamour Knits, I bought and wrote about here.

I don't know when I'll have a house worthy of this slipcover, but ohhhh, the idea is tempting! I love it! And again I am reduced to only being able to say,

Holy. Freaking. Awesome.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hand Crafted Holiday Sale at Red Purl

I've been making final preparations for all my goodies that are going to Red Purl for the Holiday Craft Sale. (Thanks again to Sandy for cutting out all these circles for me on her Cricut marvel!)

The last month has been spent making some cute items (baby bibs, for example), finishing up a few things (the girl's pinwheel cardi, for one), and cleaning up a few things which were never worn or loved as much as they should have been (baby blankets, a couple scarves and my Sahara, if you can believe it!)--all to go to the sale.

It's the first time Amy's doing this so it will be interesting to see how it all turns out. I'm going to the store on Saturday to help her set up all the merchandise and change the store decorations from fall to Holiday.

The sale will take place at the store during the week of Thanksgiving. More details to come...stay tuned if you love to give hand-knits or have a crafter on your list.

Friday, November 13, 2009

NaKniSweMo 2009 Progress

I don't think I've given you a look at my February Fitted Pullover yet. (I will disclaim that this is not very close to the actual colour. It's actually a deep burgundy with a lot of red in it. Very hard to capture in a pic, I must say.)

This is the lace pattern from Elizabeth Zimmermann's February Baby Sweater which became very popular transformed into the February Lady Sweater, and now has also become a very lovely fitted pullover.

The garter stitch cuffs (bottom of above picture) are a very nice tribute to EZ herself who used garter often and brilliantly.
I was able to finish both sleeves and have them blocking. Too late, I realized that I should have knit the yoke all in one piece (like the Woven Cables Sweater) because seaming this lace is going to be a pain in the butt. But, oh well, I'll manage.

The back and front are cast on (in the round,--no side seams, at least) and I have the cuff done and a couple repeats of the lace pattern. Progress has been slowed since I decided that my evenings should be occupied with "must do" projects (Christmas gifts, items for the Red Purl sale, and even other non-knitting chores) and I would leave "just for fun" projects for lunch breaks. (Would it be pessimistic to notice that since deciding that, my lunches have been interrupted and/or foreshortened?)

But back to the NaKniSweMo project, I have been diligently keeping track of all my stitches. And how many stitches do I have? 13,178 and counting!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Setbacks and Lifelines

Have you been wondering about the "setbacks" I mentioned at the end of the last post? Well, let me start at the beginning...

Shortly after posting that I had made it to the yoke of the Woven Cables Sweater, I finished the straight part and had to figure out the shaping. I decided to insert a lifeline at this point so that if the shaping didn't work out, I could easily rip out the sweater back to this point. (A lifeline holds a row of stitches and prevents them from unraveling any lower than that row.)
See the line of dental floss acting as the lifeline?

The hard way to insert a lifeline is to thread a needle and run it through every stitch on the needle. An easier way I read about was to thread the end of the line through the hole found at the cable needle joint (circled in red below)
and then knit a row. As you knit, the line is threaded through the stitches as you go. I was glad to have a chance to try out this method because it is simply brilliant!

With this lifeline in place, I merrily knit along. I progressed for many inches (3 to 4, at least). When I started the split for the V-neck I reevaluated. And realized that I had calculated improperly and started the V-neck at half the height it needed. Oh crap!

So I did more calculations to figure out how far back to go. I decided I needed to go back to 10 rows above the lifeline. Ten rows were too much to reknit, in my opinion, so instead of ripping back to the lifeline, I ripped it out the old fashioned way. (Pulling out the needle, ripping back to row I needed and picking up all the stitches again--although it's never quite as neat and simple as that sounds.)

Alas, my calculations were off again (where did this girl get her math degree?) and I ended up taking out five more rows, putting me only five rows above the lifeline. I should have just ripped back to there and knit the five rows. It would have saved me some time and aggravation, and certainly would have made this post on lifelines more to the point! Oh well, sometimes you I learn the hard way.

Since then, I have regrouped and started knitting again. I believe I've started the neck shaping at the right point and am now working back and forth (as opposed to in the round).
The good news is that I made Troy try it on again shortly before I ripped it all out and it looked like the shaping was fitting well.

Meanwhile, I'll just be grateful that anything that needs to be ripped out can be knit again. No small consolation when you think about it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Red Purl Afghan: November Block

Yesterday was my afghan KAL day. I got it started early by knitting the border onto my October block. I felt like enough people had voted in the poll I put up earlier and more than 7 out of 10 voters said: Use the back! So I did.

I got the border knit in some time before and after church and especially while listening to the first half of the Colts game. (Yes, that was me sitting in the parking lot listening to the radio. It made me arrive late to Red Purl, but worth it! Besides, it was warm and sunny and a wonderful afternoon to sit out.)

When I showed up at Red Purl, it was time for the new block. Amy designed the Alternating Broken Cable block:
As Troy noted when I got home, it's sort of like a basketweave because of the alternating blocks of stocking stitch and reverse stocking stitch, but with the addition of cables.

I got a good portion done at the shop and more at home in the evening. This morning I was knitting some more, thinking I was almost done, when I decided I could be happier with the block. Happier, I thought, if I changed the pattern so that the cables alternated between left and right cables.
Hmm...what do you think? Actually, this is not a poll because the block is already pulled out and reknit
and I'm not going back a second time!

Whereas the cables in the original design form lines that lead up and to the right and sit "on top" of the fabric, my modified design forms lines that go right and left and appear to weave in and out of each other. I had in mind the weaving style that has diagonal pieces as well as the horizontal and vertical ones (right).

I think it works. And even if it doesn't exactly look woven, I think the alternating cables give the block more movement and "excitement" as they say.

Hopefully I will get the block finished up sometime today and the border knit this week. (I can't completely ignore NaKniSweMo and Troy's cable sweater--more on them later. There have been set backs.)

Until then, keep the needles clicking!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hats on my Feet

I have to say, "Hats off!" to Kathleen Sperling for this ingenious sock design! Instead of starting at the top or at the toe, you start in the middle. Simply revolutionary.

Knitting a "hat" to fit the heel, you then add "earflaps" (shall we say) which narrow and meet at the top of the foot to form gussets. Picking up stitches on either side of the heel/gusset piece and knitting out gets you a foot and a cuff. It's so crazy it works.
It not only works to actually make a sock, the sock is very comfy and easy to size. These are the best fitting socks I've made. Wonderful.
Speaking of sizing, however, I did have to make some modifications. The pattern is written for sock yarn and I decided to use some worsted. Worsted is a lot thicker than sock yarn, in case that's notProject Stats
Started: 27 Oct 09
Finished: 31 Oct 09
Pattern: Hat-Heel Sock, free from knitty.com
Materials: 2 skeins Wooly Stripes by Nashua Handknits (colour WS09 Faded Blues), $9
obvious.

I started with the woman's size just to see where I was at. After knitting the heel, I took some measurements and started again in the "small child" size. This worked like a charm. If anyone else is thinking of trying the same thing, I was working with size 3.25mm (3 US) needles and got 6 sts and 8 rows to the inch. (And I wear size 8.5/9, although that's not crucial since you can make yours any length you need.)

I altered the toe shaping slightly as well. There were 44 stitches. I decreased on every other row for 8 rows, and then every row for 4 rows. This left me 12 stitches (6 on top, 6 on bottom) which were kitchenered together. The shape fit me well.
Worsted weight socks are too thick to wear in most shoes, but they'll fit great in my winter "duckies." These socks will probably mostly get worn over another pair, in part because they came out so short. (I only had two skeins, so when the first one ran out, that's as tall as the sock was going to get.)

If you've been reading along in the blog, then you know that I got these socks knit up during my travels to the AQS Quilt Show in Des Moines. As well as being handy warm socks, they will also make a wonderful souvenir of the trip.
My feet dance in their new warm socks!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ready...Set...KNIT!!

Today was the start of NaKniSweMo and I have left the starting blocks!

I did go with the February Fitted Pullover by Amy Herzog. I'm excited to have it cast on.

Having just gotten back from a trip (and more than a little lazy, to be honest), I did not feel up to a gauge swatch. So instead of casting on the front and back (it's worked in the round up to the armholes), I cast on one of the sleeves. There's less invested if the gauge turns out to be off.

But I got far enough on the sleeve to measure and my gauge looks to be right on. Love it!

All for now; I've got a race to run...

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