It's a good thing that I stopped to think for a wee bit. I need to knit a baby gift. After flipping through my patterns, I settled on the Bulky Baby Bibbed Pullover and a matching hat.
I would have cast on for the sweater already, but I didn't make it to the yarn store last week. Good thing! This weekend, it dawned on me. This baby will live in Florida, therefore this baby probably won't get too much wear out of a bulky gauge sweater. Sure, sure, even a Floridian baby needs a sweater in the winter, but it will be anyone's guess what size he or she will be next year.
So, I settled on a knitted toy: this from Spun Magazine. Ain't it cute :-)? I think the toy and a Boston Red Sox T-shirt will be the perfect combination. The baby may live in Florida, but Red Sox Nation knows no boundaries. Welcome to the club, kid!
Thanks to Jenna's fabulous article in the latest edition of Knitty, I now understand the theory behind sleeve-cap shaping. Jenna very patiently takes her readers through the process of calculating the height, width, and curve of a sleeve cap. Her article reassured me that the measurements I derived by using the calculations in Vogue Knitting are, indeed, realistic.
The cap shaping came down lots of sketching with a pencil and some graph paper.
Will it work? The proof will be in the knitting.
I had lunch yesterday with the wonderful Cara. Hope that you're enjoying your Boston weekend, Cara, and thanks for lunch!
Have you ever seen a knitting pattern and immediately fixated on knitting said pattern?
I'm not a Rowan subscriber, and I fluctuate about whether or not to become one. The designs are consistently great. The patterns, however, run on the small side for my not-very-petite frame (and I'm not a large woman--especially by American standards these days). Often the entire size range is too small for me. I'm not going to pay for patterns that I have to resize when there are loads of great patterns that will fit me from the get-go. Apparently, no woman in Rowan-land has a chest measurement larger than 38 inches (and if their models are any indication, that number is a lot smaller). If Rowan were to realize that some women do, actually, run larger and add a few sizes at the upper end, I'd be first in line for a subscription.
I digress. Back to Dava's pattern. I looked at the measurements, and I could get myself into an extra large, maybe a large. The recommended yarn? Summer Tweed! Such yarn loveliness I discovered at Liberty last spring. Unfortunately there will be no trip to Liberty this spring. Not really a problem, because I can find Rowan locally.
The design will go perfectly with an asymmetrically hemmed skirt I just bought. This has all the makings of a great outfit.
With a new sweater, of course:
Of all the photos that Matt took, this one best shows the sweater. It is not, however, a great picture of moi. Do I have that dorky expression all the time? I probably do! Here I was thinking that everyone on the train was staring at the knitting, but they were staring at that dorky-looking person with the knitting :-).
And, with a 4.5 hour bus journey this evening, I'd be a fool not to pack some knitting.
I made a little progress on my new project. Do you notice my Palm Pilot among my knitting things? I had the absolutely brilliant idea (in my mind, at least) to load my pattern-in-progress onto my Palm (via the Documents to Go application), and knit from that. This way, if I need to make any changes or notes, I can add them directly to the pattern, instead of taking notes and retyping. Efficient, no?
I'll have notes on my cardigan posted next week. Let me wear it a bit, first, and decide what (if anything) I would do differently next time. A weekend of wearing should give me an idea of whether or not this is a successful knit. It looks quite promising already.
My Takhi Tweed revealed its true mission. It needs to be a knitted copy of my favorite summer shirt:
I bought this top at Costco, of all places. I love the shape and I love the print, but I can't wear it in the winter. This shape of this garment would work well in knitted fabric. Lately, I've been thinking that this might be the perfect opportunity to delve into the world of designing.
What do I know about designing knitwear? Absolutely nothing! Since I know what I want the finished product to look like, I figure that it can't be impossible.
So, I made copious measurements of all parts of my shirt, drew a diagram, and took lots of notes. Then I sat down with my copy of Vogue Knitting, and made some calculations.
After a couple of hours trying to figure out the shaping of my sleeve cap, it became obvious that I needed some graph paper, and some more information. Fortunatly, I discovered this site that generates a custom-made sheet of graph paper to match my gauge.
Then there is Jenna's Knitty article, which I haven't fully digested. This will be very helpful.
So far, this has been an interesting challenge. It certainly keeps me out of trouble :-).
[News from my stats: if you Google "scratchy wool fetish" my blog comes up third. Third! Why on earth, incidentally, would anyone have a scratchy wool fetish? Eh, to each his own....]
Last weekend was very productive knitting-wise:
Yes, that's the cardigan's collar, finished, but not blocked. Can you believe that it took most of a skein to do that collar? I may not block it, because I like the way the ribbing draws in the neckline, and I'm afraid of flattening the collar too much.
If you're keeping track, the buttons still need to be sewn to the front. I realized last night, that before I do the very last step of sewing the buttons (the buttons are my traditional last step to cardigan making) I must reinforce the shoulder seams.
I used the three-needle bind off to attach the shoulder seams. I like this technique because it creates an even, tight seam, but with a with a heavy yarn it needs reinforcement. What's a knitter to do? Crochet those seams, that's what.
Once I reinforce those seams with some single crochet, I'll be ready for those buttons.
This means that my cardi will be done for my trip to NYC this weekend! Yes, I'm going down to Central Park to see the gates--and maybe do a little shopping. I need more yarn like I need a hole in my head, but a few unusual accent skeins, or an accessory or two might be okay.
I'm going with a non-knitter, and I figure that I can get in one, maybe two stores before he cottons onto what I'm doing and protests. Hey! New Yorkers, Habu and Tinsel Trading are on my list. Any others?
After my experience with the post-blocking growth of my cardigan, I see the virtues of knitting a swatch and recording the gauge before and after washing.
My Tahki New Tweed is the first of my yarns to undergo this treatment. Gauge before washing: 19stitches and 25 rows per four inches. Gauge after washing: 18 stitches and 27 rows per four inches. Wow! Is it any wonder why I always struggle with sizing and fit? If the knitted fabric changes that dramatically once it's washed, imagine how that translates into a knitted garment!
So, wash your swatches.
About my own knitting, here is my progress on the collar:
You're seeing the wrong side of the collar, now that I look at this photo. I was partially inspired by the wide collar of the Gatsby Cardigan in Anne Budd's The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns. My cardigan's collar will continue the horizontal ribbing of the button band, and pick up the K2P1 ribbing of the waist band. I decided against adding another button.
I finished seaming the button bands to the cardigan fronts last night, and now it's time to pick up stitches for the collar.
Give my my yarn and a crochet hook! I don't think that there's one right way to pick up stitches, as long as the loops face the correct way on the needles. I locate the stitch just underneath the bind-off edge, using the stitch loops as my location guide. Some patterns say to pick up three out of every four stitches, or four out of every five. I say, do what looks good to you.
Which is exactly what I did here.
Way back in my twenties :-), button bands scared the bee-jeezus out of me. How long should it be? What does "gently stretched" mean? How do I make a button hole?
It would be so easy to knit the button bands at the same time as the cardigan fronts. The additional step is, simply, a bit of a pain.
Knitting the button band separately, then seaming it to the sweater body, makes for a more durable band--it won't stretch with that strong seam holding it to the body. The seam also prevents the band from curling inward. Additionally, the separate button bands give me a chance to place the buttons (and therefore button holes) evenly. With this cardigan, I had it easy. I simply counted the number of stockinette bands along the rib and spaced five buttons evenly. I placed a button hole every fifth band. That lucky break made for some easy train knitting this week.
Look: I'm almost done.
So that no one gets the idea that I'm not wearing my socks:
Thank you to everyone who encouraged me to wear my socks--holes be damned! I will wear them--a lot, I promise.
In less than a day I will no longer be able to describe myself as "in my twenties". Therefore, I have to make the most of this time :-). In that spirit, today's post is about a speedy shopping experience.
Visiting Windsor Button usually requires at least 45 minutes out of my day. The button selection is huge. When I say "huge" I mean "enormous". Sometimes I can find all of the choices to be overwhelming. This time I knew what I wanted: round, chunky, and low-contrast. In about 30 seconds I had zeroed in on my choice. In about five minutes I was back out on Washington Street, toting my button purchase back to my office. A personal best for in-and-out shopping.
Yes, that is shadow in that photograph. Morning sunshine has returned!
I loved them! They matched the yarn perfectly, and the oh-so-slight sunburst motif gave them a cheery look. Later that day, however, I started to have second thoughts. Are they too big, I wondered. Was my purchase too hasty, I asked myself. I had the pleasure of meeting the oh-so-lovely Wendy in person for a little KIP at our local café. She reaffirmed that I'd made a great choice.
I felt so much better :-). Now, on to the button band....
I present finished socks!
Anne was musing about the French copying everything American [Why? Our cheese is terrible :-).] I feel a responsibility to copy something French, just to balance things on our side of the Atlantic.
The pattern was Priscilla's Dream Socks from Interweave Knits. The yarn was Koigu KPPPM. Koigu is everything it's cracked up to be, and more. I will definitely knit with it again.
I cannot begin to describe how good these socks feel on my feet. It really is as Julia says: like fresh bread for your feet. Mmmm.
Socks were on my to-knit list for 2005. Luckily, Valentina started off the year with a sock knit along, and although I didn't use the same pattern, she let me tag along for the ride, and encouraged my progress every step along the way.
Will these socks make me a sock knitter? Good question. I'll knit another pair, but not for a while. Socks make a very good portable project, perfect to throw in a suitcase for vacation knitting, and as you can tell I love the results. At the end of the day, however, it took me two weeks of knitting to get a pair of socks that I probably won't wear out of the house, for fear of ruining them. It's never good to be afraid to wear an FO. After all, that's the entire purpose of knitting.
[Question: is anyone signed up for the Phildar email list? I signed up at least a year ago, and received nothing until yesterday. Is that usual, or was there a problem?
I now have a few Phildar coupons (in Euros) that are valid between 15 and 26 February. Phildar has a "forward to a friend" option. Do you want them? If so, leave a comment and I'll forward a copy of the email (in French) to you.]
The Harmony Guides 220 Aran Stitches and Patterns is a fantastic book! Patterns are given in row-by-row instructions, or graphically as charts. Before this, charts intimidated me. I don't know why that was, because (as some of you already know, I'm sure) charts are easy! I noticed that I initially defaulted to the row-by-row instructions because that's what I'm used to. By the end of my swatching, however, I could easily scan across the chart to see what I needed to do for that row.
I began this gauge swatch a few days ago, and continued knitting with it to test the cables. The Tahki New Tweed doesn't take to cables too well, in my opinion. Although it looks better in this photo, the cables don't seem to have any "spring".
Good thing I figured that out before I got too far in my project planning for this yarn. It means that the cabled V-neck sweater is out. Other sweaters, however, may be in. Actually, none of my LYSs have yet received their copies of the Classic Elite Tweed 2 booklet containing the pattern, so waiting for the order is no problem.
A few weeks ago, Laura, Poor Miss Finch, had a bee-u-tee-ful cable swatch posted on her blog. The pattern came from The Harmony Guides, Volume 5: 220 Aran Stitches and Patterns.
You all know that I'm mad for cables. So, last week, I stopped off at my LYS to buy myself an early present for the Big Three-oh. Allison at Circles said that this (along with the entire Harmony Guide series) was a wonderful addition to anyone's knitting library. How could I ignore that endorsement?
I'm off to knit a few test cables with my Tahki New Tweed. I'll report my results tomorrow.
Meet my version of Topsecret from Knitty. I finished it about a year ago. This knit has lots of things in its favor: it's comfortable, soft, and in colors that go with everthing in my wardrobe. I want to wear this sweater more often, however, it is simply too darn big. Look:
In spite of the dark picture, I'm sure that you can see what I'm talking about.
Thanks to an article in Knitty by Theresa, I knew just what to do to fix it. First I slipped my needle along a row of stitches:
Next, I clipped and unraveled the yarn up to that point. The Lion Brand Homespun was a little difficult to rip back, but eventually, I had a workable row on my needles.
Then I bound off the row.
I love my sweater again! Do you notice how the slightly cropped body contrasts with the swingy sleeves? That was an unexpected result. I'm so happy with this look that I think I'll leave the sleeves as they are, instead of shortening them. What do you think?
Now that the body of my cardigan is finished, all that remains are the button band and collar. Originally, I had thought that I would need to knit a few long rows of ribbing and attach them to the cardigan for the button bands. Certainly, that's not difficult to do, but I knew that I wouldn't be happy with the results.
While browsing through my copy of Mon Tricot, I discovered this alternative:
Cool! It's a mock, horizontal rib. On my way out the door to the train, I grabbed some spare yarn to give it a try. A few subway stations later I realized that the pattern doesn't match my K2, P1 ribbing very well. I cast on again, and this time I altered the pattern slightly. Do you see the difference?
The one of the left was knit exactly as Mon Tricot specified (Row1, K; Row 2, P; Row 3, K; Row 4, K; Row 5, P; Row 6, K). The one on the right is my modification (Row 1, K; Row 2, P; Row 3, K; Row 4, K; Row, 5 P; Row 6, P). Much better, don't you think?
My grandmother gave me her copy of a 1972 English translation of Mon Tricot. The book, apparently, is now out of print. Do any of my French readers know if it is still available in French? (Peux j'acheter ce livre en français?) Is anyone from Crown Publishing, or its successors, reading? There is a wonderful reprint opportunity here.
I've finished seaming the body pieces of the cardigan.
Now all that remains are the button bands and the collar. First, I'll knit the non-button hole band first. When that's done and attached I'll find some buttons that I like. This way, I'll know how many button holes I'll need, and where to place them along the band.
After a few days in the Everglades, we traveled down to the Florida Keys for some fun and sun in a maritime environment. When we weren't swimming or snorkeling, I had lots of time to knit. We stayed at wonderful bed & breakfast on Big Pine Key. Who could resist sitting on a screened patio like this overlooking the ocean while waiting for breakfast to be served? It was terrific.
Last week, a couple people asked me how I made my own blocking board. Actually, my dad made it, I just helped a little bit.
MATERIALS: Plywood, foam, adhesive spray, fabric, staple gun.
First, buy a piece of plywood. The plywood you chose should be sturdy without necessarily being heavy.
If you have access to a table saw, cut the plywood to 3 feet square. If you don't have access to a table saw (I don't) some lumber yards will cut the wood to size for an extra charge.
Visit your local upholstery store and buy a sheet of 1-inch thick foam that also measures 3 feet square. You might have to join two pieces together to achieve this size. The upholstery store should sell a special spray adhesive that works with foam. (Some adhesives can cause the foam to disintegrate, so be careful.) You can use the adhesive to join the foam pieces, and to attach the foam to the plywood.
[I don't need to remind anyone to use the spray in a well-ventilated area, do I?]
Next, buy some heavy-duty fabric. A couple yards of 60-inch wide fabric should be plenty to cover your board. For my board, I found some heavy-weight upholstery fabric that was printed with a grid. Of course, you don't need to have a grid, but it makes laying out your pieces easier. Wash and dry the material to remove any loose dye, and (if necessary) iron it.
Closeouts and remnants can be great sources of inexpensive fabric (I bought my material for $1 a yard.) For a list of fabric stores in downtown Boston, click here.
Attach the foam to the plywood, using the adhesive spray. Let the adhesive set (Read the instructions for your particular brand of spray to determine the correct drying time.)
Lay out your fabric on a flat surface, right side down. Place the foam-covered surface of the plywood on top of the fabric (so that the foam is facing down). Wrap the ends of the fabric over to the non-foam side of the plywood and staple the fabric to the board. You might need another person to give you a hand with the fabric. One person can hold the fabric taught, and the other person can staple. Leave only about an inch between staples, so that the fabric's tension is consistent.
That's all there is to it! The only drawback of this blocking board is that it doesn't fold smaller for storage, like some store-bought boards can do.
[Hey, Knitsmiths! Dava needs our email addresses again. So, send yours to davamunn[at]mac[dot]com. She'll appreciate it.]
Wow! The second sock of the pair is knitting up much faster than the first. [Note to Jess: the ribbing gets easier after the first few rows. Everyone should go over to Jess's blog and give her some encouragement as she tackles her first sock. Go Jess, go!] After only a couple of days, I'm finished with the ribbing!
Why, you ask, is that sock lying on a beach chair? Well, I was actually on vacation in Florida when this picture was taken. In between canoing through the mangrove tunnels of the Everglades and walking through the cypress swamps of Fakahatchee Strand State Park I was knitting. This picture was taken poolside at our bed & breakfast. Actually, I was posting remotely all last week, and that's why I didn't respond to any of the wonderful comments that I received. I read all of them, however, and appreciated all of the advice and encouragement.
Back in the beginning of January I came across this zine on Laura's blog. It looked interesting, and my appetite was whetted further when I discovered that it was available only in Toronto. I had to find a way to get a copy down here in Boston!
Luckily, Jae heard my cry and agreed to expand distribution to include mail orders. For the low price of 6USD, she sent me my very own copy of Take Back the Knit. From what I see in this new publication, the Toronto area is bursting with creative knitters.
There are 13 designs intermixed with personal essays about knitting, recipes, and stories about yarn-shopping adventures. This is definitely a publication that needs a wider audience. If you're interested in receiving a copy of your own, contact Jae via her blog (it's linked in the paragraph above) or email her at knitwit[at]bust[dot]com.
Although I like the printed format of the zine, production costs must impose some limits on the print quality. If this zine takes off, I wonder if Jae would consider an on-line, e-mail subscription.
Or for me, for that matter :-).
Thank you for all of your comments and encouragement as I knit through my very first sock. Sorry if all of those in progress pictures have some people the impression that I made it through the second of the pair. I cast on for number two last night. All of the "can-I-do-it?" trepidation that came with creating the first sock has melted away, and I'm settling in to this knit with a heightened degree of "knitting confidence".
I'm not an insecure person, in general, but the thought of that heel was quite intimidating until I worked through the instructions. When in doubt, follow the directions. Isn't that usually the way with knitting?
[The second in a two-part series detailing how Colleen finally gets control over her knitting supplies. The first post was on Friday.]
Two tubs for yarn, one tub for supplies, two file tubs, one magazine holder, one covered wooden box and one see-through mesh pouch for my knitting bag. All of this came from The Container Store. The wicker basket came from Crate & Barrel.
Okay, first things first: I had a clear-out. It was a major, long-overdue, out-with-the-old-make-way-for-the-new type of clear-out. Many things were tossed (no yarn was harmed during this sequence) and everything was reorganized. That made some room to store yarn for future projects, patterns and magazines, and knitting supplies out of sight. After that, I organized and repacked yarn, sorted and boxed supplies and needles (each in an individually labeled Ziploc bag), collected magazines and patterns, and packed away my supplies currently in use.
I still needed somthing to hold whatever project I'm working on when I no longer want to look at it. Enter the wicker basket and covered box. Now, my current knit any supplies are in easy reach, but nothing is strewn all over some table or chair.
I'm pleased. I know what I have, I know what I need, and most importantly I know where everything is. You'd never know a knitter lived here :-).
So, while all this yarn and supply reorganization is happening, I can't forget about the knitting. Dad's scarf is finished. A quick washing and laying out to dry, and it is ready to go. [Caution! Blurry photo alert!]
While I was washing the scarf I had the absolutely brilliant idea (if I do say so myself) to use a long radiator we have in the living room as a substitute blocking board. The heat from the radiator helped the scarf to dry quickly. Not a technique I would recommend in every circumstance, but it worked fine here.
[First of a two-part series detailing how Colleen gets control of her knitting supplies.]
It's safe to say my knitting supplies are slowly taking over the condo. I'm tired of seeing evidence of my knitting everywhere. This is not a problem unique to this knitter, I'm sure. Cara (who recently tagged me for the what-kinds-of music-do-you-listen-to questionnaire) reclaimed her own house not too long ago. I don't pretend to have all the answers to stash and supply storage, but I'm determined to create a solution that will work for me.
First, let's assess the current conditions.
Needle and supply drawer:
Table near my knitting chair:
There are other yarn locations, but I won't scare you with the pictures :-). It's not that I lack space to store what I have, it's that what I have is not stored very well. Stumped for a solution on how to do this, I'm heading to The Container Store. Maybe I'll find what I need there.
Results will be announced on Sunday. Stay tuned....
Okay, be honest with me: how bad is my French?
Well, at least I try.
I give you: my first sock!
Here's another view (Anne, this picture is for you):
I promised myself that there would be no more photos of this half-finished sock on my blog. I knit along merrily, and I found myself at the toe. I shaped the toe, and then graphed it to the top of the sock. Voilà!
It was time to put my newly honed seaming skills to the test. Two hours later, I had this:
Not too shabby, I don't think. Actually, I am quite pleased. This was the first sweater where I felt as if I knew what I was doing, rather than fudging through the seaming. A big "thank you" to Allison at Circles for changing my knitting life.
After I finished seaming in this sleeve I could feel the frustration level rising. Time to stop and do something else! No need to rush through and end up with a sloppy result.
Let's get February off to a stellar start! The knit fix is on at Alison's place. What are my fixes?
Two for sure, one not so definite.
[I am clearly using photos from the Knitsmiths' site (saved on my computer first). Thank you, Alison!]
The first is my Madison Coat. The toggles and buttons (not shown in this photo) need to cinch in the coat further so that it stay closed (as shown in the photo). It's a little too cold to be running around in an unbuttoned jacket.
Second, my ever-growing sweater. This was the first sweater I finished (note that I didn't write "knit") and while it's warm and snuggly, the sleeves and body are also too long.
Third, and this is the one that I'm not sure about, is my Soy Silk tunic. Personally, I think it's a wee bit too long, although it looks fine when I wear it. This would seem to be a simple job of shortening the bottom, except that this was knit from side to side, so the bottom is not where the cast-on end is located. As inspired by a recent knitting-technique post by Bonne Marie, I think that I could do a steek to shorten the body, remove some bulk from the piece (Soy Silk is one heavy yarn), and improve the sway and drape. I could also ruin the thing by doing this.
Is it worth it? Please advise!!