How about a treat? How about a few of them?
Mmm, the appropriately named Mummy Wraps.
And the oh-so-seasonal Pumpkin Spice Whoopee Pies.
Yes, in a rare burst of domesticity, Subway Knitter got out her mixing bowls and spoons, measuring cups, and cookie sheets. In a word: baking.
As you knitters know, one cannot swap yarn on an empty stomach. People get cranky, there are fights, and pretty soon two knitters are rolling around the yard wrestling over a skein of Rowan.
Or not. Anyway, a swap is a lot more fun when there are goodies to consume, and it's a lot more fun to cook when there is an audience.
Dana surprised us all. Welcome back from Israel, Dana! We missed you.
Oh, you might be curious as to what I took home. I think that I did rather well:
First, there are two skeins of Artful Yarns Candy (the yarn kind, not the rot-your-teeth variety) in the Sour Apple colorway. The label has a pattern for a one-skein baby hat. Score!
(sorry about the bad photo)
Then there's some Legend in the Don Juan colorway:
(again, sorry about the bad colors)
There's a beret pattern on the label. Score again! I am really going to love calling this my Don Juan beret.
Thanks again, Thea, for hosting.
Happy Halloween to all the ghosts and goblins who read my blog!
Here's a preview of what I am bringing:
I have four bags of project-worthy yarns. The Eros and Gatsby would make great scarves. The Cascade 220, Manos, and mystery green wool (I lost the label, and the name is on the tip of my tongue) would also work for a scarf, or perhaps a hat and mitten set. It would also felt very well.
I always love seeing what my fellow Knitsmiths manage to do with yarn that I have swapped. In turn, I am hoping to get some bright colors for a little project that I have in mind.
Get out those sweaters. I'm looking out my window at snowflakes. October 29th, and it's snowing!!!
Damn, what happened to autumn? The leaves are green, and there are snow flurries in the air.
The latest edition of VK wended its way into my mailbox this week (Finally! I seem always to be the last person on the planet to get her copy.) I usually give these magazines a quick browse over dinner. Then in a few days I give them a more thorough read to see which (if any) of the patterns inspire me to pick up my needles.
None of the patterns really stand out for me. There are lots of big-needle knits, lots of Fun Fur and novelty yarns, and (what seems to me) a focus on trendy, quick-and-easy patterns rather than something stylish, unusual, and beautifully handcrafted. There's nothing wrong with a little Fun Fur or novelty yarns now and again--I have seen some very interesting applications of both. By this time, however, I feel as if I could find all of those patterns online for free, or in a very basic pattern book. I want my Vogue to be about patterns that are stylish, unusual, and beautifully handcrafted. I want the patterns to showcase designers who don't otherwise have an outlet for their creativity.
Which brings me to another comment. Has anyone else noticed the product placement? Sure, have Margery Winter design a pattern with Berroco Yarns. Margery Winter is a great knitting designer, but she already has Berroco to distribute her ideas. It would be interesting to see what she could do with another company's yarns, and perhaps that might have been an interesting angle for a Vogue submission.
I'm not all about the moan and groan. There are a few exceptions to the above:
Beautiful pillows! So nice that if I were to knit one, I wouldn't permit anyone to touch it:
Get your dirty head off of that gorgeous thing!
My family has a do-not-touch Christmas pillow that my mother made during her cross-stitching phase (also known as her swearing phase, if I remember correctly). To this day, I will not touch that pillow when I see it.
Then there are the Victorians:
This is almost knit worthy. I, of course, would need to change the pattern. From a distance, the shoulder area looks sloppily resolved.
This falls into all of the categories I just bitched about, but I like it. The plaid collar detail makes it interesting.
Remove the ridiculous get up, change the colorways, and you could have a wearable shawl.
A felted coat! Can you imagine what that would do to my washing machine?
In the end, this issue is a toss up. It's one to put on the bookshelf and see if anything still appeals in six months or a year.
Sleeve Week 2 ends with a bang:
It's a completed sleeve! I have no time to talk, I must get moving on sleeve number four. I want it done by the end of next week.
Why am I showing you a picture of this? Because I think that it's an absolutely great gift idea for a knitter. Someone, with no knowledge of my bloggy alter ego, very kindly gifted me with this box of yummy Lindt truffles. He only thought that he was giving Colleen some chocolate (and let me just confirm, Colleen loves her chocolate). He had no idea that Subway Knitter was eyeing the plastic box.
What knitter can't use a box like that? All of my little balls of yarn (the ones that I use when I need stitch holders) are going in there. Remember last December when The Harlot (as a public service) was posting about great gifts for knitters? Yeah, well, I'm totally stealing that idea right now. In fact, I'm positive that she did mention something almost like this.
Imagine this same box (available here from The Container Store) with some brightly colored confetti and a few knitterly notions (stitch markers and holders, perhaps a Chibi) mixed in with some candy. Fantastic!
A great idea if you need to pick up a hostess gift for your next knitting party.
Not much more to show:
To make things more exciting, I'm playing with the camera angle.
I disovered that I consistently make two mistakes with the chart. First, I often skip the first purl stitches in the chart's last row. Secondly, I often move to the chart's next row on the wrong needle. Whoops! Now that I have an awareness of both mistakes, I am extra careful to notice when I change rows.
I also eliminated the wide rib on the outside of the sleeve. I had to. I really, really, really liked that detail, and I did everthing possible to see if I could keep it, but in the end it had to go so that the sleeve and body matched properly.
My Koigu socks and headband fresh from the dryer.
"Holy guacamole!?! You machine washed and dried your Koigu (100-percent non-superwash wool)?"
Yes, I did. Moreover, I think that the yarn benefited from a trip through the laundry machines. My Koigu headband, which was stretched out and flat, is fluffy and springy once again. My socks are fresh and clean.
A while back, Valentina mentioned to me that Koigu is superwash. What she didn't tell me was that it's also superdry (is that what you call a tumble-dry wool?).
Using a laundry bag, a cold-water wash, normal detergent, and the gentle cycle (which, on my machine, should be called the mangle-your-clothes-a-little-bit-less cycle) I washed. Then I threw everything in the dryer, which was set on the regular cycle. I dried.
All good! You're probably going to tell me that at some point I'll find felted socks in my dryer. Eh, that's okay. When that happens, I'll knit new ones.
And, speaking of restorative, could someone puh-leese restore the sun? I'm tired of dreary days, grumpy people, and bad photo ops for the blog.
Here's sleeve number 3:
I'm not going to bore you with more photos of the sleeve's cast-on edge or the sleeve on DPNs. I cast on for the sleeve, knit on some DPNs, and now I'm using two circulars (one Inox, one Addi). Use your imagination. I promise that I'll keep sleeve posts to a minimum. By now, I feel like I could do this in my sleep and I'm sure that I would put you to sleep by posting more photos like that.
Knitting in my sleep? Hmmm, it's not a bad way to get more knitting time. With the fall weather finally here, I want to wear this sweater very soon. That, and the fact that I need to cast on for some wee knitted garments, are good motivators.
I got some bad news, kids. I can't show you a picture; it's too painful.
I carefully returned the stitches for the body and the sleeves to my knitting needles, placed markers for the raglan decreases, and began to work.
Not long into this, I noticed something. One very tragic, unrecoverable miscalculation in my sleeve planning that was about to cause me some serious misery.
I knew that my sleeves and body would need to meet each other a half-repeat apart so that one side of a V would match to its opposite at the raglan decreases. The Vs would be mirror images of each other marching together at the shoulders. Let me repeat: I knew this.
Despite this knowledge, I was distracted by the wide rib that I accidentally created as I was knitting the sleeve. While I was initially quite excited by this development, it would soon prove to be my downfall. Because the rib needed to be placed at the outside of the sleeve, it threw off the armhole bind-off (and therefore the point at which the sleeve joined the body) by half a repeat. I, of course, didn't notice this until the last possible moment.
Now, I know what you're going to ask. "Couldn't you just live with it?" I tried that. I worked a couple of rows with the Vs meeting each other in left-left and right-right matches. Not only did it look very, very sloppy, it threw off the rhythm of the rib. Nope, no way, no how! I had no choice. The sleeves must be reknit!
Fearing for the safety of my sweater, I immediately returned it to the bag, and read a book for a couple of hours. Stay tuned for Sleeve Week II (insert clever tagline here).
Yay, both sleeves are done, and now it's time to join them to the body, and begin the raglan decreases:
Zoooooommmm! Why is it that the drive back always seems much shorter than the drive there? That's how I feel with this sleeve. Perhaps it's a little of the been-there-done-that effect, or perhaps it's because I am more comfortable knitting on two circulars. Whatever the cause, this sleeve is growing very quickly.
There has been more KIPing, of course. Here is the sleeve at the Tunnel City Coffee in Williamstown, Massachusetts. It's a nice place to sit for a knit, and I highly recommend the pumpkin-spice whoopie pies. Whoo-boy!
While everyone else was cavorting in upstate New York last weekend, I was busy doing other things. Last Sunday I had the opportunity to take a lace-knitting class at Wild & Woolly, in Lexington, Massachusetts. Of course, I have knit lace before (and I don't feel that one needs to take a class in order to start lace knitting) but I was in the area, and well...
Wild & Woolly classes are held at the large, square table in the downstairs space. There were four of us participating, with Marian as the instructor. We were her very first class!
The class reminded me that one cannot knit lace and carry on an interesting conversation at the same time. More than once, each of us lost track of a row because we were deep in conversation.
Marian took us through some very basic patterns and chart reading. She showed us a couple of her own projects. All in all, it was an excellent way to spend a Sunday morning. The only addition I could have suggested would have been a short discussion of yarns for lace knitting. Wild & Woolly has a huge selection of yummy yarns, and I'm sure that Marian could have pointed out a few unusual choices.
There was lots of KIPing this weekend. Heck, when you can't knit outside, and you don't want to knit at home, where can you go? Your local Finnish bakery, that's where.
We have the beginnings of sleeve number two resting on the table at JP's Sweet Finnish (cute name, eh?). As I cast on and joined the stitches, it occured to me that I could have begun the sleeve on two circs. By nothing more than force of habit, I once again used my DPNs.
We have one sleeve:
All of this rainy weather made for perfect knitting conditions inside. Once the increases are over, it's just four repeats of the rib pattern, two on each needle. The sleeve actually worked up quickly.
Now, it's on to the second! I declare this week to be "Sleeve Week".
There are days when I wonder why I have a knitblog. Having a knitting blog implies that I know how to knit, when clearly that is just not the case.
There have been a string of those days lately. Days when you want to throw down the needles and kick away the yarn. This rainy weather in Boston isn't helping much (although it's great for the knitting time, such that it is).
First, there were the swatches. One swatch turned into three. It seemed as if I could do nothing right with them. Too squat, too many stripes, and we won't even talk about misreading the chart over, and over, and over again.
Then there was the pattern. I was disappointed about the mistake that I made, that I didn't catch it before I submitted the pattern, and that I didn't catch the chart omission myself. I created a small correction page, and you can find the link on my sidebar (or here).
Finally, the sleeve. Despite the frogging, the sleeve is growing well, but there's this nagging worry that it will be too small. I want it to be fitted, but not skin tight. I think my only option is to finish the sleeve, and block it severely. If I remember correctly, my other Softwist Cardigan grew alarmingly from its blocking. Let's hope that will be the case here. If not, you guessed it: frogging.
[With apologies to Knitting Grandma, who doesn't know the first thing about frumpy....]
As this Softwist Cardigan takes shape, I notice that the potential for this to turn into a rather frumpy-looking knit is very high. All this delicate ribbing, combined with the sweater's simple shape, could make this sweater look as if it emerged from St. Somebody's Christmas Bazaar and not from the nickel-coated needles of Subway Knitter.
Don't worry, I have this covered. The eagle-eyed chart readers among us might have noticed my mistake when I converted the zig-zag rib's chart from flat to round knitting. When you knit the pattern flat, you need to include a row of purl stitches at the beginning and end to balance the rib. When you knit the pattern in the round, you need to eliminate one of those purls columns, or you'll end up with one rib that is two-purls wide.
After several repeats, that's what I noticed happening. At first I thought that I could simply hide this wider rib on the underside of my sleeve. Then I thought better of that idea. Rather than hide it, I'll turn this mistake into a design feature. I like the idea of a wide line of ribbing running up the side of my arm and continuing to the collar.
Then there is the fastener. I'm not planning for buttons, and I have been leaning toward a zipper. Without putting much thought into it, I assumed that I would try to get a zipper that matched the color of the yarn. When I did think about it, I dismissed that idea. What about a contrasting color for the band, and a zipper with big teeth? Next stop: Zipperstop! If I can get past that ridiculously patriotic-looking homepage (with music, beware), I should be able to find just what I need. Orange? Lime Green? Magenta? Or maybe just a lighter and brighter shade of blue. Valentina, William, you two are my color gurus, whadda think?
Here's another of my quick test-a-pattern swatches. This one is called "Moss Stitch Diamonds":
Yeah, and I had problems with this one, too. First, to my reading, the written instructions had nothing in common with the charted ones. Which to use? I picked the chart. Second, I wanted to cut off the diamond pattern so that the end of the swatch was a mirror image of the beginning. I had trouble with this until I decided to ignore the chart and wing it. I knew what I wanted the rows to look like, so it was only a matter of getting my knitting to match that appearance.
I like the pattern, but would I do a scarf from this one? Eh, probably not. I found this pattern a little too fiddly to be completely enjoyable.
Look, here is my sleeve, just under elbow length:
This is my progress after about four or five hours of knitting. A holiday and the rainy weather were both very conducive to sleeve production. The sleeve would probably be longer, if I could learn how to read a chart correctly. More often that once I caught myself skipping from row four to row six. Luckily this chart is an easy one, and mistakes reveal themselves quickly.
Knitting on two circulars was easy to master and I love it. Love. It. Within a few rows of my switch from DPNs I was buzzing along like a pro. I only wish that both of these needles were Addis. The way that the yarn slides over my Addi is noticeable better than over the Inox. Addis aren't the perfect needle for every project (I still like my bamboos for slippery yarn) but they are perfect here.
Here on my DPNs is the beginning of one sleeve:
You'll also note the handmade chart for the sleeve ribbing. Because this is round knitting, every row is a right-side row. Thus, the direction of and the stitches in the wrong-side rows needed to be reversed before I could start. See the arrows? They are to remind me to always work right to left, no matter if its an odd (right-side) or even (wrong) row.
Oh how I love my DPNs! For this project, however, I decided to switch to two circulars once the increases begin. First, because I've never knit in the round on two circulars (and it seems like a nice technique to learn) and second because the increases will be easier to do if I have the sleeve laid out on two circs.
I could also have chosen magic loop. At Knitsmiths, I discussed magic loop with Johanna. Johanna is famous (to me, at least) for knitting her sleeves simultaneously. In fact, unbeknownst to her, Johanna was the first knitter to expose me to that little trick, and my knitting has benefitted enormously from it.
Johnanna mentioned that a long circular was essential to the successful ML outcome. The name "Addi" wasn't mentioned, but implied. Oh, really. I have two US10 circs (one of which is an Addi), and I don't think that buying another one, especially one with a longer cable, and especially at Addi's prices, would be a good investment for Subway Knitter.
Just as I was beginning to think that DPNs were the way to go, along came Nona with her fine post on knitting in the round with two circulars. A more fortunately timed post there never was. Nona very kindly emailed me with some additional cast-on tips.
Despite those tips, I still decided to cast on to DPNs, establish the sleeve. I'll switch to two circulars shortly. Because this is my first time with this method I didn't want to worry about joining stitches, following a chart, and adjusting to the feel of two cables dangling down from my sleeve at the same time.
Look, the sleeve fits:
In honor of this ramble today, I present to you with a little ramble about the Softwist Cardigan sleeves.
As I suspected, this rib-balancing/raglan shaping problem will be more of a counting thing.
It's a counting-backward thing, to be more specific. I need the ribbing on either side of the raglan line to march together evenly. Therefore, the sleeves must join the body at the same point in both the stitch and row repeats of the zig-zag rib. This will be easiest to accomplish with an even number of rib repeats.
To do this, I decided that the sleeves will end with 41 stitches (about a 10-inch circumference--I want narrow, fitted sleeves). Working back, I determined that the sleeves must increase to 41 stitches from a 31-stitch cast on. The sleeve will begin and end with full rib repeats. As I increase those ten stitches, I'll work them as a partial repeat.
When I bind off for the armhole, I will bind off an entire rib repeat (10 stitches). That's not completely necessary, but if I do that then I can easily begin the raglan shaping at the beginning of a repeat.
With the bottom of the cardigan body completely, I now move to the sleeves. I have absolutely no idea if this will work. If it doesn't, expect to read about much swearing and yarn throwing.
You don't know what it took to get me here:
The swatch on the right is the final, unblocked, version. You can see that it took two swatches. Actually, there were three; I frogged the first one. Yikes!
Why is it that the most straightforward looking projects turn out to be the most complicated? The perfectionist in me was alive and well as I experimented with this swatch.
I had two problems with the chart. Maybe they were due to inexperience on my part, or carelessness on behalf of the pattern's designer. First, the bottom row of the chart doesn't contain the knit stiches for the overlapping vertical stripe. Instead, it reads as one long horizontal band. Of course, I didn't notice this until I was about 40 rows above the bottom row. Not acceptable!
Second, the last row of the last repeat should be row 16 of the chart, and not row 20. Row 20 is fine if you want to continue with another repeat, but if you want to cast off, it looks as if you have an extra band across the top. That was a four-row frog.
Finally (and this was personal preference rather than a true problem) I noticed that the moss-stitch squares were too squat. So, as I was knitting the third swatch, I simply repeated three of those rows. That change was easy. Result: I like the swatch. I can imagine a scarf of staggered tiles, maybe offset by about a quarter of a repeat each time.
ATTENTION: There is one mistake in my Urban Necessity Tam pattern. A big thank you to JuJu for contacting me about it.
The decrease instructions for the tam should read as follows:
Row 1: *work chart row, sl M. Repeat from * across.
Row 2: *K2Tog, work chart, SSK, sl M. Repeat from * across.
Continue working the decreases and the chart in this manner. Decreases occur on the chart’s even-numbered rows only. For a more abstract design, alternate between chart panels and StSt panels. For a plain tam, skip the chart altogether.
The first and second rows of the decrease series are reversed in the published pattern. They are correct here.
I apologize for any problems that this may have caused for your knitting.
If you're knitting the large or extra-large tam, the chart you need is missing from the posting. Please contact me at subwayknitter[at]yahoo[dot]com and I will email it to you.
Now for today's post: rather than post in-progress pictures of my Mira Mira scarf, I skipped ahead and went straight to a blocking photo.
Here it is, and I'm rather excited. I love the way that the foil speckles are randomly spaced throughout the scarf. I'm a little concerned, however, that it's not going to match my new coat after all. Plans were to get a gray one, but then a baby-blue number caught my eye. You know how that goes. I'll know for sure when I receive the coat.
This project reminded me that scarves are fun to knit. They're a perfect way to play with a new yarn or stitch pattern without committing to a month-long endeavor. And, when you're done there's something very useful (and giftable!) to show for it. Trust me, there will be at least a few more of them on my needles this season.
Hey, it's also in USA Today!
I vaugely remember this reporter from the Harlot book signing at Circles back in April. Does anyone else?
Enjoy the long holiday weekend. Don't forget to check back here tomorrow, because we'll have blocking pictures!
I am in the mood for scarves. There are a few patterns from my new book which I'm just dying to try. Will any of them be scarf-worthy?
To find out, I grabbed some Mission Falls 1824 Wool which I found lying around the place, and a pair of US8s. I cast on a few stitches, and began to work the Large Tiles pattern. It's a big repeat. I wonder if it will be too big for my scarf plans.
Can I say enough about this dreamy, watery colorway? Mmmm.
Who knew that knitting required so much math? It doesn't, if you knit every pattern exactly as it's written. But, we all know that it's no fun to do that all of the time.
In this case, I really don't have a pattern. I have a finished sweater in mind. This means that there's math, and lots of it.
I was feeling pretty good about myself after I decided to knit this cardigan completely in the zig zag rib. "Easy peasy," I thought (with more than a slight hint of smugness). As I asked a couple of knitters what they thought of my idea, the warm glow of knitting joy left me to be replaced by the cold reality of knitting math.
As Grumperina so correctly pointed out, not only will I need to balance the rib stitches in the raglan decreases, but also the raglan decreases must happen at the same point in the ribbing series of both the sleeves and the sweater body.
Say what? Go here for a visual explaination.
Now, here's my problem with math, and it's always been my problem with math. I know how to do the actual math; but what math do I do? Then again, if that were never a problem, then everyone could be a mathemetician.
This is a challenge, and I'm feeling up to it. I've started a running log on paper to jot down my thinking and questions. My hunch tells me that because the ribbing of both the sleeves and the sweater body must be at the same point when the decreases begin, I will need to work backwards when planning the sleeves. That means that I need to know how many stitches the sleeves will contain at the point when they are joined to the body and the raglan decreases begin.
So, maybe it's less about the math and more about the counting.
Choosing the zig-zag rib for the sweater body might have slowed my progress slightly, but it's made that process much more enjoyable.
More thoughts about the math: I need to understand the technique behind this raglan shaping before I can make any decisions about approaching the rib-spacing question. To that end, I'm studying the raglan cardigan pattern in The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns, as well as the raglan section in Sweater Design in Plain English. Since I don't know exactly how raglan sleeves are shaped, how can I possibly know how to keep ribbing even within that shaping?
There was a little discussion last week at Cara's place about the fit of the sweaters in TKHBoSP. Overall, I find that the fit of these sweaters is a little too baggy. This includes the sleeve shaping. My sleeves will be narrower than the circumference Ann Budd suggests. This is partially for aesthetic reasons, but also so that I can begin and end the sleeves with an even number of pattern repeats.
Before I can think about the sleeves, I want to finish the bottom of the cardigan body. It's time to return to my needles.
A few of you asked for a picture of the top of the Urban Necessity Tam:
I can't get a good picture of the green one (it's pitch black) but I can show you a nice shot of a blue tam, the proto-prototype if you will:
The tam is knit in the round, and when you reach the top shaping the stitches are divided into sixths and the chart is worked on each section. Of course, if one were to alternate charted sections with plain stockinette, the look would be completely different. This one looks like a snowflake, don't you think?
You know the saying.
As I admired the zig-zag rib edging of the Softwist Cardi, I thought about the miles of twisted stockinette that awaited me. I can't say that I was the least bit excited about the situation. I really enjoyed the rib pattern. Wouldn't it be great if I could knit the entire cardigan in this rib?
Well, why can't I do this? There will be pattern issues with the raglan and sleeve shaping, but I'll work those out.
So, in a matter of days this sweater has gone from Cinxia, to a modified raglan version, and, at the last minute, to something completely different. Best laid plans, indeed!