Super Quick FO

Posted on December 30, 2005 | 5 Comments


Ok, I know I'm making a funny face in this picture, but look how good the sweater looks!

This is my fastest-ever sweater, I think. It's knit from Needful Yarn's Super, which is an extrafine merino similar to Karabella Aurora Bulky (Super's a tiny bit thicker and more stringy in texture), which I bought over a year ago. I originally bought this to knit a different sweater, but I've since forgotten what the original sweater was supposed to be. On Thursday last week I was looking through my pile of sweaters and decided that I simply didn't have enough handknit pullovers (I have plenty of cardigans), so I decided to focus my attention on creating some, quickly.

So I went into the good old stash closet and rediscovered this yarn. I flipped through some books and picked out an idea, did a too-small swatch (I was going for speed, remember?), and cast on for the back. Well, after about 3" of knitting, I got that nagging feeling that it was too narrow. Whipped out that tape measure (aren't you proud I was able to find it when I needed it? and that I stopped to measure?) and confirmed that yes, it was too narrow, my gauge tightened up in the cable pattern. So I tried that piece around my neck and found that it would be the right size for a mock turtleneck . . . and poof! That sweater back became the beginning of a top-down raglan pullover done in the round.

Now, I've said it before and I'll stick by my opinion that raglans aren't the most flattering shape on me. I have narrow shoulders and a bigger bust, the diagonal line just makes me look even narrower on top and even wider at the bust. . . BUT, this happens to be one of the easiest shapes to knit while flying by the seat of your pants. And I happened to be in the mood to knit by the seat of my pants. I threw the same cable pattern at the wrists, reversing the cables (you all know I like my symmetry), but decided not to do the cable at the waist because I'd rather not draw attention to that area, you know?

By Monday night, I had a complete sweater! I even wove in the ends and everything, which we all know is really rare. So yay, one more sweater in the sweater pile! And it only took 5 days!

Here's a detail shot of the neck that used to be a sweater back:


I enjoyed this cable and may have to do it again as a larger panel somewhere. I really like this color, it's somewhere between pumpkin orange and road-cone orange, and the yarn is very soft and smooth. The fit is great, since I tried it on as I knit, and the sleeves are the right length. I've been making longer sweaters lately so I wanted this one to be a bit on the cropped side for a change. This measures approximately 21" to the shoulder, you can see in the first picture that really, I can't get away with making sweaters any shorter than that unless I want to go for a 90's belly-button look (which I don't).

All in all, a very successful project, especially if you factor in my complete lack of planning. And, just for the record, I'm not advocating this method of knitting/designing a sweater. I usually am very obsessive in my calculations and swatches before I start knitting, so don't go thinking this is the norm!

And please, don't do this yourself unless you're willing to try it on several times as you go, rip out and reknit what doesn't work, and/or chuck the whole thing if it really doesn't work in the end. I was prepared for that the entire way, I swear!

Project specs:
Pattern: Made it up as I went along, not available
Yarn: 6 skeins Needful Yarns Super
Needles: US size 10.75
Started: December 22, 2005
Finished: December 26, 2005

By the way! I also finished something else on Monday night. Can you tell from this picture what that was?

Photos of that FO soon!

Posted in Finished Knitting Projects

Little Leafy FO

Posted on November 19, 2005 | 4 Comments

Two posts ago I mentioned that I was just dying to jump into some new projects . . . well, I just couldn't wait any longer (even though nothing that's really close to being finished is actually finished yet!), so I picked the smallest of the projects and whipped this little scarf out.

I used two skeins of Trendsetter Kashmir on size 9 needles and the leaf lace stitch pattern from the lace pullover from Luxury Knitting. I knit that sweater for the book so that lace pattern will forever be etched into my memory. I was able to finish this scarf in just a few hours, and even wore it today! I love it. Lavender is a color I don't usually wear but I got it into my head to knit a leaf lace scarf in lavender and this yarn is so soft and luxurious, I just had to do it. And now that it's finally cold outside (it was FREEZING this morning!! I can't believe it's almost December, when did that happen!?!?), I can wear it with my new hat. Not that they match at all, but I'm too disorganized to match my hats and scarves anyway, I always lose one piece out of a matching set (especially gloves).

Project specs:
Pattern: Leaf lace from Luxury Knitting
Yarn: 2 skeins Trendsetter Kashmir in Lavender #36
Needles: Size US9
Started: November 14, 2005
Finished: November 16, 2005

Thank you to everyone on your comments about the shawl. I'll post any other info I get as I get it. I'll be going to the show on one of the last days before it closes, after I get back from England. I can't wait to see all other entries!

Posted in Finished Knitting Projects

New Hat!

Posted on November 04, 2005 | 2 Comments

Just in time for winter to really hit us, I've finished my first winter accessory of the season! We got this yarn in the store yesterday and it was just so amazing, I had to splurge. I decided to buy just one skein and make a hat, and this is what I came up with after many tries that all pooled. The yarn is Prism Cashmere 3 1/2 oz, it's 100% cashmere that's so warm and soft, it should be a controlled substance. This is the Tahoe colorway, which I'd never seen before in this yarn and is just stunning in person. The box of yarn had been in the store less than an hour before I'd picked out my skein and wound it to start the hat on my commute home!

It took me several false starts to end up with this crocheted hat, it seemed that no matter what I did the colors still pooled (my mathematical mind just can't wrap itself around the concept that no matter how many stitches there are in a project, some yarn ALWAYS pools. How is that possible? The color repeats are a set length, aren't they? How can they pool no matter the stitch pattern or stitch count?!?!? HOW?).

Knitting the hat flat would probably have broken some of the patterning, but I hate how you can see a seam in handpainted yarns because the color changes stop abruptly, so I knew that doing the hat flat was out of the question. So I proceeded to try all my handpainted yarn tricks, which I will now share with you all:

1. Texture is good -- the 3-dimensional nature breaks up the pattern, and raised stitches that are part one color and part another always look more interesting. Seed & moss stitch are usually good choices.
2. Slip stitch patterns -- since they layer different parts of the yarn over eachother, you get a different effect than with other stitches. Linen stitch is a great choice, as are stitches that use a reverse stockinette border with slipped stockinette stitches for dimension.
3. Bobbles -- because bobbles are worked every few rows and eat a LOT of yarn, they're good choices for handpainted yarns as they change the amount of yarn used in each row, which shifts the color repeat. They also look interesting because the booble ends up being a different color than the background stitches right around it.
4. Tuck stitch patterns -- since you're working into the row below, you can get a dimensional look and break up the pooling. Variations on fisherman's rib work especially well (but they eat yarn like crazy and take forever to knit)
5. Double stranding -- if you knit with two strands held together, positioned so that they are at different points in the repeat, you can get a really beautiful fabric that hopefully doesn't pattern. Unfortunately, the colors in this yarn overlapped too much so I got blobs of green no matter where I started the pattern.
6. 2 row jog -- works well if you have multiple skeins to work with. Since I didn't, I used the inside and outside tails of the skein, which didn't work AT ALL as it just meant every other row had the colors reversed, so they still pooled but in the other direction.
7. Lace -- an option I didn't try for this hat because it's not what I consider a good winter option, lace is a great idea especially if you pick a pattern that changes stitch count throughout the repeat.
8. CROCHET -- when nothing works, I change from needle to hook. Since in crochet it's possible to work into the row below with no pre-planning, it's ideal when you're pulling your hair out after tons of failed attempts.

What I ended up with is a sort of slipped stich version of single crochet fabric done in the round. Every so often I sc'd into the row below, and did that for two rows, then did a row or two of sc. This way I ensured that rows used different lengths of yarn, so that the color repeat started and ended in different places. AND when I saw colors pooling too much, I threw another sc into the row below to break it up.

What's neat about this is that those stitches into the row below create a layered look that adds dimension to the fabric. And since any color can be over any other color, it makes the whole thing look more organic, more like it did in the skein.

And the flower? That's the easy part! You can make it with any yarn:

CO 7 stitches (can be fewer or more, doesn't matter)
Row 1: Purl
Row 2: (K1, YO) to last st, K1
Rep these two rows for as many rows as you want, until the flower is the size you want (I did 4 repeats on size 9 needles in this aran weight yarn).
Bind off row: K1, (YO, bind off 1 stitch, K1, bind off 1 stitch) across

Squish the "petals" together and sew the center to the hat, shaping the petals around and over your sewing. Easy!

Project specs:
Pattern: Made it up as I went along
Yarn: 1 skein Prism Cashmere 3 1/2 oz in colorway Tahoe
Needles: Size G crochet hook and size US9 needles for flower
Started: November 2, 2005
Finished: November 3, 2005

Posted in Finished Knitting Projects, Knitting Techniques

CashKoigu Gloves!

Posted on October 30, 2005 | 7 Comments


Look what I finished! (well, I finished one, anyway) I LOVE it. I originally planned to make this a Chiagu pattern, but realized that I borrowed so much shaping from published patterns that I just wasn't comfortable selling it as my own. I combined info from a few patterns out of the Vogue on the Go Mittens & Gloves book, and some info from the Interweave Knits article on making gloves, to just wing this glove from start to finish. I did have to rip out after I made the arm the first time, because it was too loose (I have stick thin forearms, aparently). Actually, they could even be tighter than they turned out, but I'm not gonna worry about it.

I wanted to make them look vintage so I rouched the bottom and added a small crochet flower. Here's a detail shot:


This picture is more acurate for color, too. To rouch like this, all I did was thread a piece of yarn on a tapestry needle and sew the yarn vertically between stitches, sewing into about every 4th row or so. Then I doubled the yarn back on itself and sewed down through the same places, pulled the yarn tight and tied a knot, and sewed the ends in. Totally easy and stays put. The flower helps hide where it might not look the neatest.

Wanna see the reverse side? Of course you do!


I completely understand if you all start placing bets about when/if the second glove gets done. . .

Posted in Finished Knitting Projects, Koigu

Rhinebeck Ruined.

Posted on October 16, 2005 | 13 Comments

For the last 2 days I've had a bad stomach ache, and then today I woke up feeling like a truck had run over me. So of course, no Rhinebeck for me. Pout. I feel marginally better now (having slept 13 hours), but I think I had some kind of virus. It was the smart decision not to go -- spending 5 hours in a car and then walking around in windy, possibly cold weather isn't what you should do if you wake up feeling like I did this morning! Too bad, I really wanted to go. Maybe next year.

So as a consolation prize, I'm gonna show you my finished Karabella Cabled Cardi, only I had to cut my face out of the picture because I look like the Walking Dead today (I even put makeup on for this shoot, but still couldn't get a decent picture. Take my word for it, you don't wanna see the top 1/5th of this image!):

I really love this cardigan, it's the perfect fit for a cozy, wear it everywhere sort of thing. I made some changes, as I'm sure you can see: I changed the sleeves completely to give more relaxed, looser sleeves. I also crocheted a button out of the same yarn, because I couldn't find any button I liked and I didn't feel like looking for one in a million different stores. I also made the yoke looser by starting on size 3's instead of size 0's.

The knitting was easy and fun on this project, but the finishing. Ugh! It took 3 tries to sew on that yoke before I got it to lay flat. Initially I did it by eye, folding the yoke in half and pinning that at the center back, then pinning the half-way point from center front to center back onto the center of the sleeve. This worked fine until about half-way between the 1st center sleeve and center back, when I realized that I hadn't done it evenly and so had too much yoke left over. So I ripped it out and did it again.

After one more try, I decided to be mathematical in my approach: I counted the number of sts in the yoke, and the number of sts around the body, and figured out the ratio. Then I sewed through the appropriate number of sts on the body to the number of sts on the yoke. And that worked! I had to fudge a little as I got close to the end, but no one's gonna notice but me (if you can see something in this image, PLEASE DON'T TELL ME!).

All in all this project was a huge success. I think I've finally, finally, FINALLY learned what size I wear in knitted clothing! I made the medium for this, which has a finished bust measurement of 36". My actual bust measurement is 37", and in the past I would have made the largest size, because I was trained to always put in some ease in all my garments. I've read almost every knitting book I could get my hands on, and EVERY ONE OF THEM tells you to put ease in. Well, I've learned the hard way that I do not like loose-fitting garments, unless they're chunky pullovers. In a cardigan like this one, it's supposed to be form-fitting, and it looks good and feels good on me in this size. Hallelujah! I think I've got it!

Project specs:
Pattern: Karabella's Cabled Cardigan, pattern KK183
Yarn: 11 skeins Karabella Aurora 8 in color 43, kit from String
Needles: US size 7 for most of it
Started: September 25, 2005
Finished: October 9, 2005

Posted in Finished Knitting Projects

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