Not quite

Well, once again, I didn’t quite finish my Olympic project before closing ceremonies.  I was trying to make my dad Basic Cardigan: Two Ways by Bruce Weinstein from the book Knits Men Want. My dad picked out the pattern and bought the book so that I could make it for him. Mom bought the yarn. My contribution was the knitting.

I made this my Olympic project so that I would be done in time for my dad’s birthday on the 11th. The lawyer in me wants to point out that I did finish all the knitting and really I said I would knit a sweater for the Olympics, not necessarily piece or finish a sweater. Another party of me realizes that this sort of loop-hole finding is part of what’s wrong with the world. I’d call it a bronze medal effort.

A few days of seaming and zipper installation after the ceremonies concluded and I had this:

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Ryan took on the role of model for me, isn’t he handsome? I think so. As you can see, the sweater is a bit big on him, but my dad is about 5 inches taller so I think it will fit perfectly.
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The sweater is very plain. It’s composed entirely of panels of stockinette and reverse stockinette. Perfect for watching lots of Olympics. But now I’m ready for a nice intricate lace pattern or some colorwork, or cables… something not so incredibly plain.
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The yarn was lovely. I used Berroco Ultra Alpaca which is a very sturdy worsted weight yarn. It is 50% wool 50% alpaca. The wool gives it stability and the alpaca gives it lots of warmth and a bit of drape.
I was very nervous about installing the zipper because I’ve heard horror stories about how hard it is to install a zipper in knit fabric and seen some really bad projects on Ravelry to back up the stories. The problem is that zippers are not at all stretchy and knit fabric is very stretchy. If you accidentally stretch the knit fabric when sewing in the zipper, you end up with that weird ripply sweater front that looks pretty bad. I followed this tutorial and it worked perfectly! You’re welcome.
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I love the double-thick collar. I think it is the perfect neck edge. The pattern was a bit vague in places. I think the designer sacrificed some clarity to get the layout to fit on the page better. Nothing too terrible, but I always get annoyed when designers sacrifice the pattern instructions for aesthetic concerns. I mean, the pattern is all anyone cares about, not how pretty the page is. I will take a well written pattern over a pretty page every time.
I’m going down to visit my dad in about a week and a half and I’ll deliver the sweater then. I’m sure it won’t get any wear until at least November, but at least he’ll get it relatively close to his birthday.

False start

Like many participating in the Ravellenic Games this year, I eagerly cast on as soon as opening ceremonies started. I loved watching the ceremonies and thought London did a beautiful job. The cauldron lighting was amazing. I knit like a fiend and in less than 24 hours I had this:

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That’s about 12 inches of the back of a sweater. About that time, a little voice in the back of my head started saying “Gee, this looks pretty small.” I fought it for a while then decided to check my gauge. It was way off. That can’t be, I thought to myself, I actually knit a good sized swatch this time and dutifully measured it. Back to my swatch I went. You guessed it. I had mis-measured the swatch in the first place. Ouch. In a matter of seconds my lovely half-done sweater back turned into this:
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Not to be deterred in my quest for Ravellenic gold, I cast back on and dutifully re-knit. It feels so good, when, after ripping back, you finally hit that place where you’re knitting with “fresh” yarn again. After several volleyball matches, a little swimming, a little rowing, and a lot of gymnastics (all viewing of course) I finished the back of the sweater.
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Only two sleeves, two fronts, piecing, and a zipper to install in the next 13 days. What do you think? Can I do it?

I hate it.

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Doesn’t look too bad from the back right?  I mean, you can tell there’s something a little bit weird about the neckline, but it could just be the way I’m standing, a trick of the light, something non-fatal to the awesomeness of the sweater right?  Wrong.
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What the hell sweater!  How can that be your neckline.  What are you from the 80s?  You think it’s cool to be all off-the-shoulder?  Well it’s not the 80s and that’s not cool!  You’re a #$%^*@! sweater.  You should cover me and keep me warm.  Now I know that I altered you heavily, but really all I did was shape the lower body–under the armpits–to bring it around so it can close in the front.  I love this sweater from the armpits down.  The neckline is unacceptable.
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Now that I’m finished with this sweater I realize why the neckline is so dumbass.  Because the back is one giant rectangle.  It is in no way shaped to account for the shoulders.  SHOULDERS!  Everyone has them.  It’s dumbass not to account for them.  The sweater needs a yoke.  It is impossible to give this sweater a yoke if you knit the back as written.  I would have to take the sweater all the way back to a giant pile of yarn and completely write my own pattern to create something I wanted to wear.  Le Sigh.
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I always forget that even if some pictures look OK, you have to keep in mind that mostly people are posing for pictures and maybe they’re trying really hard to hide the dumbass aspects.  Well with the above photos I have done my best to show you exactly what sucks about this sweater.
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The leaves on the sleeves are cute, but they can’t really compensate for the lameness.  I love the yarn, but I don’t think I can stand to frog the whole sweater just to get the yarn back.  Anyone want an ugly sweater?

Knit-a-long

May marks the beginning of the second year of the monthly knit-a-longs at my LYS For Yarn’s Sake.  Each month the shop picks a project and hosts some time once a week to work on it, get help, trade advice and modifications–it’s lovely.  I haven’t participated in all of them but have done quite a few.

Last May it was Jared Flood’s Rock Island.  It’s extremely intricate double-sided lace.  I got about 12 repeats into the border–you need 71… I’m planning to go back to it now that school is over and I can focus on things like double sided lace.  Here’s what I have:

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Pathetic, I know.

June was not a month I participated.  The project was the Radian Yoke sweater by Wendy Barnard.  I love this cute summer tee and plan to make it eventually, I just didn’t have the time or (if you can believe it) the right yarn.
July and August were devoted to the same project.  The Lissajous Socks by Cookie A.   I’m still actively working on these.  Actually, “actively” might be a bit strong.  “Reluctantly” is more accurate.  Now that the knit-a-long is well over I’ve only been working on them for an hour a week at sock hour at the yarn shop.  I have one complete and I’m almost through the big chart for the second one.
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Turns out, slow and steady does NOT win the race.
 

September was also a month I participated.  And also a project I have yet to finish.  I’m also still working on my Dahlia Cardigan by Heather Zoppetti.  This one is so close to being done I can taste it.  All I have left is the left front of the cardigan.  I don’t have a photo since finishing the right front, but I did snap one after I had finished the back and sleeves.  Hopefully I will be showing this off as an FO soon.
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October was another intense lace project–the True Love Stole by Wendy Johnson.  This was a project that a lot of the knitters had a hard time getting into (the chart is a 45-row repeat!) and I doubt I’ll ever really sit down to make this one.  I do think it’s lovely though–just too fiddly for me currently.  Maybe someday I’ll want something really fiddly and I’ll come back to this one.
November and December were devoted to the Larch Cardigan by Amy Christoffers.  I didn’t get in on this project either because finals were just heating up for fall term and I didn’t have the time.
January was scheduled as a “catch-up” month and I spent some extra quality time with Dahlia–after you finish the lace back it’s a never ending sea of stockinette.
February was the first project that I actually finished (don’t judge!) and only because it was a hat.  The Rustling Leaves Beret by Alana Dakos was a nice quick knit and allowed me to use up some silk-alpaca handspun I was itching to find a project for.
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Yeah for small victories!
 

March and April was another two-month project with a twist.  We got to choose to either make the Gnarled Oak Cardigan or the Wildflower Cardigan both also by Alana Dakos.  Some crazy women decided to knit both since we had two months.  In two months I didn’t even manage to finish the back piece of the Wildflower.  I don’t have a picture of my progress yet since right now it’s just a big slab of stockinette.  All of the fun is on the front of this one.  When I get something more interesting than a rectangle of stockinette I’ll show it off.
Now, year two is kicking off with a beautiful little shawlette from Ysolda Teague–the Pear Drop.  Do you think I will be able to finish within the month?

Now what?

I’ve been working on my Dahlia Cardigan every week at Knit Chat for quite a while (Since September) and now I’m not sure where to go.  I’ve known all along that I don’t care for front of the cardigan as written so the plan has always been to change it.

The cardigan is constructed in a strange way.  First, you knit a lace medallion in the round.

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Then you knit two long strips that border the top and bottom of the medallion.  The strips are knit out from the center, so that you have live stitches on the left and right sides.
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As written, after knitting the strips, you take the left and right side stitches all onto one needle and knit flat for a long time creating the draped rectangular fronts.  The sleeves are done as afterthought sleeves.  Meaning that as you knit, you put waste yarn in where the sleeve opening will be and later pull the waste yarn out and knit the sleeves from the live stitches.
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Because I wanted to be able to try it on as a worked the fronts, I put the sides on waste yarn and knit the sleeves on first.  That way I would know how the fronts hang.
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Now I’ve got both sleeves done (and the seams across the back have been sewn since the picture was taken) so it’s time to get serious and decide what to do about the fronts.  Since it’s knit sideways I can’t just steal the front of another cardigan that I like.  I’m thinking some combination of strategic short rows and decreases can get me to a more traditional cardigan look.  I think I’m just going to “try stuff” and see what happens.

Surgery

Earlier this month I showed you the little boo boo I made on my Dahlia Cardigan.  Basically, I attached on of the back panels 180 degrees from how I should have.

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Today was the day I decided to fix it.  To create the back strips you use a provisional cast on at the center and knit out in both directions.  To fix my boo boo, I started by unpicking one of the ends from the center so that I had two sets of live stitches.
I rotated the sides until there was no longer a mobius in the middle of my back.  Then I kitchner-ed the live stitches back together.
All in all, it took about an hour.  Not as much lost time as if I had to frog back to my original incorrect join.  I completed the right sleeve today and have just started the left.  Currently my fronts are on holders because I don’t like the original shaping of the front and I’m brainstorming how to fix it.  Suggestions?

Well Crap!

I’ve been working on my Dahlia Cardigan at knit chat for quite a while.   Here’s what I’ve got so far:

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See the giant huge completely obvious problem?  This cardigan is constructed by first knitting the lace back in the round.  Then, because the lace doesn’t cover your whole back, you knit two strips to go on top and bottom of the lace to fill out the length of the back.  These strips are seamed to the top and bottom of the lace (as you can see, I haven’t sewn the seams yet.)  Then you put live stitches from the side on one long needle and knit the sides of the sweater out horizontally.  The sleeves are put in as afterthoughts, just like you would an afterthought heel.  Here’s the top back of the sweater:
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No problem there, just need to sew the seem.  Here’s the bottom back of the sweater.
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Yeah.  Oops.  Turns out, when I attached the strip that borders the bottom of the lace, I twisted it 180 degrees.  I made it a mobius.  Since my back is not a mobius, this is definitely a problem.  I can’t think of any solution other than ripping the side back to wear I attached the strip.  Hundreds of stitches and the set up for the afterthought sleeve all in vain.
Because I don’t want to deal with this obvious problem, I’m knitting the sleeve on the “good” side of the sweater.  Clearly I will have to do something about this eventually, but for now I’m just kicking myself and moving along like nothing is wrong.

My new favorite sweater

Every time I finish a project, whatever it is becomes my new favorite… whatever, hat, scarf, mittens.  That project becomes the best and I wear it or use it all the time.  My latest finished sweater is no different.  I love it.

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This is the GreenGable -hoodie by Mari Muinonen.  It was in the Fall 2008 Vogue Knitting, but if you don’t have access to the magazine, the pattern can now be purchased individually from the Vogue Knitting website. From the minute I saw it in the magazine I wanted to knit it.  The giant cables worked in bulky yarn just seem to pop off the fabric.
 
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I modified the pattern to get rid of the deep v-neck.  I want to be able to wear this in place of a jacket in the early fall/late spring and a giant v-neck would make the sweater less practical as a jacket replacement.  I also left off the hood.  I don’t really wear hoods (I have a lot of knit hats) and I didn’t want the hood constantly hanging down obscuring the cables on the back.
 
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To get rid of the v-neck I just worked basic raglan decreases for the front of the sweater and worked the decreases as prescribed for the rest of the sweater.  When I got to the directions for where the hood should go, I bound off 12 stitches in the center for the neck, then worked one row with decreases on both sides of the neck.  This gave the neck a tiny bit of shaping, making it lower in the front than the back.  Then I bound off the rest of the stitches.  Next I picked up all the bound off stitches (the bind of was for stability so the neck won’t stretch out with wear–this sweater is a bit heavy since it’s worked in bulky yarn) and worked 5 rounds of k1tbl, p1 to mimic the twisted rib at the back and the cuffs.  
 
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The yarn is Knit Picks Swish Bulky in a colorway that’s been discontinued for about 2 years: Adobo.  I love the rusty orange/brown color.  I know it’s not for everyone but to me it screams cozy fall thoughts like hot chocolate and sweaters and mittens and hats and sitting by the heater in flannel jammies.  Swish Bulky is probably one of my favorite Knit Picks yarns.  It’s super soft and big and squishy and did I mention soft?  Also it’s superwash so it can just be tossed in the washer and dryer (I use the delicate cycles on both) and it comes out looking wonderful.  The yarn does pill, all merino does, but I have a sweater stone and it takes care of them quickly.
 
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This pattern helped me to realize something about myself knitting-wise.  I hate knitting sleeves in the round.  There.  I said it.  Hate them.  I don’t mind socks, mittens, other small circumference things but sleeves… hate them.  I also don’t mind knitting sleeves flat and seaming them.  There’s just something about knitting 30+ inches of small circumference tube that gets under my skin.  I knit this sweater up to the underarm very quickly but then stalled on the sleeves.
 
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Have you seen enough pictures yet?
 
I’ve pretty much been wearing this all the time since it came off the needles.  It’s so cozy.  I almost don’t mind that it’s winter and freezing cold outside.
 

Heaven

I debated about posting about this since it’s not really far enough to have any good pictures, but this project is so heavenly I thought I would share the love.  I’ve been working on the Dahlia Cardigan for the past few weeks on and off and every time I pick up the project it’s pure bliss.

I’m not very far along because I have other projects that “need” to be done so I’ve been trying to be good and focus on them and only work on this every once a while but just look how lovely it is so far:

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That is almost all of the lace panel for the back of the cardigan.  The lace is pretty simple but you have to keep track of where you are in the pattern since it is repeated 4 times every row.  The pattern starts with this fun bit a lace that is just the right amount of challenge, then changes to easy-breezy stockinette for the rest of the pattern with some interesting construction elements thrown in.

The pattern, as written, has long square fronts which look cute on some, but I’m not really into the flowing -front style that is so popular right now.  I plan to do some short-row experimentation and see if I can get a more typical cardigan style shaping.

The pattern is fun, but the real reason this project is heavenly to work on is the yarn.

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This is String Theory Caper Sock.  Heaven.  This is hands down my favorite yarn.  Better than Malabrigo.  Better than Madeline Tosh.  It’s the perfect.  By clicking that link, and looking at the pictures above, you can see that their colors are absolutely amazing.  Sadly, what the pictures can’t show you is how amazing this yarn feels.  The yarn is 80% merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon.  It’s so amazingly squishy and soft and snuggly and makes perfect plump squooshy stitches that just look happy.

The other two projects that I’m working on that “need” to be done sooner than later are some socks for my grandma to keep her feet warm this winter (she is having circulation issues and always has cold hands and feet) and a set of market bags for my mother that are long long long over due…  I try to work on those most of the day and just get a few guilty-pleasure rows of this cardigan in before bed.

Oh Hi

Oh Hi blog.  How are you?  It’s been a while… I started a new Job at the beginning of June and I can’t believe I’ve been there a month now.  waking up at 6:45 every morning is not fun, but the job is good and the work can be fun.  The real reason I’ve been derelict in my posting is because I moved in the last two weeks of June and I’m still trying to settle into my new place.  The packing up and getting out of the old place wasn’t so bad, I had lots of help from Ryan and Adam.  It’s the unpacking and trying to get the new place set back up that’s killing me.  Have to find a new place for everything, have to figure out how this place wants to be set up, ugh.

I did finish a knitting project in the midst of all the tumult.  A friend of mine got married last weekend, and the invitation suggested that “cocktail attire” would be most appropriate… So I went shopping, found a dress, found some shoes, found some earrings, and a necklace.  The dress was strapless, the wedding was in the evening, and the “summer” that Portland has been dishing up lately hasn’t been very warm.  This was my solution:

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The pattern is Lacy Hug Me Tight from the Knit2Together book.  I managed to finish it in just under a month (and on the night before the wedding.)

The pattern is exceedingly boring to knit.  First you knit a giant block of 2×2 ribbing, 21″ worth of ribbing to be exact.  Then you knit three strips of lace, two to go around the sleeves and one to go around the body.  The strips are about 20 stitches wide.  The lace is not charted, so you either have to chart it yourself (which I did after the first repeat) or try to follow written lace instructions.  Then you fold the body and add a little seam.  Then you sew the strips of lace around the edges.  It’s a lot of finishing work.  I do like the result though.

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At the wedding there was a sort of photo booth set up and everyone there got the password to access the photos.  The company is located in WA but I guess they do shoots in Portland too.  I’m holding a cardboard cut out top hat and Ryan is holding cardboard bright red lips.

The yarn is Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy.  41% Cotton, 34% Hemp, and 25% Modal.  I love the finished project, but this yarn is hell to work with.  It’s so rough on your hands, there is no give at all, it’s not at all soft before it’s washed.  After it’s washed it blooms like mad and becomes super drape-y and soft.

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Here’s the back view.  Excuse the wet hair.  I thought it might be a bad idea to ask the professional wedding photographer to focus on the knitwear rather than the wedding guests…  And a close up of the sleeve lace:

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I focused my knitting attention on this pretty exclusively to get it done in time for the wedding and now I’m feeling the backlash in the form of some major knitting ADD.  I can’t settle down to any one project I do a few stitches on one a few on another.  I’m super tempted to start something new but I’m trying to finish my old project.  I have a few that have been lingering for far too long.  I’m working on the finish two to start one system.  Now that this is finished I have to finish one more before I can cast something else on.