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?

Relief

Sorry for dropping of the map for a little over the past two weeks. I got sucked into the hole that is the bar exam.  Tuesday and Wednesday I sat for the test and now I have eight weeks to wait before finding out if I passed or not… It was definitely not the most fun I’ve ever had.

Now that it’s over, I can turn my attention to looking for a legal job and working in the yarn shop. Much more fun that days and days of studying. And, even better, lots more knitting time.

A few weeks ago, before I got swept up completely in studying, I finished the sweater I was crocheting.

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I think it’s lovely. The sleeves came out a bit big, but other than that it’s great. That wonderful little closure is from Plover Designs. They’re local to Portland and For Yarn’s Sake carries some very lovely ones.
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The pattern is Bluebell Cardigan by Edie Eckman from the Spring 2011 Interweave Crochet. It worked up so fast once I finally put some energy into it. I found the patter a bit vague and hard to follow in places but I think it was because they tried to cram it onto two pages so it was heavily abbreviated and vague in places. I still managed to figure it out.
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I used some yarn that was available through Knit Picks about two years ago. It was yarn that their mill overspun so they sold it for $1 per ball. It’s basically their Wool of the Andes sport but overspun. The colorway is called amethyst heather. The sweater’s got about 4 inches of positive ease so I will be able to layer it in the winter. (Ryan says a sweater made of holes is impractical, but I think he just doesn’t understand the magic of layers.)
Opening Ceremonies start in 9 minutes and I’ve got a cardigan to cast on. You’ll hear all about it.

Expanding my skills

Last March when the Spring 2011 issue of Interweave Crochet came out I could not wait to make the Bluebell Cardigan by Edie Eckman. I began (cast on?) the same day the magazine arrived.  I quickly worked through the flowered border, then…

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I have no idea.  Something sent it to the basket and it stayed there for over a year.  Recently, I’ve been in a “get sh*t done” mood so I’ve been pulling out old projects left and right and finishing them up.

I picked it back up and I’ve been seriously trucking through it.

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In two days I’ve finished about 10 inches of the body.  Thats insane!  I could never bust through a knitting pattern that fast.

The cardi is made in one piece up to the armpits then split and knit separately to the shoulders.  Most of the cardigan is this all-over mesh pattern.

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The flower details at the bottom look a little crummy right now, but it looks like they will block out pretty nicely.
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I love reading blogs where people talk about what they’re reading along with what they’re knitting, so I figured I’d start sharing as well.  Recently, I’ve been reading an excellent book–The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murderer and the Birth of Forensic Medecine in Jazz Age New York (why oh why do academics feel the need for long subtitles?) by Deborah Blum.

 

It’s so good! Prior to the late 1800s it was basically impossible to prove if someone had been poisoned–needless to say, it became a pretty popular way to get rid of people.  As scientists started to come up with ways of detecting poisons, poisoners switched to poisons that were harder to detect.  When the industiral era was in full swing in the ’20s industrialists were constantly inventing new chemicals to facilitate their industries but there was little investigation into what the side effects of the chemical exposure might be.
The book chronicles the cat-and-mouse between murderers and scientists and the development of the science of detecting poison. The book reads like a story and even though it talks about scientific development it doesn’t get overly technical.  Fair warning though, it does describe the effects of various poisons on the body, sometimes in detail.  I found the descriptions of radium poisoning especially disturbing.  Seriously though, I’m loving this book.  Read it!

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.
 

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.

New Top

Finals stress is in really starting to get to me.  I’ve been spending the majority of every day in the library with my corporate tax books… who would have thought it’s a complicated subject… (most foolish class choice ever… screw being a well rounded candidate for jobs.)  I have been taking my knitting with me every day, and it makes such a difference.  My system is to set myself up in a walled off study cubical (the ones by the windows are prime study real estate) spread out all my books on the desk and put my knitting within reach.  I work for 45 minutes then I take a 15 minute knitting break.  I find the 15 minutes I “lose” knitting gives me time to process the information I’ve just crammed into my brain and gives me a chance to evaluate whether or not I understand what I’ve just put in my outline.  Go ahead, ask me about §351 nonrecognition exchanges, I dare you.

As a result of all this study knitting (plus my “unwinding” knitting at night) I’ve completed three projects.  This was the first.  It took a while to get it onto the blog because I had to wait for a nice enough day to go out and get some picture.

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It’s my Gamine tank that I showed you half finished a little while ago.  Cathy Carron’s super easy pattern is in the Summer 2010 Interweave Knits.  I knit the pattern almost exactly as written.  The only change I made was to hold off on the lace until the top was long enough to go over my pants.  I want the option of wearing this in the summer without something underneath it so eyelets all over the belly were less than desirable.  I like the lace as just a detail at the bottom.

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The yarn is from Yarnia.  It’s one of the house blends called “Spring” which is a totally appropriate name.  It’s one strand brown-green cotton-rayon blend, one strand sage green cotton, one strand pale green cotton, two strands lime green merino, and one strand shimmery green lurex.  The pattern calls for worsted weight yarn, but this yarn is classified as DK.  I think Yarnia yarns tend to run a bit on the thick side, and I find it very easy to knit a Yarnia DK to a gauge more typical of worsted yarns.  This picture shows the color particularly accurately.

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I was not expecting to have my picture taken…  I’m so proud of myself for actually finishing a project in time for it to be seasonable (I’ve been told spring is coming… I have faith.)  Usually I’m just finishing sweaters, mittens, scarves as the 80 degree weather is setting in.  This time, my stretchy cotton tank will be ready to go as the temps start to rise.

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Other than finishing up knitting projects and spending hours and hours in the library my life is extremely boring right now.  I would kill for a few extra hours just to clean my apartment… but it seems that the next two weeks will be too busy.

Whirligig

In September I finished test-knitting Whirligig Shrug for Stephanie Japel. The pattern originally appeared in Interweave Knits Weekend 2009 but was only sized for babies. Stephanie decided to up-size it for children, and eventually plans to release an adult version as well. I volunteered to test the Child size 6 (in the hopes of getting a free copy of the adult sized pattern once it is released.) I have no idea about children’s clothes sizing so have no idea what age of child a size 6 would fit. It’s pretty cute though.

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I used a DK weight yarn called Soft Sea Wool from Reynolds. It’s 100% wool, so it may have been an impractical choice for a child’s garment since it’s not machine washable… Also, it’s a 2-ply yarn so it’s a bit nubbley and doesn’t show off the seed stitch or the cables as well as it could. If I knit it again I will be sure to use a more balanced 3- or 4-ply yarn for smooth stitch definition.

I couldn’t get a good picture of the front because I couldn’t hang it and get a picture, but here it is flat against a dark background. (I figured kidnapping a child just to model handknits for me might be more trouble than it’s worth, so you’re stuck with this mediocre picture of the front.)

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I can absolutely vouch for the pattern and say that it is error free (at least as to size 6) and very quick to knit. I found working the small circumference of the arms a bit tedious, but I assume it would be that way for any child-sized garment with arms. Probably this will end up donated to the charity that provides clothes to the homeless here in Portland.

Another satisfied knitter

Back in August, out of pure curiosity, I cast on Elizabeth Zimmerman’s infamous Baby Surprise Jacket. According to Ravelry there have been over 13,000 of these little baby sweaters knit. I’m sure the reason why is the interesting construction. The little sweater is knit flat in garter stitch (no purling!) and then two little shoulder seams are sewn, buttons are attached, and a sweater magically appears. Here is what it looks like just after cast off (the red stripe is the cast on edge the yellow strip is the bind off edge.)

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The weird ruffled shape comes from what, as you’re knitting, feels like completely incomprehensibly placed increases and decreases. Then the folding happens. Magically you have something that looks like a sweater.

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The seaming didn’t take long at all. The seams are sewn from the neck to the end of the sleeve on the top of the shoulders. Buttons took me a little longer. I ordered some great polymer clay buttons from Orly Rabinowitz on etsy. The buttons took a while to get here since Orly is in Israel, but they’re so cute and work so well that it was totally worth the wait. Also, I got to procrastinate on finishing without feeling guilty.

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The variegated yarn comes from a Knit Picks Sock Blank that was dyed for me by schknitz on Ravelry for a swap. I used two strands together, so it was basically a worsted weight. The contrasting yellow was added as an afterthought when I did the math a realized that I was certainly going to run out of the main color. It’s leftover Encore Worsted from way back when I knit a baby sweater for a boss who is a huge Green Bay Packers fan. Here is what the Sock Blank looked like before it was knit.

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Now that it’s done I have no idea what to do with it… I don’t have a baby. I don’t know anyone who has a baby. I don’t know anyone who is in the process of making a baby. I think I might donate it to one of the charities to support the homeless in Portland. It’s starting to get pretty cold here. If Bear can be this cute in the sweater, imagine how adorable it will be when it actually gets wrapped around a baby.

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WIPs march of shame (part four)

Since I showed you my two newest WIPs last post, it’s time to go back into the archives and show you another oldie. After this post, I will only have three more posts-o-shame to get you all caught up on the projects that have been languishing for more or less time in my knitting basket.

Here is my GreenGable Hoodie by Mari Muinonen from the Fall 2008 issue of VogueKnitting.

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I started knitting this in November and thought it would be a really quick knit since it’s made out of bulky-weight yarn. It does knit up very quickly… when I knit on it. The problem is, winter finals came around and I stopped working on it, and I didn’t exactly mark where I was in the instructions… I know it probably wouldn’t take me more than 10 minutes to sit down with the pattern and the instructions and work out where I’m at, but I don’t have too much enthusiasm for bulky-weight wool right now since it’s been over 90 degrees here all week and I have no air conditioning.

The yarn is Knit Picks Swish Bulky 100% Superwash Wool in the colorway Adobo. I put it in my Knit Picks wish list when it was being discontinued and was lucky enough to be given 13 skeins of it. So far I’ve used 4 so I’m thinking I’ll be able to get two sweaters. I’ll have to find a pattern that’s drastically different so people won’t realize that I have two sweaters of the exact same color… or maybe I can make up some chunky hats and mittens to donate to the homeless shelter here in Portland. That idea kinda makes my heart happy.

Sadly I haven’t made much progress toward finishing any WIP since I keep jumping from one to another working 10-20 rows on something before moving on to the next project. When you have 9 projects all growing an inch at a time it takes a while to show progress. This week I must knuckle-down and finish something.