Today the sun was shining

So, I could take some photos of my newest sweater!

My February Lady sweater

My February Lady sweater

I had no professional stylist here to help me out, and I had to use the tripod and take the photos on my own. I think this is my favorite of the several photos that I took today.

This sweater was started just before Thanksgiving and finished on New Year’s Eve at Adrienne’s house. I didn’t block the thing, but I don’t think it really needs blocking. The yarn is Glory Days from Briar Rose Fibers and it is fabulous.

The pattern is a departure from the usual garments I knit for myself. I typically go for more fitted garments that accentuate my curvy figure. But, I really liked the pattern and I had just the right yarn on hand.

I’m moving on to a new shawl now and have made good progress since I took a sick day this week. Just your garden variety head cold that has settled in for a visit, but the sinus headache was a killer on Tuesday. I go into the office tomorrow, and that will be my first day do so since before Christmas. I won’t wear the sweater this time, but I’m thinking some day next week (likely on Tuesday so I can show it off at Stitch n’ Bitch) it will make an appearance.

Yet another one

Yes, I’m playing with blogging software again! This will be my third attempt to try to find my best fit in blogging software.

I started out with Blogger, but found that I had to do LOTS of editing of my posts when I included photos. Too much work for me!

Next, I moved to Vox, but I’m getting a bit annoyed with all the widgets and crap it adds on to the site.

So, let’s see how WordPress does, shall we? At least it let me import my Blogger posts. Now…how do I get my Vox posts over here…hmmm…

Anyway, to really put this to the test, let’s upload a photo, shall we?

Close up of Neckdown Wrap Cardigan

Interesting interface…not as idiot proof as Vox, but not too bad either.

Behold

I have finished the sweater!

Neckdown Wrap Sweater 

Neckdown Wrap Cardigan (#263) from Knitting Pure & Simple. Yarn used: Dream in Color Classy in color Good Luck Jade.

It seems like I’ve been working on this thing FOREVER. And I still need to block it (I think) in order to make the neck edging lay down completely flat.

Where do I start with explaining the challenges I had with this seemingly simple pattern?

I wanted to add waist shaping, but apparenly made this decision a bit late in the pattern. So, I ended up ripping back several inches in order to start at the right place (just after the underarm). Then I had to rip it back again when I realized I miscalculated when to start the increases again.

At this point, the “frog count” was 2.

After I finished the bottom garter stitch edging and cast off very loosely (using a loose cast off often used for lace: K1, slip stitch back to left needle, K2tog, repeat endlessly), I realized that the cast off was TOO lose. The bottom was sort of wavy. Hmmm…I’d fix that later.

Next, I picked up stitches for the first arm. Once I had finished all the decrease rounds, I tried it on. Hmmm…the arm seems kind of tight. I ripped it back.

The frog count is now 3.

My stitch gauge was spot on, so I decided to alter the decrease rounds a bit. Instead of knitting one round plain between the decrease round while do the initial decreases, I knit 2 rounds plain. I also decreased every 6th row, instead of every 5th row as called for in the pattern. The arm still seemed sort of tight at the top, but I was done with ripping on this sweater, so I just hoped it would feel a bit looser after wearing and/or blocking. If I made this again, I’d adjust the decreases again to be further apart, and I wouldn’t decrease as many stitches, either. 

I don’t have large upper arms, so this issue with the sleeve width stumps me. Anyone else have the same problem with this pattern?

I would have knit the sleeves about 1/2 inch longer if did this pattern again. Even though I tried it on, because the sleeves were so tight at the top of the arm it was hard to determine the best length very accurately.

After the sleeves, I made the i-cord ties. The pattern calls for very long i-cord ties. I made them the length called for, then I tried the sweaer on. They were way too long for my comfort, so I ripped them back several inches.

Now the frog count is 4.

Finally, I undid the bind off on the bottom, tinked back the garter stitch border, and re-knit it on the smaller needles (US 7). I bound off in my usual fashion: Lucy Neatby’s ingenious bind-off, which makes a decently stretchy bind-off for everything but toe-up socks.

Total frog count = 5

Is that bad for a hand-knit, custom fit sweater?

The fit is close and it accentuates my curves quite well, I think. However, I wish there was a bit more coverage on the back of the neck. Some short rows would have really helped there.

My final problem with this pattern was the yarn calculations. Even though the pattern said I only needed 1120 yards of yarn, I used a bit over 1250 yards on the sweater. I ordered a last minute skein from The Loopy Ewe so I could knit the i-cord in the same weight of yarn.

IF I had used my yarn extremely frugally (e.g. carefully left only the bare minimum length of tails needed to weave in ends) I may have been able to use only the original 1250 yards.

I guess that color name — Good Luck Jade — didn’t work it’s magic for me, eh?

But it looks great, doesn’t it? 🙂

Diversions

Seems like every time I think about posting a new blog entry, I end up spending my evening working instead. *sigh*

Anyway, I’m NOT working tonight. *Well, only a little. Just responding to email I couldn’t deal with during the day. That doesn’t count, you know.*

My lovely Mermaid is not all I was working on the past few months. It’s been winter, you know, and I realized a couple months ago that I owned no handknit hats or scarves. !!!! Really, any scarves and hats I’ve made (and I’ve made a few…just a few) have been gifts for others such as my neice, nephew, husband, etc.

So, I present here the final photos of my “minor” FOs the past few months:

Green Jacquard socks

At left: a pair of socks (of course) for me. Click the photo for a larger image. There’s a bit of a story about the yarn that you can view here.
Wimple

At right: a wimple. I found the pattern here, and worked on it while I was in Mexico. More details about materials, etc. are here.

My so called scarfAt left: a My so-called scarf. Yeah, I succumbed to the temptation, too. Click for extras.

Double thick hat

At right: My comfy, warm hat! Not only was this hat reworked 3 times, but it has a secret!

Below left: the “secret” inner hat to keep my head and ears really warm!

secret of the hat See, I have not had idle hands!

Next Big Thing: I’m heading to New York City with Jamie for the Yarn Harlot’s Represent event. We’re flying out on an obscenely early flight next Thursday AM, and staying through Sunday. We’ll be staying at a hostel so we can save $$ on a room (where we’d spend little time) and have more $ to spend on yarn. (No surprise there, eh?) I’m interested to see how this hostel experience works out since I haven’t stayed at a hostel in about 15 years. In addition to the YH’s event we’ll check out the Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting exhibit at the Museum of Arts & Design. Other than that, we’re leaving our plans open for serendipitous happenings.

Ode to a Mermaid

Oh, lovely Mermaid
dancing in the breeze,
gussets flashing
subtle stripes revealed.
You are divine!

Here are the specs, also recorded in the description on Flickr.

This is a Hanne Falkenberg design called Mermaid, in colorway #3, size Medium. I started it in late October 2006 and finished February 25, 2007.

Mermaid is available only as a kit that includes the instructions and yarn, a 4-ply Shetland wool. It is knit sideways and entirely in garter stitch. I used US 3 (3.25 mm) Addi-Turbo needles to get gauge. The body is worked in one piece with short rowed gussets giving it a marvelous shape.

I originally bought the kit at Stitches Midwest from Yarn Barn of Kansas in 2005. I finally felt able to tackle such fine work a little over a year later. The small gauge and colorwork were a first for me, but the results are a lovely heirloom garment.

More Love/Hate

As a bit of an experiment, I’m going to continue my love/hate rant in a new post and see if Blogger lets me add more photos…Two hats And indeed it does. WTF, Blogger?

Anyway, back to the hats. The one on the right is the first hat I knit. I used some new yarn that I got at Michael’s, Patons SWS, a wool/soy blend. I’ve never knit with Southwest Trading Company’s Karaoke yarn, but I think it’s similar.

The first hat I knit is the one on the right. I used the recommended needle size, a US 9, and made a plain stockinette hat with a garter stitch brim following the pattern for Kim’s Hats in Last Minute Knitted Gifts. The fabric has a nice drape to it, but it did nothing to keep off the chill on a cool morning. Plus, it’s a bit “tall” for my head.

Hat #2 is much beefier. I used the same yarn, a US 7 needle, and a sturdier stitch pattern. Same garter stitch brim, but the stitch pattern is knit all sts on round 1, then K1, Sl 1 on round 2. This makes a much thicker fabric. (Thanks, Jamie, for the idea.) However, I made the hat too “short” and it rides up a bit, potentially exposing my ears. I think they will both be frogged.

I love these things totally…
Pedicure socksPedicure Socks, completed while I was sick. Hey, if you’re sitting around sick all day, it’s good to work on small projects. Finishing these up in a day did help me feel a bit better. Plus, I was able to get my pedicure, and walk out the salon lickity split, instead of smearing my new pedi while putting on socks and shoes.

Mighty Leaf’s Breakfast Americana tea. Ever since I tried my first cup of this tea, I loved it and craved it. But it only seemed to be available in assortment boxes in my local store. On the days that I’m at home, I drink tea in the morning (several cups of it), so I really wanted to get more than one or two bags in a box. Then I found that I could order it online. Today I received my shipment of 100 tea bags. Ahh….

OK, so I’m a tea snob! Psst…their Orange Dulce tea is also mighty fine. I only got one small box of that, though.

Secret blogging

Shhh…I’m actually on a conference call right now for work. It doesn’t require 100% of my brain, so I’m slipping in a little blogging while others are talking. (Yes, it is currently after 8 PM local time; I have one of THOSE sorts of jobs that can conveniently be done remotely: anytime, anywhere. Note the emphasis on conveniently…sitting at home on a Thursday night working when I could be out drinking wine with friends is not ideal to me.)

Not only am I sort of underwhelmed here (no criticism, but I’ve been through this agenda many times before), but I wanted to blog about my latest finished object: more socks!

Neatby inspired socks I knitted these from some Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock acquired during the special tour for the Windy City Knitting Guild. The yarn was labeled “Millends” and I didn’t recognize the color from the usual LL lineup, so I don’t think it is widely available. It may just be one of a kind. *smirk*

Aaaannnyyyway…the socks were knit top down using the general “recipe” and garter rib pattern from Charlene Schurch’s Sensational Knitted Socks book. I started these after I took the sock knitting seminar from Lucy Neatby (also through the Windy City Knitting Guild), so I incorporated some of the techniques I learned: the garter stitch heel and the garter stitch toe. I figured with a garter rib pattern in the “body” of the sock, the garter stitch heel and toe would fit in nicely.

According to Lucy, the garter stitch in the heel and toe are more durable. The heel is knit from the other end of the yarn ball, so it is possible to replace the heel later if there is a lot of wear, too. While I haven’t noticed a lot of wear and tear on the heels of my handknit socks, I have noticed it on my store-bought ones. So, we’ll see how this heel wears compared to the typical slip stitch and stockinette heels I’ve worked before.

Here I attempted to upload a link to a photo on my Flickr account showing more detail on the sock, but unfortunately Blogger is sucking ass tonight and not allowing me to publish the photo. (If you offend easily, pardon my language…I’m angry and have been watching a lot of South Park and listening to a lot of Dawn and Drew podcasts. Why? Because I like them! Yes, I am a potty-mouthed smartass at heart.)

One final note about these socks…I began sock #2 on the second segment of my return flight from Hyderabad, India (the Frankfurt to Chicago flight, to be exact) and completed it through the heel turning. I guess I’m impressed with how much knitting I can do when I have 8 hours of uninterrupted knitting time.

I’m going to start a pair of Widdershins socks next. I’m really intrigued by incorporating a heel flap in a toe-up sock. I just have to master the cast on technique first.

If it seems like I (and others) are knitting a lot of socks lately, that’s probably because they are such a fabulous summer project. Not only are they highly portable (making them my favorite commuting project), but working on socks doesn’t involve having heaps of knitted fabric resting in your lap. Even if that fabric is cotton or linen, it can get pretty annoying when the humidity and thermometer are soaring.

But you already knew that, didn’t you?

I bet you didn’t know that I harvested my first homegrown tomatoes yesterday, did you? I don’t eat them (they smell evil to me), but Mark said the one he ate was delicious. I would attempt to photograph one of the beautiful tomatoes and post the photo here for you to admire, but see my previous nasty comment about Blogger and photos.