Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Gathered Pullover.

Again, it's been a long time between posts.  I still have many projects to post, some of which were completed 6 months ago, and here I am, posting the sweater I finished last weekend. Well, what can I say?  I was wearing it, and my mom was there to take pictures.

It's been a rough winter for me, the details of which I won't bother you with.  As with many such things, give it enough time and enough effort, and things will turn around.

Meaning, I finally managed to get myself a job.  Finally.  A good job, even!  Life may not be perfect, but this takes such a load off of my shoulders, I cannot even begin to describe it.

Anyway, time to stop talking about (or alluding to) messy life issues and on to something more interesting...

Pattern: Gathered Pullover by Hana Jason, IK Winter 2007, modified 32" bust
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light, Peat Mix, 6 skeins (exactly -- I only have a few yards left)
Needles: KnitPicks Options Circulars, 24 and 40", US7
Date Started: January 2009
Date Completed: March 21, 2009

The majority of modifications I made to the pattern were in changing the stitch count/spacing in sleeve shaping due to the gauge I had with the Ultra Alpaca Light.  In the end, the stitch/row counts I used were most similar to those used in the instructions for the next size up (36 1/4").

In addition, I:  

Added waist shaping (in the form of darts for the waist decreases, though I did the shaping along the sides for the bust increases, as I didn't want darts close to the center cable...uh, and I wanted it to be less obvious if the placement wasn't perfect). 

Skipped the increase/decrease rows in the cable pattern, as I wasn't a fan of how they looked, and didn't feel that I needed the additional shaping. 

Used short row shaping and a three-needle bind-off for the shoulders.

Knit the neckline in the round (starting at the back neck), with decreases placed at each side of the point of the "v," as I had no desire to deal with a seam (however small) at that location.  I also picked up far fewer stitches than called for (even though I picked up more than I normally would).

Added length to both the sweater body and the sleeves.  The sleeves came out slightly long as they grew a bit in the wash (more than my gauge swatch predicted...I still can't believe I knit a freakin' gauge swatch), but I'm still happy with them (I'd rather have them a little long than a little short).

I'm very happy with this sweater.  It isn't particularly flashy, it isn't super-sexy (since when did I dress that way anyway?), but I made the conscious choice to go with something a little more casual.  It's fitted, but not tight -- I was aiming for zero ease and got it, more or less.  It is truly comfy.  Warm, but not hot.  Ultra Alpaca Light makes a really warm fabric, but the looseness of the gauge allows everything to breathe nicely.  Washing the sweater took away any scratchiness I noticed when trying on the sweater during the knitting process.  The fabric is a little hairy due to the alpaca, so I wouldn't necessarily recommend this yarn if you really want your stitches (or cables) to "pop," as the fuzzy haze obscures the details a bit (I will say that we didn't have the best lighting for these photos, and that the cable shows up much better in real life).

This is also an incredibly quick knit.  Don't let my start/finish dates fool you -- I knit the vast majority of this sweater in a week.  Stockinette in the round, with minimal finishing, is fast.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Clearly, I have failed to "bring it." My apologies. To make up for said failure, I present to you the most complicated sweater I have ever knit (which I suppose makes the other projects I have yet to post far less interesting now...d'oh).


Pattern: Demi, by Kim Hargreaves, in Vintage Knits, size XS (32" bust)
Yarn: Kathmandu Aran Tweed, Ruby, 9.5 skeins
Needles: KnitPicks Options US 5 (collar), 6 (body and sleeve ribbing), and 7 (body and sleeves)
Notions: 4 Medium Gunmetal Buttons (from Rowan)
Date Started: September 18, 2008
Date Completed: December 23, 2008

Used a three-stitch bobble instead of the five-stitch bobble called for in the pattern.
Knit/Purl (RS/WS) the first and last stitches of each row (hey, they're selvedge stitches, no reason to knit them in pattern, right?). However, if the pattern called for that stitch to be involved in a cable cross, I knit the cable cross (and made the next stitch over the new selvedge stitch, and knit it accordingly).
Added length to the body and sleeves.
Increased the number of rows in the middle of the waist shaping decreases/increases.
Used a 3 needle bind-off for the shoulders.
Adjusted the spacing of the sleeve decreases/increases to compensate for my row gauge.
Adjusted the sleeve cap shaping to compensate for my row gauge.
Adjusted the stitch count slightly for the neckband, to let my obsessive-compulsive tendencies shine through (ie, get the ribbing in the neckband to line-up with the pattern in the sweater body).
Tubular bind-off for neckband.
Whipstitched a small portion of the button band to the sweater (basically, from the armhole edge to the buttonhole nearest the armhole) to help the button band lay flat.

Please note that there is an error in the chart legend for those of you with an old copy of the pattern book -- it's pretty obvious, though. The chart itself is fine.

(yes, I am growing-out my hair...and yes, I get rather pale during the winter)

I am amazed that I knit this thing. Back when I first began knitting and reading knit blogs, I saw finished versions of this sweater and thought that someday, maybe, I would knit that, though I never really believed that I'd make it far enough in my knitting to do so. I'm so glad that I gave it a try. I'm quite sure that I'll wear this sweater to death. It's warm (but not too warm), comfortable, and I love the fit (fitted-yet-classic) and color (the pictures are mostly accurate, but the color is more...saturated (?) in real life). I'm officially a fan of the yarn. It doesn't feel that great while working with it, there is some vegetable matter in there, and you should forget about trying to sew seams of any real length with it (I will admit I am rough with seaming yarn -- I used a different yarn that closely matched the Kathmandu for all seams except for the buttonband-to-left front seam, which was short enough to allow for using the Kathmandu), but it softens-up nicely in the wash.

This is the second Kim Hargreaves design that I have knit (the first being Iris, which I have yet to show you...oops). I'm a big fan of her design aesthetic, have two of her books beyond the Rowan books and magazines her work has been published in (Nectar and Thrown Together), and have many other designs in my queue. I actually enjoyed knitting this sweater (despite having to purl through the back loop, etc.). I love the look of the waist shaping along the sides of the sweater -- I'm impressed that she designed a heavily textured/cabled sweater in an aran-weight yarn that manages to look feminine and fitted (if still a little sporty, which is fine by me).

I have worn Demi many times now, and it's holding-up nicely. No pills (yet), no other issues, unless you consider the sleeve length (and the unfortunate time I tried to take it off without unfastening enough of the buttons...that was embarrassing). Now, I love long sleeves. I knit the sleeves to this length on purpose (I like having my hands mostly covered). However, long bell sleeves can get in the way, in a manner that long tapered sleeves do not. So, sadly, Demi and knitting are not friends (nor are Demi and doing my hair, or Demi and eating messy food, or Demi and doing dishes (wait...is that bad?)). But. Demi and freakishly cold Chicago weather? They're getting along smashingly.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bacchus Socks.

So, I am now just a little worried about getting these posts out, as I have been asked to "Bring it." Oof. Just so you know, the limiting step in getting these posts out is the photography. I'll hope for some sunlight in Chicago over the weekend so I can get some decent photos!

The Bacchus socks were completely unplanned. You see, after viewing the Fall 2008 IK preview online, I opted not to buy the magazine. Nothing jumped out at me. And then, as it has since I joined, Ravelry made trouble for me. In the form of the Estes Vest (which I am now not so sure about...I'm fickle like that). So, while visiting my family for Thanksgiving, I bought a copy for the vest pattern. And noticed the Bacchus socks. I also noticed that Studio Knit (the yarn shop my mom works at) carries Shibui Sock.

So, a week or so later, I had these socks.

Which is odd, because I generally don't go for fancy-pants sock patterns (or, uh, sock patterns at all...this is a new obsession for me). And yet, here I am. With two pairs of these socks (the second was a Christmas gift for my Mom -- unfortunately, I forgot to get photos of those (I knit them with Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Navy) -- just imagine the same socks in Navy blue, with fewer pooling issues).

Pattern: Bacchus Socks, Interweave Knits Fall 2008 Issue
Yarn: Shibui Sock, Bark, 2 skeins
Needles: Addi Turbo Lace, US 1
Date Started: December 1st, 2008
Date Completed: December 7th, 2008

Used Judy's Magic Cast-On (with the modification described in the other sock pattern from IK Fall 2008) to cast-on 20 st (instead of 24).

Added 3 more rows after the toe, before the chart, to adjust for foot length (I wear a US 7.5 shoe).

Knit an extra pattern repeat for the leg (I hate leftover yarn). I wouldn't go any further than that -- any more, and I would have had to work in some calf increases. Note: with the Lorna's Laces yarn, I had quite a bit left over after making the same socks (same modifications, etc.)...probably enough for a pair of socks for a toddler.

Knit 12 rows for the cuff.

The pattern is clear and very well-written. I love the way the "vine" curls around the ankle bone. I was talking to my Mom, wondering why I liked these socks when I tend to prefer geometric patterns/more minimalist styles, and she said that she found the "organic" look to the design appealing (her tastes run similar to mine....wow, how time changes things -- if she's reading this, I bet my mom is laughing right now).

My only problem with these socks (I've come to accept the pooling) is that I need to buy a great pair of shoes to wear them with (is that actually a problem?). For now, I wear them in the house when I want to feel fancy. Heh.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Oh wow, I have been absent from this blog for a long, long time. I have a lot of projects to post...so I suppose I should get started, right? I had put off posting this project (my Ravelympics sweater), because I wasn't thrilled with the pictures I had. I still don't have new pictures, and at this point, I'm just going to go ahead and post what I've got.

Pattern: Tempest, from the Spring 2008 Knitty, size B
Yarn: Fleece Artist Blue Face Leicester in Forest, 1 skein
Needles: KnitPicks Options US 6, US 4, and US 3
Notions: 12 antique-finish metal buttons (from JoAnn's), matching sewing thread
Date Started: August 8, 2008
Date Completed: August 23, 2008

Not as many as I would make if I make it again (more on that later). The major change I made to the pattern was knitting this sans stripes (I'm pretty happy with the space-dyed effect I got with this yarn). I used short row shaping for the armholes and shoulders, and used a three needle bind-off for the shoulder seams. I added enough rows of knitting at the bottom of the knitting to give myself an extra 2 inches in length (though in the end, I didn't really get it -- so I am really, really glad I did it). I changed the spacing of the buttons to make them evenly spaced (no skinny stripes to consider), and did a simple yarnover buttonhole instead of the 2-row buttonhole called for in the pattern (which looked terrible when I did it -- it just didn't work well in my hands).

If I were to make this again, and I'm planning on it, I wouldn't slip the edge stitches (I should have listened to the little voice in my head on that one). I got substandard seams (I get cleaner results doing it the old-fashioned way), and I don't think it was worth it for the 2x-speed seaming. I would also knit a size up, so I wouldn't have to manhandle the fabric quite so much in blocking (note: after I took these pictures, I used my mom's blocking board and got some more length out of this sucker...I think that you need a board and wires to get the called-for finished measurements for this sweater).

However, I love the silhouette of this sweater, and the idea of using fingering weight yarn on larger needles is sheer genius. The fabric is so light and drapey, and the sweater is about as all-season as a wool sweater can be. If I ever find the time (I have too much yarn and too many projects in my queue as it is), I would love to make another one of these. In black. In black cashmere (or cashmere-merino blend). Seriously. How wonderful would that be? It would be a great wardrobe piece that I could wear to death.

Comments about the yarn. Oh my, I loved this yarn. It was strong, it was soft. I could seam with it, complete the sewn bind-off on the neckline and front bands, and sew down the hem facing, and it only fuzzed-up a little. Amazing. And the color is gorgeous. And what a value! It may look pricey, but I got an entire sweater out of one skein...with enough left over for a pair of socks. Not bad at all.

So, that was August and the Ravelympics. Which leaves me with 4-5 months' worth of projects to blog about. Oy...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Baby Bobbi Bear.

And another lingering project has been finished...

I promise that the ears are actually even -- they look pretty wonky in this photo, though....

Pattern: Baby Bobbi Bear
Yarn: Blue Sky Alpacas Dyed Cotton, Sand, 2 skeins (used about 1.5), and Filatura di Crosa Wave, small amount of dark brown
Needles: KnitPicks Options Circulars, US 8
Notions: Corn-based stuffing (yup, they make that stuff out of corn, now)
Date Started: March 2008
Date Completed: August 13, 2008

Went down one needle size in order to get a denser fabric.

I'm sorry I don't have a better photo of the bear, but I took that about an hour before it was gifted to my nephew -- hopefully, someday, I'll have photos of my nephew with it (he at least didn't hate it when we gave it to him!).

This is the first toy I've ever knit. Even though I'm happy with the finished product, I'm not sure I like knitting toys all that much -- it took me far longer to finish this than planned. Mostly because I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so this bear was stuffed twice, the ears were sewn on about 4 times, the nose was embroidered about 4 times, etc. I had to put it down a few times and revisit it, because I refused to infuse a baby's gift with rage (no problems infusing my own garments with it, though). I think I'll be giving Sheldon a try in the future, but that may be it for me. I'm a garment person.

Even so, I think it's a great pattern -- clearly written and cleverly constructed. And I'm a big fan of the yarn.

Ravelympics update:

So, like so many others, I got into this Ravelympics thing. I entered the Sweater Sprint, knitting for Team Guild of Calamitous Intent (Venture Bros., the best cartoon on the air). I will, hopefully, have a completed Tempest (no stripes) by the end of the games. Right now? I have a back and two fronts, and a partial sleeve. I'm not worried about completing the knitting. I am, however, a little concerned about all of the finishing this sweater requires... We'll see.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Here they are...three years in the making.

I honestly thought my "second sock syndrome" was terminal. I finished the first sock in April. April 2005. Yes, it took me 3 years to knit a second sock. Okay, it really only took me a few days. I started the second sock right after I finished the first (good), but I got distracted and started something else (bad). About a year and a half ago, I picked up my sock again (good!), but set it back down after only a few rounds because, again, I got distracted (bad!).

Pattern: Crusoe, from the Spring 2003 Knitty
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Black Purl, 2 skeins
Needles: Addi Turbo 40" circular, US 2
Date Started: March 2005 (!)
Date Completed: April 2, 2008

Changed the stitch count to accommodate my gauge swatch (yes, I knit a swatch for this -- one of the only times I've ever done it...I used to be so responsible...sigh).

Ribbed cuff instead of rolled cuff.
Different heel/gusset -- I used the one described in the magic loop booklet (I was very new to sock knitting, new to magic loop, so I more or less used the Crusoe stitch pattern with the sock directions in the magic loop booklet).
Finished toe at 16st total (grafted with Kitchener stitch) -- I have duck feet (as mentioned previously).

I've been making an effort to clear-out my WIP basket (er, WIP basket = giant plastic bag in our room o' junk, uh, guest room). I took care of Earl last fall. This spring, I couldn't get this freakin' sock out of my head. So, I picked it up again. And finished it the next day. What? I remember that knitting my first sock was a long, tedious process -- I have vivid memories of spending Easter Sunday at my friend's apartment, knitting and knitting and knitting, and getting only about 1.5 inches of sock out of it. I'm sure this contributed to my reluctance to pick up that second sock and finish it. I suppose I'm a much faster knitter than I was 3 years ago...which makes enough sense. My first sock was not only my...uh...first sock, but my first time knitting in the round (magic loop), and first time knitting with needles smaller than a US 8. And yeah, I know I was a bit ambitious choosing this pattern for my first sock (especially given the modifications I made). But after the shock of knocking out a second sock in no time flat (compared to my expectations), I may actually knit more socks (and I did -- here's where I confess that I wrote the bulk of this blog post back in April...sigh). Though doing them in a sport-weight sounds nice...

...and now that I've washed and worn these socks a few times, I will absolutely knit more (and I have). I had heard about the wonders of handknit socks many, many times. While I believed it, it was in a "well, sure, but you're kind of making a bigger deal out of it than it should be" way. I was wrong. They're just so....perfect. Comfortable, warm. And while I didn't love knitting with such fine yarn and small needles, the Lorna's Laces yarn holds-up exceedingly well. Washer and dryer (er, not on purpose -- I went to take them out part-way through the cycle, and they were already dry...d'oh), and they still look new. I would probably go down to US 1 needles if I were to use Lorna's again, though. And I'd stick to the solid colorways -- I'm not a fan of the pooling (but I still love the socks).

I may actually manage to catch-up on my posting in a reasonable amount of time. Color me amazed...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Shop 'Til You Drop.

And, another post in the "I really need to get my knitting blog up-to-date" series...

Stats:Pattern: Shop 'Til You Drop bag, from Hemp for Knitting, size M
Yarn: AllHemp6, Natural, 2 skeins (only a small amount left over)
Needles: KnitPicks Options Circulars, US 4 and US 6
Date Started: April 15
Date Completed: July 6th (Actually, I finished all the knitting in April...and then took forever to sew the straps onto the bag...I'm silly like that). Note that I finished those Pom Pom Peds the same day...I was in an "all these UFOs are making me a sad panda" kind of mood.

I made the bag top-down instead of bottom-up, so I could make the foldover top hem without sewing (ie, using a provisional cast-on), and make the bottom seam via three needle bind-off instead of sewing (can you tell I avoid sewing whenever I can, even though I kind of like it?). Other than that, the only change I made was to increase to an even number of stitches at the bottom so I wouldn't have an "odd stitch out" for the bind-off.

The bag is a fast knit (though the straps are a bit tedious), and while the hemp is a little hard on the hands, it wasn't as bad as I was expecting, especially considering that I knit the body of the bag in 2-3 days. The fabric softens-up nicely in the wash, though it remains very sturdy and crisp. And oh man, this thing holds a TON. I took it with me to the running store, and it held:

One pair of women's running shoes, still in the box
Two pairs of socks
One pair of shorts
One shirt
One big-ass foam bolster (the guy behind the counter totally didn't think it would fit in there, but I showed him. Ha!).

And...it still fit comfortably over my shoulder for the trip home. This bag is awesome.

As a side note, it really didn't look all that big when I knit it (I had to play a bit of a guessing game to figure out when to stop knitting the body of the bag) -- it also didn't look that big when it came out of the washer. I blocked it (er, blocking = holding it by the top of the bag and whacking it against the kitchen table a few times to lengthen it out), and it looks great (I had to repeat the process when I washed it a second time).

If I knit this bag again, and I plan to, I will probably stick to knitting the smallest size. I cannot imagine how big the large tote is, and the medium is almost too big -- it'll be great for grocery shopping and as a beach tote, but it's awfully big for small shopping excursions.

Oh, and yes, I just posted twice in one day. I don't know what's wrong with me, either.