Monday, December 6, 2010

Rhinebeck 2010: Sweater Yarn

Aussie woolWhat I should have done was blog about the yarn I bought at Rhinebeck in the days after Rhinebeck. Then I would have benefited from the extra traffic of people looking for news from the festival.

That, however, would have required organization and I had other things on my mind when I got home.

In fact, I didn't even enter the yarn into my Ravelry stash until this weekend.

Since October my haul has been sitting on the dining room table. Hubby straightened up the dining room a few weeks ago and asked if I could please get my yarn of the the table now? His follow up question was if the was room for me to put it away.

I assured him there was, I just hadn't cataloged it yet. Of course when I did go to put it away things got a little dicey, but it all fit.

Fun With A Purpose
I went in with some goals. More to avoid disappointment than to prevent overspending. I figure if I'm going to make impulse purchases I should at least have projects in mind so I could buy an adequate amount of yarn.

A top goal was to correct an oversight from the previous year. Last year I saw a skein of yellow and orange yarn in the Brooks Farm booth that I really liked but didn't buy. I told myself that this year I would go straight there and buy one to make a second cropped poncho.

Well, as you probably guessed, they didn't have any. Nothing even resembling it. Since I still have all those Solo I bought in 2009 for my Celtic Critter Cardigan, I did want to buy more. I started looking for yarn that might make a good sweater for Hubby, but nothing was really catching my eye.

Finally, Mom asked something along the lines of, "Why are you so determined to buy some of this yarn?" And I said, "I don't know." After which we moved on.

However, the orange and yellow theme kept recurring during the show.

I had fallen in love with the Odette sweater from Verena Knitting Magazine and decided it getting yarn for it would be a Rhinebeck goal. It's a hip length, long sleeve pullover, slightly flared at the bottom, with interesting cables at the waist and yolk. We left the Brooks Farm booth and went into the booth that sells Aussie Wool. I'd bought some of their sock yarn lastSchool colors year in a wonderfully eye popping color (which I still haven't knit up).

As soon as we hit the booth we saw the great golden yarn pictured at the top of the post. It was the right gauge, right quantity, and a good price. Sold!

I also saw a skein of black and gold sock yarn, which are the school colors for Hubby's new school. Of course I just had to get it to make him a pair of socks.

Orange and Yellow and Pink!
We made and effort to target the booths up by the 4-H structures this year. We missed most of them last year because we didn't realize they were there.

As we wandered through them I encountered a booth with lovely hand dyed yarn that was super soft.Maple Creek It turned out to be Maple Creek Farm, where I had bought some lovely red/black/white sock yarn in 2009 (which I still haven't knit).

I started out by once again looking for yarn for a Hubby sweater. Plenty of stuff was catching my eye, but nothing that seemed appropriate for him. Then I stubmled across this fabulous color of Fredricksburg which took my yellow and orange obsession a step further by throwing pink in the mix.

Oh my goodness, it is soooo soft and snuggly. Each skein is 660 yards and it's about 5.5 stitchs to the inch. Which makes it a prime candidate for a Schleppy Sweater! So I snatched up two skeins.

Hubby Yarn
My last sweater quantity purchase was for Hubby.

He had requested a vertically striped sweater, which would be sold colors. I knew that if I could find a nice varigated yarn I could get away with knitting a simple sweater and letting the yarn do the work. I was on the prowl for jewel tones because Hubby likes strong colors.

I finally found what I was looking for in the Creatively Dyed Yarn booth. I follow her on Twitter and when I saw her tweeting about attending Rhinebeck I made a note of her booth number so I could be sure to swing by. So in this case her social media efforts paid off!

She had all these cool, cyberpunk colors that were varigated but also had splatters on them. They were enchanting. They were also a little too much for a Hubby sweater without him there to approve. Then I found some solid and semisolids in the corner. The colors were nice, the yarn was soft, and it had a good weight to it so I knew Hubby would like it. I did attempt to select one wild yarn to surround with solid colors, but the booth was crowded so it was hard to really poke around for such an involved project.

I settled on her Woodbrook yarn, which is 100% superwash wool. There was a nice silk/wool blend that I kept picking up Creatively Dyedbased on colors, but I didn't want to mix fibers by having one color wool and the next color a blend.

I got two skeins each of five colors in these lovely jewel tones. Of course by the time I got home I started worrying I should have bought one color heavy. I'm sure it will work out fine. I'll just have to make sure all the colors appear with the same frequency.

Since I ended up liking the yarn, and buying quite a bit of it, I told her I follow her on twitter, which was fun. (Of course, if I'd been disappointed she never would have known I was there!)

Friends
In addition to yarn we saw a few friends. Mainly we kept running into Pam and her friend on a regular basis. This was good because we could scout out different things and suggest places to check out. We also got to each lunch with them one day and breakfast on another. So it was pretty cool.

We saw other people too, but I don't remember now.

If you think this is the only yarn I bought you don't know me very well. You have to realize I bought more sock yarn than that single skein for Hubby. But that is a post for another day.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Done: ASJ Epic

ASJ done backThe last end was actually woven in on Dec. 2, but as I've been caring for sick puppies I was a little too distracted to blog.

The pups are feeling better, by the way. They seemed better Wednesday during the day, but relapsed that evening after bedtime.

I went to the vet Thursday and they said it sounded like colitis, which is an inflimation of their intestines which points to something they ate.

Now they have medicine they have to take three times a day for a week. At least it sounds like something passing (no pun intended) that isn't life threatening or chronic.

Anyway, the sweater.

Sleeves, again.
I really can't harp on how narrow the sleeves are following the original pattern. Mine would have have been about 12 inches around, which would have been negative ease for me.

Even with my slick little flap they are a little snug, probably since I'm wearing them over shirts, but they seem to be streatching out a little.

When I made my little shoulder flaps I didn't think about the neckline at all. After you knit the body you go back and knit an edging that includes the front opening so extra depth it added. It worked out ok because as you knit this border you increase at the beginning of each row and that little flare fit in nicely along the edge of my shoulder flap.

Still, what I think I should have done was pick up along the entire cast on edge, instead of targeting the sleeve section.

By knitting two seperate flaps I ended up making the back neckline deeper than it should have been.

Of course now that I know how it works out if I ever make it again I'll follow the alternative directions for deeper arms.

Collared
ASJ done frontMy alterations made the neckline very open. That made it look unfinished, sloppy, and oversized when I first tried it on.

I knew some finished was required and a simple collar seemed the best bet.

The collar in the pattern seemed more about the baby size. I got out my big Vogue Knitting book and discovered that collar was basically the same.

My first attempt didn't work out because I didn't pick up stitches along the front evenly. One side went all the way down to the outside edge of the neck opening and the other side fell a few stitches short. It made the entire sweater look crooked. sigh.

I pulled it out but despite being careful still fell a stitch short on my pick up. This time I figured it was close enough.

I just picked up each stitch around and worked in garter stitch. I worked Sl1, k2, kfb, k to end on each row. Additionally on every, oh, fourth row I worked a KFB one stitch in from the corners on the back section to give the back a little more fullness for the fold over. I worked the collar for about 18 rows.

Buttons? Pockets?
Now all I need are buttons. And they are going to have to be big, honking buttons. I followed the button hole directions in the pattern, which are over four stitches and at 3.5 sts/inch they are some big button holes.

My need for buttons makes me wish I was still at Westport Yarns. Not only did we have a good selection of buttons, but I would have had a ton of advice on which one to select.

Turns out the women in the library knitting group are as much of a bad influence as any knitters you would meet. They suggested I should make buttons out of fimo. They were like, "You could get blue and green like in your coat" and they made it sound all easy.

Of course, the big problem is now I have that idea in my head....

I think I'll also probably end up adding pockets. But I want to wait until I have buttons so I know how it will actually close.

Project Stats
Pattern: Adult Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmermann. I have the ABC booklet with all the sizes and expanded directions.
Needles: US 10
Size: I aimed for a 35" chest.
Yarn total potential yardage: 1131

Yarn Name Yardage Amount Used
  1. Noro Kogarashi 165 yards used all
  2. Queensland Collection Sandstone 65 yards used all
  3. Noro Kochoran 176 yards/100g 41g left
  4. Queensland Collection Mist 2 at 54 yards=108 yards used all
  5. Ella Rae Country Tweed 82 yards used all
  6. Araucania Coliumo 95 yards/100g 17g left
  7. Araucania Azapa 147 yards/100g 17g left
  8. Ester Bitran Tirua 163 yards/100g 34g left
  9. Louisa Harding Millias 2 at 65 yards=130 yards used all
Remember, if you want to see the specific yarns, I made a little map on a close up picture.

This pattern was a lot of fun. It only took me a month of concentrated knitting. Project monogamy for the win! I'm sure the big gauge helped speed me along.

I do have a desire to make another one, which is saying a lot since I'm not usually a pattern repeater. However, I'm resisting the urge.

I think my next sample yarn sweater will be a top down cardigan. On the other hand, a small project to cleanse my palate might be in order first.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Oh, Puppy Poop

Don't you hate it when life interferes with your knitting?

[Samson!]

I was really hoping to get the shoulders seamed yesterday. However, I was beside myself in a tizzy and ripping bad mood for like all damn day and it just didn't happen.

I was going to do a three needle bind off, but since I wasn't firing on all cylinders I tried to just pick up the stitches onto the needle. That quickly got too tight to continue so I abandoned it.

Then I decided I'd be bad and just whip stitch the damn thing. Hey, a three needle bind off would have left an obvious ridge, how would whip stitching be worse? But things slid out of line and the neck didn't line up with my extra shoulder flap thingy so I had to rip that out.

Finally I went back to the three needle bind off by picking up and knitting stitches onto the needle. I only got one done when it was time for dinner. After dinner I gave up all effort at appearing human and went to bed.

Hopefully today will be a better day all around (although it's starting out ugly).

Note: no knitting content ahead. Just a metric ton of whining and sick dogs.

Poor Sick Puppies
My hysteria and general emotional instability yesterday was brought on by extreme fatigue.

We came home from the in-laws' on Saturday surviving a hairy scary ride through the mountains of Vermont in the snow.

Then we ended up staying up until 1 am watching UP off our DVR. What a cute movie. We just loved Dug to pieces. He reminded us of Baru.

I was awoken at 5 or 6 am by the gentile sounds of a dog throwing up. Then Samson started running around whining, so I threw on my PJs and raced outside with him to discover he had diarrhea. The poor thing, no wonder he was frantic. At least we made it outside in time.

Sunday was spent racing outside with Samson so he could go to the bathroom and being in distress about what we could do for him. He was, happily, still in good spirits, which was a good sign it was just an upset belly and not something more serious. To add to our puzzlement, Baru seemed fine despite the fact they eat the same thing.

Until dinner time, that is, when he pooped all over the bathroom. gag! At the time I thought it was because we never walked him properly. Oh, we took him out to pee, but we were so focused on Samson that we didn't really give poor Baru time to do anything else. In hindsight the bathroom incident was an indication Baru had the same stomach bug.

After we went to bed Sunday, Samson woke me up at 2 am and 5 am because he needed to go out. Seriously, he woofed. Hubby slept through all this, but I was delirious all day Monday because I hadn't had a good night's sleep in ages. I was also stressed out about the pups. I knew the combination was setting me up for a migraine, which just added to the stress.

[Baru!]

I called the vet and they said it sounded like the pups had just eaten something that didn't agree with them and would take 2 or 3 days to work through their systems. sigh.

By 9 pm I gave up and went to bed. Only to be roused by the gentle sound of a dog puking under the bed. Poor Baru was under there looking displeased. I also discovered that someone had throw up under there earlier in the day without us realizing. So I took them out and then crawled under the bed to clean it up.

By then it was 10 pm and I'd really had it up to here. So I took to aspirin and went to bed again. Hubby had been up at school working since dinner. This morning he said he came home, took Samson out, and didn't get to bed until around 1 am himself. Sounds like today is Hubby's day to be delirious.

Tuesday dawned with a migraine, as I had feared. We'd just been giving the pups rice the last few days, but decided this morning to give them a real meal to try to solidify things for them. Well, Samson was all for it. Actually, Samson has been showing signs of hunger all along, which was comforting. But when I called Baru for breakfast I heard him approaching, then he suddenly retreated. I came looking for him only to discover he'd had an accident on the bedroom floor.

sigh.

The problem is that unlike Samson Baru doesn't communicate when he needs to go out. He never learned to ring the bell like Samson does. Starting the morning cleaning up puppy poop isn't very fun, but how can you be mad at the poor things when you know they are sick? And can I add that we live in on old place so the windows are really bitchy hard to open. There I am desperatly scrabbling at the sash and storm window to let in some fresh air and the damn thing won't move. Really, it hasn't been pretty around here.

After cleaning that up I took them out. Not that Baru had to go any more....Samson seems on the mend. Baru was in high spirits. Even after I dragged him into the bath tub to rinse his fluffy butt off. eeewww. And he at his breakfast.

I resorted to a powerful migraine pill and we all laid down again. Now I'm finally feeling better and the pups are crashed out on our bed sleeping. Hopefully, for all our sakes, they'll get through this soon.

Monday, November 29, 2010

ASJ: The Hard Part

ASJ w edging Despite my best effort to knit in the ends as I worked I still ended up with about 24 ends to weave in when I was done.

Since I was changing colors every 10 rows I knew I'd have a lot of ends to weave in at the end. Fortunately that realization hit me with the first color change and I immediately too steps to head the ends off at the pass.

Now, I learned how to weave in ends as I knit during a Lucy Neatby class at Knitting Central but I think this blog post shows the technique pretty well. There are a lot of pictures so if you're on dial-up you might get bogged down.

On the row I changed colors I would weave the color I was dropping. I would knit back on the next row normally. Then on the third row from the color change I would weave in the end of the new color. That way I quickly eliminated both ends. ha!

If I was so conscientious how did I end up with 24 ends to contend with? Simple. Things went south when I started running out of yarn. I was changing colors on right (public) side rows, but if I ran out on a wrong (private) side I just rolled with it. I find I can't do the knit-in-ends thing on the wrong side; the yarn is in the wrong place for me.

The Edging
A number of the ends were concentrated at the bottom right (on the body) corner. For some reason I couldn't weave there either.

I don't know if you can tell from the picture but I did end up changing yarn every two rows.

When it is time to work the final edging/border you knit across the last center flap row, then pick up stitches along one side of the flap, knit back down, across the bottom of the flap, and up the other side.

I thought this was going to be a really dreadful process because I don't like picking up stitches, but it turned out to be really easy. When I sat down to do it I reminded myself that it was going to be just like picking up along my beloved garter stitch heel flap, which is really simple. Just go for the strand in between the garter ridges. yippee!

Anyway. Since you go up and down one side before working the other side your stripes could end up uneven. As you know I'm a little neurotic about being matchy-matchy. Therefore I knit up and down the first side, across the flap, up and down the second side, and across the flap, stopping at the bottom corner where the row started. In this manner I got two rows of the color on each side.

Insert happy sigh here.
ASJ neck close
Pick Up Line
Oh, and the other cranky thing I did with the edging was picking up the left hand side (on the body) purlwise.

The right hand side picked up from the public side, which was just fine. But when I knit back around to the left side I was picking up from the private side of the work. This made an icky ridge on the public side.

Now it might have blended in with the garter stitch fabric, and it might have been covered by the button band, but either way I would know it was there! So I pulled that side out and picked it up again purlwise then went back to working garter. This made one little stockinette row so there is a blip in the fabric, but it's going to be covered by the button band. Also, no one should be close enough to the sweater to see it aside from Hubby and the puppies.

And if someone does see it I think it will be more attractive than the blobby edge from the first time around.

My new concern is that I didn't work a deep enough edging. The pattern says to work the button holes after two ridges then to work 4-5 more ridges. Well, I got so caught up in changing colors every two rows that when I worked the Noro Kogarashi rows (which is the yarn I cast on with) I got so excited I cast off. This was actually only three ridges after the button holes.

Part of me says this is going to be fine since it's basically just the button band. The button holes have been placed and that will dictate how much I have to work with when closing it. Still, I'm not going to cut that last yarn until I can try it on.

Which brings us back to another hard part.

Weaving in the ends went very quickly last night. phew. Now I just have to close the arm seams. I'm really happy there are just two seams since I don't like finishing much. I think I'll go with a three needle bind off. I just have to select the color to use.

At this rate I might have finished project pictures to show you tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

ASJ Near Final

ASJ blob This is what my Adult Surprise Jacket looks like as I'm knitting. A strange, amorphous blob.

It's also rather big and heavy, which is kind of OK with the chilly weather arriving. When I'm knitting it I don't need a blanket on me.

I'm in the final push now, but although I'm very close to finishing I'm also still very far away.

Now I have to pick up around the perimeter from one orange stitch holder, down the side to the needle, across the bottom and up the side to the other orange stitch holder.

I shudder to think how many stitches that is going to be.

The two flaps sticking up at the top of the picture are not involved. Those are the sleeves.

Not seeing it? Well, maybe this picture will help. This is what it looks like folded up proper.
ASJ near final
I'll be picking up stitches from one side of the neck opening, all the way down and around to the other side.

Sleeves!
Since you have no perspective you probably can't tell the arms are 3/4 length at this point.

I left the body and worked on the sleeves for a while in an effort to get in as many colors as I could. This led to me using up the rest of the rest of the turquoise Mist and the dark green Millias. They will not be reappearing in the body. I'm ok with that. Part of the idea of this jacket is to have uneven stripes. (right? right?) And to me it was more important to have the sleeves tie in.

I might make the sleeves longer depending on how much yarn I have left in the end.

They do fit a little better with the addition of the little flap. Not perfect, but I have faith they will stretch.

Flummoxed
The body length is below my butt. The body will get a bit longer because now since I will be picking up around the edge and knitting for a few more rows, which will also close the fronts more.

For all my claims about welcoming uneven stripes I am probably over thinking the edging.

At this point I have the Ella Rae Country Tweed on the needles. I think I'll go ahead and use that for picking up along the edge. For all I know I have such a large territory to cover the Country Tweed will be exhausted on that one row.

If I stay in sequence the next yarn I should use is the blue Araucania Coliumo. On the one hand I like this because it will bring in those bright colors from the top to the bottom. On the other hand, it will also double up on those bright colors at the top.

Part of me is saying I should go back to the Noro Kogarashi that I cast on with. Finish how I started. However, if I make th sleeves longer the Kogarashi is technically the next yarn in line. Of course it might be cool if I could end both the body and the sleeves on the same yarn. Only I don't think I have enough left for that.

Part of me is saying to throw caution to the wind and finish the stripe sequence at the bottom. At this point it would be the blue Coliumo, the bright green Araucania Azapa, and the multi colored Ester Bitran Tirua.

But that is dangerous because the longer I knit the body the longer my final perimiter will be. And boy howdy will I be ticked off if I run out of yarn and have to tear back a bunch of knitting to harvest yarn so I can finish.

I wish there was a way to know how much more I can knit with the yarn I have.

Another part of me, but I'm ignoring it, thinks I should use all the colors in the edging by working just two rows with each of them. For all I know I'll start running out of yarn and have to do that anyway.

It's high drama here. If I'm lucky I'll finish this over the weekend, but I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

KFI: Dazzle Drop Stitch Scarf

First off, I think this totally needs to be a two ball scarf, but I didn't want to hold up your holiday knitting so here it is.

This scarf is a little more complicated than the Athena Garter Stitch Scarf because this one has a pattern stitch rather than just being all garter stitch.

For this scarf you need to be able to cast on, knit, work a drop stitch, cast off, and tie fringe.

Since this scarf is worked on a US 8 needle the fabric is a little denser than the Athena Scarf, which makes this scarf shorter. To make a longer scarf, or for lusher fringe, you will need two balls of yarn.

Feel free to experiment with larger needle sizes. I tried the Drop Stitch on the US 13 needles and didn't see enough of a difference between it and the garter fabric to bother, but you might like it.

Dazzle Drop Stitch Scarf

Size: (one ball) 3" by 35" (excluding fringe)

Materials: Dazzle by Knitting Fever (100% Nylon, 82 yards/25 g). One or two balls

Needles: US 8

Gauge is not important for this project.

Note: Begin by cutting 24 strands each 11" long for fringe. Set aside.

Pattern Stitches:
Drop Stitch (two row repeat): Row 1: knit across row wrapping needle twice for each stitch.
(So go into the stitch the normal way to knit, wrap the yarn twice, then complete the stitch as normal.)
Row 2: knit across row dropping the wrap. (So you'll see what looks like a regular stitch right next to what looks like a yarnover. Knit into the stitch and pull it and the YO off the left needle.)

Long Drop Stitch (two row repeat): Row 1: knit across row wrapping needle three times for each stitch.
Row 2: knit across row dropping two wraps.

The Pattern: Dazzle close
CO 15 sts.
*Work 4 rows in garter stitch (knit every stitch on every row).

Work Drop Stitch: Row 1: knit across, wrapping twice for every stitch. Row 2: Knit across, dropping second wrap.

Work 4 rows in garter stitch

Work Drop Stitch

Work 4 rows in garter stitch

Work Long Drop Stitch: Row 1: knit across, wrapping three times for each stitch. Row 2: Knit across, dropping two wraps.

Repeat from * until you run out of yarn.

(So it's regular Drop Stitch twice, followed by Long Drop Stitch once, all separated by 4 rows of garter stitch.)

Cast off.

Using one strand for each fringe attach at 12 points along each end of the scarf.

Enjoy!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

KFI: Athena Garter Stitch Scarf Pattern

Dazzle Athena close The fun thing about novelty yarns like Athena (left, red) and Dazzle (right, blue) is you can work a very simple pattern but end up with an eye catching project because the yarn does all the work for you.

You also have a lot of flexibility because the yarn will work nicely with a variety of needle sizes allowing you to make either a dense fabric or an airy one.

To start I wanted a simple scarf pattern that would be suitable for an enthusiastic beginner.

To work the pattern you only need to know how to cast on, work the knit stitch, and cast off. Some people find novelty yarn a little tricky to work with when they first get started because it can be hard to see the individual stiches, so I would suggest you already know how to knit before you plunge in with these yarns.

Athena Garter Stitch Scarf

Size: 3" wide by 50" long, including fringe. (Scarf will stretch and get slightly longer with wear.)

Materials:
Yarn: Athena by Knitting Fever (80% Polyester, 20% Nylon. 82 yds/25 g), 1 ball.
A second ball can be used to make a longer scarf.

Needles: US 13

Gauge is not important for this project.

Note: Begin by cutting 44 strands each 11" long for fringe. Set aside.

The Pattern:
Cast on 15 stitches.

Work in garter stitch (knit every stitch on every row) until almost out of yarn.

Athena scarf startCast off.

Using 2 strands for each fringe, attach at 11 points along each end of the scarf.

If you use only one ball of yarn you might not have to weave in your ends because they will blend in with the fringe. If you use two balls of yarn you'll have to weave in the ends in the center of the scarf where you changed balls (obviously).

I tied my scarf in a loose knot. You could also wear it untied. A longer scarf will give you more wearing options.

Sally forth and prepare to receive compliments.

No Knit Necklace
Another option for using the yarn is to make this simple necklace.

I laid out 10 loops about 25 inches long which gave me 20 strands. Don't cut the loops. Carefully pick them up and give them a few twists to give the bundle stability. Clip them together in the back to close the necklace. You should be able to buy necklace clasps at the craft store.

See? Even non-knitters can enjoy this yarn.

Friday, November 19, 2010

ASJ Leaps and Bounds

ASJ waist Two things to start.

First: I have got to get better about blogging more regularly! When I don't I feel the need to catch up on all that I've missed and that way lies madness and procrastination.

Second: Seriously? I haven't blogged since I swapped the Millais for the Silky Wool XL? That was, like, 116 rows ago. Ok, I checked and it was also almost two weeks ago, which is a lot of knitting time when you are practicing project monogamy and using chunky (3.5 sts/inch) yarn.

But it also brings us back to my first point.

No Issues
Things have been moving along smoothly with my ASJ since I made the yarn swap. Perhaps that is why I haven't been blogging. Who among us would not rather be knitting instead of writing about knitting?

There was one minor moment of ennui after I had increased back up to my original cast on stitch count and put the end stitches on holders. I thought it was going to be time to move on to the center flap, but then re-read the pattern and saw I had to continue increasing.

I had a moment of "uh-oh, that's a lot of garter stitch" but the color changes helped pull me through. And, really, it's just mindless garter stitch. Talk about auto-pilot knitting.

I did waffle a bit over the wording in the pattern at this point. It says to continue working the increases at A & B until you reach the next target number. For some reason I suddenly decided it meant to work only one increase. Fortunately I realized that would be silly before I did any damage. Of course you need to continue making two increases. The outside edge needs to grow because it's making the fronts of the cardigan.

Armed for Trouble
ASJ shoulder When the sweater was a decent size, probably the size in the top photo, I could no longer stand the suspense and had to try it on.

I used locking stitch markers to clip the arm seams shut and tried it on. At that point it reached my waist. This helped me decide how much longer I had to knit the center flap (I'm aiming for around 23"). The body is going to fit with a nice amount of ease. Sure the fronts were a bit shy at this point, but I'll be adding to them later.

The arms, however, are a different story. They are a bit snug. There are directions in the pattern for increasing the armhole depth, but I didn't follow them because I'm small. This, of course, was ignoring the fact that I have pudgy upper arms. sigh.

Since it was too late to turn back, I decided to jury-rig it. I debated knitting a narrow strip to sew into the sweater, but that would have been an extra seam to worry about. And I wasn't sure what color to use.

Then it suddenly occurred to me I could just pick up along the case on edge and knit the flap from there. I was debating over color still when I realized if I use the Noro Kogarashi I had started with no one would every know.

I'm not sure what this will do to the neck opening. It might make it hang low in the back or it could balance out and be fine. As soon as I was done and laying in bed I realized I should probably have just picked up along the entire length rather than just along the arms, but by then I'd already cut the yarn so I wasn't going to start changing things.

Depleting Resources
ASJ longWhich basically brings us up to date on my progress.

Oops, I told myself I'd break it all up into smaller posts. Oh well. Danger of falling behind.

At this point the length is about 22" or 23". I have used up all the Sandstone, the denim blue Mist, and the purple Millais. The turquoise Mist and the dark green Millais are not long for this world.

Therefore I've put the bottom edge on a holder and jumped to the sleeves.

As it stands the sleeves are only elbow length. Kind of goofy on a jacket that is butt length. Since I don't want to end up with single color sleeves I'm going to knit the 10" needed to get them to my wrists in order to maximize the stripe possibilities then return to the body. The goal is to use up as much of the yarn as possible since I don't want wee scraps laying around.

If I start running out of yarn after knitting the sleeves it will be an easy matter to harvest some of the yarn from the body.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Qina Eyepillow, Jr

Eye pillows I have a massive blogging backlog. I was doing so well for a while (don't disillusion me) and then I fell off the wagon again.

Well, instead of overwhelming you with one of my famously longwinded posts I will try to catch up in more managable, and considered, chunks.

Remember the Qina Eye Pillow I made back in July?

Well, that first one took just over half the skein of yarn. I looked at the remainder and thought, "Huh, I bet I could make a second, smaller one from that."

And, indeed, I could and did. Because the Qina being a mix of bamboo and alpaca was just to yummy to cast aside.

For the second one I stopped increasing at 40 sts and knit even to 5 inches before starting to decrease.

As you can see in the picture, the second pillow is about the same width as the first, but shorter. (And I carefully measured it, but didn't write it down. Drat. I think around 7" compared to 9"?) Anyway, it was a fine size, just not as generous in coverage.

I stuffed the first one with leftover flax and lavender from repairing Rudy. The second one I ended up stuffing with a mix of lavender and mung beans that I bought at Michael's. This makes it heavier than the first, but still comfortable.

I think if was to make more eyepillows, which is something I'm considering, I would divide the ball of yarn in half first to make the two pillows more evenly sized.

But that would require me to start down the slippery slope of gift knitting and that doesn't happen around here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Epic, ASJ: I'm Increasing!

There is no point in trying to get a decent picture because it's a rainy, miserable day here in NH.

I didn't move to NH to get rained on. Where is my snow!? I was promised snow!

Anyway. I finished the decrease section much more quickly than I anticipated. Or maybe it's that I reached the increase section sooner than anticipated. Either way, I'm working my way back out to my original cast on number.

I can't decide if I'm actually progressing as quickly as I think I am or if it is just an optical illusion because of the stripes. "Oh, look, I must be knitting fast because it's time to change colors again!"

Yarn Hurdle Surmounted
I know you're just dieing to hear how I sorted out the issue with the off gauge yarn yesterday.

Well, I did a little bitty swatch with the yarn doubled. Really, it was so small it was an insult to swatches everywhere. For this reason it seemed like I got 3.5 stitches per inch with the yarn doubled. That made no sense at all, but I figured I roll with it. (Or would that be knit with it?)

I worked two rows and decided it was time to stop lying to myself. I didn't have enough rows to measure the gauge again, but I knew something was wrong. The new rows felt much bulkier than the previous rows. They were also a little more firm. Basically, they stood out like a sore thumb.

Before the situation could escalate to catastrophic proportions I put down my knitting and made a move.

I dragged all the bulky KFI yarn out onto the porch to find an appropriate substitute.

Now, like I said, I had that blue and red Sandstone which would work, but I really prefer it with the red top down sweater yarns. However, I did through the brownish Sandstone into that mix so it could marinate.

I was back to square one.

Then I stumbled across the swatches I'd made from the Louisa Harding Millias which I was going to make into a blanket. Well, I decided several days ago to stop fooling myself on the blanket front. So I frogged those bad boys and reallocated them to the ASJ!

I already knew I liked the yarn since I'd swatched with it. The purple one was a good color sub for the purple Silky Wool XL and the greenish black one works toward the end of the line where the yarns go all blue and green. Things were a bit bright down there anyway.

And the yardage of both balls is about equal to what I lost removing the Silky Wool XL.

Huzzah! Back on track.

As I started knitting I realized another reason the Millias is a better fit is because the construction is similar to the yarns I've already used. It has an open, fluffy feel to it where the SWXL is a dense, crunchy yarn. That might have been another reason it wasn't working for me in this project. Especially coming right on the heels of the Mist yarn.

Which is a good reminder that texture is as important a consideration as color.

More Reallocation
Since I was being all energized and efficient, I also moved the three balls of SWXL to the worsted weight bag AND moved them on my spiffy yardage spreadsheet as well.

There's something to be said for this being organized business.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to my knitting!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Epic, ASJ: Like Potato Chips

ASJ startI can't stop knitting it!

I'm totally obsessed and don't want to stop. In fact the only reason I'm blogging is because I don't want to get to far behind and one of my yarns is giving me gauge issue. (More on that later.)

Changing yarns every 10 rows was totally the right decision. I think that is part of the reason I can't put it down. Another reason, of course, is all the pretty yarn I'm using. Finally, it's a simple enough pattern.

In The Morning Light
I have to admit, I did not feel this way when I started. I lost a little momentum with the stealth knitting I had to do. This caused me to cast on the ASJ and put it aside for two days.

When I finally started knitting on Friday it was a rainy, gloomy day. We were watching TV so the living room wasn't well lit. And I was working with dark yarn and couldn't see the color changes very well.

This combined to cause me to think, "Ho hum. Miles of garter stitch. What have I gotten myself into." I knit around 20 rows, two yarns, before bed.

Saturday morning brought some weak sunshine. The pups and I trooped out to the porch to get a picture of my progress and BAM! I fell in love.
ASJ start close
Look at how well those colors go together. In the dark living room they looked the same, but in the sunlight I could see the contrast.

The sunlight also revealed the color changes in the Noro that are in addition to the color changes I'm making by switching yarn. It all became very exciting.

So in the pictures the outside edge is Noro Kogarashi. This new yarn comes in 10 colors and is a blend of 51% silk and 49% wool. I have #10—Purple, Turquoise, Hot Pink. Like most Noro yarns it has a rustic feel to the structure, which brings out the softness of the silk without out any of the crunchiness. I like soft silk yarn and I like crunchy silk yarn, so this totally works for me. Since it's the start of my Adult Surprise Jacket the rows are longer and are almost drawing each color change out in separate sections.

The second yarn is Queensland Collection Sandstone. Another new yarn, this 53% Wool 47% Acrylic blend comes in eight colors. I'm using #8—Pale Peach, Hunter. This loosely spun yarn is composed of multiple strands of (at least) three different colors plied together. In this case it's green, tan, and brown. Since all three colors are throughout the ball the color has interest and depth without abrupt changes. The yarn structure also goes a little bit thick and thin, but it leveled out nicely in my sweater. The smoothness of it was a nice contrast to the rustic Noro as I was knitting.

Racing Along
As you can see in the first picture, I was already plunging into my third ball of yarn. In fact, as I write this I'm ready to start my fifth ball already.

That isn't the best picture, I took it with my cell phone. Don't worry, I'm sure there will be more pictures before I'm done.

The third yarn, right after the green Sandstone, is Noro Kochoran in color #83—
Black, Purple, Burgandy. You might be familiar with this 50% Wool, 30% Angora, and 20% Silk blend yarn since it is already on the market. My color is one of six new colors introduced this season. It introduced a sudden bright spot to lighten up the jacket. The fuzz of the angora also livened it up with a new texture. Once again, the length of my rows brought the colors up in blocks, adding more variety to my stripes.

I like the black stripe, which I wasn't expecting, and think it and the following salt-and-pepper stripe make and interesting segue into the Queensland Collection Mist, which is the last yarn I knit. This new yarn is a 60% Wool, 40% Acrylic blend that comes in eight colors. I'm using color #2-Denim. Later in this sweater I'll be using
#7 - Soft Turquoise and I have a ball of #5 - Tropical Brights squirreled away for the top-down sweater I'm going to make in shades of red.

Anyway. Mist is another softly spun yarn with a thick and thin texture. The size variation is much more than that found in the Sandstone. In fact, working with them side by side like this, I'd call the Mist slubby. The color variation that you see is caused by two strands—a shiny one and a matte one—that both shade from white to dark blue. It's very pretty and makes me curious to see what the other colorways are going to do. Because of the greater difference in the size between the thick and thin portions, and the shortening length of my rows, there is an interesting texture to the Mist section. The thick/thin portions lined up in little parallelograms.
Happily, it's not effecting my gauge.

Change Is The Spice of Knitting?
I instituted changing yarns every tenth row in order to blend the colors a little better and not end up with sleeves a totally different color from the body of the sweater. The unforeseen benefit is the excitement this adds to the process.

Before I have a chance to even think about getting tired of a yarn it's time to change! At this point every yarn is new and interesting. As I continue and they start repeating they will remain fresh. It's totally keeping me awake.

The shaping in the pattern is helping as well. This pattern is making me realize I really like those visual clues about my progress. That is probably one of the reasons I like socks so much and get bored with scarves so quickly.

A scarf is just one endless continuation of the same pattern with little indication of how far you've come and how much further you need to go. A sock, however, has all those turns and bends. This many rows of ribbing, this length for the leg, then on to the exciting heel flap and turn, and finally coast down the gusset to the toe. Socks are just riddled with landmarks.

Well, so is the ASJ, so far. I have to decrease at each marked point until I've decreased away 80 sts total. Combined with my color changes every 10 rows it's fairly easy to track my progress. wheeee!

Check back on me in a few days when all the decreasing and increasing is done and I'm just knitting straight on the central flap. We'll see how quickly my tune has changed.

Stalled
But I have to over come a little hurdle before I get there.

The next yarn in line is Elsebeth Lavold's new Silky Wool XL. I was looking forward to using this 80% Wool and 20% Silk blend since I have some of the original DK version. Also, the deep purple color, which is #11 out of 12, was going to return me to the darker shades I'd started with.

But my gauge is off. The ball band says you can get from 3.75 to 4.5 stitches per inch depending on your needle. I'm sticking with the US10 I've been using all along and got 4 sts/inch. The only reason I stopped to swatch was because the yarn felt thinner than the others I'd been using. On it's own I think the yarn at this gauge would be fine, although I personally would probably go for a little smaller gauge for a straight sweater. However, in combination with my other yarns I'm afraid it will make a thin spot in my ASJ.

If I drop it entirely I'll be down 100 yards of yarn, which could cause issues later on. Well, I guess I'd have to make the body and sleeves a little shorter. My other option is to review my other sample balls and substitute one of them in it's place. I have a Sandstone in #4—Blue, Red, which I had allocated to the top-down sweater. I could use it here instead, but it has less yardage.

Decisions, decisions. I think I'll swatch with the Silky Wool held doubled to see if I get gauge. If it works it will reduce my yardage, but it will also cause less disruption to my plans.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Epic, ASJ: Sleeve Considerations

Yesterday I said I was just going to knit every ball of yarn with out fussing about distributing the stripes in any special way.

However, I'm backtracking on that statement.

The pattern, as written, apparently makes a short sleeve coat. To make the sleeves longer, after you've knit and cast off the body, you pick up stitches along the edges of the sleeves and knit down.

I occurred to me that if I just knit through every ball by the time I get to working the sleeves the only yarn I might have left are the two straight green ones.

It will be very jarring to have a mostly purple coat with green sleeves.

I'm debating how to get around this problem.

One option would be to knit half, or some portion, of each of the large balls into the body and retain the remainder for the sleeves. The issue there might be that I leave too much yarn for the sleeves and then end up with leftovers.

Another option is to work full on stripes. Maybe 10 rows or so in each color in the order I had settled on. This would make an even distribution of the colors and I wouldn't have to worry so much about leftovers.

It's not really an issue yet since all I managed to do last night is cast on. And I don't foresee getting to work on it tonight because I have some stealth knitting that has to take priority.

This all means I have some time to ruminate on it. But, after seeing it in black and white, I think I'm leaning toward stripes.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Post In Which I Confirm My (Knitting) Insanity

BPG ASJ As though you still have any doubt regarding that matter.

I'm going knit an Elizabeth Zimmermann Adult Surprise Jacket.

I don't know anyone in person who has knit one, but I'm not going to let that stop me.

I do know people who have knit a Baby Surprise Jacket, but I've never knit one myself.

The pattern booklet I have that includes directions for the Adult, Baby, and Child versions suggests you knit a BSJ first to get the hang of it. But that seems awfully sensible and smacks of swatching, so I'm not going to.

Since May
This is not a decision I've come to lightly, and I don't think it should be approached on a whim.

For those people not surprised with the pattern...you cast on and knit it in one piece. As you work, it is an amorphous, amoeba-like blob that doesn't remotely resemble a sweater. Not until you are done and do a little "origami magic" does the sweater appear. It's a leap of faith pattern because you can't really try it on as you go along.

No, I didn't think of this idea last night. I've had this idea in mind since I received that massive box of KFI sample yarn back in May.

Once I realized it was mostly single balls I thought, "What the heck am I going to do with it all?" Because, really, I was only fooling myself with that whole swatch blanket idea. I don't make afghans. And I don't like working single sampler blocks. Which is why that project has died a horrible death.

Really, don't we all prefer to be actually making something? To have a finished item as the goal? I thought so.

It seems to me the ASJ is the ultimate Hoard busting project. Indeed, the pattern booklet even says, "As true knitters you may have boxes of leftover wools of about the same weight."

Prep Work
Hubby was shocked to see me vacuuming last night. However, it was a necessary first step before I could sort my yarn out on the floor.

I spent a couple hours last night sorting all my yarn by weight according to the recommended gauge on the ball band.

Then I made myself a little spread sheet of gauge, yardage, and how many balls I had. I've entered most, but not all, of this yarn into my Ravelry stash, but didn't think I'd be able to get the info I needed easily because I forgot about the export feature until just this very moment.
sigh.

Oh well, I would have had to clean it up and delete stuff to get to what I wanted.

Anyway.

I discovered that I can make several crazy colored sweaters in DK, worsted, and chunky weight. And by that I mean, I can probably make at least two sweaters in each weight.

wowza.

I decided to go with the chunky yarn for the ASJ, which required sorting the pile of chunky yarn by color to see if I can really pull this off.
Red topdown
The pile in the top picture is composed of purple, blue, and green yarn that seemed to harmonize. I have a second pile of red and orange yarn. That might become just a top down cardigan in the traditional try it on as you go style. A third, much, much smaller pile is browns and greys. Not sure what I'll do with those. Maybe the swatch blanket will be revived after all.

If things go well with the ASJ I'm thinking I might sort the DK yarns and make myself and crazy striped Schleppy Sweater.

I've organized the yarn into the color sequence I want. I think I'll just work through each ball and not try to do stripes by using part of it and saving part of it for further in the jacket.

Charged Up
For some reason I am so excited about this project that I couldn't sleep last night!

I spent time this morning adding suggested needle sizes to my spreadsheet, because I didn't think of it last night. Then I had to fuss with the order I'll use the yarn.

It's going to be Epic!

Now I have to wind the hanks that need to be wound. I should probably also swatch. grr. Then I can do the math and get started.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Celtic Critter Cardigan Retraction

My brilliant discovery the other day might not have been so brilliant after all.

The pajama top measured out to the same dimensions for which I was already aiming.

Well, except the pajama top has a 40 inch bust and I'm after a 35 inch, but close enough.

Of course, the sweatshirt was like 46 inches so the the pajama top was considerably smaller.

I guess the positive aspect would be that I have confirmation of how I want the cardigan to fit. If I can get the ease on the sweater to match the ease I want then I should be happy with the fit.

Hem Test
The lifeline, however, proved fruitful and informative.

Last night I transferred what I've knit over to a spare ball of yarn.

The dang thing measured out to around 50 inches!

I say "around" because it was also curving downward, which made it a little hard to measure.

I'm pretty sure the downward curve is being caused by the flare because of the increases at the bottom of the cable. I had wondered what the expansion in stitches would do to the fabric, but I hadn't figured on that.

So I have to reduce the number of stitches in the pattern repeat to reduce the circumference. But to attempt to control the flare and curve I think I'll figure out how many stitches I'll have after increasing for the cables, cast on that number, then decrease before I have to work the cable increases.

Just to make things more complicated.

To make it easier on myself, I think I'll do the first few rows in garter stitch instead of seed stitch.

Ok, time to go do some math. This pattern won't design itself while I'm playing on the computer.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Done: Tirua Shrug

Tirua shrug back This afternoon I finished the shrug I was making from Tirua.

It was a very quick knit made quicker by me running out of yarn. hmmm.

I was only able to work six rows after binding off the sleeves.

I think I should have used a size 11 needle after all. I think my gauge ended up sliding off at some point.

Boy howdy, I saw people on Ravelry saying this pattern ran small, but this thing is wee!

It's 8 inches long in the back and 12 inches across at the underarm. This all makes it a little on the snug side.Tirua shrug front

I wish it had ended up longer in the back, but it is kind of growing on me.

On the other hand, isn't there a pattern out there that only covers the shoulders and back?

Well, there you have. My experiment in making a one skein garment. Let's see how long it survives.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

KFI: Ester Bitran Tirua

Tirua shrug halfWhen I gave away that skein of Ester Bitran Tirua yarn after Rhinebeck you had to know I had another one squirreled away for myself.

After all, how am I supposed to swatch with it if I don't have any?

Yarn Stats:
Fiber: 70% Peruvian Wool, 30% Microberfiber Yardage: 163 Stitches: 3.5 Needle size: 10 Ball weight: 100g

There are 10 colors. I have #802—Rose, Sky.

This is a variegate yarn, because it has multiple colors blending into each other and trading off, as opposed to an ombre yarn, which shifts from dark to light versions of the same color.

As you can see, the color changes are fairly short causing it to rapidly change from one to the next. Because of this the yarn looks quite different depending on the stitch count.

When I swatched for gauge over 26 sts my fabric ended up blue on one half and green on the other, with the red in concentrated lines. One row would be half blue and half green and the next row would be all red. It was rather interesting and I totally forgot to take a picture.

If you just look at the yarn you might think it is a single strand, but closer inspection reveals that it is actually two strands plied together. They are dark and light versions of the same color, which gives the yarn color more depth and interest.

There is no worry about the yarn splitting because it's a little on the sticky side and it takes an effort to separate the strands.

It's a soft yarn with just the littlest bit of a halo and no squeak at all, despite the microfiber content.

Crochet Potential
Since I just have the one skein now I could only work a wee crochet swatch, which only gives a limited idea of how the colors will work up.

I used a K/10.5/6.5mm hook. It was randomly selected based on the fact that the yarn is chunky.

I started with a base chain of 36. The bottom half is four rows of US single crochet. The top half is three rows of US double crochet. The little bright green stitch marker is to designate the change.

I think it's very interesting the way the colors are coming up in little blocks. I wonder if they would line up in stripes over more or fewer stitches. That effect would be something to consider if working either a scarf or a sweater. Of course, as a hand-painted yarn, this would be a candidate for alternating two balls of yarn to break up the colors, but I didn't have that luxury.

Shrug Not Scarf
Clocking in at 163 yards I thought I might actually be able to make a project with this yarn rather than just a swatch.

My original plan was to make a cowl. I thought it would be more interesting than just knitting a scarf. However, I've had the Shrug This pattern from "One-Skein Wonders: 101 Yarn Shop Favorites" from Storey Publishing in my Ravelry queue on the theory that it will work for one of my KFI sample balls.

When I swatched for the cowl and got 3.5 sts on a US 10 needle I figured it would be a simple matter to get to the 3 sts required in the pattern on a US 10.5 needle.

It is working up very quickly. I started on Wednesday and feel like I'm already almost done. Actually, I think I have only 14 rows left to work.

The pattern is simple enough that I don't have any tips to offer aside from keeping a sharp eye on your stitch markers. One of mine slipped after three or four increases and my increase line shifted to the side. I realized about 6 repeats later. Instead of tearing everything out, I just dropped the 5 stitches on either side down to the last correct row and then reworked that section back up.

Yeah, it sounds ugly, but it's simple if you just ignore the surrounding stitches and fabric. It also seemed too involved to document in pictures. I'm sure the friendly staff at your local yarn store, or your knitting group friends, can demonstrate for you. It's a pretty hard core mistake fixing method, but in the end it's still just knitting!

I hope the shrug fits. I'm almost ready to cast off the sleeves, but they look itty bitty. And I hope the length ends up adequate. It's so hard to tell when it's on the needles. I'm not just being paranoid, I think my gauge is off. I think I should have gone up to an 11 needle, but I was too eager to start to keep swatching.

Overall, the pattern has been fun and easy. Now I totally want to organize my other samples by weight and color and see if I can maybe make an entire top down sweater.

But first I should finish this one.

Celtic Critter Cardigan Breakthrough

When last we spoke about the Celtic Critter Cardigan I had come to a screeching halt.

After knitting about 15 rows I had become convinced it was going to be waaaay to big. There would be no way to know for sure until it was done since I'm knitting it bottom-up in pieces.

I couldn't face the possibility of doing all that work for it to come out wrong.

I also couldn't face the prospect of re-working the math.

This paralysis was an issue on many levels. First, I want the sweater. It's going to be really cool and I have to use the yarn for something. Second, people are asking about it. ugh.

When I saw Pam and her sister over Columbus Day weekend they were like, "Simple. Put it on a lifeline and you'll get a better idea of how big it is."

Um, why hadn't I thought of that? But I haven't acted on it yet because I've been busy.

Proper Comparison Top
Then this morning I had an epiphany.

All my sweatshirts (all three of them) are in circulation now that I actually have to walk the dogs in the morning rather than just releasing them into a fenced yard.

Today I had on a sweatshirt and was walking around thinking, "This thing is frakin' huge!" Granted, it's a size large so I would expect it to be huge. But seriously I was swimming in it.

Which made me wonder how much ease it had and how that would compare to the ease I was calculating for the Celtic Critter Cardigan.

When I started the design process I used a leather coat I like as my guide garment. Of course the fit and drape of a leather coat is extremely different from the fit and drape of a knit coat.

I should imagine there is a difference between a sweatshirt and a knit coat, but they are probably more similar than leather and fabric.

Anyway, I get home and measure the sweatshirt and it's around 40 inches at the bottom with the elastic pulling it in. The CCC is planned for 44 inches for the bottom hem!

Now the body of the sweatshirt is around 46 inches and I'm planning the cardigan for 35, so that doesn't help much.

The sleeves, which is where I was really noticing the extra fabric, go from about 12 inches at the cuff to 20 inches at the upper arm. I'm planning for 11 at the cuff and 14.5 at the upper arm.

I'm going to be swimming in this cardigan!

Mission Statement Revisited
Now the goal of this sweater is to make an outer garment I can wear over shirts and such when it starts to get chilly out. But these dimensions are ridiculous.

I had put my pajamas back on in order to crawl around on the floor measuring the sweatshirt. I thought to myself, "Hey, these pajamas are loose without being overly big."

So I tried on the pajamas and the sweatshirt over first a polo top and then a turtle neck. I really think the pajama dimensions are going to work. Not that I've measured it yet.

However, I'm going to keep the length of the sweatshirt.Pewter buttons

Yes, I do realize this means I have to rework all the math. sigh.

On the bright side, I got these really cool pewter buttons for the cardigan at Rhinebeck from The Rams Horn.

Can you make them out?

The Welsh Dragon and some Celtic Crosses! The knots on the far right are the ones I had orginally bought. They will have to find a life on another top.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Unintentional Kneesocks

ABSPF 1The Angora Bedsocks of Power and Fortune! are out of control.

After kicking the Skew socks to the curb last week I took a look at the other WIPs hanging over my head.

On a regular basis, I decide that I function better with only one, maybe two, projects on the go. Multiple projects overwhelm me and I get annoyed by the lack of progress on anything.

Of course just becuase I know this doesn't stop me from casting on new projects even as old ones languish.

But I'm embracing the "clear the plate" phase and decided to return to the ABSPF! because the first sock was fairly close to being done.

These keep ending up on the back burner because I keep thinking they are "too complicated" for TV knitting because of the cables. Turns out the cables are only in two little spots and I flashed right through them.

Another issue was that I saw them getting taller and taller and realized I had to increase a few stitches in order to have them continue fitting, which was just adding to the complication factor.

Since they are just bedsocks, after all, I decided to stop over thinking the matter and just started throwing in some increases every couple rows with the goal of being able to work k2, p2 ribbing.

ABSPF back Then all of a sudden, boom! the sock was done.

And there was much rejoicing.

Particularly becuase I was pretty sure I was going to run out of yarn during the cast off and didn't want to have to unpick the cast off and last row. In fact, I just squeeked by with a little bitty tail left, which I did my best to knot.

I'm fairly certain that situation is going to come back to bite me.

And the second sock is where?
I don't generally suffer from second sock syndrome.

I often find the second sock is easier than the first because all the numbers are there and it's autopilot knitting. Especially in a situation like this where I'm making a pattern up.

The wild card is going to be how closely I follow the "pattern." This first sock fits, but it's a bit snug in places near the top where I didn't start the shaping soon enough.

I'm torn between tweaking the second sock to reflect what I've learned for an improved fit, or working it the same as the first. I'm really leaning toward just working it the same. If I have one nice fitting sock and one poorly fitting sock the poorly fitting first sock will just annoy me and I know I'm way too lazy to rip it out and reknit it.

In the mean time, I've cast on for a new project.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Permission to stop.

That is what I gave myself last night.

As you can see, I didn't get all the way through the heel, but I got awfully close.

I worked the first set of heel shaping and then the numbers started to go off. I was supposed to have 15 sts to graft together and was already down to 14.

When I saw that I transfered the sock to a piece of scrap yarn and did my best to try it on.

I still wasn't happy about the look of the stitches along the side of the foot. The stitches were still stretching open like Swiss Cheese.

The fit along the instep and ankle area was a little harder to determine, but still seemed snug. Even though I was around seven rows short of what the area should be since I had stopped the heel shaping short, I decided it wasn't going to work out.

At that time I decided to frog it and move on. After all, it's just a sock! It shouldn't be so difficult.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming the pattern. I know these issues are mostly my own fault.

It's a very clever pattern, it just not for me.

I know for a fact, from experience based on trying on my friend's sock, that if I follow the pattern as-is the resulting sock will be baggy for my little foot. I don't like baggy socks. Shoot, I don't knit socks for them to end up baggy!

On the other foot, I don't seem to have the math and spacial reasoning skills to downsize the pattern to fit me in a satisfactory manner.

All of this means it's time to move on.

Happily, the yarn does not seem any worse for wear for the abuse it's suffered. It's a nice, soft, yummy yarn, so I'm enjoying knitting with it. And it's self patterning, so it will make fun socks even though I'm going to knit plain ones.

However, I have a lot of WIPs on my plate at the moment and I need to let the yarn relax. Which means I'm returning the yarn to the hoard for the time being until I'm prepared to enjoy our time together.

This frogging business is rather freeing.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Totally Sk(r)ewed

Skew foot After the last time I blogged about my Skew socks I once again abandoned them.

In my last blog post I had Kitchenered the heel shut and was ready to start working up the leg.

It was very exciting. The sock was starting to come together.

I knit forth with confidence only to have it all come crashing down.

I worked through "decrease the mini-gusset" and was ready to start the leg set up when I stopped, put it all on waste yarn, and tried the darn thing on.

The fit was terrible. I had made a little sock straight jacket.

Oh, sure it looked good from one side. It looked like a normal-ish sock.

skew heel on But on the other side it was a holey, stretched out mess.

There was a gap at the top of the heel, which the pattern said to expect, but I knew there was no way I was going to be able to pull the fabric together to shut it.

And the decrease line along the outside edge of the foot at the beginning of the round, was so gappy it made fishnet stockings look dense.

The fix, I thought, would be simple. I just needed more fabric to go around my foot, which meant I just needed more stitches.

Determined to figure the pattern out I ripped back all the way to the mid-toe section and increased until I had 64 stitches instead of the paltry 60 I'd tried the first time around. Seriously, I ripped back so far I might as well have started over.

The foot knit back up much quicker than it had the first time around, possible because I knew what to expect this time.

It appears I had once again begun increasing for my mini-gusset when I once again put it aside.

Of course the big issue isn't that I put it aside, again, as much as that I didn't write down what I planned to do. Nope. My old, failed notes, are still on the pattern. I have a vague idea I planned to get the 12 stitches on either side of the center of round marker the pattern calls for, but I didn't make a note of it.

Still, that sounds pretty resonable because I wanted all 15 sts for the heel this time and this entire area is were I needed more slack.

It's a good thing I was able to figure it out where I left off so quickly otherwise these socks would have died a horrible death.

I was laying there at 4 o'clock in the morning, unable to fall back to sleep, and had half decided to toss the pattern aside and just knit plain old socks with the Indulgence yarn. It really is nice yarn and it's terrible for it to be so neglected. Poor, poor yarn.

You know you have too many projects on the go when they start giving you insomnia.

On the other hand it wasn't just not knowing where I was in the pattern that was causing me to feel that way. So far I haven't been having fun with this pattern. I've been "working" on this one sock for around four months(!) and have very little to show for it.

I mean, it's a pair of socks. They should only take two weeks!

Part of the delay is because I keep thinking I can only work on them in a quite time when I can focus on the pattern. The other part is because I don't know if I'll actually get a comfortable pair of socks out of the deal.

Socks are my relaxing project, they shouldn't be such an emotional investment.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go beat them into submission.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Done: Kureyon Hat

Kureyon hat finished Did you notice how close my hat was to being done in my post yesterday?

Well, I finished it!

It only took seven days. Well, it took 15 days if you count my, ahem, swatch. giggle But in general it was a quick knit.

Recap
The pattern is the Ribbed Cap from Vogue Knitting.
It takes one skein of Noro Kureyon.
US 8 needles.
My color #264 - Hot Pink, Lilac, Brown, Purple.

Of course, it's not like I actually followed the pattern. As I said yesterday, when I followed the pattern it was too big, so I cast on 80 sts and worked it in the round. I also worked the I-Cord only until it was long enough for one knot, not two.

Kureyon finished 2 I'm rather pleased with it. I think it's cute and fits well. And who can argue with such a quick project?

The only sad thing is that when I made it smaller it used less yarn and so the fun hot pink part didn't make it in.

Oh well, now I have a fun scrap to add to my scrap collection.

Kureyon First
I should mention this is the first time I've used Kureyon.

Oh, sure, I always admired the Noro yarns when I worked at Knitting Central and then Westport Yarns. The colors were so interesting and some of the yarns had such interesting textures. Despite that I tended to shy away from them.

I'm a bit sensative to wool. Some wool yarns make my hands tingle like they've fallen asleep, it's the weirdest thing. I've noticed the less processed yarns seem to give me more trouble. I don't know if it's the lanolin, the dyes, the setting agents or what. Some of the Noro yarns feel a bit crunchy in the skein. I've heard they soften up with use, but didn't want to risk it if my hands would go numb.

I'm happy to report I didn't have any problems at all with the Kureyon!

I'm very excited about this for many reasons. Mainly because I have several sample balls of Noro yarns to work with and it would really suck if I had to pretend they don't exist or somehow power through an allergic reaction.

Since receiving the sample yarn I've been educating myself about the different brands.

In checking out the Noro website I learned the yarn is minimally machine processed. They do as much as possilbe by hand. They also use the minimum amount of chemicals they can. So it's an eco-friendly wool. I think you can really see the human touch in the rustic texture of the yarn.

Now that I'm over my fear I think my next project using Noro yarn will be the Shrug This from the first One-Skein Wonders book out of Kochoran.

But first, I should probably finish my Skew (Indulgent) Socks, or one of the other seven works in progress I have on the go!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hat and Again

Big noro hat I suppose what I should be blogging about is mom and my adventures at Rhinebeck over the weekend, but I'm not in the mood.

I did, however, upload pictures of my new yarn to my "Yarn Hoard" set on Flicker, so you can bounce over there for a sneak peek if you want.

Actually what I should be doing is working on the article I'm supposed to be writing that is due this week, but I'm deep into denial and procrastination. Of course making some progress on it might improve my mood.

Anyway.

Hat Take 1
Having failed at all of my pre-Rhinebeck knitting goals--finishing the Celtic Critter Cardigan in time to wear it, finishing any project with any Rhinebeck 2009 yarn in time to wear it, finishing a project with gift yarn from my CT friends--I decided that maybe I can have a new hat to wear.

Hats are small, right?

To that end I busted out the sample skein of Noro Kureyon I have in color #264, which is one of the new colors this year.

My orginal plan for this skein was to work a square from the Lizard Ridge blanket from Knitty Fall 06 for my Swatchy Blanket. I saw Pam's square and was enchanted.

Then I forgot that idea and instead remembered Vogue Knitting had a free one-skein hat pattern, which sounded like a fabulous idea since the Lizard Ridge blanket was a distant, pre-move idea.

The Evil of Gauge
Maybe my issues aren't gauge's fault. Maybe they are my own fault for not swatching. But that admission would be taking responsability, and heaven forbid I do that.

After all, it's a hat! By the time I swatched I'd be half way done.

So instead I just plunged in and started knitting.

Here's a tip that I might have shared in the past. If you are casting on a large number of stitches using the long-tail method, say over 100, instead of trying to guess how long of a tail to leave, tie two balls (or the two ends of one ball) together and use that knot as an anchor in place of a slip knot.

One strand acts as your tail. The other is your working yarn. You can cast on blissfully without worrying about running out. Then when you have enough stitches snip the "tail" strand and off you go.

In a case like the Kureyon yarn where each end of the ball is a different color designating a "tail" strand is more important. I decided to make the pink the tail (so it hung in front as I cast on) as I thought the contrasting rim would be cute. Also, the purple was coming from the inside of the ball and I prefer to pull my yarn from the inside.

If I had let the pink hang in back and still designated the purple as my "working" yarn my rim would have been purple, my first row would have been pink, and my second row and on would have been purple. That seemed like an interesting option as well, but I decided to be boring.

As you can see, careful consideration must be given when casting on with two different colors.

Anyway.

After a week of industrious knitting the hat was almost finished and I was rather excited that I'd meet a Rhinebeck knitting goal.

Disaster Strikes
At which point things started to go wrong.

First I ran out of yarn.

I found this hysterical since it's a one skein hat and the yardage hasn't changed. This made me decide to finally check my gauge and it was indeed off.

Since I was going to have to rework the hat anyway I decided to try it on for fit.

As you can see in the picture above it's a little too big.

First I whipped stitched it shut properly (edge to edge) and found it was baggy.

Then I choked it down by 16 stitches. I was going to just fold it over and whip stitch it, but I realized the extra fabric would skew the fit so I attached the edge to the interior so the extra flap would be on the outside. (That's the picture.)

Although the fit was greatly improved, it was still a little too big. I probably could have worn it, but I realized that if I washed it, or it otherwise stretched, it would be unpleasantly baggy.

So I choked it down to 80 sts and it seemed just right.

Since I was starting from scratch anyway, I decided to work the dang thing in the round this time. A hat worked flat might be good for a beginner knitter, but for an experienced one like myself who doesn't mind working on double points, it just requires unnecessary finishing.

Of course this meant that another Rhinebeck knitting goal had fallen by the wayside. On the other hand, I had a small project to take with me.

(Look! I'm covered in Noro!)

Hat Take 2
I'm chugging along on this new version.

Since I'm a slow learner I once again didn't do a gauge swatch. I figure the first hat counts as my swatch.

I don't expect my gauge to have changed because I'm still working in ribbing, so I don't have that no-purl-because-I'm-working-in-the-round issue to worry about. Also, I've gone from my plastic Denise Interchangable Needles to my bamboo dpns and expect them to have the same amount of drag.

I should be safe. As you can see in the picture the fit seems to be much better.

Soon. Soon I will have a new hat!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

KFI: Rhinebeck Walk With Me Contest

Tirua purple I've been bragging quite a bit about the yarn windfall I received in the form of all the KFI sample yarns.

Speaking of Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy!

It recently occurred to me it might be a good idea to appease the Yarn Fates and maintain my good yarn karma by sharing my good fortune.

And if I can score some more fans for the KFI Facebook page in the process so much the better.

Clever Idea
As you know, I'm going to Rhinebeck this weekend. Just me and mom.

Since KFI doesn't sell directly to consumers they don't have an official presence at the fair. I'm just attending as a yarn lover, although I will be slinking around looking for garments made with KFI yarn which people will hopefully let me photograph and post on the FB page.

I thought it would be fun to work my trip to the fair into a contest.

What I'm going to do is wear a pedometer to track how far I walk. The person who guesses how many steps I take or gets closest without going over will win that lovely skein of Tirua by Ester Bitran you see at the top of the post.

(Directions on how to enter are at the bottom of this post.)

Yarn Selection
Deciding which yarn to use as a prize was a hard task.

I was able to eliminate a large swath at once because they were low yardage single balls.

I debated over some of the bulky yarns with decent yardage that seemed large enough for a hat or cowl, but ended up eliminating them as well since they might have been pushing the one skein project envelope.

Finally I settled on the Tirua. It's a wool/acrylic blend, 3.5 sts/inch, with a healthy 163 yards. I think that should be enough for a cowl or such. I did a search on the gauge/yardage combination on Ravelry and came up with over 1,000 projects.

Hints To Help Your Guess
The official fairground website says it's a 162 acre facility. I'm pretty sure the vendor area of Rhinebeck doesn't cover all those acres. I'm pretty sure a large majority of them are taken up by the open space surrounding the fairgrounds proper that are used for parking.

Mom and I are planning to be at the fair all day Saturday (9-5) and half the day Sunday (10 to noon or so). [It's going to be a four hour drive and I want to get home at a decent time.]

I plan to put the pedometer on when I get dressed in the morning and take it off when we get back to the hotel at night. This means it will be counting my steps when we go to breakfast, walking through the parking lots, and attending the Ravelry party Saturday evening, as well as the time we're actually at the fair visiting vendors and exhibits.

I have the pedometer set for a 24 inch stride. I reached this number by randomly stopping when walking across my kitchen and then measuring the tiles. Keep in mind I might walk slower at the fair than I do under normal circumstances. I don't know how that will affect the count.

To keep things honest I'll post a picture of the pedometer Saturday night then reset it for Sunday morning. I'll post a second picture Sunday afternoon when I'm back at the car ready to head home. The combination of those two numbers will be the total.

That's why I have 7 p.m. Saturday (based on the FB time stamp) as the cut off time for guesses. If you guess after I post the picture you'll have an unfair advantage.

Oh, it's just like one of those "guess the number of jelly beans in the jar" games!

How To Enter
You must enter your guess as a comment on the KFI Facebook wall by 7 p.m. EDT on Saturday, Oct. 16 (2010). Guesses left on my blog won't count since the goal is to get more fans. :-)

If you're already a fan you are all set to enter. If not, you'll have to "like" us first. See how clever I am? (If you don't have a Facebook account, I'm sorry, you can't play.)

Your guess should be the number of steps you think I'll take (not miles, miles seemed too easy).

The first guess (by the FB time stamp) with the correct number of steps, or the first guess that is closest without going over, will win.

Simple? Walk on!