Archive for the 'finished' Category

Marsha

Knitting for Sylvia

I originally started this blog as a place to talk about knitting. My very first post (from September 2005!) was about knitting for Sylvia, so it seems right to return to that topic.

I knit a February Lady Sweater for myself three years ago, and at the time I mentioned that one for Sylvia was next on my to-knit list. I didn’t have appropriate yarn on hand, though, and she wasn’t clamoring for the sweater, so I put it on the back burner until last fall. Sylvia and I chose yarn together: she’s not a fan of wool, so we settled on KnitPicks Shine Sport in a bright green.

Before I could start that sweater, though, I had to finish the “rainbow cardigan” I started for her last August. I based this pattern on the top-down raglan in Ann Budd’s Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes and Gauges.

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I love how this sweater turned out, though I am not a fan of the Mary Maxim sock yarn I used for it. (I’m pretty sure it’s the splittiest yarn I’ve ever encountered!) But Sylvia loves it, so dealing with annoying fiber was worth the effort.

With the rainbow cardigan done, I was able to start her February Lady Sweater in January. Basically, I just took the regular pattern and knit the second-smallest size in sportweight, keeping all the stitch numbers the same. The result has plenty of growing room, so Sylvia should be able to wear it for a couple years (I hope!).

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The body came together in a breeze, but the sleeves took forever to finish. That’s because I had to use DPNs for them (my 9″ circular doesn’t have sharp enough tips for this yarn), so I spent a lot of time and effort on yarn and needle management.

When I was finished, I raided my button box and laid out all the threesomes I had on hand. For fun, I also put out set with one red, one orange, and one yellow button. (They have slightly different textures, but they are the same diameter and all have four holes.) Of course Sylvia beelined for the colorful trio! They are definitely the best choice for this sweater!

Marsha

What a hoot!

I’ve been wanting to knit myself an Owls sweater ever since I first saw it, and over the past few months I’ve done it! My friend Gina was also keen to knit one of these, so we decided to do our own little knitalong. She finished hers in about a week, but mine took a bit longer.

I actually knit this sweater twice. (Fortunately, bulky-weight yarn knits up fast! First, I knit both arms using the size 10.5 needles the pattern specified. When they were done, I decided I didn’t like how snug they were and reknit them on 11 needles.

Then I knit the body, moving the shaping from the back to the sides. (This was Gina’s great idea. We agreed that the shaping lines in the middle of the back just looked weird.) I was about five rows away from binding off when I ran out of yarn. ARGH! This turned out to be a good thing, though, because it gave me an opportunity to reknit the body. It turned out that I wasn’t such a fan of the shaping. A yarn this substantial works best (for me, at least) in a looser garment.

Taking another cue from Gina, who had found the as-called-for-in-the-pattern neckline too wide, I added a few rows of stockinette (with decreases) between the owls and the ribbing. The result is wide enough not to feel constricting but not so wide that it’s calling off my shoulders.

The knitting on this sweater was complete about two weeks before the “official” finish date. I bound off the last stitches the day before cool autumn weather arrived and just had to start wearing the sweater immediately. I thought about omitting the button eyes entirely, but after two weeks of living with sightless owls I decided to go ahead and add the buttons. I did one set of eyes in tawny yellow (to make it stand out from the crowd) and the rest in an amber color. The contrast isn’t huge, but it’s enough–and well worth the couple of hours it took me to sew on thirty-six buttons.

This was a fun knit, and I’d make it again. Maybe next time I’ll turn it into a cardigan!

(Additional project details are available here.)

Marsha

Look what I just did

When I first saw the Cable Luxe Tunic pattern a few years ago, I knew right away that I wanted to make one. But I had plenty of other projects on my plate, and it was only a few months ago that I found myself ready to make it. Fortunately, by then the pattern was free (hooray!). Armed with 40%-off coupons, I went to my local Joann and bought some Wool-Ease yarn. Usually I shun acrylics, but this yarn actually isn’t bad. It’s also the one called for in the pattern, and after looking at the Ravelry pages of completed projects, one that lots of people had used with great success.

I cast on some time in November and finished a couple of days ago. (Details are on Ravelry here.) There were a few mistakes (of the gnash-my-teeth-while-ripping-out-because-DAMN-IT-this-thing-is-going-to-be-PERFECT), but this pattern wasn’t very difficult-—especially after I’d written a row-by-row list of which cables crossed when (and how). (Keeping track of two different cable patterns—one over 8 rows and one over 12—in my head was beyond me!) Once I got into the groove of it, it even became “mindless knitting” of the sort I could easily do while watching a DVD or hanging out with friends.

I followed the pattern exactly as written with one exception: I added about 3″ to the length of the body, so it would not ride up above my waist in the back as I moved around. Right now, it hits at mid-hip, which is just right for tunic-not-dress length. The sweater flares out a bit at the base, which makes it not clingy at all.

I actually wouldn’t mind knitting this again some time. If I did, I’d make a few more changes:

  • I’d plot out how to knit the whole thing in the round. As it is now, it was done in one piece, but I did have to sew up the sleeve seams and the side seams. If I could avoid that seaming altogether, I’d be very happy indeed.
  • Another possibility: converting this into a cardigan. That would mean eliminating the awesome center cable in the front (though I’d still have one in the back), though, and I’m not sure I want to do that.
  • I’d add a tiny bit more space in the armpits. Right now, they are pretty snug up against me. They’re fine when I’m wearing a close-fitting t-shirt underneath, but anything more voluminous would be uncomfortably tight.
Marsha

Life update

Reading: The Plot Against America, by Philip Roth. A compelling narrative, well-drawn characters, and good writing. I liked this book very much, though reading it made me feel a bit paranoid: I saw in it echoes of the current neocon-driven discourse. Roth writes about Jews, but in many parts if you substitute “Muslims” you see glimpses of the prejudice and fear in our own society today.

Also reading: The Dark Is Rising sequence, by Susan Cooper. Actually, I’m listening to these: the three of us are listening to the audio books together (great for long car rides, and for evenings spent playing with Legos in the den after dinner). We’ve gotten through three of the five books, and Sylvia loves them. So much, in fact, that we started having “Wouldn’t it be nice to take a trip to Cornwall soon?” discussions before we realized that such a trip isn’t in our budget right now. Soon, I hope.

Mucking about with: Google Body.

Knitting: It’s been quite some time (months and months!) since I did a knitting update. Over the winter months I completed several small projects:

  • three sets of baby legwarmers (made from Baby Cashmerino) for three different new babies
  • five (!!!) Seven Circles scarves/necklaces (also from Baby Cashmerino); all but one were gifts for friends*
  • one pair of socks for a child (this isn’t quite finished but will be within a few days, I think); these were supposed to be for Sylvia but are turning out to be too small for her, so they’ll be a gift for someone else

I also knit a February Lady Sweater for myself. I cast on in January, but I did happen to knit most of it in February. Since I finished it, I’ve worn it at least three days each week—I really love it.

BONUS: All of this knitting was done with stash yarn. WOOT! Up next on my plate: a February Lady (Kid?) Sweater for Sylvia. I think I’ll just take the grown-up pattern and knit the smallest size in sportweight (instead of worsted). That ought to fit her, I think. Unfortunately, I don’t have suitable yarn for this (she wants blue, and I’m thinking of something that’s mostly cotton), so I’ll actually have to buy some for this project.

Watching: The Secret of Kells. One of the most visually stunning films I’ve seen in a long time.

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* And one of those friends was the person who gave me some of that yarn about four years ago. She gave me three balls of Baby Cashmerino in a deep red color, and that turned out to be just the right amount to make one scarf for her and an identical one for myself.

Marsha

Knitting updates

It’s funny that I originally started this blog to keep track of my knitting projects yet lately I’ve been lousy about posting knitting-related updates here. I’m still knitting these days–not so much with my knitting group (busy schedules and other interests and obligations have made it difficult for us all to get together as often as we used to), but mostly during times when I’m sitting around waiting somewhere or watching a DVD.Early last month I finished the hem on my Wallaby. I’d originally knit it with a rolled hem, but after test-wearing it for a couple of months I decided I didn’t like how the roll formed a “bump” that poked me in the lower back whenever I leaned back on it. So I picked up stitches all around the cast-on edge, knit a hem, and sewed it down. I’m pleased with the results.

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I also finished my squirrel and oak mittens to match the ones I knit for Sylvia a year and a half ago. She really wanted us to have matching mittens, and it took me a while to get the yarn and gauge right.You may recall that I knit Sylvia’s left mitten three times before I got the size right. I did not rip the failures but plan to knit their mates at some point. The small ones can be a baby gift for someone, and the larger ones will probably fit Sylvia this year.

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I had similar trials with my mittens. First I knit one in Knitpicks Palette, which turned out to be too small for me. Then I knit one in Knitpicks worsted Wool of the Andes on #4 needles. Too small again. Using #6 needles yielded success. Fortunately, I always start with the squirrel mitten, which has “20″ at the top. Since it’s highly unlikely that we’ll start a new century before I finish the oak mitten, I’ll be able to knit the mates for these and give them away. (The Palette ones are likely to fit Sylvia in a couple of years.)

Happily, I had no gauge problems whatsoever with this baby cardigan, sized for 6-12 months. Two years ago I took a class with Margaret Fisher and was so inspired that a couple of months later I got her book, Seven Things that can “Make or Break” a Sweater™: Techniques and Tips for Hand Knitters (even though the capitalization choices and use of quotes in the title annoy me).

This baby cardigan project features all of the elements she discussed in that book: as you read the book, you work through the project, thus getting some hands-on experience with each technique.I knit this in Rowan All-Season Cotton from my stash. What a fun project! I definitely want to knit this pattern again. This particular sweater went to a friend who is expecting her first child at the end of July. I can’t wait to see photos of the baby wearing it this winter!

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Marsha

Baby knits

My oldest friend (that is, the friend I’ve had the longest) just welcomed her second child at the end of March. I started knitting for this baby late last summer.

First I decided to knit a blanket. I made up this log-cabin design as I went along, and managed to knit this entirely from stash. All of the yarn is pima/tencel DK weight; about half of it is left over from Sylvia’s Anouk pinafore (for which I was very cautious and aggressively over-ordered yarn), and the rest is left over from other projects.

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I actually finished the blanket over Thanksgiving weekend and thought I was done. But about a month ago I came across some Wool-Ease in my stash, in a nice muted mauve/pink color, and decided the baby (which we now all knew would be a girl) needed a sweater, too. This is the Simple Boatneck by Debbie Bliss, my favorite go-to sweater for babies and toddles. And of course once the sweater was done I needed to make a hat to go with it, right?

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Marsha

The green sweater

So here’s the story.

At a knitting-group get-together last summer, my friend Gina shows up with two bags of yarn and asks, “Does anyone want these?” Some time earlier, she had bought two six-skein sets (one in green tones, one in pink/mauve tones) of a Cherry Tree Hill handpainted yarn called Wool in the Woods, thinking she’d make sweaters with it. It’s a beautiful yarn–the colors are amazing, and there are tiny gold threads running through it that offer some subtle sparkle. But when she got it, she wasn’t sure that she loved it, and after a while decided to clear it from her stash even though she still kind of liked it.

At this moment, I came up with a Brilliant Idea: “Hey, Gina! How about I buy the green yarn from you, you keep the pink yarn, and we have our own little knitalong and knit the same sweaters?” She loved this plan, and we spent the next couple of days e-mailing back and forth about possible patterns.

She found the winner: a bottom-up raglan that was in the Knitting-Pattern-a-Day calendar two or three years ago.

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The pattern calls for fairly deep ribbing on all cuffs, and the waist is designed to be high (because, really, you don’t want a lot of snug ribbing around your waist…). The front-left raglan seam is actually a functional button band, but because of the wide neckline I don’t actually need to unbutton the sweater to put it on or take it off–which is good, because the buttons I used aren’t perfectly round and might snag on the yarn

I love this sweater. It was a fairly fast knit, and Gina and I both had ours done before cold weather arrived last fall. I think I’ve worn mine at least twice a week since then.

(Project 365 | 2010: 1 March)

Marsha

Just finished! Hot off the needles!

Sylvia wanted me to knit something for her that matched my green sweater. (I’ll post more about that sweater soon.) I showed her the pattern for the Cowgirl Butterfly Astronaut Vest, and she loved it. So I got to work and two weeks later had this:

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I used Lamb’s Pride worsted for the contrast color–partly because it’s what I had on hand, partly because I thought the heathered brown would rein in the wild colors of the green yarn. The green and brown are a nice woodsy-fairy combination, especially with the leaf buttons (which were left over from her Anouk pinafore).

I sewed on the buttons last night, and Sylvia happily wore her new vest to school this morning. She came up with her own name for it, based on her own interests: the Fairy Acrobat Pirate Butterfly Cowgirl Vest.

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Marsha

My Wonderful Wallaby…

…is finished. I cast off a few days ago and have been wearing it pretty much nonstop every since. I love this sweater.

You may recall that I had some issues with the sleeves at first. But I sorted those out and reknit them lickity split.

The body knit up quickly, too (gotta love that round-and-round mindless knitting)–not least because I did much of it while (re)watching one of the greatest television series ever made, Red Dwarf.

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The lesson I learned during Round One of the Sleeves was “trust the pattern.” (You’d think I’d have already known this, since I’ve knit three other Wallabies in the past…) For the most part, I followed the pattern exactly. Here are my mods:

    I extended the ribbing on the sleeves from 3″ to 5″. I also made the sleeves a few inches longer than the pattern specified. I did this because my arms are longer than average in relation to the rest of my body, and I really hate having too-short sleeves. The extra ribbing gives me the option of pulling the sleeve down over the palms of my hands or of folding them back over themselves to get them out of the way tidily.

    I wanted something that would contract a bit more than K1P1, so I used K2P2 ribbing around the wrists.

    Because I do not like sweaters than bind at the waist, I did not do the called-for ribbing at the beginning of the body. Instead, I started right in with the stockinette, figuring I could do something else with it later. Although I like the look of the rolled hem at the bottom, I don’t like how it feels–whenever I lean back or lie down, I feel a bump on my lower back. So I’ll be changing this to a tidier hem like the one I knit on Sylvia’s second Wallaby.

    Using a rolled hem instead of ribbing meant I needed to knit the body a bit longer (unless I wanted the bottom of the sweater to end at my belly button!).

    I’m also not a hood-wearer, so I opted to skip the hood and knit the garter collar instead. I very much like how this turned out!

So now my family has matching Wallabies! (Jan has one, and Sylvia has not one but two.) Yes, a family portrait is in order some time soon…

Marsha

Busy

Guess what happened again yesterday?

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(I love how rhododendron leaves curl up when it’s really cold outside.) Fortunately, only about an inch fell this time.

We’ve been busy with crafty stuff around here, partly because of being snowbound. We do go out to play in the snow, but after a while it’s time to come inside to get warm and enjoy some hot chocolate and do some inside stuff for a while. The other day, Sylvia and I build a nest: I hot-glued together some pieces of craft felt into a bowl-ish shape, and she filled it with lengths of yarn. Then she asked me to make a bird for her, so I made up this one:

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I’m in the home stretch of the Wonderful Wallaby I’m knitting for myself–working on the neck placket now (woot!). I’ve decided not to knit the hood. The result won’t be an exact match to the hooded Wallabies I’ve knit for Sylvia and Jan, but I know I will never wear the hood, so there’s no point in wasting yarn and time on it. I expect to finish up this sweater in the next few days. In the meantime, I’ve been wearing a sweater that I finished during the summer…and just now realize that I never wrote about here.

It’s a simple bottom-up in-the-round raglan knit in Wool of the Woods. It’s very toasty and has a buttoned opening on the front-left raglan seam. (Because the neckline is so wide, I don’t ever need to unbutton the sweater to get it on or off.) My favorite part? The buttons:

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I bought these buttons when Sylvia was maybe a year old. They are pewter, and I bought two of each of the five designs, thinking they would be so adorable on a sweater for her. Unfortunately, they are rather heavy–too heavy for a fine knit. They work well on this raglan seam, though; because it’s on an angle, I think that helps prevent the buttons from sagging.

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