Archive for the 'finished' Category


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.


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)


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:


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.



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.


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…



Guess what happened again yesterday?


(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:


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:


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.


Jumping on the Baktus bandwagon

Apparently the Baktus scarf was all the rage last year among Norwegian knitters–and the non-Norwegians who read the Norwegian knitters’ blogs. I heard about it only recently, when my friend JD posted about it on her blog.

As it turned out, I happened to have two balls of Koigu KPPM (both mill ends of slightly-less-than-standard size) that I’d received as a gift about a year and a half ago. They seemed perfect for the Baktus, so I set off knitting and before long this is what I had:


I thought about alternating the two colors every two rows but decided against it, preferring instead to have two big blocks of color. I love how it looks!

This pattern is very easy to memorize, which makes it excellent for mindless knitting. I like it so much that I’ve already cast on another one–this time using two 50g balls of sock yarn, so I’m hoping it will be a bit longer than my first one.

Incidentally, this is the very time I’ve ever knit with Koigu. Finally, I understand what all the fuss is about. I’m not ready to run off and join the Koigu Cult*, but wow, that stuff is really nice to knit with.
*Two reasons: (1) I can’t afford to knit with Koigu; and (2) most non-accessory garments (e.g., sweaters) knit with Koigu look like a paint shop exploded all over them (and no, that’s not a good thing).


Sew what have I been up to?

p6118677apronftf.jpgNow that I know how to use my sewing machine, I’m having fun trying different patterns and learning how fabric and thread come together. (Or not–which can prompt the use of some choice words.) Last month I made this apron (modeled here by Jan) as a birthday gift for my brother. The pattern is from Lotta Jansdotter’s Simple Sewing: Patterns and How-To for 24 Fresh and Easy Projectsand he’s the one who gave me that book for my birthday two years ago. Sewing through seven layers of cotton twill (when attaching the ties to the body of the apron) pushed my machine to its limits, and I had some trouble negotiating the thumb curves* when sewing on the hand-shaped pocket (it looks like someone on a bender sewed that part), but overall I think it looks great.

p7229158skirt1.jpgOne of my birthday gifts this year was Sew What! Skirts: 16 Simple Styles You Can Make with Fabulous Fabrics, and I decided that my first project should be something small. So I made a skirt for Sylvia, using the first “pattern” in the book. It’s for a simple drawstring skirt with an A-line shape, a pocket on the front, and rickrack trim along the bottom. I subbed an elastic waist for the drawstring, ditched the pocket, and kept the rickrack (I found rainbow-colored stuff!) trim. Sylvia loves it!

p7229159skirt2.jpgShe also likes this skirt, which I made from a funky cotton print she and I found together in the remnant bin at Joann. This time I didn’t follow a pattern or use any measurements. I cut two identical rectangles, sewed together one side, made a casing at the top, strung in elastic (sewing it down at both ends), added bias tape** to the bottom hem, and sewed together the remaining side. I didn’t bother making double-fold seams anywhere, relying instead on pinking shears to control fraying. This was intended to be a quick-and-dirty sew–and it was. And she loves this one, too.

p7229161skirt3.jpgI made this final skirt last week, and of all the projects mentioned here it is the only one for which I did not use stuff from the remnant bin. I actually purchased fabric off the bolt for this one. Owls! On corduroy! Seriously–how could I resist buying a yard of this stuff? My plan from the beginning was to make something for Sylvia, but when I got home I was sorely tempted to use it for myself. But she really loves it, so another skirt for her was born. I used the same technique as for the previous skirt–easy peasy.

*Wabi-sabi rules!
**Bias tape is awesome for hem edgings. You get a clean, finished look without investing huge amounts of time and effort.


Two knitted gifts

After my last knitting-related post, I was still feeling pretty antsy to cast on for a non-sock knitting project. I started two and have already completed both of them.

p6108672bonnetftf.jpgFirst up: a bonnet based on the one Lyra wore in The Golden Compass. The story behind this yarn is a sad one. My friend Gina has a colleague whose mother died recently, and the colleague gave Gina her mother’s yarn. There were two balls of Lion Brand Jiffy Thick-and-Quick, and when Gina was at my house last week telling me the story, she asked if I wanted one. We both decided to knit charity hats with them (part of our admission to Knitters Day Out this fall), and I like to think that her friend’s mother would’ve have liked to see the yarn used this way. This was a very quick knit, done in maybe an hour and a half.

p6108673vestftf.jpgNext, I set out to knit something for Maggie, the daughter of one of my college friends. I’ve knit Maggie a few things already (a jester hat and a novelty-yarn scarf), both of which she’s appreciated. She just turned six in March, so I thought I’d make a foray into full-on garments this time. I started with the vest pattern in The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes & Gauges (a very excellent book that belongs in every knitter’s library) and tweaked it here and there. I opted for a button-front style (rather than a pullover) and knit it in the round out of yarn I’d gotten in Vermont over the past few years. This was a lot of fun to knit!

maggie1.jpgThe result? Apparently, it was a hit! It arrived on an 85-degree day, and Maggie insisted on wearing it anyway. As you can see, it mostly fits yet still has lots of growing room, so she should get to enjoy it for at least a couple of years!

In spite of what recent posts here may have led you to believe, I haven’t just been taking pictures of flowers these past few weeks. I’ve actually done quite a bit of crafting!

In early spring, I decided to start on my first “real” (i.e., not teddy-bear-sized) top-down raglan. At Christmas I’d received a copy of Barbara Walker’s Knitting from the Top, and after reading through it felt pretty confident that I could knit a top-down sweater for myself.

So in March I dutifully swatched and found the gauge I wanted for the many skeins of Nature Spun I had in my stash, then cast on. All seemed to be going well at first, and when it came time to set the sleeve stitches aside and continue on the body, I tried on what I’d knit so far and double-checked with some of my knitting friends that it was turning out all right.

But somehow, in spite of my gauge checking and careful measuring and getting a thumbs-up from my friends, something went terribly wrong: in mid-April, when the sweater length was about four inches below the arms openings, I tried it on again and discovered that it was too big. No, “too big” doesn’t do the size of this thing justice. It was ginormous. I spread it out on the table, whipped out a measuring tape, and was astonished to find the width of this thing at 22 inches. That’s 44 inches all around. That’s nearly a foot more than was I was aiming for. I have no idea how this happened. It’s so bad that I’m not even going to take a picture of it. Needless to say, at that point I was feeling pretty discouraged about the whole top-down sweater thing. I’m sure I’ll give it another try, but I need to put this aside for a while first.

p5268618socksftf.jpgFortunately, I have managed to get a good dose of project-completion satisfaction recently. For the last year or so, I’ve taken to having a sock-in-progress with me at all times (well, whenever I’m taking my sling bag somewhere with me). My sock projects fit neatly into the awesome bag that Deborah gave me last fall, and it’s amazing how a-few-rows-here and a-few-rows-there can turn into a completed sock faster than one might expect. The pair of socks I just finished is for me, and I made it out of the fabulous Sea Wool yarn that Chelle gave me a year and a half ago. I loved working with this yarn, and the socks feel very luxurious. They’ve been packed away for the summer, and I look forward to wearing them when the weather turns cold again next fall.

p5268619washclothftf.jpgAnd here’s another recently (as in “two days ago”) piece of knitting. I knit a lot of ball-band washcloths a few years ago when the first Mason-Dixon Knitting book made them all the rage, but then I ended up taking a break from them for a while. Now I make them as gifts for friends, and I really enjoy the process of making something by hand that contains thoughts of the recipient and is likely to be appreciated and used. My latest thing: monochrome cloths. I really like the simple look of these.

p5248481blanketftf.jpgI’ve been doing some experimental sewing, too! I recently did the “seasonal switcheroo” in Sylvia’s room (put out-of-season clothing and bedding into a storage box, make sure the in-season stuff still fits) and remembered that there was still a stack of receiving blankets in one of her underbed drawers. When she was born, we got a gazillion of these as gifts. They didn’t get used for swaddling—partly because Sylvia was born just as spring hit its stride and the weather was warm, and partly because she was ten pounds at birth and from the get-go was just too big for them—and were mostly used by Sylvia when playing with her stuffed animals.

She’s been in need of a light cotton blanket for summer, so when I saw these receiving blankets I figured, “Hey, I can just sew these together to make a big blanket for her.” And that’s what I did. Sort of. My plans to make a huge blanket were foiled when I realized that the dozen or so blankets in the drawer were of two different sizes—and some had been stretched or poorly cut or whatever and weren’t as square as I’d like. So I ended up making two blankets: one with six blankets, and one with four. Here’s a picture of the smaller one (which lives in our den now). I can’t provide a photo of the larger one because it is on Sylvia’s bed—she loves it.

Recycling + something Sylvia will actually use = Hooray!

It’s taken me a few days to recover from all of those wild Pi Day festivities (okay, not really), but here I am with a whole bunch of good news!

News the first: I just had my car’s annual inspection this morning, and my little 1993 Saturn SL1 (yes, it’s official: I drive a beater) gets to live for another year! Yippee! I’m not looking forward to the expense of replacing this one when it’s no longer (legally) drivable. And I just love my little car, which has traveled to both coasts and back again several times since I bought it new.

p3086462socks.jpgNews the second: I knit these socks for my friend Valerye for her birthday. They arrived a day late (she lives in Australia, and it’s hard to gauge how long international mail takes these days), but she didn’t mind at all—she thinks of late gifts as just prolonging the birthday celebration. She loves them! And they fit, too—no small thing, considering I don’t know her shoe size. I’ve never even seen her feet, since we’ve never actually met. We’ve been pen pals for sixteen years. Wow.

p3186555garden.jpgNews the third: My garden is already off to a great start!* A couple of weeks ago we had a break in the cold weather. It was one of those freakishly warm days when you see pretty much everyone outside and hear lawnmowers revving throughout the neighborhood. Sylvia and I took advantage of the day to clean out our garden beds. We found several wiggly earthworms (which she enjoyed holding in her hands before finding a nice patch of dirt for them), cleared off dead leaves, and set up stakes for our peas and other climbers.

Yesterday, on St. Patrick’s Day, we planted our pea seeds—as instructed by Mike McGrath. Once we find the staple gun (it’s somewhere in this house…) we’ll set up trellis netting on the stakes, and those climbing peas will be able to go nutso!

News the fourth: On Saturday, the three of us attended a regional theater production in Old City, Philadelphia, of A Year with Frog and Toad. Wow. I am pretty sure that this is just about the best show (professional or amateur) I have ever seen. This particular production was terrific, but the show itself is just utterly sweet and charming and well-paced and cleverly structured. It’s based, as you can probably guess, on Arnold Loebel’s famous Frog and Toad stories.

The best part? Watching Sylvia’s almost-four-year-old face just light up while watching the show. Since Saturday, we’ve been listening to the soundtrack pretty much nonstop. And she’s got Jan and me doing pretend play with her based on the stories. Usually, she likes to be “the snail with the mail” or “the red bird.” I’m usually cast (she is the casting director, of course) as Toad, and Jan is usually “the blue bird.” On Sunday morning, she asked me to show her how to write “Dear Toad,” then she copied it onto a piece of paper, then—as “the snail with the mail”—very, very slowly delivered it to me.

News the fifth: On Monday I went back to Philly to meet an old friend (and his fiancee) from Oregon. They live in Portland now but are in New Jersey visiting her family for a few days. Mike and I met when I was doing my fieldwork and he was doing his doctoral research in marine biology and ecology. We kept in touch but this was the first time in ten years we’d seen each other. We met up at our favorite Chinese vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Chinatown. Yum!


*Sylvia is taking a picture here with her “new” camera (my old point-and-shoot), which she got for Christmas. She is quite the shutterbug. It’s fascinating to look at the photos and catch a glimpse of the world through her eyes.


Making waves

Last June I received a wonderful, yarn-filled package from Karen at Yarn Is My Métier. Almost immediately I cast on for Karen’s Mia Shrug (there’s a pattern link on the front page of her blog), using the Jaegar Shetland Aran. It is a lovely pattern (clear instructions! fun to knit!), and the completed shrug was sent—before I remembered to photograph it, alas—to my friend Valérye in Australia.

What to do with the Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran, though? This is really luscious yarn—the sort of thing I wanted to use for something that would be used for a very long time. About a month ago, I realized that in nearly five years of knitting I had yet to knit a scarf for myself. (Gasp!) I couldn’t believe it. So I started looking at scarf patterns. Plain stockinette or garter stitch were out (too boring), as were cables (ate up too much yarn).

p2146255wavyscarfftf.jpgAnd then I remember Wavy, from Knitty’s winter 2004 issue. I’d actually knit this scarf once before as a gift for a friend and had really enjoyed the pattern.* The result is slightly funky, not full of holes (lace scarves are not my thing), and easily dressed up or down.

I loved knitting this scarf again. It’s just long enough for a once-around-the-neck wrap with short tails hanging down—which is fine with me, because there’s no sense in using a lot of super-nice stuff like this for knitting that doesn’t actually touch your skin. The shifting rib pattern gives the whole thing some curves that keep it interesting both to knit and to wear. I may just make another one of these soon…

*I did most of the knitting during the four hours I had to sit in a Quest diagnostics lab office while doing a glucose tolerance test for gestational diabetes. I’d flunked the “quickie” test my midwife gave me at the birth center, so I had to spend half a day drinking a sickly sweet orange solution, waiting an hour, getting my blood drawn, then repeating the whole sequence a few more times. This knitting project and an audiobook kept me from going nuts in the waiting room. And I passed the test with flying colors, fortunately!

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