Archive for the 'sweater' Category


Lopi sweater

I finished the colorblock sweater I started (and ripped and restarted) back in November!


I am 95% happy with it. The sleeves are a little more snug than I’d prefer. But because knitting sleeves onto a top-down sweater is such a pita (having to pause frequently to rotate the sweater body so the whole thing doesn’t get all twisted up), I’d like to avoid redoing them if possible. Here’s hoping that blocking can save the day!


Frogging my new project!

I’ve been knitting merrily along on my colorblock Lopi sweater, and yesterday afternoon I knit to about two inches below the armholes and started thinking, “I wonder if this is too large.” So this morning I put the stitches on my 52″ Denise cable and tried on the sweater. The results were comical:





Yes, I do believe that falls in the “too large” category! What happened?

I had very carefully knit and measured a gauge swatch and ended up at 3.5 stitches per inch. When I dug out my ruler this morning, though, I found that the actual sweater was coming in at 3 stitches per inch. And no, it wasn’t a matter of knitting flat vs. knitting in the round. I had knit the swatch flat, but the first section of this sweater (the gray part) was knit flat and only when I switched to the blue yarn did I start knitting in the round. When I measured this morning, both of those sections came in at 3 stitches per inch. And my sweater was sized to fit someone with a 44″ chest!

I am pretty sure I’m cursed when it comes to gauge. Whatever number I get on my gauge swatch ends up being different from the number I get on the actual knitting. This happens almost every single time. I think rulers and measuring tapes are all conspiring to gaslight me.

I have ripped out the whole thing and will start it anew tonight, this time following Ann Budd’s numbers for the 38″ sweater at the 3-stitches-per-inch gauge. I’m actually not feeling too discouraged about this. Bulky yarn knits up fast, and I really want to be sure I’m 100% pleased with the final result. So it pays to take the time to do it right!


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.


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!).


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!


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.)


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.

Cats in sweaters

You can see photos of 109 different sweater-wearing cats here. For reals. (No word, however, on if any of the owners or photographers had their eyes clawed out immediately after the photos were taken.)

Want to make your cat number 110? You can knit up this free pattern for your own cat sweater.


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.


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.


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!



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.


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?



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)


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…

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