Archive for the 'sweater' Category


New knitting

It’s been a while since I blogged about my knitting here. I just haven’t had any big news. A Baktus scarf in sockweight yarn is my current portable knitting project (I’ve been off socks for a few months ago), and I’ve been plugging away at it slowly but surely for three months now.

About two weeks ago, I decided it was finally time to knit a Wonderful Wallaby for myself. I’ve knit one for Jan and two for Sylvia, and now it’s my turn. After dutifully swatching I knit up one sleeve and tried it on. It seemed to fit all right, so I knit up the other sleeve. But then I realized last night that the sleeves fit just perfectly on bare arms but feel a little Michelin-man-esque over long sleeves. So I need to reknit them.

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!


My first FO of 2009

Shortly before my pre-Christmas mitten-knitting frenzy, I had started work on a sweater for myself. Not long after I first started knitting about five years ago, I got the idea of making sweaters for Jan and me out of the same yarn. I placed an order at (my only one to date, now that I think about it…), and a box full of Gjestal bulky-weight 100% wool yarn soon arrived on my doorstep.

It didn’t take me too long to knit “the Beatles sweater” for Jan. I started on a funnelneck sweater for myself, put it down for several months, then ran into some problems. So I put the yarn away for several more months.

And then I saw the B.O.B. (Button on Blanket) Sweater and just knew that the rest of my Gjestal was destined to be one of these. The Ravelry page, with a link to the free PDF in the Ravelry library, is here. Those of you who aren’t on Ravelry can go here and ask the author to send you the pattern directly.

I really enjoyed working on this sweater, right until I got near the end of the raglan decreases at the shoulders. I was at the point there I should have been done decreasing (further decreases would have eaten into the cables on either side, thus messing up their prettiness), but I still had about six more columns than the pattern said I should. Hmmm. After consultation with–and lots of helpful advice from–my knitting group, I ended up winging it a bit. And it worked out all right.


Other than having to fiddle with the final decreases, I made two other adjustments to the pattern. First, I made the arms a couple of inches longer–partly to accommodate my long arms, partly because I wanted the sleeves to descend into the palms of my hands to increase their bundle-up-in-cold-weather utility. Second, I lengthened the body by about five inches.

I found some buttons I like at JoAnn, but after wearing the sweater for a few days I am finding that the buttonholes have loosened up, and I’ll need to get some larger buttons to replace them. Also, since I lengthened the body but neglected to increase the number of buttons (currently there are eight), the sweater has a little gappiness in front, particularly when I sit down. At first I didn’t think I’d mind (especially since the designer points out that “this is more a warm wrap around and bundle in on the couch for knitting and movies than svelte sweater-girl knit”), but now I’m think I will redo the buttonband once I find appropriate buttons.

Problems aside, this sweater was a lot of fun to knit (especially since it was for me–my first sweater for myself!). It’s very comfortable and very warm. I may very well make another one of these sometime!

p9133441sweaterftf.jpgLast spring, I set out to knit a pullover sweater for Sylvia. I had a few balls of Noro New Ruby in a vibrant (but not blinding) color, but the yarn had been discontinued years ago, and there was no way I’d have enough for the whole sweater. So I used the New Ruby for the sleeves and solicited advice for what to do about the body.

From the many very excellent suggestions I received I opted for Gina’s idea of using a solid Dale of Norway fingering-weight yarn. She even gave me the yarn for my birthday—two balls of purple, and two balls of light forest green. I finished up the sweater during the summer, opting for a simple boatneck at the top so the sweater would be reversible. (Aw, who am I kidding? Purple-crazy Sylvia will always choose to wear purple in the front…) Since it was high summer when the sweater was completed, it went right into a drawer. A few weeks ago it emerged as temperatures started to dip, though, and now it’s Sylvia’s sweater of choice.

A finished object? And one that a three-year-old actually chooses to wear? Wow.


Vermont: The yarn-related version

p8062128wallaby.jpgThose of you who’ve been around here for a while may recall that during my family’s annual trek up to Vermont last summer, I knit a Wonderful Wallaby for Sylvia out of Rowan All-Seasons Cotton. If you take a look at that old post, you’ll see one of my first—and last—attempts to carefully document the parameters of a knitting project (e.g., start date, finish date, needles used). I jot down these things in a pocket-sized notebook that lives in my knitting bag, but somehow I just don’t manage to get that information into my blog, too.

p8072164wallabysmall0807.jpgWhen I was packing my knitting bag for this year’s trip, I brought stuff to make socks, mittens, and a Sylvia-sized sweater. The day after we arrived at the cottage, I suddenly felt the urge to knit another Wonderful Wallaby for her (I dunno…maybe it’s something in the water up there?). So I did. This one was made mostly out of Noro Kureyon, but I knew I wouldn’t have enough of it for the whole thing. So I knit the pocket in some dark green local Vermont yarn. And about halfway up the hood, I ran out of the Kureyon and used the green stuff there, too.

Yeah, the finished sweater is a bit large on her. But that gives her plenty of room to grow into it. And she loves it, so I’m happy, too!

p8122460blueyarnftf.jpgYou’d think I’d have the Wonderful Wallaby out of my system by now, right? Nope. I bought some local yarn to make one for Jan, too. I got started on it right away, and by the time our two weeks in Vermont were up I’d nearly finished both sleeves.

p8122459tanyarnftf.jpgAnd I bought some local yarn to make myself a Wallaby, too. We’re going to be one of those families who wear matching sweaters—well, slightly matching, at least. I like that all three of our sweaters will include yarn from our favorite place.

p8132814shelburneyarnftf.jpgMy yarn expenditures weren’t that huge during this trip. The local worsted I bought was only $4.50 for each four-ounce skein. This stuff here, merino made from sheep who live at Shelburne Farms, cost twice as much—which is why I bought only two skeins. But Shelburne Farms is one of Sylvia’s favorite places (at our first visit there, last year, Sylvia had a memorable meeting with a chicken), and Jan suggested it might be nice to knit something for her with yarn from there. I’m not sure yet what I’ll do with it (Jan thought an intarsia sheep or chicken on a sweater made of other yarn could be fun). Suggestions?


Not quite what I hoped for

p6251658sweater.jpgHere are the results of my second attempt to lengthen Sylvia’s sweater.

The first time, I followed the advice of a friend with loads more knitting experience than I have. They suggested I pick up all the stitches around the bottom, then do a K2P2 ribbing while decreasing on every tenth stitch on the first round and no further decreases the rest of the way. I could tell after six or seven rounds that the ribbing was going to be a lot “gappier” than I’d like. (I suspect this is because I’m using size 6 needles for yarn that usually takes a size 3.)

I showed it to my friend, who agreed that the ribbing wasn’t working and suggested I try again, using the same ten-percent decrease on the first round and just going with straight stockinette the whole way. I like how the stockinette looks, but I’m not keen on how the sweater pulls in at the bottom.

So I’m going to rip it again and try picking up all the stitches, doing no decreases, and knitting stockinette. (Fortunately, this is a little sweater, so reknitting this part won’t be a big deal. And the yarn—Baby Cashermino—is just lovely to work.)

Third time’s the charm, right? Stay tuned…


Crowdsourcing my knitting

Okay, here’s the deal: Last month, I started knitting a sweater for Sylvia, using yarn that was in my stash. The yarn is Noro New Ruby, which hasn’t been manufactured in at least a decade, as far as I can tell (it’s next to impossible to find information about it anywhere online). It’s a 40%cotton/40%viscose/20%nylon blend, which feels a bit like a cotton-silk blend and also has a bit of a sheen to it.

p4099723sleeves.jpgI’ve just finished the sleeves; here they are, curling like Cathy Overton-Clapham in their unblocked stockinette glory. I love how they’ve turned out, but now I need to figure out what yarn to use for the body.

I’m knitting a simple drop-sleeve pullover (Ann Budd style), and I don’t have enough of the Noro New Ruby to do the front or the back, much less both. (I may use some of that Noro to do an intarsia motif—a big star, perhaps—on the front, or maybe a couple of patch pockets.) I don’t mind using different colors for the front and the back, but I think that each surface ought to be a solid color (i.e., no stripes or all-over intarsia or fairisle). The sleeves were knit on #2 needles (my friend Pat says the Noro is sportweight yarn that would have done well on #3s, but I liked the tighter fabric that #2s produced), and I’d like the body to be knit on #2s or #3s, too.

I was thinking that a sock yarn might work, and so far that only place I’ve really looked is KnitPicks. None of their sock yarns (and sportweight yarns, too) have the same “jewel tone” quality of this Noro New Ruby. I have no objection to mixing and matching yarns, but I do want the parts of the sweater to look like they’re meant to go together. My friend Gina thought that Baby Cashmerino (which I lurve might work, but the colors in that line are too subdued for this project.

Help! Suggestions, anyone?


Free lunch: Bits and bobs

The Thrifty Knitter (and author of Naughty Needles has posted a free pattern for her Spring Forward Fall Back Raglan, perfect for the warm/cool days of spring and autumn.

Do you find yourself saving the “disposable” wooden chopsticks you get a restaurants, not wanting to add them to the local landfill but not sure what else to do with them? Try making your own knitting needles! (Tutorial here.)

The Worsted Witch points us toward a tutorial from Lion Brand Yarn on using edible items to dye yarn. I’ve heard before of using turmeric and onion skins and other things for this purpose, but it’s nice to have the information–with recipes!–in one place.

St. John Ambulance in London (UK) is asking knitters to help with its fundraising by knitting 5,000 (yes, five thousand) tea cozies (which will be sold throughout the UK) by the end of November. There’s a funky free pattern here, and knitters are invited to create their own patterns, too. (Via Crafty Crafty.)

Looking to participate in a knitting competition? Round two of the Walking Stick Cosy Competition is underway; submissions are due 1 May 2008.

Why throw down big bucks for a row counter bracelet when you can make your own?


What I’m knitting these days

I’ve been in a bit of a knitting funk these past three weeks or so, ever since I did the cast off for the Artisan Vest. (It’s not quite finished yet, though. I do not crochet but my husband does, so I’m waiting for him to finish crocheting the edging.)

I decide on a project, find yarn for it in my stash, do a gauge swatch, knit for three or four hours, realize that the project just isn’t working out, then frog it. Rinse and repeat.

I think I’ve started—and abandoned (though these don’t count as UFOs ’cause they’re getting frogged immediately)—four or five different things this month.

The other day it occurred to me that perhaps I was going about it all wrong. So instead of thinking “I’d like to knit a hat/sweater/whatever,” I went stash diving with the goal of finding a yarn that I wanted to knit with…and then figuring out what to do with it.

I surfaced with four skeins of Noro New Ruby, which is a lovely 40%cotton/40%viscose/20%nylon blend. (This yarn came from a local knitter’s stash, which was divvied up among my local knitting group about two years after she died.) This stuff has been long out of production—and there’s practically no info on it anywhere online—so there’s no way I can get more of it. So what to do with not a huge amount of really neat yarn?

p3209463noro.jpgSleeves, of course! Not for me, but for Sylvia. I’m sure there’s enough of this stuff for two little sleeves (and maybe a pocket or two). I’m going to use solid-colored yarns for the front and back of the sweater. I don’t have a plan yet for those parts (same color? one color in front and one in back? cardigan? pullover?), but I figure I can sort it out later. I’m using the drop-sleeve pattern (26″ chest) in Ann Budd’s sweater book, so there are all sorts of ways to tweak this.

For now, I’m really enjoying knitting these sleeves. This is only my third experience with Noro, and I can see why people drool over the stuff. The colors are just gorgeous, and I love how the yarn feels. I’m knitting this stuff on #2 needles, but it’s surprisingly fast going.

And no, I’m not going to try to match the two sleeves. Let the colors land where they will!


Good news, bad news

p2249375vest.jpgLet’s start with something positive, shall we? Remember that disaster I mentioned a few weeks ago? The vest that was supposed to have 160 cast-on stitches but somehow had 194—a fact I did not discover until I’d knit ten inches of it and was all set to divide the fronts and back? Well, I frogged the whole thing (which didn’t stress me out too much, honestly, because this knitting is not only quick but enjoyable) and—in a “get back on the horse that threw me” frame of mind—cast on again right away.

I placed markers every twenty stitches, then counted the stitches between the markers six times, then counted the markers five times, then counted all the stitches on the whole thing another few times, just to be sure. Yup—160 stitches. Houston, we have liftoff! As you can see, the knitting is going well! With luck, I’ll have a finished object to show you all (and to wear!) very soon!

p2249373wrap.jpgAnd here’s the bad news: I regret to inform you that one project has bit the dust. Way back in August, I swatched for a wrap cardigan called Damson Wine. The pattern is from The Family Book of Knitting* (which is more like an extra-long special issue of a magazine), published by the folks who do the Simply Knitting magazine in the UK. I bought the book mostly for the knitted gnome pattern it contained, but also really liked this cardigan—so much so that I actually bought the yarn the pattern called for, Rowan Kid Classic.

So I swatched succesfully (hooray!) and a couple of weeks ago finally got around to starting to knit the sweater. You know how some patterns have those “do this pattern until you have X stitches left, then K X stitches” lines? Every time I got to one of those points with this pattern, I had X stitches. Wow! I was feeling pretty good about this!

And then I got to where you start the raglan decreases. And I got stuck. I simply could not make it work. I kept ending up with the wrong number of stitches.

I looked online for help and found nothing. Not a single person on Ravelry has knit this pattern (at least, not a single person on Ravelry will admit to knitting this pattern). Simple googling yielded nothing but sites where the pattern is for sale (usually listed in the contents of the book) and my own original post about it.

So I turned to my local knitting group for help. There are some very accomplished knitters in this group, and I knew that some of them would enjoy the challenge of figuring out why the decreases just didn’t work. Much math was done. Papers were scribbled upon. Heads conferred. And then came the verdict:

“This pattern is written like crap.”

(Well, maybe they didn’t actually say “crap.” I think they said, “This pattern is very poorly written.” But my subconscious heard “This pattern is written like crap”—partly because it’s a more efficient way to say the same thing, and partly because I think “crap” is one of the most useful, versatile, expressive words in the English language.)

My friends said that it would be possible to figure out the math of each line of the pattern, but that would be a headache. And they were pretty sure I’d be all set to tear out my hair when it came time to put the thing together, because the pattern yielding some pretty lousy seaming points.

So I’ve decided to bag it. For me, knitting is supposed to fun, and thinking ahead to the amount of cursing all that math and seaming up will inevitably produce, this cardigan doesn’t seem like a fun project. I’m going to frog this sucker and move on.

This was my first time knitting with Rowan Kid Classic, and I really enjoyed working with it. So now I’m trying to think about what to do with seven balls of this stuff. Should I try the Hourglass Sweater? Something else? I’m open to suggestions!

*This book is called The Bumper Book of Knitting in the UK. That title is way cooler than the one on the book I bought. Why is it that American prints of UK works always get the lame titles? Argh.

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