Third finished sweater of the year

I finally finished seaming my Stoker Cowl, and I’m already wearing it. (ravlink to the project page) The pattern came from the Knit to Flatter book, an Amy Herzog-led book of patterns premised on the idea that certain body types should rely on certain design features. Although there is some truth that some designs will look better on one person than another, I think most of the patterns in this book were plain enough to have a pretty universal appeal. I certainly think this one fits that description.

green sweater

This is a very simple sweater with 2×2 ribbing, some basic waist shaping, and that dramatic cowl. I love the cowl. It’s very soft and luxurious to wear, and is every bit as cozy as I’d hoped it would be when I first spotted this pattern. Other than the cowl, though, this is a basic sweater shape, something that I think most women can easily wear. My only changes to the pattern were to lengthen and narrow the sleeves — those sleeves! Geez, did they give me trouble. Remember this from a few months back?

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Sleevus Giganticus

 

I had to reknit the sleeves three times before they were narrow enough to wear, and they’re still too big. This might be partly due to the yarn I used. The yarn is Classic Elite Attitude, a silk-cotton blend that I picked up on a super-special sale for $1.75 a skein a few years back. This yarn is now discontinued, and with good reason. It’s pretty wimpy stuff, prone to pilling, and it drapes and stretches more like an alpaca than a cotton. I suspect the sleeves kept growing because of the yarn. The body is also bigger than anticipated — I knit a 38″ bust size but probably should have knit the next smaller size. It’s not a yarn I would recommend, but I used it because I had leftovers from making this cardigan.

green cardigan

That’s the Strawberry Lace Wrap from Veronik Avery’s wonderful book, Knitting Classic Style (ravlink to project page). I love this cardigan, and people comment on it whenever I wear it. There’s something about that wrap and tie front that is so easy and comfortable. Really a great pattern. So now I have a little twin set of sorts — not exactly the kind of twin set that the pearl-and-tea crowd might go for, but it works for me.

I thought I would also show you one of my favorite tricks for seaming sweater knits. Instead of pinning the seams in place, I use baby hair clips.

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They grab the knit and hold it in place without distorting the fabric, and they can handle even the bulkiest knits. And they were very inexpensive. I can’t take credit for this idea — someone else suggested it to me, but it has been so useful that I wanted to pass it along. It’s one of those tricks that, once I used it, I can’t imagine ever not using it.

There are still about 2.5 balls of this green yarn left, and I think I might just pitch it. Comes a point where you just can’t stand to look at the same yarn any longer!

What do you do with your yarn leftovers when you weren’t all that happy with the yarn?

Theresa

 

The Gathering Smoke Sweater

The knitting for this sweater has been done for ages. All I needed to do was seam the sleeves and weave in the ends, but I somehow had the hardest time getting to it. You know how it goes when life gets crazy and complicated? And then that one task, the one you would normally do without blinking, becomes something like a holy grail — “OMG, I am *never* going to get that sweater finished!”

Yeah. That’s what happened here. Even after I started working on other things in bits and dabs of free time, I couldn’t quite get to this sweater. Well, eventually, I managed to summon my inner Galahad, and now Arthur can live and the land can be fertile once again.

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This is only my second finished sweater of the year! I’ve done lots of knitting, just not much finishing. It feels great to have this one done, if only because it makes me think maybe it can represent the start of a finishing spree. That would be so good. Clear out some of the project bags and free them up for other purposes!

The pattern is the Gathered Pullover (ravlink) from an old Interweave magazine. I lengthened the body just a touch, and I used an applied i-cord edging other than the rolled edges called for in the pattern, but other than that, I knit it as patterned. The sleeves are just a touch long, but I can live with it. It was an easy pattern and went fast.

The yarn is some Carol Sunday Angelic 3-ply I had leftover from making the Cambridge shawl. Here’s the shawl.

cambridge shawl

This is the Carol Sunday shawl pattern everyone wanted to make after the Duchess of Cambridge was spotted out shopping in just such an accessory. Kate’s was olive, and mine is gray — the Smoke colorway, which is a bit heathery and fuzzy from the angora content in the yarn. I was going to make the shawl in a size large, but switched to medium mid-knit and had a bunch of yarn leftover. Even after knitting the sweater, I still have a full skein of the yarn left. It’s really lovely stuff, soft and light and warm. The shawl has held up beautifully over time (though the angora sheds, of course), so I’m hoping the sweater will be fairly sturdy, too. I can already tell this is one I’ll wear constantly through the spring. It’s light, not really a winter sweater, but great for chilly spring days.

Do you have any holy grail projects lingering in your world these days?

Theresa

Goooooooooooooooooal!

Number 31 and 32, finished, and that means I met my goal for this year.

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That’s a sweatshirt and track pants in fleece that is almost black but really more of a very dark charcoal. I have one more fleece outfit cut and in progress, and then I’ll be laying off the fleece for a while. I do have a couple more lengths in the stash, but they’re neons meant to make “Please don’t drive into me” bright zippies for running outdoors in the spring. They can wait.

So, my goal was a garment a week for 32 weeks, totaling 32 garments, and here I am 16 days from the end of the year with the goal already met. And heading into the winter holidays, too, which I plan to use as a make-cation. I think I’m just going to tackle the stack of projects that are started but not complete — the Missoni dress that needs new sleeves, the wool skirt that’s cut and sitting in pieces in a project bag, etc.  I don’t know if I can get it all done — there is, after all, the tiny matter of a big holiday with a complicated family looming on the calendar. But I can knock out most of the pending projects, if not all.  Clear out the bulk of this mess so I can start the new year fresh. That will be a good feeling.

By the way, I made my knitting goal some time ago. I never posted this here, but my goal was six knitted garments, and I’ve completed eight, with four or five more in various stages of completion. I think I might try for twelve next year, because why not?

Soooo tempted to buy some fabric to celebrate making my goal. This outfit here is another 2.5 yards out, and that plus the four from last week’s red fleece set puts 6.5 yards into the “out” column since 12/1/14. That’s not a bad start on the whole fabric stash adjustment process (two yards out for every yard in). But I think I might just bank that yardage for now because there’s a blouse pattern I’ve been eyeing that takes 4.25 yards — crazy yardage for a blouse, about double what you would expect for most blouses. I have some eggplant silk charmeuse in the stash that would work, but I see this as more of a crepe — more matte than shine — so I might just pop for some silk georgette or crepe de chine once I bank enough yardage to justify the splurge.

Do you use the end of the year period to motivate you to finish tasks? I find it’s pretty useful.

Theresa

Sunday status report

This is a thing I knit this week.

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It’s not a throw rug, though the fabric is a bit ruggy because it’s knit from Noro Kureyon. It’s neither a blanket nor an antimacassar even though it’s draped on the back of the sofa. It’s draped there because all other work surfaces in my house have been given over to the upcoming holiday. Wrapping zones, baking zones, decorating zones — but not a “lay out your knitting for photography in an attractive manner” zone anywhere to be found.

Eventually, this will become a lanesplitter skirt, a Knitty pattern from about four years ago (link). But in order to finish it, I have to block it, and I don’t have an available surface for blocking right now. It will have to wait until the 27th, when all holiday madness will be history and my tables and counters can be reclaimed for regular usage.

At that point, I will make a nylon tricot lining for this skirt, too. The fabric is so coarse and ruggy that there’s no way I would wear it next to bare skin, and it would stick to tights in that weirdly inappropriate way that coarse fabrics stick to tights. So a lining it needs, and the fabric for the lining is on order.

I’ve also decided not to do a knitted waistband, which would be bulky and coarse and itchy and uncomfortable. Instead, I picked up a length of belt elastic and a black belt buckle. I’ll sew the belt right to the skirt as a waistband. It will be smoother and slimmer, and much, much easier to wear.

I’m also about halfway into a gathered pullover.

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The body is knitted in the round to the armholes, then divided for the shoulders. I’m right at the point of division now, so a little further along than this picture shows. The cable for this sweater is simple and lovely.

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That’s just the bottom half of the cable. With the top half knitted on, it forms a diamond-shaped medallion at the center front bodice. I’m using Sunday Knits Angelic 3-ply for this, yarn which was leftover from a shawl project. Here, I can show you the shawl, too, which I made a couple years ago and wear ALL THE TIME. This is one of the best things I’ve ever knit, a Carol Sunday pattern called Cambridge. Love this shawl.

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When I bought the yarn for that shawl, I planned to do the largest size, and bought accordingly — plus a bit extra in case I wanted to knit a hat or gloves, too. I chose to knit the medium instead, and ended up with enough left over for a sweater. This is an angora-merino blend that is so soft and luxurious, yet so warm and cozy, that it will be perfect for the Gathering sweater.

This means I have a lot of half-finished knitting projects laying around here right now. I have a feeling the holiday break and most of January will be given over to finishing what I’ve already started.

Do you tend to work on one project at a time, or lots at once?

Theresa

Another finished sweater

This sweater fell of my needles in three weeks of moderate knitting time. That’s nothing. Really, it’s as close to an instant sweater as we can get.

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Forgive the unmodeled photo. I’ve been sick this week and I’m far from looking well enough for a photo shoot right now. Maybe I’ll fix this later.

This was meant to be a raglan sleeve, but I changed the sleeve shaping to make it look more like a bib front with set-in-ish looking sleeves. In a normal raglan, you create a raglan line along the shoulder and increase one stitch on either side of the raglan line, every other row. In this, I moved both increases to the shoulder side of the raglan line.  You can see how it creates a vertical pair of lines along the front under the turtleneck. This also shifts some of the increases so that the bust shaping seems to fit me better; I have a large bust and the slight gathered effect along that vertical line provides room in just the way I need it. Not every sweater or body shape will work with this kind of shaping, but it worked well here.

You can see the spray bottle on my blocking boards. This yarn (Kyoto from Artfibers in San Francisco, acquired during a conference visit there) contains a lot of silk. If you’ve worked with silk, you know that it tends to bleed in water. This is because the silk molecules themselves are smaller than many dye molecules — especially reds. Red dye molecules are among the largest, though I have no idea why red should be big in particular. But it is. So red silks bleed more than other silks, but other silks bleed plenty, too.

The cure for this is to avoid having water run-off that will take the dye away from the silk fibers. I lay out the sweater and spray it with the mist setting until it is just damp enough to shape easily, and then I let it dry as usual. The water mist evaporates, leaving the dye molecules right where they belong. No run-off means no dye loss.

This is my eighth finished garment since April, when I started knitting goal-weight garments. I had hoped to make six by the end of the year, but now I’m thinking I might get all the way to ten. We’ll see! Number nine only needs sleeves, and number ten is on the needles, but it’s a mid-thigh length coat and there’s a lot of knitting involved in this one. But I might try to finish it by the end of the year just so I can say I made it to ten. Double digits! Woot!

Do you set project goals or deadlines like this for yourself?

Theresa

A couple of new beginnings

Yesterday, I finished the knitting for my Dark Pearl cardigan and wove in the ends. It still needs to be overdyed and blocked, and it needs buttons, but this one is basically done.

So it’s time for something new. Yay! New projects! (Yes, I do still have two other projects on the needles, even with Dark Pearl completed. Forget about those for a second. It’s not hard — I’m doing it myself. *ggg*)

I cast on a pair of footies in this amazing chartreuse Another Crafty Girl sock yarn. The color is so bright that it’s hard to capture accurately, but this is pretty close — semisolid and almost blinding. 🙂 This will be my handbag project, the thing I knit when I’m out and about and need to keep my hands occupied.

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My socks are so bright, I have to wear shades

And then I cast on the Pickles sweater in this luscious silk-mohair from Artfibers. I’ve been guarding this yarn for a few years, waiting for the right project to pop up, and this is it. This stuff is as soft as a cloud, very lightweight for a bulky, and almost mesmerizing in the way the silk and mohair shades play off each other. I’ve barely started to knit the collar on this, but I’m already in deep love here.

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The lighter color is the silk, and the darker color is the mohair. The way the light shines on the silk through the mohair is beyond lovely. I have a feeling this is going to be one of those special sweaters that I save for events and days when I need a pick-me-up. It’s pretty magical so far.

I do still need to knit sleeves on the green Stoker cowl sweater, but that requires me to think through some details on the sleeve shaping — because, as so often happens with my knitting, I’ve decided to veer off the pattern and do something a little different with the sleeves. This requires some math, and my head has just not been feeling very mathy lately, so it will have to wait.

In the personal news department, some of you know that my dad has been staying here this year as he goes through treatments for stage four lymphoma. It’s been going very well, as these things go — he’s sick as anything from the treatments, but he’s beating the cancer. Today at the cancer center, they decided to skip the chemo this time. They wanted to give his body a chance to bounce back from some of the side effects. I take this as very good news. If he needed the chemo, I’m sure they would give it to him. It’s too big a risk to skip it if they aren’t sure they can get away with it. So I think maybe the end is within sight. We’re all feeling a bit brighter today as a result.

Theresa

Contemplating Fall Knitting

The good news is that my test knit is completed, but for the blocking. I can’t blog it yet, not until the designer releases the pattern, but I’ll be moving back to projects I can actually post about here. So my relative silence this week is temporary and over now.

The temperature is dropping here in Chicago, as are the autumn leaves. It’s time to think about shifting from summer knitting to cold-weather knitting. I still have a lightweight cardigan to finish from my summer knitting (Dark Pearl, which is about 80% finished), and a cotton-silk aran-weight sweater that needs sleeves (Stoker). Once these are completed, which should happen within the next three weeks-ish, I’ll be casting on two new projects. At the moment, these are the leading contenders.

Lumme: a bulky jacket which I will likely line and wear as a coat. It’s very casual, perfect for jeans, as modeled here.

lumme pattern

I cast this on once before and knit the sleeves, but that was before I realized that I could get all the weight off. So it would have been impossibly huge on me, and I frogged it to be reknit later. This is the yarn I’ll use, a rustic purplish-grayish heathery thing from Glenfiddich. It feels much softer than it looks, and it’s gorgeous when knit. I’m excited to be able to knit this now, finally! As I said, I plan to line it and wear it as a coat, but I might also add a layer of thinsulate to make it really warm. Debating. I have a few weeks before I have to make any decisions on that.

bluberry glenfiddich

The other knit I’m very excited about is this Pickles sweater pattern. This is a new pattern, and the very instant I laid eyes on it, I clicked to download the pattern.

Pickles sweater

This is exactly the sweater I had in mind when I bought some Kyoto at the Artfibers store in San Francisco a couple of years back. I’d cast it on once for a very similar pattern, but it was knit at 12st/4″, and that was too loose for the Kyoto. It needs something a little more dense, in the 14st/4″ range, and this sweater is it. I love the cowl and the way garter and stockinette are used to manipulate the length of the front and back. Very clever.

This is the Kyoto, a lustrous mohair-wrapped silk yarn that feels like luxury. This picture truly does not do it justice.

artfibers kyoto

Those are both heavy knits at large gauges, so they will likely go fast. The Kyoto sweater will be fairly brainless, and the Lumme jacket will be interesting enough for those times you don’t want brainless knitting. I tend to knit in pairs like this — one easy one, one more challenging one at the same time.  And right now, these are the leading contenders for my first knits of the fall.

What projects do you have planned to keep yourself warm this autumn?

Theresa