Sunday, April 29, 2007

Out with the Old, in with the New!

I finished the baby sweater the other day, just in time for the end of the Quick-Fix Knitalong. I can't believe that April is already over! If you missed the knitalong, you can find all of us over at the Quick-Fix Flickr group. Join in and post all of your quick projects! It's an awesome place for inspiration, too.

Speaking of knitalongs, you may have noticed my fancy new button for the Fitted Knits Along. Seeing as I'm making the Puff Sleeve Feminine Cardigan right now, it seemed like fun to join in with everyone else. I actually watched the knitalong for a little while before I decided to join, and seeing all of the fabulous completed projects over there is making me look through the book in a different light. I now plan to make a couple of sweater in there that I hadn't really considered.

Moving on to pictures! Like I said, I finished the baby sweater the other day and blocked it yesterday (hand wash, machine dry). I went to Jo-Ann Fabric for buttons, and was beginning to despair on ever finding cute, appropriately sized bunny buttons when I found these!


Exactly the kind of buttons I was looking for! I love that these have an old-fashioned charm, much like the sweater. I planned to make matching booties, but as it happens, I used most of the Breeze on the sweater. I was surprised that I used so much, as I used less than two balls of this same yarn on a tank top for myself last summer.


I will so definitely be making this sweet little thing again! I love the clever construction of this sweater. I love the lace pattern. I love the vintage look. The only thing I wish I had done differently is knit a selvedge on the sleeves. Other than that, perfect. The pattern is from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac, which I recommend even as general reading.

Since I finished the baby sweater, I felt it was time to start the Puff Sleeve Cardigan with a clear conscience. Because I am such a good, welll-behaved knitter, I went ahead and swatched. And swatched. And swatched.


As I suspected, my gauge with US6 needles was way off. I was getting fewer than five stitches per inch, and I needed 5.5 stitches per inch. In the middle there, I tried US5 needles, and did a larger swatch because I thought I would get gauge. Nope. Five stitches per inch. I grumbled and complained and found my US4 needles. I only did a few rows with those before realizing that I did not like knitting dk weight yarn on US4 needles, nor did I like the resulting fabric. The nail in the coffin was discovering that I was stuck on 5 stitches per inch. I had to make a choice. I could either use this yarn for something else and choose new yarn for the cardigan, or I could try something new and modify the pattern for my gauge. I chose option two.


I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. What if my math is wrong? What if I read the pattern wrong and I'm basing all of my math on the wrong measurements? I'm consoled by the fact that it's a top down sweater, so I don't have to finish it before realizing I've made an error, and the fact that the yarn I'm using is heaven to knit. I'm using Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed in Granary. Wish me luck!

I haven't done much knitting today. Actually, I've yet to do any. I finally got the gumption to haul out my sewing machine and sew up a skirt I've had cut out for weeks.


I got this far and directions said to let the skirt hang overnight. Who am I to argue? It's a perfect excuse to get back to that cardigan!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sweet Baby Knits

I finished sleeve number two on the Two Needle Baby Sweater (a.k.a: February Baby Sweater) by Elizabeth Zimmermann. I had the tiniest of hiccups when I started the body, but trusted the directions, and things are going swimmingly.


Oh, what am I thinking? That photo won't do! You can't see the aching cuteness of the sleeves!


There, that's better. I had a slight reservation about doing this sweater in cotton, but the pattern is showing up well, and this sweater should be perfect for spring and summer. I like this yarn (Sirdar Breeze), which is a cotton/acrylic blend. The blend is about the same as Cotton-Ease, but the Breeze is more tightly twisted. As with any cotton, it's a little hard on my hands, but not as bad as, say, Sugar 'n' Cream or its brethren.

As for the pattern, per usual, EZ uses clever construction in her quest against seams. This pattern is fun! The lace pattern is so easy to memorize, and the quick changes from yoke to sleeves to body keep things interesting. One thing I wish I had done, which EZ directs you to do in the Baby Surprise Jacket, is make buttonholes on both sides of the front. She says to do this with the BSJ so you can put buttons on the correct side when you learn the sex of the baby, but it has the added bonus of making it incredibly easy to match the buttons to the buttonholes. Speaking of buttons, I want to find something beyond cute for this sweater, possibly incorporating bunnies or flowers. Come to think of it, I did once see some very cute white buttons with characters from Peter Rabbit painted on them. I wonder where I saw them.


I anticipate finishing this project soon, which means that I won't be completing my goal of four quick projects in April, but also means that I'll be able to start Rusted Root!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

All About Brown

I didn't really think about it when I placed the order, but when I opened my packet from WEBS, my newest obsession became apparent.


I think I'm developing a thing for brown. In my stash, I have a bag of Debbie Bliss Wool Cotton in deep brown, some cascade 220 in brown, and a whole cube of the brown spectrum. I need to start knitting some brown stuff! In a break from tradition, I not only bought this yarn with specific projects in mind, but I plan to make them soon, meaning there will be less chance that I'll change my mind and the yarn will languish. The tweed yarn is for the Puff-Sleeve Feminine Cardigan from Fitted Knits by Stefanie Japel, and the 220 Superwash is for a vest from the same book. The more I see finished objects from that book, the more I like all of the patterns, even the ones I thought I would never, ever make. I think the Puff Sleeve cardigan will be interesting in the tweed, since it's such a rustic looking yarn (the colorway is called Granary for heaven's sake), and the pattern is so overtly feminine. I can't wait! I'm trying to stay on task though and at least finish the February baby sweater before I start swatching.


I'm working on sleeve one right now. This is a fun project, but I'm always taken by surprise when I knit with cotton, how little I can knit before I have to take a break. I have a feeling that I won't be meeting my Quick-Fix goal of four projects in April (though hey, kinda... I finished CWT), but I'm okay with that. I still plan to make Rusted Root next. I will probably work on it at the same time as I do the Puff Sleeve Cardigan. I picked through my yarn basket yesterday, and discovered that I had balled up some sock yarn, too, so I'll need to find some patterns for those! I'm pretty sure I'm going to do Roza's Socks by Grumperina with some powder blue Lorna's Laces (fitting, since I won the yarn in a Jaywalker contest), but I'm not sure what to do with the STR yet.

In other news, my boyfriend went to California and brought back Victorian Lace Today! I have one word: WOW! Being a lace novice, I am a little intimidated by some of the projects, but adore 95% of the stuff in there. Will I make it all? Probably not, but it sure is nice to look at! I plan to start with one of the scarves and then move on to a shawl.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

CWT, you PYT

For some reason, whenever I think of CWT, the song PYT starts playing inside my head. Fortunately, I really like that song, because I think this sweater will be in heavy rotation.

When we last left the sweater, I was working on the ruffle. I finished the ruffle somewhere around the 16th (I know this because of when I took the following picture), and was astonished enough by the ends hanging out that I was moved to take a picture.


Thankfully, I had already woven in the ends of the top portion. Otherwise, I may still be glaring hatefully at the sweater, rather than wearing it.

I spent the next day on all of the finishing while watching BTVS. Finishing tasks included attaching the top portion with gathers, basting the cinched waist to make sure I could get it over my head (I could), and staring disconsolately into the mirror at my ruffle which had become a tutu. Believing in the magic of blocking, I finished it anyway, and was rewarded!


I'm glad I added some length to the ruffle, though I only added about an inch or so. I also decreased the number of stitches for the ruffle by... one repeat? Two? I need to keep notes. I did a wet block, and am surprised to report that wet cashmere is just as stinky as wet wool. I guess I thought maybe it would be odorless, or carry the gentle scent of a rolling spring meadow, freshly mown. I laid the wet sweater out on a towel overnight, and moved the mostly dry sweater in the morning to a drying rack to finish the job. I didn't actually sew the side of the corset waist and ruffle until after blocking, because I wasn't sure if I would want to add a few more inches to the ruffle.


The tank top I'm wearing underneath it is bunching around my middle in this picture, but I'm so pleased at how well the ruffle lays. I kept petting myself all day, this sweater is so soft! I didn't think it would be possible, but it got even softer after a wash! I don't remember how much yarn I used, but I want to say it was almost 8 balls. I have some left over, and also a few balls of black, and I can't wait to find a project for it! To recap, I used Laines du Nord Royal Cashmere and US10 needles. The center portion was done on US6 needles, which made a very firm fabric. The pattern is from Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2006, and the original pattern was done in cotton. I might consider making another one of these in cotton, but I rarely knit the same thing twice (and if I do, I probably knit it three or four times!).

I started the February baby sweater from EZ's Knitter's Almanac, and have just reached the fun part! Reading the breezy directions have me feeling that maybe another spreadsheet is in order, but I'll try it without first.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

So nice, I made 'em twice!

I woke up this morning, and upon realizing it was the 15th, and we are entering week three of April, I said to myself, "Self, it's time to get those Jaywalkers done already." And I did.


I hunkered down with some TV on DVD (Freaks and Geeks and BTVS, season 7), and got through the second sock in short order. All I had left was about another two inches and then the toe. Due to my supreme luck (I don't pretend it was skill, though I did try), the stripes on both socks match perfectly, and I didn't have to do any measuring at all. I just knit to the same number of stripes. Easy-peasy.


See what I mean? Every time I look at my feet, I pat myself on the back for these. I will have to keep them forever, because it will probably never happen again. To recap, these are the famous Jaywalkers by Grumperina. I have made these before using another striping yarn, but on these, I used a US2 for the leg and a US1 for the foot, which resulted in a supremely comfortable sock. I used AustermannStep in color #3. I love this yarn, though the aloe content makes it feel a little strange in the ball. Mrs. Cooper approves of this color.


I'm sure I'll be making more Jaywalkers. I can't imagine knitting self-striping yarn in stockinette ever again! I highly recommend this pattern.

Next up is the adorable February baby sweater from EZ's Knitter's Almanac. While I continue to work on the CWT, of course. I'm almost done with the ruffle (I'm finished according to the pattern, but I'm adding length), and then I just have to get it all sewn together!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Hooray for Progress!

So I got pretty far on my Jaywalker and then found myself staring wistfully at the Cinched Waist Top. After seeing the top on my dress form, I got excited about seeing this piece together, and had to pick up those stitches already! It's a nice break from the teeny needles I'm using for the sock (US10.5 for the ruffles!), and the cashmere is so incredibly soft, it's a joy to knit. I'm trying to give both projects equal needle time, but must confess that I've been working much more on the CWT, spurred on by the promise of the finish line. I'm almost to the point where the pattern has me stop the ruffle, but I'm going to add an extra inch or so. Of course, once I'm done there's an ungodly number of ends to weave in, and some fiddley finishing, so I predict more sock time and a start on a baby sweater before you see the CWT finished.


I definitely think I'll have some leftover yarn. Which is definitely okay! I have a few balls of this same yarn in black, and I could do with a luxurious scarf.

I'm pretty excited about wearing these puppies! The yarn feels awesome on my feet, and warm. Given the crummy weather we're having, I'll be wearing these socks until June. I did end up using US2 needles for the leg and US1 for the foot, and it made a huge difference! I have no problem at all with getting the leg over my heel, but the foot is nice and snug, just how I like it!


Despite the fact that it's snowing outside right now, my mind keeps wandering to spring knits. I have Rusted Root queued up, and have been checking out my cotton stash for possibilities. I hit the big WEBS online sale and ordered some Jo Sharp Silkroad DK to make the puffed sleeve cardigan out of Fitted Knits, and some Cascade 220 Superwash for a vest. The office I work in is always cold from late spring to early fall (until it turns into a furnace in the afternoon), so I will be needing a little something to put on to ward off the chill. Right now I have an ancient black cardigan and Cafe Bastille Cables hanging out there, but even though my office is cold, I don't think it warrants Lamb's Pride Bulky. [As an aside, finding that journal entry also dated when I made the Kool-Aid dyed yarn that I just now knit. It was three years ago. How times flies!] What projects are you daydreaming about?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Just a Little Lull

I haven't been blogging much lately, but I don't feel that once a week will be my new blogging schedule. I've been in a busy spell (unfortunately, not knitting-wise), but things are winding down.

Anyway, I told you that I'd take a picture of the top of the Cinched Waist Top, and I do deliver!


It looks a little strange like that, all short and rolled and not seamed. I toyed with attaching it to the corset waist before starting the ruffle, but decided against it. Why make things harder on myself? I started the ruffle the other night, getting through five rows. The pattern as written seems to make a rather short ruffle. My idea is, if the ruffle is a little longer, it will be more likely to hang down, instead of sticking out like a tutu. I'm also trying to make the ruffle a little more subdued by reducing the number of stitches I picked up by two repeats. Wish me luck! I don't think that yarn will be an issue. I only have the ruffle left, and I have at least two full balls of yarn left (I haven't checked the whole basket). I'm so glad now that I waited to make the ruffle last!

I turned the heel on my Jaywalker, and have started the foot. In a minor triumph, I tried and succeeded in matching up the stripes on both socks! Not only does this make my inner perfectionist happy, but also my inner sloth. I don't have to pull out my measuring tape at all for the second sock! I just have to work to the same stripe! No pictures yet, but I promise, next time.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Instant Gratification

You know how sometimes you want some pudding... or maybe some cake... and you don't want store bought but you also don't want to do all the measuring and melting and blah blah blah so you buy instant pudding or boxed cake just to satisfy that craving, even though you know they won't taste quite as good as your homemade, labor intensive concoctions?

That's how I feel about these mitts.


I waited patiently to work on the second mitt until yesterday, opening day of the Quick-Fix Knitalong. As luck would have it, I also had the Buffy complete boxed set (with extra special features dvd!) and a lot of time on my hands. I started the mitt in the morning with season 1, and ended it in the early afternoon with season 3 (I skipped around). The more I knit with this yarn, the more I actually liked it. I wouldn't choose it if I saw it in a yarn store, but the different shades of purple aren't that bad, and the blue adds a nice punch. I even got used to the aroma of grape Kool-Aid. To recap, I used Ann Budd's Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns for the pattern (I used the mitten pattern and lopped off the top, adding ribbing), and Kool-Aid dyed LB Fisherman's Wool with US3 needles.

After I finished the mitt, I waffled between picking up the ruffle for the Cinched Waist Pullover or starting Jaywalker #2, I decided I'd rather do ribbing in the round than pick up stitches. I got through a couple of inches of sock before I had to turn my attention to the newest addition to our family, Betsy.


Betsy is a Dumbo rat, known for their large, low-set ears. We thought that since new rats must be quarantined for two weeks (minimum) before joining established rats, we should get a pal for Eunice sooner rather than later, since she's so lonely. Isn't she adorable?

I didn't expect to finish my first quick project so, erm, quickly! I wondered if I'd have to abandon the pullover this month, but it doesn't look like I'll have to. I finished the top portion last week, but didn't take a picture. I'll get right on that!