Sunday, July 8, 2012

There's Just Something About Lace...

Shawls have become my knitting of choice. I'm not sure why they appeal to me so much, other than all the lovely lace. I like knitting lace. I like knitting sweaters and socks, too, but there's just something about lace.

The shawl shown at right is the Farm Shawl by Michelle Miller. I test knit this pattern, but apparently didn't block my gauge swatch aggressively enough because my shawl turned out to be a lot larger than expected, even though I didn't block the shawl aggressively at all. (As always, click on any photo to enlarge.)

I knit the shawl using Dream in Color Wisp, a lace-weight yarn, in the Valentine colorway. I used 910 yards, although the pattern calls for 640 yards. Gauge generally isn't a big factor in shawls---unless you're likely to run out of yarn. Or if you're test knitting the pattern.

The shawl was a fun knit, and fairly fast. I started this shawl on 22 May and finished on 01 June. The final dimensions of my shawl were 77 1/2 inches by 30 1/4 inches.

The next shawl I knit was also a test knit for Michelle Miller, the Be Sweet Shawl. I especially like the deep, ornate edging on this shawl. I knit this shawl using Knit Picks Shadow Tonal, a lace-weight yarn, in the Deep Waters colorway. I used 475 yards of yarn, and the resulting shawl is 58 inches by 30 inches. I started the shawl on 01 June and finished on 09 June.

The next shawl I finished was Color Affection by Veera Välimäki. This was my project for The Loopy Ewe's Camp Loopy, the first (of three) project for this summer's "camp." For this project, a knitter could choose any pattern by a designer who was born in a country other than the country in which the knitter was born.

Being an engineer, symmetry appeals to me, but despite its asymmetric design, something about this shawl just called to me. Plus, it's all garter stitch, so I could knit without watching what I was doing, and since it's baseball season, most evenings my eyes are glued to baseball.

The Color Affection pattern calls for three different colors of yarn, but I used four: The Loopy Ewe Solid Series in oyster, Fiesta Baby Boom in the Pansies colorway (the variegated purple that begins in the second section), Monkeypal Superwash Sock yarn in Deep Purple (the dark blue color in the bottom section), and Lorna's Lace Shepherd's Sock in Grapevine (for the bottom border). The latter two yarns were left over from other projects; the first two were purchased a year or two ago for...something.

The bottom border was supposed to be 2 inches wide, but due to the limited amount of yarn I had, my border is only 1 1/4 inches. I used a total of 624 yards of yarn, and my shawl is 59 inches by 17 inches. The final size was limited by a slightly too tight bind-off. I started binding off using Jeny's Surprisingly Sretchy bind-off, but it seemed too loose, so I did a standard bind-off using a big (US11) needle. But the bind-off needs to be very stretchy to create the curved shape of the shawl, and my bind-off was not as stretchy as it should have been. If I knit this shawl again---and I probably will---I'll use Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off.

The photo at the right shows my shawl staked out on the blocking board. It doesn't have quite the desired shape, but I like it.

I started this shawl on 20 May and finished on 15 June. That nearly caused a problem because the dates of this year's Camp Loopy are not the same as last year, and I jumped the gun. I emailed the lovely ladies at the Loopy Ewe, and explained my dilemma. Since I'd started and finished a week early, my shawl was deemed acceptable for my first project.

As the dates show, while I was knitting Color Affection, I was also knitting the two previous shawl and test knitting the pattern for a summer top.

I finished one other shawl in June, but I'll talk about it next time. It was my first mystery knit-along, and I'm doing two others this summer.

What have you been knitting?


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Knitters Outraged after Olympic Committee Quashes Knitting Olympics

Do you believe this??? The U.S. Olympic Committee thinks Ravelry's Knitting Olympics, known as the Ravelympics, denigrates real athletes.

Does this make sense to anyone?

Knitting a man's Aran sweater between the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics does not rank with running a four-minute mile or a finishing a marathon faster than anyone else in the world, but it isn't something most people can do. Like the marathon, it's something only a small percentage of people even attempt.

What do you think? Does a knitting olympics denigrate the world's athletes?

Update: The U.S. Olympic Committee apologized for their cease-and-desist letter after two million outraged knitters with pointy sticks set up a world-wide howl. And posted to the U.S.O.C.'s Facebook wall, tweeted, called, and wrote letters.

Is that a pitiful excuse for an apology or what? And how about that request for knitters to send the objects the U.S.O.C. scorned yesterday to the athletes? Badly done, U.S.O.C. Your mothers would be ashamed of you.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012


This year my goal is to knit at least twelve shawls. Last year my goal was to knit eleven, and I ended up knitting 24, plus finishing three large ones I'd started in 2010.

I started 2012 knitting Jared Flood's Bridgewater Shawl, but ran out of yarn (after 1250 yards) near the end of the first lace chart. So far, I haven't been able to find more of the yarn, but I'm still looking.

The next shawl I knit was Storm Fir by Erica Jackofsky. This shawl was designed for bulky yarn, so it knits up fast. The shawl could probably be knit in one day, but since I was knitting other things at the same time, it took me three days. I started on 29 January and finished on 31 January. I used just over three skeins (381 yards) of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky in the Blue Blood Red (M-80) colorway. (As always, click on any photo to enlarge.)

Next I knit the Ballerina Shawl by Michelle Miller. I knit this as part of a knit-along with several other people on Ravelry. I used just over one skein (1.06 skeins, or 475 yards) of Dream in Color Smooshy in the Rose Smash colorway. The shawl was fun to knit, and it worked up pretty quickly. I started on 08 April and finished on 13 April.

Then I decided to knit the Sabrina Shawl by Marisa Hernandez. I test knit this shawl last year and loved it, then gave it to my son's fiancee's grandmother because she fell in love with a photo of it I'd posted on Facebook. I decided I wanted one of these shawls for myself, so I knit another one. This time I used Monkeypal Superwash Sock yarn (1.33 skeins or 506 yards). I started the shawl on 20 April and finished on 25 April. I like the shawl just as much the second time as I did the first.

Then I knit Fluid Velocity, another shawl by Michelle Miller. As an engineer who took a lot of fluid dynamics classes on the way to my B.S. and M.S. in mechanical engineering (but none for my Ph.D.), the name of the shawl appealed to me---as does the resulting shawl. I knit this shawl with Colinette Jitterbug yarn (1.48 skeins or 554 yards) in the Blue Parrot colorway. I started the shawl on 26 April and finished on 30 April.

Next I chose the Baah Shawlanother Michelle Miller pattern. Like the Ballerina Shawl, I knit this with other fans of Michelle's shawls on Ravelry as a knit-along. I used Dream in Color Starry in the Flamingo Pie colorway (0.89 skeins or 400.5 yards). I started the shawl on 01 May and finished on 04 May.

I chose some-thing slightly smaller for my next shawl: Victorine by Cindy Guggemos. This is more of a scarf than a shawl, at least for someone who is 68 inches tall (which I am). I knit this scarf/shawl in Dream in Color Smooshy in the Some Summer Sky (VS170) colorway (0.72 skeins or 324 yards). Although it's difficult to see in the photo, the color is glorious. And the pattern is lovely, too! I started this scarf/shawl on 11 May and finished on 13 May.

Six shawls in four and a half months, not counting the waiting-for-more-yarn Bridgewater. Not bad, especially since I knit two sweaters and have had two more sweaters, a baby surprise jacket, and a started-but-nowhere-near-finished lace scarf on my needles during that time period.

What have you been knitting?


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Na Craga Cardigan: Part III

The continuing saga of my Na Craga-inspired cardigan.

Once the sleeves were knit, I picked up the left front stitches from their holder, picked up and knit the stitches under the left arm (the stitches added with the flat section of the sleeve), picked up the back stitches from the yarn holding them, picked up and knit the stitches under the right arm, then picked up the right front stitches from their holder. In picking up and knitting the stitches under the arm, I again used the FLAK pattern's recommended three stitches in every four (which, as discussed in the previous post, I shouldn't have). The result was far more stitches than necessary for the circumference I wanted.

One of the advantages of the FLAK method of construction is that you can try on the sweater as you knit. Unfortunately, my longest circular needle at that time was 40 inches, and anyone slightly larger than 40 inches in circumference attempting to try on the sweater loses stitches right and left. I realized that before I lost too many and gave up trying to check the fit. (Another mistake I won't make again. I now have a longer circular needle, so losing stitches while fitting a sweater won't be an issue.) Confident in my math and measurements (see first post), I knit on, finally reaching the ribbing.

When the ribbing was finished, I knit the neckband. I tried the sweater on the judge the length of the neckband, but my husband, who took the photo below, didn't comment on the sleeves or the circumference. (Have I mentioned that, although great with details at work, he's pretty oblivious to them at home?)

After finishing the neckband, all that remained were the button band and buttonhole band. I tried the sweater on after I finished knitting it, but before sewing on the buttons. Since I took the photo standing in front of a mirror, I could see the problems with the sleeve and the circumference. 
The lovely pewter buttons I bought for this sweater have not yet been sewn on. I intend to rip back to the start of the sleeves and re-knit it. I just haven't been able to face all that ripping.

The sweater was a surprisingly fast knit. I started it on 12 January and finished on 11 February. If I'd knit a sweater of the proper circumference, I'd have finished several days sooner.

The moral of this sad saga is to start with reliable measurements---measurements taken by someone who knows what they should be measuring---and check the fit as you go, even if doing so is tricky. And if something looks like it might not be right, stop and double check.

If not, you may end up with a sweater large enough for your brother-in-law, if only he'd wear that color.

The photographs were taken at various times of day and in different lighting. The third photo (the one of the neckband) shows the sweater's color accurately.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Na Craga Cardigan: Part II

Continuing the story of my Na Craga-inspired cardigan from the last post. Once I had knit the back from the saddles down to the bottom of the armholes, I put the stitches on a stitch holder (a piece of yarn), then picked up and knit the stitches along the front edge of the saddles and began knitting down. (As always, click on any photo to enlarge.) In this photo, the stitches picked up and knit from the front of the saddles are on the needle.

Knitting down the front was a little more involved than the back, due to the shaping required for the front neck. A stitch had to be picked up on each side every few rows, until the desired neck shaping was achieved, then the additional stitches required had to be cast (knit) on.

When the front panels were knit down to the bottom of the armholes, I put them on a stitch holder. The fit was still good at this point, but it was about to take a turn toward disastrous, due to inaccurate measurements.

Next, I picked up and knit stitches along the right side, from the base of the armhole in the back to the front. The FLAK pattern advised picking up three stitches in every four, so that's what I did. The FLAK pattern had moss stitch as the filler stitch; I had seed stitch. What I should have done (hindsight is 20/20) is look at the stitch and row gauge for my filler stitch and pick up stitches according to that ratio, which was 4 in 8. That being said, extra stitches on the sleeve is least terrible place to have them, since the extra stitches won't drastically effect the size of the sweater.

This flat section of the sleeve was supposed to be half the difference between the half-chest measurement (24 inches, including ease, on my sweater) and the cross-shoulder measurement (19 inches), or 2.5 inches. (Remember, the cross-shoulder measurement was one of the bad ones---two inches too large.) At the shoulder, this section of the sleeve covers the shoulder from the blade to the upper portion of the arm. Underneath, these flat sections are later picked up, along with the fronts and back, to become part of the body.

Once the flat section had reached the desired length, the sleeves were knit in the round down to the wrist. The number of stitches was decreased every few rows to shape the sleeve. I started off with more stitches in the sleeve than in Ms. Starmore's pattern, so for the first two pattern repetitions (38 rows), I decreased every other row. In hindsight, it was probably too rapid a decrease, or it continued for too long.

The sleeve was pretty boring to knit. Once the sleeve was nearing elbow length, I set it aside and picked up and knit the stitches for the left sleeve. Once the left sleeve was the same length as the right one, I put both sleeves on a long circular needle and knit them together (a la Magic Loop).

When the sleeves were long enough to reach about midway down my forearm, I realized that I had slightly fewer stitches than I'd expected to have when I reached the wrist. (My row gauge was tighter than in my swatch, probably due to cabling without a cable needle on the sleeves). The sleeve was going to be snug, but it fit. I ceased decreasing and knit the sleeves down to the cuff.

The next day I checked the sleeve fit. It was snug, but it fit. Because the back and fronts were still on holders, I only tried on one sleeve, which I had to put on a different needle than the other sleeve in order to try on. If only I'd realized it, I could have seen from the photo that there was a problem with the sweater size. The neck edge was against my turtleneck, despite the lack of a neckband. There was a wad of material between my shoulder (the flat section of the sleeve) and some gathering on the upper arm. I, however, was concentrating on the sleeve fit, and didn't notice the warning signs.

The color of the yarn varies in these photographs, due to variations in ambient lighting conditions. The color of the yarn in the fourth photo is the most accurate.

The next installment of this saga will appear in a week or so.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Na Craga Cardigan: Part I

This is the saga of a sweater that started off beautifully, but when finished was much too big. The sad part of the story is that the end result could easily have been prevented, with more accurate measurements and/or with more fittings as it was knit.

I hadn't planned to knit Na Craga this year; I intended to knit Ms. Starmore's Eriskay and Norfolk sweaters. But two of my Ravelry groups started Na Craga knit-alongs in January: one group knitting it bottom-up, as Ms. Starmore intended, the other knitting it top-down, using Janet Szabo's FLAK-style method. I chose to knit the sweater top-down for two reasons: 1) I've wanted to learn that method for a while, and 2) several people in the group were planning to knit cardigans, which was what I wanted to knit.

For any well-fitting garment, swatching is essential. While knitting my swatches---I ended up knitting four---I decided to modify some of patterns used in the sweater. Each time I did, I had to knit another swatch. The photo (above) shows my last two swatches. On the bottom, the four patterns on the right are the patterns Ms. Starmore used, while the two on the left are others I considered substituting. On the top half of the swatch are the patterns I ended up using, plus two others I considered but didn't use.

On the bottom, the pattern on the far right, the moss stitch and ladder combination, was Ms. Starmore's filler stitch; I used the seed stitch pattern on the far left instead. The second pattern from the right on the bottom was an eight-stitch braided cable with two purl stitches on either side; I used the eleven-stitch hoofprint pattern above it instead. I used the flying-geese pattern for the center panel of the sweater, just as Ms. Starmore intended. Instead of the honeycomb pattern (third from left on the bottom) I used a ten-stitch braided cable with two purl stitches on either side (third from left on top).

Another essential for a well-fitting garment is accurate measurements. This, I realized after the fact, was where my well-crafted plan began falling apart. My husband measured me. DLSH is a wonderful man, but not particularly obsessive about details. In this case, I discovered afterwards, his cross-shoulder measurement was two inches too big, and his neck opening measurement was one inch too big. But I didn't know that until the sweater was finished, so with the measurements he'd taken, I launched into knitting the saddles (shoulder section) of the sweater.

Once the saddles were knit, I picked up and knit the stitches along the back edge of one saddle, cast on stitches for the back neck edge, then picked up and knit the stitches along the back edge of the other saddle. Once I set up the pattern, I started knitting down the back, as shown below.

I tried the sweater on at this point. Although the neck opening seemed large, which, of course, it was without the neckband, the width of the saddles spanned my shoulders perfectly. Blissfully ignorant, I knit on.

The color of the yarn varies in these photographs, due to variations in ambient lighting conditions. The color of the yarn in the bottom photo is the most accurate.

The next installment of this saga will appear in a few days.


Monday, January 30, 2012

My New Motto

The photo says it all.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Another Shawl from 2011

The final shawl I knit in 2011---shawl #24, counting only those shawls started and finished in 2011---was the Flambe Shawl by Michelle Miller, a.k.a.  Fickle Knitter. This shawl is a fast, fun knit, and the result is gorgeous. (As always, click on any photo to enlarge.)

My Flambe Shawl was knit with one skein of Dream in Color Starry in the Honey- moon colorway. I love the added sparkle that Starry brings to this shawl, as shown in the photo at right. (I hope everyone's browser shows the shimmery aspect of this yarn.) I started the shawl on 11 December and finished on 18 December.

As with many of Ms. Miller's shawls, the body is knit first, then the edging is knit on. The resulting shawl, shown at right, is lovely.

I haven't worn my Flambe Shawl yet, but I'm looking forward to doing so.

I still have one shawl and one jacket from 2011 to block. Readers of this blog have no doubt guessed that the actual knitting appeals to me more than blocking or finishing. Partly the delay in blocking these two garments was due to the holidays, when I put away my blocking boards, my swift, and my ball winder. But partly it has been due to my interest in knitting new projects, particularly a modified cardigan version of Alice Starmore's Na Craga. More about that later.

Happy knitting!


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Too Good Not to Share

How much of your knitterly self do you see in this picture?
(As always, click on the photo to enlarge.)

It's cold and snowy in northeast Indiana. I hope you're staying warm and knitting a lot.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Knitting in 2011

I use to keep track of how much I knit on various garments. I usually don't update my projects there until I finish a skein of yarn (for multi-skein projects) or until I finish a garment (for single skein projects). On Saturday evening, Knitmeter informed me that in 2011 I had knit 24,788 yards. That's 14.1 miles! A pretty productive year, I'd say.

I'm making knitting plans for 2012. So far, I plan to knit 12 shawls (but only 12), at least one sweater, and several pairs of socks. The sweater will be mine. So will a pair or two of socks, and probably a few of the shawls. The rest will undoubtedly be Christmas and birthday presents.

What are your knitting plans for 2012?


Sunday, January 1, 2012

More Finished Objects: Sweater & Jacket

I finished a sweater for my oldest grand-nephew before Christmas. Last year, when I knit a sweater for his older cousin, he (at the ripe old age of 5!) asked me if I could knit him a sweater that had buttons in the front. (He doesn't like pullovers.) Green was the color he requested, and green was the color of the sweater he got.

The sweater was a modified version of Ann Norling's Basic Kids' Sweater and Vest pattern---the same pattern I used for his cousin's sweater. The cardigan was knit with 3.5 skeins of Plymouth Encore Worsted yarn in color 054. I was not there to see him open it, and my niece has not yet sent me a photo of him wearing the sweater, so this photo of the sweater blocking is the best I can do. (As always, click on any photo to enlarge.)

I knit the sweater in one piece to the armholes, then knit the back, then knit both front sections simultaneously. I used a three-needle bind-off for the shoulder seams, then I picked up and knit the sleeve stitches at the armhole and knit the sleeves down. This deviation from the pattern required minimal finishing and produced stronger seams, making it perfect for an active, six-year-old boy. I started the sweater on 11 November and finished on 17 December.

The next finished object was a jacket that had been lan- guishing on the needles for about 18 months until I started my "race to the finish" back in October. Long-time readers of this blog will recall that it was one of my entries in last year's Ravelympics---one that, regrettably, was barely touched during that time. The photo shows its state in February 2010.

I call it the Coat of Many Colors, for obvious reasons. The pattern is Elizabeth Zimmer- mann's Adult Surprise Jacket.

My jacket was knit with seven different colorways of Noro Silk Garden. I started this project on 28 December 2009, made good progress until late January, when only the placket remained to be knit, then ignored it for far too long. I had a difficult time with the shoulder seams: the fourth attempt did the trick, but I'm sure I gained some grey hairs in the process! I finished the jacket on 19 December 2011 and wore it for Christmas.

I chose not to extend the sleeves, making the jacket more kimono-like. That decision led me to rip out the placket and the buttonholes therein, and re-knit it without buttonholes. I finished the jacket with a border of single crochet. Since I never liked crocheting, that choice was a difficult one, but the crocheted edging gives the jacket a more finished look.

Since finishing this jacket, I have knit (start to finish) a shawl (currently on the blocking board), finished a shawl of my own design I started last year (waiting to be blocked), a pair of socks (blocking), and another jacket (waiting its turn to be blocked). The Coat of Many Colors and the latter three garments were the main focus of my "race to the finish"---my attempt to finish a number of garments that I hadn't touched for months, so I could start new projects in the new year.

I haven't decided whether to start 2012 knitting a sweater---I've narrowed it down to two patterns---or a shawl---choices narrowed down to three---or both. What are your knitting plans for 2012?


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