Friday, September 26, 2014

Foreverweight .. I mean, Featherweight Cardigan

It took thousands of stitches in lace weight yarn, but it was worth it.  Listen to me, I'm being so dramatic.  A quick look at my Ravelry page shows me it only took about two months of working, off and on.   I'm spoiled to rapid tv knitting that gives me a sweater in two weeks.  Since this one took so long to make, you'll have to stomach many, many sweater photos.

So, Featherweight, by Hannah Fettig,  is my second sweater for the Summer Sweater Knitalong 2014 and my first entry for The Classic "Must Knit" Knitalong.  I'm a full fledged member of the Featherweight Club now.  6743 of these have been made and logged into Ravelry.  No telling how many more are floating around out there.  It is easily one of the most knitted patterns I've ever queued up.   But I've always hesitated to knit it because I wanted to lengthen the body and sleeves and knew that would take some time to work up.

I've already posted about my color inspiration, a painting inspired by the colors on the side of VHS tapes of the 80's and 90s.  I had such a big stack of those - collections of random 120 Minutes and Comic Strip episodes, along with every episode of China Beach.  Ah, nostalgia.

So I found just the colors I needed in Jaggerspun Zephyr (curry and jade) and Madtosh Lace (shire).   I balled each skein up, making my arm muscles totally ripped, and toted around 3000 yards of lace weight yarn for two months.

I used a size US 2.5 circular needle for a gauge of 6 sts/ 8 rows per inch, working the sleeves with magic loop.  I made the size 35.25" but expected it to block out to 36.5" or so.  I worked 20 rows per color until the bottom, where I worked 20 rows of the blue, then 20 more rows of blue ribbing on both body and sleeves.

(Like my necklace?  It's from Stephanie of Native Clutter.)

I did the recommended sleeve decreases, then worked the sleeves straight to be full length.  I had originally added more decreases but didn't like the look of them and reknit them.  They appear more fitted in the upper arm than they actually are.  The lace yarn has a clingy look but feels wonderfully stretchy and comfortable.  I love the length on these sleeves, too.  I blocked my sleeves and body out for width, not length, so I intentionally knit these longer than wrist length.

Oh, man!  I cannot tell you how good it felt to stick this in the tub and then block it.  It was a major sense of accomplishment.  Plus, I can go back to worsted weight stuff, which is the new bulky for me.

(on my instagram)

My only mods were to do stripes and lengthen the cardigan.  The pattern is pretty much perfect.  I know I moaned quite a bit about lace weight sleeves on magic loop, but I'm so glad I did.  Had this been knit in fingering weight, it would have gone faster, not only because the yarn is thicker, but also because it's easier to knit and read with heavier yarn.  Even so, I did get to a point where I could read The Well of Ascension and watch The Returned while working on this.

Okay, so I've made two Hannah Fettig designs.  I'm a real knitter now!!  I think she's undeniably the master of loose and flowy cardigans.  But there are other designs I love just as well, like Aproned TankFlugel, Bayside, Willard Fair Isle Pullover, and Lightweight Pullover.  So much goodness.

(more on my ravelry, kollabora, flickr, and instagram)

So, yeah, I love it.  The lace is lightweight and stretchy like the perfect leggings.  The length will work great with any skinny legged thing I put on, and the colors are so, so great.  I only pray I don't immediately snag it on a drawer pull or a cat or something.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Procrastinator's Greatest Hits

Remember Theo Huxtable's sleeve?  The long one on the shirt Denise sewed for him that didn't in any way match the other sleeve?  Well, my Featherweight has Theo sleeves.  They just seem to go on and on and on.

(more on ravelry, kollabora, and flickr)

I've actually finished them and even though the gauge is consistent with what works perfectly for the top of the sweater, these sleeves seem to shrivel up and cling to themselves.  I blocked one sleeve out to a nice normal gauge that matches the body, then I slid my arms into it and it grabbed me like a vice, stretching out in a static cling implosion.

I continue on with the 3.5" inches of stockinette for the collar/ front bands.  I'm trying not to think about how I know I'll have to undo each sleeve halfway and eliminate the extra decreases I added because I was extending them to full length.  I try to focus and finish, but I find my mind wandering.  Want to wander to nowhere meaningful with me?

So many fascinating things have happened while these sleeves continue to grow (not really).  I can at least read while knitting this, so I finished reading Red Mars.  I wanted a break before the next book in the series, so I did something dumb. I bought a certain "sci-fi" book many knitters are raving about set in the  Highlands.  I hated it.  Really hated it.  I had never bought a trashy romance novel in my whole life.  Now my record is spoiled.  I kept waiting for whatever people were claiming was awesome to happen.  It never did.  Please don't be upset with me, fellow knitters, all of the color ways based on the book series are incredibly beautiful.  In fact, that's probably why I got it.

I did laugh out loud while reading it several times.  That's something that almost never happens, but it wasn't supposed to be funny.  I couldn't stop picturing Mick Hucknall as the lead, which completely negates the mood the author was trying for.  It was all the "fiery red hair" comments, I guess. Have you seen Mick Hucknall lately?

So I moved onto the Mistborn series.  The first book, The Final Empire, was pretty good.  I haven't read this type of book in a long time.  I can't tell if this is meant for young adults or regular adults or what.  It pretty much jumps right into action and there aren't long, dry descriptions of landscape or weighty monologues.  But, it's not childish, unless you call a book without mature content and a few characters that aren't twisted childish.  I don't, so maybe I've lost my modern, literary compass.  So what if it uses the word "chuckled" too much?  Am I so jaded by the Game of Thrones type story that I can no longer recognize a novel as good fantasy if it doesn't leave me feeling a little sick?

Anyway, I liked the world the story takes place in and the abilities of the main characters.  It felt like reading a real story about something.  Can you tell this project is dragging out?

There's also a new Doctor, right?  I've watched every episode with him while still knitting on this sweater.   I like Clara so much more than Amy.  Boy, I sound catty with this post.  It must be that I'm grouchy over my never-ending cardigan.  I started The Returned on Netflix, too.  Honestly, it's a downer and it's only a few episodes long, so I'm sure I'll finish it before finishing the sweater.

Hmmmm, what else can I escape into every two or three rows, besides Pinterest and camper renovation websites?  There's all of the youtube videos my kids and I send to each other.  I find myself clicking on them here and there, as sort of a time waster's greatest hits: old man barking, not to be racist or anything, people falling at Disney, I like Turtles, and scarecrow dougie, to name a few.  (My daughter sent me that last one when I happened to be at the hospital, listening to someone tell me some very serious information about her husband.  As soon as she walked away, I looked down and saw this on my phone and could not stop laughing.  People around me thought I was a horrible person.  To be fair, I was there for my own relative and was under great stress, but still.)

Okay, I've gotta get back to that collar.

(via Pinterest)

Friday, September 5, 2014


I've been avoiding things again, things like posting here.  It's not because I've grown tired of it.  I'm just not getting a lot of crafting time lately, so I'm using all my spare time to finish up my works in progress.  These are for both the Summer Sweater KAL and Classic Must Knits KAL because it doesn't get any more sweater-y or classic than Hannah Fettig's Featherweight and Cirilia Rose's Aidez.

So here's a quick instagram update of my Featherweight Cardigan knit in Tosh lace and JaggerSpun Zephyr.

I'm thinking I'll do one more green and yellow repeat then finish off the bottom with an extra amount of blue.  I'll do the same with the sleeves.  Then the band will be knit in the same blue.

Honestly, I'm dreading the sleeves.  But, I have gotten to a point where I can read while knitting this, carefully and in English style, by feel alone.  So, it doesn't seem as time consuming.  Of course, with all long stockinette projects comes the promise of a good read or netflix marathon.  This time it was seeing Amy and Rory off of Dr. Who.  (Am I the only person who was tired of Amy?) and catching up on Clara episodes before the debut of the new doctor.  More importantly I re-read Red Mars to get ready for starting Green Mars, finally.  Red Mars is one of those books I read as if it's a fact.  I just accept it like it happened.  I forget I'm reading fiction.  Anyway, all of those Martian landscape descriptions make me long for Utah.

My Aidez is taking much more concentration than Featherweight.  Thankfully, Allyson's chart from The Sweatshop of Love's Aidez KAL a couple of years ago is taking all of the thinking out of this for me.  That's a good thing right now.  I'm getting used to a new schedule with my son's high school activities and grandparent's routine.  My mental hard drive is totally full.

On a side note, this acrylic is not getting on my nerves at all.  I am a big bargain yarn kind of girl, but even so, I wondered if I'd enjoy it.  The answer is yes.

That doesn't look like much progress, huh?  But it is all knit at once to avoid seams.  I look at other Aidez projects in my two knitalongs and shudder at all of the curling, cabled shapes, laid out on the floor like puzzle pieces, awaiting the tapestry needle.  Right now, seamless and brainless is the way to go for me.

Friday, August 29, 2014


That is just so me, in dress, at least.  The little girl in me who hates itchy seams, lace, and having her hair curled on Sunday mornings loves this sweater.  It feels like an old, comfy sweatshirt, but it's so much nicer than that.  There's a reason this pattern, by Alicia Plummer, is so popular.

Ease is my first pattern by Alicia, whose Nested, Palmer, and Backshore are all in my Ravelry favorites.   For such a simple, comfortable design, there really were a lot of interesting details and shaping.  I'm glad I trusted the pattern because the shape turned out exactly as it should.  I don't know why anyone would modify this to be fitted.  It is the perfect comfy sweater.

Ease was also my intro into the world of continental knitting.  By the time I joined it in the round, at the neck, I was already confident in my continental knit stitch.  So doing that in the round was a snap.   It also allowed me to get a tighter gauge with larger needles, though they were bamboo needles (for a little grab on the wool).

Details:  I used size 5 bamboo circulars on the body, 3s on the collar, and size 1s on the ribbing.  This really is an improvement in needle sizes.  It gave me 16 stitches per 4".  I knit the 32-34 size, which allows for 3-4 inches of positive ease.

I loved the blue yarn used for the pattern sample, but I just don't have the yarn budget for a big sweater's worth of Rios.  I did see Cascade 220 Paints (in Emerald City) on sale for less than $6 a skein at Webs, so I scooped it up months ago, anticipating the next Summer Sweater KAL.  A lot of  the 220 Paints color ways are too variegated for me, but this one seemed subtle enough.

Either I'm getting very used to wool next to my skin or this yarn is incredible soft for 100% wool.  I think it's just soft.

My mods:  I did knit this about an inch longer than directed for my torso length and made sure my sleeves were long enough to cuff.

I also used Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off for the hem ribbing, but I'm not sure if it's tight enough.  I used Elizabeth Zimmerman's sewn bind off for the cuffs, and they're perfect.

In picking up stitches for the collar, I had to skip more stitches than directed to get a similar stitch count.  I picked up every back, shoulder, and low front stitch, but only picked up one of three on the angled front neckline.  I got 92 stitches total and went with it.

I decided to use a 3 stitch I-cord for the drawstring, but it was thicker than I wanted.  I tried blocking it out around the backs of our dining chairs, but it didn't thin it out as much as I'd like.  I can always knit a 2 stitch I-cord to replace it.

As far as inserting the drawstring goes, I just whipstitched my collar fold around the drawstring, no special needles for me.  I also ran a cord stopper up the drawstring to try it out.  Not sure if I'll keep it.

So, my first sweater for the Summer Sweater KAL of 2014 is finished!  The rest is gravy.  However, the gravy is almost there.  I'm past the armholes on Featherweight, but not far at all on Aidez.  I also got out of my backyard for these photos and bribed my son to take them.  It was either help get groceries or this.  Amazingly, he chose photography.  He also cut my head out of most of them.

  (more on my ravelry, kollabora, flickr, and instagram)

Other posts on Ease: prepping, all in continental, two sleeves at once, and the collar.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Everything is Growing

Everything is growing.  I get kind of sad about it when each school year begins.  I miss the intensity of mothering my children when they were small.  Nothing highlights the changes in them like the school year starting.  With one going back to college for a second year and the other entering high school, I feel a little out of sorts.

Then my husband texts me these old photos off of his work computer that made me even more sad.  They used to be this little.

Now they just aren't.

From this...

To this...

So, what can I do with all the wistful nostalgia I'm feeling about not being able to carry them on my hip anymore (at least not without attracting a lot of weird looks)?  That's right, I can bury myself in projects.

Below is my Featherweight Cardigan at the same pep rally pictured above.  I'm making it for both the Summer Sweater KAL and the Classic Must Knits KAL.  There's always a lot of insecurity before  separating the sleeve stitches and trying a sweater top on.  It never looks like it's going to fit, but it always does.

I got a couple of rows in before the first pep rally of the year began.  I never went to one of those "Fired Up" pep rallys until I had children.  My children are much less jaded about these things.

Watch the boy reluctantly play Cherokee on film.  He's second in the first column of trombones.  Notice the ancient spirit of a Native American dancing about, in approval, at the top of the screen.  Great pains have been taken to make this as historically accurate as possible.


And this is after I separated for sleeves.  I did one extra raglan increase, just in case.  Tight underarms make me want to do a Hulk move and angrily rip whatever is binding me.  That wouldn't be a good thing after knitting a million little lace stitches as fine as a cobweb.

Next up is my very finished Ease.  I don't know when I'll get around to taking FO photos.  Guys I'm sick of wearing sweaters in 90 degree heat in my backyard in front of the neighbors.  Maybe I'll wait 'til it's almost dark and go somewhere else.

 Since I'm knitting away my back-to-school melancholy,  I seem to need two things going on the needles at all times.  The Featherweight is all stockinette from here on out, so I thought I'd let Aidez be my complicated knit.  It qualifies as a summer sweater (obviously) for the SSKAL and a Classic Must Knit, since it has a bazillion projects on Ravelry.

I didn't relish the idea of knitting a sweater in pieces, but I also didn't have the focus to re-chart the pattern.  Thankfully, I noticed Tien's (autumngeisha) Aidez was knit in one piece following The Sweatshop Of Love's KAL instructions.  Thank you Tien!  I pulled out the ribbing I'd already started and cast on a body's worth (see, below).  I expect this bulky yarn will grow quickly too.

I'd just settled down for a long mopey knit on this when I got a call from my daughter.  She was feeling sick and wanted to come home to recuperate, which means put a heating pad on her tummy, get some soup, and sleep while hogging the couch.  I hate to say it almost made me happy.  They're not growing too fast.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I Want to Dedicate This Sweater to My Dog

I want to dedicate this sweater to my dog, Spotacus, for his constant companionship as I knit and his constant contribution to the amount of animal fiber included in this sweater.  Can you see it?  Sheesh, it looks like I tried it on and slid across the floor on my belly.  Human swiffer, people.

Maybe knitting two sleeves at once, while learning a new knitting style, wasn't the best idea.  The awkwardness may have affected my gauge on the upper arms and it's draaaaagging on.  But I console myself with the fact that when I'm done I won't have another elephantine sleeve to knit.  No, all strange and saggy sleeves will be complete.

They don't look weird in this photo, so I'm hopeful.  The whole sweater is going to have a lot of positive ease and be a little longer than the pattern directed.  It doesn't look all that loose or long in this photo, but it's bunchy, unblocked, and still on the needles.  My main concern so far has been wether my ribbing will be too loose, 'cause let me tell ya, I'm not re-knitting 1x1 rib again!

You can follow everyone else's progress in the SSKAL on ravelry or on instagram at #SSKAL14.

Friday, August 15, 2014

County Fair Scarf

I did it!  With minimal crochet skills a few days hiatus from sweater knitalongs, I completed my County Fair Scarf by Claire Denny.  Why did I put off making this for so long?

I guess it was breaking into the whole crochet thing.  The recent Holla Knits Special Collection Knit & Crochet Along gave me the nudge I needed.  I have to say that I love trying something new like this.  I have zero expectations of myself and don't mind a bit if my finishing is messy.  But it isn't really messy looking is it?  

I made this using hook size J and Comfy Worsted in planetarium, whisker, and rose hip.

I had to omit the first row of granny clusters in blue (color A) because I saw that I didn't have near enough yarn for that.  Even with this mod, I ran short of yarn and considered purchasing one ball of comfy worsted from Knit Picks.  Yeah right, you know I was going to feel obligated to buy a sweater's worth of something at the same time.  Then I remembered I'd knit with this same color in sport weight for Umbre Lovre.  So I dug around under my bed and found my extra ball, doubled it, and finished the scarf.

This is a perfect example of why we must keep our yarn leftovers in every available space.

I also made a few blunders that were easily fixed after looking at Elsha's scarf in progress on ravelry.

I loved this little escape from the sleeve and 1x1 rib wasteland I was in.  It's also fun to finally use my clover amour hooks.  See them here, where I took a ridiculous amount of photos of crochet hooks.  But they're so pretty...

That's about it.  This was a quick project and so eye catching.  Of course I'm sweating like a pig for these photos but I toughed it out, even with a truck full of refinery workers, unloading to mow the vacant lots by my house, as an audience.

Other posts on this scarf: planning way-back-when and finally casting on .