Friday, April 24, 2015

Thoughts on Little Red

You're looking at some of my swatches that I've been gathering for a swatch blanket inspired by Ysolda's crazy swatch jumble in the pages of Little Red in the City.

I'd read the beginning of Little Red in the City a couple of years ago when I first bought it.  But, my reading stalled out at the alteration math.  I hadn't modified my knits so much then, so I figured it was above my level and moved on to just look at the pretty pictures, I guess.

Reading it over the winter with the Canary Knits ravelry group's Knitting Read-a-Long, I realized I not only "get" it, I've done my own modifications that require at least as much junior high math.  So, I read through the entire book, then through the patterns and possible modifications.

Can I just say that Ysolda seems so approachable- her book, her sometimes silly pictures, her teaching style.  I can't get over her hand- drawn illustrations and text. It's like a friend sharing her Chem notes covered in doodles.

Only, this isn't really like Chemistry class.  The math is simple and supported by illustrations that  keep your brain focused so it doesn't all read like an adult speaking in a Charlie Brown cartoon.

Then there's the fact that both Ysolda and Amanda were a more realistic representation of how these sweaters would look on different bodies.  Before this book, I hadn't seen any publications include different sized models for the same designs.

A few tips stood out to me.  One was to make sure the fit through the shoulders was correct, then alter other elements around that.  I'd always gone by bust size, and it's mostly worked out for me, but I can see how this would provide a superior fit.  Though needing to add bust shaping has never been an issue for me, and I can't see that it ever will, I do appreciate understanding how to approach short row bust shaping.  Though it may not be a necessity, I may find that it compliments a design better than waist shaping.

It never occurred to me that it should be handled differently depending on whether you're knitting top-down or bottom-up.   There is no way I would've been able to guess that instinctively without trial and error.  She has saved us hours of needless ripping out.

There were two short row techniques I have yet to try, along with pointers on better hiding of turns.  Though I've done a one row buttonhole, I liked the illustrations here.  I will be using it as a quick reference next time I work those.

So, my overall impressions from reading this are that I could stand to take a little more time considering my upcoming sweater projects.  For instance, how is the fit in the shoulders?  Would bust shaping allow for more room in other areas, while getting the best fit in the shoulders?  How would shaping best be accomplished in the current stitch pattern?  Is there any other design element I might want to change?  I suppose it's about ownership.  It's my time, my project; I may as well own it.  I also realized how much I have grown as a knitter.  It all made sense this time.

Having actually read the book, I'm looking at the patterns differently.  There is much more to appreciate when you get a glimpse into the mind of the designer.  Ysolda does a good job of that by including possible modifications and a little write-up on each design's inspiration.

(Lauriel detail via Ravelry)

I hadn't seriously considered knitting Lauriel before because I didn't think it was my style; now, however, the gathered shaping looks really cute and like fun to work.  As with all of these patterns, it has a seriously feminine vibe.

The altered yoke sweater shape of Chickadee proves this by slimming down a classic sweater shape to better fit a woman's body.

(Chickadee image via Ravelry)

After having knit my own EZ percentage yoke sweater, I can attest to the troublesome, deep yoke and pouchy underarms of the typical yoke sweater.  I'd really like to try the partial raglan shaping used here and see how it compares in fit.

(Cria image via Ravelry)

I'd love a short-sleeved Cria because it incorporates two of my favorite things- garter stitch and picking up stitches for a seamless knit.  The inspiration on this top is really sweet, too.
Then there's Laika.

(Laika image via Ravelry)

It was the pattern I wanted most when I bought this book.  It's still my fave, with it's semi-raglan sleeves, faux seams, and double button placket, only now I get how innovative it is.

(my ravelry, kollabora, flickr, and instagram)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Color Change

Don't you love that point when a color changes?  It could be from winter brown to spring green,

from green to blooming,

or from the stem to the end of the bloom itself.

Today, for me, it's the color change at the border of my skirt.  It means I'm about to start the daisy stitch, which is new to me, and then I'll be done.  You knew this post was going to come back around to some kind of hand craft, right?

I played it safe, using colors similar to the pattern sample.  But it's one of my favorites.  I never get sick of any shade of green or blue.


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

Friday, April 10, 2015

Knitting a Skirt

This is a knitting first for me.  I've never knitted a skirt before, though I've wanted to make this since it first came out in the HK Fall/ Winter collection.  Back then,  I decided to do the shorts instead.  So now I'm back to the New Girl skirt and I'm surprised at how fast it's knitting up.

What you're seeing is just an afternoon's work on it, and that's after I did some figuring and reduced the cast on stitches because I cannot knit at a small enough gauge.  I am also using dk weight instead of sport.  It sounds crazy since I'd normally want to knit the second size, but I have tried it on and it does, indeed, fit.   Since then I've made it past the pocket separation.

You can see I'm not a fan of finishing, so I've just folded my waistband over the elastic and knit the top stitches together with the corresponding stitches on my needle.  I didn't knit the last few edge stitches with the ones on the needle to leave a little hole for adjusting the elastic before seaming it all up.  If my elastic ever gets stretched or just isn't working, I guess I can always undo those few seamed stitches and correct it.  

Now, if I splice my ends together as I work, I will havel almost no finishing to do.  Check out my constant companion on the couch:

This is going so fast, I feel certain I'll be able to finish before the end of the KAL.  I wish we'd have one more cool evening so I can wear it without being completely ridiculous, sweating in a wool skirt and tights.

Now, if I can finish Julep JacketDrift's Ridge, and Twenty Ten, all of my winter goals will have been completed.  Is it weird that I know that will free up mental space.  It will also help me clear out the overstuffed knitting basket.  The last two sweaters I mentioned are not far from completion at all, I just got a little side tracked by knitalongs.

I was pretty bummed about my gauge issues with Drift's Ridge and that re-knitting it meant I wouldn't get to wear it at all this winter, but just having it completed and perfect (hopefully) for next Fall will ease my disappointment.  Then I'll be free to follow the siren song of new linen and cotton collections.   Guys I have a growing list of summer knits I want to make.  Do you?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Rory Needs a Break Scarf

This modified Unicorn Stripes (by Antonia Shankland) scarf was a form of therapy.  Who cares that it's super long and repetitive?  It uses lots of stash yarns, some of which were Madelinetosh mini skeins.   The colors were beautiful to watch as they alternated and I found my stresses somewhat calmed by watching it grow.  

I'm wondering when the whole mini skein/ Unicorn Tail thing became a thing.  How smart to sell small quantities for someone to make a striped project without having to purchase a huge skein in each color.  I would never have been able to buy all of the skeins necessary to make this scarf.  As it is, I didn't even have to buy the Unicorn Tails.  I received all of them in gift bags with each class I attended at Veera and Joji Knit America.  I also won two skeins of Byzantine in Twist Light as a door prize.  "See!" I explained to my husband, "I had to take these classes to save us money."  Frugality first, I always say.

Details:  I used size 3 needles and an easy tension with fingering weight yarn.  My scarf looks more "airy" than the pattern sample but I wasn't worried about that.  It's a knitted tube and looks full when worn.  

I used a 15 color repeat, twice, then finished with a stripe in the first color.  Each of these stripes used about half a unicorn tail, except the first and last.  They had some additional garter stitch rows.  Since that color was used twice in the 15 colored order, then again at the end, I needed 3 mini skeins of it.  

Okay, so this is how I made the 15 or so tails I had stretch to knit this scarf designed for 30 different shades.  Basically, I reduced my cast on by a third, so it's not as wide as the original, and I reduced the number of rounds in each stripe by 2.  Nothing complicated.  Since I still didn't have enough of the precious madelinetosh in varying color ways, I supplemented other fingering weight leftovers from my stash.  

The pattern sample definitely follows a more rainbow hued pattern, but I think I got close enough by adding some green, brown and yellow and organizing my stripes so that, at any point, each stripe was surrounded by colors that worked with it.  Of course, I would have loved to make the true extra squishy scarf, with every color available but I  used what I had.

 I originally envisioned pretending to ride down a wooded road, with someone holding my scarf, flapping, behind me as though I were really booking, but we got rained out.  I also couldn't guilt trip anyone, besides my daughter, into helping me.   If they help me, I have to listen to their comments, anyway.  So if I turn to get a photo of the back of a knit, my son says I'm taking creepy mom booty photos.   Of course, after a few run-ins with stranglinscarfluvr on flickr, I'm inclined to agree with him.  Sigh.

You know this scarf could give the Memories Blanket trend some real competition.  It uses a mini skein per stripe (or half, if you reduce cast on like me) and you don't have to wait for four years to finally hold up a completed mini blanket, all covered in pet hair and dust and say, "Look, we finally have a blanket that will cover a portion of our legs!"

I say this, but I started my own Misty Colored Memories Blanket with leftovers from this scarf.  More on that over the next four years.

 So do you remember which Gilmore Girls episode this knit is inspired by?   It's the one where Rory and Paris decide to go to Florida for Spring Break and then only want to spend the whole time watching old VHS tapes in their room.  They just aren't partying types.  I think Paris and Emily are so awful that they're my favorite characters on the whole show.

I think this scarf definitely has the same vibe as Rory's.  However, it's just about Spring Break and warm here, so this scarf is doomed to be packed away until next fall.

The Gilmore Girls KAL is just about to wrap up.  There are so many beautiful finished knits.  Check them out.

Antonia Shankland has designed several great knits featuring madelinetosh yarn.  The Bubble Wrap Cowl is one of my favorites.

Completely irrelevant but just in case I wonder later, or you wonder ever, here's my striping order. Everything is Madelinetosh, except where noted:

Silver Fox, Pop Rocks, Dirty Panther, Tarte, Gloss Fingering in Hawk, Gynx Yarn in Goth Girl, Moonstone (I think), Ink (I think), Celadon (I think), Cousteau, Silver Fox, Shire, Cascade 220 Fingering in Olive, Cascade 220 Fingering in Yellow, Suri-Al Fibers Chiron in brown, then I repeated the whole list.  I ended with one last stripe of Silver Fox, so the ends of the scarf matched.
Now prepare for another creepy mom booty photo.

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

Other posts on this knit:  It was fate and stashdiving for stripes.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Stashbusting Scarf

My instagram has been all about this scarf lately.  Though the pattern was written with Madelinetosh Unicorn Tails in mind, I found that I could use several of the tails I have in combination with leftovers in my stash from Laylow, Sothern, Holla Back TankCedar Glen Mitts, and a skein of alpaca I've never used.  It's not a true rainbow color combo, but I like that if I isolate any three colors together, anywhere in the scarf, they look good next to each other.

I kind of like the randomness of it.  Plus, I'm using my unicorn tails for something special.  Lets face it, I'm probably not going to be buying more madelinetosh for a while and not in the 20 colors I would need to follow the pattern exactly.

I finished the entire Gilmore Girls series too.  That's a lot of mindless knitting accompaniment.  Favorite moments include the episode "Friday Night is Alright for Fighting" when the Gilmore family spends an exhausting evening airing their grievances, laughing, drinking, and repeating the process over and over.  Then there was the fact that Sebastion Bach had a recurring role in the show as Gil, and the band's initial reaction to him as a rock n roll geezer cracked me up.  Don't forget Kirk's  artsy movie and modern dance performance.

But there were things I felt were missing by the series finale and I was a little disappointed it was wrapped up the way it was.  But I'm still upset about the last couple of seasons of all of my favorite shows, except the ones that were cancelled after one season, so it's not surprising.  What did take me off guard was my husband's reaction to the finale.  Like two nights later he said, "Something's bothering me. " and though I expected to hear about some real life drama, no it was the fact that he didn't like what the writers did with Rory in the finale.  That amused me.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Cedar Glen Mitts

I told you I wasn't finished with purple.  These are Cedar Glen Mitts, by Katie Canavan.  They are so lovely and spring-like that I thought I'd do some planting in them.  Not really, are you kidding?  I love these too much.  I couldn't find them when I was ready to take these photos and I tore up my house, looking.  Of course, they were right beside me in my knitting basket.  At least the upheaval gave me a reason to organize some of the clutter around here.

A super fun and quick knit,  I could easily have made two pairs from two coordinating skeins of Gloss Fingering.  I chose Hawk and Velveteen for these and I think they'd look good knit with the colors reversed in their placement.

The construction is interesting, too.  That made for a nice break between larger projects.  Seriously, they really do scream, "Spring!"  I need to take them for a walk through a field of wildflowers or on an evening bike ride.

This is my fourth pattern by Katie's to have knit.  I love the variety in the designs- shorts, a sailor top, a clutch, these mitts, and next up will be her Julep Jacket.  I could wear a whole outfit designed by Katie, an extremely mismatched outfit, but still...

The details:  I modified the pattern slightly because I couldn't get as fine a gauge as required for the pattern and I didn't want to knit moss stitch in continental.  I had really good notes about my mods written on the back of one of the yarn labels.  I know, smart.  Anyway, I think it got thrown away in the crazy purge as I searched for the mitts. 

The best I can remember is that I used size 2 needles, with my Gloss Fingering yarn, and knit two extra repeats of the lace portion.  This made it the right length.  But to get the right width on the seed stitch portion, I had to pick up 5 stitches less. 
I knit 10 less stitches than directed before making my wrap and turns, however, I think I did wrap and turn as many times as instructed.
Even though I had less stitches in width for the seed stitch part, I still have the correct amount of stitches between the thumb bind off and the hand-end of the mitts.  I realize this is strange, but they fit me perfectly.  

Thanks to the Holla Knits KAL 2015, I have two knits off of my queue and onto my body.  Next up I'm making the New Girl skirt and Katie's Julep Jacket.  There's a month left to this knit along.  It's not too late to join in, especially if you're wanting to make an accessory, like these mitts.

Though I'm not planting these at the moment, they are going in a planter in the house.  Due to well pump issues and our decision to remodel our kitchen, I guess I won't be planting a dye garden in the back yard this spring.  Maybe I'll get around to it later.  Instead, I'm focusing on my house plants.  These will look so good in our kitchen when it's finished.

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

My other post on these mitts is here.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Laylow! Emily and Richard are on the Warpath

Do you know how long I have waited to make Shannon Cook's Laylow shawl?  I think I ordered yarn for it before my pattern booklet came in.  Then I just took the yarn out every once in a while to look at it until the day I cast on.  

I'm sure you're like that too, if not about making things, then about something else.  We daydream about what we'll make, then before it's completed, we start daydreaming about the next thing we'll make, or room we'll re-model, or vacation we'll take, or game we'll level up on, or album we'll purchase...

This project name is in reference to Gilmore Girls, hence all of the Gilmore Girl linkage at the bottom of the post.  The pattern is from Seasonless by Shannon Cook and Jane Richmond.  The whole collection has a real relaxed, weekend feel to it.  It was released in a beautiful ebook, with photos taken by Jane's brother Nicholas Kupiak (who also photographed Island and Journey) and as a limited edition print booklet.   I believe Nicholas' work is what forced me to break my ebooks-only rule for knitting patterns.  I was attempting to cut down on the clutter in my home by stopping the influx of books.  But, how could I not get print copies of these lovely collections?  I figure my daughter will be moving out soon, so her room can be my library.

Back to the pattern.   You may remember that I'm fairly new to shawl knitting.  I live where it's warm, or hellish, and I only wore knits when it was really cold.  Because when it gets cold here, I'm really cold.  I was also focused on garment knitting.  Last summer, I knit Antipodes, though, and re-thought my stance on shawls.  They're basically light scarves or shrugs, which makes sense in a warmer winter.  The main plus is that they allow me to use really nice yarn without having to break the bank to buy enough.  A $20 skein for a versatile accessory is easier on the budget than 5 or 6 $20 skeins for a sweater!  Surprisingly, Laylow was the design I wanted to knit first from the collection.  It's very casual in style, but the knitting has an architectural look to it.  I love the juxtaposition of the two stitch textures when it's wrapped around your shoulders.

Anyway, the designer, Shannon was hosting a surprise Knitalong this Spring and I was waiting to cast on, hoping the theme would fit this shawl.  Since it turned out to be a Gilmore Girls KAL, I went ahead and cast on.  I can see Rory wearing these subtle colors, right?  Basically, GG covers just about any style of knit.

There's feminine- Lorelai with the necklines and flutter sleeves,
colorful- Lorelai, Sookie's kitchen uniform tops and Lane with the stripes and the hair,
vintage- Rory with the Chanel-esque DAR outfits and Lane with the quirky sweaters at the diner, classic knitwear- Rory and Paris with all of the argyle , tweed, and vests,
blankets- with homey afghans and quilts,
and backwards baseball cap- Luke.
See, all covered.

I have to confess that I made this twice.  The first one was waaay to big.  My Ravelry friends tried to encourage me that a nice, drapey shawl was great to have.  Thanks, guys.  That's the good thing about knitting in groups- lots of encouragement and feedback.  But unless I was going to rename the shawl "Saglow" I knew I would have to re-knit it.  Though I washed my swatch, I must've gotten into the knitting zombie zone and relaxed my tension.  This thing was so big that I eliminated one whole pattern repeat of the main body of the shawl and it was still so loose that, after blocking, the garter didn't look all that different from the wrapped and dropped stitches.  Did I say that I ruled in my last post?  Let me modify that to: I try hard to be sufficient.

So, I frogged it and started over.

 The details:   The second time around, I used size 2 needles with the same two skeins of Gynx yarn.  When choosing my yarn, I knew I wanted to use Gynx Yarns, but I wanted it right away in two colors that would coordinate.  That's always a little scary when ordering online.  I suppose if I were investing in a sweater's worth, I could email the dyer and ask their opinion before ordering.  But this was just two skeins for a shawl, so I went with the Single Merino, in Caramel and Berries, and Glitz Sock, in Goth Girl, for the border.  Even though they were two different bases and the Glitz has stellina, they so went together.

 I followed everything as directed, but I noticed my gauge was now tighter than the pattern, so I added one repeat in the body and one in the border.  I still used almost the same amount of yarn for it, with two extra repeats, as in my first shawl that had one less repeat than directed.  Crazy.  Obviously, I was determined to have a very defined garter and dropped stitch "stripes."  And I did.  Blocking didn't alter the shawl as much since the yarn had already been wet- blocked before.  I love, love, love it.  I think I'll blast my AC all summer so I can wear it around the house.

 P.S. :  Do you see the little gray hairs on my head?  I've been noticing them the last few projects I edited photos for.  It's very subtle now, but eventually it may be my excuse to full-on color my hair.  Or not.

P.S.S. :  Have you ever googled your favorite show's fan art.  It's very informative.  I found sketches of Lorelai , taken straight out of her cameo in Dune.  Scientific pie charts,  floor plans, memes aplenty, wishful thinking, and Luke's real daughter.  There's even a rendition of Lorelai's love that could have been and the most loyal or her many loves.

My other post on this shawl is here.