Tuesday, February 28, 2012

More Cowl

I made a few Stripe Ed Cowls this month, trying different things with them.  I loved working with Louet Gems light- worsted wool on the one below.  It felt very rich to my fingers that are used to chain store sale yarn.  It was also not as hefty as the others.

 But by far, the last one I knit using Lopi in green that I have had since my first visit to a "real" yarn shop many years ago was my favorite.  It's just so comfy and huge.  

 Links to pattern- here and to Ravelry- here and to Flickr- here.

My First Pattern

It's two months into the new year and though I haven't changed my blog banner in forever and have yet to use the film scanner and Diana 35mm back, I have made progress on one resolution-  I wrote out a knitting pattern.  It's actually typed, not scribbled, and includes photos, not off topic doodles.

So, here it is: my Stripe Ed Cowl:

 (worn long or doubled)
 This cowl was inspired by an out of stock Madewell cowl that I saw on Pinterest some time ago and by my daughter and her friends, who are just learning to knit.  This is something a beginner can enjoy working while practicing new techniques in small, manageable amounts (like jogless stripes and provisional cast on- fun, fun!)   It also doesn't take a ton of yarn, so has helped me whittle down the stash.

(knit in the round)

Now, I realize it's super easy, and the internet is overloaded with cowls these days, but still, I wrote it out.  Let me have my moment.  And pattern writing for other people to read, even if for an easy project, is anything but easy.   My hieroglyphics just don't translate.

I also had to pose for all these pictures while southern gentlemen slowed their cars to squint and give me a look like, "Girl, you got a sock aroun' yo' neck."  On top of that, I learned how to make a nice looking document on Open Office... finally.  Open Office is the bane of my existence.  So, yeah, I'm feeling like I accomplished something today.

 (What a doofus.)

Here's a link to the free pattern and to my Ravelry.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Selbu Modern

This is my finished Selbu Modern.

This is a good colorwork project for a beginner who doesn't want to be overwhelmed by something larger.  I'm not really a beginner, but I haven't done a lot of fair isle, so this was a good way to get the feel of something a little more challenging, if you would call two balls of yarn hanging from five very sharp  doublepoint needles that stick out like a medievel instrument of war challenging.  I do.

Very nice, even if I do look just a little Mario Bros in it.
Some Details:

I followed the suggestion of Beate at Creekside Yarns and used a natural background (Knit Picks Bare) with Noro Silk Garden for the motif.  Noro is extravagant for my budget, so a project that highlights the beautiful color changes while only using half of a skein is perfect.

Traditional Selbu is a combo of only two yarns: black on white, but with the Silk Garden yarn I got the technique of two yarns with the surprising color changes of Noro.  I chose the colors I liked best from the skein so that I would get a repeat of blue at the top.  But, it works just as well to not cut the yarn and let whatever color appears figure into the pattern.  Surprises are nice, like the star pattern at the top.

My mods:

I could not get the gauge on tiny size 0 circulars so, out of necessity, I knit the ribbed band tightly on size 2 straight needles.  When I was ready to move to the body, I just substituted double points and, once finished, went back and grafted the two edges of the band together.  It was extra trouble, but it kept me from having to wait for a different set of needles in the mail, and I don't think it shows too much (see below.)

I love the inside of Fair Isle almost as much as the outside.  

More on my Ravelry or my Flickr.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Caramel, Part Deux

There was rejoicing in the morning Sunday, and not just because it was a day of worship.  I have to admit, some of the cause for the gigantic mental smile I wore was that my second Caramel Sweater was dry and when I slipped it on... the fit was perfect.  Proof below in these pictures where I seem to ponder life's great questions.

Questions like:  Is my face too oily in this photo?
Why couldn't my husband take one non blurry photo of me yesterday when it was a good hair day?
Can I cut my head out of this and it not look strange?
Is that sound I'm hearing my dog throwing up in the bedroom?
Re-knitting this sweater a second time was a big mental challenge for me.  Wonderful as the pattern is, I didn't really want to make two, but I gritted my teeth, stayed up late, stayed in front of the tv, and did it.
These are my modifications:

After washing my very large swatch, that would be my first Caramel sweater, I noted how much it grew, particularly in width.  So, I decided to make a xxs size like micheline did on Ravelry.  She wanted a smaller size, but my intention was to knit it way too small so that when submersed in water it would grow to a nice, normal size for me - like a Chia Pet or an Amazing Grow Capsule toy.  And it did!  I would post a picture of my tiny daughter wearing it pre-wash and it fitting her well, but then she would have to kill me and there would be no one to wear this sweater, so...

These were my numbers for the set up row (front band, one front, arms, back, the other front, front band):  5-40-8-43-8-40-5.
After increasing, my stitch count was 5-63-54-89-54-63-5. 

That fixed the trouble with the sweater widening.  I still knit it a bit longer than called for in pattern, but not as much as I would have if I was working with another yarn because Patons Classic Wool (affordable and wonderful though it is) grows, people! 
The sentence above is an example of why punctuation is important.  What a difference a comma makes.

I followed the pattern the rest of the way except at the armpits. 
I tried a sleeve/ underarm solution this time around to help with the uneven, elongated stitches I always seem to have in that area, no matter how careful I am when knitting it:

I picked up 2 stitches at the bottom, center of the sleeve hole (one on each side of where my round marker would go,) then I knit around to 1 stitch before the first stitch I picked up, ssk , placed marker, k2tog, and continued in pattern.

Basically I just created two new stitches in the first round and decreased them at the end of the same round.  I don't know why this helped so much but it seemed to "fill in" where there is often space under there.  Of course, once I was finished, I went back and checked to see that all of those stitches were even, tightening and loosening as needed. 
My one regret with this second time around was that I didn't weave the loose yarn ends from the striping into the front band.  I just didn't think I could handle weaving in all the loose ends a second time, so I ran the color I wasn't using up the inside edge of the front band.  It doesn't look horrible, but it isn't as neat and smooth as the other side (see above.)
My advice, based on other knitter's notes:  Break the yarn with each stripe and make the stripes an odd number of rows thick so they will begin and end on different sides, splitting the yarn ends that must be woven in between the two front bands.  Then weave in those ends, but only into the front bands, which are already a little thicker and will hide them better than the body of the sweater.
Things I really like about this sweater:
The option to either clasp it together or wear it loose and casual.
The k1, p1 ribbing looks really nice.
The way the stripes go just so far down the body and arms.
It is uncomplicated, in pattern and appearance.
The p1, k2, p1 "seam" running down the side and the length of the arms.  That's my favorite part, I think.
And that's my experience with Caramel.   It may be one of my most favorite sweaters ever.  It's also uncomplicated enough to be a good project for a beginner and it's free on Isabell Kraemer's blog.

Okay, so next up is Selbu Modern and my own version of a catalog - order cowl.
(more dorky photos of me and things I made on my Flickr and my Ravelry)

Friday, February 3, 2012


What is Selbu anyway?

I'm learning.  The first eight- leafed rose to be knit in Selbu style using very fine, un-dyed yarn from black sheep on a stark background of white was made by a young girl named Marit in 1857.   Apparently this motif on her mittens caused such a stir one Sunday at church that several women asked later if she would teach them her technique.  The design caught on in the community, as they were all capable knitters, and has come to symbolize the city of Selbu and all of Norway.   It is one of the most popular motifs of Norway.
A few rows into the motif of the Selbu Modern hat I understood the popularity of the style.  The yarn changes keep it interesting, and the pops of color on white are really satisfying to look at.  I really like that the contrasting color for mine is a skein of Noro Silk Garden sock yarn and gradually changes in shade from bottom to top as my hat takes shape.   I'm not even doing the rose pattern here, hence the Modern in the pattern name.  But, it's giving me a taste for the more intricate selburose.
As I clicked through info on the selburose, I find that it's referred to as a rose, Norwegian snowflake, secret rose, cross for protection against evil, and even a moon goddess star used as a talisman.   Though there may be disagreement on the origin of the petal-like symbol in the human psyche, there's no doubt about the origin of the black and white knitting style.  I like that something so standard today can be traced back to one little girl knitting up mittens over a century ago.
More traditional Selbu patterns can be found in Selbuvotter by Terri Shea and her Ravelry group.