Friday, March 30, 2012

Like an Old Friend

I loved the bright color of my first Beatnik, but this one is a more familiar color.  Like a sweater my husband used to have, the color of Fall leaves, or my tortoise shell cat.  It's like an old friend.  
This friend approves. 

 This time around,  I want to figure out how to create set in sleeves without seams.  Picking up stitches around the arm hole didn't work for me the first time around, so I'm following Stockinette's notes for minimal sewing.  Plus, I can always change my mind at the last minute, right?

 When I knit Caramel, I learned that Patons Classic wool grows wider when washed, so I knit it with a 30.5" bust instead of 34".  To do this I reduced the number of stitches I'd cast on by about 20.  After washing and blocking, it was a nice size 34.

For this cabled sweater, I decided to knit the xs size and use smaller needles to get a 31" or 32" bust measurement before washing, and a 34" - 36" after.  I bought size 2 needles so that I could knit in a more relaxed way.  All of that tight knitting on size 5s was hard on my shoulders and neck.  The only difference may be that all of the cables keep it from widening (or blooming) as much as anticipated.  If that happens, then I'll have a sweater the same size as my first one, and that's no big deal because I really like the fitted version too. 

Believe it or not there are even more ttv photos, knits, and cats on my Flickr.  I know your hand is hovering over the mouse in anticipation.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ready for Change

I've been walking alot on these windy, March days.  It feels as if God is blowing the stale, brooding  attitude of winter out of my life.  Negative thoughts swirling away in all of that pollen.  Sometimes I'm walking against it, leaning a little, hair flying; others I feel it in the center of my back, like a hand boosting me almost too fast.  My feet barely keep up.
Once in a while I just sit still on my patio and let it go nuts all around me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Once a Geek...

... always a geek.

This explains the amount of technical knitting posts lately.  When I'm into something, I can get waaaay into it.   Maybe you do too.

Do any of these statements describe you?

-You don't want to see the movie until you read the book, even if it means you may never see the movie.

-You read the translation but with just a little frustration that you can't read the original text.

-You have a Star Wars quote for every occasion. 

-You regularly google the hardest way to do something.

-You have graphic novels on your book shelf.  

-The word "study" evokes all sorts of good feelings in you.  

-You have a list of books to pack and save in case of a hurricane evacuation. 

-You get bored easily in normal conversations about stuff, and how much stuff she has, and stuff they want, and what stuff who's kid did.

-You like to probe.   You want a conversation that blows your mind.

-You end up laughing to yourself, a lot.

If you answered yes to four or more of these, you, my friend, may be geeky too.  It's okay, I don't mean cheeseball, hipster geek.  I mean the if- people- knew-that -I- rewrite - song- lyrics -to- fit- every- situation-and- sing- them- out- loud-they- would- be- uncomfortable- with -me kind of geek.  

It's nothing too extreme or obnoxious.  I'm not speaking in Klingon or observing Towel Day (though the latter sounds fun.)  But, when I found out how many Ken Burns documentaries Netflix had available instantly, I did bust a move.

I actually like being at home and watching them.  I don't feel lonely being one of the only people I know  interested in what I'm interested in.  And there's always my internet friends.  (Um, that last statement may have proved my point.)  

Plus, I've discovered the solution to oddball socialization.  You can always raise your own brood of geeks to quote C3p0, collect rocks, and carry a towel with.  

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pull Out the Bongos, Man

... because I finished my Beatnik sweater and it is pretty cool, though I wasn't at all the nonconformist the name suggests when knitting it.  Yep, I actually stuck with the pattern in every way except that I knit  the body in the round up to the arms.   Not that I didn't try to alter things.

After following Allyson at The Sweatshop of Love's example and knitting mine in the round to the armholes, I tried picking up stitches and using Wendy Bernard's "Afterthought Sleeves" instructions to knit seamless sleeves.  However, they started looking weird and bulbous, so I ripped them out.  It could be that I picked up too many stitches, or that I was using the wrong type of moss stitch on them.

But either way, I just didn't want to invest any more time on possible mistakes with this one, after knitting all of those cables.  And they are some busy cables!   By busy, I don't mean the way it looks when worn.  I mean that all those cables kept my mind whirring.  If I got too engrossed in anything else- like reruns, or the little people I call my children, or things like respiration- well there was wailing and gnashing of teeth.  I had to unknit many rows many times because I wasn't about to rip it back without the needles in and trust that I could figure out what stitch went what way as I reinserted them.

And that's good because it led me to a new little technique of fixing stitches further back in my knitting.  It also gave me a reason to appreciate the simplicity of all the twist rib and moss stitch I had to do afterward.

Which leads me to the one mistake I made with this one.  I didn't really think about whether the pattern was calling for American moss stitch or British moss stitch.  Maybe I thought Norah Gaughan was British, I don't know, but anyway, the moss stitch up the sides of the sweater is English and that of the arms is American (what the pattern intended.)

Skip the following paragraph if you're not fascinated by moss stitches:

When looking at the British version from the right side of the fabric, it is k1, p1 all the way across one row followed by the opposite for the next row.  This is repeated over and over.  When viewing The American version from the right side,  it is 2 rows of k1,p1 across followed by 2 rows of the opposite (p1,k1.)   It was so much more substantial and smoother in appearance, as in the image below.

My daughter says no one can tell the two mosses are different, but you know what I'm thinking...   Oh well, its an exercise in "letting go" because I was not about to reknit the body.

Since I was knitting the sleeves separately, I went ahead and knit two at once on the same straight needles, a technique I've never done before due to my fondness for seamless sleeves.   This made the end of the sweater more portable.  I could just take two sleeves with me in the car  instead of lugging the whole thing and turning the sweater a jillion times like I would if I were knitting them in the round, seamlessly.  And though I hate hate hated seaming them onto the body, I have to admit the seams look nice.

What I love about this, besides the obviously cool retro styling, is all the great texture going on here: complex cabling, moss stitch arms, twisted rib edging.  I also love how the boatneck collar stands up when folded under and whip stitched.   Not only that, but it was made with less expensive Lion Brand wool ease that was on sale.  We're talking $15 worth of yarn here.  I wouldn't normally have had the courage to try something this complex on wool/acrylic yarn, but the pattern actually called for just such a blend (Remix.)

It fits, as in fitted.  I knit the smallest size because my gauge was a bit loose.  My arms look puffy in the moss stitch to me, but it really does fit nicely even before blocking.  I did the old arm swing test and it passed.  Still, I think it is cuter on my daughter, even though it's a little baggy in the upper arm.  I think on my next one, I'll go for more positive ease.

Yes, you heard me.  I'm doing another one because I want one with full length sleeves and I found the perfect tweedy yarn at the hobby store at half price.   I know, what is up with me knitting second versions of things?  Knitting induced OCD or something.

 Kind of like the abundance of photos in this post.  I mean I want to show what it actually looks like when worn, but then I wanted to play with my 50mm on close ups of the details...

Not to mention someone kept sneaking up behind me and making faces when I'm already feeling goofy enough posing for a photo.  One day, to her dismay,  I'm going to collect all of her weirdo background face shots and post them.

more on my Ravelry and my Flickr

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Not Completely

I haven't completely disappeared from the face of the Earth.   Though I've let some things go for a time, like piano practice, this blog, taking photos, learning Spanish, etc I haven't been idle.   Along with the usual garden, knitting, homemaking stuff, I've been considering things.  I know, why consider when you can Google, but I needed to think about what I'm living for these days.     
So, after two years of photographing my day regularly, to not be setting up a tripod for a daily photo/post feels like a luxury.  I've been reveling in it.   I imagine it's the closest I could come to feeling like a celebrity that successfully dodged paparazzi.   Or like when you were a teenager and would stay in your pajamas all day in the summer, knowing that no one would knock on the door to catch you.  It's freeing. 

So this is just me getting back into the groove of putting my mundane thoughts down along with mundane household scenes.   I like the golden tone of light that shines in my living room just before I pick my children up from school.  It's just me and groggy animals at home to enjoy it and it's very quiet.  It's a good place to consider things.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Happy Sweater

I wanted a happy Beatnik.  So far, so good.  This is an acrylic/ wool blend that I wasn't sure about using but it was the only brightly colored yarn the hobby store had enough of, plus it will make this sweater cost about $16 when finished, so I went with it.   It is mustard.  But don't think of it as the mustard colored polyester pantsuits your parents wore in the seventies.  Think picnics, lunch boxes, the corner deli, and the extra big box of crayons with all of the cool colors; that kind of mustard.

I decided to work this in the round since it was already going to be enough of a challenge to knit and I didn't want to worry about seaming.  

It is slow going with these cables, but really satisfying to watch it grow.  My cat doesn't like the color.  She has attacked it several times, as if in fear; but I think it brightens the room and like it.

My only snags were a few times that I realized my cables looked wacky.  I had cabled to the back instead of the front.  It was very obvious and far down in the sweater.  (This is what happens when you watch Lost on Netflix while cabling.)  I usually just un- knit back to the place where I made the mistake, but I knew I could never unknit my way around this pattern without losing my mind.  Besides, there was really no need to.

I decided to unknit just the messed up section of stitches and leave the rest on my circulars.   
I isolated the group of stitches where I found the mistake and followed them all the way up to the working needles.  Then I took just those few stitches off of the needles.
I began undoing the stitches from the top working down row after row until I came to the row beneath the one where I made a mistake and placed them on a slightly smaller sized needle.
Using the smaller needles, I begin re-knitting the offending stitches following my cable pattern one row at a time until I was back to the top of my work.
I  slipped the stitches from the smaller needle back to my working needle and loosened the newly repaired stitches a little (since they were worked with a smaller needle and in a tight space.)
Good as new.  I didn't lose my mind or relegate myself to wearing a wacky looking sweater,  unless you consider mustard wacky.
More about it on my Ravelry or Flickr.