Thursday, June 28, 2012

Knitting Along

Forgive me, this will be a scattered, grocery list sort of post with too many links.  Oh, well.

 I can scratch another resolution off of the list- well, almost.  This summer, I've joined two knit alongs, my first ever.   There's the Ravelympics, now sadly renamed Ravellenic Games (sigh) in which I'm pretty sure I'll try magic loop socks.  Then there's the Summer Sweater Knit Along hosted by luvinthemommyhood.   

I probably would not have tried either and gone on knitting away in solitude, except that I made a resolution to try a knit along at some point this year and after reading about possible Ravelympic events, I found two really great skeins of hand painted sock yarn on vacation that would make the Sock Put a worthy challenge.   So, I joined.  Since then, the whole Ravelympics infringing on the Olympic trademark controversy  has sealed the deal- I'm doing it, though I may not watch the games much.    The commercial buildup of the Olympics has always been a turnoff for me and reading about the behind the scene excesses, pressures, and scandals never helped.  But, good grief, Ravelympics was the only reason I planned to tune into the games this year.  I was actually going to watch.  Why must people take everything too far?

Soapbox aside, I'm thinking of trying socks with the magic loop method, two at a time, and toe up.  No doping here.

(Umbre Lovre top will be finished today.  More on flickr and Ravelry)

That would have been enough to give me a taste of group knitting, but the thing is I've been seeing a couple of very active online knitting groups that make me want more togetherness.  Look, I can do quiet isolation, really, but it's nice to have options.  The only time I seem to be working on a common goal with other people these days is at church.  This is a worthy, huge goal, but along with the importance of the message, there is the good feeling of accomplishing something in the presence of friends.  So, when I saw that one of luvinthemommyhood's suggested sweaters for the Summer Sweater Knit Along was the Campus Jacket that I had just queued and bought the yarn for, well, it sounded like fate to me.  

So today is Day One of the Summer Sweater Knit Along and I just signed up.  I have a half finished Holla Knits top on my lap and the yarn for two more burning a hole in my closet.  I have the thick and thin to try this one again and the yarn ready and waiting for my Knit Along jacket, only I know I'll have to interrupt that for the Sock Put event.   I won't even go into the other three projects I have waiting and ready.

I just need to finish up Vacation Bible School tonight and my mind will be free for all kinds of crafty  plans.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

There Was Doubt

There was doubt in my mind every time I walked past my table and saw this cardigan.  But blocking dispelled it and now I can get on with my summer projects and we can all eat at the table again.  It does, indeed, fit.

This is a contiguous sweater (contiguous is my new favorite knitting technique) from Isabell Kraemer whose patterns and finished objects I love, love, love.  Each one looks like a new favorite sweater.

I originally wanted this to look a little shrunken in fit, but after dealing with gauge problems and fearing it would be too big, I am happy that it fits like a normal cardigan on me.  Only it is sooo much nicer than something I'd buy at Target.

My Notes for the Paulie obsessed:

I must be the most laid back knitter in the world, because I can never get gauge.   So I knit size xs, figuring the loose gauge would be more of a small or medium.  It was.  My gauge, holding two strands of not-so-great sock yarn together, was: 5.5 sts/ 8.5 rows per inch rather than the 6.5/9.5 called for in the pattern.   I felt a need to hold two strands together because the Serenity sport weight (my main color) seemed unusually insubstantial for sport weight knit on size 1 needles.

Several knitters on Ravelry said the garter stitch yoke stretches some with wear and wished they'd knit it in a smaller needle.  Since I was on the smallest needle I could find, I just employed a little knitters death grip, hence the tired wrists.

I started the first 2 contrast color rows after three rows of stockinette.  From this point on it was 8 MC rows and 2 CC  repeated, carrying the color I wasn't using up the inside for less end weaving.

I also included one purl st "seam" on the sides and inner arm of the sweater after reading that some knitters feared all of the stockinette becoming a bit twisted and shapeless over time.  I don't know that anyone's did, but I liked the idea for extra structure, so I included it.

For the decreases at the side I knitted to 3 sts before the "seam," Ssk (inserting needle knitwise), k1, p1,k1,k2 tog.

When picking up under arm stitches, I picked up and knit 11sts, knit around the other 54 sts of the sleeve, then continued knitting 5 of the picked up sts, p1 right at bottom center, then knit to end.  I maintained the purl "seam" stitch on the inner arm all the way down the sleeve.

I also intended to have long-ish 3/4 sleeves stopping at 19.5 inches total, but when I saw that it was not very fitted in the chest, I feared a kimono look so I stretched the sleeves while blocking.  They weren't really 3/4 length anyway.  Whatever works.

 It's not all that difficult, it just seemed to take some real effort- from finding enough yarn locally, to finding the right needle size/gauge, to knitting it on tiny needles.

 It didn't help that I'd zone out as we drove north for vacation and forgot to carry my contrast color down the body or forgot to even switch colors when I should.  There is a fifth button somewhere between Texas and Tennessee.  I'm hiding it's absence in these photos.

 The end result was worth the effort, though.  I love this sweater!  The garter stitch yoke makes it special, along with the I cord bind off along the edge of the collar.  It's also a practical weight for winter in Texas.   However, it's not winter right now and as soon as these photos were shot, it was back to the wife beaters and soccer shorts for me.  Now, for some summer tops knit in front of a fan with an iced coffee.

More on my Ravelry and Flickr

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Big Needle Craving

I cannot be the only knitter to crave big needles and bulky yarn after so many finely knit sweaters.   They were the tools I learned on and any time I pick them up again I feel nostalgic and soothed.  So, after finishing and blocking the cardigan I'd been knitting on microscopic size 1 needles for the last month, my wrists and my mind needed a break.

Lucky for me I received the Good Night, Day booklet in the mail the next day.  This booklet is a collection of patterns from Tara-Lynn Morrison's collection that I've been eyeing for a while now.  I like that she published it herself and handknits these patterns and more for her business.  So, I broke my digital pattern commitment over it (I prefer pages anyway.)   I immediately set aside whatever I was working on to knit up the Pembroke Tank while my husband watched Tortilla Soup with me.   Chick flicks and bulky yarn... I'm telling you it's comfort food.

This is where I need to say that these patterns don't require that much yarn and really deserve a high quality wool, maybe with a unique dye process, and especially in thick and thin variations.  I can see getting just a couple of really great skeins on vacation and using them to work something like this tank.   So keep this in mind as you see my cheap yarn version and know that I really do "get it" but just haven't gotten the right yarn yet because that requires ordering and there goes the spontaneity.

I did pick up Lofty Wool at the craft store a few days ago, but it didn't take long for me to see that Lofty Wool is too lofty and stiff.  I felt like the Michelin Man on his monthly cycle and that's not my very best look, so I placed an order for  Araucania Liwen and pulled out some Thick and Quick from the garage stash just to play around with in the meantime.

It turned out pretty cute, considering this is mostly acrylic and very spring-y yarn. (I used it to make a hat for a friend years ago that would not stay put.  I swear it made a "Boing!" sound as it sprung off of the top of her head.)
This could seriously be knit in an hour unless it is modified, which mine was out of necessity.  

My Mods:
I used size 19 circulars for the stockinette instead of 35 because I don't have circular 35s and was reveling in knitting loosely.

I also had to make only one skein work, so I made the ribbing a contrast color to ensure I had enough of the main color for the rest of the tank.  I just used a small remnant of Bernat.

Even with the additional color, I was still running short so I tried for less yarn joins and ends to weave in.  After splitting the front and back to work separately, I made my decreases then put the left front stitches on a holder.  I bound off the stitches for the front neck, as directed, then began working the front, right strap.  I knit it twice as long as normal to go over the shoulder and form the back, right strap too.  When finished, I left those stitches live on a holder and moved on to work the back.  After binding off for the back neckline, I worked the strap (or straps) for the left shoulder, making it twice as long then bringing it over the shoulder to join with the live stitches from the front left with Kitchener stitch.  I then joined the right strap to the back of the body with Kitchener and that was it.  Six ends for me to deal with rather than 9 and I had just enough yarn.  Did that make any sense at all?  I usually prefer kitchener, especially since it is such a small area to be joined.

 (more of me and my frizzy hair on Flickr and  Ravelry)

As I said, I'm not crazy about Thick and Quick yarn, but I went ahead and took photos and added it to my projects page because everyone has at least one skein of this stuff and maybe a skein or two of really great, bulky yarn but no ideas of what to knit with it.  Knit this, people!

My daughter walked past me, did a double take, and said, "Can you make me one?"  But this is definitely something a beginner can do, so I'm going to convince her to do it herself.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Misc. Vacation Photos and the Terribly Deep Thoughts They Inspire

I have lots of vacation photos to sift through and edit but I'm pleased to say not nearly as many as in years past. I really did mean it when I said I want to shoot more selectively... even if these selective shots come from 5 different cameras :/  But until I do, I'm posting these easy cheesy phone/ ipad photos.

These are my Terra Plana breatho trail shoes and the best I have ever had.   We hiked 10+ very steep miles at a time for a few days, walked the strip in Gatlinburg, and wandered over every inch of Dollywood all day on Thursday. There was no discomfort- no breaking in period, they fit like a glove and had sufficient grip for coming down a slippery mountain trail. (I sometimes have issues with heights and coming down wet slopes can freak me out.) Minimal shoes, by nature, encourage you to step more thoughtfully, but even with all the careful attention, sharp rocks could hurt me, but didn't in these.  I have been running in them ever since.

They weren't too expensive when you consider the whole barefoot/minimal running shoe market.  Sure my daughter covered as much ground in her shredded converse all stars (seriously the sole was flapping by the time we were done) but she complained about her legs being tired the whole time.  No, I didn't want her to wear them but she insisted and packed nothing else but Tom's.   I didn't argue much because I was just glad it wasn't flip flops.

The road trip was a Paulie knitting marathon (I think I have a stress injury in my wrist) only broken by my husband's need for me to read aloud to keep us both awake, thus alive.   And that sweater is aaaaalmost done.  I went with 3/4 -ish sleeves and think I will have just enough green silky wool to do the edging.   Now that I've proven to myself that I will get back to blogging and posting photos, I think I will retreat into Sweaterland and knock that baby out.