Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I'm Just a Knit Machine...

... and I won't knit for nobody but me.
You know, like the song... Love Machine... anyway..  that's me, lately, working for nobody but me.

I am finally making Georgia by Jane Richmond.  Aren't those little pleats the best?  This is the sort of detail I admire her work for.   I could just close my eyes and blindly point to anything on her pattern page and love it.  It's all the kind of thing I'd wear.  So far I've made the Jane hat and the Oatmeal Pullover twice (One is in a horrible color that I consider a "play" sweater for when I wouldn't want a "real" sweater to get messed up.)

Check out the Gynx faded denim sock yarn I'm using.  I love the subtle color variations.  I was concerned that the lack of shaping wouldn't be flattering on me, but I'm two thirds of the way down the body and tried it on to find a really comfortable fit.  The true test will be the armholes.  These massive biceps of mine need extra room to swing freely.  Actually, I just spaz out if I feel constricted in any way by my clothing.  

This had been good tv knitting.  My sister slips over, here and there, to watch Downton Abbey with me as I work on it.  Yeah, I know.  I can't help but watch it, even with Matthew's melodramatic walking out of his wheelchair scene and O'Brien's twisting of her mustache. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Finishing School

Finishing School, by Katie Canavan, was full of finishing techniques, yet, somehow, really fun.  And I  truly hate finishing.  Finishing causes migraines and mood swings.  But everything was just clicking along with this top.

The bind offs and whip stitches were fun when in a contrast color (Yes, I'm one of those people who respond better to pretty, shiny things.)  The front is knit, bound off, then stitches are picked up from the inside edge for the collar (it felt strange to do.) The collar is then bound off, whip stitched, then stitches are picked up from that for the back.  Sides are then seamed and the entire bottom is whip stitched.  It was really interesting construction and a total knitting pleasure.  How often does a project have no boring parts?  Even the side seam stitches lined up for me as if by magic.   This was really satisfying to watch as it took shape.

 (behold my contortionist photography skillz)

My only mistake, binding off the hem too tightly the first time, was easily corrected.

I went up one needle size when knitting the bottom hem contrasting color and made my bind offs very loose for all contrast color bind offs so that the whip stitch wouldn't cause it to curl up or under.  I also decided not to sew my side seams up as far as the last increases/ decreases for the underarm.  It looks fine and gives me a little extra room.

I worked with Knit Picks Stroll Sport in mink heather and baltic.  I don't think I've used Stroll before, so I was really pleased to see that I could wash and dry this if I want.  And I want.  When I laid this out to block, it grew in length and width at the bottom, but after a quick tumble on low, it snapped right back into it's post- wash shape.  This gives me the option of lengthening it if I want or leaving it at a length that just skims the top of my jeans.  I like options.

And for once, I got to knit on a larger needle, a whopping size five.   This would've been a fast knit too, if I'd not miscalculated my yarn requirements.   I think I love this collar.

Now, if only the pants I planned to wear these with weren't ruined in the wash...
More on my Ravelry and my Flickr.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Miles to Knit Before I Sleep...

... miles of stockinette, that is, to knit before I sleep.   The Roxborough Dolman, from Courtney Kelley, looks like a wardrobe staple.  It's easy, mindless, stockinette that gives you an excuse to have an Alias marathon in the evenings.  

But it did really get to my body.  I told my husband I can't play tennis until I'm finished with this thing because it's wreaking havoc on my wrists and arms. This is quite a statement since I don't really know how to play tennis anyway.   But, the running around and waving of equipment over my head will have to wait, too.

I had been working on this in between knitalong assignments for another project, leisurely knitting on it at night.  About halfway through, I checked my gauge and found I'd have to rip it back to the bottom ribbing and power through those microscopic stitches with a size 2 and knitter's death grip.  I have claws for hands now, but I also have a really cool dolman summer top.  And stripes!

There was only one more hitch: my bottom band was still not tight enough and, since I was using my smallest needle size, I would have to decrease stitches for the band.  I was not about to pick out 200+ tiny cast on stitches, one by one.  My only alternative was the unthinkable.  

I took scissors to it, and that was hard, but I've got a box of yarn waiting for fall, so I can be cavalier about these things.  I cut the bottom entirely off a couple of rows before the stockinette began.  It felt empowering to be the master of my knits.  I then ripped it back to the stockinette, inserting my needles into the first row of stockinette, which was certainly tedious enough, and began the knit 2, purl 2 rib.  I knew I needed to decrease my stitches by 12 to get a tighter fit, so I decreased 11 evenly over the first row of rib knitting.  (Since I was knitting down, away from the original cast on edge, I was automatically short one stitch.)  That was my only modification.   A little more nano-knitting and I was finished.

I used Knit Picks Comfy Fingering weight yarn in peapod and whisker, which are cotton acrylic blends.  They look really smooth as I knit, but I'm curious to see what a wash and block will do to the width of this top, particularly the ribbing.   I realize it's all wrinkled in these photos, but I didn't want to wait for blocking.

I'm glad I took the time to make this.  It was straightforward and looks like better than what I'd buy at Target.  I've worn it twice since I took these pictures, still un-blocked, and it's so easy to wear.   My only advice is to check your gauge constantly and try a tip Allyson of Holla Knits gave me: don't bother weaving in your trillion yarn ends when the garment has positive ease.  Just tie a few knots in them on the inside of the sweater and snip the ends to about 2 in.  Yes, it will look like weird 80's fringe on the inside, but it will only be cool 80's batwing on the outside.

(more on my Ravelry and Flickr)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My Holla Back Tank

I finished.  The Holla Back Tank is a design from Emma Welford that actually had me knitting lace.

I don't see myself as a lace sort of girl.  There are no shawls or lace socks on my projects page.  There is a horrible lace skirt (horrible because of my heavy yarn choice, not the pattern) but I still plan on frogging it.   So you can appreciate the wide appeal of this tank when I say I absolutely love it.

I used a little less than 3 skeins of Cascade 220 Fingering in olive to cast on for a size 31" tank but began to fear that it would be too small because the pieces kept curling up before seamed.  hoping it would be too big (as is often the case) so that I'd have a vintagey blouse effect.  I'm a 34" and didn't think it would have enough ease for me.  What I ended up with before blocking was form fitting.  After blocking, however, there is a little more blousey-ness and it is perfect!

My modifications:

I wanted to avoid a droopy neckline.  That's the kind of thing that drives me crazy  after working for weeks on something.  So I doubled the amount of garter stitch edging I knit around the neck (8 knit rows total, then a bind off row) and whip stitched the top edge to the inside of the pick up row.  It gave a slightly rounded neckline, but I'm pleased to say there is no droop and it looks like the regular armhole edging.

About the armholes- I could have done the same thing with the arm holes, but didn't think it would be necessary.  However, when all was done, I used two loose yarn ends at the bottom of the armhole to do a halfway, mini whip stitch.  I  ran my needle under a picked up stitch then under a purl bump a few rows above it, drawing them together a bit.  It was nothing too precise; I didn't go through every picked up stitch or pull them together too tightly.  I just reinforced the shape of the armhole edging to keep it from flopping forward.  It may have been totally fixable with blocking but I rig stuff up like that.

The shoulder tabs add a little edge to the vintage feel of this tank, in my opinion.  I decided to make mine taper to a point, which kind of echoes the chevron lace, after the buttonhole like this:

After picking up 18 stitches, knit 2 rows even
Next row- decrease with a Ssk, knit to end, K2tog
Knit 6 rows even
Next row- knit, binding off two stitches in center of tab for buttonhole.
Next row- knit, reverse cast on where you bound off 2 stitches.
From this point on- decrease 2 stitches (as before) every row until 4 stitches remain.
Bind off.

Bottom band:
I skipped every 4th stitch as I picked up stitches for the band.  This gave a nice blouse effect.  I also decided to pick up my stitches from the actual, very, bottom stitch row (see photo below.)  I usually move in one row to pick stitches up, but with this tank, and with the lace, this seemed the smoothest edge.

I also added 4 stitches to the bottom band for a total of 18 stitches in width.

I began the buttonholes after running out of picked up stitches to incorporate into the band.  I also tapered the end of the tab as with the shoulder tabs:

After creating the buttonholes, decrease 2 stitches every row as with shoulder tabs (Ssk, knit to 2 stitches from end, K2tog) until 4 stitches remain.
Bind off all stitches.

I didn't place the buttons directly under the buttonholes, but a little further in to help tighten up the band and add to the blouse effect.  I found that the band loosened up a little with washing.

I have an obscene amount of progress shots for this top due to it being part of the knitalong.  You can follow my links backward starting with my last post or get links from my Ravelry page, if that's how you get your jollies.