Friday, September 27, 2013

Markham Loop

I have a habit of making things I won't get to wear very often.  Until I move northward, I'll let this make the opportunity to use these items even more special.

This is the case with the Markham Collar from Tara Lynn-Morrison's first Good Night, Day Knitting Booklet.  I've wanted to make this for about a year, but have had different projects come up and distract me.  Since I've recently finished quite a few things in fingering or sport weight yarn, I thought I deserved some bulky knitting as a treat.

These patterns are light on instruction, so playing with the cast on to get the right size is necessary.  I finally just cast on 49 stitches, using size 11s.  I did garter stitch for the first two rows to keep the collar from curling and made my loops a generous in size.    

I really like how it turned out.  Since these photos I've pulled the ribbon out to tack it onto one of my coats for this winter.  This is definitely a one movie knit.  It was just what I needed before moving on to Ravello and Sothern.

more on Ravelry, Kollabora, and Flickr

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Knickerbocker Tee

I did it! Three wearable sweaters for the Summer Sweater Knitalong!  Actually, I only did it because it looks like there's going to be an extension, but still... yay!

All of the cheering is appropriate because I'm wearing my Indian football tee.  Don't I look completely natural, here, as I cheer, silently, for myself with dog hair on my freshly blocked sweater?  Oh well, after re-knitting this to correct my mistakes, I feel like I made a winning touchdown.

I grew up in a football family in a Texas town where allegiance to the high school football team is akin to cult membership.  So, of course, I wasn't into football.  I only remember going to a couple of games in high school.  But now I live in a band geek kind of family and find myself wedged between screaming fans in the stands at every home game.   Of course I ask dumb questions and find I'm watching the band throw a rubber chicken around and the people fussing around me more than the game, but it's fun.

Since it looks like my son will be going the same marching band route, I thought it was time to have a football sweater.   When I saw Allyson Dykhuizen's Vintage Inspired Baseball Knits I knew the Knickerbocker Tee would be mine.

This sweater makes me think of my eighties school photos-  painter pants, Puma knock-offs, and a raglan shirt that says something like "You toucha da shirt, I breaka ya face" across it.  My mom was horrified by that class photo, but I think she'd approve of this sweater.

I love the raglan t-shirt look and short row hem.  It appeals to my tomboy sensibilities.

I've mentioned that I botched this once already by having a sloppy gauge.  It was finished- I mean totally done- and I washed it just to find it was ginormous.  It's a real tale of misery so I won't rehash.

This time around I think I did it right:

I knit a size 32" knowing my gauge was off and that it would grow with washing,
I moved down to size 0 needles to actually, really and truly, be off by half a stitch every inch,
I stopped every few rows and checked my gauge like a freak,
I was careful not to knit too tightly on the hem row where the folded edge is knitted together with the next row so it wouldn't pucker,
I used a different type of increase: k1, m1l, knit to 2 sts from the end, m1r, k1,
I followed the short row wrap directions exactly rather than just fudging it so it looked nice and neat,
I worked jogless stripes on the arm,
I added an extra inch and a half to the length of the body because Stroll Sport seems to be springy and I didn't plan to block for length at all,
and I did not, in any way, stretch this thing as I washed and blocked it.

It did grow a bit, but by knitting an extra small size that barely fit me, I ended up with more of a small/ medium.  I considered using duplicate stitch to add school initials, but opted to quit while I was ahead.  I can always add them later.

My feelings about the Stroll Sport yarn are complicated.  When it works, it works really well and I can wash and dry this sucker.  But when I don't anticipate a little growth, it flops hard.  If any of you know the secret to easy knitting with this superwash yarn, please give me a clue because I'm about to use another sweater's worth of Stroll Tweed for Ravello.

I will be indulging my inner 7 yr old tomboy (as usual) and wearing my football tee with purple and white Pumas if we can just get some cold weather...

More on this knit here: casting on, almost finished the first time, and my mishap.
Also on Kollabora, Ravelry, and Flickr

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Hermione's Everyday Socks

My first thought about doing socks is, "Ugh... they take foreeeeever..."  And it feels like forever as I work away on size ones, two at time.  But, honestly, this pair only took a few days from start to finish.
Granted, it was a few days of being sick on the couch and thinking why not work for hours on size 1 needles, it can't get any worse.  But, still, just a few days of this.  They're Hermione's Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder and, for all of my whining, I really love how they turned out.

I haven't knit many socks.  I don't have a personal sock recipe.  The second I finished using Judy's Magic Cast-on for toe up socks, I instantly forgot what I had just done.  So when I saw that Sarah of KnitYorkCity was doing the Jill Draper Makes Stuff Sockalong hosted by Kollabora, I thought maybe it was time to use some stash and try another pair.

So I did.  Then I did, again.  It was worth the re-knit.  I mean, this is a cool weather knit that I can wear right now since my feet are perpetually cold.  I also got to experiment with contrasting heels and toes like so many projects I've seen.

My mods won't really be useful to you unless you want to make your socks smaller or want to change the heel and toe color.  Mainly, I'm writing this out for my personal use because a blog post beats a crumpled napkin note any day.

Here's how I did it:

With a long size 1 circular, I cast on 52 sts and positioned them onto a long circular for magic loop. Then I cast on another 52 sts on a different needle and transferred them to my first needle, distributing them evenly next to the first cast on stitches for two at a time.  I'm sure there's a fast way to do this but I didn't google it.  I was way too busy fumbling around with this.

I worked in pattern to the heel.
At the heel flap, I made sure I had 26 stitches of each sock on each needle.  With WS facing me, I joined a contrast color.

I joined my contrasting color yarn and worked one heel flap at a time (It would be easier to just do both at once but I didn't feel like dividing the little ball of yarn for this.)
I worked 8 heel flap pattern repeats but probably should have only done 7 since my stitch and row gauge was off.

To turn the heel with fewer stitches than in the pattern I did this: Sl 1, p12, p2 tog, p1, turn.  Then sl 1, k3, ssk, k1, turn, and continue until all stitches have been worked, as the pattern directs.

I repositioned my socks as needed to have half of each sock on each needle.  With RS facing, I rejoined the main color yarn, worked across the heel flap, picked up 16 sts, plus one extra, along side of the flap for the gusset (17 total) and worked across instep to pick up the same amount on the other side.  If I work a shorter heel flap next time I'll only pick up a total of 15 sts along sides for gusset.

I did the two repeating gusset rows until I had 26 sts left for heel and gusset.  Then I worked on in pattern, keeping the sole stockinette.

For the toe I rejoined the contrast color and worked as directed through round 10.  Then I worked one more decrease round, leaving 10 sts on each needle.  Then I used Kitchener's as directed.

Since I decided to use a contrast color in these after I'd done the ribbing I wanted to add a little contrast to the top edge of the socks.  I used a small crochet hook and did a single crochet stitch into every stitch around the top.  I stretched the ribbing periodically as I worked so that the crochet wouldn't keep it from stretching around my foot later.  I like the little added touch of color.

Here's what I learned:  

-Next time I'll work them toe up and check the fit incessantly.
-I probably won't use a striping yarn like Magic Stripes and Stroll Tonal, on such a textured pattern because the coolness of the texture is lost in all the color.

-I may work fewer "knit all" rows in the toe and may even cast on 48 sts, or something.
-These socks are dog hair magnets, but so is everything.

-and taking photos of socks while you wear them is hard.

(more on Kollabora, Ravelry, and Flickr)

I can't quit looking at these.  That's why you get to see four million photos of them.  My husband even seems to be eyeing my warm feet with envy.  Could it be that I've found the perfect handmade Christmas present for a man that never wears substantial knits?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

From Hobby to Obsession and Back Again

You know how I've said before that this blog covers some of the tangible, creative side of my life?  Well, there's a reason I haven't posted for a while.  I have nothing tangible to show for all of my spare time creating.  No big deal, except that it sort of drives me crazy to spend all of my spare time each evening on something that gets ripped back to nothing.  I want to fix it immediately.  That's when my evening hobby becomes my evening obsession.

It all started when I tried on my Knickerbocker Sweater for the SSKAL and found that my actual knitting tension was much more relaxed than my swatch.  It was now sized perfectly for a woman blessed with more womanly curves than myself.

Solution 1: Okay, I thought, it will make an excellent "boyfriend"sweater.  Only, I hadn't knit it long enough to look right in that style.  Hmmm.

Solution 2: I decided to wash and blocked it to add length.  It did grow... in every way.

Solution 3: Maybe Lou Ferrigno needs a boyfriend sweater.

I threw it in the dryer where the Stroll Sport sprang right back into it's original shape, and ripped it back entirely.  I started again with size 0s (scream) and a ruler on my lap to constantly check my gauge like I have OCD.  I believe in this design.  It will be mine.

Through all of this, my one consolation was that my Kollabora Sockalong socks were knitting up very quickly.  Then I worked the gusset and had to face the ugly truth: maybe Lou Ferrigno needed some girly socks, too.

So here is my second attempt at Hermione's Everyday Socks.  With only 52 cast-on stitches and a slightly modified heel turn, I think they're going to work.  Since I wasn't finishing with the group anyway, I decided to make contrast heels and toes using some leftover Stroll Tonal.  I love the way this looks.  I may use that yarn to add a crochet stitch to the top edges when I'm done.

So here I am in the middle of knitting projects redux on size 0s.  I have been feeling sick for a couple of days and so have melded with the couch, knitting non-stop while my son is at school.  The good thing about being slightly obsessive is that you don't easily give up.  Also, you can knit and sleep at the same time.  Can you do that?  I can.  Look at my first Hermione heel below.

It seems I invented my own ugly heel stitch pattern halfway through season 1 of Longmire, while halfway asleep.  Compare it to the photo above.  I cannot see how I got that from the pattern instructions.

When working on The Knickerbocker I found I could do short rows in my sleep.  Lots and lots of little unnecessary short rows.  It seems that turning the knitting doesn't even wake me.  I was a little weirded out when I looked at my work the next day, but I decided to call it talent.

Or maybe it was just the sore throat/ cold thing I have coming over me and making me hyper-focused and groggy all at once, because today I feel like everything is back in the proper perspective.  I won't finish these things when I wanted to but they will get finished eventually and be greatly enjoyed.  I'm not mad a Stroll Sport yarn anymore and I haven't talked to my knitting in a whole day.  See, everything's cool- it's just a hobby.