Thursday, April 30, 2015

New Girl

I finished New Girl by Allyson Dykhuizen and I love it.   Sadly, it's too warm here for a wool skirt, but I am seriously considering knitting another in a cotton blend that is sweat lodge- friendly.

It is a fast knit for sport weight.  So fast that I knit it in a week, found it was too big, then re-knit it in another week.  I am sliding it in just before the Holla Knits KAL 2015 ends tomorrow.  Whew.

 A few weeks ago, I realized I don't really have many skirts, and none appropriate for winter.  This one is warm to begin with, but paired with leggings or tights, it would be perfect on chilly days.

Having said that, I'm really liking the way it looks with just a tank and Keds.  I really do need a summer version, huh?

Details:  I used sizes 3 and 4 needles and Patons Classic sport yarn in grey and sea green heathers.

After much trial and error, I decided to cast on only 132 stitches and then followed the pattern from there.

I knit the entire waistband and on the last row, folded it over the elastic and knit it closed, as I posted before. I really don't like seaming, if you didn't know.

I did add an inch in length and got a bit more length after blocking.

So, part of the reason it knit quickly may be the Patons sport wool seems a whoooole lot like their worsted.  Though I knit a swatch, I found my first skirt just relaxed so much, when off the needles, that I needed to recalculate my cast on stitches.  I think my mods would totally work for a worsted version.

Several of the knitters who have made this, have reduced the increases so it would not be quite so full.  I like that look, but I wanted the full-on vintage feel of a true circle skirt, so I followed the pattern's lead.  Others eliminated the pockets, but I'm not that different from a little kid.  I like having  "pocketies" for rocks and shiny things I might find.

Now, if I knit a summer weight version, I will probably try adding fewer increases, just for the fun of it.  But, first, I need to get some things out of my queue.

If you're wanting summer inspiration, besides this skirt, Allyson just had a feature in KnitScene's Summer issue, with several great knits to choose from.  I really, really like the Lake Superior Cardigan.

But the next design I try from Allyson should probably be one I already have yarn for.  Yeah, I have the stuff for the Bristlecone Pullover (in the best colors), a second Fire Opal Tee that is halfway finished, and a Work + Shelter Lace Striped Sweater.

Where would my knitting be without Allyson?  She's produced such a huge volume of work, I think I have knit a bazillion of her patterns.  Okay, maybe it's just 8 or so, but I've knit another 25 from Holla Knits.  This may be a fangirl moment.  Just picture me pushing my glasses up my nose as I say, "I'm your biggeth fan, Allython." with a lisp.

So, I'm not the only one finishing their project under the wire.  Check out the other great knits in this group, including a few more New Girls that are fantastic.

other New Girl posts:  planninglazy waistband, and color change

(more on ravelry, kollabora, instagram, and flickr)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Thoughts on Little Red

You're looking at some of my swatches that I've been gathering for a swatch blanket inspired by Ysolda's crazy swatch jumble in the pages of Little Red in the City.

I'd read the beginning of Little Red in the City a couple of years ago when I first bought it.  But, my reading stalled out at the alteration math.  I hadn't modified my knits so much then, so I figured it was above my level and moved on to just look at the pretty pictures, I guess.

Reading it over the winter with the Canary Knits ravelry group's Knitting Read-a-Long, I realized I not only "get" it, I've done my own modifications that require at least as much junior high math.  So, I read through the entire book, then through the patterns and possible modifications.

Can I just say that Ysolda seems so approachable- her book, her sometimes silly pictures, her teaching style.  I can't get over her hand- drawn illustrations and text. It's like a friend sharing her Chem notes covered in doodles.

Only, this isn't really like Chemistry class.  The math is simple and supported by illustrations that  keep your brain focused so it doesn't all read like an adult speaking in a Charlie Brown cartoon.

Then there's the fact that both Ysolda and Amanda were a more realistic representation of how these sweaters would look on different bodies.  Before this book, I hadn't seen any publications include different sized models for the same designs.

A few tips stood out to me.  One was to make sure the fit through the shoulders was correct, then alter other elements around that.  I'd always gone by bust size, and it's mostly worked out for me, but I can see how this would provide a superior fit.  Though needing to add bust shaping has never been an issue for me, and I can't see that it ever will, I do appreciate understanding how to approach short row bust shaping.  Though it may not be a necessity, I may find that it compliments a design better than waist shaping.

It never occurred to me that it should be handled differently depending on whether you're knitting top-down or bottom-up.   There is no way I would've been able to guess that instinctively without trial and error.  She has saved us hours of needless ripping out.

There were two short row techniques I have yet to try, along with pointers on better hiding of turns.  Though I've done a one row buttonhole, I liked the illustrations here.  I will be using it as a quick reference next time I work those.

So, my overall impressions from reading this are that I could stand to take a little more time considering my upcoming sweater projects.  For instance, how is the fit in the shoulders?  Would bust shaping allow for more room in other areas, while getting the best fit in the shoulders?  How would shaping best be accomplished in the current stitch pattern?  Is there any other design element I might want to change?  I suppose it's about ownership.  It's my time, my project; I may as well own it.  I also realized how much I have grown as a knitter.  It all made sense this time.

Having actually read the book, I'm looking at the patterns differently.  There is much more to appreciate when you get a glimpse into the mind of the designer.  Ysolda does a good job of that by including possible modifications and a little write-up on each design's inspiration.

(Lauriel detail via Ravelry)

I hadn't seriously considered knitting Lauriel before because I didn't think it was my style; now, however, the gathered shaping looks really cute and like fun to work.  As with all of these patterns, it has a seriously feminine vibe.

The altered yoke sweater shape of Chickadee proves this by slimming down a classic sweater shape to better fit a woman's body.

(Chickadee image via Ravelry)

After having knit my own EZ percentage yoke sweater, I can attest to the troublesome, deep yoke and pouchy underarms of the typical yoke sweater.  I'd really like to try the partial raglan shaping used here and see how it compares in fit.

(Cria image via Ravelry)

I'd love a short-sleeved Cria because it incorporates two of my favorite things- garter stitch and picking up stitches for a seamless knit.  The inspiration on this top is really sweet, too.
Then there's Laika.

(Laika image via Ravelry)

It was the pattern I wanted most when I bought this book.  It's still my fave, with it's semi-raglan sleeves, faux seams, and double button placket, only now I get how innovative it is.

(my ravelry, kollabora, flickr, and instagram)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Color Change

Don't you love that point when a color changes?  It could be from winter brown to spring green,

from green to blooming,

or from the stem to the end of the bloom itself.

Today, for me, it's the color change at the border of my skirt.  It means I'm about to start the daisy stitch, which is new to me, and then I'll be done.  You knew this post was going to come back around to some kind of hand craft, right?

I played it safe, using colors similar to the pattern sample.  But it's one of my favorites.  I never get sick of any shade of green or blue.


 (more on instagram, flickr, ravelry, and kollabora)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Knitting a Skirt

This is a knitting first for me.  I've never knitted a skirt before, though I've wanted to make this since it first came out in the HK Fall/ Winter collection.  Back then,  I decided to do the shorts instead.  So now I'm back to the New Girl skirt and I'm surprised at how fast it's knitting up.

What you're seeing is just an afternoon's work on it, and that's after I did some figuring and reduced the cast on stitches because I cannot knit at a small enough gauge.  I am also using dk weight instead of sport.  It sounds crazy since I'd normally want to knit the second size, but I have tried it on and it does, indeed, fit.   Since then I've made it past the pocket separation.

You can see I'm not a fan of finishing, so I've just folded my waistband over the elastic and knit the top stitches together with the corresponding stitches on my needle.  I didn't knit the last few edge stitches with the ones on the needle to leave a little hole for adjusting the elastic before seaming it all up.  If my elastic ever gets stretched or just isn't working, I guess I can always undo those few seamed stitches and correct it.  

Now, if I splice my ends together as I work, I will havel almost no finishing to do.  Check out my constant companion on the couch:

This is going so fast, I feel certain I'll be able to finish before the end of the KAL.  I wish we'd have one more cool evening so I can wear it without being completely ridiculous, sweating in a wool skirt and tights.

Now, if I can finish Julep JacketDrift's Ridge, and Twenty Ten, all of my winter goals will have been completed.  Is it weird that I know that will free up mental space.  It will also help me clear out the overstuffed knitting basket.  The last two sweaters I mentioned are not far from completion at all, I just got a little side tracked by knitalongs.

I was pretty bummed about my gauge issues with Drift's Ridge and that re-knitting it meant I wouldn't get to wear it at all this winter, but just having it completed and perfect (hopefully) for next Fall will ease my disappointment.  Then I'll be free to follow the siren song of new linen and cotton collections.   Guys I have a growing list of summer knits I want to make.  Do you?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Rory Needs a Break Scarf

This modified Unicorn Stripes (by Antonia Shankland) scarf was a form of therapy.  Who cares that it's super long and repetitive?  It uses lots of stash yarns, some of which were Madelinetosh mini skeins.   The colors were beautiful to watch as they alternated and I found my stresses somewhat calmed by watching it grow.  

I'm wondering when the whole mini skein/ Unicorn Tail thing became a thing.  How smart to sell small quantities for someone to make a striped project without having to purchase a huge skein in each color.  I would never have been able to buy all of the skeins necessary to make this scarf.  As it is, I didn't even have to buy the Unicorn Tails.  I received all of them in gift bags with each class I attended at Veera and Joji Knit America.  I also won two skeins of Byzantine in Twist Light as a door prize.  "See!" I explained to my husband, "I had to take these classes to save us money."  Frugality first, I always say.

Details:  I used size 3 needles and an easy tension with fingering weight yarn.  My scarf looks more "airy" than the pattern sample but I wasn't worried about that.  It's a knitted tube and looks full when worn.  

I used a 15 color repeat, twice, then finished with a stripe in the first color.  Each of these stripes used about half a unicorn tail, except the first and last.  They had some additional garter stitch rows.  Since that color was used twice in the 15 colored order, then again at the end, I needed 3 mini skeins of it.  

Okay, so this is how I made the 15 or so tails I had stretch to knit this scarf designed for 30 different shades.  Basically, I reduced my cast on by a third, so it's not as wide as the original, and I reduced the number of rounds in each stripe by 2.  Nothing complicated.  Since I still didn't have enough of the precious madelinetosh in varying color ways, I supplemented other fingering weight leftovers from my stash.  

The pattern sample definitely follows a more rainbow hued pattern, but I think I got close enough by adding some green, brown and yellow and organizing my stripes so that, at any point, each stripe was surrounded by colors that worked with it.  Of course, I would have loved to make the true extra squishy scarf, with every color available but I  used what I had.

 I originally envisioned pretending to ride down a wooded road, with someone holding my scarf, flapping, behind me as though I were really booking, but we got rained out.  I also couldn't guilt trip anyone, besides my daughter, into helping me.   If they help me, I have to listen to their comments, anyway.  So if I turn to get a photo of the back of a knit, my son says I'm taking creepy mom booty photos.   Of course, after a few run-ins with stranglinscarfluvr on flickr, I'm inclined to agree with him.  Sigh.

You know this scarf could give the Memories Blanket trend some real competition.  It uses a mini skein per stripe (or half, if you reduce cast on like me) and you don't have to wait for four years to finally hold up a completed mini blanket, all covered in pet hair and dust and say, "Look, we finally have a blanket that will cover a portion of our legs!"

I say this, but I started my own Misty Colored Memories Blanket with leftovers from this scarf.  More on that over the next four years.

 So do you remember which Gilmore Girls episode this knit is inspired by?   It's the one where Rory and Paris decide to go to Florida for Spring Break and then only want to spend the whole time watching old VHS tapes in their room.  They just aren't partying types.  I think Paris and Emily are so awful that they're my favorite characters on the whole show.

I think this scarf definitely has the same vibe as Rory's.  However, it's just about Spring Break and warm here, so this scarf is doomed to be packed away until next fall.

The Gilmore Girls KAL is just about to wrap up.  There are so many beautiful finished knits.  Check them out.

Antonia Shankland has designed several great knits featuring madelinetosh yarn.  The Bubble Wrap Cowl is one of my favorites.

Completely irrelevant but just in case I wonder later, or you wonder ever, here's my striping order. Everything is Madelinetosh, except where noted:

Silver Fox, Pop Rocks, Dirty Panther, Tarte, Gloss Fingering in Hawk, Gynx Yarn in Goth Girl, Moonstone (I think), Ink (I think), Celadon (I think), Cousteau, Silver Fox, Shire, Cascade 220 Fingering in Olive, Cascade 220 Fingering in Yellow, Suri-Al Fibers Chiron in brown, then I repeated the whole list.  I ended with one last stripe of Silver Fox, so the ends of the scarf matched.
Now prepare for another creepy mom booty photo.

(more on ravelry, kollabora, instagram, and flickr)

Other posts on this knit:  It was fate and stashdiving for stripes.