Thursday, March 31, 2016

His and Hers Slippers

I finally knit my husband a pair of socks. Sort of.  They're his and her matching Inniskór slippers from Chelsea Berkompas' book The Wool Project.

Now we're matchy matchy twins- every husband's dream.  Only, he wasn't around for photos, so I improvised.

I like the way the design is complimented by the Lopi.  It's all kinds of rustic and warm.
He really does like them.  Sadly, it's now flip flop weather, but our barely worn slippers will be waiting for us next winter.   That's one knit that is always welcome in a house on piers.

I've already mentioned how much I like working with Lopi.   It feels sheepy and "real," if you know what I mean.  I may have used an Icelandic wool once before for a newsboy-style cap I gave a relative.  It was in my earlier knitting days, pre-revelry, so I have no photo of it and am not sure.

For my Inniskór, I followed the pattern exactly.  Using size US 8 and 9 needles, I went through only  1 1/4 balls of Lopi.  That gave me the idea of making a cuff-less pair for my husband.  I didn't really think 1 ball would suffice, but I began anyway.  It really is a two day project, so the next day I ordered a third ball.

I love that magic moment when the sole starts to look like the sole.

The details: For both pairs of slippers,  I used US size 8 and 9 needles and Ístex Álafoss Lopi wool.

For my pair:  I only needed 1.5 balls of Lopi, at the most, for a size medium.  When it was time to seam up the sole, I used mattress stitch, joining the very edge of each side, as below.  I usually use the first horizontal bars, next to an edge to seam with.  But that left a little seam underfoot.  So, for this slipper, I ran my yarn through stitches on the very outside of the piece.  Maybe that's the correct way to use mattress stitch and I never realized it.  But I thought it was worth mentioning.

My toggles were made of horn and ordered via Amazon.  Of course, I forgot to use Prime, which was the whole point of ordering on Amazon, and so I have waited until now to finish mine.

For His pair:

My husband has yeti feet, so I fiddled with the pattern to approximate a men's US size 12/13.  So I cast on the recommended amount for all sizes.  I knit as directed until the end of the sole, where I added two rows in pattern.  So the first was a sl1, knit even and the second was an increase row.

After joining in the round, I knit one more even row than directed.

On the next round: I added 2 stitches to the first knit only portion for the largest size, then 1 stitch to the next portion.

Repeat decrease round 6 times total.

Continue following directions for largest size until toe shaping.  At toe shaping, continue those shaping rows until you have 2 more stitches than required by largest size in the pattern.

After last pattern row for ankle, knit 3 rounds even while maintaining the k,p, k, p pattern on top of the foot.

For bind off: CO 3 stitches and do an I-Cord bind off around ankle.  To close up an I-Cord BO I like to Kitchener my last 3 stitches with 3 stitches I pick up from the first ones I cast on for the bind off.  Does that make sense?  It always looks cleaner than when I do it any other way.

(more on ravelry, kollabora, instagram, flickr, and maybe ello?)

These were knit for The Wool Project KAL on instagram, with designer Chelsea Berkompas.  Check out the other beautiful projects, some hand dyed,  and all the different breeds used here.  

My other post on this knit is here.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Two at Once, Toe-up, Magic Loop Stripes

You've heard of the Love Dare?  Maybe the Respect Dare, too?  Well I've settled on doing the Sock Dare and I'm already seeing the difference in my relationship with sock knitting.

This is pair number 2 knit in Gynx Yarns' Strong Sock in the Gym Class colorway.  It was the perfect yarn to use for the StripeySocksKAL in The Pinfeathers and Purls Podcast group.  Not only is it very striped, but its from a dyer I often hear Candace talk about on her podcast.  In fact, I think I first learned of Candace through her use of Gynx Yarns on Instagram.  It will also double for an entry in the BoxoSoxsKAL.    

I used the Knit Picks pattern Two at Once, Toe-up Magic Loop Socks that Katie recommended when I started this year long sock business.  The cast on was a little different but seems easier when knitting two socks at once than Judy's Magic Cast On.  I'm sure there's a less fiddly way to do the latter, but I always just started each sock separately then loaded one onto the same needle as the other once they were both a few rows in.  So this made beginning a bit faster and knitting two at a time always helps with speed.  These were knit up in just a few days, but I waited a long time to block them.  It's not really woolly sock weather anymore, so I was in no rush.

I used sock blockers for the first time, too.  I'm really glad I got some.  These socks were knit so tightly that they looked too tight in the front ankle area and seemed misshapen.  After blocking, they spread out like magic and fit very well.

Details: I meant to use size US 0s on these, but couldn't find any in my needle stack.  There is nothing harder than finding a needle in a needle stack.  Ba Dum Bum Ch.  So, I knit with a bit more tension than normal, since it is a sport weight yarn.

I split my yarn in half and made sure I was beginning both toes with the beginning of a grey stripe.

After casting on half the toe stitches and picking up the other half through the purl bumps, I turned the work so that the side I thought looked neatest would be the outside of the toe and began working. I'm not sure if even did this as the pattern instructs, because I didn't end up with twisted stitches, but I did what looked easiest and best and the toes came out great.

This next part is for my own poor brain, in case I forget how I did this:  I increased to the top of my pinky toe, 24 sts each side, and worked 6.25" further in stockinette before starting my heel (7.25" total in length).  I also made sure this was at the beginning of a grey section to get a look of contrasting heels.  After finishing one grey portion, I made some cuts in my yarn to be OCD about a solid colored heel, and used another grey section to almost finish the heel.

When I moved to orange, I used one orange section and part of the sections I'd removed earlier to get the stripes at the top of the foot to be fairly even.  It was kind of a mess and probably a difficult way to accomplish a simple thing, but the whole point is for me to learn.

I made the leg of the socks extra long to show out of the top of my boots and finished with Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off to finish the cuff.  I like Knitty's visual instructions for knitting techniques best.  For some reason video tutorials make me impatient.  Knitters aren't usually bad about all of the "Um" and Let's see..." small talk that you have to sit through before the actual tutorial starts, but I still prefer images.  Have you ever sat through a Youtube tutorial where a kid walks you through some process on your computer?  It's full of "Um...uh"s.  It's also slightly humbling that I need a little kid with a stuffy nose to teach me how to use my everyday stuff.

(more on Ravelry, Kollabora, Instagram, and Flickr)

Anyway, my next pair will be very cabledy things, but I will be coming back to this pattern for simple, fast socks.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Book and Pattern Splurge

Guys, this may seem like a thrown together post, but I just wanted to get something up after a week of silence.  The silence was due to weird pulled muscles from lugging insanely heavy bags of garden dirt and from a 4 day migraine.  It was all kinds of loveliness around here.  I basically looked like a crazy woman from the hills with unkempt hair and a limp.  But, I'm back and ready to talk about something dear to heart of all American's: stuff.

I kind of stocked up, in recent weeks, on knitting patterns and books.  There's usually a 40% off sale on knitting books somewhere online, at all times.  Plus Wool and the Gang had a sale on patterns, so I finally indulged.  Aside from ordering Chelsea Berkhompas' The Wool Project, from which I'm finishing Lopi slippers, I've also been collecting some print books.

I received my Spring PomPom Quarterly mag and have fallen in love with all of the lighter weight, textured designs inside.  Delineate will have to happen one of these days.

(image via Pinterest)

I'd like to try some Quince and Co for it.   But Rhombille is my favorite.  It's everything a knitter wants to sink their teeth into.  I'm just wondering if it could be knit in a cotton or linen blend and still turn out so nice.

(image via Pinterest)

I was also excited to hear that Pom Pom press was releasing Joji Locatelli and Veera Valimäki's Interpretation ebooks in print.

This was something Iwould have loved to have on me when I saw them at Madtosh last year.  Getting a designer to sign their book for me is one way I geek out.  From the newest volume I'd love to knit Light Rain in Madelinetosh Modern Fair Isle.

(image via Pinterest)

But I already have enough Preciosa Fingering to do it if the other isn't viable.  The double breasted Tidalground  is so very me.  I'm not sure why I think that, but I just know it is.

(image via Pinterest)

And the Looking Ahead hat is something I know I have yarn for.

(image via Pinterest)

I finally got both volumes of Madder.  I think I'm the last knitter alive to get these and to not have knit from them.

I'm thinking I'll have to do one incarnation of Lila for the Summer Sweater KAL and I may have something I can use for the Lori shawl, too.

All the We are Knitters stuff I see online finally wore me down.  You can't be a knitter on Pinterest and not have at least a couple of their designs among your pins.  All of the visual bombardment, along with a 25% off code, gave me the nudge to buy the Hualpo Kimono kit.

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

This is the most sensible knit for my life.  I think it will be worn to Galveston Island many times this summer.

(image via Pinterest)

And last, but not least, there are those Wool and the Gang patterns I've seen so often but haven't actually tried.  I bought Teen Spirit,

(image via Pinterest)

the Primo Sweater,

(image via Pinterest)

the Magic Warmer,

(image via Pinterest)

and Shakti Shorts.

(image via Pinterest)

Don't ask me how I'm going to get around to knitting all of this.  Knitting is my one splurge in life.  There rest of my existence is a spartan, gluten-free one, both literally and metaphorically.  Knitting is my indulgence.  Can you relate?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Little More on my Kimono-style Cardigan.

As you can see, I've been slowly working away at all of my KAL sweaters the last two weeks.  The Thing to Wear Cardigan is for the Holla Knits KAL 2016, which has a few more weeks left to it.  So I should be good.  I do wish someone else was posting about knitting it too.  It's not that I am having trouble and could use a second opinion, it's just that it's nice to see other people's versions working up at the same time.

I picked up for my lower back and knit to the required length.  All of my measurements and gauge checks out, taking into account that my swatch grew a little with blocking.  But, wow, this seemed so small.  But that's always how it is with stockinette knits that curl under every which way.

You can see, below, that the construction is so different and it is scrunched up on the needles.  This is the right side before it was finished.  Now that it's on scrap yarn, waiting for the band, I can pull it out and try to unroll it for a better idea of fit.  It looks like it will be long enough.  Remember, it grew with blocking.  Also, the armhole was plenty big enough.  That's often an issue for me, so that one fact gave me confidence to start on the left side. Which is now finished.

Actually, even if the whole thing was more fitted (with the exception of the armhole) than the sample, it would still be really cute.  But I think adding sleeves and the band will pull things into place nicely.  I really look forward to this knit each evening!

So now....sleeves...sigh.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Cherry Pie Sweater

Somehow I finished my Cherry Pie cardigan by the end of the Great Northern Knit-along.  If you didn't know,  Great Northern Knits is a knitting book based on Twin Peaks.  This sweater, by Teresa Gregorio,  is one of two that have been released, before the book is published, for the KAL.

This makes me think of fitted, colorwork J Crew sweaters of the nineties.  Only better.  It also has a retro ski bunny look.  What a challenging, but rewarding knit.

This cardigan involved two things that made me nervous: lots of shaping and installing a zipper.  The shaping was my biggest concern and it turned out perfect.  You may be able to see in photos, below, how it hits at just the right places to make a perfectly fitted sweater.  The placement and style of shaping are an added visual detail that makes this cardigan unique in my closet.  Now, the zipper was a bit of work for me, since I have no sewing machine and rarely sew anything more than buttons.  But, as you'll see, it worked out.

Aside from that, I really love the Fair Isle pattern.  It's simple and graphic.

Details:  I used size US 3 needles and Patons Classic Wool in Jade Heather and Natural Mix bought on a 20% sale at Joann.  This was a Supa cheap sweater, friends.   My two-way zipper came from Joann also.

I knit and blocked my swatch, finding that my stitch count was off by just a bit of a stitch per inch.  That would mean that knitting the size 36" should almost give me the 2" of positive ease the design calls for. If it didn't, I knew I could get a bit more through some serious blocking.

Things that helped me:

For the ribbing: First, remember that you're working twist rib flat, not in the round, because I didn't.  Duh.  I reknit it, though, because twist rib just looks nicer than regular 1x1 ribbing.

Also, if you've got a longish torso, like me, you may think you'll need to add length to this sweater.  But probably won't need to.  I added an inch just after the ribbing, and you can see that it was unnecessary.  It also made finding a zipper long enough more difficult in the crafting wasteland I call Southeast Texas.

For the sleeves:  Teresa recommended knitting them two at once and I highly second that if you're sweater is solid until the yoke.  It goes so fast in worsted and they'll be the same gauge.  I have decided to go up one needle size for sleeves, since I tend to knit them tighter than the body.  But I didn't have that size needle available, so I just thought "Loose" like a mantra the whole time.

I used this tutorial to help with arch nemesis, Armhole Gaps.  I usually knit too-down sweaters and find that the armhole is not as tricky for me to close up when knitting in that direction.  I doubt you can tell in the photo, but the underarm looks really well-stitched.  I don't think I could've done it without the help of that tutorial.

For the Fair Isle Yoke: As with all Fair Isle, I reminded myself to "Knit Sloppy."  It doesn't look sloppy, it just feels looser as I work it.  But, when it's finished, with all of the floats and multiple strands in back, the gauge is more consistent with the solid portion of my sweater.   If I don't adjust my tension, it looks weird and tight.

I combined Fair Isle and intarsia for this yoke because there is an occasional 6 stitch float required.  Looking back, I wish I'd just carried my floats and continued "Knitting Sloppy" for this.  Intarsia eats my lunch and I'd rather avoid this much of it.  Other knitters in the KAL carried floats, I think, and theirs all look fine.

But I have to say that I am so pleased with how smooth this colorwork yoke came out.  It was blocked, but not pressed, for these photos. It seemed like wherever I moved it to block, there was a cat or two waiting

My collar modification:  To hurry with the collar, because I had fallen behind when my husband's parents came to visit, I didn't bind off, then seam it down.  Instead, I knitted it together with the beginning (or bottom of the collar) then bound off as I went.  It looks fine to me and it saved some precious knitting time.

Installing the zipper was the real challenge.  The nature of a fitted sweater, the way it widens and loses length when worn, made it so hard for me to gauge what length of zipper I needed.  I probably knit the last part of the sweater at a looser row gauge, because that's what I do, and I had added that unnecessary inch of fabric toward the bottom.  Teresa, the designer, used a 26" zipper, I think.  She was knitting within gauge.  Mine was at least 2 inches longer because of my knitting tendencies and and the bit I added.  That would require a 28" zipper.  But when I measured it, as she did in her first tutorial, I kept getting 30.5".  Guys, I'm just not really accustomed to sewing and knowing how non-stretchy things will work with stretchy wool.

To be safe, I got a 28' and a 30".  I would've gotten a 29" too, if they had had any kind of selection in my store.  I know that's wasted money, unless you don't mind trekking back to the store for returns, but I thought it was worth it to have it all on hand for "Z Day".  That's Zipper Day, of course.  I also got a double zipper that has two zipper pulls to open from top or bottom.  After sewing it in, I don't think I'll ever unzip from the bottom.  Personally, the shaping of the sweater makes it hang strangely on me when the bottom isn't closed, so I probably won't use that feature.

I screwed up the first time by using a 30"  I'm going to include photos for the non-sewers who might happen to want to see a visual of a too long zipper in a sweater.  I tag this image: Zipper Tumors

You may be able to see here that where the zipper ends, at the bottom, is actually stretched about 1.5 inches lower than the rest of the ribbing on the sweater.  That was an obvious sign that my zipper was too long.  Then, there are the bumps all the way up.  Honestly, this picture doesn't show how lumpy it was because my arm was raised to snap the photo and that smoothed it out some.  I tried sucking my gut in a' la Pilates Stance, but nope, they were just going to be there no matter who wore this sweater.  Besides, my sweater actually fit my body as it is, with some curves.  It's a little weird to have curves so far into adulthood.  It's had me rethinking sweater lately.  But this sweater, with all of it's interesting shaping, fit really well and I wanted that to be apparent.

(This is my final try with the zipper and has significantly less rolling or stretching.)

So I ripped that zipper out.  At this point I was making real headway into the first season of The Americans.

Since I had basted the 30" zipper before sewing it, I just didn't have the heart to baste the 28" too.  I officially hate the back stitch.  So, for this try, I counted my rows and divided by 28.  This let me know how many rows I'd need to sew into each inch of zipper.  Then, I ticked off each inch on the underside of the zipper and used lots of pins to hold everything in place.  Trust me, this is still waaaaay faster than basting by hand.

I even tried it on after sewing one side down, to make sure it was at least long enough.  It was.  My sewing did get considerably neater as I went.  That last zipper looks almost pro underneath... but don't go looking or anything.

Then it was super fast photos of the sweater that my son took in exchange for a ride to a party.  Yes, I bribe my kids.  I also wear fuzzy slippers.

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

This is definitely an intermediate or advanced pattern.  Mainly for the bells and whistles, like intarsia and zipper.  But I was thinking about how knitting it as a pullover and just using Fair Isle , instead of partial intarsia, would make this an easy sweater to finish and enjoy.

I liked the challenge of a zipper and I loved all of the shaping, it's unlike any other sweater I've seen.  But the bare bones of this design could work a number of ways.

Some possible modifications:
If zippers scare you, knit it in the round as a pullover.   If its zippers and shaping combined that scare you, you could always knit it a bit oversized, with little or no shaping, and the zipper installation would probably be easier.   I was thinking yesterday how this would even be cool with a half-zip front.  You's still get the look of a zipper and the shaping, but it wouldn't be quite as much sewing to tackle.

Personally, I like the shaping with the zipper.  When I began I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to wear this more than one season, since my weight has been up and down.  The practical side of me didn't want to spend the effort on something that would only fit me for a time.  However, after seeing the fit and being so proud of it, I realized it's kind of nice to have something that fits me as I am, without being super oversized.  I'm a knitter who doesn't spend lots of money on regular clothes and stuff.  Why would I not be worth a sweater that fits me as I am, even if it is just for a season or two?  I mean we do it for our kids as they're growing, right?  So, I'm glad I dove into this KAL and treated myself to a custom-fitted sweater.

Helpful tutorials:

Sleeves two-at-a-time, recommended by Teresa.
Armhole grafting without holes tutorial.
Zipper installation part 1 and part 2, by Teresa for this sweater.

My other posts on this sweater: starting and shaping.