Friday, August 29, 2014


That is just so me, in dress, at least.  The little girl in me who hates itchy seams, lace, and having her hair curled on Sunday mornings loves this sweater.  It feels like an old, comfy sweatshirt, but it's so much nicer than that.  There's a reason this pattern, by Alicia Plummer, is so popular.

Ease is my first pattern by Alicia, whose Nested, Palmer, and Backshore are all in my Ravelry favorites.   For such a simple, comfortable design, there really were a lot of interesting details and shaping.  I'm glad I trusted the pattern because the shape turned out exactly as it should.  I don't know why anyone would modify this to be fitted.  It is the perfect comfy sweater.

Ease was also my intro into the world of continental knitting.  By the time I joined it in the round, at the neck, I was already confident in my continental knit stitch.  So doing that in the round was a snap.   It also allowed me to get a tighter gauge with larger needles, though they were bamboo needles (for a little grab on the wool).

Details:  I used size 5 bamboo circulars on the body, 3s on the collar, and size 1s on the ribbing.  This really is an improvement in needle sizes.  It gave me 16 stitches per 4".  I knit the 32-34 size, which allows for 3-4 inches of positive ease.

I loved the blue yarn used for the pattern sample, but I just don't have the yarn budget for a big sweater's worth of Rios.  I did see Cascade 220 Paints (in Emerald City) on sale for less than $6 a skein at Webs, so I scooped it up months ago, anticipating the next Summer Sweater KAL.  A lot of  the 220 Paints color ways are too variegated for me, but this one seemed subtle enough.

Either I'm getting very used to wool next to my skin or this yarn is incredible soft for 100% wool.  I think it's just soft.

My mods:  I did knit this about an inch longer than directed for my torso length and made sure my sleeves were long enough to cuff.

I also used Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off for the hem ribbing, but I'm not sure if it's tight enough.  I used Elizabeth Zimmerman's sewn bind off for the cuffs, and they're perfect.

In picking up stitches for the collar, I had to skip more stitches than directed to get a similar stitch count.  I picked up every back, shoulder, and low front stitch, but only picked up one of three on the angled front neckline.  I got 92 stitches total and went with it.

I decided to use a 3 stitch I-cord for the drawstring, but it was thicker than I wanted.  I tried blocking it out around the backs of our dining chairs, but it didn't thin it out as much as I'd like.  I can always knit a 2 stitch I-cord to replace it.

As far as inserting the drawstring goes, I just whipstitched my collar fold around the drawstring, no special needles for me.  I also ran a cord stopper up the drawstring to try it out.  Not sure if I'll keep it.

So, my first sweater for the Summer Sweater KAL of 2014 is finished!  The rest is gravy.  However, the gravy is almost there.  I'm past the armholes on Featherweight, but not far at all on Aidez.  I also got out of my backyard for these photos and bribed my son to take them.  It was either help get groceries or this.  Amazingly, he chose photography.  He also cut my head out of most of them.

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

Other posts on Ease: prepping, all in continental, two sleeves at once, and the collar.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Everything is Growing

Everything is growing.  I get kind of sad about it when each school year begins.  I miss the intensity of mothering my children when they were small.  Nothing highlights the changes in them like the school year starting.  With one going back to college for a second year and the other entering high school, I feel a little out of sorts.

Then my husband texts me these old photos off of his work computer that made me even more sad.  They used to be this little.

Now they just aren't.

From this...

To this...

So, what can I do with all the wistful nostalgia I'm feeling about not being able to carry them on my hip anymore (at least not without attracting a lot of weird looks)?  That's right, I can bury myself in projects.

Below is my Featherweight Cardigan at the same pep rally pictured above.  I'm making it for both the Summer Sweater KAL and the Classic Must Knits KAL.  There's always a lot of insecurity before  separating the sleeve stitches and trying a sweater top on.  It never looks like it's going to fit, but it always does.

I got a couple of rows in before the first pep rally of the year began.  I never went to one of those "Fired Up" pep rallys until I had children.  My children are much less jaded about these things.

Watch the boy reluctantly play on film.  He's second in the first column of trombones.  

And this is after I separated for sleeves.  I did one extra raglan increase, just in case.  Tight underarms make me want to do a Hulk move and angrily rip whatever is binding me.  That wouldn't be a good thing after knitting a million little lace stitches as fine as a cobweb.

Next up is my very finished Ease.  I don't know when I'll get around to taking FO photos.  Guys I'm sick of wearing sweaters in 90 degree heat in my backyard in front of the neighbors.  Maybe I'll wait 'til it's almost dark and go somewhere else.

 Since I'm knitting away my back-to-school melancholy,  I seem to need two things going on the needles at all times.  The Featherweight is all stockinette from here on out, so I thought I'd let Aidez be my complicated knit.  It qualifies as a summer sweater (obviously) for the SSKAL and a Classic Must Knit, since it has a bazillion projects on Ravelry.

I didn't relish the idea of knitting a sweater in pieces, but I also didn't have the focus to re-chart the pattern.  Thankfully, I noticed Tien's (autumngeisha) Aidez was knit in one piece following The Sweatshop Of Love's KAL instructions.  Thank you Tien!  I pulled out the ribbing I'd already started and cast on a body's worth (see, below).  I expect this bulky yarn will grow quickly too.

I'd just settled down for a long mopey knit on this when I got a call from my daughter.  She was feeling sick and wanted to come home to recuperate, which means put a heating pad on her tummy, get some soup, and sleep while hogging the couch.  I hate to say it almost made me happy.  They're not growing too fast.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I Want to Dedicate This Sweater to My Dog

I want to dedicate this sweater to my dog, Spotacus, for his constant companionship as I knit and his constant contribution to the amount of animal fiber included in this sweater.  Can you see it?  Sheesh, it looks like I tried it on and slid across the floor on my belly.  Human swiffer, people.

Maybe knitting two sleeves at once, while learning a new knitting style, wasn't the best idea.  The awkwardness may have affected my gauge on the upper arms and it's draaaaagging on.  But I console myself with the fact that when I'm done I won't have another elephantine sleeve to knit.  No, all strange and saggy sleeves will be complete.

They don't look weird in this photo, so I'm hopeful.  The whole sweater is going to have a lot of positive ease and be a little longer than the pattern directed.  It doesn't look all that loose or long in this photo, but it's bunchy, unblocked, and still on the needles.  My main concern so far has been wether my ribbing will be too loose, 'cause let me tell ya, I'm not re-knitting 1x1 rib again!

You can follow everyone else's progress in the SSKAL on ravelry or on instagram at #SSKAL14.

Friday, August 15, 2014

County Fair Scarf

I did it!  With minimal crochet skills a few days hiatus from sweater knitalongs, I completed my County Fair Scarf by Claire Denny.  Why did I put off making this for so long?

I guess it was breaking into the whole crochet thing.  The recent Holla Knits Special Collection Knit & Crochet Along gave me the nudge I needed.  I have to say that I love trying something new like this.  I have zero expectations of myself and don't mind a bit if my finishing is messy.  But it isn't really messy looking is it?  

I made this using hook size J and Comfy Worsted in planetarium, whisker, and rose hip.

I had to omit the first row of granny clusters in blue (color A) because I saw that I didn't have near enough yarn for that.  Even with this mod, I ran short of yarn and considered purchasing one ball of comfy worsted from Knit Picks.  Yeah right, you know I was going to feel obligated to buy a sweater's worth of something at the same time.  Then I remembered I'd knit with this same color in sport weight for Umbre Lovre.  So I dug around under my bed and found my extra ball, doubled it, and finished the scarf.

This is a perfect example of why we must keep our yarn leftovers in every available space.

I also made a few blunders that were easily fixed after looking at Elsha's scarf in progress on ravelry.

I loved this little escape from the sleeve and 1x1 rib wasteland I was in.  It's also fun to finally use my clover amour hooks.  See them here, where I took a ridiculous amount of photos of crochet hooks.  But they're so pretty...

That's about it.  This was a quick project and so eye catching.  Of course I'm sweating like a pig for these photos but I toughed it out, even with a truck full of refinery workers, unloading to mow the vacant lots by my house, as an audience.

Other posts on this scarf: planning way-back-when and finally casting on .

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Riverine Pullover

I've been neck deep in Summer KALs, but I do have a finished object!! It's the Riverine Pullover, by Andi Satterlund, from Pom Pom Quarterly issue 5.   That's the camping themed issue.

I didn't get this one finished and uploaded in time for the Pom Pom Summer KAL, but the KAL thread definitely kept me motivated.  Of all the great PomPom knits featured, I think Mijette's Briolette was my favorite.  (If you're not on Ravelry, check out the sample Briolette.)

I knit this before the continental challenge, so the body was worked on 1s and the ribbing on 0s.  What fun.  Really, it was a fun, easy summer knit.  I have only one problem.  It's cropped and I'm not a midriff baring kind of girl, unless I'm swimming, so I'm still needing some higher waisted pants.

I knit a size small (32") using Berroco Weekend DK in dark denim and parrot green.  This is as close to knitting with a neon as I have gotten.  I love the way the green looks next to the dark blue.  This yarn has a denim feel to it, very casual.

It's actually been a few weeks since I finished it, so I'm not remembering any difficulties or mods.  Nope, this was made following the directions exactly.  As with Hetty, Andi's pattern was very easy to follow.  She's got so many great designs I want to try.  There's Aiken, the Geraldine Pullover, Chuck, and still that awesome moose vest!

Other posts on Riverine: swatching and dropping needle sizes.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Ease in Elizabeth's Style

I took a break from reading Knitting Without Tears, for the Canary Knits Knitting Book Read-a-Long, until I put at least one thing I learned into practice.  That thing was learning to knit continental.  The Ease pullover is my experimental continental sweater.   Thank goodness it's worsted and not lace weight.

Continental is Elizabeth's knitting method of choice and seems to be a favorite of people who get things made quickly.  I was hoping it would help me get control of my crazy, loose gauge and maybe give me a bit more speed.

In her book, Elizabeth says she a slowish knitter, making about 50 stitches a minute.  I was curious where I fell, in terms of knitting speed, so I timed myself, too.  I'm super slow, apparently, getting maybe 34 stitches per minute.  I did better when I quit looking at the work and watched tv, which makes me think overthinking my speed trips me up.  You know, like when you realize someone is watching you eat and suddenly you can't get your fork into your mouth correctly?

So continental is where the yarn is on the left side of me and runs over my left forefinger, which is also holding my right needle in place.

I then quickly bring the tip of the right needle under the yarn and to the left to pull it through the stitch on the left needle in one hooking motion.   

My hands never leave the needles and it really does move faster than knitting in English style.

With English, below, I let my right hand carry the yarn and throw it over the right needle from back to front.  If you'll notice in the photo below, my right hand has to leave the right needle for a second to throw the yarn.  That's part of the speed problem and I think my fingers and wrist get overworked and compensate by ever loosening their tension, hence my loose gauge.

When knitting continental, I can easily knit too tightly without trying.  Guys, I'm using a size 5 needle in a worsted weight sweater!  That never happens anymore.  I feel like real people again!

If I have a hard time continuing in continental, sbnyc (ravelry name) in the SSKAL group recommended flicking.  It's a bit of a combo style.  The right hand carries the yarn, but never leaves the needle to throw it.  If I hadn't already decided to experiment with continental, I probably would have stuck with flicking.

The real trick to continental is purling.  I'm still doing that like I'm in rehab.  I can't make my fingers do what I want them to do.  And it's very, very slow.  This isn't really problem on this sweater because it's mostly worked in the round, but on my Featherweight it's killing me.  Then, as if on cue, Webs posted a video of this speed purl method that may be worth a try.  I've been focusing on my Ease, so I haven't had a chance to really try it, but it looks promising.  

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Holla Knits Knit and Crochet-a-long

Yep, there's more "a-longs" happening around here.  Holla Knits is having a knit and crochet-a-long focused on the two special collections that have been released in the last two years.  That's the crochet one and the home collection.  It's kind of perfect timing because I need a very portable project for taking with me to my grandparents' each day and a crocheted scarf is as portable as it gets.  I've had the yarn for County Fair Scarf for a long time, but the fact that I didn't crochet kept it on the back burner.  This is the Knit Picks Comfy Worsted I'll be using.

(on my ravelry, kollabora, and flickr)

Since finishing the Super Baby cape (here, on my dog and here, on the baby), I've been itching to try something new.  It's nice to not notice when I'm doing something poorly because I'm just so proud to be doing it at all.

If I finish this scarf as quickly as I've heard I will, I do have yarn for Prim and some Granny Square Earrings.  Could anything be more portable and quickly gratifying than a collar or earrings?

Check out the rest of the collection and come join us on Ravelry.

(photo via Holla Knits)

The Holla Knits Home Collection took me off guard.  I am knee deep in sweaters at the moment and don't have the right yarn in my stash for any of these projects, except maybe Excelsior.  I have this romantic notion of knitting all of these knits for my pop up camper.  We can huddle under the Movie Night Blanket by the fire.  (The truth is, we often watch netflix in our camper, all of us huddled onto one bed.)  The Admiralty can go on one bed and a couple of What's Your Sign pillows depicting constellations we can actually see, because we're away from the city, can be tossed on the other.  An Elemental Lines table runner and placemats in groovy seventies colors for our table/bed and Excelsior, in a similar color scheme, hanging on the "wall."  Sounds perfect.

(photo via Holla Knits)

But right now, I'm wanting to gain some crochet skills and possibly try to crochet a garment soon.