Showing posts with label Mad May. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mad May. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Project Juggling

In case you were wondering, I did end up finishing the sock with yarn to spare. The socks have been blocked and are now awaiting their photo shoot. Now that those are out of the way, I finally started the mate to my current pair of handspun socks, though all I have to show for it is a cuff.

After spinning a lot over the weekend, I returned to my TTL Mystery Shawl yesterday (the clues arrive on Sundays, but I wait until Monday so I can print them out). I worked on it during lunch yesterday and today and a bit last night; another day should see me through to the end of the clue. This clue is only 32 rows long, but the rows are getting much longer now.

I'm still quite enjoying how the yarn is striping, though having seen some other shawls on the TTL board, I think the pattern might show up better in a solid color. Still, I'm happy to be using my handspun, and I think the look of this will be vastly improved by blocking.

I also put in some time on Rainbow's shawl, which is rapidly approaching the end. After the light blue that I'm working with, there are just sections of orange and yellow. I'm planning on knitting a garter border at the bottom and that will be it.

I did spend a little bit of time over the weekend working on my Sople, but I've reached the bottom of the body, which consists of cables and twisted ribbing worked on size 3 needles, so it's become somewhat of a slog. I don't usually mind knitting sweaters in the summer, but I think the fact that it'll be months before I can actually wear this is preventing me from getting excited about finishing it. I predict that this is a project I'll get out about once a week, spend an hour or so on, and then put it away. It'll get done eventually, probably when the weather starts to cool down.

I will continue plugging away at these projects this week, in addition to swatching for a submission and perhaps starting a baby gift that needs to get done soon, but I'm also fantasizing about future projects. My Mad May prize arrived on Friday and I can't stop petting it and thinking about what it will grow up to be.

This is six skeins of tosh dream alpaca dk (a 50% wool/50% alpaca blend) in the colorway Jasper. At 1200 yards, that's probably enough for a decent sized sweater; I'm thinking of something cozy and drapey, because this blend should be very warm. At the top of my list at present is Amy Christoffers' Bailey Cardigan, which has been in my favorites for some time, though I expect I will do a lot of pattern searching for the fun of it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Months in the Making

It's done it's done it's done! (Ahem. I may be just a little excited to be finished with this one.)

Pattern: Window to My Soul by Joji Locatelli
Yarn: madelinetosh tosh merino light (100% superwash merino) in Baroque Violet, less than three skeins
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm) and US 3 (3.25 mm)
Started/Completed: September 2, 2013/May 24, 2014
Mods: fudged the numbers for the button bands/neckband a bit

This is one of those projects that I started and was all excited about. I actually got a good portion of the yoke done before the weather started to turn colder and I realized that it would be months before I could actually wear the sweater even if I did finish it then. At that point, it went into hibernation for many months. It took the Mad May WIP stitchalong to get me to get it out and finish it.

The smocked stitch pattern in the yoke is my favorite part of this sweater. It was very slow going, especially the smocked rows, and I nearly went blind reading the charts, but look how pretty it is! I did alternate my skeins every two rows on this sweater (every two rounds on the sleeves) to avoid pooling, though my skeins did seem pretty well matched. That slowed me down a bit as well, as I was stopping frequently to untangle skeins. It's a necessary evil -- I like the results, but I don't have to like the process.

If you look closely at the top photo in this post, you can see my one little oops. I had some difficulty picking up stitches for the button bands. I picked up for the first one and completed it, then tried to match the number I picked up for the second band (the one with the buttonholes). It took me three tries to get it right. The bit of fudging I had to do on the second band meant that while the total number of stitches was the same, the relative density of them in any particular area was not quite identical, so the ribbing doesn't completely match up. That's not immediately obvious until you look at where the yoke patterning ends between the bottom two buttons. If you look closely at the top photo, you'll see that the pattern doesn't line up on both fronts. Whoops. At some point I may take off the buttons and redo them, but I'm not sure this yarn would stand up to that very well, so I'm going to try to live with it at this point (and perhaps try some creative blocking to make one side of the yoke a bit longer to compensate).

Overall, in spite of that little error, I'm very pleased with this sweater. It's light and very wearable -- perfect to throw over a t-shirt or tank in my office, where the air conditioning always seems to be on full blast.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Neglected No More

My Window to My Soul didn't see much action last week in my urgency to finish up the shawl. Now, however, it's my sole focus until it's done. The goal was to finish it by the end of the month (when the Mad May knitalong officially ends), and things are looking good. In fact, I just might have it done by the end of the holiday weekend.

I finished binding off the body on Tuesday and promptly started the first sleeve. By the time I put it down last night, I had about half an inch of sleeve left to knit before I could start the sleeve ribbing. I really didn't have much time to work on it the past two evenings because I was out at a couple of events, so clearly the sleeve goes very quickly. I expect that I'll at least start on the second one tonight, meaning that all that will be left to do this weekend is to finish up that sleeve, do the button bands, and do the neckband. Oh, and there will be some ends to weave in and buttons to sew on, too, but those are the last-minute things that I don't really think about.

I will be very happy to have this off the needles in time to actually wear it. Our weather has been really weird lately, to the point that I'm in a t-shirt and shorts one day and wool socks the next. Overall, it's been cooler than average, though, so wearing a wool sweater (albeit one with short sleeves) is not an entirely ridiculous proposition.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Magic Every Time

If you've been reading this blog long enough, you know that I love to knit lace. While I find the act of actually knitting the lace rather meditative, my absolute favorite part of knitting lace is the blocking. What can look okay right off the needles can be completely transformed into something light and airy through blocking. It's like magic to me every time I do it.

Last week, I spend nearly all my free time madly working on finishing up my Mad May shawl. I finally finished it on Friday evening (in the car on the way to dinner, of all places) and then blocked it Friday night. I'll admit that I pretty much jumped out of bed on Saturday morning so that I could unpin it and marvel at the transformation. I was not disappointed.

The lace opened up and evened out, and the 40 minutes or so I spent pinning out the picots along the bottom edge were clearly worth it.

There's been so much interest in the pattern on Ravelry that I've fast-tracked it. I spent several hours writing and charting over the weekend, and the pattern is now with my tech editor. I'm hoping to have it up for testing in a week or two and then published by the end of June. Personally, I'm just very excited to have finished it in plenty of time and to have worked out what I saw in my head so well!

I'm still working on my other Mad May project, but that is moving along well. I should have the body bound off tonight and then it's just sleeves, buttonbands, and neckband to do. I'm planning on taking advantage of the holiday weekend coming up to plough through and "git 'er done."

Thursday, May 08, 2014

A Plethora of Stitches

I'm not sure why I thought it would be quick to knit two projects in fingering weight yarn this month. Sure, one was already a good way started, but there's still quite a bit of knitting to do. And top-down triangle shawls? The rows only get longer as you get further along.

The good news is that I have made visible progress. My Window to My Soul has about half a body done. I've finished the finicky yoke section (which means no more chart to refer to and no more cable needle needed), but now I'm in the midst of the long stockinette section of the body. If I remember correctly, I have to work in stockinette until the body measures something like 16" under the arm, and I think that meant about 11" of stockinette. I have 288 stitches on the needle right now (there's some increasing after you finish the yoke), and I'm still alternating skeins, so it's moving slowly. I haven't formally timed myself, but I think it takes me somewhere between five and 10 minutes to knit a row.

My camera refused to capture the color accurately

The shawl seems to have grown a bit faster, although now that I have more than 200 stitches on the needle the rows are obviously taking a bit longer to complete. I have already charted out the lace section and am anxious to get to it, but I have 40-ish more rows to do before I get there.

I have not even touched my handspun socks since last weekend, and I have a feeling that they're going to be in hibernation for a while.

The Mister and I are headed to a wedding in Virginia this weekend, and both Mad May projects will be coming with me -- what else would I be doing for 10 hours in the car when I don't have to drive?

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Let the Madness Begin

It's May 1, which means two things: my trip to MDSW is only one day away and today is the official start of the annual Mad May stitch-along in the Ravelry Madelinetosh Lovers group. I've participated in this event for the past couple of years and it's always a good motivator to finish up a project. This year, I'm entering in two categories. The first is general shawl (meaning you can pick any shawl pattern you want), and I'm going to be designing one using these two colors of tosh merino light, Nassau Blue and Rain Water.

I've had this shawl idea kicking around in my head for quite a while, so it will be good to work it out in yarn.

My second entry is in the WIP category, a new one for Mad May. To qualify, the project had to have been started before March 31 of this year. My project had no problems qualifying -- I started it last September! I'll be trying to finish my Window to My Soul, also in tosh merino light.

As I recall, I was making good progress with this when I put it away when the weather started to get cooler, and I was getting pretty close to the point where I could divide the sleeve stitches from the body. I will probably need to take some time tonight to refamiliarize myself with the pattern and figure out exactly where I left off.

Both of these projects (plus some handspun socks) will be coming with me to MDSW this weekend, and I hope to have a lot of progress to show you when I get back!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Done, with Time to Spare

Although it took me the better part of a week to finish those final bits that should have taken an evening or two, I'm happy to tell you that my Mad May sweater is complete!

Pattern: Gnarled Oak Cardigan by Alana Dakos, from Coastal Knits
Yarn: madelinetosh tosh dk (100% superwash merino) in Forestry, approximately 5.5 skeins
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm) and US 3 (3.25)
Started/Completed: May 1/May 23
Mods: worked a smaller size to compensate for gauge difference; picked up fewer stitches for button bands

This pattern was one of two main reasons I bought the book, and when I was forced to take home six skeins of this gorgeous green tosh from my LYS (seriously, the yarn wouldn't let me leave without it!), I knew it would be a perfect match with this sweater.

The body and sleeves really flew, despite the fact that I was alternating skeins every two rows/rounds to avoid any unseemly pooling. It can be a bit of a pain and can make the project a little less portable, but I think it's worth it. The only place I didn't alternate was for the button bands, and that was frankly because I was being lazy and didn't want to add time to the project by having more ends to weave in.

The real star of this sweater is the gorgeously cabled yoke. Some of these rows took a half hour or more to do, but they were worth it. Aren't these leaves just incredible?

My only real modification to this sweater was to knit a size smaller than I normally would. For one thing, I didn't have enough yarn to knit the bigger size. But it turns out to have been a good thing, because my gauge was a little off. I think Alana Dakos is a very tight knitter; she gives a gauge of 24 stitches and 30 rows using a size 5, but I was only able to get 22 stitches and 32 rows over four inches -- and that was with a size 4. I saw her post somewhere on Ravelry that the dense gauge was somewhat deliberate (it would really make the cables pop), but I liked the fabric I was getting on 4's and just couldn't see going down to a US 3 for a DK sweater. Thanks to the difference in gauge, I was able to knit a smaller size and have it come out just right to fit me, as you can see.

I really couldn't be more thrilled with how this turned out. The pattern was very well written, and clearly the finished sweater fits me well. Mother Nature was even obliging enough to send us a cold front that made it cool enough on Saturday to actually need a sweater, so I was able to show it off around town. My only disappointment is that these shots do not do it justice; my camera did not seem to want to capture the beauty that is this colorway accurately, and though I color-corrected the photos you see above, they're still not quite accurate. I suppose if that's my only complaint, then I have a real success on my hands.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Tonight's the Night

Last night I was once again thwarted in my attempts to finish my sweater by a nonsleeping toddler, but I can say with all certainty that it will be finished tonight. I managed to squeeze in some time on it this morning while I finished my tea and now have just half a row to finish binding off.


Once the binding off is finished, all that's left to do is weave in three ends and sew on six buttons. I predict that it will take me no more than about 45 minutes, which means there should still be time to pop it in the tub to block tonight. Hooray!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

All but Bands

I am so close to a finished sweater I can taste it.

The Mister is traveling for work for a couple of days, so my knitting time in the evening is determined strictly by when Rainbow falls asleep (because most nights I have to sit with her until she does). On Sunday, she passed out at 8 on the dot, which was perfect because it allowed me to see the Call the Midwife finale in real time and get in a solid two hours of knitting. Last night, however, she tossed and turned until 9, which meant I didn't make as much progress as I'd hoped. Still, I'm in a good place. I bound off the neckline, grafted the underarms, and wove in all the ends except for the one from the neck (which I'll bury in the button band on that side). Before shoving it in its project bag for the night, I tried it on, and it looks like it'll fit perfectly once it's blocked. Given that my gauge was off and I knit a smaller size to compensate, that's a big relief.

Tonight, the mission is to finish at least one button band. If she cooperates and goes to sleep earlier than last night, I might even get started on the second. If all goes well, I could have a finished sweater by tomorrow night, which would be just fabulous.

I'm also making some steady progress on my socks. I finished the heel turn and short-row section at lunch yesterday and am cruising down through the foot.

I'm anxious to get this one done not because I want to wear it (it feels like the middle of July here right now!) but because I have a sock design idea percolating and I want to get to swatching. And it goes without saying that I'd like to knit something in a color that isn't green for a change!

Thursday, May 16, 2013


I had thought that once I got the sleeves and body of my Mad May sweater joined together it would go a lot faster, but it appears I was kidding myself. When you have rows that are nearly 300 stitches long, they take a while. I have been working on the yoke all week (I joined the pieces on Monday night) and now have the rest of the current row and one wrong side row to do before I can actually start the cable pattern.

I think that once I do start the cabling, things will go a little faster -- both because there are decreases in the pattern and because working cables serves as a great motivation to do "just one more row." There are 29 rows in the chart and then about six rows of garter stitch at the very top. I'm hoping that I can get all that done this weekend so that all that will be left to do is the button bands (and weaving in a whole lot of ends, but that's inevitable). Ideally, I'd like to have this off the needles sometime next week. I've signed up for this year's Through the Loops mystery shawl, and as the first clue is sent out June 1, I'd like to clear off some space in my WIPs before then. (I also need to do some stash digging and/or yarn shopping, but that will be a discussion for another day.)

My sock is moving somewhat slowly as well, as I've only been working on it for about 40 minutes each day during my lunch break. I finished the cuff -- with some mock cable twists in it so I can tell it apart from the other sock -- earlier in the week and have been doing nothing but plain stockinette since. I'm finding the fabric in this sock to be curiously lighter than the other, and I'm wondering if it's because of the opposing ply in the yarn or if I just happened to get the lighter spots in the fiber more in this section of yarn. The striping pattern that happened in the first sock is happening in this one, too, but it's a lot more subtle.

On top of all this, I've really been itching to sit at my wheel and get the rest of my singles done for my cabled yarn, but I've been focusing too much on my sweater. Perhaps I will sneak in some time this weekend -- after the craziness of last weekend and the running around I've been doing this week, I really need that meditative time.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Time Trap

I know it may seem like I've fallen off the face of the earth, but let me assure you I have not. I've just been insanely busy, and life has kept me away from my knitting, my spinning, and my blog.

My brother (I nearly typed "baby brother," but I don't think I can call him that anymore) graduated from law school on Friday. Several relatives came in from out of town for the event, including an aunt and uncle who I haven't seen in about two and a half years, so much of our time this weekend was spent with family. We had a big family dinner on Friday night that kept us all up late -- and that meant Rainbow was up super early on Saturday morning (for some reason, if she goes to bed late, she gets up early). After a family brunch, she lost her cool and actually took a nap, which gave me just enough time to run to Target for some needed stuff and get back just as her new bedroom furniture was being delivered. By the time we got her bed made and had transferred her needed items to the new room, it was time to get her dinner. Then her babysitter arrived and we left for another family dinner, from which we didn't return until after 10. Then, yesterday, we had both our families over for a Mother's Day lunch.

Between all the visiting and eating (plus the usual cleaning and errands that have to be done over the weekend), I hardly touched my needles and only glanced at my wheel all weekend. I started the second sleeve of my Mad May sweater on Saturday night and got the cuff and about eight rows beyond that done by bedtime. Yesterday afternoon, the Mister very nicely allowed me to have some time to myself, so I was able to catch up on the DVR and get a good portion of sleeve done. By the time I had to put it down for the night, I had only 20 rounds left to do. That means tonight (provided a certain toddler goes to sleep easily), I will be able to start the yoke!

I did take my sock bag with me in the car over the weekend, and as a result I was able to finish the first of the pair. This is the one knit from the traditional three ply, and it's a plain vanilla sock with the exception of the heel. I'm not sure what this heel is called (it may be a Cat Bordhi sock architecture), but basically I worked the heel flap and gusset simultaneously while continuing to work in the round and then worked a flap back and forth on the bottom of the heel. I figured that because the socks I've been wearing out have all developed holes in the heel area, a little bit of extra reinforcement is not a bad idea.

While I was at it, I cast on for the second sock and did a little bit of the cuff. I'm doing some mock cable twists in the ribbing so that I can easily tell the two socks apart; otherwise, they'll be identical. I had a fair amount of yarn leftover from the first sock, so I'm hopeful that the yardage I have for sock #2 is sufficient. If not, I can always use the leftovers for the toe.

I'm hoping that I can have both of these projects done before the end of the month, though things in the next two weeks are likely to be just as busy. I just have to remind myself that knitting is my stress relief, so sometimes I need to do it to keep myself sane!

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Color Matching

Over the weekend, I came to a realization about my knitting. Though it was unintentional, it seems I have been color-coordinating all my projects. If you recall, the last two things off the needles (my Vitamin D and my Rubus suberectus Socks) were both gray. Now, it seems, everything must be green.

For starters, there's my Mad May sweater -- Alana Dakos's Gnarled Oak Cardigan -- which I'm knitting in tosh DK in Forestry, a deep, glowing green with a hint of blue.

I made very good progress on this over the weekend, as I was able to work on it in the car and in the hotel room both Friday and Saturday evening. I finished the body on Monday and started on the first sleeve, which is moving along a little slower than I was expecting (but I guess having two skeins of yarn attached and having to move them around regularly does slow one down).

Then, there are the socks, which are being knit out of my own handspun -- also in shades of green.

These saw some action over the weekend as well (I took them to the festival to work on while waiting in line or sitting and taking a break). I turned the heel on Saturday evening and now they are well on their way down the foot. I expect I'll have the first sock finished soon.

As if that wasn't enough green, there's my spinning.

If this looks familiar, it's because I'm spinning up the rest of the fiber that I used for the sock yarn. It's Corriedale pencil roving from Crown Mountain Farms in the colorway Eire. This batch is being spun into a 2x2 cabled yarn; this bobbin is number three of four, each holding about an ounce of fiber.

So it seems spring has arrived everywhere, even in my yarn and fiber choices. I wonder what next month's color theme will be!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

End of the Road

I have had to look at the calendar several times today to be sure of the fact that today is, in fact, the last day of May. It hardly seems possible, but it's the truth. The month has really flown by, probably because I've been so busy.

With the end of the month comes the end of the Mad May knitalong on Ravelry, and I am actually attempting to get in one more finished project before midnight tonight. After finishing the baby Gramps sweater, I still had a fair amount of yarn leftover, so thought I would whip up a little hat to go with it:

I used one repeat of the body cable pattern for the front and the ribbing from the back of the sweater for the back. I think I need one more repeat plus a few more rounds for this to be done; I'm planning on grafting the top and adding pompoms or tassels to the corners.

Once this hat is done and in the mail, I'll find myself in a somewhat unusual situation -- I don't really have a project I'm working on that I'm excited about. I have a shawl design that's about halfway done, but it's mainly plain knitting, which is great when you want something mindless but not particularly fun, and a pair of socks that I cast on during the trip to MDSW and have been working on (slowly) during my lunch break at work. The sock pattern has a 12-round repeat, so I haven't yet memorized it and as a result it takes me much longer to do a round than, say, a plain stockinette sock would. I'm finding that I'm getting a bit of an itch to start another big project, like a sweater, but the weather's not really right for a lap full of wool. I generally do more spinning in the summer, but the Tour de Fleece is almost exactly a month away. I could knit a shawl, but then I'd have to wind yarn. Too many decisions!

Knitter's ennui? I haz it.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Double Take

I had such fun knitting Rainbow a sweater earlier this month that I thought I'd squeeze in another one for the knitalong before the month was over.

Pattern: Gramps Cardigan by Kate Oates, 6 month size
Yarn: madelinetosh tosh DK, colorway Lapis, approximately 1.25-1.5 skeins
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) and US 6 (4.0 mm) Addi Turbos
Started/Completed: May 21/May 26
Mods: quite a few; see below

Having just knit this pattern, I knew that this time around there were a number of things I was going to change. (I also knew that it was going to come out on the smaller side, so I deliberately made a 6 month size for a baby that's due in September with the idea that the kid will wear it this fall and winter.)

As I did with Rainbow's version, I changed the direction that the cables on one of the sleeves crossed so that the two sleeves would mirror each other and cross toward the front of the sweater. Unfortunately, I was not paying enough attention on one sleeve because I discovered some time later (when I had already joined the sleeves and was partway through the yoke decreases) that there was a cable miscrossed on one sleeve. I was too far past it at that point to want to rip back, so once the sweater was complete, I did a little cable surgery. You can only tell that anything was changed if you put your finger in the arm and feel the little bit of extra bulk from weaving in some additional ends to secure the stitches on the wrong side.

I also narrowed the sleeve cable quite significantly (see the photo above) as the raglan decreases encroached on the area of the cable. I didn't like the idea of the decreases "eating up" the cable and leaving a large area of reverse stockinette, so I changed the cable to a basic 2x2 cross for several rows. You'll notice that I also changed the direction of the raglan decreases (k2tog before the marker, ssk after); I think the decrease lines look a lot more tidy this way.

The decreases on the sleeve proved to be the one area of difficulty this time around. I started the yoke with the correct number of stitches and did the correct number of decrease rows. However, when I got to the very last row of the yoke, which has raglan decreases but not decreases at the neck edge, there were only four sleeve stitches remaining between the markers. This presented a problem because the decreases were supposed to be done one stitch in from the marker (i.e., slip marker, k1, ssk, k2tog, k1, slip marker), but obviously I needed six stitches in order to do this. For this last row, I moved the decreases right up next to the marker in order to get down to the correct number of stitches, but that means that the final decreases on the sleeves do not line up with the rest. Fortunately, I think they're hidden by the collar, but it irked me a bit that the numbers did not work out at the end.

My final set of modifications was to pick up fewer stitches than called for on the button bands (I made sure that I had a multiple of four so that the ribbing would work, though) and, because there were fewer stitches with which to work for the collar, eliminated one set of short rows for the shawl collar. The short rows covered enough of the button band stitches, though, that there was really only room for three buttons in the end, which I think is perfectly acceptable in a baby sweater (fewer buttons = less work for the parent). I also did (k2tog, yo) buttonholes instead of the one-row buttonholes called for in the pattern; the buttons I used are on the smaller side and didn't really need the wider holes.

Despite the challenges and frustrations, I'm really happy with this little sweater. This is a gift for for my best friend -- a friend I've known my whole life -- who is expecting her first child this fall. I am unfortunately not able to make it to her baby shower out of town, so I will be sending this down to her and hoping that it will be well received.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

No Time to Blog

Too busy knitting!

Body is done up to the underarms. Attempting to knock out at least one sleeve tonight!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I May Be Crazy

Why, you ask? Because apparently I decided that I could knit another baby sweater by the end of the month for the Mad May knitalong. I picked up more tosh dk at my LYS over the weekend and cast on for another Gramps Cardigan last night. This is for a gift for my best friend, who is expecting her first in September. Her sisters are throwing her a baby shower in early June, and as it looks unlikely that I'll be able to attend (it's out of town and not close enough to do a day trip), I'll need to get her gift mailed off even early than that.

I cast on last night and got a few rows into the cable pattern on the body before I realized that I'd neglected to switch over to larger needles after the ribbing and had to rib back. Tonight I'll be able to rectify that error and get moving on the body. I'm making the smallest size, and considering that I finished Rainbow's version in 14 days, I think I can knit a baby size in 10 -- there is a long weekend coming up, after all.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mad for May

It seems that all it takes for me to finish a sweater in two weeks is a knitalong!

Pattern: Gramps Cardigan by Kate Oates, size 4
Yarn: Madelinetosh tosh dk (100% superwash merino) in Robin's Egg, two skeins plus ~5 yards or less of a third skein
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) and US 6 (4.0 mm) Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: May 1/May 14
Mods: quite a few (see below)

I knit this as part of the Mad May knitalong in the Madelinetosh Lovers group on Ravelry. I didn't want to aim too high and try to knit myself a sweater, but I figured this would be a good challenge because of all the cables. It made for some good car and hotel knitting on the trip to Maryland Sheep and Wool.

While I'm very pleased with how the sweater turned out, I did have some issues with the pattern along the way. I'll be the first to admit that I did not swatch. I had used the same yarn and needle size for my Effortless Cardigan, so I knew I'd be pretty darn close on stitch gauge. I also chose to knit a size up from Rainbow's current size (intending this to fit this fall and winter), and I was counting on the fact that the yarn is superwash to allow it stretch out a bit in blocking.

The main difficulty was with the sleeve. I cast on for the first sleeve in the car on the way back home from MDSW, and the two friends in the car with me both agreed that it looked impossibly tiny. So I ripped that attempt out and cast on again using the number for the next size up (four stitches more, so almost an inch larger). That cuff seemed to be a better size, but I ripped it again when I started the cable and realized that it did not grow out of the ribbing the same way the cables on the body had. On my third attempt, the cuff was the right size and the cable split a column of two knit stitches so that it was symmetrical. However, this time around, I forgot that I was knitting in the round and was omitting every other line of the chart (I was used to knitting flat, knitting the stitches as they appeared rather than consulting the chart), meaning my cable was coming out half the height it should have been. The fourth attempt was finally successful in all aspects.

Nearly all of my mods were on the sleeves. I increased to the number specified in the pattern for the size I was making, but I added an additional 2 inches of length (I know Rainbow is tall, but I don't think she has gorilla arms!). I also changed the way the cable crossed on the second sleeve so that, when the sleeves were connected to the body, the cables would cross toward each other. Finally, as the raglan decreases in the yoke were eating into the cable area, I made the cables narrower at the top of the shoulder so that they would stay intact. The only non-sleeve modification I made was to do a smaller buttonhole (a k2tog, yo buttonhole rather than a three-stitch one-row buttonhole). I wasn't planning on using huge buttons on this sweater, so I didn't think a larger buttonhole was necessary.

In spite of all these changes and challenges, I really did enjoy knitting this sweater. It was really a fast knit once I got used to the cables and could know intuitively what to do next. I will probably knit this again as a baby gift, but there are several things I will do differently next time. For one thing, I might use a heavier yarn (and perhaps go up a needle size) in addition to working a size up. A number of projects on Ravelry indicate that the pattern does run a little small; Rainbow's fits okay now, but if she continues to grow the way she has been lately, it may be a bit snug this fall and winter. I would also switch the direction of the raglan decreases, as I don't really care for how they look as written.

The most important factor of all in determining whether or not this was a successful knit, of course, is Rainbow's response. She is thrilled with it, and it's always a joy to knit for someone who appreciates the knitting.