Monday, October 29, 2012

A Do-over and an Announcement

Shortly after I published my last post, I sat down to work on Rainbow's sweater. I was almost done with the waist decreases when I realized that somehow, no doubt in a haze of exhaustion, I'd thrown in an extra random decrease way back near the beginning. There was no way to fix it except to rip back. Fortunately, it was just stockinette, so while it took some time to get back to where I was, there was no patterning to keep track of or chart to refer to. As of last night, the body (up to the underarms) is done and the first sleeve has been started.

I have a feeling the sleeves will go very quickly, so I should be able to get to the fun part of this sweater -- the colorwork yoke -- later this week. That section is going to take some thought, though, because it's stranded colorwork that's worked flat, something I have not done before. I suppose I could add a steek, which I might end up doing just to keep my tension even.

In an unrelated note, this Wednesday is Halloween, which means it's been seven years since I started this blog. Can you believe it? I started it on a whim, when I was between jobs and was spending way too much time on the Internet reading other blogs (which I'd only recently discovered), but I'm so glad that I've kept it up all these years. Were it not for the blog, I wouldn't have met some great friends and probably wouldn't have developed as much as I have as a knitter.

In honor of the occasion, I'm having a little pattern sale. Starting at midnight on Wednesday (12 a.m. eastern), all of my patterns will be 25% off for the following week (until 11:59 p.m. eastern on Tuesday, November 6). Simply enter the code BLOGGING7 when you check out on Ravelry or by clicking here. This code is good for all my patterns and can be used more than once. This is just a little way of saying thank you to all of you who have been reading and commenting during these last seven years!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Smaller Scale

I'm still on my sweater kick, but I thought that, seeing as I already have two sweaters for myself on the needles, I'd make my next one a slightly smaller size -- specifically, a size to fit Rainbow.

About a month ago, when she was sick with a virus that left her feeling pretty rotten, I thought I'd distract her by plopping her in front of the computer and showing her ideas for a sweater. She gave me some specifics (namely that she wanted a cardigan rather than a pullover and something with multiple colors) and we looked at search results. Her pick was Hiro Petite, a pattern I'd favorited when it was released. A week later, we took a trip to the LYS to select yarn. I gave her two choices based on what was the right gauge and washable, and she picked Berroco Vintage, which I'd worked with once before. It should come as no surprise that she picked a shade of purple as the main color!

I finally cast on for the sweater on Tuesday night, having swatched over the weekend, and it's moving along at a pretty good clip. I'm in the almost-mindless point now, working in stockinette with a few decreases here and there, though I'm sure once I get to the colorwork yoke I'll really start flying through it. It's such a nice change to be working on a sweater for her (much as I love knitting them for myself) and especially rewarding knowing that she's emotionally invested in it. I'm very much looking forward to the day when she's old enough to learn how to knit so we can knit sweaters together.

For her part, Rainbow's very excited about it and keeps asking me if it's done yet. Knit faster, Mommy, knit faster!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Officially Ready for Fall

Though we're having a bit of a heat wave this week, I can now say that I'm ready for the chilly fall weather. Why? Because I have a new sweater that's roomy and cozy. What's more, in spite of the fact that I ignored it for about a week, I still managed to finish it before the end of the knitalong. Woohoo!

Pattern: Calligraphy Cardigan by Hannah Fettig
Yarn: madelinetosh tosh dk (100% superwash merino wool) in Silver Fox, six full skeins and just a smidge of a seventh
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) Chiao Goo Red Lace needles and US 4 (3.5 mm) Knit Picks Options (for buttonbands)
Started/Completed: September 22/October 21
Mods: eliminated about 2" of length in the body and made adjustments on sleeves to account for errors (see below)

Although this sweater turned out well in the end, it was plagued by some counting issues from the start. I cast on for it on a day when I was woken up by a sick child at 4:30 a.m. and spent several hours in the ER, so by the time I sat down at my LYS that afternoon to begin, I was having trouble counting. I had to have a friend double check that I'd cast on the correct number of stitches before I could start knitting. The next evening, as I was placing markers for my raglan increases, I was obviously distracted by the same sick child and placed my markers incorrectly -- a fact I only discovered about a week later when I was finished with all the increases. At that point, I decided that I didn't want to rip back and determined to fudge the numbers when I knit the sleeves, which I did. The result is that one shoulder is two stitches wider than the other, but I really can't remember now which one it is, so clearly it is not a major issue.

For the first time, I was a really good knitter and alternated skeins every two rows/rounds because I was working with a hand-dyed yarn with some variation from skein to skein. I figured that any variation would be more obvious in a light-colored yarn, and I was right. I didn't alternate skeins as much in the button bands, and I can definitely see a difference. It was a pain to be constantly untwisting and untangling, but I prefer that to the alternative of distinctive blocks of every-so-slightly different colors in the finished sweater.

The only intentional modification I made was to make the sweater a little shorter than called for in the pattern. As written, the sweater is more of a coat-like garment; if I knit it to the specified dimensions, it would have hit well below my butt. I decided that I didn't need a sweater to be quite that long, so I started the bottom ribbing about 2" higher, working the last set of waist increases into the first round of ribbing. As I suspected (because my yarn is a superwash), the sweater did grow some in length when I blocked it, so I think if I'd knit it as written, the sweater might be hanging close to my knees.

Despite eliminating some length, I still needed more yarn than called for in the pattern (just a little bit of an extra skein to do about four or five rows of the second button band) even after using every last bit of the six skeins I started off with. I suspect this is mainly because my row gauge was a little off, meaning I needed more rows per inch than the specified row gauge. I wasn't off a huge amount, but obviously it was enough to need to break in to that seventh skein. The good news is that I still have most of that skein left and it's enough to make a hat or cowl or something with.

My only disappointment in this sweater is the buttons. I picked them out on Saturday at my LYS after much deliberation, and I do like how they look. But as I was sewing them on on Sunday evening, I noticed a funny smell. It took several minutes before I realized the smell was coming from the buttons, and it got increasingly stronger as I kept sewing. I had hoped that the smell would go away after a nice bath with some Soak, but it's still there (albeit not as strong as it once was). It's kind of a chemical smell, so I'm assuming it's from something used to manufacture the buttons, but it is rather foul and might deter me from wearing the sweater if it doesn't go away. I'm hoping that it's just a matter of airing out (the buttons are kept in closed plastic cylinders at the LYS, so there's not much of a chance for a smell to dissipate), but if anyone has suggestions for getting the stink out of stinky buttons, I'm all ears.

Overall, I'm very pleased with this sweater. It was an easy knit (that I still managed to screw up, ha!), and the resulting garment is very much like a favorite boyfriend sweater -- roomy, comfortable, easy to curl up in. I suspect that, assuming I can get rid of the button smell, this will be a favorite sweater for the chilly days of fall and winter ahead.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Absence and the Heart

It's true what they say. I haven't spun in quite a long time because I've been so focused on finishing up my Fall for Tosh sweater, and I've been missing my wheel. The sweater in question is very nearly finished (about four rows on the second button band, eight buttons to sew on, and a handful of ends to weave in), so I sat down at my Lendrum this afternoon for a bit to get reacquainted. It needed some oil, not surprisingly, but was most obliging to me while I worked on a CMF club shipment (July's, in Portuguese wool top). I didn't love the colors in the fiber, but they're growing on me as I spin.

Technically, this is a regional merino, though it's not supersoft. It's spinning up quite nicely, though, and should have a bit of loft when it's plied. I'm suddenly feeling a bit of urgency to get it done because the next shipment arrived while we were on vacation:

This is Clun Forest, and for a nice change it's in roving form rather than top, so I can use it to practice my woolen spinning. This may be my last shipment for quite a while; I believe the club will be continuing for the rest of the year, but I may opt out because I still have so much fiber stashed to spin. I'll wait and see what the fiber choices are first, but I'd be perfectly happy to spin through what I've already got for a while, particularly as I've been hoarding some of it.

As for knitting this week, as soon as I finish up my Calligraphy Cardigan, which should be this evening, I'll be casting on for a Hiro Petite for Rainbow. I swatched last night in the car going to and from a friend's chili cook-off -- don't you just love big needles and thicker yarn?

My stitch gauge is spot on with size 7s (my row gauge is close enough). I have a feeling that this will be a very quick and fun knit!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Too Ambitious

We got back from out trip last night, and it appears that I was a bit overambitious in my selection of knitting projects to take. I ditched the hat project the night before we left after I had gauge problems, so it was just my Peckish sample for Knit Picks and a skein of handspun to become socks. The latter went into my checked bag and was untouched for the entire course of the trip. Though I spent much of the two four-hour flights working on the shawl, I actually spent very little time knitting while we were there. We spent most of the trip walking around and exploring or by the pool -- neither of which was very conducive to knitting. I finished up the last of the border on the shawl today, so tonight is all about weaving in ends and blocking. I'm hoping to take photos and get this in the mail this weekend.

We've officially entered bad lighting season

Tomorrow I plan to spend the day at my LYS, finishing (or getting close to finishing) my Calligraphy Cardigan. I have half a sleeve and button bands left, so I should be able to wrap things up by the time I have to go back to work!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Checklist

I've got about a day and a half until we leave for our trip and still quite a bit to do. I have to pack up Rainbow's stuff tonight (she'll be staying with the grandparents tomorrow night to facilitate a quick exit by us on Saturday morning) and then pack my stuff tomorrow. The weather looks like it's going to be good, so that will make my packing job easier. The hard part is selecting what knitting to take.

I already know that my Peckish shawl for Knit Picks is coming with me on the plane, where I hope it will get finished. Then I'm planning to take a skein of handspun to knit Rainbow that butterfly hat, but I'm also thinking that perhaps I should take a skein of sock yarn just in case I finish the other projects or need a change of pace. A simple vanilla pair of socks would be easy because I wouldn't have to drag another pattern around with me, and I could do them in a skein of handspun for some extra fun. That's not overkill, right? It's a five-day trip, but there are two long plane rides in there -- and it is vacation, after all.

Handspun for Rainbow's hat

Tonight's task, after packing for the toddler, is to wind all the yarn I'll be taking. And as long as I have the swift and ball winder out, I might as well make good use of them, right? (Remind me to tell you sometime why it's such a big deal to get them out in the first place.) I might as well wind the additional skein of tosh dk that I bought last weekend to finish my Calligraphy Cardigan, and then there are the skeins of handspun that are waiting to go into my Goodale, which will be picked up again once my Calligraphy is finished.

There's still all the usual stuff to do before a trip -- clean out my purse and wallet, go to the bank, make sure I have all the important documents and personal stuff -- but I think I'll feel a lot better once the knitting situation is squared away.

I'll be taking my computer with us to check e-mail but likely not blogging until we get back, so see you on the flip side!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Sleeve the First

It should come as no surprise that I'm still working on my Calligraphy Cardigan, though I am getting closer to completion. Over the weekend, I did finish the body, so I at least met that goal, and started in on the first sleeve. When it put it down for the night last night, I had it done about to the elbow and had only three sets of decreases left to do.

The sleeve is not going as fast as it could because I'm still alternating skeins every two rounds, which means at least a little untwisting and repositioning of yarn sources every round. Still, the rounds get shorter as I go, so I'm reasonably optimistic that I'll have the first sleeve done by tomorrow and make a good start on the second sleeve by the end of the week.

In the meantime, I'm still working on my Peckish sample for Knit Picks and am about two-thirds of the way through the stripes. Unlike my sweater sleeves, the further I go on this project, the longer the rows get. The Mister and I are leaving for a little anniversary trip (our fifth was last month) on Saturday and we'll have a fairly long plane ride, so I'm hoping all that uninterrupted time -- Rainbow is not coming with us! -- will mean a finished shawl. Ideally, I'd like to have this done, blocked, photographed, and shipped back by next weekend at the absolute latest.

Of course I will be taking a back-up project with me just in case I finish a lot faster than expected. We're experiencing unseasonably chilly weather here this week, so I'm thinking that a handspun hat for Rainbow might be a good thing to take. I've already selected a pattern and have a skein of handspun that just needs to be wound, so that's one more thing to add to my to-do list before we leave.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

In Which I Visit My LYS

Although it's Sunday, I haven't touched my wheel all week, so this isn't your run-of-the-mill Sunday post. Instead, this post is all about how I've enhanced my stash this weekend. If you can believe it, I visited my LYS a total of three times in the last two days -- and made a purchase at each and every visit. Lest you think I'm blowing my paycheck and going crazy due to wool fumes, I can tell you that two of the three purchases were for very specific things.

The first trip was yesterday morning, right as the shop opened, and I had Rainbow with me. In return for her accompanying me to get a flu shot (she had hers last week), I took her to the shop to pick out yarn and colors for the sweater I promised I'd knit her this fall, Hiro Petite. She'd picked out the pattern herself two weekends ago when she was sick and I was trying to cheer her up a bit, but she'd been coming up with different color combinations all week, ever since I'd told her I was going to take her to the yarn store to pick out colors. In the end, this is what she chose:

The colors are not quite accurate here, but the two skeins in the back are a gorgeous deep royal purple (the colorway is Pansy). The two skeins in the front -- Pool Party and Banana -- will be the contrast colors. All four skeins are Berroco Vintage, a wool/acrylic/nylon blend. Normally I'd choose a regular wool, but given all the messes she gets into these days, I needed it to be washable, and obviously I had to give her a lot of color choices. This really fit the bill. I've used the yarn in the past and really enjoyed it, so I'm sure this'll be another pleasurable knit.

I was back at the shop in the afternoon for my usual Saturday afternoon knitting time (working diligently on my Calligraphy Cardigan) and decided that I would treat myself to another sweater's worth because the store's pre-inventory store was in full swing. I've had Heidi Kirrmaier's Vitamin D pattern in my queue for quite some time but have almost no sportweight yarn in my stash. I'd also had my eye on a yarn line at the shop for a while and decided this was time to give it a try.

This is Imperial Yarn Tracie Too in a colorway called Rain. The color in the photo is pretty accurate -- it's a slightly blue-tinged gray. I'm really looking forward to knitting with this.

The third LYS trip was this afternoon and was necessitated by the fact that I had just about finished the bottom ribbing on my Calligraphy Cardigan before going to bed last night. Despite the fact that I'd cut about two inches of length from the body, it was pretty apparent when I put it down last night that the two untouched skeins left for this sweater were probably not going to be enough to finish both sleeves and the (pretty wide) button bands. So today I ran over to pick up one extra skein, which, thankfully, they still had. Then I came home and finished off the ribbing. This isn't the best picture, but you can see just how much yarn has gone into this sweater so far:

I've got just a small amount left in the third and fourth skeins (probably less than 10 yards in each), so I'm glad I picked up the extra one!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Sweater Growing

Still here, still working on the same old sweater. I'm spending time working on my Calligraphy Cardigan just about every day; in a good evening, I can add about two inches to the body, which is not too shabby. After a productive evening at knit night last night, I'm now through three (of five) sets of increases and the body is now measuring about 12" below the underarm.

Last night I took a closer look at the schematic and pulled out the measuring tape to realize that if I knit this sweater as specified, it's going to end up covering my tush. Now, I often add length to my sweaters so that they don't ride up when I sit or bend over, but this might be a bit too long for me, so I may remove a couple of inches worth of length.

This is all related to the fact that I've reached that inevitable stage in the process of knitting a sweater: the moment when I begin to panic that I will not have enough yarn to finish. At the moment, I have two untouched skeins of yarn, and I believe that finishing the body will use the better part of the two skeins that are attached at the moment (I'm alternating skeins every two rows). Once I finish the body, I'll still have two sleeves and a total of 6 inches of 2x2 ribbing to do on the button bands. I keep reminding myself that I'm using the yarn specified in the pattern, I bought the specified number of skeins, and my gauge is off just enough to work in my favor (I'm getting just slightly fewer stitches to the inch than I should). I also had way more than enough yarn when I knit my Effortless Cardigan, which was by the same designer and in the same yarn, so chances are I'll be okay this time around, too. It's still not stopping me from knitting faster (because knitting faster makes the yarn last longer, right?).

If there's a bright side to all of this it's that it's looking very good that I'll finish this sweater by the end of the knitalong, which is the end of the month. We have a fairly uneventful weekend ahead of us, and I'd like to finish the body by the end of it.

Meanwhile, on other needles, I'm working on yet another Peckish, this time in Knit Picks Stroll (or, as I like to call it, the Yarn Formerly Known as Essential), for the KP IDP program. I haven't used the yarn in quite a while, and it's a lot softer and fluffier than I remember (though it's quite possible that it didn't used to be merino). I've been working on this primarily during my lunch breaks during the week but will have to step it up a bit soon because I've promised to get the sample back before the end of the month. I will likely take this with me when the Mister and I go on an anniversary trip the week after next; I think it will make for great airplane and waiting around knitting because I won't need to refer to a pattern.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Under the Arms

After recovering from the counting debacle, I regrouped over the weekend and starting knitting the body of my Calligraphy Cardigan. There is little to think about at this point -- just some fairly widely spaced decreases -- so I was able to go on autopilot during my regular Saturday-afternoon knitting time at my LYS. By Saturday night, I was able to join the third and fourth skeins of yarn (I'm being really good and alternating skeins every two rows). I put in a little more time yesterday afternoon while the other residents of the house napped and am now ready to work my final set of waist decreases.

I should be able to get to the first set of increases, at least, tonight, and perhaps I'll get to the bottom ribbing by the end of the week.

I took a little break from knitting last night and spent a little quality time with my wheel, which had been ignored for more than a week. I started spinning up the last unspun Crown Mountain Farms fiber club shipment, from July, which is 4 oz. of Portuguese wool top (essentially a regional variety of merino). I don't really love this colorway, but the fiber is easy to spin and I might change my mind entirely when it's plied. It really just felt good to spin a bit and lose myself in the rhythm of treadling.