Monday, October 6, 2014

K'done: Nanook Cardigan

It is ridiculously tricky to take a picture of oneself wearing a sweater in order to show off said sweater using a smartphone camera.

Also, my vanity demands that I clarify that that odd lump near my waistline is my belt under my top - not some weird tummy tumour.

Pattern: Nanook, by Heidi Kirrmaier
Yarn: Dream in Color Classy, in Cocoa Kiss
Needles: 5 mm / US 8

Fall makes me crazy for sweaters. The air gets a chill, and suddenly I want to knit eighteen new sweaters for myself so that I can be perpetually wrapped in cozy wool. Too bad for me, fall is back-to-school season, which puts me back in the classroom, with all the responsibilities that come along with that, meaning I don't really have the time to knit all the sweaters that scream for my attention, and the ones that I do manage to squeeze in take their shapes somewhat slowly. Usually the sweater bug starts to nibble at my brain in August, and sometimes that leads to me whipping out a sweater in the month before my schedule gets clogged with work responsibilities, and I get to rejoice in having a brand new knit by me sweater when sweater weather truly hits.

This year, pounding out a sweater in August turned out to not be possible, but by some stroke of luck I had a couple of sweaters that I'd started earlier in the year that had lingered into summer. This was one of them. I started it way back in January, and worked on it here and there until the heat of summer, the Tour de Sock, and the realization that the yarn would not last forever hit, and then in a fit of yarn chicken I set it aside. I picked it up and finished it in early August, then washed and blocked it and set it aside for a time when I could wear it without melting.

That time is now.

I love it. I hope this trend for swingy open cardigans with oversized fronts sticks around for a while, because now I've got three of them, and I am dreading the day where I can't wear them anymore without looking horribly gauche. I may opt to close up the cardigan using cufflinks one of these days, but that day hasn't come yet.

The knitting was great for this one. The Bear Track lace was fun to work, and the chart was memorizable. Once you're done with the lace, you transition to stockinette for the back of the yoke, and garter for the fronts. I must confess, I was a tiny bit worried about garter stitch on a sweater, but it's just right for the big floppy fronts of this one. So squooshy. I modded the decrease rate on the fronts - instead of decreasing every 6 rows, I decreased every 12, to keep the fronts big. I briefly contemplated not doing any decreases at all, but figured the designer put them in for a reason (to prevent the fronts from getting too heavy), so I figured a rate that was half of the pattern as written would be a reasonable compromise. If I were to close the sweater up, the bottom corners of the fronts would just barely meet.

Tech specs: I used a (now-standard for me) Chinese Waitress CO and double chain BO throughout. My gauge was off - I knit this at 20 sts to 4" instead of 18 - so I knit the M1 size (36" bust), hoping the smaller gauge would bring it down closer to 33", which is what I'd need for zero ease. I haven't actually measured the finished garment, but it fits me, so I'm calling it a successful gauge tinker. (I have since learned that a 5.5 mm needle would actually have gotten me target gauge, but oh well.)

A note on the yarn: Dream in Color has recently changed their Classy base yarn, and what I used was the old Classy. Truthfully, it's a bit scratchier than I would have liked, which I suppose is what prompted them to find a new softer base. The scritchiness played into my decision to use this yarn for this cardigan - with another top on underneath, it's not typically against the skin, so I don't notice the scratch factor. I have worn this sweater with just a t-shirt underneath, and the skin on my arms seems to tolerate it well enough, but I do feel a bit of a prickle here and there. I don't have any of the new Classy to see how it compares, touch-wise. Maybe I should get some.

How's that for justification?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

K'done: Goodbye California Cowl

Every time I think of the name of this pattern, I get Dani California stuck in my head.

Pattern: Goodbye California, by Liz Abinante
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh DK, in Firewood
Needles: 5 mm / US 8

I knit this cowl in three days. Three. From cast on to bind off, including a few minutes to weave in the ends. It sat for a long time before I was able to block it, and the first day I wore it I didn't get a chance to take a picture with decent light. Today seems to have worked out, though, and I am so happy to have this cowl in my collection.

I made this while we were on vacation on Vancouver Island, staying with the Mister's parents. I remember as I was packing for the trip, I had the supplies for a pair of socks for my sister, and the supplies for this cowl, and I wondered if I had packed enough for the ten days we would be there, and gave myself a little shake, reasoning that I don't really knit that quickly, this would be plenty.

And then I knit this cowl in three days.

Yes, I did run out of knitting on that trip. It was okay, though - I ran out of supplies two or three days before we flew home, and the flight's a short one, only an hour and a bit. I suppose I could have aimlessly knit a crazy long stretch of i-cord with the remnant yarn from the socks. Instead I responded to the lack of yarn by devouring October Daye novels - I think I read three of them over the whole trip, burning through the third and a good chunk of the second in those days without knitting.

But back to the cowl.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed knitting this cowl. The whole thing is textured with just knits and purls, and in preparing for it I was a little worried that after the adventures of the Tour de Sock, I might find this one a bit underwhelming. Clearly, that was wrong. Once I cast on, I didn't want to put the thing down. The texture pattern is fairly easy to memorize - once you've got it set up there's a logical rhythm to the knit/purl placement in order to achieve the overall effect, so I didn't need to look at the chart very much even in the early rounds, and once I'd completed an entire repeat I don't think I ever looked at the chart again. (Maybe a peek or two, if I was too tired to think about what should come next.)

Maybe it was the charm of the yarn, or the logic of the texture pattern, but I found the execution of this one to be deeply satisfying. I generally find the act of knitting soothing, calming, and entertaining all at once, but this one really pulled me in. I really really like the finished cowl, too - it's completely reversible, so I'm never worried about whether it's gotten twisted the wrong way. In fact, the only way I can tell which side is supposed to be the right side is by looking for where I wove the ends in - I took care to weave them both in on the same side, the original wrong side. I'm so pleased with this project that I kind of want to make more cowls with this pattern, using up more of my Tosh DK mini-stash.

Tech specs: I used a Chinese Waitress cast on, and finished with a double chain bind off. I worked for as long as I could until the yarn ran out - in the end it amounted to 3.5 chart repeats, with a small amount of yarn leftover, possibly enough to add one extra round, but I wanted to end at a point that was logical for the texture pattern, which would have been either at the halfway point in the chart, or at the end of the chart.

I may indeed make more of these. It's hard to justify, though, when there are so many other cowl patterns in my queue.

In the meantime, I'm trying very hard not to gain a reputation at work as That weirdo in the cowl.

Monday, September 8, 2014

K'done: Gemini pullover


Pattern: Gemini, by Jane Richmond
Yarn: Claudia Hand Painted Yarns Fingering, in Last Night's Wine
Needles: 4.5 mm / US 7

Wow was this ever a close one. When all was said and done I had less than one gram of yarn remaining. Yeesh.

So, yeah. There were some modifications done here! First off, I held the yarn double, to end up with non-gauzy fabric with the thinner yarn. Second, I wanted the sleeves to be more close-fitting than they would have been as written, so I changed the increase rate for the raglan lines: instead of increasing every row once the lace portion of the yoke had been completed, I only increased every row for the front and back portions, while increasing every other row for the sleeves. Third, I shortened the body: in the end, I think I only worked about 16" from the neckline, then switched over to ribbing, and then I only worked 6 rounds of ribbing before binding off and moving on to finish up the sleeves. Fourth: I shortened the sleeves: I picked up the held stitches and knit one round, then worked 6 rounds of ribbing before binding off.

Slightly different angle.

I'm quite happy with the result, although in a perfect world I think I would have preferred to have an extra inch or so on the body - it rides up a little when I'm sitting down. I can still absolutely wear it to work - short sleeves and square neck mean that lifting my arm to, say, point upward at a projected image doesn't cause the whole garment to shift up and expose my tummy. I just can't lift both my arms.

Still, I got a complete garment, with no funny mismatched bits, and remember, less than a gram of yarn left at the end. I'm calling it a win!

Tech specs: cable cast on at neck, double chain bindoff at all bound edges. Some comments on Ravelry suggest that the cast on edge could be bolstered with some crochet, but I don't know how to do that. I didn't find the neckline overly loose with the cable cast on anyway - things seemed to stay in place well enough for the night out I took it on. Fingering yarn was held double, no alternating of skeins done, and I don't think any transition lines are obvious - did Russian joins to join new yarn on.

My original intent had been to wear it to my first real day back to work, but the temperatures plummeted to single digits, and I got another 8 AM class, and I wimped out about wearing such a tiny sweater when it would only be about 5 C outside. (I don't work outside, but I do have to walk between buildings, and the buildings tend to be on the cooler side of things when it's cold out anyway.) I did get to wear it to go out to dinner Sunday night, though, so it has been publicly debuted, without any sort of embarrassing incidents. Definitely a win.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Block party

I'm quite sure I'm not the first person to make that pun. Still, I like it, so I guess I'll just be unoriginal.

I finally got around to blocking two of the three finished things that have been sitting idle, waiting to be fully finished. I did the purple short-sleeved sweater - which, by the way, I just barely had enough yarn to finish - and a cowl I knit while in BC. Still waiting for its turn is a grey sweater.

And, um, three older sweaters that need to be handwashed. Eh, I'll get there.

Getting those two items off the couch makes me feel a whole lot better about the brown sweater that will be cast on very soon - the yarn is all wound up now. And maybe I'll make another cowl.

Plus I've been putting some time into a hat for the resident Mister. Oh, and Sock Sniper is starting up soon - I'm non-combatant, but last year my sister picked one of the patterns and got another pair of socks, and I think that will be happening again this year, provided at least one of the patterns isn't lacy.

I still haven't had that filing party I need to have, so the appearance of disaster still abounds. I did make some good progress on real work things, though, so there's that. At least there's a good reason why I haven't tidied up around here.

Well. I would say that Had to knit stuff is an excellent reason not to tidy up. Other people, however, seem to have differing opinions on that.

Monday, August 25, 2014

One way or the other

I may have fallen down the rabbit hole at Little Knits in the past week. Not just once, but twice. In fairness to me, I was starting to slip, and then my sister slipped, so we took a couple of combined tumbles. So even though it's not all mine, there's still a couple of boxes of yarn on their way here, and that always makes me look around at what's already here. Gotta make room for the new arrivals.

Around here is a complete sty right now - we're about to embark on a renovation journey, having recently completed a house purchase journey, so there are property listings and mortgage paperwork sort of strewn all over the table in the living room - I need to have a filing party somewhat soon - and boxes of things for the new place like bathroom fixtures and a new bed frame are also being piled up wherever we can find the space. Add this chaos to the fact that while I appreciate clean and tidy places, I lack the sort of diligence required to maintain a clean and tidy space, meaning I tend to leave my stuff in the places I usually haunt, so there's also a lot of yarn in the area surrounding the living room table. A couple of things are all knit up and waiting for blocking, some stuff is in progress, some is wound up and waiting.

Like I said, though, I did some assessing of the current state of affairs, and when I moved a pile of real estate paperwork off the couch, I discovered this underneath:

That's a nearly complete sweater right there. Why did it get buried?

Because I'm playing yarn chicken with it.

Apparently, the game of yarn chicken can go two ways. Sometimes, it makes me especially obsessive with a project - I try to knit faster, which really means I knit on it whenever possible, as if it were possible to finish the project early and in doing so not run out of yarn. As if yarn has a lifetime based on days elapsed since cast on, and not actual yardage. But other times, when I start to worry about running short, I go the other way - I back right off, almost as if I'm trying to give the yarn a bit of time to grow so that I will be sure to have enough to finish.

Of course, if you think about it, neither approach makes any sense whatsoever. But there they are.

There's very little left on this sweater - it's a short-sleeved one, the pattern only has me work about 12 rounds on each sleeve, and I think I'll do another 1/4" or so on the body before doing an inch or so of ribbing. Really, I should pick this up again and just get through it - I could plausibly get it done before classes resume next week!

Besides, then I would feel less guilty about having started to wind up this:

At the very least, I should probably finish the purple sweater before I cast on the brown.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

K'done: Plain Socks

I finished these ages ago. Ages ago.

Pattern: None, just a plain ol' stockinette sock, cobbled together from my experience
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, in Blackwatch Plaid
Needles: 2.25 mm / US 1

Honest, according to my Rav notes, I finished them in May - on her birthday, actually, and I do have a vague memory of flinging them at her or tucking them into the gift bag her actual gift was in. (I did say the memory was vague.) I just never blogged them until now because I only took that picture of her wearing them last week, while we were out on Vancouver Island.

There's not actually much for me to say about these socks - I wanted to try out my new Sigs when they arrived, and plain stockinette seemed a good first run, which meant I could reach for a crazier colourway. She added this yarn to an online order I was placing based primarily off the name, and neither of us was quite sure what to do with it when it arrived. Plain socks seemed a good match, and once she was on board, I was off and running. Well, off and knitting.

Not in any super zippy way, though. Just a round here, a few stitches there, most of the knitting was accomplished as I waited in the car. But that's the great thing about this craft - a little here, a little there, and you'll get to a finished object.

I know I've been silent for a while. We were away. Again. I've got more stuff to show you. It needs blocking, though. So, you know. It might be a little while.

Monday, August 4, 2014

DNF: Tour de Sock 2014

The Tour is over, the dust has settled, and I am here to sheepishly confess that I did not finish. I didn't knit the last pair, a pair of double knit socks.

What happened? Well, timing was the major player. The sixth pattern was released while I was on holiday with my parents and siblings in London, England. I had taken all my supplies with me, fully intending to knit during our down moments, with the plane ride home and the last day of the Tour available for a mad sprint to the finish line as needed.

The thing is, there weren't many down moments on this particular vacation - which is sort of unusual for my family, we usually holiday as a pretty laid-back bunch - and I've never done double knitting before. I cast on, worked the first toe, and realized that there was no way. No way I would ever finish by the deadline. I was too slow with it, and there weren't enough moments for me to make much headway before the flight and the final sprint day, which would mean the best case scenario would have me knitting the second sock in a single day - and I have yet to do that with non-double knitting (single knitting?).

I considered persevering, as a learning experience. Then I fiddled with the doubly thick fabric I was getting, and considered that I wouldn't be able to wear these socks with shoes, which means I'd hardly wear them, and did I really want to use up two skeins of precious sponsor yarn on a single pair of socks that wouldn't see much use?

So I heaved a sigh, and pulled out what I'd done.

In fact, once the haze of the race had cleared, I had to face the fact that I'm not wild about the way my Wye socks were fitting, so once we were home again, I pulled those apart too.

So this year's Tour has me in a three-way tie for 82nd place, and I have four pairs of socks to show for it.

I have a glint in my eye to do better next year.

Until then? I have other things to turn my attention to. Like this:

That there is an Owlie sock, the second in a pair I started for my sister last summer, flailing about between stages of Tour 2013. I got the first one done, and about half of the leg of the second, and then I put them down for rather a long time. Knitting them rapidly became rather chore-like - the needles are the 'new' Knit Picks Sunstruck DPNs, a batch of the made in China ones, and wow I do not like them. They feel sort of plasticky, and the stitches seem to stick more than with my other KP needles - all of which were from made in India batches. I could have switched the needles, but at the time when I set the sock aside, I was thoroughly sick of the whole thing, and when I finally picked it back up again to take as in-flight knitting to London, I was a bit worried about needle confiscation at the airport, particularly leaving Heathrow to come back, and left these ones in, reasoning that I wouldn't be terribly upset if they were taken from me. As an aside, there was no problem at all in either direction. (I didn't really expect to lose them departing from Canada.)

Anyway. They're nearly done now, I'm just playing a bit of yarn chicken. I've only got a few rounds left of the foot before starting the toe decreases. Will the yarn hold out?

Admittedly, this is not a particularly high-stakes game of yarn chicken - I have more, there's a remnant cake of this yarn from the first sock...somewhere. I have a pretty good idea of where it is, but I could be wrong. Either way, my life will be easier if this yarn makes it to the end.

Which would be good, because my sister wants these socks, and running out of yarn just before Kitchenering will force me to put the sock down while I search out that remnant cake, and if I am feeling frustrated, who knows how long it will be before I pick it up again...