Sunday, November 15, 2015

Keep moving forward

The sun is shining today, so I snapped a picture of Big Blue:

I've done the armhole decreases, and am just chugging up towards the shoulders. I'm hoping to have a finished back piece in pretty short order, and then move on to the sleeves.

I've also finished my mittens, but they're still damp from yesterday's soaking. I took a picture of them, but I want to give them their own post.

Looking at how much yarn that sweater back has eaten up so far, I'm ever so glad that we did the yarn switch. I have a feeling the back piece is going to take nearly two whole skeins, and yes, it's true that I reverted back to my original plan of knitting the garment for positive ease, and in the end the length went back to where the pattern said it should be - I held it up against my sister's back and asked her how she liked the length, and she fiddled with it a bit, and asked for a little more. I guess she was on board with my previous shortening plan just for the sake of getting a sweater. So all 16" of length from bottom hem to underarm are there.

It's getting to be a pretty big piece, hence the name Big Blue. It is so very blue. Sister is thrilled.

My brain, meanwhile, still wants me to make myself a sweater, and I've pretty well settled on Runcorn. I've even figured out my yarn! The thing is, the gauge listed is 20 sts to 4", which I know I get with 5 mm needles, and while I have a couple of sets of Knit Picks interchangeables kicking about here that I like perfectly well, I would rather use my spiffy Sigs. (I have it in my head that for sweaters, I prefer the Sigs. I have no evidence to support this conclusion.)

You know, the ones currently in Big Blue.

So I guess I'd better hurry it up and finish Big Blue so I can make Runcorn for me.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Let me try this out

I may have found a solution to my picture problem.

There's got to be a more elegant way to get the next chunk of text to appear beneath my image, rather than beside it. As of this moment, I've got 14 line breaks in there as a sort of brute force workaround. (This note is mostly for my own reference.)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

K'done: two sets of Sister socks

Look! Sister socks!

Pattern: Roman Holiday socks, by Lorain Pettit
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Multi, in Diving Board Multi
Needles: 2.25 mm / US 1

Um. I finished these a long time ago. Like, 5 February 2015. What happened? I neglected to take pictures of them before handing them off to my sister, and then kept forgetting to snap pictures when she was wearing them. I finally remembered last week, so here they are, in all their glory.

I really liked this pattern, but I gotta say, the socks aren't terribly impressive-looking when they're not on feet - the texture pattern is pretty satisfying work (or maybe that's just me and my increasing obsession with knit-purl textures), but when you're done, you find yourself looking down at these sort of corrugated bent tubes with one end closed. For reasons I don't fully understand, they look much nicer once you slam them onto some feet. I got the pattern in last year's Sock Sniper - I was non-combatant, which is why my sister got the socks, and yes, I finished way after the game was done - but if you are so inclined, the designer has made it available on Rav for free.

But wait! There's more!

Pattern: Effervesce, by Purrlescent
Yarn: Mackintosh Yarns Celtic Sock, in Taurus
Needles: 2.25 mm / US 1

I know. These pics aren't splendiferous. I'll have to try again when I see my sister wearing them, but that could take a while because I really only see her in the evenings, and we've just begun the season of no sun in the evenings, and it's not going to get better until spring. I'm not holding my breath.

It's a shame my pictures don't do justice to this pattern. It popped up on my radar my first year playing Tour de Sock - it's designed by one of my faboo teammates! She's got a number of free sock patterns up on Rav, and I went through and snagged the ones that appealed to me. This one also appealed to my sister, and was her pick for her summer vacation socks - I wound the yarn, divided it into two cakes, and then packed it to come along with us to Europe. The first was cast on as we were waiting to board the plane to leave Calgary, and by the time we'd landed in Toronto to change planes, I had a couple of inches or so of leg.

And then I noticed I'd done something wrong - I was so excited I didn't count the cable twists on the chart, and assumed it was for only half the leg. It's not. It's the whole leg, so I had to take the sock back down to the ribbing and try again. I did that on our second flight, from Toronto to Copenhagen. That's a pretty long flight, but they also give you food, and I may have nodded off for a bit at some point as well - it's been awhile, my memory's a bit fuzzy. Either way, we landed in Copenhagen, and I had a decent chunk of leg - more than what I'd had in Toronto, but not yet a complete leg. We then boarded our shuttle to go to the cruise terminal, boarded the cruise ship, got settled in our cabins, and crashed out for naps before dinner and a somewhat early bedtime.

The next day, after we'd spent several hours exploring Oslo - our first port of call - I settled in to put some more stitches into the sock, and noticed it didn't really look right. I stared at my work for a few minutes, and then realized what the problem was - I had been working the 'bubbles' wrong. Mine were hollow, with purls between the twisted knits that make up the edges. Those purls are supposed to be knits. The nearly complete leg came out, back to the ribbing again, and I very maturely resisted the urge to fling the yarn overboard. (I don't think Sister would have understood.)

Once those hurdles were overcome, the rest of the sock was fine. It should be noted that none of my mishaps were due to the pattern - it is well written, and the charts are absolutely clear and not at all confusing. I had problems because I didn't look too carefully at the charts. Had I done so, it would all have been fine on the first pass. (It should also be noted that I was careful in setting up the ribbing, which was without fault.) I finished the first sock on the second part of our flight back home (London to Toronto), since we actually didn't have much downtime on the trip, and the second sock was cast on a few days later as we were departing for a week on Vancouver Island with the Mister's parents. By this point, however, I was feeling pretty done with the pattern - I suppose that's what happens when you knit the leg of the first sock twice, plus a bit of a third round for good measure - so my progress slowed as I distracted myself with other things. The pair was eventually wrapped up in, um, early October.

I suppose this means that I should start setting things in motion for another pair of Sister socks pretty soon.

Well. I'll finish her current sweater first. And maybe the other sweater that just needs sleeves. Sigh. It so often comes down to the sleeves.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


The Friday before Halloween, I found some time to put into the back piece of my sister's latest sweater, and I was pretty pleased with what I was getting. Behold, the two finished sleeves (one blocked, one not) and the beginnings of the back:

Now, the eagle-eyed may note that there is no working needle there. That's because when I showed the piece to my sister that evening, I saw a shadow cross her face. A shadow that meant that she had doubts about the fabric I was showing her. Doubts that are pretty straightforward to identify: this is a variegated yarn, and she had concerns that the variegation in the fabric was competing with and obscuring the texture of the pattern.

To be perfectly honest, I don't think it's that bad. Then again, maybe I'm biased, because the Mister walked into the room right then, and asked why we were both staring so hard at a bit of knitting, and I told him that she was concerned that the texture was getting lost in the yarn, and he looked at it for about one and a half seconds and said, Totally. That sealed the deal. I pointed out to my sister that there was other yarn in a suitable weight and quantity available, and while it wasn't solid, it was tonal, so it should play better with the texture. I then proceeded to fetch up that yarn, and show it to her, and, in a fit of once-bitten-twice-shy attitude, expressed concern that the same muddling would happen.

So I wound the yarn, cast on for the back piece, and put in some time.

She's much happier with this go, which means I am happier. I'm coming running up on the beginning of the armhole shaping - I think I have three or so inches to go - and then once the back's done, I'll move on to the sleeves.

Sister expressed some concern over all the knitting I had previously done that was now all for naught. I just shrugged it all off. It actually doesn't bother me in the slightest. I reminded her that I really like knitting, so doing more knitting is never a problem. My priority here is to make a sweater she likes and will actually wear - I don't want to make something she'll never use, which would truly be a waste of my time. Starting over because it turns out the yarn and pattern combo wasn't working out? No biggie, in my books.

Of course, some might point out that the whole bad combo thing would have been made apparent much earlier if I had bothered to knit a swatch in the texture pattern. My usual strategy of knitting a sleeve as a swatch didn't work out this time around because the sleeves are straight up stockinette, with a garter stitch cuff - they're not textured the way the body is, so I didn't see the combination of texture and yarn until rather a bit later. Well. That's true. Use that information as you see fit. I'm going to carry on as I have because, as I said earlier, I'm not the least bit bothered by this setback.

In fact, there's a silver lining - no more yarn chicken! I've even gone back to my original plan of knitting the pattern size S, with all the positive ease that entails, and I'm not shortening it quite as much as I had been planning on before - still nipping out an inch, because we're still short (in terms of height, not in yardage!), but that's it. Should be cozy.

I am mildly disappointed that I'll now never know if I would have made it or not, and I realize that some others may also be disappointed that the potentially wild ride just won't be happening anymore. I'm sorry? I'm sure there will be other games of yarn chicken - though if I'm smart about it, none of them will have the odds stacked against me quite so firmly.

Others might be looking at my progress thus far and thinking it seems a bit light. Well. It's true that I don't get to knit as much as I'd like, you know, working and all, but that's not my entire knitterly output for the last little while.

I'm also super close to having a new pair of mittens. Which is great, because hand-coverings weather is here, and all of my existing ones are still in a box in the basement, and I have very little inclination to dig them out. Especially when I'm so close to having new ones anyway.

Yes. I know. My photos are a bit fuzzy. It's compression blur, I think. I take a lovely picture with my phone, upload it to Photobucket, crop it, and then it all goes fuzzy when I resize it to fit in nicely with the template here. I'm trying to figure a solution that doesn't cost me money. Suggestions are welcome.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Once more unto the breach

I am more nervous than I should be.

I've decided to plunge ahead and try to knit the back piece of Sun Prairie. Logic: if I need to use 2 skeins of yarn to knit the back piece, then I will know that I am well and truly screwed, because I'm quite sure that I cannot coax the two fronts into being with less than a skein of yarn. With my planned downsizing adjustments, I'm reasonable sure I can make them work from less than 2. I'm hoping 1.5 will do the trick.

I realize being nervous about this is sort of silly - there are far worse fates to befall a person in this life. Still, not getting the sweater I had planned on would be disappointing, both for me and my sister.

Also, it's terribly embarrassing.

Here I go. Wish me luck. Please.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Some evidence

In my last post, I sort of wondered about my present mental state - whether I was delusional, or unreasonable, or simply not very smart.

I have some evidence to submit.

Here we have a lovely finished and blocked sleeve, and most of the second sleeve. Notice how little yarn is left attached to the sleeve-in-progress. I was fully expecting that, because I needed a bit more than a skein to do the first sleeve. When I got to the end of the yarn the first time, and was not yet at the end of the sleeve, I sort of shrugged like no biggie, and reached for another skein to join on. I have lots of yarn. Whatever. As I approached the point where I would need to join on again to finish off sleeve number 2, a little alarm bell sounded in my head. It was a question.

Do I really have lots of yarn?

I gave myself a little shake. Of course I've got lots. I started with 5 skeins of madelinetosh tosh vintage, that's 1000 yards. Should be plenty to do a sweater.

The alarm sounded again. Are you sure?

I reminded myself that I had checked the yardage requirements before starting, and I wouldn't have started if I didn't have enough, and then, when the alarm wouldn't shut up, I pulled up the Rav pattern page so I could double check and put my mind at ease.

The pattern page does not have a yardage line.

I looked at the pattern, and it doesn't give a yardage requirement either, but it tells you how many skeins of the recommended yarn are needed for each size. I'd decided, since the pattern was designed for positive ease, to do the size S (38" finished bust), and the pattern said I would need 12 50 g skeins to do it.

12 x 50 g = 600 g

5 x 100 g = 500 g

OOPS. When I looked at the pattern initially, I had looked at the finished measurements and figured I could get the size XS (34" bust) to work with what I had. Then I totally forgot about that, and then hauled off and made a larger size. Big problem.

But wait! That's not the end of it! The recommended yarn is 125 yards to 50 g.

10 (the number of skeins needed for the XS) x 125 yards = 1250 yards.

Now, now I have a major problem. I have almost two sleeves that I have shown to my sister, and she likes them, and likes that they are a bit roomy, so they're going to stay, but I absolutely do not have enough yarn to finish the sweater as written.

I'm going to try messing with modifying the pattern for this particular round of yarn chicken. First up, the body will be knitted as an XS. This means it will be a leaner fit sweater, which honestly I like better anyway. I spent a bunch of time staring at the modeled sample shots, and that thing looks pretty huge on the model in a lot of them when the intended 4" of positive ease are in there, so I think I can get away with going down a size in the body without ending up with a sweater that's really too small. Second up, I'm lopping 2 inches off the bottom hem. My sister is the same height as me - short - so we don't really need 16" of length from underarm to bottom hem. In fact, that's probably a particularly good mod, since it should make the sweater length fall at high hip, and my sister is a pear (I'm sure she'd be thrilled that I just told the Internet that), so having the sweater not end where she's widest should be more flattering. Third up, I'm seriously considering narrowing the fronts a bit - as written the sweater has a wide shawl collar - like, 6" wide that folds over - and while as written it's cozy, I think I can take it down a touch without sacrificing the cozy factor. As written, each of the XS fronts is about 10" wide at the bottom, so I think some of that can go.

Think that futzing will result in a complete sweater with the available yarn? Gah, I get a little mentally sweaty just thinking about how this game of yarn chicken is going to play out.

Pretty sure this one should be tallied as evidence in favour of option #3. In fact, it could probably even be strengthened. I am not merely "dim". I am apparently a moron.

Sigh. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a sleeve to finish, and a decision to make about whether it makes more sense to then move on to the back piece, or one of the fronts.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Just imagine it

I think I might be insane.

I know, I've heard that phrase that makes the rounds, asserting that insanity is defined as expecting the outcome of a series events to change despite having made no changes to that series of events. Like taking two cookies from one jar, and then taking two cookies from a different jar, and expecting to have 10, and when 2 + 2 does not yield 10, trying it again by taking two cookies from one jar, and two cookies from the other.

I don't think I'm that sort of insane - there's no repeating pattern in what I am about to share with you. Maybe that means I'm not really insane, but something else. Delusional? Irrational? Just plain old dim?

I haven't had tons of knitting time - you know, working - but the stitches are getting put into a couple of things around here. I've got a whole sleeve and a good chunk of the second sleeve on the latest sister sweater (Sun Prairie) - I even blocked the complete sleeve over the weekend and had grand plans to take a picture of my progress for documentation here, but despite the recent good weather (still no freezing or snow - pleasenojinxpleasenojinxpleasenojinx), my schedule is still my schedule and nice natural light is hard to find by the time I get home. Maybe I'll be able to fix that come Friday.

But, I'm putting time in towards a sweater for keeping warm because I still feel sort of cold a lot of the time - except it won't help me keep warm because it's not going to be mine. So it was a bad solution to my problem to begin with. I could sort of see that it wasn't right, but I plunged ahead anyway.

Maybe because I wasn't sure what my next sweater should be? I mean, yeah, I've already got Oblique on the go, but I still haven't taken apart that one bad sleeve, and it's still full of holes that are totally supposed to be there, and that still strikes me as an inappropriate course of action. So I launched into the sister sweater while mentally flailing around wondering what I wanted next.

I settled somewhat quickly on a work-wear-friendly cardigan that I won't bother putting buttons on, because finding buttons is always a serious, serious challenge for me - it requires a trip to the button store, which I, um, never seem to manage to do. There are two sister knits sitting in finishing limbo because they only need flipping buttons, and they've been in that limbo for over a year now. Clearly, buttons are not my strong suit. Besides, I like leaving cardigan layers open anyway. I think it might even be on trend right now. (Never ever quote me on what may or may not be on trend. I don't have a great track record with having a good handle on this sort of information.)

I did some serious pattern browsing on Rav, and came up with some options. I've been coveting Atelier for ages now, and I even have a couple of batches of madelinetosh pashmina that would be absolutely perfect, if only I could decide which colour I want to have this sweater in. I think the problem might be that I sort of want both. Also, I'm a tiny bit concerned that the sweater won't be the polished work-friendly piece I'm aiming for. Don't get me wrong - I will totally wear it to work when I get around to making it. But I had in mind a sort of long, lean piece. So I browsed, and browsed, and eventually stumbled upon Runcorn, and Ephemera, and I think I will be adding those to my collection soonish, but again I'm having difficulty matching the patterns with yarns in my collection. I have a pretty nice collection of DK weight yarns on hand, so I'm looking to move some of those into the wearable pile, and notice that neither of these patterns is written for DK - Runcorn is worsted, Ephemera is fingering. The listed gauges for both are 20 sts to 4", though, and I think that will work fine for a DK yarn - Runcorn would have a looser (but not lacy) fabric than written, and Ephemera would be, well, less ephemeral. I also think I'd work up Runcorn in just a single colour, and let the texture be the star - in which case, would a tonal handpainted yarn be a good thing, or a distraction? My version of Ephemera would also lack the embellishing crocheted flowers, and again I'm wondering if a tonal handpainted yarn would be a good match. Would the colour variation pool and flash and bug me? Or would it lend some interest to an otherwise simple fabric?

In the meantime, I'm still kind of cold, I keep putting my time into a project that won't help me at all with the coldness because it won't be mine, I've started winding up some yarn for another sister sweater, I keep browsing - which eats into the knitting time too - and not making any decisions at all, but I'm sure that I need to knit a solution to being a bit cold.

So which is it? Delusional? Irrational? Or just plain dim?