Wednesday, February 12, 2014

K'done: Caramel Cardigan

You might not believe it from these pics, but this sweater is one of my go-tos.

Pattern: Caramel, by Isabell Kraemer
Yarn: Monika Design Cashmerino Soft, in Laurel Leaf and Cypress Shade
Needles: 4.5 mm / US 7

Well, maybe you would believe me, given that the sweater is showing some pilling action. According to my project page, I started this in February 2013, and after a few fevered weeks of work, I got distracted by something and set it aside. (Magpie? Moi?) I picked it up again in August 2013, I think, and worked on it with the intent of being able to have a wearable garment for the fall season - and I succeeded, with all the finishing done on 9 September 2013. I've been happily wearing it to work, layered over other tops, ever since - I think I wear it once every week and a half or so. I'm actually actively trying to avoid wearing it weekly, just to avoid being recognized as that weirdo in the green striped sweater, because honestly I've got enough eccentricities about me that I don't need overwearing of garments to be added to the pile.

The pattern is great - a simple knit, with very little in the way of shaping, only the raglan increases for the sleeves. To be honest, the resulting sweater seems a bit wide across the back for me - when I pull it on, the shoulders are usually slipped a bit forward, with the back raglan line falling over the top of my shoulder, and I have to adjust them back into place. The back collar doesn't gap out significantly once the shoulders are properly aligned, but there is some ease back there. I suspect this is an issue with my particular shoulders, and not a fault in the design. There are a few rows that the pattern instructs you to work straight in stockinette after the ribbing before beginning the raglan increases that I thought seemed odd, but I rolled with it, and the result isn't odd. I made no modifications, but in the stripes I did carry my non-working yarn along the end of the row/round, twisting it with the working yarn as I went so that no large loops formed. I did this to avoid having to weave in eleventy bazillion ends in the finishing. It was unproblematic, but note that some care must be taken to make sure the yarn is nice and relaxed as you carry it along, or else there will be puckering.

Now that I think about it a bit more, I may have worked some additional stripes on the body, in the interest of using up more of the darker green yarn - I was working through the remnants from my Parcel, and wanted to avoid having just one lonely 50 g ball leftover. I succeeded.

In terms of tech specs, I used a cable caston at the neckline, largely because at that point in time I had not yet discovered the Chinese Waitress caston, which is now my preferred caston (unless I want a particularly sturdy edge). I used the double chain bindoff at all the hems.

The yarn was great to work with, and I enjoy wearing it, even if it is pilling some - I blame the cashmere content, cashmere seems to want to fuzz up. Indeed, there's a halo on the sweater in some of the more subject-to-friction areas, but I don't think it detracts from the sweater in any way. The superwash aspect is great - I toss the sweater into a mesh bag, put it through the machine with the rest of my clothes on a delicate cold cycle, then spread it out on the not-a-table to dry.

Also, those so-called blanket-style fronts? Super fun, and super cozy. No wonder I keep reaching for this sweater in these colder months.

Would I knit another? Well. Right now I'm not averse to it, except for the fact that there are so many other sweaters in the pipeline of things I'd like to knit. I may do it again someday. Just not today.

Nor tomorrow.

Like I said. So. Many. Sweaters.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

K'done: Star Slouch Hat

May I present the first completed knitted thing of 2014.

Pattern: Star Slouch Hat, by Rena Varsakis
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh DK, in Wilted Rose
Needles: 5 mm / US 8

The Mister got The Last of Us as one of his Christmas gifts, and some quick Googling revealed that we could expect gameplay to run about 18 hours or so. Armed with that information, I pondered my options for a video game knit. A sweater in 18 hours did not seem doable, and I'm still fairly well stocked with socks, so those were out too. I suppose I could have made a pair of sister socks, but oh well. The time frame seemed well suited to a cowl, or maybe a hat.

Hmm, hats. I currently have three hats I actually like - though I haven't worn one of them in ages. But the gameplay follows a story, and I went into it expecting that I might need to offer some assistance in spotting things or figuring out how to navigate a path that isn't terribly obvious - meaning I shouldn't pick something with lots of lace or cable work that would keep my eyes glued on my hands. I started thinking stockinette in the round might be just about perfect, and a hat would be just about the perfect video game project.

And then I remembered this pattern, which I snagged in a promo the designer ran last year. And I remembered my Tosh DK mini stash. I rooted around, found the yarn, and cast on.

It was a pretty quick game, and a pretty quick knit too. There were some tense moments where I just couldn't knit, I had to watch the screen, but otherwise the two went together fairly well. I finished the hat about when the gameplay wrapped up - maybe I was a bit early? Or maybe I had to do the final couple of rounds after the game was done? I don't remember anymore - it was actually nearly a month ago. I just never got pictures till now.

It was a very straightforward knit. I think I knit the body of the hat a bit longer than the pattern calls for - I was just cranking away with the game and it suddenly occurred to me that maybe I ought to measure, and I was an inch or maybe an inch and a half farther along than I was supposed to be, but I figured, hey, more slouch, and just rolled with it. Perhaps because I was somewhat distracted with the game, I didn't manage my DPNs very well, and had laddering off the needles. A wash and block neatened up most of it, though in that second picture up there you can see a teeny bit of laddering. (The odd thing is I didn't change the placement of the hat between the two shots - just the angle of the camera - and you don't see the ladder in the first shot.) Also, for a pattern titled Star Slouch Hat, I was expecting a more clearly defined star shape out of the decreases. It's not really a star - more of a point. That's okay, though - I must say I'm quite pleased with the result. The Mister referred to it as a Smurf hat, and I guess it sort of is a lot like Lazy Smurf's floppy Smurf hat. Only, you know, vividly pink.

The yarn was fabulous - but that's what I've come to expect from Madelinetosh yarns. When I first saw the colouring on this skein - it came in a mixed bag, so I didn't pick it out individually - I wasn't sure about it. I knew it would have to be knit up into something simple, with the variegation. Truthfully, as I was knitting it up, I went back and forth on whether I liked the result. Once it was done, though, my doubts all went away. I've been wearing it more than any of my others - in part because it's the most recent, but also because the bright pink makes me happy, and the greeny-brown bits also tone it down so I don't feel self-conscious about the eye-searingly pink head topper.

It's a good thing I have a decent collection of hats now, too - winter weather has returned with a bitter vengeance here. Merino wool is my friend.