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.