Wednesday, August 19, 2015

FO: Long-Armed Sweater for a Young Dude of My Acquaintance

So after all that hand-wringing last week, I sat down and got the zipper installed into Rowan's sweater.  It was considerably less traumatic than I expected.  My last zipper/sweater experience was in 2008 in the much-lamented "Man Sweater."  It did not go nearly so smoothly back then.

Turns out, it really ain't no thing.

Pin early.  Pin often.

There are lots of great tutorials out there on how to install a zipper into hand-knits.  I read through this one (Chic Knits), this one (Knit Picks), and just for kicks this one (Techknitting -- this one involves knitting the zipper into the sweater).

And then I went home and just did it.    I pinned the zipper to one side, making sure it was smooth, and laying flat.  Then I pinned the other side, matching the stripes (not gonna lie, the stripes made it easier.)

Then I unzipped and rezipped it a coupla times, just to make sure it was all copacetic.

After that, I hand-sewed it in near the teeth, using a basic back-stitch.  I then used a whip-stitch to secure the zipper-tape down.

See those stitches?  No you can't, and that's the point.

On a sweater for me, I'd probably cover the tape with ribbon, but I didn't bother for this one.

I have no idea what he is doing here, but this is one of the least blurry shots I got of him.

So in summary, after nearly a year (and after knitting the body of the sweater twice -- remember that? -- Rowan's sweater is done and it fits.

And he likes it, so I don't need to make him eat it after all.

Anyway, over all I am very pleased with how it turned out.  In retrospect, I rather regret using Wool-Ease -- at the time my logic was that it's a) cheap and b) easy-care.  But Rowan would have gotten a nicer sweater if I'd gone a different route.  I hesitated to invest a lot into it because I really wasn't sure if this whole "wanting a sweater knit by my mom" thing was really going to last.  Oh me of little faith.

Next time he gets nicer yarn.  (At least, assuming this one doesn't end up covered in chocolate sauce and felted.  I've already given him the "bring it to me to launder or I will end you" speech.)

Project Notes

Pattern: Emilien by Ariane Caron-Lacoste
Yarn:  Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Denim and Natural Heather
Total Yardage:  1381 total yards.  632 in Denim, and 749 in Natural Heather
Needles:   US 7 (4.5 mm) and US 6 (4.0 mm)  I used several different lengths of circulars, and DPNs for the cuffs
Started:  September 28, 2014
Completed: August 11, 2015

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

In Which I May or May Not Have Won Stash Dash

So! The knitting on Rowan's sweater is totally finished.

In fact, in further good news, it turns out that the length of zipper I needed was both standard and in stock at the local Joann store. (This was a spot of random and happy happenstance, as I lengthened the ribbing at the bottom.  If I hadn't done that, I would have needed a non-standard zipper length.)  I was able to run in last night after work and grab exactly what I needed, no muss.

In potentially less good news: turns out I need to get that puppy installed by Friday.  I was under the impression, and I am not actually sure where I got this idea, that as long as the knitting was done I was good to go for Stash Dash.

Turns out maybe not so much.  Something was nagging at my to double check the rules (probably my innate fear of public humiliation) and I ran across this little gem from The Stash Dash Empress herself, Lala.

In the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln, "Well, dang."

If I can work some zipper magic by Friday, my Stash Dash total is 3274 m.  So I've either won... or I haven't.

I guess I'd better get my zipper groove on, eh?

Meanwhile Trillian and Carl's big dude sock are both still in progress and still growing.  More pictures next time.   For now just go back to last week's picture and add a couple of inches in your imagination.

Anybody know a good zipper installation tutorial?

Wednesday, August 05, 2015


It's still all sweater all the time here at chez woolly.  And while I recognize that weeks of updated shots of the same knit aren't any fun for you, dear readers, it's no picnic from where I'm sitting either.

Last Saturday saw the completion of Rowan's second sleeve.  When I did the first sleeve I popped a removable stitch-marker at every decrease (following the excellent example of Jasmin of the Knitmore Girls.)  The markers, in combination with a 22 row stripe, meant that the second sleeve went "Whoosh!" -- I didn't need to pull the tape measure (or the pattern) out at all, I just matched the second sleeve to the first, comparing markers and stripe row counts, et voila. Sleeve!

The dude approves.

Once I got him to try it on and we didn't have use our imaginations to add in the sleeves anymore, it was easy to see that a collar wasn't going work.   See how loose and low the front of the sweater is hanging? The collar would have just made the sweater look like it didn't fit.  (Also, I want you to know that it is taking every ounce of my maturity and will-power, not to mention that fact that we're talking about my kid, to keep me from making a "your mom" joke right here.  Loose and low.  I'm just.  I can't.)

So anyway, after some discussion we decided to add the hood after all. And by "discussion," please understand that I mean that I said, "Hey we should do the hood, I think a collar would look weird," and he just shrugged and blinked at me. 

Whatever.  I do what I want.

What the heck else was I going to do with leftover Wool-ease anyway?

Don't fret though, hood notwithstanding, I'm still on track to be done in time to count the yardage for Stash Dash on the 14th.   I'm about half done the hood, and then it's "Pick up approximately nine-billion stitches and K2P2 rib for three years or one inch...whichever comes first."

So no problem.  And man, it's a good thing I just read back through this before I published.  Do I look like the kind of knitter that would throw down a gauntlet like "no problem" in front of the Knitting Goddess when I'm on a deadline?  Nosirreebob.  I am cautiously optimistic.  At best.

In non-sweater related news, I've done some more work on Trillian and Carl's sock.  They both look exactly like they did before, only more so.  

I could not get the color and light right the day I took these pictures.

Okay, so I might have lied before.  I may have stepped out on the sweater just a little.

On Saturday I cast on my birthday Hitchhiker in some Wollmeise Twin that I had marinating in the stash.   

Gratuitous yarn pic. 

I'm not far into it yet, but I wanted to get it on the needles on August 1.   I turn 42 in a couple of weeks, and I can't think of a better way to mark the occasion.

Life, the Universe, and Everything

Friends reassure me that knitting the same pattern four times is not actually excessive.  Though in a few of their cases I think it may have been an "if this is wrong baby, I don't want to be right" kind of situation.

Monday, July 27, 2015

When Your Stash Dash Strategy Lands You in Sleeve Purgatory

Stash Dash is officially over on August 14 -- which is a little less than 3 weeks away.  I currently have 2256 yards (that's 2063 m), so I'm about a 1000 meters shy of a 3K.

I realized this earlier this week, and (you will all be so proud of me) instead of casting on the half-a-jillion new things that I'm dying to work on, I took myself to my spreadsheet (remember my spreadsheet?) and decided that what this Stash Dash needs is a strategy.

Note to Self:  have strategy revelation a month before next Stash Dash starts, not a month before it ends.

So, I took stock of how much time was left, and what I already have on the hooks and needles.

I needed a project that would be over a thousand yards when completed, but is already close enough to done that I can pull it off in three to four weeks.

Maybe something that only need a couple of sleeves, a button or a zipper band, and a collar.

Something like Rowan's Emilien sweater, maybe.

Besides, if I don't finish it quick he'll grow again.  That child is forever tall, and has arms that go on for miles. Yesterday I messaged my bestie Koren about my sleeve lamentations.

Please ignore my egregious spelling/typo error.
She was very sympathetic.  

Anyway, last Tuesday Rowan's sweater barely had one sleeve started.  As of last night, it has one full sleeve and the second sleeve is barely started.

I feel good about my chances ::touch wood::

When he was last polled, Rowan opted for a zipper (instead of buttons) and a collar (instead of a hood).  I'll ask one last time when the second sleeve is installed, but not knitting a hood in this thing sure doesn't hurt my feelings any.

In other knitting news, Carl's Big Dude Socks are growing (again).

#bigsocksforbigfeet #itmustbelove
I have them in my purse for those moments when you need to take the edge off, and a giant sweater just won't do.

Friday, July 24, 2015

FO: Stick a Fork in It Socks

#operationclearthesockneedles has net me two new pairs of socks so far.  Or well, one pair was for Morgan, but anyway, I've finished two pairs.

Of course those where the two pairs that had the first sock done, so. 

These are Lara Neel's Fork in the Road socks.  She offered the pattern for free when her book Sock Architecture came out.  It has a "new to me" heel and toe construction, the "thumb-joint hat top" heel and toe (the name of which I can NEVER get right, no matter how many times I try to say it.  I keep calling it a thumb-top hat-trick heel.)

That heel, tho
I digress.

I learned some really interesting things with these socks - when I first cast them on, I was using a 9" circular (that was the first thing I learned...I don't care for tiny circs for socks) so I couldn't try them on.  I cast on 64 stitches, which is my usual with a 1.5 (2.5mm) needle.  Once I got the first heel installed I had a moment of panic, regret, and cussing because I thought I'd made the dang things too small.   Turns out I just didn't knit the heel deep enough before starting the decreases.  Having a heel that was too shallow made the entire sock feel too small.  All I ended up having to rip back was the tip of the heel.   I made the "gusset" deeper and Bob's yer uncle, they fit.

The pattern is written with what Charlene Schurch calls a "fore-thought heel."  I'm allergic to provisional cast-ons, and find fore-thought heels really fiddly.  So I did a "mid-thought" heel.  I put in a rip-cord and came back after about an inch or two and installed the heel.  

Doing it this way (instead of just waiting until the end like a normal person) means that I have more information about fit when I start the toe, since I can try the sock on once the heel is installed.

I find afterthought heels (whenever you end up installing them) kind of fussy, but I sure do like how they work with self striping yarn.   Over all I'm giving this pattern "A+, would knit again."

I think Morgan agrees.  I asked her to model for me this morning, and she hasn't taken them back off.

Pattern Notes:

Yarn: Jarbo Garn Mini Raggi, in the "68103" colorway
Total Yardage: 294 yards
Needles:  US 1.5 (2.5 mm) (I switched needles a couple of times on this project.  Started with a Hiya Hiya 9" circular, ended with 5" Knitter's Pride DPNs)
Started: April 7, 2015
Completed: July 18, 2015

Current Stash Dash Standing: 2256 yards

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Happy Panathenaia

Yesterday was a day of adventures here at chez woolly.  We observed Panathenaia and then split up -- the ladies went to the market at SSK over at Scarritt Bennett, and the dudes headed off to McKay's to drop off some books and look for treasures to bring home.

Panathenaia is a festival that was held in the month of June in honor of Athena.  "Festival" in our case means "picnic."   We took a packed lunch up to Centennial Park and ate together after going to the conveniently local Parthenon.

We tend to be an informal lot, most of the time; we don't have specific rituals or prayers that we do for Panathenaia -- it's more about taking the time to be present in Athena's temple (and by present, I mean awake, paying attention, listening, and really being there).

Friends of the show will remember that my decision to learn to spin was prompted by Athena.   I need to continue with that process, take the Craftsy class that a dear friend gifted me, and just spend time with my wheel.  

Several of us spent time knitting in the temple before heading off to lunch.

For me, it's a way of honoring Athena as a Goddess of Fiber Arts.

I often think of Athena, and ask her blessing when I'm practicing my crafts.  She inspires me to try harder, seek excellence, to do my best work, and to move outside of my comfort zone and learn new things.

After lunch, our fiber adventures continued over at the market for the Super Summer Knit-together, a retreat held by the Knit Girllls in Nashville every year.   They had the market open to the public from 1-4 p.m. so off we went.

I did a little damage.

So, to sum up:  yesterday was awesome.

This is already forever long, so I'll keep my update on "this week's projects" brief.   I've worked on my Fork in the Road socks (and in fact, finished them yesterday, so a FO post will be forthcoming), Carl's socks, the super-sekrit thing I'm not talking about, and I picked up Trillian and then set it right back down.  I don't think I actually added any stitches to it.  I just held it a minute.

Sam the Griffin (I just now decided that his name is Sam) was very gracious in holding our socks for photographs.  He's very patient.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

FO: Dark Rainbow Cowl

So, earlier this summer Jess, Koren, Morgan and I met up with some friends who live in the internet at the Middle Tennessee Fiber Festival.  This was the first year we went, and it was a blast.  It was kind of a small festival, but there were some awesome vendors and the company (my besties and the aforementioned internet friends) was fantastic.

Anyway, at the Haus of Yarn's Yarn Bus (they totally have a bus.  Full of yarn.  Awesome.) I ran across a Wonderland Yarns/Frabjous Fibers gradient set.  They had a sample cowl knit up, and friends it got me.  I saw the sample, bought the kit and Boom! instant cowl.  Those Haus of Yarn ladies know their business.

The yarn is a lovely, squashy sport weight wool.  The pattern is designed for lace weight mohair.   This is one of those times that being able to see beyond what the designer intended is a really valuable skill.   I'm really good at executing on someone else's creativity; I can take a good idea and riff on it like nobody's business.   But I'm not always great at seeing the possibilities of changing fiber type or gauge, or hell.... this is such a simple change (five sport weight merino solids instead of one mohair lace weight), and it looks like a completely different project.

All of which is to say, I saw the project, bought the yarn, and knit it up.  Friends of the show will recognize how unusual that is for me... and heck, I did it all within months (not years) of buying the yarn.  

Go me!

Now, the less good news.  It occurred to me... a little late (like, when I was ready to block) that red can bleed, and yellow is a pretty darned pale color.  I tried to check for bleeding.

Highly scientific methodology

And my early tests seemed to indicate that I was gonna be okay.  And by "early tests" I mean "I stuck a bunch of scraps in warm water in a clear cup and watched."   Hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Anyway, I didn't see any bleeding in my little yarnish microcosm, so I went for it... and (you know where I'm going with this don't you?) yeah.  It bled.

My awesome, gorgeous yellow is now... splotchy.

I wish I had done a citric acid soak (as described by Jasmin of the Knitmore Girls) before I started.  I further wish that a) my husband wasn't violently allergic to citric acid and b) the frickin' yarn would have been color fast in the first damn place.

Ah well, it isn't very obvious when I'm wearing it (or at least I don't think it will be.  It's July in Tennessee, so I've only had it actually on my personage for approximately 45 seconds before I had to take it back off).   But even so.  I'd be happier if it hadn't bled to begin with.

Ultimately I'm happy with it, and I can see me wearing it a lot during the winter months.  The bleeding was a hell of a bummer though.

Project Notes

Total Yardage: 430 yards
Needles:  US 8 (5.0 mm) Hiya Hiya Sharps, interchangeables
Started: June 6, 2015
Completed: July 10, 2015