Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Spring Green

Ahhhhh...silky soft single ply merino. Mmmmmmm...copper patina green. Oooooooh...flower lace. Sounds like springtime to me! It's difficult to capture the yarn (Verde Manzana from Purewool) on camera--there is a more rusty yellow-green tinge to part of the colorway, parts are electric green, and parts have a softer blueish green cast. The second (earliest) photo, showing the mock-cable rib raglan "seam", comes closest to showing the variation of color.

This is just flying by--I think partly because of the size 10 needles and partly because the pattern is so well-written that I hardly have to think while I knit! I did agonize for a while over whether I needed to make the sleeves and/or the body a bit longer, but I decided that I like the proportions of the sweater just as written, and as pictured in the pattern photo. So, for the first time ever, I am making absolutely no modifications to the pattern. It's strangely liberating.

I also love that the sleeves are not saved for last! One sleeve is already done, and the other will be done before I move on to the drapy front pieces. Genius! I don't know why I never thought to do that with other patterns--but you can bet I will be doing that from now on. No more getting stuck on the sleeves and waiting months to finish a sweater!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Seaming Reverse Stockinette...Or, Finding My Motivation

I have been a busy knitter lately! I finished my second Creature Comforts Cardi, this one for a friend (who promised to send me a picture of her wearing it so I can share!) and decided that my poor Fireside Cardigan had been neglected for far too long. The problem is that I always lose my will to go on once a project is to the point where all that is left is the sleeves, so I decided to do the finishing on the body to kick start my desire to finish the sleeves. I love the coil-less pins to keep things together while I stitch, and I lay the whole thing over my knee to have both hands free for the work.

Mattress stitch is my preferred seaming method because it is so invisible--but I'd never seamed reverse stockinette before, so out came my trusty Reader's Digest Knitter's Handbook by Montse Stanley. It turns out it's not much different from stockinette mattress stitch; you just have to make sure you always catch the bottom of the ridge on one side and the top of the ridge on the other. So as I was working, I was chanting "Bottom, top, bottom, top..."

I think it turned out pretty you can see below, there is a little ridge where the seam is, but I am thinking re-blocking the piece once it's all seamed up will solve that.

I still have some ends to weave in and the perfect buttons to find, but it looks like a vest now! And, HUUUUUUGE sigh of relief, it fits. Now to tackle those sleeves.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sweaterbabe's Dramatic Lace Wrap Cardigan

Since I have been knitting, I notice knitwear--sort of the same way I never noticed a certain car model around town until we bought one. But when waiting in lines or walking through the mall, my eye catches shapes, styles, and colors in commercial knitted garments, which gives me inspiration for my own hand-knit wardrobe. Lately, I have been noticing especially these great drapy cardigans. They are perfect with the skinny jeans that are so fashionable now, and they just look so effortlessly stylish. Most of the examples I've seen on other women have been plain stockinette, and while the shape itself is beautiful, it's kind of boring to knit. When I saw Sweaterbabe's new pattern, #112 Dramatic Lace Wrap Cardigan, it hit me that it was EXACTLY the cardigan pattern I was looking for! (Photos are from Sweaterbabe...she was kind enough to give permission to use them).

Those long front panels are right on-trend, and the lace pattern gives me something fun to knit. The back is gorgeous as well--and there is waist shaping, which for my hourglass-ish figure is a must!

I've purchased several Sweaterbabe patterns over the last year, and one thing I really appreciate about all of them, including this latest one, is that she writes the patterns out line by line. What I mean by that is there is no sort of hand waving--"Knit until it feels right!" She tells you exactly how many rows to do. That is relaxing for me, because I don't have to take copious notes as I knit...I can just mark my place in the pattern and I know exactly where to pick it up again then next time I sit down with the project. That is perfect for me because I usually have several projects going at once.

I received the pattern a week or so ago, and it was pure kismet that the pattern called for Knit Picks Swish Worsted (superwash merino) when I had a shipment of single-ply merino on its way to me already! I was so, so, SO tempted to go ahead and order some Swish for the project because that is probably my favorite washes so well! But I had ordered a sweater-quantity of Purewool in an apple green color back in the first week of April when they had a sale, so I decided to be good and wait for that--I know it will be a good yarn sub. Since it is hand-dyed to order and shipped from Uruguay it takes over a month to arrive on my doorstep, but it came today! I can't wait to get started...

It's a little *ahem* brighter than I expected it to be, but brights are in this season, right?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Designer Spotlight!

I've been noticing that I approach my knitting the way I approach most of the things in my life...research, research, research! I haven't felt the need to write my own patterns yet; Part of the fun for me is becoming inspired by a pattern, choosing a yarn (rarely do I use the yarn called for in the pattern), and then looking at other knitters' finished projects to decide on any modifications to the pattern that I might need to do. is perfect for me, as it is essentially a database of knitting knowledge.

Aesthetically, I seem to go to two extremes: either simple stockinette and interesting shapes, or cables and lace and romantic details. I love to pick a pattern that is both beautiful and would be fun to wear. I've been noticing that certain designers really speak to me with their designs--I've only done a couple of projects from each, but my to-knit list is getting long, thanks to these lovely women. Links to a few of my favorite designers' blogs/websites, in no particular order (sorry about the photos...most of these are pre-blog pictures):

Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark...she often designs patterns for hand-dyed yarn. Here is my Girl Friday Cardigan, of her design.

Jane Richmond...classic, often stunning garments. I knit a simple pullover that she designed, called the Oatmeal Pullover. There are several other of her designs that I can't wait to do--mainly scarves and hats.

Sweaterbabe...feminine, beautiful, well-written patterns. She usually incorporates cables or lace, and nice shaping. I'm currently working on her Lush and Lacy Cardigan, and I get to review one of her gorgeous new patterns! More on that one later this week.

Hannah Fettig...simple-looking but elegant garments; many are knit in lighter weight yarn, which is perfect for the climate in which I live! She also designs patterns that are sized from children's sizes all the way through plus sizes: a great value when purchasing a pattern. I knit her Whisper Cardigan last year (pictured below), and have her Featherweight Cardigan hibernating on the needles right now--I'll probably pick that up again this summer.

I hope I have inspired you and maybe introduced you to a designer you hadn't discovered yet! Who is your favorite designer?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Finished: Creature Comforts Cardi and 198 Yards of Heaven

The Creature Comforts Cardi by Madeleinetosh was SO nice to knit. I enjoyed the oak leaf motif, and the stockinette sides helped things really fly was only three weeks from start to finish! I think that is my quickest sweater to date. I have hardly taken it off since I finished.

This was knit with just over 4 skeins of Cascade 220, in Alki Beach (a discontinued beigey-gray)...the 5th skein was only needed for a few rounds of ribbing on one of the cuffs. I didn't make many modifications to the pattern: the cuffs are 1" longer than the pattern calls for, but other than that, it's just as written.

Though I LOVE it now, there was an "Oh, bummer" moment right after I seamed it up and tried it on for the first time...I really didn't love how it fit me at that point. The bottom edge was not quite wide enough to hug my rear end without bunching up in the front--I'll confess I got a little lump in my throat, worried that it wasn't going to look as awesome as I had envisioned. I fiddled with it a little, and found that if I stretched it out on the bottom, there, it would hang just right! So I pulled out the steam iron and blocked the bottom out about 2 extra inches on each side of the cable panel, and when it was dry the next morning I was much happier with the fit. Making the next size up wouldn't really have solved this problem, because the top fit perfectly and I wouldn't have wanted extra width there. This photo shows where I stretched out the bottom edge to make it fit around the hips.

My other finished project is the 198 Yards of Heaven shawlette, a free pattern by Christy Verity that I found on Ravelry. I am trying to decide if I am a shawl person or not--I see so many beautiful shawls on blogs and on Ravelry, but I wasn't sure if I could pull one off. So, I decided to try knitting a small one, in worsted weight yarn, so the time committment wasn't too great if I didn't really wear it (this was cast-on to finished blocking in three days flat!). If I end up wearing this one a lot, I am going to try my hand at a larger, laceweight shawl!

Also, after my last post about hating varigated yarn I decided I should give the last couple of skeins I bought a while back one more chance to win me over. This is 3-ply worsted weight, hand-dyed yarn from pretty good sub for Malabrigo, as I understand it. It's Uruguay merino which comes in several weights as a singles yarn, and as a 3-ply worsted. It is the softest yarn I have ever worked with, and it has the nicest sheen to it! If you haven't tried it, I would really recommend it; I have used it a lot. My favorites are their semi-solid colors. So beautiful!

This colorway is called Verdes II, and guess what? I like it! The colors do not distract from the lace work too much, and it didn't pool much at all. I modified the pattern just a little to use up just about every inch of one skein, 218 yards: I added an extra 1/2 repeat of the lace pattern (so, 3 total) and skipped two rows of the border pattern.

Now I will just have to see if I like wearing shawls! I decided this particular one is my little tribute to the TV show LOST. My husband and I have been working our way through the DVD sets in the evenings while we wait for each week's new episode...the blues and greens really evoke the jungle and the ocean around the Island, and the lace pattern reminds me of tropical leaves. Maybe I will wear it on the plane to Maui this summer. ;)