Thursday, June 17, 2010

Reverse Engineering 101

So. My bag of Knit Picks Simply Cotton Organic (Sport weight) has been a little sad, sitting there all alone in the closet, with no pattern to aspire to...I started a Decimal [Knitty pattern link], but that didn't keep my attention. I thought about a Luminarie Skirt [Interweave gallery photos], but that was a little too "doily" for me and I wasn't sure I'd wear it. I started a Camden [Knitty pattern link], and got as far as a few inches of one sleeve, but realized that it really wasn't suited for cotton yarn. Then, I saw the Allegoro Drape Front Cardigan by Classic Elite. Perfect! My copy of the summer People Style Watch had soft neutral colors and flowing silhouettes everywhere, so if I can finish this thing in a decent amount of time I will be right in style.

But--problem. The pattern isn't available for download online by itself...I can only purchase the pattern book it is in for $14.95 plus about $5 shipping. The whole bag of yarn hardly cost that much! Hmmmm. It looks like a raglan sweater. I've made those before. It looks like similar shaping to the bottom fronts of Whisper Cardigan, just on a larger scale...I've done that before. It's settled! I am going to do this without a pattern. (But click here in case you'd like to get the pattern for yourself. It's in Classic Elite 9096 John's Bay, and all the patterns in that book are so cute! Maybe someday I'll get it and see how close I came to getting this one right.) I've never done this before, but I have been feeling more confident in my skills lately, so I think I am ready to tackle knitting off-roading.

My gauge is 24 stitches to 4 inches with the Simply Cotton Sport, which made me think at first I might possibly be crazy to undertake a project of this size with stitches so small. It's going fairly quickly, though. I'm going to take a lesson from my recently-finished Dramatic Lace Cardi and do the sleeves before I finish the body, so as soon as I finish another skein on the body I'll be doing the sleeves. I have a plan all mapped out; the only dilemma left is whether or not to do short rows at the bottom of the fronts to make them longer than the back. I don't think I'll decide until I get to the point where I like the length of the back--and then see what the fronts look like.

Here is what I have so far (and, um, sorry for the weird headless shot--there was no way I was taking a picture of my face and hair today! Haha.):

Monday, June 14, 2010

My 2010 Stash Challenge

Ok. Deep breaths...confession is good for the soul. Hi. My name is Amy, and I am a yarnaholic. It doesn't matter how much is already in the closet, a good yarn sale will tempt me every time! When I first started knitting just over two years ago, buying yarn seemed like a good idea. After all, I didn't have any! One never knew when a given project would be finished, and it make good fiscal sense to purchase supplies for my hobby when there was a sale.

My first few purchases were 100% wool yarn skeins in twos--my first projects were diaper woolies for my son, and that's all it took for one pair of "longies." So, that explains the tub of random worsted weight wool, of which the following is a sample (I started out with the basics!).

Then, I discovered that I could knit sweaters for the kids, and so I bought a slightly larger quantity each time, thinking to make each of them a couple of sweaters. This explains the assortment of Swish DK in the closet.

Once I was on to knitting sweaters for myself, all bets were off. Sales became even more important because I needed 10 or so skeins, depending on the size of the ball. This explains the explosion of full bags of yarn, like this one.

Who knows what my reasons were for the multiple skeins of laceweight or fingering weight--they were pretty?

I just noticed that most of this comes from Knit Picks! I am not sponsored by the company, I promise!! :)

The thing is, I have never been a collector. Friends of mine collected erasers, stickers, charm necklaces in elementary school, and so I did, too--but that might possibly be the last time I intentionally collected something. I don't like "clutter" in my house, so figurines or knick nacks are out. I only really wear a few special pieces of jewelry, I don't scrapbook, and I don't play any sports that require lots of gear. I also couldn't care less about the latest technological device. That's why my yarn stash snuck up on me; I refused to believe that I had become a hoarder of yarn!

I know there is technically nothing wrong with having lots of something, but for me, for my little house, and for my committment to living a simple life, I have too much. So, I am putting it out there in the world that I won't be buying any more yarn until I use up what I have. This will be a fun adventure, "shopping" from my stash and searching for just the right pattern for each little pile of yarn. I also have some really pretty things on the needles that are just waiting for me to finish them up. Wish me luck in my new, frugal, and responsible endeavor!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Finished: Dramatic Lace Wrap Cardigan

This thing fairly FLEW off my needles! And, I am happy to report, the Dramatic Lace Wrap Cardigan by Sweaterbabe absolutely lived up to my rather high expectations for it. I am pleased with the fit, the drape, the color, the feel. I wish computers had Sense-O-Vision so you could reach through the screen and feel this sweater for yourself. I'll wait while you go find some merino yarn at your house to pet instead...

The pattern was really well-written. I followed the directions for the size 35 exactly, but there seemed to be one mistake: in the set up row for the second front piece, in order to get the fronts to match I had to reverse the stitch counts. If I had done it as written, the second front would have had the double lace panel at the top instead of the bottom. Also, I had to read the selvage edge instructions a couple of times, and I think I ended up reversing that too on the second side, so the top edges on both sides would be the same. Other than that, it was a wonderful pattern. Highly recommended.

As with any lace project, blocking was a must. Right off the needles, the fronts were way too short, and kind of hung sadly while the back gapped outward, pushed back by the weight of the front. The lace pattern didn't stand out at all. I wasn't worried, though I did wonder if the back would keep gapping, because I know the power of blocking! Never doubt the power of blocking. I soaked the finished piece in a little Eucalan and warmish water, wrapped it in a towel and stuck it in the spin cycle of the washing machine for a minute or so, then pressed the rest of the excess water out between two fresh towels.

I was a little stumped as to how to block a seamless sweater whose fronts were longer than the width of the back, but I ended up pinning one side closed and the other open, then reversing that after it had dried for a day. Then, once it was nearly dry and the eyelets were staying open when the pins were removed, I laid the whole thing over a drying rack to finish letting all the moisture evaporate.

When I picked up the dry sweater for the first time, I could immediately feel the difference. The drape is fantastic, and the fronts now hang down perfectly, just like the pattern photo! I'm still not quite happy with how I blocked the sleeves...I'll be trying again on those, but I can tell this is going to be my instant fashion pick-me-up. Who can feel depressed or tired when wearing a sweater like this?

I substituted 4 skeins of Single Ply Merino Worsted in Verde Manzana for the Knit Picks Swish Worsted called for, and it was a good fit for the pattern. I was able to get gauge perfectly. I actually like this yarn at a larger gauge better than I do at its recommended gauge...There are two skeins left over since I ordered six, so I am thinking maybe a Just Enough Ruffles by Laura Chau (pattern photo below by Cosmicpluto).

I also feel a Sweaterbabe kick coming on...I got the yarn (Sublime Angora Merino) and pattern for Cables and Lace Kimono for my birthday last year, so as soon as I finish a couple of other projects, that one is getting made!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Kniting hard, but nothing to show for it...yet.

This has been a week of this and that. I finished the sleeves, back, and right front of my Dramatic Lace Wrap Cardi; I did a few pattern repeats on my Froot Loop sock; I am almost finished with the set up rows on my second Clapotis (more on that one in a minute). Nothing is complete yet, but I've enjoyed my week of knitting very much!

I think I was getting a little too focused on the finished products and forgetting that I love the process--so I even took a night off from knitting! My husband wondered if I was coming down with something. It did feel strange to just sit on the couch and watch television. It's probably been months since I have done that! The point is, I absolutely do not want my hobby to start feeling like a To Do List, and it was starting to...just a little.

As much as it feels great to knit a whole sweater in just a few weeks, or take a work-in-progress out of its hiding place and finish it up, the tactile aspects of knitting can create space in my day for thinking, breathing, and turning off my brain from the endless tasks of motherhood. I watch the color changes in the yarn and notice the way one project's rhythm, look, feel is different from another's.

Anyway, I will have something to show for this week's knitting eventually, but not tonight. Tonight, I can tell you I love pink, I love alpaca/silk yarn, and I am sleepy.

That's called "Sunkissed." It makes me look forward to the summer, and also to the fall when I will be able to wear the scarf that it's going to be. Good night!