Friday, October 20, 2017

FO Friday: Must Have Cardigan

This finished object has been a long time coming. And by a long time, I mean I favorited this pattern in Ravelry in July of 2012 and I'm pretty sure I bought the pattern booklet a year before I found it on Ravelry. I found the Patons design booklet, "Street Smart" for 50 cents at a local used bookstore and immediately was drawn to the Must Have Cardigan. Originally styled on a girl with a boyish pixie who sported a newsboy cap and rode a bike, it spoke to my inner active tomboy. I thought was much too short on the model- I think the pattern at its largest calls for 12" before the armhole- but that was an easy remedy. But also the V-neck was far too deep, and my chest gets cold. Of course I could alter the pattern.... but, I would brush the cardigan aside, and choose a different project each and every time.

Finally, my husband and I planned a weeklong road trip, and I needed a project to work on. I didn't have anything big and complex, and we would be driving long stretches of Utah and Nevada. So we went to Michaels and I picked up some Red Heart Soft. Good for my budget, and good for throwing in the washer if the baby throws up on it. This was 10/08/2016. Over a year later and the baby doesn't throw up as often! But acrylic was still a good easy care choice for now, although part of me sure wanted the properties of wool when I was blocking it!


Two sleeves and part of the back later and we were back home. There was Christmas knitting to do, and the Must Have Cardigan got put away. The active WIP got put into a bag, and went into deep hibernation. I started and finished sweaters, for myself and the kids. Hats flew off the needles, and shawls. Occasionally, though, I'd take it out and work a few rows or pattern repeats. And I'd always end by laying all my completed pieces out and imagining the final garment. And looking at the photo of the girl riding her bike, which I had doodled on to lengthen the sweater and change the neckline. I'd be flooded with mixed emotions: one was longing for the beautiful sweater of my dreams, two was dread for sewing the dang thing together (I always feel that way when I work a sweater in pieces, but doubly so with the seed stitch edges I was knitting), and three was the niggling emotion of fear. Fear? Who could fear knitting? I think of the Yarn Harlot saying to fear skydiving, not knitting!


Still, I recognized the fear. I was scared that I wouldn't be able to change the neckline. That something would go horribly wrong. That it would turn out awful and I wouldn't know until after everything was sewn together and then in order to rip and reknit I would have to unpick it and I wouldn't and it would just sit there unwearable and unworn for probably two more years before I finally mustered up the gumption to finish it.

I pressed on, dutifully keeping track of my changes for the left side so that I could mimic them on the right. I ended up making mistakes, of course, and carefully took note for these "fudge rows" so the fronts would end on the same pattern row. Of course I finished knitting the sweater at a time when I was absolutely too broke to buy any new craft supplies, so the buttons are a close match from the jar,  I found myself without a long enough US 6 needle, and ended up using a shorter one to do one half of the buttonband at a time. In May of this year I finally started getting to know how to use a sewing machine and so part of me wanted to try the new Eloflex thread to sew the sleeves in and purchase a walking foot too to make the process easier.


I ended up sewing them in without either, using plain cotton thread and the regular machine foot. It came out rather well, and was much quicker than sewing in the sleeves by hand. The side seams I did using mattress stitch, which was much easier on the double seed stitch than I ever could have imagined, and soon the sweater was done! I did have some trouble "blocking" the buttonband, since I would usually have ironed it to keep it nice and flat and iron would melt the acrylic, but I steamed it instead and it turned out fine.


I have gotten several compliments on it already, and it's been so nice to wear in the mornings. I live in California so it still gets pretty hot later in the day, but owning this sweater actually makes me look forward to it getting colder.

I added three inches of length, shortened the neckline by starting it about half a pattern repeat later than where the pattern dictated, but other than that i just followed the pattern for a size Large.
I am going to be wearing this sucker a lot. They call it the Must Have Cardigan for good reason.
In fact, I'm wearing it right now, plus a shawl.

Happy knitting!

p.s. I'll be putting up my swatches for Super Stitches Knitting in the next day or two. Finishing this sweater took priority for me this week.



Friday, October 13, 2017

FO Friday: Slush Hat

Slush embodies a lot of coziness in one simple package. The pattern is free, and worked up for me in just a few hours. I used Deborah Norville's Serenity Chunky weight yarn, from the stash. I picked the slouchiest version of the hat and didn't quite use up the whole ball. I could probably make a wimpy pom pom out of what's left, but instead I think I will forgo the pom pom.


The textured stitch makes it look even more squishy, an effect that is enhanced when you add in the fact that the super bulky yarn is worked on size US 11 needles.

It is warm, neutral, modern, and was easy and quick. What more could you want out of a hat pattern? I think this would make a fantastic last minute gift.

Part of me still wants to buy a faux fur pom pom to add to it. Those poms are so popular right now, and so adorable! However, this was a stash busting project so I will probably keep it as is.

Either way, I'm sure I'll be using this pattern again because it was so simple and so rewarding. The yarn is nice too, in spite of being all acrylic. It's quite cozy and soft and perfect for those who think wool is "too itchy."

Happy Knitting!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Week 29 of the Super Stitches Knitting Project

This week saw me through to the end of the textured section of the book. There were two pages left, with three stitch patterns on each page. I had intended to work up the Diamond Trellis Pattern, the Diagonal Grain Stitch, and the Interlocking Leaves Stitch on Monday. I attempted the Diamond Trellis but found that, again, the stitch instructions given by Karen Hemingway didn't seem to produce the intended result. Diagonal Grain went off without a hitch, but then the same stitches from Diamond Trellis (named Cr2B and Cr2F) were present in the Interlocking Leaves stitch. I decided to attempt it too and again didn't achieve anything similar to the picture after about 20 rows of the 28 row pattern. I abandoned it. There must be something I'm doing wrong, and struggling over the same rows with the same technique isn't going to produce different results. For now I decided to turn the page, which offered the Elongated Stitch, the Woven Butterfly Stitch, and the Cluster Stitch. I skipped the elongated stitch because it just looks like weird gross caterpillars, but here is a link with descriptions on how to perform it in case weird gross caterpillars are your thing. I saved the cluster stitch for another day, which leaves me to introduce my swatches:

1) Woven Butterfly Stitch and
2) Diagonal Grain Stitch

Of the two I rather preferred the woven butterfly as far as the actual knitting goes, but the diagonal grain looks much more attractive to me upon completion. Both produce a nice texture with little effort.

1) Woven Butterfly Stitch
This stitch is worked on a multiple of 10+7 and is a 20 row repeat. However what was really cool is that you didn't have to keep track of anything really and it felt more like a three row repeat. Because the main pattern was worked by slipping a few stitches while holding the yarn in front and then offsetting those slipped stitches in the following section, as long as you got the first row of the new butterflies situated correctly, then following where to slip the stitches was super easy because there was a length of loose yarn there telling you where to slip stitches. And the more loose loops, the closer you were to making your butterfly. Once you have 4 loose strands, it's butterfly time. Furthermore, purlside rows are just all purl all the time, so it was incredibly easy to knit this swatch. There was, frustratingly for me considering my issues with the previous swatches, an illustration showing how to perform the butterfly stitch as well although I believe the instructions were quite clear and the illustration quite unnecessary. (I sure think an illustration for C2RF from the previous page is in order!)
The reverse of this swatch shows that the butterflies do distort the fabric quite a bit. This stitch reminded me of the time I knitted Catching Butterflies by Tiny Owl Knits, and how I knitted three mitts before I got a pair, because these slipped stitch patterns can really distort your tension.It still has a fair bit of stretch, but thinking of a use for a decorative stitch like this isn't easy for someone who mostly makes sweaters. I also think the butterflies look more like cat whiskers than anything else. Gosh it sure would look cute if you only did one, perfectly placed to make a cat stuffy. Or even separated them more and duplicate stitched wee eyes for an allover cat pattern.

2.) Diagonal Grain


So, looking at this stitch one can immediately see that it is like a mock cable formed by holding the yarn in front while you work some stitches. I anticipated that, but what I did not anticipate is that this pattern has you perform the wrapped stitches on the purl rows. That was weird and frankly turned me off of the whole thing. It's a four row pattern, so the odd rows are knitted plain and the even rows are P2's alternated with a wrapped P2 and every other row they alternate to create the diagonal. Which looks great! We can agree that the stitch is pretty. It has multiple uses: a pretty wristwarmer, a hat, a little clutch, even a cozy sweater.. but how impractical if, say, the knitter wants to work the stitch in the round? If you can get the same effect working from the right side, WHY include instructions to work it from the wrong side?
Here's the wrong side
Working it in the round from the wrong side wouldn't make any sense at all- who wants to do all that purling? Still, the website "The Weekly Stitch" includes the same stitch, naming it "Closely Wrapped Stitch (scroll down a little to find it) and it shows the same instructions, working the wrap around two purls. I haven't experimented to see how one would make this stitch on the right side, so maybe it is easiest to achieve this way.

I am skipping the edging section of the book, and next week will move right along to Ornamental Stitches, which focuses on "another sort of texture- of the more theatrical variety." This includes bobbles, embossed leaves and bells, loops, faux cables and smocked patterns.
Next week's stitches are:

Bobble Stitch
Popcorn Stitch
Hazelnut Stitch

Monday, October 2, 2017

Week 28 of the Super Stitches knitting Project (LONG OVERDUE)

So, let's all take a moment to acknowledge that yes, I took a short hiatus from this project. In fact, the last time I posted swatches from Karen Hemingway's Super Stitches Knitting stitch dictionary was in March of 2012. There were a few things that contributed to me ceasing swatching:

1. I had gone in with the idea that I'd use the same yarn and needles for each swatch so I could make a blanket, and a lot of the patterns just didn't look great at the gauge I was forcing myself to work at
2. Some stitches would have looked much nicer in another fiber. I chose wool because I thought it would make everything look good but it really just didn't. Especially since I was using cheap wool.
3. I self-imposed color restrictions, enabling only neutral natural colors and that frankly got boring
4. I started dreading sewing it all together and then once I began the process I dreaded it even more
5. I was nearing the edging section and I didn't know how to incorporate that into the blanket
6. The book does have errors, and if there is am errata/corrections page I've yet to find it.
7. It was frustrating trying to Google videos for how to perform some of these stitches when the author named a lot of them in a wildly different way than the stitches are commonly known.

So I took a few years off. Actually, I quit. I let it die quietly and never gave it another nod. But in my head, I still liked the idea of knitting through a stitch dictionary. I still felt like the project hadn't been completed, and perhaps it never will be in the way I first imagined, but it can be continued.

Gone are the restrictions, any and all. Gone is the thought that I must knit each and every swatch even the ones I already know and the plain edgings or any edging for that matter. With the freedom to use any yarn and any color or fiber in my stash I think it can be exciting again. With the freedom to fail at a swatch, to knit and frog it several times and decide it's OK to just skip that one this time and scrawl a big curse word on the page to warn any of my grandkids against knitting it.

So, without further ado, the stitches I worked this week were:
Ripple Stitch
Double Trellis pattern
Cross stitch


Swatch 1: Ripple Stitch

I have to say this one was  my favorite this week. It is a multiple of 3 stitches, and only has 4 repeats so it's already am easy stitch. Every wrong side row is a purl row so that's easy. It's simple to tell where you are in the pattern. And it looks really beautiful. It's squishy, it has stretch, and it looks a lot more complicated than it is- one of my favorite qualities in a stitch pattern.

 I will say the reverse side is nothing to look at. But I imagine this stitch working up in a sweater or hat where the reverse side stays comfortably in the inside anyway.

Swatch 2: Double Trellis pattern



I did not enjoy making this swatch. I did an entire repeat of the pattern working the "RT2L" incorrectly. (Don't bother go ogling that term for a video I think the author makes up terminology at will. The other stitch used in this pattern, "RT2R" was used in the previous pattern with absolutely no reference to it having a name, she just explained how to do it in each row it appeared.) I was knitting the second stitch through the back loop bringing my needle in from the front of the work, when I should have been knitting it through the back loop working from behind the work. I realize that makes little sense but on the off chance someone is looking for help with this one maybe that can help. Because I did 12 rows incorrectly before I thought, look this really looks nothing like the photo how ELSE can I approach this? Once I figured that out, though, it came along quickly and looks truly adorable. I did use pink yarn on this swatch so that could be affecting my judgement.


 But seriously it is a charming stitch pattern. It gives off a nice weaving in and out effect and looks very clever. I think a hat in this stitch would be nice, if one worked out proper decreasing in pattern. I think wristwarmers would look nice too but it's kind of a gappy pattern as far as warmth goes. It's also not incredibly stretchy. Overall, it's an OK pattern. It's a 12 row repeat but purl rows are plain so that's good for me.

Swatch 3: Cross stitch

Don't Google "cross stitch" and expect to find this. There's apparently criss cross stitch, Indian cross stitch, and quilted cross stitch and none of them are this. I found exactly one reference to this stitch from this book on an old Ravelry forum and according to that poster the stitch is doable but I cast on and frogged after row 4 three times before I felt my blood pressure rising and thought man I am doing this for fun not for fury, and I put it down!! For an hour and then gave it one more go... but this swatch defeated me.

 I'm still not sure how to execute the special stitch it requires and it seems like using a cable needle would simplify things and at row 4 suddenly the repeat is off. Googling for errata proved useless but I did find a review on goodreads where a user mentioned that some stitch patterns just seem to falter and then not line up anymore so... honestly I'd attribute it to that except for the photo and that one ravelry user prove that at least someone made this stitch at one point! It's frustrating for me to come to a pattern I can't knit. The one thing I think I'm good at-knitting- and it beats me! But, rather than stress about it and allow it to consume my life I will just let it be, Mark it on the page as incomplete (OK I put a few other choice words) and move on next week to....

Diamond Trellis pattern
Diagonal Grain Stitch
Interlocking Leaves pattern

Monday, September 18, 2017

Gift Knitting

I can't be the only one who casts on for Christmas gifts in Januray. This year, I have a good little pile going. Unfortunately, I also tend to give away my gifts early and just gifted a shawl I made for Christmas for a birthday instead. And now I have one less present.
I've finished a few things, mostly socks but also a sweater, since I last wrote on here.
California is still pretty warm, and the thought of trying on the sweater just for a photo for the blog makes me wrinkle my nose.
So there was a series of events that led to me finding this mostly done sweater in my garage. Apparently, when I move, I'm not the most organized person. Although I keep a pretty stern rule regarding Stitches West and yarn buying (Do Not Purchase More Yarn At Stitches Unless the Yarn You Bought Last Year Has Been Knitted) I decided this February to forego the rule because this sweater, which contained the last of last year's yarn, was missing in action.
I was so happy when, cleaning out the garage in preparation for yet ANOTHER move, I found this sweater. I started working on it right away, setting aside my aran cardigan which is also nearly done.

Poor photo but the sweater is done! It's light and cozy, and it begs to be worn over leggings.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Some July projects

I guess apparently I wasn't done knitting Christmas stockings. This one was for nobody in particular. I don't even like Christmas, but for some reason the large stockings are satisfying to knit. I like adding the designs with duplicate stitch, and I like how you only have to make one of them. I think next time I will incorporate some nice Norwegian patterning and keep it red and white. This one was done with Bernat 100% acrylic and I used some fluffy stuff from the stash for the Santa beard. A long time ago when my son was a baby, his paternal grandmother asked me to knit some stockings like this for the family. I guess whoever had previously knitted all of the stockings had passed away, and she needed to add some for my son as well as a few other new babies. She offered me $40, but I never took her up on it because I was intimidated by intarsia and I also never really liked knitting for money because it's usually not something I want to make if someone wants to pay me for it. Anyway, this stocking was OK to knit. I would make more. Not for $40 though! The original pattern also had two candy canes criss crossed at the heel front, but I added Santa in duplicate stitch and by the time he was done I was over it. Next time intarsia for the win.

Anyways something happened in June. I didn't knit a single thing. July certainly made up for it as I completed two sweaters!

This simple raglan sleeve pullover was made all in a week, sitting fireside. We went for a camping trip in the Henry Cowell Redwoods and I really enjoyed the simplicity of round after round of stockinette while the kids made bigfoot calls and chased eachother around and roasted marshmallows and went on hikes. I worked on the sleeves while we went on a night hike and someone commented they'd never seen anyone knit and walk at the same time! I laughed, "Now you have!" The neckline was finished on the drive home. It's for my son.

And look how well it fits him! (Excuse the bedhead- I swear he "brushed" it.) He unfortunately thinks it is itchy and actually refused to put it on until I offered him a candy... and a dollar. It is 100% acrylic so it isn't really itchy. He owns and wears itchier things. Oh well.

My daughter's jacket was completed too, at least the knitting part of it. I started it in February and realized in time that I had made a grave error in my maths and it was huge. Very very very huge. Like, fits her 6 year old cousin huge. (She wears a 2T.) Still, I persevered and the Tomten is complete. Since this photograph I have added an I-cord border, which looks lovely, but it's 110 degrees in California and I'm not going to make her suffer putting it back on for a photo. Besides, I have purchased some nice fabric to line it with, and still want to add a zipper. I told my mom, if I line it and zipper it then by the time it is done she will have grown into it! (I'm notoriously bad at finishing)

Look at those rolled up cuffs!! Poor thing can wear this thing for years!

I really actually like how it came out, although it seemed to take DECADES to knit. Garter stitch, man. It takes a lot out of you! But seaming it was really quite easy, and it's easy to keep track of where you are. Maybe (MAYBE) some day an adult Tomten is in my future.

Finally, I know I mentioned Bigfoot earlier. Well we found ourselves going to the Bigfoot Discovery Museum down in Felton near Santa Cruz and so what did I do? Find a bigfoot hat pattern!
Is that hilarious or what? My dad was a big fan of it. It's was too big for my head though.

Anyway, I've been keeping the needles clicking!
Happy knitting!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

FO Tuesday

It's amazing how when you are knitting something because someone ELSE wants it, it kind of sucks the joy out of it.
Doubly so when the item in question is Christmas themed and it's June.

Two Christmas stockings done!!
I have cast on a blanket for my dad for Christmas, and I'm glad to be working on something I want to work on again.