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August 31, 2005

Introducing...

Who's not grumpy in her Tivoli?
It's me! It's me!

   

I like to think of these as "night before" and "morning after" :).

But wait! The one on the left is not a Tivoli at all! It has picots all around the edges! Why, it's a Picovoli! (picot + Tivoli = Picovoli. Am I a dork or what?)

And so, standardization is complete, sizes are added, gauge is constant throughout (old confusing Tivoli patterns are gone), picots are optional, and you can find the pattern HERE.

Edited to add: more Picovoli info is available here - schematics, tables, close-ups, etc.

Posted by Kathy at 06:38 PM | Comments (34)

August 29, 2005

Quick fix

This took no more than 5 minutes.

I just got some thin elastic (that part took days), threaded it through the bottom edge of the shrug, secured at the armpits, and voilà!

That's another sundress, by the way - sleeveless and with a deep-V in the front - so the shrug could be conceivably paired with it.

Closing thought - there's no doubt that you have a more intimate knowledge of my wardrobe than my own mother.

Posted by Kathy at 06:13 PM | Comments (17)

August 28, 2005

I little foresight on my part would've helped

How do you feel about progress pics? Love 'em, hate 'em? I must admit that I like to see other people's progress, especially if between one blog entry and another, there's a remarkable amount of it. This doesn't apply as much to lace knitting, where everything is one jumbled mess, a mess which gets bigger and bigger every time, and only upon blocking there's a huge "ah!" moment.

In any case, the front (or the back, since they're identical) of the Filati tunic is done:

Finished that up in about 48 hours and now it's blocked.

So far the KnitPicks Shine is behaving very predictably. There was a slight stretch upon blocking, about 1" horizontally and 1" vertically, which I fully expected from my washed swatch. Excellent ;). To add to predictability, the finished measurements of my sweater (even after blocking) are significantly smaller than my actual body measurements because I know the cotton is going to stretch.

The lace at the bottom is the only thing that's bugging me right now. I should have thought about the construction of this sweater a little more carefully before casting on, and then I would have foreseen that the lace was going to get wider and longer with blocking, compared to an equivalent number of stitches knit in plain stockinette. Duh! And so, I should have cast on one fewer lace repeats.

The bottom edge of my tunic is 19 3/4" wide, while I aimed for it to be 18". But I've got a plan that doesn't involve reknitting the whole thing. I want to reknit the lace and the decreases leading up to the waist, then graft that new piece of knitting to the remainder of the old front (or back). If the grafting doesn't look perfect, I'll make this piece the back. If the grafting looks awful, I'll just continue knitting, redoing the whole piece. What do you think?

In other news, I acquired some truly cursed yarn via Diana.

How can something so cute be so cursed?!? More details later.

Posted by Kathy at 08:43 PM | Comments (21)

August 26, 2005

Auspicious!

He. Just wait till I show you THIS:

In a matter of 24 hours, I was able to push aside whatever inauspicious warnings the Filati tunic whispered in my ear.

First, I wound several more skeins of KnitPicks Shine and they were all in perfect order. Second, although the lace edging of the tunic hurt like a bitch, the plain stockinette is not painful at all. In fact, the stitches are so crisp and individual (if you will), I do not have to look at my knitting AT ALL. All of this leading to a tremendous amount of progress, since I can knit and read papers for work at the same time*.

Word.

*For typical stockinette-based knitting, I do not look at my hands much. Some yarns are better than others, and if I can feel the stitches very clearly (as I do with Shine), I do not have to look down at all, except for the first two or three stitches of the row.

Posted by Kathy at 03:26 PM | Comments (21)

August 25, 2005

Inauspicious?

First, thank you all so much for all your compliments on the "Mia" shrug. I was a little skeptical myself, but it seems the right combination of outfit, pattern, and details makes everything just right ;). Of course the compliments are shared with the designer. Karen has been modifying, clarifying, and improving the shrug pattern throughout the test-knit process, and the pattern is now available for all of you ;). Now, why don't you sashay over to Karen's site and check it out for yourself?


Let me come clean about what I have on the needles now that the shrug is done.

Nothing!

Ok, just kidding ;)

1. Meg's SYNO scarf (1/5 done). 2. Lavender lace scarf (long-term project, I work a few inches every month, about 1/4 done). 3. Secret project you won't hear about for a while (about 1/2 done).

Don't you think it's time for something new? Sumptin', sumptin' special?

   

Bingo!

I think this Filati pattern is quite cute, but my initial excitement stemmed more from the realization that one of the sizes was dead on for me. That, and the fact that I bought the pattern book on clearance for $1. Woo!

I purchased KnitPicks Shine in Apricot, and I'm off!

Not so fast, Speedy Gonzalez!

First, I did some very basic math to include waist shaping, the only thing I felt was missing from this pattern. Cotton is very, very stretchy, and I know I won't be happy with the sweater unless it's snug, so it was a must.

Next I started reading through the pattern, which is written (translated?) in a very weird way, and after rereading it a good 3 or 4 times it became clear to me that, yes, they wanted me to make 12 repeats, 10 stitches each, in a space of 100 stitches. Oh boy.

I corrected that mistake, cast on, and not even two rows later, this:

I see. I see how it is. I know this game. This is that game that elann made me play with their Peruvian Collection Alpaca, where I had to carefully rewind each and every center-pull skein to check for knots and splices. Sigh.

After I dealt with the splice (I opted to cut it out and rejoin, rather than casting on again) and started knitting, I understood what you all have been talking about. That thing, where cotton hurts your hands, I never got it.

I get it.

Oh, shite! Right where my funny bone is, in the left elbow. Owie-wee! Ice! And it's very immediate, just a few minutes, and I can't knit with it anymore.

The funny thing is that I've knit with pure cotton, cotton/silk, cotton/acrylic, and cotton/wool blends before, but they didn't hurt my hands. But this cotton/modal is torture!

Not a good start at all. Send me good karma before this becomes another Adrienne Vittadini disaster, okay? Because that one started the same way, and ended even worse.

At least there was a most pleasant surprise from Sara in the mailbox:

   

I cute Loose Knits card and handmade, sterling silver stitch markers in the most gorgeous raspberry red, my color. Jaw drop followed! Thank you so much, Sara, and I think I know just the thing to reciprocate this very special gift.

Posted by Kathy at 04:53 PM | Comments (21)

August 24, 2005

On the other side of the tracks

First-time test-knitter is an interesting position to find myself in. You know I’m a perfectionist, and as far as I’m concerned, “perfection” is the lowest common denominator when it comes to patterns. As I knit the “Mia” shrug, I often found myself thinking, is this little thing or that one important enough to point out and comment on? I think by the number of e-mails Karen and I exchanged, I couldn’t stop myself from blabbing about everything ;). Thanks for putting up with me, Karen! I think the pattern took shape as we chatted back and forth, so I hope I was helpful.

Well, here she is, in all her glory. I model her with a sundress (which still smells like Jamaica), the type of outfit I assume needs a shrug (my hot self needs to be told these things):

My biggest concern was framing for that, “here I am!” look. However, I don’t think that’s the case here (for an alternate view, click here to look down my dress, PG-13 rated). Maybe because the shrug matches my skin (and my background) and my dress doesn’t at all, the shrug is almost unnoticeable? What do you think it would look like if it were black or dark red, and I was wearing a light peach or pink dress?

Overall, I’m happy with how this shrug turned out. Continue onto the extended entry (edited to include "bustier" photos) to read more details.

Before moving to the shrug's back, here are some photos of the shrug paired with jeans and a t-shirt:

   

I really like the more casual combination, and I don't think I look any more busty with the shrug than I do without it, right?

And here’s my backside:

I always thought shrugs should cover my shoulder blades entirely, and you can see that this is the case for Karen’s own shrug. However, in this pattern the width of the shrug is exactly the circumference of the upper arm. Since my upper arms aren’t very big (unless I’m flexing my monster biceps, in which case, you know, watch out, they’re going to burst through the seams and hit nearby objects), the shrug width is not very big either. I think I can work with it, though, it matches the 3/4-length sleeves.

The bottom flares out a little bit. Well, a lot if I stand up very straight, arching my back, and a little bit if I stand up “normally,” as I am in this photo. I think that’s simply caused by the difference between how much the fabric has to travel around my shoulders versus straight across my back. The fact that there isn’t a lot of fabric to weigh the edge down doesn’t help.

Also, the pattern specifies to slip the edge stitches, and that’s immediately followed or preceded by a yarnover – while the resulting edge is very neat, I don’t think the slipped stitches followed by a yarnovers give it enough substance, so the result is a little curling and flaring. I may thread some very thin elastic through the edge, that should be simple enough to do.

However, I must point out that Karen’s own shrug seems to cradle her back quite nicely, probably because she used a heavier cotton blend, and her shrug is wider in the back.

The lace pattern is very attractive. However, it tends to draw in a bit, so while I cast on 11 inches worth of stitches in stockinette, as specified in the pattern, it’s only 9.5 inches in this lace pattern, adding to the shortness in the back.

As I mentioned before, the lace of my shrug differs from Karen’s because she twisted her stitches. The stitches are also twisted in her ribbing, and not in mine. She intends to give instructions for both shrug versions in her pattern.

The rosettes are called Ruffle Roses from Nicky Epstein’s Knitted Embellishments. I worked each over 19 sts, omitted the last 4 rows, and beaded by hand as I assembled. They are small, about 1.5” in diameter, so that four can comfortably fit around my not-so-big shoulders (click here for a close-up).

The beaded cuffs are of my own design, and are about 2.5” long. On the minus side, they aren’t easily incorporated into the pattern because they need to be worked in the round, while the rest of the shrug is worked flat. On the plus side, they can be worked in either direction: cast on and make cuff, or make cuff and bind off (click here for a close-up).

The pattern itself: I know how long it takes to write a pattern - I shake my head with understanding and appreciation. I wish they only took a week or two to conceive, sketch, knit, correctly work out the details, and test-knit! Karen has gone through a huge number of revisions with her “Mia” Shrug pattern, and it has gotten better, more complete and thorough with each one. She has incorporated details of my shrug and hers, and the pattern should be available shortly. For now, congratulations, Karen!

The knitty gritty: US 6, KFI Cashmereno (color #01, 22 sts/30 rows per 4” square in stockinette, 55% merino wool, 33% microfiber, 12% cashmere, 135 m per 50 g ball), 3 balls plus a little bit of the fourth for the rosettes (450 yards total), 112 beads (48 per cuff, 4 per rosette). Shrug is 9.5” wide, 50” long (the whole length, including the cuffs).

Posted by Kathy at 12:09 PM | Comments (57)

August 23, 2005

Umbilicus

You know, I still can't believe at the very last minute I fumbled so awkwardly on the shrug! Why was I under the impression that working in the opposite direction would be simple? I guess with stockinette it is simple, but with ribbing, it's hard to match up the stitches. Lesson learned: next time I'm running a lifeline before snipping.

Nonetheless, two matching cuffs:

Eh? Not bad!

Let me rearrange the cuffs and pan out for a second:

Both cuffs have their respective balls of yarn still attached, and the cuff I had to rework still has a lifeline threaded through. They are obviously done, but why is it so hard to cut loose? To release the knitted object from the yarn? What ifs? What if I decide I want full-length sleeves? What if I realize I knit one too many beaded rows on one of the cuffs?

Cutting yarn is so final. For me, much more in the emotional sense then in the physical one (because I know I can always rejoin a ball).

Next: seaming, blocking, rosettes.


In other news, after boycotting my ball winder for a good 5 months, it now shares my sentiment:

Double-u tee ef is that mesh-like mess at the top? It's angry at me.

Posted by Kathy at 02:31 PM | Comments (19)

August 22, 2005

Portable? Not for me!

Whoever said that knitting is a portable activity obviously never knit with me. Between the project, the notions, and the camera to catch disasters, I need a whole lot of room to spread out all my goods. Especially when putting the finishing touches on Karen's "Mia" Shrug.

I decided that the original beaded cuff I created for the shrug just wasn't up to Grumperina standards:

It's cute, but I felt it was kind of messy - adding the beads by carrying the yarn in front gave them too much room to slide around. So, when I finished the second sleeve, I knit the same exact cuff, but placed the beads in a different location, and directly knitted them into the fabric:

Much better! The scalloping of the edge is not as prominent, but I think it will get there with a little wear and/or blocking. But look how much more neat!

Of course my saving grace in this cuff adventure is the fact that I can knit the same edging in either direction (cast on and knit edging, or knit edging then bind off), and it will look almost identical.

Once I was sure that I liked the new cuff version better than the old, it was time to snip my knitting, remove the old cuff, and knit the new cuff in the opposite direction:

   

Then there was some stitch counting, recounting, and realizing that I had 3 too many. And then there was some focusing, intense focusing where I tuned out everything around me. I decided to tink a row in hopes of finding the errant stitches. Silly me - tinking in the opposite direction of knitting leads to a huge, ugly, impossible mess. Then I yanked the needles violently out of my knitting and perhaps scared the bejeezus out of Michelle.

Current status: mess. I would be more specific if I could.

You know there's trouble if two needles are threaded at once, and I'm not even sewing.


It must be getting colder (although no one informed me). In response to numerous e-mails I've received about adding long sleeves to the Tivoli, and in anticipation of the standardized pattern release on August 31, 2005, I have created a tutorial detailing my thoughts on adding long sleeves to a garment that was designed to be sleeveless.

Posted by Kathy at 02:00 AM | Comments (20)

August 19, 2005

Colors which are a bitch to photograph:

dark blue
dark red
dark green (although Meg's scarf is the first time I've ever knit with dark green yarn, so I don't have that much experience)
black

And now, bright orange:

This is what the photo looked like before I adjusted the levels in Photoshop.

But the shrug is lookin' pretty good, no? I can't tell yet whether the "framing" will be an issue (can you tell?), but I can tell you that this shrug will use a little more than 3 balls of KFI Cash, about 450 yards. Not bad for a little experiment.

I borrowed Nicky Epstein's Knitted Embellishments from the library, and there's a cute rosette pattern in there that I can use. The end of this project is in sight, that's for sure.

Posted by Kathy at 07:44 PM | Comments (14)

August 18, 2005

Downtown - no finer place, for sure

Downtown - everything's waiting for you

(I would've never known this song if it weren't for Seinfeld)

For me, going downtown is a bad idea on two accounts: first, it's bad for my health. Tourists keeps the city buzzing, but when they block sidewalk traffic not to sightsee, not to buy souvenirs, but to take pictures of squirrels, my blood pressure either jumps to 160/100 or drops to 75/50, I swear! Second, it's bad for my wallet, because they have jeans that fit. At least for the most part.

I won't mention how much I spent on these, but I'll say that I threw out four pairs of ratty jeans last week, and two of them I've had for at least 5 years. My jeans wear out on the bum, most often, and that's one of those things that, once it happens, there's nothing I can do but to toss them.


And now, exhibits A, B, and C:

      

Can I get a Scheiβe! in here?!?

Okay, typically I would, on my own, mark how much I need taken off, and take them to the tailor. $18/pair later, I'd be all set. But I think I can do this myself, no? I have the good scissors, a decent sewing machine, a chalk wheel and a ruler, and even spools of matching top stitch thread (the Gütermann brand, no joking around!). When I'm feeling particularly lucid (particularly lucid), I can even thread the machine without checking the manual.

I don't care enough to do that thing where you detach the hem and then reattach it; I'd prefer to make entirely new hems - since I wear jeans every day, they get the "worn-out" look soon enough. I think that maybe the first thing I need to do is launder these, so that they settle in and shrink as they may.

And then...

HELP! Please! Any special tricks for sewing denim? Especially with contrasting thread, I need the stitches to look as perfect as I can get 'em!

You know what I'll do? For starters, I'll take yet another old pair destined to join the other four in the trash and practice on it. Brilliant ;)

Posted by Kathy at 05:09 PM | Comments (29)

August 17, 2005

I hear you, loud and clear!

So, I watch Oprah (go ahead, gasp in horror*), and she always says that she has the best-dressed audience. And I say, I have the best-intentioned readers!

Look at that - all kinds of suggestions to my last entry! Thank you! Did I think about elbow-length sleeves framing the bust? Nope. How about warmth and season wearability? Not so much. I was pretty much focused on what looks best. Pshah! Your message is loud and clear, though, and I agree!

Who needs blogpoll when I've got Excel, Photoshop, and Illustrator?!?

And with that, my shrug with 3/4-length sleeves starts to take shape. Here are the beginnings of the lace:

You'll notice that my lace doesn't exactly look like Karen's. That's because Karen twisted her stitches, but has asked me to knit an untwisted version. Other than the twisted stitches (and different choice of yarn, obviously), the two patterns are the same. Isn't the difference remarkable?

What you see is exactly one skein's worth of yarn - enough for the edging, the sleeve, and the start of the lace. Not bad! Speaking of the edging, I have an idea in mind to make it even better. I don't plan to frog all this knitting, but I may decide to snip and unravel what I've knit so far and work in the other direction to redo it.

*I also have a VCR. And I use it.

Posted by Kathy at 08:52 PM | Comments (16)

Now is the time to speak up

Sleeve length, it's tricky business.

      

(click on photos for PG-13 versions, precipitated by the first comment to this entry)

Full-length, 3/4 length, elbow-length. What do you think?

Sidenote: I figured I'd be all cool and previously put up a blogpoll here, but I'll be damned, it changed the background of my blog, overriding my .content settings. NOT cool, blogpoll, NOT cool.

Posted by Kathy at 01:21 AM | Comments (65)

August 15, 2005

The hands know what to do

Thank you ALL so much for your warm compliments on my wrap sweater! I had to check the calendar twice, because, believe it or not, the wrap made its debut on August 14th! And, no, I haven't moved to Australia. Rather, I met up with some friends at what must be the coldest café in the whole wide world, and felt very comfy in my new sweater, even in the middle of summer.

No entry can be as exciting as an FO entry, but I've got something new up my sleeve, literally!

Surprises around every corner! You were probably expecting beginnings of the Filati tunic, or Forbes Forest progress, or perhaps an explanation of what I plan to do with 43 skeins of Cora yarn, and burning the Adrienne Vittadini sweater would probably be welcome by all (I'm sick of it, and I bet you are, too). Not to worry, all those things are to come, but there's a new interest in the Grumperina household at this very moment.

When I saw Karen's shrug, I knew that it was the one which could potentially overcome my shrug shyness.

Karen wrote the pattern herself, and kindly allowed me to be a test knitter. This is a position that's near and dear to my heart since I depended on my test knitters to make the Tivoli possible.


On Saturday (in the worst heat imaginable), I picked up some KFI Cashmereno at Windsor Button for this project. This is a very nice DK weight yarn that I previously used for a pair of socks for my grandmother. I typically wouldn't be drawn to this oatmeal color (being oatmeal-colored myself), except KFI Cash is now hard to find since it's discontinued, so all the colors are worth a look, and it was sitting pretty in the sale bin ;). Oatmeal came home with me, but not before she got some friends to liven things up - sort of mauve-ish beads from Beadworks.

   

As I was starting my shrug, I brainstormed what kind of edging I'd like to put on the sleeves. Karen gave me directions for the edging she used on hers, but as I recently explained to Michelle, the crochet hook is the tool of the devil. Seriously, charted crochet is not bad, but written out crochet makes me totally cranky.

I remembered that Purly Whites used a cute little edging on her self-designed shrug, and thought, okay, let me check out Knitting on the Edge as she did, perhaps I'll also be inspired.

I swatched and swatched until the cows came home. And let me tell you, swatching with beads becomes very tedious the 10th time you have to rip things out and shuffle the beads on the yarn. Nothing worked, it just wasn't what I wanted.

And then it became clear to me - in my head, I knew what I wanted, I had a vision, an idea, so I just had to... knit it. It is an amazing process to let your hands work, let them do what they do best, because, I kid you not, in 5 minutes I had the right thing. Sometimes I just need to give the books a rest.

Posted by Kathy at 07:04 PM | Comments (14)

Leftover ONline Linie 76 Cup

Did you like the funky yarn I used for my wrap sweater? I was selling the 5 balls I had leftover, but they have now been taken ;). Thank you for your interest.

Posted by Kathy at 06:15 PM

August 14, 2005

Get this thing off of me!

It is so HOT, I cannot believe I’m prancing around in this thing:

Yarn: ONline Linie 76 Cup, color 06 (52% schurwolle, 48% polyacryl). Total of 9 skeins (with only a yard or so left over!). I absolutely adore this yarn, it has such personality. As I was knitting, I found myself looking forward to funky yarn sections, and crossing my fingers that they would end up front and center, not at the edge :).
Needles and gauge: US 9 Addi Turbo, 15 sts/22 rows per 4” square.
Finished measurements: 37” bust, 22.5” shoulder to hem.

List time!

I made up the pattern for this wrap sweater myself, but I think the result would have been identical if I were to take some wrap pattern, and adjust it for my gauge and size. I decided to keep everything very simple in this sweater for three reasons:

Sweater wrap simplicities:

  • The edging at the hem and sleeves is 1 row of purl on the right side. That’s it.
  • The edging along the sweater opening is a modified i-cord designed by Annie Modesitt (more details here).
  • The neck opening in the back has just a little bit of shaping and no edging - I picked up some stitches, and then bound them off on the next row.
  • The right and left fronts are mirror images of one another. So are the two sleeves ;).
  • The sleeves are hardly shaped: 1/2" decreased at the forearm, then 1.5" increased to the armpit.
  • There is no hip/waist/bust shaping. At all! Because the wrap fits snugly around my body, I didn’t think it was really needed. Now that the wrap is done, there’s only one place where just a few decreases would have been an added bonus – above my beeee-hind ;).
  • I didn’t wet-block this as I typically would. Instead, I ironed it on high with high steam through a thin pillowcase. Let me tell ya, if there’s one thing I know, it’s how to iron (thanks, Mom and Grandma!). The fabric stretched slightly after ironing (my sleeves are a bit longer now), but it’s not a big deal at all considering that in a chunky garment like this, flat seams take off the 10 pounds the camera adds and then some.
  • There is one button securing the “under” front, and no other buttons or ties.
  • Even the pin is simple! I did buy a few fancy pins at department stores downtown, but will return them all in favor of this little DIY number I made at Beadworks:

    I know, not very creative – it totally matches. I did play around with other color arrangements, and I must say, dark green looks great against the color of the sweater, but I was tired, hot, and cranky, and the store was amazingly crowded (with tourists, toting around huge shopping bags, I just don’t get it!), so I caved in and matched.

Do I love it? Yeah! I mean, I think so… ask me again when the weather has cooled down by at least 20 degrees ;).

Seriously, the ironing made all the difference.

   

Before, the wrap just sort of sat on my body with every seam protruding half an inch into the air. The hems and edgings curled slightly in an unflattering way, and the doubled fabric on my belly really stood out. After, the fabric is thinner, the seams are flat, and the wrap really follows the lines and curves of my body instead of just sitting there.

P.S. Always fill your iron with bottled or filtered water – the mineral deposits in tap water clog up the steam vents and cause nasty white chalky crap to be spit up all over your stuff. And it’s hell to get out of handknits ;).

Posted by Kathy at 01:38 PM | Comments (61)

August 11, 2005

The Dough Company

Grad student t-shirts, they just keep on showin' up!

At least I've got pants on, which, let me tell ya, is an accomplishment in this heat considering I'm wearing half of a wool sweater.

New angle of left front: check; sleeve length: check; armhole depth (vertical and horizontal): check; weaving in ends: not so much a check.

It always seems to be such a mess at the armpit where four corners come together into one big... PITA (pain in the ass).

I know I'm going to have to iron the seams, which isn't making me happy. This is a decently close-fitting sweater and I feel the seams need to be as flat as possible. The yarn is one ply wool, and one ply funky nylon. Pressing the nylon is what's making me nervous. I'll have to test it on a swatch first.

So, now I just need to, uhm, knit the other sleeve, seam the other side of the sweater, and finish the back of the neck (stitches currently on a holder).

Last, I'll need to find some kind of pin to hold the whole thing closed. I think I was inspired by Diana's Rosie to leave the wrap button- and tie-less. My current pin collection won't do, I don't think (what do you think?):

Okay, I have to go and reattach the pins to their respective jackets, and think about the pin style that would complement this wrap.


P.S. All you shrug-lovers out there, check this out from Karen at Yarn is My Metier. Really, makes me want to knit one. Karen assured me that this shrug wouldn't frame the bust for that "here I am!" look, but I'm still having some doubts (the framing and never being cold are the two reasons I have yet to knit one of these puppies).

Posted by Kathy at 06:40 PM | Comments (16)

August 10, 2005

Priorities. Sacrifices. Reincarnation.

I've been meaning to frog that Jaeger wool rose scarf I was knitting for my friend. I planned to give it to her for her birthday, but that didn't happen, and I could give it to someone else, but I'm not sure how much more time it will take me to finish it, and I'm not sure if I even want to finish it, plus I know I'd need to buy more yarn, and... well, it was time to take it apart :). I do love the stitch pattern and would love to use it with a heavier weight yarn some day. Just not this very moment.

   

It's done.

Why now, all of a sudden?

Well, I needed some yarn to start seaming up my wrap sweater. I can't really use the sweater yarn because it's thick 'n thin - it will get stuck in the stitches and add too much bulk. This Jaeger rose wool is just the right color and weight, I figure. So, snip, snip, rip, rip, washy wash, wham, bam, thank you, ma'am.

If only all unloved projects were so easy to dismiss!

Although I still have one more sleeve to knit for my wrap, I wanted to seam the completed one to make sure I didn't mess up on the armhole and sleeve shaping and that the sleeve length is good.

The scarf, reincarnated as mattress stitch (sounds like a painting you'd see at the Met). Slides through the stitches very smoothly, this is definitely a good choice for seaming.

The length seems good, maybe just a little too long (?). I reserve final judgment until the sleeve is attached to the armhole, which will probably pull it up a little bit (I didn't get to that part yet).

Did that last photo make you a lil' dizzy? Maybe it's just me ;).

Posted by Kathy at 07:32 PM | Comments (15)

August 09, 2005

It’s like Stitch was reading my mind

   

When was the last time I received anything from Australia? Uhm, never! A cool metered postmark and a customs form were enough to make me giddy! Inside this Australian package was some Australian Cleckheaton yarn and Australian loose tea from my Australian Stitch Ya Neck Out pal, Meg! Hi, Meg!

(Makes me feel only slightly lame to have sent Debbie Bliss Cashmerino to my British SYNO pal. Eh. I chose the yarn before my pal was revealed… is that a reasonable excuse?)

Meg has asked me to knit Forbes Forest for her from Scarf Style, and I’m more than happy to oblige!

I know most people refer to their knitting goddesses, but Stitch has always been my knitting god, and he looked out for me this time, too ;). You see, the two items most commonly requested in this exchange are Ruffles and Turtleneck Shrug. From the very beginning I knew I didn’t want to knit Ruffles, and I specified that to the exchange hosts. After doing some simple statistics in my head, I was ready for the Turtleneck Shrug to come my way.

And that would have been fine, except I kind of wanted to knit one of the other scarves – Forbes Forest or Misty Garden or Midwest Moonlight… and so it happened! Thank you, Stitch and Meg! I'm glad that, first, I'm not the only one who wants something other than Ruffles and Turtleneck Shrug, and I'm glad that one of these less popular requests came my way ;).

This is a great pattern for me to knit because while I love the challenge of this type of cable- and bobble-intensive pattern (no serious TV-watching while knitting this!), it’s not a scarf I would wear myself. If not for this exchange, I would have never knit this!

Needless to say, I immediately cast on:

The pattern is quite intuitive, so I’m just lovin’ it so far. I’m not far along, but I’m already familiar enough with the pattern to be able to anticipate the next twist and turn and cable and bobble. Of course I’m cabling without a cable needle, and I can’t imagine doing this scarf any other way, since every single right-side row has 8 cables. I decided the bobbles looked a little dull as written (and required turning of the work), so I’m using Annie Modesitt’s voluptuous and turning-less bobbles.

So far, this exchange is working out splendidly... at least for Meg, since I can't seem to put this project down :). My own projects are paused for just a bit as a result :).

Posted by Kathy at 09:05 PM | Comments (20)

August 08, 2005

I consulted a professional

June, bless your heart for answering my entirely serious question with an entirely serious answer. I hope it's okay that I'm sharing the relevant parts of our e-mail exchange here.

I'm waiting until tomorrow to see if I come to my senses.

Posted by Kathy at 06:58 PM | Comments (22)

August 07, 2005

Love triangle

Me. Grumpy even with incredibly delicious dessert sitting in front of me.


My sewing machine. Look at her peeking from under her cover! Such a trouble maker!


Sewing machine manual and accessories. No, I have no idea why I only have one sock on. It was unintentional. I figured I wouldn't crop it - it goes well with the rest of insanity around here.


How will we get along in this love (hate?) triangle? Me and the manual agree on a plan, but the sewing machine doesn't cooperate? The sewing machine is willing to help me, but I can't figure out how to work one of the little attachments? The manual and the machine team up against me?

That last option is most likely.

Steeking. It's an adventure.

(full disclosure: I make no promise of actual steeking in the extended entry :) )

Part 1: The sleeves are finished.

  

Here they are in their pre-blocked state. The pattern is very textured, and they are bumpy.

Part 2: The sleeves are blocked.

I blocked them by washing them in lukewarm water and a little Tide. They bled, but you already knew that was going to happen. I didn't try any chemicals to prevent the bleeding because I wanted to treat them the same way I treated the sweater's body, otherwise the colors wouldn't match.

I pinned down the little scalloped edges as they were blocking. That's what you saw in one of my previous entries.

Here is a sleeve in all its glory. The pattern evens out and flattens a bit when blocked. It is gorgeous. Stupid sweater, gorgeous sleeves.

The sleeves are about 19" long from the armpit. As far as my arms are concerned, this is perfect length - the sleeves go down to exactly where my fingers (not counting the thumb) emerge from the palm.

At least the length is right. Width is another story.

Part 3: Delusions.

Do you know the best thing about steeking? I don't have to weave in the yarn ends at the edges of the sleeves! Because, well, they'll be cut off anyway, and, I know this is going to sound super-crazy, when you steek, you create two ends for every single row! Those few yarn ends are nothing compared to two ends, every row. And you know what else? There's no seaming!

Delusions. Clearly.

Part 4: Assessment.

This was the first winter in many, many years that I did not put away my wool sweaters into storage for the summer. Why? Because I need them on hand at all times to serve as templates for my knitting! So, I got out a few of them (I really have a one-track mind when it comes to color) and using this one and that one as templates, I figured out how much needed to be taken in:

There are basically two areas that need to be taken in - first, the underarm flab area needs to be about 3" smaller in circumference. That's A LOT. Second, what brilliant Adrienne Vittadini designer decided that the sleeve construction you see above would give nice bell-shaped sleeves?!? The decreases are all done at the edge, so it just looks odd - flat and even on the side that has no decreases, and droopy along the seam! I don't know why this didn't occur to me as I was knitting the sleeve, but one explanation is that I started this sweater half a year ago, which is half of my knitting career ago.

So, I marked the areas that needed to be taken in, and started to pin the sleeve to a sheet of paper (to protect from feeder dogs). That's when I realized I was in big trouble.

Part 5: Trouble.

As I was pinning the fabric, I realized it was very thick - all that wonderful lace and cables sure add a third dimension! My typical pins were not long enough to go back and forth through the doubled fabric of the sleeve. The really long pins I use for blocking scrunched up the fabric in a way I didn't like. I thought, okay, let me first see how it feels in the sewing machine, if the scrunching would be a problem.

This is the sleeve next to the raised presser foot. So, the fabric is easily twice as high as the space under the raised presser foot.

This is the fabric under the raised presser foot. I had a hell of time squeezing it under there, and you can see how it's ballooning from all the edges. Suffice it to say that I can't really move it, adjust it or control it in any way.

Part 6: Sigh.

So I guess the machine and all her accessories turned against me. I knew what I had to do, but they wouldn't cooperate.

Where do I go now? I know all you wonderful seamstresses will be quick to suggest special quilting presser feet and using various screwdrivers to mess with my machine. I could go that route, but I'm not a seamstress. I knit well, I sew decently by hand, but the sewing machine is an unfamiliar animal. I can hope and pray, but I will not be a seamstress any time soon. So, suggestions along these lines are, simply, not an option for me.

Edited to add: I'm aware of crochet steeking (thanks to cosmicpluto for reminding me), but all the stitches in this sleeve are involved in eyelets or cables or pass the two slipped stitches over, so I don't think it will be possible either.

I thought about seaming the sweater as is and seeing how I feel about it. Except I already know how I'll feel about it - I won't like it. I could then donate it to a charity, except I know it will be bought by someone who has no idea how to care for such a garment, and it will end up in the washer and dryer quicker than I can say, "Presto chango! Small enough for your daughter!"

Frogging and reknitting is out of the questions. The obvious reason is that life is too short to spend so much time and mental energy on a sweater I already hate. The more practical reason is that this yarn doesn't wear well and won't stand up to frogging.

Do I just throw it out?!? It is hours or work, but it is only $25 worth of yarn.

Or... hehe... do I cut it up wildly with my scissors and then throw it out? Actually, I wouldn't be able to bring myself to do that. Sigh.

Posted by Kathy at 09:48 PM | Comments (21)

August 06, 2005

Perhaps porcupine-esque?

I was just about done with the left front, when I realized I had 2 extra stitches! Now, if this wrap was knit out of sportweight yarn, I wouldn't even care, but for this chunky yarn, 2 extra stitches is 3/4"!

My first thought was, of course, I forgot some decreases somewhere. The yarn is very tweedy and textured, so the decreases (or anything else, for that matter) are hard to see. I marked each decrease with a split-ring marker to count:

Can you spot my flip-flop tan?

I counted, and I hadn't missed any decreases! Then I realized, oh, I probably didn't bind off the right number of stitches at the armhole! Eureka! Good thing that for this chunky knit this is minimal amount of reknitting.

I'm off to another fun day of knitting with Paula and Colleen, and if past experiences are any indication, I should be done with the other front and some sleeve by the time I come back ;).

Posted by Kathy at 11:42 AM | Comments (4)

August 04, 2005

Got fish?

And there are plenty more outfits suitable only for graduate students where that came from!

The left front of my wrap sweater is done, and I pinned it to the back piece and "tried it on." Most aspects look stellar - the overall length is right, the armholes are the right length and depth, the width of the back is perfect... there's only one point of concern.

You see, my intent was to have the shoulder seams very narrow, so that the front would be very open. Think, mega V-neck, deep and wide. I think I've seen this look one too many times in Vogues and VKs lately, and I wanted a replica. I thought it would look good on me!

So, my design reflected that - the "straps", if you will, of the sweater narrow to a measly 2". Now that I've tried the sweater on, I think this look isn't exactly for me. You can't tell my shape from that photo, but imagine the line of the wrap running right across my... bazoomba (Sil would say), like a demi-bra. Did I design it this way? Yes. Did it knit up as designed? Yes. Would it look better on someone less endowed? Probably. Do I still want it this way after trying it on? Not so much.

The plan is set, the needles are ready. I'm aiming for something like this:

All I have to do is leave about 3-3.5" worth of strap, and decrease at a slower rate (the two go hand in hand). That's no problem at all.

Before I ripped, I took some photos of the edging:

   

This is a modified i-cord edging designed by Annie Modesitt. It's used in her Backyard Leaves scarf (Scarf Style) and in Alison's scarf (free link from her blog website). The edging looks identical from all angles - front, back, and side, which makes it oh-so-attractive and neat! It is simple and is worked at the same time as the rest of the sweater. You can see it clearly against the purl background of the wrong side of my wrap, but it blends it nicely with the right side. As usual, Annie comes up with the cool stuff ;).

Posted by Kathy at 10:48 PM | Comments (17)

August 03, 2005

Enhancement?!? Bwah! This is full-stash makeover!

Progress continues on my new wrap sweater. I just finished the left (yes, the left) front, but I am not sure about the angle across my body and my decision to have a very short (2") shoulder seam for a more "here I am!" look. Not to worry! This stuff knits up so quickly, it will take me like a few hours at the coffee shop to reknit it (and fix the last few rows of the back to match). I'm going to think about it for a day or two, see if I still want to change it. Then I'll update you with some pics and a close-up of the edging (since a few people asked).


Ever have one of those days that just flies by, and when it's over, you realize you haven't eaten a bite all day long? All of a sudden, the "lunch" consisting of two cans of diet Pepsi starts rumbling in your stomach, you realize you're starved, and you rush to the kitchen. Tuna, peas, pancakes, chicken, sticks of butter, they all fly into your mouth! Twenty minutes later, you're sprawled on the couch with the left leg propped up on the coffee table, feeling like all the food is pressing against your lungs (and your brain) and you can't breathe (or think).

I didn't spend a penny on yarn in July. I was starving.

So I binged. Now I can't breathe and my wallet is hiding in shame.

First, I finally received my KnitPicks Shine order. The yarn is for the Filati tunic sweater. Although I don't think I'll get started until I'm done with my wrap, this sweater is high on my projects list. The color of the skeins matches the color card precisely, but somehow it's different than what I expected. I thought it would be more of a yellow orange, but it's actually more like a tangerine orange, or orange with a hint of rust. Eh, good enough, I figure.

Second, I spotted the most interesting yarn when I was at Circles a few days ago. It is South West Trading Company 'Illusion,' a soy silk yarn with a shiny rayon thread running through it for some sparkle. I wasn't ready to buy it then and there, but couldn't resist when I found it on a serious sale at Flying Fingers. My yarn was delivered less than 48 hours after placing my order, and now I'm 6 skeins of tofu richer. I've never knit with soy silk before, I've never knit with ribbon yarn before, and black isn't the easiest animal to handle, so we'll see how it goes. I'll brainstorm ideas for this yarn when the time comes, probably not until the wrap and the Filati sweaters are done. Highlight: there was a cute postcard enclosed with the order that said, "Enjoy your sparkly tofu." Hehe :). Downer: Sparkles look like dirt in photographs and this stuff smells funny. Hmmm...

Last, I bought some Hand Work Cora from elann. This is a cotton/acrylic blend that feels very similar to Lion Brand Cotton-Ease or Reynolds Olé-Olé. The photo is really deceptive because I just show you one of each of the colors I bought. How many skeins did I buy in total? Well... you see... cough... mumble... clear throat... 43. Not 43 yards, 43 skeins. There, I said it! 43 skeins! Obviously, I've got a project planned (details later). I already started playing with this stuff by knitting up a swatch and putting it through the washer and dryer. Highlights: pretty nice to work with, and looks and feels very fluffy and soft after washing. Oh, and the price is great. Downer: smells funny. What is it with this funny-smelling yarn?

And this, my friends, is not just some silly stash enhancement; this is a full-blown, full-stash makeover.

Posted by Kathy at 06:15 PM | Comments (20)

August 02, 2005

One of these things is not like the others...

... One of these things just doesn't belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

By the way, I did not grow up with Sesame Street (I think the communist regime had something to do with that), but that little tune must be in a Pampers commercial or something, because I know exactly how it goes!

Just as I finished up my Sockapal-2-za Sock Pal socks, I joined another knitting exchange: Stitch Ya Neck Out (SYNO).

This one is the total opposite of Secret Pal exchanges - in SYNO, you get exactly what you ask for! And so, my immediate attention ;). In this exchange, you select a scarf pattern and purchase appropriate yarn, mail it off to another knitter, and a few months later, voila, a finished scarf arrives, exactly as you specified and expected. In the meantime, you knit a scarf for someone else, exactly according to her specifications and with her yarn. What a concept!

From what I've read so far, most participants are requesting Ruffles or Turtleneck Shrug from Scarf Style. Not me! I selected a pattern that's not even on the approved list of patterns! You knew I would have it no other way, right? My SYNO pal will knit for me this little cutie:

It's the Lace Leaf Scarf from the spring/summer 2005 VK. As far as Google can tell, only one of these has been completed and blogged about to date. Oh yes, perfect for me!

The pattern is a simple 16-row repeat, so I felt it wasn't any more complicated than the other scarf patterns at SYNO. If you see an immediate resemblance to my Backyard Leaves scarf, you aren't mistaken. But I like these kinds of motifs, so why not have another?

The yarn called for in the pattern is Filatura Di Crosa Luxury, which is 100% silk, and $18.50/skein (3 required for scarf). I am not that rich, so I decided that Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino would be a reasonable substitute. The gauge is very similar... or, similar enough for a scarf :) (Luxury 26 sts/30 rows, DB Baby Cash 25 sts/34 rows).

Today I stopped by one of my LYSs and picked up this beautiful periwinkle DB Cashmerino. Since it was on sale, my scarf will cost less than half of what it would cost knit out of Luxury! Quite importantly, I think my SYNO pal will like working with this yarn - it is very soft.

And here is the stuff I sent off to my pal (not even 1/2 hour after I purchased the yarn this morning): a few copies of the pattern (we have to provide the pattern unless it's in Scarf Style or free on the web), the yarn, and a small detailed letter. I'm picky and can't shut up, hehe :).

Who will be knitting my SYNO scarf? Now that would be ruining the surprise, wouldn't it? You'll find out soon enough when she received the yarn and starts knitting. Anyway, what's even more interesting to me is who will I knit for, and what scarf will it be?

Posted by Kathy at 08:12 PM | Comments (22)

August 01, 2005

Directionality

Of all my childhood memories, the one of my father teaching me right and left is one of the most vivid. I don't remember how old I was, I think old enough to read, but probably not quite old enough to write, maybe around 5? My dad asked me something, and I got the directionality all wrong - I said something was to the left and it was actually to the right. Dad corrected me, and a few minutes later asked me again, and I got it wrong again. I was embarrassed and went to the kitchen pantry, chanting to myself which hand was right and which hand was left. I thought I had it all memorized and emerged excited to the living room. "Dad," I said, "this is my right hand, and this is my left." Of course I was wrong.

Dad took an old wide shoelace. He tied half of the shoelace on my left wrist, writing an "L" on it, and the other half on my right, writing an "R." He said, "okay, now wear this and look at the labels, and you will have it memorized in no time." I ran back to the kitchen pantry, this time really concentrating on getting it right. I chanted and chanted, memorizing the names like a poem, and a few minutes later ran back to my dad. "Dad," I said, "you can take the labels off now, I memorized it!" He asked if I was sure, and then cut the shoelaces with the labels off. "Now," he said, "which is your right hand?"

I victoriously lifted my left one.

Dad, this is for you:

20 years later, I'm still having trouble. However, it hasn't stopped me from working on the left front of my new wrap sweater: (the back is all done)

Or is the right front?

Posted by Kathy at 09:15 PM | Comments (23)