flowergirl knits

flowers, cats and knitting

Category: Sweaters

Itsy Bitsy Teensy Weensy Yellow Baby Sweater

 

There's nothing like a tiny baby sweater to give a knitter a little ego boost – oohs and aahs are pretty much guaranteed.

Pattern: In Threes Baby Cardigan by Kelly Herdrich

Yarn: madelintosh worsted, “Butter” colorway

Notes: A simple pattern with some nice details that make it special. I love the smocking effect around the garter stitch yoke created by the increases. This is knit from the top down in one piece which means minimal finishing (meaning you can whip one up at the eleventh hour in case it, um, slips your mind until a week before the shower….)

What really made this particular little cardigan special, though, is the yarn. Madelintosh is kitten soft, the colors are beautiful and complex and it's washable to boot. It's practical luxury. I had this stray skein in my stash (leftover from my Low Tide Ripples sweater) and it worked perfectly – just enough for the smallest size – so yay for successful knitting from the stash (smug).

The intended recipient arrived about a week after the shower; baby and parents are doing well.

 

Advertisements

Because I’m Still 8-Years-Old Apparently

The Tangled Yoke cardigan made it’s “public” debut last week when I wore it to work. It was, as hoped, light and non-bulky, warm but not too warm. I found I liked the too-long sleeves since they helped warm my often too-cold hands and fingers, the color continues to delight me and even I am amazed by the twists and turns of the cable though I know exactly how it’s done.

What surprised me was that no one – no one – commented about it. Now, my fellow knitters who knew all about the ups and downs I experienced with this project were kindly and enthusiastically admiring of it, but no one else seemed to notice. Was it because it was so professionally executed that they thought it was a store-bought sweater? Or was it so obviously homemade they tried to spare my feelings by not bringing attention to it? Did they not notice the beautifully tweedy color, the sinuous cabling, the clever ribbing pattern?

I have to admit that while sweating over the details and puzzles of this sweater, I would sometimes be thinking something along the lines of “won’t so-and-so think this is clever!” Of course, this is not a good reason to knit something. One should knit for utility, for practicality, for your own pleasure and amusement. But why then are so many knitting patterns decorated with cables and lace and multiple colors? Surely it’s to draw at least some appreciation from others?

Or maybe it’s just I am still 8-years-old and shallow to boot. <sigh>

In other, less self-centered knitting news (although, admittedly, I’m knitting this for myself!), I’ve started another sweater. This is Nectarine from Berroco, a simple crew neck pullover, a nice palate cleanser after the Tangled Yoke. The yarn is Blackstone Tweed which is heavenly soft but less subtle than the Felted Tweed. It’s moving along swiftly – the back is already finished – but progress may slow a bit while I work on some house socks and a gift knit. Stay tuned for all of the edge-of-your-seat developments!

Blood, Sweat and Tears

Actually, there was no blood, but there was plenty of sweat and tears. The Tangled Yoke cardigan, in all it’s frustrating, mind-twisting glory, is finished. Hurrah!

Pattern: Tangled Yoke cardigan by Eunny Jang

Yarn: Rowan Felted Tweed, colorway “Duck Egg”

Notes: This may be the most challenging item I’ve ever knit. At times I wondered about my audacity at attempting it in the first place – maybe I just wasn’t good enough or experienced enough to knit this. I guess it says a lot about if you want something bad enough, you’ll work at it until you reach it. It isn’t perfect and it was often a struggle, but I finished it and I’m very happy with it.

First off, I love this yarn. It’s a bear to rip (it’s very sticky and has a tendency to break) but the color and resulting fabric are fabulous. The colorway, “Duck Egg”, is a new addition to the Felted Tweed line; the steely blue with black flecks is warmed up by brown flecks and it does indeed remind me of duck eggs. The finished sweater is feather (heh heh!) light yet warm without becoming suffocating; I wore it today in typical late fall weather – sunny/cloudy mix in the mid-50s with a chill in the wind. I was very comfortable in any temperature the day threw at me.

I also love the style of this sweater. It’s very classic (Jackie O-Audrey Hepburn timeless) but not stuffy. The horizontal Celtic cable is an absolute showstopper and well worth the effort (although there were times that I began to wonder) There’s a lot of plain stockinette, but I never minded it and it seemed to go quickly. This is probably a result of the beautiful yarn – I just never got tired of the color. There are several nice details on the sweater – false seams (which, for some reason, I found absolutely delightful), short rows on the back, the folded neckband.

There were some problems too, of course. The sleeves are quite long, a problem noted by many people on Ravelry; I have very long arms and have always struggled with too-short sleeves, so I don’t mind. My sweater came out a little large. This isn’t a problem with the pattern or my gauge (which was spot on) but because I fell between two sizes and I choose the larger size. Again, I don’t mind as I don’t like wearing form fitting clothes (even though it’s in fashion) The decrease/increase instructions for the body were terribly confusing – I nearly gave up at that early stage. Again, a lot of people reported many of the same frustrations for this part of the pattern, so it wasn’t just me. I’m still not sure I did it exactly correctly, but I ended with the correct number of rows and stitches. The button bands ruffle slightly; I might have been able to correct this by going down another needle size, or picking up fewer stitches (but, by that point, with the finish line in sight, I wasn’t going back)

My mods were simple – I whip-stitched the edge of the folded neck band instead of using a three-needle bind-off (which worked brilliantly) and I hand-sewed a ribbon to the back of the button band to give it some stability (I’d like to add one to the button-hole band as well but don’t know how with my limited sewing skills)

My recommendations if you choose to knit this – lifelines. Put in a lifeline before you start the cable section – it saved me. Also, take your time, use lots of stitch markers, color-code the cable crosses on the chart (there are six different kinds) I used the highlighter tape I picked up at Stitches to keep my place on the chart – worked like a charm. And pick a great yarn that you won’t get tired of – it’s worth every dime.

It’s Done! (almost)

The long and winding story of the Tangled Yoke sweater is nearly over – all the knitting is done! As soon as I can pry Isabel off of it (she gives it a paws up for a napping blanket) I’ll soak it and then block it (where, undoubtedly, Isabel will start napping on it again) Tomorrow I’ll buy buttons and ribbon to sew to the back of the button band and, fingers crossed, I should have some pictures by Sunday. Hurrah!

Back on the Horse that Threw You

Although I haven’t talked about it too much, I’ve been working on a Tangled Yoke cardigan, a lovely, classic pattern from Eunny Jang, for the past six weeks. Things had been going pretty good – I struggled with the waist shaping instructions (as did many people if the comments on Ravelry are an indication) but managed to get through them. The sleeves went very quickly and were soon attached  to the sweater (Tangled Yoke is a cardigan that is knit in one piece from the bottom to the armholes; the sleeves are then attached and the knitting continues with the yoke)

The yoke is probably the most complicated section – a twisting, continuous cable that runs around the sweater, encompassing over 400 stitches in each row. There are 22 pattern repeats; many of these repeats require four cable crosses in each repeat. Yet, it’s only 18 rows – take your time, mark your pattern carefully, put in a lifeline before you begin – it can be done.

Row 12 proved to be my nemesis. The majority of the cabling is done – there is a light at the end of the tunnel! Maybe I got too cocky, too sure that I was going to get through this unscathed. But somewhere in row 12, while doing some tricky decreases, my stitch count got off and off by a lot. My only choice was to rip. That’s when things got ugly.

If you’ve ever worked with Rowan Felted Tweed, you probably know what’s coming. Felted Tweed, glorious and light and beautiful, is also very “sticky” and, once knit doesn’t particularly like to un-knit. Each stitch clings to it’s neighbors and gives in reluctantly. In the course of pulling out the bad row, stitches got dropped and lost. And then the yarn broke. Twice. (Another tendency of Felted Tweed)

Tears were shed. Major ripping ensued. All cabling disappeared. The offending sweater (although it had been an innocent bystander) was folded up and put in a bag and banished to the closet. We needed a break.

That was about ten days ago. During the time out I had company visit, knit on socks, lost one computer and got a new one, spent a lot of time reading about that new computer and, almost against my will, began to miss that sweater. For one thing, I still love the pattern – a simple style with lovely details that really elevate it to something special. And the yarn, the cursed, breaking yarn – I love the yarn. The color, the texture, the lightness, the fabric that it was becoming.

So today, I pulled that sweater out of the closet, took a deep breath and put it back on the needles (thank goodness for lifelines) Maybe this time I’ll be a little wiser, a little less arrogant (And also, maybe now I’ll have the sense to put it away late a night when I’m already tired and distracted. That’s what socks are for) Maybe this time the knitting gods will smile and decide I’ve suffered over this sweater enough.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Happy Socktoberfest!

Whoosh!! That was September zipping by at the speed of light. The good news is, now it’s time for Socktoberfest and the celebration of all things socks!

My plans for Socktoberfest 2009 are quite modest:

-Finish up the socks that I’ve been carrying around as my “travel project” for the last two months. And…

-Follow the TTL Mystery Sock pattern as new sections of the sock are released every Thursday in October. Kirsten from Through the Loops is crazy talented so the socks are sure to be fabulous. Plus, getting the next clue each week and watching the pattern emerge is lots of fun.

That’s it! My knitting-interest continues to focus on sweaters and the sock knitting (except for the travel project) has been minimal (but not gone – never gone)

The crazy part of my brain  (admittedly, the larger part) had seriously thought I’d get a couple sweaters done a month, or at least one a month. I may have to adjust that to one every six weeks. Or so.

I’ve been diligently working on my Tangled Yoke cardigan; I’m loving it – the yarn, the color, the pattern (although I did have some issues with the decrease section early on) but I’m still only a bit past halfway finished. In my defense, this is being knit with DK weight yarn so, lots more stitches to stitch. And I do have to stop occassionaly and do other things like work, or sleep. I had sincerely hoped to have a finished sweater by next Saturday when I’m getting together with out-of-town friends, but it’s just not going to happen. I’m just too fond of sleeping. And paying my bills.

This Just In – I’m Not French

So, I wore the Forest Canopy shawl to work a couple days ago and – it was not horrible. No one would ever mistake me for one of those effortlessly stylish French women, but it looked pretty good – not too nana-ish and nobody laughed (to my face anyway) It did start to get a bit fiddly toward the end of the day, but that’s kind of par for the course for me. I’m not sure the shirt I wore it with was the best choice, but I’m willing to play around with it a bit and try some variations. And I already have yarn and patterns for some more shawls. Maybe I should look into taking French lessons? Ooh-la-la!

When not flinging shawls over my shoulder I’ve been swatching. I hate swatching. Yes, yes – I know how important and vital it is, how the fate of world peace teeters on whether I knit a gauge swatch and I know that people say knitting a gauge swatch is knitting which is what you love to do anyway and that you’re learning incredibly valuable information about the fabric and pattern and how the item will fit, etc etc.

I hate it when people have unassailable arguments against me.

Even though at the moment we’re having the hottest, most humid weather of the year so far, I have a strong urge to knit sweaters. Several sweaters. I guess I hear “late summer” and I start thinking winter! So, I’ve been busy pouring over my Ravlery queue and my stash and trying to match the perfect pattern with the perfect yarn.

Call it lazy, or uncreative, or chicken but more and more I find I have much better luck getting a wearable finished product if I use the yarn indicated in the design. (To make matters worse, I often go with the same color as shown in the pattern!) Ravelry has helped somewhat, especially on really popular patterns, where I can see other yarns that have worked well; I’m still an inexperienced enough knitter that I don’t always pick up on the qualities of a yarn that would make it suitable or not (plys and twists and such)

So, I’ve been swatching, swatching, swatching and have come up with several matches. Some call for lighter, DK weight yarns which I think may be a little more versatile. Of course, I’ve got way more projects than I’ll get done, but I’m quite excited by all of them and eager to get started, although I need to do a needle inventory and fill in some gaps. In the meantime, I’ve got a cotton tank and another shawl on the needles. More on those next time.

Not Just for Astronauts Anymore

apparently, I mean business

The Tang is finished and I’m not talking about the breakfast drink of astronauts.

PatternTang (Rav link) from Custom Knits by Wendy Bernard

Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted, colorway “Buscando Azul”

Notes: I am super happy with this sweater – the color, the fit, the actual knitting of it – all of it turned out great. Of course, as usual, I had to worry about it while in progress including:

-that the variegation of the yarn, which is exactly what to expect with kettle-dyed Malabrigo, would be less than flattering in a sweater. I don’t think it’s too bad with this colorway which is more tonal than variegated and the shade of blue – I would call this a jewel tone – is gorgeous.

the infinity shot

-that even kitten-soft Malabrigo would be too scratchy for a next-to-the-skin garment. I have a very low itch-tolerance factor (I always wear a blouse or turtleneck under a wool sweater), probably exacerbated by a childhood of wearing stiff, harsh sweaters (which were probably acrylic rather than wool anyway!). Of course,  Malabrigo is to that yarn as silk is to sandpaper. The sweater is warm and cozy and soft.

-that it wouldn’t fit. I just do this automatically with everything I knit, even a pattern from a book called “custom knits”. It fits just fine.

This is my first knit from Wendy’s Custom Knits and, as expected, it was a great project. Wendy’s instructions were clear and easy-to-follow. I learned several new skills – provisional cast-on (slick!), top-down set-in sleeves (I’d only done top-down raglans before) and short rows (awesome!) I have been somewhat intimidated by short rows when reading about them before and while I understood the theory behind them (to add shaping with out changing the number of stitches on the needles, in this case for the sleeve caps) it wasn’t until I actually knit them that I “got” it. They still seem rather magical (And, who thinks up this stuff anyway? How brilliant were these long-forgotten early knitters?!)

action shot!

About the only downside was the large amount of stockinette – it’s great for mindless tv/movie/Inauguration Day viewing, but it’s also easy to be distracted by some hussy with cables or lace. Officially this took me six weeks, but I stopped several times to work on cowls and the Hemlock ring blanket and socks and mitts. It would have taken much less if I hadn’t strayed.

Fortunately, I got it done in time to wear it at least once before spring – a colder week (and snow on the way) allowed it to make its public debut yesterday where more than one person didn’t realize it was a hand-knit sweater. Score!

Startitis

I didn’t use to be this way – I used to have one, at the most two projects (one for knitting on the go, a larger one for knitting at home) on the needles at any one time. Suddenly, I have six – six! – projects all in progress. I blame Ravelry, that temptress, with all those fabulous patterns, many free, constantly on display. I also blame the cold – our sub-zero temps make me dream of blankets and mitts and cowls and sweaters, all of which need to be knit immediately.

Of course, if I don’t stop starting and start finishing (got that?!) I won’t have any of these warm woolies finished until about oh, July when I definitely won’t want to be wearing them! Also, even though I’ve been knitting up a storm, there’s very little to blog about.

that's a lot of blue

Noro Striped Scarf in Noro Silk Garden- Not sure about this color combination but it’s early yet. Love the pattern and the yarn.

Hemlock Ring Blanket in Malabrigo – I’d studied this pattern when it first hit Ravelry and thought I didn’t have the skills/knowledge to attempt it but in fact it’s been lots of fun.

Tang (Rav link) in Malabrigo worsted – Body is completed and first sleeve is about one third done. Learning lots of new skills with this pattern.

NHM #7 Mitten (Rav link) in Shelridge Farm in Soft Touch Ultra – Second mitten is completed through the cuff.

Retro Rib Socks (Rav link) in ShiBui Sock – These have been untouched the longest; they’re to match – you guessed it – Tang.

Saxony Socks (Rav link) in Dream in Color Smooshy – These are my “lunchtime knitting” so they are growing slowly. First sock finished, second sock started.

As far as I know, Startitis isn’t fatal. Each of these projects fills a need – simple socks for short bursts of knitting time, plain stockinette for mindless knitting, complex patterns to challenge. And I’m pretty confident that all of these will get done – I certainly haven’t lost the love for any of them!

almost as good as chocolate!

To complete my “bad knitter” rap sheet, I broke my Yarn Diet this week. This was a planned break – for a variety of reasons I knew I would need a small indulgence as a reward for getting through this past week, something soft and colorful and extravagant but not wallet busting. I came up with this: Dream in Color Smooshy sock yarn in one of their new colors, “Shiny Moss” and a lovely wooden shawl pin. Makes me happy just to look at them. Now I just need to knit a shawl for the pin…..hmmmm, I wonder what’s on Ravelry?

M is for Malabrigo

Mmmmmm. It’s been All Malabrigo, All the Time around here lately. Can’t beat that with a stick.

Earlier this week I whipped together another Crofter’s Cowl (Rav link) intended for my hairdresser. She had admired my purple one and carefully mentioned (several times) the color of her coat (black). I’ve been going to her for many years and trust her with my hair implicitly (not a small thing when it comes to one’s hair) and was happy to oblige.

This colorway is “Vermillion”; it’s lighter and has a wash of coral-pink variegation that I hadn’t expected (I would have named it “Geranium”) but it’s still lovely. Malabrigo is so perfect for cowls – warm and light, incredibly soft and it looks gorgeous in patterns like this lace. It also holds blocking beautifully – it’s fun to unpin those points after blocking. The pattern is wonderful – quick to knit and so pretty. I did modify this cowl by knitting five repeats of the pattern instead of knitting two pieces and then grafting them together. This makes it even quicker to finish and still looks, IMHO, great.

I’ve also been working away on Tang. This Malabrigo colorway is “Buscando Azul”  (darker and richer than this photo shows)  I call this my Obama Sweater – I knit a big chunk of the body of this sweater while watching the Inauguration and associated activities (such a fun and happy day, full of optimism and hope!) It’s now my tv-that-needs-close-attention (i.e. “Lost”, “Battlestar Galattica”, etc) knitting; the simple stockinette means that it’s easy to stop and start without losing my place. However, that’s also it’s weak point – I’m easily distracted by more complex/fun projects.

The latest to turn my head was this cowl.

Pattern: Thermis by Kristen Patay

Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted, colorway “Scarlett”

Notes: This is a wonderful pattern – beautifully written, clear instructions, clever design (I love the button placket and the way it is integrated into the design) The 1×1 ribbing and the thermal pattern are perfect in Malabrigo making it, if anything, even squishier. And I love that the pattern calls for buttons – it adds some character and a dash of style.

I knit this exactly as written; the finished cowl is quite long (written for elegantly swan-necked dancers perhaps?) It easily comes up over the tip of my nose and the bottoms of my ears which, considering the sub-zero weather we’ve been having lately (today’s high – 7 degrees) is a good thing. But if I make it again (and I probably will) I might make the bottom ribbing a bit shorter.

Once again the Malabrigo color surprised – and delighted – me. I had expected a dark red; this is definitely fushia – dark pink with a wash of red. This is all part of the joy of hand dyed yarns – each batch is different and unique.

There’s lots more Malabrigo in my knitting future since I have a rididulous amount marinating in the stash, including sock and lace weights. Somehow that doesn’t bother me one tiny bit!