flowergirl knits

flowers, cats and knitting

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!

Breakthrough

Knitting as Battlefield:

Row 12 has been met. Row 12 has been conquered. Row 12 has been left in the dust.

(Turns out that “tricky decrease” becomes quite straightforward and simple when one takes a few minutes to think it through. Duh.)

Onward.

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.

Changes in the Air

There have been a number of changes around here lately.

Weather – a heavy frost Friday and hard freezes on Saturday and Sunday have brought the growing season to a screeching halt. And to add insult to injury, it snowed on Saturday.

A lingering UFO becomes an FO – I finally finished the Spring Forward socks which I’ve been dragging around as my travel project for months.

Death of a computer – my computer crashed, completely and irrevocably, taking most of my files with it for good measure.

new kid on the block

Say hi to my new friend – an Apple MacBook Pro. Going from PC to Apple, desktop to laptop, wired to wireless – well, the learning curve has been a bit sharp at times (for instance, it took me an hour and a half to figure out how to get pictures from my camera to the computer to Flickr. I got it now I think, but it was excruciating.) Exciting, terrifying, frustrating, fun. Change is good – keeps the old brain cells from getting too rusty. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself!

Amongst all the computer stress (good and bad) I did manage to finish some socks, part of my Socktoberfest goal this year.

Pattern: Spring Forward

Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy, “Cool Fire” colorway

Notes: This is a delightfully simple pattern with very satisfying results. It makes a great travel project because it’s easy to pick up and put down again and not lose your place. The only reason it took me several months to complete is that I set it aside several times to work on other projects.

I’ve switched from my beloved Lantern Moon Rosewood needles, size 1 and gone down to size 0 in less luxurious but still lovely bamboo. (The Lantern Moons don’t go smaller than 1) I’m just too loose of a knitter – I was finding socks knit on 1s were a little too sloppy (though wearable)

The DIC yarn, as always, was a delight to knit with. I was a little surprised that this colorway came out more variegated than I’d expected; usually the DIC sock yarns have more subtle variegation. I think the pattern is somewhat obscured by this colorway, but still acceptable.

I’ve moved on to the TTL Mystery Sock 09 now, using ShiBui Sock. I’m woefully behind with the clues and probably won’t get the finished in October, but I’m ok with that.

As mentioned in the last post, I was knitting a Tangled Yoke cardigan and loving it. Since then, disaster has struck; I shed a few tears, then put it in time-out for a while. I think I am about ready to pick it up and try again; I’ll let you know how that goes next time.

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.

Shetland Triangle in Action

At last! Here are the modeled shots of the Shetland Triangle! I know you’ve been a-tingle with anticipation about this so, without further ado:

I’m not sure how practical this will be – a rectangular shawl might have been better than a triangular one – but I do like the colors with this coat (which is from jjill) The weather here lately has been warm and dry, so there hasn’t been any “real world” exposure yet, but that should change in the next few weeks now that autumn is here.

Now, back to sweater knitting….

Stashin’ at Stitches

Some serious stashin’ has taken place recently – last week was the great enabling event known as  Stitches Midwest.

Actually, I did pretty good. I went in with a list and I pretty much stuck to that list. Granted, the list was a bit unreasonable – yarn for three sweaters as well as some sock yarn – but I stuck to it and I’m pretty proud of that.  I came perilously close to stepping off the edge though – I literally had two – two! – pattern booklets clutched in my hands and was fondling the yarn needed for two more sweaters when I somehow got a grip and took a step back. I wrote down the name of the patterns and have added them to my Ravelry que (which I use as a holding bin for ideas) and walked away. (Well, I still had yarn for three other sweaters – and some sock yarn – but it could have gotten very messy indeed)

Stitches was great – I’d recommend it to any knitter/crocheter/spinner. My friend Chris and I drove to Schaumburg the day before it started, shopped at IKEA and the Container Store, then spent the night at a nearby hotel. We arrived at the opening day of the market fresh and rested right as it opened. It’s a good thing we’d had a good night’s sleep – the market is exhausting! So many people, so many vendors, so many tempting pretties to see! It’s a bit overwhelming. We both had lists and we’d studied the list of vendors before we arrived which helped immensely, but we were pretty beat by mid-afternoon. A lot of work but so much fun!

My treasures included:

-highlighter tape for marking your place in charts (similar to using a post-it note, but longer lasting – those post-it notes always lose their sticky for me after a few line changes)

-some funky buttons (I have no idea what I’ll use them for – not terribly smart shopping but I couldn’t resist)

-mouth-watering gorgeous sock yarns from indie dyer Miss Babs (I even picked up a couple skeins of variegated colors – I usually stick with semi-solids – but they were just too beautiful to pass)

-yarn for sweaters – Blackstone Tweed in “Plum Island” for Noisette, Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool in “red-brown” for Slinky Ribs and Green Mountain Spinnery Mountain Mohair in “Rhubarb” for either Portland or Halcyon.

The goal is to knit with as much of this yarn as possible before next year’s Stitches – and considering how much yarn I already have waiting to be knit, this could be a challenge.

Now, my question for you – when does yarn become “stash yarn” (since it’s so noble and uplifting to knit something “from the stash”!) As soon as you buy it? Once you bring it home and store it in your yarn bins or bags? After you’ve catalogued it in Ravelry (so satisfying and tidy)? Is there a time frame – six months, a year? When does yarn step over that magical line and become stash?

My vote is “as soon as you buy it” but I’m willing to hear other opinons!

Metamorphis Completed

Finished and blocked (and even the ends woven in)! The Blob has become a Shetland Triangle of generous proportion, all lacy and colorful. Whether it meets with success in real life, well – that remains a question.

Pattern: Shetland Triangle by Evelyn Clark

Yarn: Malabrigo Silky Merino, colorway “Indiecita”

Notes: A lovely, straightforward shawl pattern from the inestimable Evelyn Clark – really, can you ever go wrong with one of her patterns? I’m eager to knit more of her gorgeous shawls, especially Swallowtail.

I love working with the Silky yarn; it is soft and drapy with a light sheen. The finished shawl is light but not wispy. This colorway is so incredible – the shifting of the colors from blues to aquas to purples to greens brings to mind the flowing water of a small stream, or the blending shades of a watercolor painting. It is never exactly the same from moment to moment.

However, this gorgeously painted color is also it’s disadvantage – just like those mouth-watering hand-painted sock yarns, the variegated colors can obscure the pattern. While I think this turned out fine, a solid color would have really showcased the pattern.

I did a total of 12 pattern repeats – four more than called for – because I wanted a big shawl and I had plenty of yarn. It comes in with a 68″ wingspan and a 32″ backbone. I hope to have some modeled shots later this week, especially with my new fall coat which I think it matches and compliments beautifully. Only time will tell if it works like I envision it, or if I end up looking like an old granny!