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Archive for November, 2007


A Sad Sweater Story

To help Ellen feel better about frogging her lovely sweater, I will tell you about my sad sweater story.  This sad sweater.

Sad First Sweater

When I picked up knitting after a long absence, I was determined that it would not just be a scarf or some other rectangular object.  I wanted to show right off the bat that I could do something more advanced, more befitting my ability.  I wanted to knit a sweater.  And it would be periwinkle blue.  And it would be fun.  And it would let me bare my shoulders a bit.

I chose the cover sweater from the Spring/Summer 2005 issue of Family Circle’s Easy Knitting magazine.  Sure, the model was in her twenties, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t wear that sweater as long as I just pulled the sleeves up a bit so they didn’t go totally off the shoulder.  And so what if it was trimmed in novelty yarn…that was just fun!  And I didn’t know any LYSs, so I went to Michael’s and found some “nice” microfiber yarn that didn’t have a lot of give to it, but was so silky and such a pretty color.

I learned a lot from this sweater.  I learned that yarns without give are not as forgiving when you are working out your natural tension.  I learned that novelty yarn trim looks absolutely goofy on anyone above the age of 29 (and really, even the model on the cover looks a little goofy to me as I look at it now).  I learned that it is helpful to understand the point of (and how to distinguish between) right and left hand decreases if you are making a raglan sleeve sweater.  I learned that pattern measurements are distinctly different from personal measurements and that you should trust the size chart for recommended sizes and not go one size up to make sure the sweater is loose enough — that some sweaters are meant to have negative ease.  I learned that you need to measure progress with the garment hanging — so gravity will have its way with the weight of the garment…at least this is true if you plan to wear it in an upright position.  (Otherwise you can end up with a neck hole that stretches out so much you could pull it over your hips unless you whipstitch the edges to eliminate elasticity.)  I learned that if you think it doesn’t look right on you, you should trust that instinct and not convince yourself that because your husband insists it looks fine, it can be worn in public…or private for that matter.  Those instincts are sound — it can NOT be worn in public…or private for that matter.

So, after weeks of knitting I wore the sweater once and never again.  I still have it…it is destined to be sewn into a pillow cover someday.  I refuse to frog it — despite it’s many sad flaws, it is my first knitting project of any scale…and I still love the pretty color of the yarn and it’s silky feel.  It will be a nice pillow cover.  My dogs will love it.

Do you recognize this yarn?

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Swatches lie.

I have passed through denial (it just seems small because it is on the needles), anger (aargh! I’d yell louder if I could breathe while I have this sweater on!), bargaining (maybe if I cut a side seam and insert a gusset?), depression (must buy more yarn), and am approaching acceptance. It helped to have something to blame. You see, I fell victim to a lying swatch. I was so proud of that swatch – knit and actually blocked and still it lied. Here is the villainous swatch. 14.jpg

See how I actually swatched with 3 different needle sizes? I gave that swatch my heart. And here is the almost finished sweater, the sweater that could be sold as a control garment.23.jpg

I even tried blocking the sleeve to see if by some miracle the size would increase by about 10%.

It didn’t.

Let’s look at a kitty.

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Puppies are nice, too.

I feel better. Almost ready to frog.

But the swatch goes first.

Minnesota, hats off to thee!

It’s November. We should have to wear hats, but the weather isn’t cooperating. So I’ll just show you my hats, hats knit extra warm for Minnesota winters. Both of these have been on dog sledding expeditions – winter camping on the ice in the Boundary Waters – and I assure you they can stand up to Minnesota cold.

The first is a Meg Swansen pattern of mosaic knitting from Vogue Knitting. I added an alpaca lining.

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The second is an Anna Shallman pattern, the 10 Below Hat, edged with Latvian braid and the pattern is Ridge and Furrow. I used old 45 rpm records to make the mongo-pompom.

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I love this pattern so much I made it again for my sister-in-law, and also adapted it to mittens of my own design. You do the Ridge and Furrow in a two-handed colorwork technique, carrying one yarn in your left hand and one in your right. The difference in tension that naturally occurs, augmented by the slight difference in yarn weights, causes one to recede slightly and you get a great texture. Using a hand-dyed yarn gives you the lovely variegation, set off by the columns of solid. I am unduly proud of the thumb gusset, but the odd squared off hand brings me back down to where I belong.

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The refined raglan is going to take some extra work. I usually make things too big, but I think I overcorrected. Or could it be the weight I gained since my back injury? At any rate, it is pretty snug. I’m debating doing some afterthought steeks on the side seams and sewing in a gusset in the pattern used on the shoulders. In that case, I’ll also have to add a gusset to the underarm seam, something like a gansey would use. The alternative would be to turn it into a cardigan, I suppose. No, I’m not going to the obvious frogging. As much as I enjoyed knitting this, I’d like to move on.

(But what if I screw up this beautiful yarn with the steeks? Dang, maybe I will just frog it after all.)

A sweater in the works…

Ellen knits more than socks. Of course, as many socks as Jan knits sure adds up, but there has to be a little sibling rivalry on the site, doesn’t there?

One of my current projects is the Refined Raglan from Interweave Knits Winter 2006. Gorgeous and simple. I am knitting it with yarn direct from the Aran Islands, which my younger daughter visited a couple of summers ago. She brought me luscious yarn. It is the essence of knitting to work this truly refined pattern with this simple, solid Aran yarn.

Raglan Seam of Refined Raglan

Both of my daughters knit, and both of my daughers knit very well. Check out Karen’s blog at White Coat Knitter.

A Bit of Knitting

As this is ostensibly a blog about knitting, I thought it was about time I offered a few words about my current knitting goings-on and my knitting already gone for 2007.

Okay, so I’ve been knitting a lot of socks this year. Sampler of SocksThey are, after all, an ideal travel project and my work has had me traveling quite a bit. I knit patriotic socks over the Atlantic as I flew to Africa, pretty blue socks on my way home. Boudoir SocksBoudoir Socks DetailI knit cushy boudoir socks as I flew to Omaha and back and finger numbing purled lace socks on my way to Orlando. Add in pink woolly socks en route to England, camouflage Solstice Slip Pairgreen socks as I did weekend trips to DC, fiery orange-red-yellow-cream socks on my way to San Diego…there were some others in there too, but you get the idea.

I’ve also been working on a knit-along vest with my knitting guild…the one that meets only one night a month — the night that I always seemed to be on one of those trips. So I have no idea where the group stands with the vest. I think in theory it’s supposed to be done next month. I have about 4 months to go. (Sigh!)

Headband Close UpDale Models HeadbandI designed a woolly headband for my husband to wear out on runs on icy mornings — pretty slick if I do say so myself. It has a felted liner inside of the cabled cover and he says it perfectly keeps the wind from chilling his ears. (Which are substantial — cute, but substantial!)

And I knit felted bowls and purses…lots of bowls, just a few purses.

I also have nearly completed an fitted cardigan and have all but finished an over sized pullover.

Other UFOs include a baby sweater for my secretary, a lace shawl for my daughter’s upcoming nuptials (February 29, so I think I’ll make it!) and a set of beaded wire napkin rings. No, I am not a monogamous knitter whatsoever.

So, that’s pretty much where I stand. I’ll add more info and pictures later. I imagine that you can hardly wait!

Let’s see if Ellen can post a picture

Malabrigo Scarf Detail

Here is a picture of detail from the scarf I knit for my niece, Merry.

Janice doesn’t get to claim any DNA from this one – she is on Wilson’s side.

Slow progress

For the last 5 months I have been struggling with a slightly slipped disk. No big deal compared to the major health issues some of you are facing, but it has been aggravating to me to watch the fitness I fought so hard to gain over the last 5 years slip away as my exercise has disappeared (especially running) and of course, the eating hasn’t. In fact, I may have eaten more to fill the time. I am almost afraid to curse myself by saying that I think I am seeing progress. I am now trotting about 3/4 of a mile out of a 3 mile walk. This is the Return to Running program prescribed by my physical therapist. I love that even when it was all walking he wouldn’t let me refer to it as walking – it is the Return to Running program, and nothing else. Keep your fingers crossed and maybe next week I’ll be able to report a full mile of trotting. You will probably want to read that post sitting down.

Ellen

Success is giving out full sized candy bars on Halloween

Happy Samhain. If you were here we would give you two full sized candy bars.
Love,
Ellen