Saturday, December 12, 2009

Swatches lie

I know that I've done a lot of knitting over the past couple of weeks, but it feels like I have nothing to show for it. A big part of this is because, while I finished my Barbara Walker sweater (my little experiment in top down knitting with seamless, simultaneous set-in sleeves) a while ago, it doesn't fit. Here's the problem: my gauge swatch lied.

I was good on this project. I dutifully knit a swatch and even washed it before measuring my stitch and row gauge. Unfortunately, while the swatch shrank a bit width-wise, the sweater did not. This means that the "seam" lines on the shoulders hit an inch down my arm from where they should sit at the edge of the shoulder. The effect is so unflattering that I can't bring myself to take a modeled pic for you. In fact, I've shoved the poor thing at the bottom of a pile of sweaters until I can give it to a friend with broader shoulders than mine.

There, now you have proof that it is done (and that it's been sitting at the bottom of the pile for some time now).

Pattern: my own, based on guidelines set out in Barbara Walker's fantastic book Knitting From the Top
Yarn: Nature Spun Worsted, colors Plumberry (2 skeins), Cranberry Fog (1.5 skeins), Ash (0.5 skeins)
Needles: size 7 circulars for the body, size 6 circulars for the ribbing

Interesting Techniques: I didn't want to work the upper body section back and forth, so I decided to work a steek for the neckline. I used a 6-stitch steek and then sewed a reinforcing line with fingering weight yarn on either side of the center before cutting. Once I had picked up and worked the neck ribbing, I secured the steek to the inside of the sweater using blanket stitch. I'm actually pretty proud of how that turned out.

The seamless simultaneous set-in sleeve technique is pretty nifty. And if I had worked with the correct shoulder measurements, it would look great, too. However, I don't think I would use it again with stripes. While the technique looks nice from the inside, the effect on the outside is not nearly as neat and tidy.

I think working this technique in a single color (or perhaps with more practice on my part) would help hide some of the messiness along the "seam."

Gift knitting has been progressing, too. I've made it into the yoke decreases on the secret sweater project:

Unfortunately, Lismore has stalled until I can find some big blocks of time in which to work on it. Hopefully that will happen this week. That project is not conducive to 5-minute spurts of knitting. Instead, I've spent that time working up a couple of little cold-weather pieces for myself:

Pattern: Peaks Island Hood (Ravelry link)
Yarn: 2.25 skeins Malabrigo Worsted, colorway Vaa
Needles: size 10 circular
Mods: None

This was a quick, easy knit and the shell motifs were cleverly done. However, it's not wind-proof enough to serve as a hat substitute in a Chicago winter. Add in a hat and you'll be just fine.

My usual go-to hat is a little stranded color work number that I knit while I was in college. It's lovely, but gives me absolutely horrible hat hair now that I have a pixie cut. When a friend of mine started knitting up a Shedir hat out of some Silky Wool, it wasn't hard to jump on that bandwagon.

Pattern: Shedir (Ravelry link)
Yarn: 1 skein Elsbeth Lavold Silky Wool in a mossy green color (I've lost the ball band)
Needles: 3.25mm (size 3) 16" circular, size 3 DPNs for the top of the crown
Mods: I used a tubular cast-on (these instructions were great), and only worked 4 pattern repeats before beginning the crown decreases. At the top of the crown, where the designer wrote two plain rounds between decrease rounds, I only worked one plain round.

There's been even more knitting here at chez Tinks and Frogs, so I'm just going to leave you with this little teaser for next time:

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sleeve, take two

Phew. I've finally made it past the point where I ripped back the sleeve last weekend. It sure is nice to be truly moving forward again.

Before and after:

That sleeve looks much better now, don't you think? Only another half-repeat to go before I start the ribbing at the cuff. I may actually finish the first sleeve this month after all.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Forwards, backwards, and forwards again

Last night I finally acknowledged the problem with Lismore that had been nagging me for the last several days: I really did need to rip the sleeve. I had abandoned the pattern directions for the sleeve decreases weeks ago because my row gauge is a bit off from what the pattern calls for and because my husband's arms are rather long.
The pattern calls for starting the ribbing after two pattern repeats. As you can see below, that would never have worked. So, with no calculations (and apparently not much luck), I settled on a rate of 2 stitches decreased every 5 rows.

A bit too wide, don't you think? I had noticed this bloomy fit when I had my husband try the sweater on over the weekend and have spent the last few days trying to talk myself into keeping the sleeve. Last night I gave up and called for reinforcements. Sometimes you really need someone else to tell you that you have to rip back 50 rows of intricate color work. Out of sheer preservation, I decided to rip back only to the second green band rather than all the way to the beginning of the sleeve.

Well, it's done. Not the most pleasant process, I have to admit. On the plus side, the yarn sticks to itself very well and I didn't have any problems with stitches dropping as I ripped. That certainly makes me feel better about the unreinforced steeks.

I'm moving forward on the sleeve again, now decreasing at a rate of 2 stitches every 3 rows. This is how far I had progressed earlier this evening:

For some reason, these rows are flying by. I can't wait to get home from class and knit on this some more.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cinnamon Ene

Last weekend I finished up a lovely little lace project that has been my break from gift knitting over the past few weeks.

Pattern: Ene's Scarf (Ravelry Link) by Nancy Bush, found in the book Scarf Style.
Yarn: 1 skein of Dream in Color Baby, color Cinnamon Girl.
Needles: size 5 Addi Lace circular.
Finished Size: 61.5" wingspan and 31" in height.
Mods: none.

All in all, this was a very easy project. The only tough part was the cast-on and I am pretty sure it took me three or four times to get it right. Ene is knit from the bottom up, with each right-side row shorter than the last. The designer used a knitted cast-on with the yarn held double, which provides a nice sturdy, yet stretchy, edge. Usually the nice thing about a knitted cast-on is that you don't have to estimate how much yarn you will need up front. Not so with a single strand of yarn held double. After several failed attempts to correctly estimate how much yarn the cast-on would use, let me offer a suggestion: whatever rule of thumb you use to determine the appropriate length of yarn you will need, double it. This will save you the frustration of casting on 300 out of 375 stitches and running out of yarn.

While the initial rows seemed to take forever to knit, I loved how quickly the last repeat worked up. My delight was dampened only slightly by the stress of watching my ball of yarn rapidly diminish and wondering if I was going to have to go buy a second skein in order to knit the last couple of rows. Happily, the crisis was averted and I was able to complete the shawl with a few yards left over. A word of caution: if I had used a larger needle size, I would have needed a second skein - it was that close.

Now I've got to get back to my gift knitting. Lismore is not going to finish itself.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Who spilled hot cocoa on my grey tabby?


Gifting season is in full swing here at chez Tinks and Frogs and I am happy to say that the knitting is progressing smoothly. Picture taking . . . not so much.

First, we have Madli's Scarf (Ravelry link). You probably know this pattern as Madli's Shawl. This was a birthday present for my dear friend N.

Pattern: Madli's Shawl (found in the Summer 2004 Interweave Knits and Nancy Bush's book, Knitted Lace in Estonia)
Yarn: one skein Malabrigo laceweight, colorway Cuarzo Verde
Needles: size 3 Addi Lace circular
Mods: I only worked 4 repeats of the pattern (with slightly fewer stitches in the garter stitch edging along the borders to make up for the difference in stitch count between the border and body patterns)

I don't have a single good pic that shows off the lace, but I do have a happy recipient:

Next up, I finally finished the Tomten Jacket for N's daughter, little n.

Pattern: Elizabeth Zimmerman's Tomten Jacket, found in The Opinionated Knitter
Yarn: 4 skeins of Cascade 220 Heathers (colorway ?)
Needles: size 6 Lantern Moon circular needle for the body and DPNs for the applied i-cord edge
Mods: I'm pretty sure that I followed the pattern as written, although I knit the bulk of this piece so long ago that I don't really remember. I added an applied i-cord edge all around the bottom, up the sides of the front opening, and around the hood. The button loops are incorporated into the edging. At the appropriate places, I would work an extra 4 or 5 rows of plain i-cord before continuing with the applied i-cord. The straight bits of i-cord formed the button loops.

Again, apologies for the lack of a decent picture. Little n was pretty enamored of her bumble bee costume for Halloween and most of my pics show her running around in her back yard, a bit too excited for a still shot that shows the sweater.

My latest gift is a pair of socks for my father's birthday last week.

Pattern: Gentleman's Half Hose in Ringwood Pattern from Nancy Bush's book Knitting Vintage Socks
Yarn: 1 skein Dream in Color Smooshy, colorway cocoa kiss
Needles: size 1, 47" Addi Lace needle for magic loop
Gauge: 8.5 spi in stockinette
Mods: Since my stitch gauge was slightly smaller than what the pattern calls for, I decreased to only 64 stitches at the ankle and 66 stitches on the foot. Otherwise, I knit the pattern as written, including the delightful round toe.

I'm not normally a fan of the combination of brown and grey in a single piece but this colorway really won me over. It is a beautiful mix of their colors grey tabby and november muse (go look). Every time I looked at it, all I could think was, "who spilled hot cocoa on my grey tabby?" It's a great colorway to use when knitting for a guy - nothing too bright or objectionable on the color front but still interesting to knit with (especially for those of us, like me, who get a big kick out of watching the colors change).

I also have a little gift for myself. Over the last several weeks I turned this

into this

and finally into this

Somewhere in the ballpark of 800 yards of 2-ply alpaca laceweight, spun from 3.5oz of combed alpaca top from the Frontier Fiber Mill (purchased at the Midwest Fiber & Folk festival two summers ago). The fiber was beautifully prepared, with only a piece or two of vegetable matter in the whole batch. It didn't even need pre-drafting, and that should tell you something.

Here's a very blurry shot to show scale:

When I say "somewhere in the ballpark of 800 yards," what this really means is that I stopped counting after 500. For the time being, I am winding my freshly plied yarn off a bobbin on the lazy cate and on to my table swift, set at the 2-yard size. My swift is constructed with two crossed arms, making four spokes, and each spoke has holes in which pegs can be set depending on the size of the skein. Unfortunately, once you wind a sufficient amount of yarn onto the swift, the pegs start bending inwards rather precariously and threaten to pop out. I really need to get my hands on a niddy-noddy.

That's all for now. I have a new lace FO, but that will have to wait until later in the week.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Tales from the frog pond: misadventures in gift knitting

It's that time of year again. My sister and both of my parents have birthdays in October and November, which means that fall is gift knitting time. Once the birthday gifts are done, it's time to start in on holiday presents. I don't know what has happened this year but I'm finding myself frogging far more often than I like to think I do. Thank goodness my sister's knitted gift will get to her with "some assembly required," if you know what I mean.

I blocked my mother's gift last week and sent it off just in the nick of time (well, maybe a day or two late, but who's counting?). This was a labor of love, let me tell you.

Pattern: Fiddlehead Scarf by Anne Hanson (Ravelry link)
Yarn: Handmaiden Lace Silk - somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of a skein
Needles: size 2 Crystal Palace bamboo straight needles

The lace pattern is lovely and I think I would really enjoy knitting it again in a bouncy merino. But silk, oh my did I hate knitting with the silk. I think it was the purls on the right side of the pattern. Something about having to alternate knits and purls in the same row with a yarn that has absolutely no elasticity in it was a pain in the neck. As with any lace project, the WIP can look rather sad, to say the least. Therefore it shouldn't have come as a surprise to see just how lovely the scarf was once I pulled out the blocking wires and pins. The yarn had such an amazing sheen and drape that it made the whole project worthwhile.

But why stick with silk, you are probably asking. Why not just frog and re-knit in that nice bouncy merino you were dreaming about for all 40 or so pattern repeats? Because my mother has a slight wool allergy - not enough to keep her from knitting, but she can't wear pure wool right next to the skin. So silk it was. If you know any nice superwash laceweight yarns, I'd love to hear about it.

Here's a self-modeled shot:

As you can see, I won't be giving up my day job for self-portrait photography. I cropped my head out for a reason.

Unlike this scarf, which narrowly escaped a trip to the frog pond, two projects for the DH dove right in. First up is a little set of Dashing mitts that I had planned to whip up two Christmases ago. This is what they still look like today:

Again, lovely pattern, really lovely yarn (it's Road to China from The Fibre Company in color Sapphire). The problem? I was knitting it on double pointed needles. Ever since I learned magic loop several years ago, I haven't touched double pointed needles with a 10-foot pole (unless I had a really good reason like I-cord or didn't have a long enough circular needle in the appropriate size). A quick check of my needle collection today confirmed that I don't have a size 6 needle, which is what I was using on Dashing, long enough to work magic loop and finish the darn thing.

Instead, I whipped up this lovely little garter stitch mitt:

This took two hours and used one skein of Road to China. That's right, two hours. I think I know what I'm doing for assorted family gifts this Christmas. It's also a great way to use up single skeins sitting in the stash. You'll need less than 200 yards of worsted weight yarn to make the pair.

The mitt is loosely based on the garter mitts in Robin Melanson's mitten book. A friend of mine was making several pairs of these out of a Manos silk/wool yarn and I decided to jump on the bandwagon. The concept is very simple: a garter stitch rectangle with short rows creating a gusset for the thumb.

The other project for the DH that has been giving me trouble is another secret Xmas gift - this one a sweater. At first, I wanted to make Urbanite from this fall's issue of TwistCollective. The DH and I drove out to The Fold, where I wanted to pick up some silvery brown BFL or corriedale to spin up for the sweater. I found just the color that I wanted, but the store didn't have enough fiber to make a man's sweater. When we got back to the city, the DH was very nice and took me to Loopy to look around a bit for a substitute. We came home with some lovely Berocco Ultra Alpaca in color Mahogany Mix.

I promptly cast on for urbanite and knit through the ribbing and into the cabled pattern. One of the things that annoys me in many cabled patterns is when designers ignore the transition between ribbing and the cables. When done right, the result is beautiful and the pattern looks like a cohesive whole (go take a look at the Anne Hanson's new sock pattern for one example). When the transition is ignored, the result is jarring and enough to make me rip and discard with no second thoughts.

Urbanite has a panel of 2x2 ribbing that goes up the sides of the body. Compare the where this panel meets the ribbed hem on one side

with the join at the other.

The second ribbed panel did not flow at all. If I had been happier with the marriage of yarn and pattern, I might have reworked the numbers on the ribbing in order to avoid this result. This pattern needed a yarn with a little more cushiness (for lack of a better term), so I decided to rip and move on to a new pattern. I think my handspun idea is still a good one and I'll probably come back to it another day.

It did not take me long to figure out what pattern I wanted to work with. This cardigan made by Jared Flood, of Brooklyntweed fame, had caught me eye a while back and I happily jumped right in. I looked up how to make the sheepfold cable in EZ's book The Opinionated Knitter, knit a gauge swatch, figured out the cables I wanted and thus the number of stitches to cast on, and started knitting. I got this far before I realized that there was nothing to do but frog and start again:

First problem: do you see that lovely pepulm-like garter stitch hem? That's right, I forgot to cast on for only 90% of the stitches that I would need for the body and as a result, the border was much too big. It would have made a nice skirt, it was flaring so much. If this were the only problem, I would have kept knitting since the border could have been unravelled and re-knit.

Second problem: loose purl stitches. It's tough to see in the pic above, but the traveling knit stitches on the edges of the sheepfold cables were really loose where they lay next to purl stitches. The reason? A purl stitch knit in English (or Western) style uses slightly more yarn than a knit stitch. When a knit stitch is immediately followed by a purl stitch, the extra yarn from the purl stitch causes the knit stitch to relax and look sloppy. (See p.49 of Priscilla Gibson-Robert's fantastic book Knitting in the Old Way for more on this) I knew this. I've actually known this for a long time. I also knew that the trick was to work the offending purl stitches in continental style, wrapping the yarn up from below, rather than over from above, in order to avoid the problem. Why didn't I do this? No idea. So I ripped again and started over, working my purl stitches continental style every time they were preceded by a knit stitch.

Much better, don't you think?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

It's Sweater Weather

As I have probably already mentioned, this year's Midwest Fiber & Folk Festival produced another good haul. First, I picked up some beautiful hand-dyed BFL top from Briar Rose Fibers that wants to become a Coraline. Then there were some assorted single skeins from Knitting Notions - always a treat - that will become gifts later in the year and so must remain incognito for the time being. But the best find of the day was a beautiful new worsted weight merino/alpaca blend from Frontier Fiber Mill, a family alpaca farm and mill in Indiana. You've seen some of their alpaca in the offerings at Briar Rose. As soon as I saw this particular yarn, I knew I wanted to turn it into a cabled sweater. Right then.

First, I was thinking of Demi - that favorite from Rowan's Vintage Knits book - but Lisa Lloyd's Staghorn was a close second. I went home and dutifully swatched. I even washed the swatch - this should let you know I was serious about the project. The sample I was happiest with was knit up on a size 8 (5.00mm) needle with a gauge of 4.5 stitches and 6 rows per inch, which was a bit small for both sweaters. Despite the gauge, the yarn itself kept pushing me towards Staghorn with its deep, subtle heather and very slight halo - perfect for fisherman sweater cables. And that got me thinking.

As much as I liked the design of Staghorn - and don't get me wrong, the design is beautiful - I wasn't a huge fan of the size and shape of the piece as presented in the book. That was just it - the sweater would have been huge on me as written. With the smallest size clocking in at 40" at the bust, I would have been swimming in that sweater. So, with the smaller stitch gauge, my new yarn just might be perfect.

I had my doubts here and there as I knit. After all, how flattering is a heavily textured rectangle? But last night, once the final seems were sewn and the ends woven in, all my worries were put to rest. What do you think?

The cable sections act like ribbing, pulling in at the waist and stretching as needed for bust and hip. Just what I was hoping for.

I was also a bit worried about how the saddle shoulder would look. The design calls for a basic drop shoulder with a saddle and in the wrong proportions, a fair amount of extra fabric can bunch up around the underarm on a fitted sweater. But no problems here either.

The sleeves are the perfect length, too.

The pattern itself isn't particularly difficult, but that doesn't mean this project went without its share of tinks and frogs. As others have noted on ravelry, if you don't pay attention to the direction of your crosses in the XO cables, they're pretty easy to screw up. I knit up the back uneventfully but had to drop down and fix cable crosses several time while knitting the front.

What do I mean when I say "drop down and fix"? This is my favorite way of fixing an incorrect cable cross without ripping back the whole piece. I cable without a cable needle (there are several ways to do this so run a google search and find your favorite, if you are interested) but this method works with a cable needle, too. Assume that you are working on a 4-stitch cable and you need to fix the cable cross 3 rows down. Knit until you have worked the last stitch before the cable. Then drop the next four stitches off the left-hand needle and unravel 3 rows worth of knitting on those 4 stitches. Most wools are sticky will and need a little help to unravel so don't worry about accidentally dropping those 4 stitches back to your cast-on row. You should have 3 long ladders and the four live stitches - this is your previous cable row (the one you want to fix). Place those 4 stitches back on a needle (it can be your left-hand needle or a spare DPN). Now re-work the cable in the proper direction. Then knit across the 4 stitches for 3 rows, using the ladders you formed when you dropped the stitches earlier. There's no limit to how far down you can drop but since it's a bit of a pain to re-knit like this, it's a good idea to keep an eye on your knitting so that you can catch the problem when you only have to go back a few rows rather than 50 or 60. The Yarn Harlot had a nice tutorial on various ways to fix cabling mistakes a while back, so go take a look in her archives if you want to see some other options.

My other mini disaster with Staghorn came as I was finishing up the last shoulder saddle. The saddle is worked over a 22 stitch staghorn cable, which includes a purl stitch on either side, plus 2 selvedge stitches. Come to think of it, that might not be what the pattern calls for but it is what I did on the first saddle and what I needed to do on the second. However, I forgot about keeping the two purl stitches when I was binding off the top of the sleeve and didn't notice the mistake until I started to sew in the saddle. Unfortunately there is no way to drop down 40 rows and add two purl stitches to each row so I had to frog the whole thing. Just the saddle, not the whole sleeve, thank goodness.

Well, that's been a lot of text without any more pictures, so I'm going to shamelessly stop and distract you with another pic:

Ok, one more.

Here are my mods and specs in case you, too, would like a more fitted Staghorn:

Yarn: Frontier Fiber Mill 50/50 Merino/Alpaca

Needles: size 8 (5.00mm) for the body and size 7 (4.5mm) for the ribbing on the cuffs and neck

Gauge: 4.5 spi and 6 rpi

Bust: 34"
(Note that you will lose about an inch of bust circumference when you sew the pieces together. I had blocked the front and back pieces to be 17.5" wide but the finished measurement is 34".)

Length to Saddle: 20.5" from cast-on to bind-off.

Sleeve Length: 21" from cast-on to bind-off.

Collar Length: 2.5"
I ignored the pattern instructions, which call for a 72-stitch neck, and instead picked up what looked like an appropriate number of stitches (96). I used a ratio of 3 stitches out of every 4 on the cable sections When picking up from cables, it's always good to remember that a cable pattern uses more stitches than stockinette over the same width. This means that you probably don't want to pick up one stitch for every stitch bound off.

The neck on this sweater ends up being pretty big, so I decided to knit a much longer neckband than the pattern calls for. A 2.5" length seemed proportionate with the length of the sleeve and bottom bands and was long enough to ensure that my t-shirt wouldn't peek out the side of the neck opening (always an important consideration).

Mod: other than the collar, the biggest modification that I made to the pattern itself was in the sleeve width. The pattern calls for increasing every 4 rounds, which will produce the sort of big, baggy sleeves that many of us associate (for better or worse) with traditional fisherman's sweaters. I wanted a much more fitted sleeve, so I started increasing on the 17th pattern row (the first row of the 3rd staghorn repeat) and increased once stitch at each side of the sleeve every 16 rows. This produced a final circumference of 11.5" unstretched. There was no great calculation involved - I just kept holding the sleeve-in-progress up against my arm and increased until the fit was right.

While I was sewing the pieces together, I kept asking myself why I didn't just convert the pattern for knitting in the round but I am very glad that I didn't. This is a heavy garment: I used somewhere in the ballpark of 25oz of yarn. A garment this heavy really benefits from the structure and security of a sewn seam. The drape of the alpaca combined with the weight of the yarn would have caused the sweater to begin to sag almost immediately without the reinforcement of the seams. I suppose this means I should be glad that I sewed the saddles onto the front and back pieces, rather than knitting them together, despite the fact that I ripped and reworked the seams several times to make sure the pieces attached evenly.

That's all I've got for now. I hope you're all enjoying this lovely fall weekend. After all, it's sweater weather!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cut the Steeks!

Come to think of it, I've actually cut steeks on two projects in the last couple of weeks. The first project had the more challenging steek but the less nerve-wracking cut, oddly enough. I believe EZ famously recommended the benefits of a dark room and a stiff drink after cutting steeks. Happily, neither were needed here.

In just under a week's time, Lismore went from this:

to this:

For the steeks, I alternated the colors as the pattern called for, ending up with a checkerboard-type pattern. Then I did something I've never done before: just cut. That's right, I didn't reinforce the steek before touching scissors to fabric. I'll tack down the edges once I've knit up the sleeves and the collar but for now it's just a raw edge.

Of course, I haven't touched this sweater since snapping that picture since I've been distracted by other things.

This little Wisp scarf (Ravelry link) is a fantastic way to use that stray skein of malabrigo lace.

While others have complained that the simple lace pattern gets a bit mind-numbing, I've yet to see it because of how much I adore this particular yarn. Even the garter stitch sections are delicious. I'm omitting the buttons and buttonholes but am otherwise knitting the pattern as written.

My current evening tv knitting is Staghorn (Ravelry link) from Lisa Lloyd's lovely book A Fine Fleece.

I'm using a lovely merino/alpaca blend worsted weight yarn from Frontier Fiber Mill that I picked up at the Midwest Folk & Fiber Festival in July. My stitch gauge is a bit smaller than the pattern calls for, which will be nice since I'd be swimming in the smallest pattern size. So far, I'm knitting the pattern as written, although I plan to make the sleeves narrower than the pattern calls for.

What was that other steeked project? No, I haven't forgotten (nor did I count the Starmore twice). The last project worth mentioning today is a little experiment I've been working on:

This is a simple striped pullover knit with seamless, simultaneous, set-in sleeves using Barbara Walker's fantastic book Knitting from the Top Down. That picture is a bit misleading since I've been working on the bottom ribbing while uploading the pics for this post, but you get the idea. What a great technique! (More on that later when I've finished the sweater.) I wanted a v-neck but didn't like the idea of knitting flat more than I absolutely had to so I decided to steek the neck. To do this, I just increased along the neck edges outside of the steek stitches. Once the body of the sweater is done, I'll pick up and knit the ribbing from the edge stitches.

Unlike Lismore, which had two colors in each row and yarn fibers that really liked to stick together, this sweater (made from Nature Spun Worsted) uses yarn that is smoother and has only one color in any given row. Because of this, I decided to sew a reinforcing line of backstitching on either side of the center line the steek to keep the edges from unravelling when I cut. If I wanted to be really careful, I would have waited to cut the steek until I was finished with the rest of the garment. But the whole point of a top-down sweater is to be able to try the piece on as you work and cutting the steek at the end would have defeated the purpose of this construction. So snip, snip I went. Everything looks safe and secure for now and I'll tack down the edges after I knit the neck band.

I've got to run but I'll leave you with evidence that my spinning wheel has seen some good use this summer. 1050 yards of 2-ply merino/silk heavy laceweight spun from 8oz of fiber:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Works in Progress

Oh my. I can't believe how long it has been since I've posted to this blog. My sincere apologies. The last two months have seen some big changes in my knitting life. I finished my second year of law school and began working as a summer associate in BigLaw. Needless to say, I haven't had nearly as much time to knit. But don't think that my new job has kept me away from my knitting needles. Here is a quick peek at what I have been working on:

First off, my latest sock project - Bex (Ravelry link) from Cookie A's new book. I'm using Shibui Sock in colorway Rapids. Those of you who have used Shibui's sock yarn in the past will know that while it has a lovely, sproingy hand and terrific stitch definition, the yarn tends to pool and flash in certain patterns. So you will be very surprised to know that it is not the excessive sunlight in the picture but the pattern itself that is doing such a lovely job of breaking up the colors in the yarn. This is definitely my favorite use of the Shubui to date.

Next up is the first half of a pair of Druid Mitts (Ravelry link) by Jared Flood. This is yet another stunning pattern from Jared of brooklyntweed fame. I'm using some of my 2-ply handspun colonial wool, spun from a braid that I bought during my first visit to MS&W several years ago. I spun this yarn two years ago and point to it as the sign that spinning had finally started to "click" for me.

If you really want to see what I mean, compare this

with this

There you have my very first yarn and my latest project off the wheel.

I've also been working on some mindless, yet strangely satisfying garter stitch. Here is my closest-to-completion current WIP: a tomten.

The sleeve seams are now sewn up and I am ready to start an applied i-cord around the edges. On second thought, I should probably hold off on that until I can get my hands on some buttons. Hopefully there will be a nice selection at the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair this weekend.

Last, and certainly not least, I've made progress on Lismore.

'Nuff said.

My spinning wheel has started to see some action again in this last week or two as I've begun the second bobbin of a merino/silk blend. If you have suggestions for how to keep the silk from sticking to my fingers when it gets humid (other than not spinning when it's humid), I'd love to hear them.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading.