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.