Thursday, August 26, 2010


You know that feeling when you're almost done with a project and then you reach the last stage only to realize that it's going to take sooo much longer than you expected? Well, that's where I am with Juneberry.

I made quite a bit of progress over the weekend and finished the body of the pattern. Then I literally turned the corner and realized just how long this edging is going to take: forever. Well, not quite that long, and even less time now that I've pretty much memorized the repeat. But it will still take quite a long time.

Normally this wouldn't be a problem - it's a lovely lace pattern and the yarn is beautiful - but I had promised myself that I could cast on for two new projects that I've been itching to start. The catch being that I had to finish two other projects first and Juneberry is one of them.

You see, a couple of weeks ago I got a lovely package in the mail with a not-so-little present in it:

That's four skeins of Woolen Rabbit Essence in the oakmoss colorway - a hard-to-photograph gold/green/brown - that are waiting to become a special secret project. But I have to finish Juneberry first.

What else am I looking forward to? The latest issue of Twist Collective is even more lovely than usual and I've been eager to cast on for Elinor Brown's Hallett's Ledge. I even think I can use stash yarn for it: the Cascade 220 that I salvaged when I frogged Forecast several months ago. There's just one potential problem with that: I don't remember how much of that particular yarn I had. DH, since you got the yarn for me, do you remember how many skeins you bought? Was it four or five? If it was five, I'm set (assuming I can find the assorted partial skein remnants in case I need them). Actually, there's a second little hiccup, too: I have to finish Kai-mei.

Now, that's not exactly a hardship since I've said many times how much I love this pattern, and this particular yarn is great for it. Plus, I just cast on for the second sock while uploading the pictures for this post. So if all goes well, I'll be casting on for Hallett's Ledge soon.

But it sure sounds like I've got a lot of knitting to do!

Monday, August 16, 2010

It fits!

This weekend we got out to see N and family (little n, Z, and a menagerie of adorable animals). Visiting was great and I finally had a chance to give my very belated birthday gifts.

Happily, little n seemed delighted with her birthday present (I was delighted that it fit! Sizing was almost pure guesswork).

I think this one's a winner.

The pattern is my modification of EZ's February Baby Sweater. I reworked the numbers in the yoke a bit, substituted vine lace for gull lace, and worked the whole thing in a light worsted weight handspun yarn (5 sts/inch in garter stitch). When I find the piece of paper with all of my pattern scribblings on it, I'll write up a little guide to my mods.

Z was delighted with his birthday socks, too. He just didn't want to pose for a picture.

Don't worry, N wasn't left out of the gift-giving spree. I finally got her birthday present on the needles (even if it doesn't need to be finished until November).

Several years ago I made her these as a wedding present:

Then, when they started looking a bit more well loved than she would like, N asked for a new set. It took me a little while to figure out what I wanted to do, but on Friday I finally cast on for a new pair. Here's a sneak peek:

Now imagine them twice as tall - it was a productive evening.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

FO: Que Sera

I finished Que Sera on Sunday and it feels really good to have another FO to show. I've been waffling about posting on this one, hoping to get some more flattering pics first, but I think what I have will make for a better discussion of the pattern. (Let's just say that 90+ degree heat, with high humidity, plus a worsted weight sweater do not make for a cooperative model.)

So without further ado, here it is:

Pattern: Que Sera by Kirsten Kapur, published in the 2010 Spring and Summer edition of Knitty
Yarn: 7 skeins Blue Sky Alpacas dyed cotton, colorway fern
Needles: size 8 circulars for everything except the neck band, and a size 6 circular for that
Mods: I mostly knit this one as written. Just two exceptions: I added about an inch and a half in length to both the sleeves and the body and I made more buttonholes than the pattern called for. Gaping button bands aren't flattering on anyone.

This is the yarn called for by the pattern, which is quite unusual for me, but I happened to have it in the stash and was happy to be able to use it. As some of you know, I hate knitting with cotton (both my mother and MIL tease me about this incessantly). So what I am doing knitting with this obviously cotton yarn? The Blue Sky cotton is the only one that I enjoy working with. Its substantial body and soft hand remind me more of wool than of typically unforgiving cotton. Plus, the colors are spectacular.

Getting down to business, what do I think of this pattern? First of all, it adds weight. Looking back at that first picture, I look a good 5-10 pounds heavier than I really am and you can't really see that I have a waist. Although part of the blame for the lack of waist rightly falls on yours truly for a less than stellar modeling job (note to self: suck in for the camera), there is no waist shaping in the pattern so all you get is whatever the knitted fabric does naturally.

There, I do have a waist after all. The lace pattern provides some elasticity to a naturally inelastic yarn. My recommendations: first, if you're planning to use a cotton as directed in the pattern, don't block too heavily. Otherwise, the fabric will hardly show any curves. Second, because the heavily textured pattern (read: much thicker than your normal stockinette) seems to add weight to the wearer, I'd only recommend this pattern for people with curvy figures that can take the extra bulk and still look good. Third, try it in wool. And no, that isn't just because I prefer it to cotton. Wool has a terrific natural elasticity that will hug whatever curves you have. Plus, a worsted weight wool knitting up at the same gauge shouldn't be nearly as dense as the cotton and so will knit up slimmer. Finally, negative ease is your friend on this project (no matter how much you may avoid it at other times).

As for the construction of the sweater, it's really quite simple. You work the body in one piece to the armholes and then work the fronts and back separately. The only seaming comes with the set-in sleeves.

(this color in this shot is the most accurate)

I found the seaming in this project pretty straightforward, although the underarm bind-off seemed a bit small for the number of sleeve stitches that I had to ease into them. Other than that, finishing this one was a piece of cake.

All in all, I enjoyed knitting this one - it made many hours of bar lecture much more enjoyable than they otherwise would have been. Will I enjoy wearing it? I honestly don't know. I like the fabric and the idea of the sweater (and the scoop neckline is really lovely), but it doesn't feel flattering at the moment and I don't enjoy wearing pieces that make me feel self-conscious instead of confident. But if the temperatures ever cool down around here, I'll give it a shot.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A great sort of dilemma to have

I'm having a bit of a problem with second sock syndrome. It's ok - I'm powering through it. I think the problem is that I've knit with this yarn and pattern a bit too often in recent months for this one to keep my interest. (Honestly, it's a reading project so it shouldn't take up too much of my interest and attention - just a little bit). I'm knitting another pair of Nancy Bush's Gentleman's Half Hose in Ringwood Pattern in Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine. They look just like this, except dark green:

I'll hit the heel tomorrow and I think that's time to bring sock #2 home and switch to another project since the document I'm reading needs a bit more wakefulness than this sock can provide. That's right: I'm knitting these at work.

The bar exam is over (yay!) and I'm back at work full-time, which means nearly full-time knitting given where I am in my current project - lots and lots of reading.

So what to do? I think it's time to bring back a sweater that I had started a few months ago and then dropped for various reasons. You may recall this

I was hoping to make something along the lines of a sweater that JCrew put out last fall - hip length with a wide ribbed edge and a shawl collar. This project also came along during my fascination with top-down sweater construction so I happily cast on and started off. Then frogged because I had messed up the increases at each side of the neck (I'm pretty sure this picture is the second incarnation). I like the concept but I have some issues with the execution here.

First, I'm not thrilled with the proportions. I don't really know how well the sleeves will fit - it seems like they'll be a bit big, just from looking at this. I followed the proportions suggested in Barbara Walker's book but the more I look at this, the less confident I am. And I don't want to knit an entire sweater only to find out that I was right.

Second, I don't like the angle of the neck increases. It just doesn't feel right and I'm having trouble seeing/estimating how different rates of increase will work. Really, this just goes to show that I'm not truly comfortable with top-down sweater design.

Third, I don't think the fishbone cables look nearly as good top-down as bottom-up. Compare this:

(apologies for the poor cell phone shot)

with this:

Doesn't the bottom-up version look better? Because of how the v-shaped knit stitches are oriented, the center of the cable is thicker and more prominent when worked from the top down, making the cable look less crisp and clean.

Finally, I think the gauge on the irish moss stitch should be looser. What I'm getting on 4s just doesn't have the sort of drape that I would like.

So I'm doing the only logical thing: ripping and restarting with numbers I trust. Bottom-up numbers are pretty straightforward for me now - I know how to make the proportions work. Plus, the beginning of this sweater will be perfect reading-knitting for work. It's all ribbing followed by huge swaths of irish moss stitch. No cables or raglan increases to take my concentration away from what I'm actually getting paid to do.

Mission accomplished. Now I just have to finish ripping and get this giant pile of ramen noodle-like yarn off my lap before the cat discovers it and decides to take a nap there. (And crunch some numbers. After I knit a gauge swatch.)

But what about the bar exam? The exam itself wasn't bad - two days of testing, which felt short compared to the much longer days of studying I'd been putting in beforehand. I'll find out the results in October. The important thing: I pulled out the spinning wheel for the first time in our new apartment and turned this

into this

124 yards of a pretty dense navajo-plied worsted weight (can you tell I was a bit stressed when I drafted?) spun from Grafton Fibers corriedale. The DH was great and quizzed me on bar exam subjects while I did a lot of the spinning so some of this project can even count as studying. Not bad in my book.