Monday, February 28, 2011

FO: Draper

This was the last item on my "finish it before the baby arrives" list and now it's done! I wanted a nursing cover-up so I was looking for a pattern that would be interesting to knit but opaque enough to hide what I needed.

Pattern: Draper (rav link) by Sara Morris
Yarn: 1 skein Briar Rose Sea Pearl
The pattern calls for 4 skeins of Shibui sock yarn (764 yards) for the larger size, which is what I knit. I used most of the 800-yard skein of Sea Pearl - I couldn't say exactly how much I have left but I'm willing to bet that it's less than 36 yards. So I'd recommend buying closer to 800 yards than 764 if you're thinking of knitting this pattern
Needles: Size 4 addi lace circular
Size: 62" wingspan, 26.5" depth
Mods: none

The shawl construction is a pretty standard triangle worked from the top down. The only difference: while you increase every other row at the center, you increase every row on the edges. This makes for a wider shawl than you'd expect for its depth, something that I really like. It's easier to wrap that way.

What do I think of the pattern? It's a lovely design but a bit overpriced at $8. There's nothing particularly innovative about the design and the pattern directions don't offer anything insightful beyond the basics. For instance, it would have been really nice to know what sort of bind-off the designer felt was appropriate for this piece. I used a sewn bind-off since that's my preference for a stretchy edge to garter stitch.

My other gripe with the pattern: it's not available as a download. You have to find a paper copy (I got mine from Knit-Purl).

The fabric on this piece has a wonderful drape - it's unlike anything that I've ever worked with and really, really lovely. It's incredibly cozy and fun to wear. I'm a huge fan of Briar Rose yarns and this is no exception.

Now it's just waiting for Tadpole to make her appearance.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


One WIP. That's all I've got in my knitting basket. Weird, don't you think? And don't worry, it won't stay that way for long. I'm planning on casting on for Laminaria as soon as I finish typing this.

I really wish I had a good excuse -- such as Tadpole's arrival -- for my long delay in posting. But I don't. Instead, I've just been plugging away at my list of "things that should really happen before the baby gets here." Let's just say that our apartment is really clean.

And the knitting basket is looking pretty good, too. I finally managed to put buttons on the February Baby Sweater!

I'm even more proud of this one:

Draper is blocking and ready for FO shots soon. It took longer than I expected to knit but now that I see how big it is, the time makes complete sense. I suppose the 800 yard skein that I nearly used up should have been a clue. It's a lovely pattern and I'm really looking forward to wearing this one.

Ok, Laminaria is calling my name and I've got a lovely skein of green wool/alpaca laceweight that I can't wait to use. More on that soon.

Monday, February 14, 2011

How did I do?

Yes, I will admit that yesterday's "to do" list was ambitious, even for me. So how did I do? I didn't get to everything, but I did accomplish the majority of things on the list and that's good enough for me. This is what was waiting for me this morning:

Those are the products of a good soak in the washing machine last night. I am definitely a fan of being able to spin out the water in the washer.

I actually got through items 1-4 on the list, with a few minor exceptions. The buttons that I had been planning on using on the February Baby Sweater ended up being too big so Mr. Tinks and Frogs and I took a walk to the LYS after work today to pick up ones that would fit. And I didn't really figure out what knitting to bring to work until I was eating breakfast this morning (I did have a plan last night, I just changed it for something better). Not bad in my book.

Speaking of Mr. Tinks and Frogs, he's making us crepes for dinner - a Valentine's Day tradition around here - so it seems only appropriate to show off my surprise v-day gift this year.

He knew I was making him something but not what (or for what occasion). This is Habitat by Jared Flood, knit up on size 8 needles (7 for the ribbing, I think) out of a leftover most-of-a-skein of Malabrigo worsted in the Vaa colorway. A secret stash-busting knit!

I think it looks pretty good on him, don't you?

Happy Valentine's Day, darling!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

To do

I seem to be making a lot of "to do" lists these days so I thought I'd share my knitting list for today.

1. Finish "that darned baby sweater"

aka, Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Sweater on Two Needles (or February Baby Sweater) that I'm knitting up out of a skein of malabrigo sock yarn on size 3 needles. I just need to knit one more sleeve, weave in the ends, sew on some buttons, and block the piece. I should be able to finish that today, right?

I'm not a huge fan of the gull lace pattern but I think it looks lovely in this particular yarn with its blend of rich browns and greens. Plus, it lies flat pretty well even without blocking, which will be very handy when I just throw it in the wash with the rest of the dirty baby clothes. That said, the lace pattern does get a bit monotonous (the flip side of very easy to memorize) and so finishing one last sleeve does seem a bit daunting at the moment.

2. Sew buttons on the rest of the baby knits that need buttons. That would be Snug, my handspun BSJ, and this Baby Sophisticate that I whipped up last week for a co-worker's new baby.

This took 1 skein of Malabrigo Rios (about that stash diet . . . this one fell under the "I really didn't have anything appropriate for the gift in the stash" exception). I knit up the larger size but at a slightly smaller gauge than the pattern called for. Since the recipient is a big 3-month old at this point I'm really hoping that this sweater grows a bit in the wash. Naturally I want to gift this piece as soon as possible so that the little guy doesn't outgrow his gift before I even get it to him.

Besides, how I can I resist these buttons?

3. Wash and block (pat into shape and air dry) the above baby knits.

4. Figure out what knitting to bring to work this week. I started another pair of my favorite sock pattern last week and had that as a work knitting project.

It's actually a great work project - interesting but very easy to work so that I can knit if I have a bunch of reading to do. Of course, this also makes it a great project to have packed to take to the hospital when the tadpole decides to make her appearance. So I'm pretty tempted to save this one and find something else to stick in my work bag. I'm trying to be good this week and think about this before 9:30 at night (that never goes well). Thoughts?

5. Work on the other "baby knit" on the needles - a shawl that I'm knitting as a nursing cover-up.

This is the Draper pattern, put out by Shibui Knits, that I'm working up out of a skein of Briar Rose Sea Pearl (see above exception to the stash diet). If that yarn sounds familiar, it's because I used the same yarn for my Honey Baby blanket. Sadly, this pattern isn't available as a downloadable pdf so I wasn't able to get it quite as quickly as I wanted. But I was able to do the next best thing. I called (ok, g-chatted) a really good friend of mine who lives in Portland and works near Knit-Purl (I had seen the pattern advertised in one of Knit-Purl's email newsletters) and asked her if she would be interested in doing a pattern swap. If she would go pick up a paper copy of the pattern, scan it, and email it to me, I would gift her a ravelry or other downloadable pattern of her choice. It was a great deal. I got the pdf I wanted (I use a pdf reader that lets me annotate the files by, among other things, putting in movable lines that show me what row I am working on a lace chart) and she got a pattern from Twist Collective that she had been eyeing.

6. Update the 2011 FO links on the blog. As I was putting links into this post, I realized that I haven't been good at all about keeping up to date with the FO links. I doubt I'll get to this one today, but at least it's on my list.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Just what I wanted

Several months ago (ok, about a year ago, if I'm being perfectly honest) I decided I wanted a drapey shawl collared cardigan - a sweatshirt sweater of sorts. A sport weight cardigan knit on size 3 needles takes a long time to knit. Thanks to the snow day last Wednesday, I finally finished and blocked the piece.

It's just what I wanted. What it really needs at this point is a shawl pin (maybe something like these) to keep it shut.

Pattern: I made this one up - more on that in a minute
Yarn: A Touch of Twist Peruvian Alpaca, about 2.5 skeins in the nutmeg colorway
Needles: size 3 addi lace circulars for the body and sleeves, size 2 addi lace circulars for the sleeves (magic loop)

This is just a basic raglan cardigan that I whipped up with pen, paper, and the calculator on my phone. I actually knit a relatively large swatch (and washed it!) and then plugged those numbers into the measurements that I wanted.

I wanted a sweater that I could wear comfortably while pregnant but that (hopefully) wouldn't look like a tent when I'm not pregnant, too. I figured 42" at the bottom and 35" at the bust would be good measurements to go with. This time I was good - I cheated - when picking those measurements. I just measured my Kerrera sweater, which I wear all the time.

Throw in 3" of ribbing at the bottom hem and on the side edges (subtracting 3" accordingly from the hip and bust measurements in order to figure out stitch counts), and decrease evenly from hip to a couple of inches below the underarm. That's all there was to the body.

As for the sleeves, I went with something like 30% of the bust circumference (or key number, if you're familiar with the EPS) for the upper sleeve circumference and 20% of the key number for the ribbing. Increase evenly from the top of the ribbing to a couple of inches above the elbow, working straight to the underarm, and you have a sleeve.

There are many ways to handle decreases on the yoke - raglan, set-in sleeves, and saddle shoulders, just to name a few. Raglan shaping is my go-to sleeve treatment. It looks good on me - my shoulders are neither too wide nor too narrow - and, more importantly, it's easy! Plus, you can throw in a fun cable between the decreases to make things a bit more interesting.

The v-neck shaping was a bit trickier, but only because I have no handy formula for that like I do with the raglan seams (work straight for an inch or so after joining the sleeves to the body, then decrease every 4th round a couple of times, then decrease every other round). So, I started decreasing around the spot where the sleeves joined the body and decreases every 4th round until there were no more front stitches to decrease, except for a selvedge stitch. In other words, once I was decreasing the sleeve stitches every other row, I calculated when I needed to stop decreasing at the neck edges. 

How, exactly? Take the number of stitches on the sleeve and divide by 2. Then subtract this number from the total number of stitches on the front edge. This last figure is the number of front body stitches that can/should be decreased.

Yes, this sweater involved a fair amount of math but it was very easy math and the basic formula works every time. At least for me. It certainly fits while I'm very pregnant.

Now I just have to wait and see how it looks when I'm not so pregnant.

And, because I so enjoy the various shots of snow in the woods around the blogosphere, I thought you might enjoy a pic of snow in the city. This is the view looking north from our building towards the loop. That's the Sears Willis Tower on the left.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow Day!

We had a little snow storm over the last two days. Not a huge deal - Mr. Tinks and Frogs and I went out to move the car earlier this evening and you could still see the tops of the cars parked on the street (most of them). Chicago got hammered and both of our employers closed up shop for today. A chance to sleep in, we got to catch up on some cleaning and organizing that we've been meaning to do for a while, and I got to finish up a couple of WIPs that have been hanging around here for a bit too long.

This is what things looked like when I got up this morning:

Trust me, there's a street out there. You just can't see it.

I'm going to be selfish and save some of my FO shots for later - it's not often that I get to take pictures in natural light in the middle of winter and I want to milk that a bit longer.

For today, I finally got around to weaving in the ends on my replacement favorite socks:

Pattern: Gentleman's Shooting Stockings with Fluted Pattern from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks
Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy, colorway ? (rare gem) with a hint of Black Parade at the toe
Needles: size 1 addi lace 47" circular needle for magic loop
Mods: I didn't make any on purpose. But because I ran out of yarn on the last toe, I probably made the legs a bit longer than I have in the past.

I know I've said it before but this really is one of my absolute favorite sock patterns. The fit is great, thanks to a pattern that is stretchy but snug at the same time. The pattern shows off handpainted yarns without obscuring the coloring. And, perhaps most importantly, the pattern is super easy to memorize and I can knit it while I read. There's even calf shaping, which makes for a very nice fit.

Hmm, I've almost talked myself into casting on for another pair right now.

So what else did we do here at chez Tinks and Frogs? We spent quite a bit of time watching the snow. 

It was utterly fascinating.

The day certainly ended well - my boss just called to say that the building is closed tomorrow, too. Snow days really are a beautiful thing. Especially when you get two!