Monday, April 18, 2011

Pants! (not a problem anymore)

The third time's the charm. Ok, so I was frantically weaving in the ends while my breakfast was cooking this morning but they are done and Tadpole was all decked out for our errands.

Pattern: what pattern? These were made up on the fly.

One day when Tadpole was pretty relaxed and in a good mood after being changed, I measured her hip circumference. I added another inch and a half or so for ease (and room to grow). Then I started crunching some numbers for the yarn I had chosen: Dream in Color Classy on size 8 needles. Knowing, rather than merely guessing, my gauge would have been helpful and saved a bit of heartache. Let's just call version one a giant gauge swatch and move along.

I multiplied my gauge by the desired hip measurement to get the circumference of the body section of the pants. Then I reduced this figure by 10% for the ribbing and cast on. I wanted a nice long waistband that could either fold down or be left up so I worked about 3 inches in twisted stitch 1x1 rib. After the ribbing, I increased evenly around the piece, adding in my missing 10% of the final stitch count. I worked a couple of rows plain and then added short rows along the back side. When the piece measured about 5 inches, not including the ribbing, I worked a couple more short rows along the back.  I worked another round or two and then it was time to divide for the legs.

I decided to throw in a gusset and that was definitely the way to go - the fit is great. To do this, I knit across one quarter of the stitches (the front of the first leg) and placed the stitches for the second leg (50% of the total number of stitches). Then I provisionally cast on two and a half inches worth of stitches and knit across the remaining leg stitches. Every other round I knit until one stitch before the newly cast on stitches, worked a ssk, knit to one stitch before the end of the cast on stitches, and worked a k2tog. Repeat this until all of the stitches you cast on have been decreased away and you have a gusset.

The rest of the leg is a piece of cake. Knit until the leg is long enough and then bind off. I added an inch of garter stitch at the bottom for decoration.

For the second leg, join a new strand of yarn and start working the stitches you had put on a holder earlier, decreasing away the cast on stitches as before. Then knit the second leg so it matches the first and bind off.

Throw a baby in it and you're done. Tadpole was delighted to model her new pants after we got home.

I've got one more baby handknit to share: the aviatrix baby hat. It's the only hat that actually stays on her head! And it stays on even better now that I managed to sew buttons on yesterday.

Pattern: Aviatrix baby hat by Justine Turner
Yarn: Anzula Cricket MCN (really lovely stuff but no decent website where you can see it). I used less than a quarter of the skein. I think.
Needles: size 4 addi lace circs for the ribbing and size 5 addi lace circs for everything else
Size: I made the newborn size and it fits Tadpole really well at 6 weeks old but there is still room for her to grow.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A problem with pants

Nope, this isn't a rant about how I'm still a long way off from fitting into my favorite pre-pregnancy jeans (very true but a bit off-topic for this blog). Instead it's a story of knitted pants. Or rather, not-yet-knitted pants.

This all started when Tadpole received several pairs of adorable little socks and booties as gifts from various family and friends. I put them on her and snapped pictures of cute little baby feet, remembering to take them off before the next diaper change since someone who shall remain unnamed is very good at getting her feet dirty while on the changing table. Then I realized there was a little problem: all of her pants have feet on them. Footed pants are very convenient in terms of getting her dressed quickly. But they're not very good at all at showcasing handknits.

The solution hit me immediately. I knit. And I should knit her some pants.

I spend a fair amount of time on ravelry while nursing so I researched various patterns for longies. None of the patterns was quite what I was looking for so I decided to take the various bits and pieces that I liked and come up with my own design. I'd been swooning over various brooklyntweed patterns at this time, especially the Guernsey Wrap, and I decided to make a pair of Guernsey pants.

I pulled out Beth Brown-Reinsel's fabulous book and picked out some stitch patterns I liked. Then I cast on and knit happily away for several inches. (Note how I didn't say anything about swatching. There wasn't any.) I made it about half-way down the butt when I started thinking the piece was looking a bit big. I dutifully pulled out the tape measure and discovered that I was getting 4 stitches to the inch when I had worked the numbers for 4.5. About that whole swatching thing . . .

So I frogged and started over with numbers crunched for 4 stitches per inch. I also took out the guernsey elements since I thought the combination of stitch patterns looked too busy in the yarn I was using (Dream in Color Classy from the stash). This has been my main project for the last week and a half or so. And every day for the last few days I've said to myself, "tonight I think I'm going to finish it." Inevitably I'd knit 2 rows after each time I said that before life got in the way.

It doesn't help that I've fallen in love with the latest shawl design from Jared Flood. Or that I told myself I couldn't start that project until I'd finished the pants.

But last night I was really making progress. I finished the first leg and was picking up stitches to start the second. And then it hit me: I had split for the legs using the original pattern numbers. The current version was 8 stitches smaller and that meant that the leg I had just finished was too big. Not only that, but my short row shaping along the backside was not centered at all.

So I frogged all the way back to the ribbing and knit a couple of rows before calling it a night (aka sitting up with a certain someone who didn't want to go to sleep until 12:30).

This is what the pants look like now:

I'd really like to start Rock Island soon. Wish me luck!

Friday, April 8, 2011

FO: Laminaria

This was a really fun knit. Even more so because it was my "keep myself sane since I'm past my due date" project. I cast on the day Tadpole was due and got through all but one of the flower chart repeats by the time we headed to the hospital. Once we got home, I'd knit a row (or half a row) here and there while Tadpole slept and eventually the piece was finished.

(I look reasonably well rested there, don't I?)

Before I forget (or get stuck away from the little piece of paper with my notes on it), here are the project specs:

Pattern: Laminaria by Elizabeth Freeman 
Yarn: one skein of Fleece Artist Suri Blue (a 50/50 mix of Suri alpaca and Blue Face Leicester). Colorway? I have absolutely no idea. It's a collection of lovely greens that nearly jumped into my hand at the yarn store.
Needles: size 4 addi lace circulars
Size: the pattern gives directions for two sizes, a small scarf and a large shawl. I wanted something in between so I made up a hybrid of the two. I worked 5 repeats of the star chart and 5 repeats of the flower chart. 
Mods: other than hybridizing the size, I went with a 3-stitch border rather than a 2-stitch one. Why? I just liked the look of the extra stitch - it felt more sturdy. That's all.

So how big is the thing?

The shawl is 26" deep from bottom point to the cast on bit, 38.5" wide measuring straight across from curved point to curved point, and 52.5" wide if you actually measure that curved line. All in all a great size for wrapping around your neck.

I really liked the various stitch patterns used in this design. I especially like the star chart in the first section, a stitch that Nancy Bush used in her Miralda's Triangular Shawl (which I knit last year). And the flower chart produces a fabulous textured design.

(What's with the color changes? The sun was out for the top three pics.)

I wasn't a huge fan of the edging - it looked pretty droopy in the pattern shots. But it's actually really fun to knit (there's just something special about working double and triple yarn overs), and it doesn't have to be that droopy if you don't block the points out quite as aggressively as the designer did. 

That said, I'm definitely looking forward to knitting the echo flower shawl, which uses the flower motif from Laminaria for the body of the shawl and finishes with an edging design filled with nupps. I just might have a skein of malabrigo lace in the stash already slated for that project.

Moving along, I had a helper for this photo shoot.

Apparently knitting photo shoots aren't that exciting since she slept right through it.

I honestly don't know if I have much more to say about this project. Fun knit, great yarn, wearable finished piece. That about sums it up. But I do have some more Tadpole pictures so how about we just end with that?