Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sweaters For Geek Babies!

First Elizabeth Zimmermann project... DONE!! And it was an awesome good time. It was a quick and easy knit for the most part. All things considered I will say that I am 98% happy with the final product. I would have been done with this in far less time, but I put it down a couple of times to work on other stuff... and just procrastinate in general. I have swatched for the me-sized February sweater. I will be knitting it along with a friend... Knitsonya and I will be casting on together next week. I will be using Rowan Cocoon... see three posts ago for photos of said luscious yarn.
Notice the vast span from neck to armpit....
First issue: in her "pattern" she says to knit the yoke in garter stitch for however long... then "change to" lace pattern... add buttonholes (which despite reading other people gripe about it... i screwed up the first time around). Then it says at 4 1/2" divide for sleeves. Now the part that grabbed me by the girly gonads was 4 1/2" from WHERE? 4 1/2" from the beginning? 4 1/2" from the lace pattern? 4 1/2" from the Moon? I looked and looked... Ravelry, Zimmermann blogs, all kinds of resources... I Googled my ass off and couldn't find anything. I asked around and a few people suggested that it would be 4 1/2" from the lace pattern. Now the rough part here is that my instinct told me that it should be 4 1/2" from the beginning edge. I feel super silly now when in retrospect I think how simple it was to figure it out.... duh... measuring from the neck edge to the armpit... on a baby will not be more than 4 1/2". My sweater ended up being almost 7" from neck edge to armpit... which is more than the measurement from my neck to pit. Lesson learned. And what was the ultimate lesson? It sure wasn't anything to do with knitting... but to listen to my own instinct. So the sleeves look like they were designed for a baby with flippers instead of arms. I should call this the Geek Love Baby Sweater.

Issue Numero Two: Row # two of the lace pattern! Could this lace pattern BE any easier? Probably not. I am not sure what in the heck the deal is, but row #2 tripped me up almost every time... for a while at least. Eventually I worked out a system using a stitch marker every 3rd repeat of that row. I did feel better after talking with others who had similar experiences with good ole' row # 2 of the gull stitch pattern. Because of my struggle warming up to row # 2 there is an off-set to the lace pattern on the back. It's not really that noticeable so I left it.

despite this photo, taken pre-blocking... the yoke DOES line up.
There is NOT a jog in the color change.

This yarn was pleasant enough to work with. I would definitely use it again. No complaints, no excessive fuzzing, no splitting... just super dooper lush-ness. It held up very well to me frogging the yoke a bunch of times before I was happy enough to move onward. I do like EZ's pithy way of writing. I enjoy the challenge of trying to figure out what in the F**K she means when she is less than vague. Today I bought the Knitters Workshop, came directly home and started knitting the Heart Hat. I guess I am an EZ girl at last.

The little details of this sweater make me smile!
  • Yarn: RYC Baby Alpaca DK
  • Pattern: February Sweater from Knitters Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmermann
  • Needle: US # 6 & US # 8 (bind off)
  • Cast On: 2/22/08
  • Bind Off: 3/20/08 (ends woven in & buttons on 3/25/08)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Fourteen... and counting

#1. I am in love with these buttons. They make me smile.... plain and simple. I bought a bunch of them about a year ago, & I used a couple on a project back then. As I was knitting this project, I wondered what buttons I might use. It was a clear match when I was looked through my button stash (yes, that is correct. I am cheating on my yarn stash with a button stash... please do not tell my fabric stash about the buttons and the yarn). Don't you agree that these buttons really suit the rustic nature of this yarn?

#2. I am in love with Brioche stitch. I was all up in my head over it for a month or so. I wanted to knit this pattern, I read the pattern, and it didn't sound like the Brioche stitch that I had heard people bitching and complaining about all these years. So I pulled out my Barb Walker books, did some online research and found that the pattern is actually written for Fisherman's Rib, which from what I also understand is very similar, if not identical in appearance to Brioche. One and one half dozen the other... or something like that. So the one consistent thing that I found in all of my glorious research is that everyone does Brioche stitch a little differently... or that there are many variations on Brioche stitch. So being the good little over-analyzer that I am... I let my brain stew and cook... bubble bubble, toil and BLAH. I cast on and gave it a feeble attempt. Even though I knew that it wasn't that difficult and that I have done more complicated things... it was still too much for my brain. So I just put the whole idea of this super fun and quick painless project aside. LAME. Last week my neck was cold and I really wanted to work with this yarn.
So I went back to this one website... it made the most sense and was overly thorough... which i like. As usual, once I just climb down out of my head (a scary and confusing place) and just do it... anything is not only possible, but pretty damn easy... and fun. I was concerned about the edges so I chose a Brioche stitch with a selvedge stitch. There were three to choose from on this site. I went with the one labeled "my favorite". It sounded like a good choice. And a good choice it was. The stitch is really cool, so thick and dense, but it still has a touch of drape. I had so much fun knitting this scarf that I wanted to knit another.
For a a little over a month now I had been wanting to put the Lamb's Pride colors, Sunburst Gold and Rosado Rose together. I was obsessed with it. I would look at the two skeins everyday. I went out and got some sunburst Gold in worsted so that I would have the two in the same weight. I had worked with the Sunburst gold in the Prairie Boot pattern that i did a couple of months ago, and had the left overs laying out on the craft table. Rosado Rose is one of my all time favorite pinks and it's always laying around. The two were destined to be together... but I couldn't figure out what I wanted to make with them... stripes are awesome, I love stripes... but it didn't feel like a stripey project that I was after. Holding the two colors together was the path that I was on. For this pattern two strands of worsted would not be thick enough, I would have to add a third strand. Frank Ochre, of course. It was a gorgeous mix. I cast on. I knit. Two hours later I had a Fourteen finished for my friend Sunnie who was visiting from out of town.
The first version is with Malabrigo Aquarella in the color Palamar. Needle size 13. Cast on 15 stitches. This yarn is super slubby. I am very happy with the end result but after knitting the second scarf in the lamb's pride mixture I realized that super slubby yarn does NOT showcase the Brioche stitch. The second version is with the above mentioned worsted weight yarns, size 13 needle, and cast on 11 stitches. I used the same selvedge edge stitch for both... in the second
though you can really see the rolled edge and the details of the brioche stitch. I think I may have to replicate Sunnie's version to keep for myself.

Home on the Range...

Another project done. These were actually finished last month. It was a button thing keeping them from total completion. Why is it always so difficult to find the right darned button for a project? The pattern is the Prairie Boots from the fabulous cocoknits. I called mine the Home on the Range Boots, they were made for a friend. The yarn in Lamb's Pride Bulky in chocolate souffle for the soles, autumn harvest, and sunburst gold for the uppers. When I started out on this project I had no intention of gifting them to anyone... I wasn't even intending to make them for myself... for some odd reason I just wanted to make them. Julie's patterns are always so damn enticing. I am looking at these going, "I would never wear those, not even in my house. Those are silly, they look too much like UGG boots," a fashion statement which I do not have an appreciation for. The days roll by and I come across the pattern again, and I think, "they look fun to knit. I kind of want to make some...they look like they might be comfy." So I say to myself, "what the hell, I'll make a pair!" I decide to just use leftover yarn and piece it together, I'll surely have enough. So I cast on and knit. As I am knitting along It begins to wash over me... "Wait... I kinda like these." Great, Now I am invested in the damn project! So I knit on... and as I am going I realize that I will NOT have enough yarn. Turd! I have to hunt for more yarn. Project on hold....
A couple of weeks go by as I locate more Sunburst Gold Lamb's Pride Bulky. I get the yarn... I continue to knit... and "Wait! These are awesome, super cute... I cannot believe that I didn't love these from the beginning. I'll wear them all the time!"
I finish the boots. There was something a little wonky with the soles... not sure if it was because of my not paying attention or if it was the pattern. I met a gal who had the same experience as me... but it still could be a user error. Basically the number of stitches I ended up with was between the small and medium, so when i went to pick up stitches to start the upper part of the boot there weren't enough. I tried them on and they didn't fit my foot or my calves. I don't have particularly big calves, I don't have a hard time shopping for tall boots. Just a heads up... measure your calf and count your gauge. I should have increased more to fit my calf. I have a friend who loves orange... done deal. She LOVED them and they fit her.

I am making a second pair for myself. I am using Lamb's Pride Bulky Again, in deep charcoal for the soles, lime green for the uppers, with just a touch of lemon drop somewhere in there. I will pay better attention and see what happens with sole. Also... sewing buttons on back to back, especially when one is a four eye and the other a two eye... was a challenge for me.

Monday, March 10, 2008

February/March Sweater

I DID start the February sweater in February! But being me, i had to rip out 2 1/2 inches of the yoke 3 different times. The first time I just didn't like the cast on edge (that was only about an inch of yoke before ripping). The second time i forgot the buttonholes... even though I read through the entire pattern AND read, on ravelry, everyone else bitch about forgetting the buttonholes. The third time I didn't like the way buttonholes looked, they were too close to the edge and too loose and floppy. So I got through all of that... which actually only took me a day and a half to reknit it three times...
The next saga was me swatching for the lace pattern. Also a me trait is to want to alter the hell out of anything that i do. I wanted to use a different lace pattern. So I hauled out all of my Barbara walker treasuries and my Vogue Stitchionary and found a couple of lace patterns. I found one that i loved. Did I swatch for it? nope! I just picked up my yoke that had been reknit 3 times and went for it.
I knit a couple of repeats of the lace pattern (a 6 row repeat) and it just didn't look right. So I ripped it out and did it again.... It just looked HORRID in that yarn.

So on to look for a different lace pattern. This time I would be "smart" and swatch first. I found one and I thought would be perfect, swatching I a went. I knit a few inches of the swatch before it donned on me that the sweater is knit from the top down.. and the sweet little heart lace that I chose would be upside down hearts and in actuality would look like butts. So I gave in and knit the gull stitch pattern that EZ used. Aside from the the one row where i screwed up the lace, it's offset a little, it is looking great and I love it. I have another inch to go before I start the sleeves.
I have already purchased the yarn to make a punkrawkpurl sized February Sweater. It is Rowan Cocoon, which is only the dreamiest yarn ever. OK not EVER... it's just the dreamiest yarn ever... for this post. The color I had envisioned using for this project, Crag, was not available at AP. I thought about the color Polar... which may be pretty on me... but i can just see me knitting a white sweater for months to spill grape juice on it. I don't actually drink a lot of grape juice, it just provided the most dramatic scenario. So I looked at a couple of the tan/beigey colors, everyone agreed that they were too similar to my skin tone and looked gross on me. So I went for Mountain... it's darker than i wanted, but it is gorgeous. A friend said that it was too close to my hair color, another friend said that she was concerned the lace pattern would get lost in yarn that dark. So I added the color scree to the mix for the yoke to break up the separation of my hair and the Mountain color. Besides I will just plan to always wear my hair up with a white shirt underneath... problems solved. I am going to squish the numbers, swatch, cast on and just go! Itching to start before I finish the mini version.
Saturday night speedyneedlefreeman, wondermike, Kim-Chi Crafts, Knit Ya Ya!, and special guests KNITSONYA came over. It was a knitting food fest. We had red velvet cake, an awesome bean salad, roasted potatoes, fancy cheeses and breads, homemade pizzas, thin mint girl scout cookies... yummmmm! hizKNITS was sadly missed.