Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Case of the Expanding Sweater

Last month I completed my first ever sweater for myself - knitted. I did a couple in crochet years ago and have absolutely no idea what became of them. They were wretched acrylic things made out of a fuzzy brown yarn that shed everywhere.

Anyway, I was incredibly excited to completely this sweater. I made it out of Malabrigo worsted (merino wool for non-knitters. It's incredibly soft) and when I finished it, it fit perfectly. So, like a good girl, I washed and blocked it. When it finally dried about three years later, I put it on, and it fell off my shoulders. It was so large that there was no way in hell that I could have possibly worn the stupid thing. I contemplated trying to shrink it. I screamed a little bit. I died on the inside. I'd just spent three weeks knitting this beautiful garment and it was HUGE.


I went on Ravelry and talked to the Malabrigo users group folks, and somebody there helpfully told me that the yarn "blooms." Stupid bloomin' yarn. It didn't bloom, it metastasized.

However, one of Ella's friends was in town to help us with caring for Ella while she was in the hospital, and the sweater fit her absolutely perfectly. So I gave my beautiful sweater to her.

Looks great on her too. Perfect color.

And I went out and bought two more skeins of the same colorway because I still had one skein left. So eventually I'll make this sweater for myself, two full sizes smaller than what I originally made to see if that will actually fit me. Watch it be too small.

Whisper Cardigan

In other knitting news, I'm well past the point on my Whisper Cardigan where I had to rip the entire damn thing out. I'm past the halfway point across the back. I eliminated the center back gather, as it doesn't seem to actually add anything to the design and I hate useless lines on my clothing.

Also, had the morning from hell with this sweater. I may have to take my friend Auffermann's suggestion and just not even attempt to knit in the mornings. Catastrophically bad things happen when I do. This morning I managed to twist a purl stitch, and then completely mess up my knitting when I was attempting to undo the stitch, by dropping a few stitches (still don't know how), breaking the yarn accidentally and then unraveling a row or two before I realized what the hell was going on. AND there was a little kid sitting next to me, so I was desperately trying not to swear.

Sorry about the crappy photo. This yarn color does NOT photograph well in low light levels.


On Ella's sweater I made it to the 10" mark for the skirt portion, and have yet to actually look at the instructions or measure it, or see how long it will be on her. She wanted it longer than what the photo in the book showed, but she's so tiny I'm not really sure I'll have to make any length alterations. So that project is shelved for the moment.

Rhapsody in Cables (or some other such stupid name)

On our anniversary, I picked up some gorgeous Filatura di Crosa Wave in a slate gray to make a sweater for my husband. He has an obsession with knitted goods that rivals most men's feelings about sports. Of course, he loves really complicated intricate cables, which I've never done before.

This weekend I started swatching in a crappy acrylic yarn to teach myself basic cabling. As a hint to all other cable newbies out there, PLEASE do not use the Stitch n' Bitch books as a reference to attempt to teach yourself cables. That is foolhardy. These instructions are only for people who are either 1. psychic or 2. rusty. The Lion Brand website has some excellent instructions on cables, although again, don't go quite far enough for a bonehead like me. So far I haven't found any instructions on cables that really hold your hand, but I muddled through anyway.

Here are the results:
As you can see, I have a giant gaping hole between two of my tiny little cables. While that is an interesting design feature, I could imagine that giant gaping holes wouldn't necessarily lend themselves to the overall warmth of a sweater. So I will be attempting to correct that on my next swatch with crappy acrylic. I have the deep sneaking suspicion that cables are going to be a hell of a lot of fun on yarn that doesn't suck.

Look What Else I Made

In other news, I made this:

It's my first successful B&T. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwww yeah.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Recent Work


At left is a shrug for my sister-in-law, Ella, Veronique from "French Girl Knits" by Kristeen Griffin-Grimes. I've used a completely different yarn than what Griffin-Grimes called for, as she wanted a mohair (Kid silk haze by Rowan) to be exact, in the graphite colorway (exactly the color it sounds like).

I'm going in a slightly different direction, using lace-weight merino from Morehouse Farms in their "Indian Summer" colorway.

So far it's pretty dull knitting, as its just stockinette stitch for miles and miles and miles. But its moving pretty darned fast and I'm blowing through it, which is really nice. I haven't had much time to sit and knit on it for the past few days, but when I do work on it, I'm cranking through a few inches at a time.

Whisper Cardigan:

I'm also working on Hannah Fettig's Whisper cardigan, which is giving me fits. It shouldn't be driving me quite as crazy as it is, as it too is miles of stockinette stitch, but damn, I've screwed the thing up more times than I can count.

Yesterday I was halfway through the back which accounts for nearly 11 inches of work, which was absolutely painstaking on size US3 needles. I was reading through the instructions and discovered that the needles weren't supposed to be a size 3 (I always always go down needle sizes because I knit so loosely) and that I was supposed to stick with the same size that I used on the sleeves. So blast. Ripped that sucker out back down to the sleeve and will re-start the knitting of the back. Crappity.

Part of the reason for the realization of my screwup (besides the fact that apparently I have problems reading the punctuation in Interweave Knitting magazine's instructions) is that I was looking at other people's whisper cardigans on Ravelry and was wondering how in the hell they could possibly knit them so quickly.

As a side note, for once I am actually using the yarn that the designer originally used in her pattern, Morehouse Farms lace weight. Of course I chose a different color, although I did enjoy the color she originally used. I just would look particularly sucky in it. It was one of those greens that make my pale skin reflect the color of the garment. Ugh.

And random life kinds of happenings:

A few weeks ago, at the Union Square Greenmarket, I picked up a gorgeous pot of neon pink petunias to brighten up the kitchen. We hung them from a hook in front of the window, and they did not like it there. So we stuck them on our window ledge and they seemed to thrive, blooming again, after half the plant had died. I was encouraged, and hoping that they would make a full come back. Every day I'd come home from work, or wherever to find that the effin squirrels had dug up half of my plant, and I was getting frustrated.

Today after getting back into the house after a short jaunt to the doctor, Ella starts hollering for me to come into the kitchen. I run in there and find this out our window:

I don't know if you can quite make it out, but there are two squirrels curled up asleep in my petunias (former). One black and one gray. They were so stinkin cute I didn't even mind the loss of my flowers. Well, at least not too much.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Six months ago I decided to take up knitting for reasons that remain a mystery to me.

I suppose that on some level it was a form of creative outlet, and the learning process completely monopolized my brain, leaving no room for other things like worrying, stress, worrying about stress, stressing about worrying, and the fact that I hate my job.

Other than that, I have no earthly idea why I all of a sudden said "Knitting! That's the ticket."

Or alternately "And thusly an angel did come unto her (shut up Bruce, and get yer dirty mind out of the gutter) and verily did he say; 'Virginia, go forth and do stuff with yarn and needles.' And so she did."

Since then, I've completed two sweaters for my daughter, at varying levels of success, one sweater for myself, (beautiful, but ultimately way too big and needed to be given away), two scarves for my husband, one scarf for my sister-in-law, one scarf for myself, one scarf for my mother, and one scarf for my daughter, (in case this confuses you, that is a grand total of six scarves. I think. I can't fricken add.) as well as three washcloths.

I currently have two projects on the needles (more posts about them to follow shortly) and am contemplating numerous others.

So far what I've learned about knitting (and myself) is that I love knitting lacy things because they engage my brain, I enjoy both the process and the product equally (I think. This stupid purple sweater I have on the needles might be the exception to the rule) and yarn stores are a new happy place for me.

Also, I love knitting on the subway, and the people that regularly ride the subway with me enjoy watching my projects grow. And I have become that crazy lady on the subway who occasionally starts swearing at her knitting. Especially in the morning. My brain is not a morning person.

And that's all...