Halloween approaches…

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Yes, it’s only Sept. 4, but that means that Halloween is less than 2 months away, and since we are “make it yourself” people as far as Halloween costumes go, it’s time to get cracking! This year, M’s Halloween costume plans actually involve a handknit, so it’s especially important to get an early start. The yarn arrived on Saturday, and just like her mama, M enjoyed huffing the wool fumes:

Huffing wool fumes, just like mama. (The yarn for her green "Peg+Cat" cardigan arrived. It's from Beaverslide, because I'm very predictable!)
(The yarn is Beaverslide Worsted, which is pretty much the best yarn on the planet – M’s a lucky kid!)

So, what is that green yarn for? I’m super excited about what Madrigal wants to do for Halloween this year: she wants to dress up as Peg (from Peg+Cat)! It’s not really a secret how much I love that show, and M is already so Peg-like that a costume isn’t even a big stretch. If you’re not familiar with the show, here are Peg + Cat:

Peg+Cat

As you can see, Peg wears a green cardigan over a green dress, and M wanted hers to be handknit by mama! We sketched out a design:

Planning M's Peg+Cat cardigan...I'm debating whether to add any little knitterly details (e.g. a mini cable or nupps up the center front on either side of the button band) but the inspiration sweater (Peg's, from the show) is really basic/featureless so m

It’s a really plain/basic sweater, and I’m so tempted to fancy it up a bit, but I’m trying to restrain myself. I’m knitting it in the round from the bottom up for speed, and planning to do seamless set-in sleeves (the way I’ve done on the Garter Rib cardigans in the past, for example). M wanted side-pockets lined with flannel, so I’m gonna be not just steeking the front of the cardigan open, but also steeking pocket openings as well. (I may want advice re:creating sewn flannel pockets for a knit garment, and how to attach them!)

The beginnings of the Peg(+Cat) Cardigan
1×1 rib hem, with 5 steek stitches added to the body

Pocket Steek
And 5 more steek stitches for each pocket

I’m also going to be sewing a Cat for M from blue fleece (thankfully Cat is fairly blob-shaped, so I think I can manage it!). She wants *me* to dress up, too, as Peg’s mom, which shouldn’t be too hard, since I kind of already do dress like Peg’s mom:

Peg-Mom

I don’t have a purple turtleneck tunic like the one in the picture, but I do have my purple Little Wave cardigan, and I figure that, plus a purple skirt , plus blue leggings, plus brown boots (all of which I already have), is a pretty good match! M is insistent that I make myself a necklace like Peg’s mom’s, and I’m thinking wool felt balls could do the trick.

Here’s hoping I can make everything come together before the end of October! Last week was the start of the semester for me, so I’m VERY busy again (but happy! I love my job!). And tomorrow, M goes back to school – she’ll be entering the Elementary program (basically 1st-3rd grade) at her Montessori school. Exciting but very busy times here!

Happy September, everyone!

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and sometimes things just work out!

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Earlier this week, I was able to knit with some friends of mine from knitting guild, which was a lot of fun. The only thing I had left to do on M’s cardigan was the button band, and of course, the thought of counting stitches and doing a bunch of math while knitting with my buddies didn’t seem too appealing, so instead, I just decided to wing it (yes, I know, this was crazy). I started knitting the row in which I’d be putting buttonholes, and just eyeballed it. I figured 5 stitches in from the bottom looked good, and thought a 4 stitch buttonhole looked nice, and thought that they looked right if I put them 12 stitches apart. And guess how many stitches I had left over when I knit the 6th buttonhole? 5 stitches! I couldn’t have gotten more perfect spacing if I’d tried!

Almost done! Just gotta weave in ends and block. (And find 6 hot pink buttons.)

I don’t actually recommend the “just eyeball it!” approach – I’m not sure what part of my brain thought that the ripping and reknitting that would likely result would be LESS fun than doing a bunch of math while chatting with my friends (the better plan would’ve been to bring a project in a state that did not require full attention!), but I’m super delighted that it worked out this time. It’s kinda neat to see that my intuitions about spacing are actually pretty solid.

Very happy with the reknit bottom hem and the garter stitch button bands w/i-cord edging.

Before knitting the button bands, I implemented the bottom hem reknit plan that I described in my previous post, and it worked great. More stitches, a bigger needle for the corrugated rib, and a smaller one for the standard rib/tubular bind-off. The whole thing lays flat now – there’s no awkward pulling apart at the fronts. Hooray!

Now all that’s left is weaving in ends, blocking, and finding 6 hot pink buttons!

two steps forward, 3 steps back?

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Sometimes that’s the way of things, ain’t it? I finished sleeve number one on M’s Stripes! cardigan, but the entire time I was knitting it, I had a sinking feeling about the bottom hem on the body:

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See how it’s pulling in at the bottom? It’s not supposed to. The corrugated rib at the bottom is pulling in even more than I anticipated, and there’s also some weirdness at the tubular bind-off, which has a larger effective gauge than the rib.

It’s even more obvious in this photo of the opening at the front (I’ll be adding a button band):

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And you can get a better sense for the gauge compression that happens in the corrugated rib but not the standard rib/tubular bind-off in this photo, I think:

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And yet, the sleeve cuff seems to be working out quite lovely:

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Why the difference? I think it’s a few things: for one, the cuff is in the round, which doesn’t provide as much opportunity for weird “flipping”. The other thing that I think is affected by it being in the round is my corrugated rib gauge in general – I strongly suspect that I knit that particular sort of rib tighter when knitting back and forth than when knitting in the round on DPNs, so there wasn’t as much compression. But also, there’s the fact that you kind of DO want a sleeve cuff to pull inward, just a bit, whereas that’s less desirable in a bottom hem (I mean, it can be a deliberate design choice, but it isn’t, here).

So, I’m going to rip back to just before the vikkel braid and reknit. Here’s my plan:

1. On the final row before the braid, increase MORE than I did last time. I had used the increase ratio that I’ve used in babyStripes!, both those are different yarns at different gauges on different needle sizes, and clearly I need to increase a bit more here. I increased after every 7 stitches before (turning 7 stitches into 8) but I think what I actually need is to alternate increasing after every 5 stitches and increasing after every 6 stitches (turning 11 stitches into 13)

2. Use a larger needle for the vikkel braid and the corrugated rib, before switching back to the “normal” needle size for the regular rib/tubular bind-off.

Wish me luck!

another sweater for M

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Man, poor Skógafjall keeps falling by the wayside (I’ve got the body and most of a sleeve already knit, at least) while I knit sweaters for smaller people. I just finished one knit for my daughter, and already there’s another one on the needles (it was literally a matter of hours between finishing her red Cobbler and casting on for this):

new Stripes! cardigan for M!

Yep, it’s a Stripes! cardigan. M picked the colors herself from yarn that I had in my stash: Cascade Eco+ in Summer Sky Heather, and Noro Kureyon in color #95. I’m loving how they look together!

Color + Texture.

I can’t get enough of the texture created by doing the contrast color stripes in garter stitch in the yoke. So great!

Already finished with the yoke!

I’ve already finished the yoke, and am knitting the body down first, before knitting the sleeves. I really enjoy making these top-down – not only do I get more of a say over what color is closest to the face this way, but I can also let her try it on as I go, and it makes the way I add the pockets possible.

One of these days, I want to go back to my own top-down Stripes! cardigan. I realized kind of late in the game (like, after knitting the entire body and part of a sleeve) that the proportions just weren’t working great on it, the yoke wasn’t fitting all that well (too baggy, but awkwardly so) and I didn’t like the bind-off I used on the bottom hem either, so I really need to rip it back pretty much to the very beginning. That’s a bummer, but I’m always going to vote for “rip and reknit” over “finish a sweater I won’t actually wear”. And I’ve gotten better at doing top-down yoke math (it’s just the inverse of bottom-up yoke math, but somehow that confounded me initially!) and figuring out the best spots for short rows for my body, so the next go at it should be better.

things i make for maddy: a RED vest! (plus a design brain-dump)

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I mentioned in a previous post that I was not going to be buying any yarn for myself for the forseeable future, but would make an exception for yarn for my daughter, especially RED yarn, which I had none of in my stash. I’m not a fan of red, but it’s M’s favorite color, and she’s such an appreciative knitwear recipient that I can’t say no to her requests! Here’s the red item she wanted most:

Doing a pocket quality-control check.

It’s a bigger version of her “Cobbler” Vest, so named because it was inspired by Jared Flood’s Cobblestone sweater. The yarn is Malabrigo Rios in Ravely Red, which I can attest is VERY VERY red – so red that it’s actually hard to get the camera to focus!

Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: from my head, but hopefully will be published sooner rather than later
Yarn: Malabrigo Rios in “Ravelry Red”, just a touch over 2 skeins
Needles: Size 7
Time to Knit: 11 days (some of which I was injured and not able to knit)

I’m so delighted with how it turned out – it fits her perfectly! (I don’t know why I’m always so surprised about this, given that I measure and do math and whatnot, but still it’s always a delight!)

She saw her new vest drying on the porch and wanted to put it on while she checked the mail :)

As you can see, the bottom hem is split at the sides, and the back extends lower than the front does. The front actually gets folded up to create a kangaroo pocket, thanks to i-cord:

Hooray for squishy kangaroo pockets!

Here’s the whole thing, not obscured by my daughter’s hair/hands/etc:

It's blocking!

As I mentioned above, I’m really hoping to publish a pattern for this design. What I’d really like, though, is to put out a collection of “Parent-Child” knits, because I’ve actually knit quite a few things in both me-versions and M-versions, and when I counted them up yesterday, there are something like 8 different designs, most of which I’ve already knit a test version of for me and/or M, that I could put in that collection. My problem, though, is that I’ve not actually published a single pattern since 2011 (observant readers will note that as as the year M was born, which is not a coincidence!) so I don’t really know or remember how to take a design from my brain to publication, and I *certainly* don’t know how to do that with a whole collection of them! There’s also the time factor – I can knit and design a fair amount in the summer, but once the school year starts and I’m teaching full time, that kind of goes out the window.

Basically, here’s my list:
1. Cobbler Vest (which also could have a long-sleeved variant)
2. Garter Rib Cardigan (which also could have a pullover variant and needs a better name)
3. Stripes! Cardigan, top-down (this one could go all the way down to baby sizes)
4. Bohus Yoke Pullover (needs a better name; I’d base the colorwork of the grown-up version on what I did on M’s sweater because I like it better than my original one!)
5. Top-Down Set-In Sleeved Striped Pocket Pullover (*definitely* would need a better name! Also still torn on whether to do adult version in sport weight or worsted, though I suppose if I do variants on other patterns, why not both?)
6. Curvilinear Hat + Mittens (this pattern is virtually ready to go; it also would pair really nicely with the Cobbler pattern, I think)
7. Sullivan (adult version already published through BT’s Wool People but I retain rights to it; I have ideas both for a sport-weight kids’ version AND a worsted-weight tunic with a kangaroo pocket)
8. Vahtralehed (I’ve already published the adult version; my thought for kids’ version is to do maybe one with a single maple leaf at the back and top-down set-in sleeves, in sport weight?)
9. I also have a design that I’ve never had a chance to knit up that involves roositud and nupps.

So looking at it, I have things that involve garter stitch or garter rib (1, 2, 6), I have things that involve yokes (1, 3, 4, 8, 9), I have things that involve top-down knitting (1, 3, 5, 6), I have things that involve Estonian techniques like nupps and roositud and vikkel braids (3, 7, 8, 9) but these are all intersecting sets. I also notice that all but the last 3 are potentially unisex patterns, which I think is super cool. I’m open to any and all advice about how to make these things a reality!

the rainbow connection

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A different (and much tinier) yoked sweater snuck onto my needles while I was visiting my family – Skógafjall was just too big and unwieldy to pack. I finished it this morning, and it will soon be making its way to Alaska for a friend’s baby:

Blocking!

Yep, it’s another babyStripes! I’ve lost count of how many of these I’ve knit for various babies and toddlers…this might be the 5th one? One of these days I really am going to write up a pattern for it, for real.

I know infants don't need pockets but they're just too cute!

I know infants don’t actually need pockets, but they’re just so cute! And I love all of the little details in this sweater – the garter ridges in the yoke and the pockets, and the vikkel braids and corrugated ribbing at the neckline, bottom hem, and sleeve cuffs.

I also love the rainbow colors! Of course you could knit it with any two colors you wanted, but I’ve always used rainbow self-striping yarn as the contrast colors and it’s just PERFECT for little babies – bright and happy and gender-neutral, which is part of why I knit one for my own child:

mama + daughter + stripes!

I’ve always loved rainbows; when asked for my “favorite color” I have a hard time giving a single answer. I’ve got a pretty good reputation at work for my colorful outfits (why wouldn’t you want to wear bright colors during the dreary winter months?), and I’m basically not capable of wearing “neutrals” without some pop of bright color somewhere – if I’m wearing mostly black/grey, I’ll accessorize with bright green or turquoise or hot pink, and even when I *had* to wear all black, back when I played in orchestras, I’d make sure I had on bright colored undergarments, just for me :)

Ready for Pride!

I also love what the rainbow represents, in terms of inclusiveness and specifically, its connection to the LGBTQ+ community. Last weekend, my family marched with our UU church in our local Pride parade. It was my daughter’s 4th time marching with us, and it just makes me so happy to know that she’ll grow up knowing that love is love and seeing such a broad spectrum of humanity as the valuable people that they are. And though I could absolutely pass for “straight” given that I’m happily married to a dude, I’m actually bi (as you might’ve guessed from that kitty button, which unfortunately fell off somewhere along the march) and I feel that it’s very important for me not to skate by on “straight privilege” and be out there fighting for EVERYONE to be treated with respect and dignity. And for patriarchy-trampling :)

Me and my favorite kiddo at the Pride parade

There’s another meaningful connection that rainbows have, though, and that’s the reason for THIS particular babyStripes! sweater. If you have people in your life who have experienced babyloss (as those who’ve known me for awhile know that I do), then you likely know that surviving babies that come after those losses are sometimes called “rainbow babies”. This sweater is for a rainbow baby, and I hope it keeps her warm through an Alaska winter!

another lopi sweater? yes!

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Just as soon as I’d finished up my Fiddlehead Yoke cardigan, I cast on for another sweater using Lettlopi:

another lopi sweater on the way!

It’s Skógafjall! The second I saw the pattern, I was smitten – I’ve been daydreaming of a sweater with trees around the yoke for ages, something that would capture a foggy day in the pines, and here someone else had already done all the work of turning it into a pattern!

Starting a new sweater (Skógafjall).

I already had the light green and grey and a couple skeins of the darker pine green (I’d considered it as a possible color for the Fiddlehead Yoke, but it didn’t look right to me), so only needed a few more skeins to make it happen. Yes, I broke my “no adding to stash” rule, but I really do intend to stick to stash for the foreseeable future. Really really. The only exception I’ll make is to buy red yarn to make something for M, because kiddo LOVES red and I…do not (and thus have none stashed).

Anyway, I’ve already knit the body, because stockinette-in-the-round is perfect mindless knitting, which is right up my alley in early summer when I’m still in decompression-mode following the end of Spring semester teaching.

Almost a whole Skógafjall sweater body!

I absolutely love the dark pine green color…it matches my eyes!

My sweater-in-progress matches my eyes :)

I’ve already started sleeve #1, but as speedy a knitter as I am, I’m still not sure I’ll be able to finish the sweater before we take off to visit my family in Wisconsin next week, and I think I’ll need to focus on smaller projects (I’m planning a sweater for a friend’s baby-to-be, and at least one Willow Cowl) while I’m traveling just for space considerations. But in any case, another finished lopapeysa isn’t that far off…and I’ve got the yarn to knit at least one more, because I have a kit for Gamaldags (in the light grey/bright colors version), which I plan to cardiganize. But I have yarn and ideas for a few others sweaters, too, so we’ll see what’s next!