lots of updates!

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I’ve been a busy bee lately. We spent Memorial Day weekend in Ohio, visiting my brother and his wife, as well as my husband’s parents, my husband’s brother and his wife, and my husband’s best friend and his two little kids. Visiting 4 families in a little over 2 days is a bit overwhelming! And I’ve been busy with academic stuff since we got back, too. Getting experiments running, getting my reading list ready for comprehensive exams, that sort of stuff.

But now I’m behind on the blogging. Let’s see. Once we got back from Ohio, I cast on for C’s sweater, and have already made it through the waist shaping:

C's sweater

I used a tubular cast-on for the first time on this sweater, and while it took forever, I don’t think I will ever use another cast-on for ribbing again. It’s fantastic, and totally solves the “cast-on not being as flexible as the ribbing” problem I had with my own version of this sweater.

Our other big project has been our garden. We finally got compost and peat moss and whatnot and were able to put our veggies (and strawberries) in yesterday:

looking even better

Here’s hoping we can manage to keep these things growing!

Oh, and there’s one more thing that I’ve been working on, too. It’s off with the test-knitters now, to be picked apart and made even better, I hope.

A finished “swatch”.

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Before we begin, a PSA for y’all:

If it is 82 degrees in your house, and your hands are sweaty, for the love of all that is good, DO NOT attempt to repeatedly rip out bind-offs and reknit portions of your sweater. You know what happens when you mix wool with heat, moisture, and friction, right?

FELT.

I was able to cut off the partially-felted first attempt at a neckband and fix it this morning, with only minimal fuzzing of the edge where stitches were picked up, thankfully, but save yourself the tears and don’t even try it in the first place.


And now we return to our regularly scheduled programming. The Swatch has been finished:

done! [365.348]

Pattern: My own. Tentatively calling it “Garter Whimsy”, an allusion to the name of the quilt Chawne is making me.
Yarn: Cascade 220, in Sapphire Heather. Less than 4 skeins (yes, really!).
Needles: Size 8 Denise Circulars and Harmony dpns.
Time to knit: Exactly 2 weeks (May 8th-May 22nd).

I quite pleased with it, despite all of last night’s frustration with the finishing. And it totally served its purpose; I figured out what worked and what didn’t work, and which measurements I need to ask for, and now feel quite prepared to knit a sweater for C. How about some more pictures?

waist shaping

Garter stitch (and particularly garter rib) is sort of the star of this sweater, even though the bulk of it is knit in stockinette. I did waist-shaping on the outside of a column of garter rib, which worked beautifully…you get the nice look of waist-shaping along with some stretch at the sides for comfort. I realize I’m a scrawny little thing, so maybe I’m wrong in thinking this, but I suspect this would be especially nice if you’re not as scrawny as I am.

wrist detail

(I also like the look of the neckline before I added the garter ridges, as in this photo). This is the detail I used at the wrist; it’s an i-cord cast-on, followed by some garter eyelet. I adore it. C wants more garter rib at the wrist of her sweater, though, and I’m happy to oblige, since I love that, too :)

back view

The back of the sweater, where you can see a bit of the seamless set-in sleeve shaping, which was a modification of the (rather terse) directions given in EZ’s Knitting Workshop. I didn’t want to steek the v-neck (I was worried it would add bulk), so I altered the in-the-round directions to knit from one edge of the V around the back to the other. It was a bit of brain-twister, and of course, I figured out a better way to handle the very tops of the sleeve caps after I’d bound off and woven in the ends, but it’s ok…I’ll do it the better way on C’s sweater!

sitting on the porch

I’m quite pleased with this sweater! It’s not perfect, but for a sweater that was really meant to be a swatch, it’s pretty darn good. I’m utterly shocked at how little yarn it took: well under 4 skeins! I’m so tempted to pick up 4 more skeins of Cascade 220 in the Webs sale while it’s cheap so that I can knit myself another one of these, since it’s such a nice basic sweater (and we all know how much I love my nice basic sweaters, given the last post!). I’m considering putting together a pattern for this, once I’ve knit C’s. The idea would be to make it a little bit mix-and-match, with instructions for different detailing at the wrist and neck, since C’s is going to have different detailing at the wrist and neck, anyway, and I want to try out a minimalist neckline like the unfinished one I had before the Great Accidental Felting Incident of 2009, too. If you’d be interested in me taking the time to write this one up as a pattern, let me know!

Post-FO

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I’ve been knitting sweaters left and right recently, as you all know. You get to see them while I’m knitting them, and then in a triumphant FO post, and then…nothing. So, inspired by a recent post at Eleven Stitches, I thought I’d share with y’all some updates on the various sweaters I’ve knit, and how they’ve fared in my wardrobe.

Let’s start with the ones I wear all the time. If you follow my 365 Project over on Flickr, you’ve seen these pop up time and time again.

First up, Rogue:

handknit sweater weather! [365.105]

I wear Rogue a lot, especially when it gets cold and wet, because I love having the basically waterproof hood to pull over my head in such weather. I adore the sweater; it was my first “real” sweater, and the yarn (Bartlett Yarn, in “Lovat”) is amazing, both in color and feel. The sweater is not without problems, though…I knit it before I had a good sense of how much longer than “normal” my arms were, and as such, the sleeves are at least an inch too short. I’d add a little bit of length in the body (maybe an extra cable repeat), too, if I were to knit it again. And I just might, because I really do love it.

Next up, Cobblestone One:

new glasses

This sweater is fabulous; it’s basically a fancified version of a sweatshirt. The yarn (Handpaintedyarn.com’s Worsted Merino, which is essentially Malabrigo) pills like crazy, which is a bit of a problem, but nothing compares to how soft and comfortable this sweater is to wear. I loved it so much, I knit a second version of it, which gets worn even more.

And now, Bohus Yoke:

hiding out [365.117]

I wear this sweater at least once a week. I’m still absurdly proud of having designed and knit the whole thing myself. I should have used a stretchier bind-off, because it’s a little tough to pull over my head, but once it’s on, the fit is pretty much perfect. Not surprising, since I made it to fit my exact measurements! The yarn (Paton’s Classic Merino) has held up beautifully; a little bit of pilling, but nothing crazy. I love the knit-in hems with contrast facings. I get lots and lots of compliments on this one when I wear it.

Next, Cobblestone Two:

300! [365.300]

(I’m trying to illustrate “300” in that photo, in case you were wondering). I made this using the modified version of the Cobblestone pattern that I created while I was making my first one. I love the yarn here…it’s BFL (the aran weight, from Fleece Artist), so it feels amazing, and it’s a tiny bit bulkier than the merino I used in the first Cobblestone, which makes this sweater a tiny bit baggier. I don’t mind this a bit…it’s my current favorite (well, before it got warm) for throwing on over a t-shirt or thermal shirt on a chilly day.

And last but not least on the “sweaters I wear all the time” list, my most recent knit, Stripes!:

strong (and silly)! [365.310]

Y’all know how much I love this sweater. I’m still working on writing up the pattern (where by working, I mean, “not actually working on it but feeling rather guilty that I’m not, and hoping I can get it done by June”). This sweater is perfect. I used a slightly different decrease pattern than is given in the EZ books, and it fits my shoulders perfectly. I slaved over that neckline finishing, but it was so worth it…the neckline is so incredibly comfortable, and easily stretches over my head. The waist shaping is super flattering. The yarns work so well together, with the Noro adding great color, and the Eco Wool adding a nice almost-felted feel, post-blocking. The only thing I would change (and I am changing this, in the pattern I’m writing), is to start the corrugated ribbing on the bottom hem with larger needles. Right now it pulls in a bit at the bottom, which I don’t care for.


Ok, now for the sweaters that I love, but simply don’t wear very often. With both of these sweaters, the problem has nothing to do with the actual knit (they both turned out great), but with the style.

First up, Demi:

feeling fancy. [365.191]

I do love this sweater, very much. I feel incredibly pretty when I wear it. The problem is just that it’s so nice, I can’t bring myself to wear it very often. I feel too “dressed up”, and I worry that I’ll spill something on the pretty cream colored yarn (Lion Brand Fisherman). I do wear it sometimes when I dress up in the wintertime, and it’s very comfortable, but I’m just more of a plain and practical sort of girl, when it comes to sweaters.

Next up, Syncopated Ribs:

Syncopated Ribs, front view

I’m quite happy with how this one turned out, especially after my neckline mods, but I just don’t wear it. I think it’s just not really my style; I like the kind of sweater you throw on over a t-shirt, and this just isn’t quite that. Lesson learned: even if the design is clever and looks great on the model, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good knit for me.


And now, for the sweaters that don’t get worn for other reasons. My “problem sweaters”, if you will.

First up, Sienna Cardigan:

sunny day. [365.345]

The only problem with this one is that I got a bit overenthusiastic in my attempts to make it a tiny bit smaller than the smallest size in the pattern, and wound up with a sweater that’s too snug in the shoulders. Something I should keep in mind for myself is that while I do not have a 36″ bust, my shoulder width is probably not that far off from a lot of women who do, because the only difference between me and them is, uh, what sticks out in front. Anyway, I do like this sweater, and can wear it over a sleeveless top, if I leave it unbuttoned, and I do that occasionally, but not very often.

Next up, my Gansey:

Gansey, at the lake

I’m so proud of having designed and knit this one, but again, I don’t wear it. It’s a combination of style (it’s not the most flattering garment for me…I’m already broad shouldered for my size, and the drop shoulders with no waist-shaping don’t help that at all!) and having made the neckline too wide, so the whole thing sits funny at the top. I could probably fix the neckline, if I had the patience for it, and I very well might.

And finally, my Garter Yoke Cardi:

new sweater. [365.230]

This was pure operator error. I’m not sure how clear it is in that photo, but I simply used the wrong percentages when calculating my increases for the top-down yoke (I’ve since corrected them, in the post I made about it on the Yoked Sweater blog). The yoke is much too long and steep for me, and it’s obvious that there’s a fit problem whether I wear it buttoned or not. All I need to do is pick up the stitches after the last increase, rip out the top, and reknit up to the neck using the right decreases, I just haven’t found the motivation to do so. Maybe if some of you bug me about it, I will :)

Well, that does it for my Post-FO post, at least as far as the sweaters are concerned. Expect to see a new sweater added to the mix soon…I finished the sleeve caps on The Swatch last night, and just need to put in the v-neck finishing.

works in progress.

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This, my friends, is how much sleeve you (where by you, I mean me, or someone with comparably long, skinny arms) can get out of 1 skein of Cascade 220:

hello, we are sleeves

Approximately 1.5 sleeves. I’ve since finished the sleeves, and have moved on to join them to the body, so expect a post about that, soon. But what I really wanted to post about is a work-in-progress that isn’t knit. You can see some of it in that photo above.

This weekend, we decided to tackle one of the beds in our garden. This is the same bed my parents helped us tackle when they were here last summer, but because we didn’t get weed cloth and mulch laid down, the weeds came back with a vengeance this year. This is what we were up against:

before.

This stuff covers every surface of our garden. It has an insane system of roots and runners, and can come back strong just from the tiniest snippet left behind. We wanted to put a raised-bed veggie garden in (yes, it’s a bit late, so we probably won’t be planting a whole lot this year, but at least we’ll have the setup ready next year), so we needed to clear one of the beds (we’ll clear them all eventually). This required digging. Lots and lots of digging. Most of which I did on my own, while my husband ran out to Lowes to pick up some necessary supplies. It was exhausting.

portrait of exhaustion.

But, after a long day of hard work for both of us, look what we accomplished:

The (almost) end result

It’s still definitely a work in progress; we need to lay down more pebble, and some edging, and we need to get some compost mix to put in our boxes before we plant anything. We’re going to be starting our own compost operation soon, too, but we haven’t yet. We’re excited about it, though, because we buy so little packaged stuff that most of our trash is food waste (like, ends of carrots and celery, things of that nature), and it just makes so much more sense to compost it than to let it get all stinky in the trash can (which takes us forever to fill).

But for now, I am quite pleased with our progress, even though it left me basically unable to walk for a couple of days, thanks to overly sore muscles and my bad back. I’d say it’s the last time I’ll forget that I am no longer super marathon-running girl, but that’s probably not true. I’m too stubborn for my own good.

Well, anyway, consider this the first of hopefully several garden updates this summer. Wish us luck!

an almost-FO, and something new

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Yesterday morning, I bound off Ishbel:

off the needles! [365.342]

It still needs a good blocking, but it’s so humid here right now that I’d rather wait…it seems like it would never dry if I tried to block it right now!

I’m following my usual practice of not considering this a finished object (either here, or over on Ravelry) until it has gotten its blocking and had its picture taken afterward, hence calling it an “almost-FO”. A few details, for those who can’t wait for the eventual FO post: I knit this using all of 2 skeins of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, in a color whose name I’ve forgotten but is essentially just “natural”, on size 7 needles. I followed the “large” pattern for the stockinette section, and the “small” pattern for the lace, which, given my gauge, resulted in a very nice sized shawl. The shawl is intended to be a gift for someone, but I’m keeping that part under wraps for now.

As for the new thing, well, I’ve already come clean here about my inability to bind off one lace piece without casting on for another. And so it went, yesterday:

something new.

This little number is the beginnings of a Seraphim Shawl, from Fly Designs handyed angora laceweight yarn. I’ve got my fingers crossed the the angora will work well, here. It feels amazing, running through my fingers.

I mostly wanted to make sure I cast on for a new shawl because we’re going to be taking a short trip to Ohio next weekend, for Memorial Day, where we will visit: my brother and his wife, my husband’s brother and his wife, my husband’s parents, and my husband’s best friend and his wife, and their two kids who are growing up shockingly quickly! It’ll be a busy weekend, so I probably won’t do a lot of knitting while we’re there, but it’s a 7 hour drive each way, and I’d rather knit on something small like a shawl than something large like a sweater. For the rest of this week, The Swatch is going to be the focus of my energies.

Speaking of which, you may have noticed that poor Tangled Yoke has gotten the short end of the stick, in terms of the time I’m spending on it. As is probably clear from my last post, it’s just that I have all of these pattern ideas in my head, and until I can get them out of my head, and knit up and written down, I don’t think I’m going to be doing much in the way of knitting sweaters from other people’s patterns. I’ll get back to it, eventually, but if my head is going to be full of ideas right now, I kind of want to run with it. And I’ve got a couple of sweaters to be knitting for other people (C’s sweater, which is one of the ones I’m designing, and a sweater for another friend which I’ll talk about sometime later), which take priority.

Final Housekeeping Note:
On the last post, I replied to everyone’s comments in the comment section (since WordPress now allows comment-threading). Now I have a couple of questions: Do y’all like that, or should I go back to emailing my replies to y’all individually? Also, do y’all get email notifications when I reply, or do you have to come back here to check for replies? I’m just trying to figure out what the best way of handling comments is, now that I have more options. Thanks!

so many ideas, so little time!

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pretty white flowers
There, now this post has a picture.

I’ve finished my TA duties and my own coursework for this semester, and about to embark on the process of preparing for my comprehensive exams (“comps” or “quals”…I’ve heard them called both, so I have taken to jokingly calling them “quamps”). With a somewhat more flexible schedule over the summer, I’m hoping to get a lot of knitting done, too.

I’m still working on the Stripes! pattern, and appreciate everyone’s patience on that front. I think it should go fairly quickly now that I am done with classes. And then there’s the sweater I’m designing and knitting for C…I’m not sure what to call that design, and am wondering if I should just steal borrow the name she’s given my quilt, and call it “Blue Whimsy”. In any case, I’m almost done with the first sleeve on my “first draft” version, so that’s moving along quite well.

My mind has been taken over (when it has not been thinking about academic-related things) by design ideas lately. Here are some of the other design-type ideas I have floating around in my head:

Relating to Stripes!, I have ideas for both:

  • a baby version of Stripes!, using Noro Kureyon Sock and a solid colored sock yarn.
  • a pair of mittens aimed at using up the leftovers of Noro and Eco Wool from the grown-up version of Stripes! in a clever way.

For the former, I just need to acquire a skein of solid colored sock yarn (perhaps Malabrigo sock, in Natural?). For the latter, I just need to do it…I have the design all worked out in my head, but haven’t found the time to sketch it out and cast-on.

Then there’s:

  • actually writing up the pattern for the Estonian Mittens I knit 2 years ago now
  • a gansey-inspired pullover in sport weight, with waist-shaping and set-in sleeves (both of which would not appear on an actual gansey, but what I want is a sleek, modernized version).
  • a sock, with a design element that particularly tickles me, given the field I have landed in (how’s that for vague?).
  • and of course, the Escheresque mittens that I started well over a year ago, for my dad.

So many ideas, so little time! The Estonian Mittens should be fairly easy to write up; I can basically read the pattern off the mittens I already knit, and then check it by knitting a second version (or two, to get a larger size as well), which I’d like to do anyway, as gifts for people.

The modernized gansey is something I would like to knit during the Tour de France, in keeping with my now-established habit of running my own simultaneous Tour de Gansey.

Before I tackle the socks (for which I’ve already drawn out a chart), I need to acquire a good light grey sock yarn, one that shows stitch definition well. The yarn I currently have (Knitpicks Essential, in Ash) is too pilly for my taste. Any suggestions?

For the Escheresque mittens, I just need to keep slogging. The main thing that’s slowing me down is that my hands just can’t bear to knit on the 00 needles for very long, and so the mittens end up being at the bottom of my priority list when I’m just looking for something to knit while I watch the news in the evening.

Oh, and unrelated to designing, another thing I’ve been thinking about: Are any of you lovely people planning on going to Rhinebeck this fall? I’ve been thinking I should try to go at least once while I live in the state of NY, and it just might push me over into committing to it, to know that I could meet some of you in person. I’m slightly nervous about big festivals, and it’s also over my husband’s birthday, so I’d want to make sure he’d be alright with taking a wee little vacation to visit sheep and such, but in any case, I figured I’d just put the idea out there.

Tell me your plans, dear readers, both festival-related and otherwise!

Happy Mother’s Day!

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happy mother's day! [365.336]

Happy Mother’s Day, mom. I love you very much. I hope you are having a wonderful day!

In knitting-related news, I’ve gone and done something completely silly. You know how I’ve been designing a sweater for a friend of mine, to knit for her in exchange for a quilt? Well, I’d planned on just doing some swatching, but then the other morning, in the shower, I had the brilliant idea of knitting a “first draft” sweater, in my size, so that I could test out my ideas on a sweater I can try on as I go (which, given the difference between my friend’s size and my own, wouldn’t be possible if I just knit her’s first). And this, my friends, is how much sweater I can knit with one skein of Cascade 220 and a day and a half of on-and-off knitting:

this is how much sweater

Apparently I’m quite quick with the knitting when I’m feeling stressed out about pretty much everything else in my life :)

Well, that’s all the posting I have time for today…I need to get back to working on a term paper. Have a great Sunday, y’all.

just a peek.

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hiding. [365.328]

Wow, it has been a long time since I last posted. I figured I’d come out of hiding, at least very briefly, today. Not much has transpired on the knitting front recently; I’ve knit a bit more on Ishbel, but have honestly been so terribly overwhelmed with the non-knitting parts of life recently that the knitting has had to take a back seat. I’ve just completely run myself into the ground, since Spring Break, really, and haven’t given myself enough opportunities to rest, and am really paying for it now.

While I haven’t been keeping up with the knitting, I have been keeping up with the photography, and am currently taking part in Macro May. I love playing with Super Macro mode on my camera. So, in lieu of knitting, I figured I’d share some of my macro photos with y’all.

We had a rainy day today (which is making my joints ache like crazy; I used to laugh at the notion of “feeling it in your joints” when the weather goes nuts, but I totally understand now). But the beautiful droplets outside almost make up for the pain.

droplets on rose leaves
Droplets on Rose Leaves

Yesterday, I took a walk through Highland Park, hoping to get to spend some time with the flowers there before Lilac Festival starts, and all of Upstate NY invades my neighborhood. I’m paying a bit for that walk, today, but seeing all those lovely flowers was worth it, I think.

pretty little flowers
Cherry Blossoms

(not) bluebells
Grape Hyacinth

lilacs, blooming
Lilacs (of course)

If you’ve got a camera with a Macro setting, give it a try! It’s fun to find beauty in unexpected places with it.

thorny.
(more lovely than the rose?)