Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sweater Woes

Well. Clearly I shouldn't have vowed not to post until I could come back and say that Veronique was blocked and seamed, because it didn't get done that weekend as I had anticipated. True to my word - no blog post last week. Sorry about that.

I did block it that weekend, but when I pinned it together to seam it, it became apparent to me that I had indulged in some reckless optimism as to the length of the second half. It fell at least an inch short. Don't ask me how I looked at it and said "sure, it matches" because all I can figure is that I was sick and tired of knitting stockinette in laceweight mohair and therefore, in the interests of sanity, declared myself done early.

So I unpinned it and this weekend I knitted the extra rows I needed and seamed it. The seaming wasn't as painful as I thought it was going to be, and I think I did a reasonably good job. I tried it on and decided I didn't need it to be much bigger than it was, so I knitted as few extra rows and did the bind off. Now all that remains to be done is the sleeves.

One problem, though. I...don't like it very much. I'm hoping that some of the problems I have with it will work out once I have knitted the sleeves and blocked the whole thing one more time, but I'm just not a fan. The sleeves are my big worry. They just don't look or feel like they're in the right place. Part of this is because of the garment itself - the shrug is basically a circle with sleeves. My hope is that once I take out the provisional cast on and knit the sleeves, they will orient themselves properly and the weird fold of fabric I'm expriencing at the front of the shrug will go away. It may be (and I hope it is) that the cotton I used for the provisional cast on can't move or stretch very well, and that's why things look odd. But I'm not sure, and let me tell you, nothing sucks the motivation out of a project like the fear that you are not going to like the end result.

I do think if I were going to knit it again, I would go up a needle size. The fabric seems denser than it should be to me, which probably also contributes to the chunkyness I feel when I put it on. Again, I'm hoping that blocking will help. I didn't really stretch it last time but I may have to, in order to open it up a little more. Of course, amount of stretching possible will now be limited because of the seams, but whatever - I'll worry about it when the sleeves are done.

Speaking of sleeves, I have been working on the sleeves of the featherweight cardigan, but not very much. Sleeves are boring. And frankly, I'm not sure how much I'm going to love the end result on this one, either. There's nothing wrong with the design, I just think that maybe the bind-offs I did on the collar and the hem that I thought were plenty loose, may not actually be all that loose. I worry. I'm a worrier. I really should just suck it up and finish the sleeves so that I can like it or not and move on with my knitting life. It is a little disheartening, though, to think that I'm unhappy with all three sweaters I have knitted. I'm excited to start Simone and I'm really hoping it will break my crappy sweater trend.

When I blocked and measured my swatch, it turned out that I hadn't gotten guage on either needle size. The recommended needle size is 7. I swatched 7 and 8, and my guage was too tight on both. Since neither panned out, I knit a third swatch, this time with a 9. Wash, block, measure. This time my guage was huge. I couldn't understand it, especially since I had measured before washing and I was right on. And I wasn't off by a little, I was off by two whole stitches. Then I thought for a second, and gave my swatch a vertical tug. Problem solved. Gauge was perfect. See, when I knit the first swatch, I made it very generous. This second swatch I cast on the same number of stitches, and I knit until I ran out of yarn in my swatching ball, which gave me a swatch that was wider than it was tall. When I blocked it, I just laid it flat and patted it into shape - by smoothing it width-wise. I think if I had smoothed it vertically instead, I would have still had guage. This sweater will hang vertically on my body, therefore I deem the vertically stressed number to be more accurate than the horizontally stressed number. Therefore, I'm not knitting another stinkin' swatch.

Of course, because I am me, I haven't gone all this time without starting another lace project. I'm working on Phoenix Rising in Lorna's Laces Helen's Lace. The color is called Maple Grove, but it absolutely looks like flames to me. I picked the perfect firey beads to go with it and I'm in that wonderful phase at the beginning of the project where the rows are really short and so it feels like you are absolutely flying through the charts. Hopefully I'll have a post with pictures next week, it just turned out when I went to upload that I hadn't taken pictures of any of the things I thought I would, so I'll have to fix that before the next post.

Monday, August 16, 2010


I took Friday off as a mental health day, so I had a long weekend to enjoy! And enjoy it I did. Though I was very sad to hear over my Twitter feed that Knit Happens is closing its doors, I can't deny I squealed a bit when I heard that they would begin their closing sale on Friday. Friday, which I took off! And which the SO had also conveniently taken off! He was hoping we would be able to watch meteors at an ungodly hour on Thursday night/Friday morning, but his plans were foiled by rain, leaving him free to drive me to the sale.

We arrived before the store opened. There were several other knitters hovering outside the door. We joked about circling like vultures waiting for lions to leave a carcass. We were mostly polite when the doors opened, filing in with some degree of order. Stocks for some items that I was interested in were clearly low or depleted already (curses), but I still scored pretty big.

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That, my friends, is 11 balls of S. Charles Tinka and 2 balls of Filatura di Crosa Superior - otherwise known as the ingredients for Leyfi.

I nearly plotzed. The Superior was 50% off and the Tinka was 60% off and this sweater, which I thought was far outside of my financial reach (Superior retails for $25.00/ball, bringing the tab to $50 before you even add in the Tinka), is now going to be MINE. MINE MINE MINE AHAHAHAHA.

Ahem. Sorry. Of course this world is not perfect, and I now face a sizing issue. I have enough yarn, according to the guidelines, to make the 40" size, plus a ball of Tinka to spare. However, this leaves me with no ease at all in the sweater. The next size up takes one ball of Tinka more than I have, and would give me 4 inches of ease, which seems like it might be too much. Rar. Right now I am leaning towards making the 40". Knowing me it's unlikely I will get exact gauge anyway, so maybe if I'm lucky my gauge issues will give me a little extra ease (but not too much).

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I also got this:

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Schaefer Andrea, 100% silk, in colorway Barbara McClintock. I don't know what this will become. I'm thinking about Waves of Grain, maybe? I feel like it should be something corn/grain related (there are not, as it turns out, all that many corn-related lace designs). I can't help it - I'm a theme person. I'm kind of regretting not signing up for Bad Cat Designs Summer Swatch Me thingy, because this totally looks like corn growing on stalks to me.

Once again, though, I'm getting ahead of myself. I have a ton of projects to worry about before I get fussed about that.

Anyway. In addition to the above-mentioned yarn, I got a Euclan sampler pack. I have tried Kookabura wash and Soak wash, and Euclan is the only one I haven't tried yet. I also snagged an Addi Turbo lace needle. I want to try one of those babies out. I love my KP interchangeable needle set, but it's true that they aren't the sturdiest. If I like the Addi lace needles I may invest in an Addi interchangeable set. However, the lace interchangeables that they've come out with have shorter tips than usual to accommodate a 16" cable. I don't want shorter tips, I find them very uncomfortable to work with, so I'm absolutely waiting until they come out with full length tips. In the meantime, I'll try the one I bought and see how I like them.

Since I was in the area, I went to check out Fibre Space, since I had never been their before. OMG. So much love. I really wish they were easier to get to/closer to my home. I walked in and they had big signs that said LACE, WORSTED, FINGERING. I thought, FINALLY, a yarn shop that understands how I shop. I went straight for the lace area, and then straight to the sock yarn. I looked over all the other yarns, too, but it was so nice to be able to immediately see all the yarn in the weight I needed/wanted.

I bought this:

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And this:

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The top is Fiberphile in a colorway whose name I have totally forgotten, and the one on the bottom is Dragonfly Fiber Djinni in the awesome colorway "Reluctant Dragon." I am now on a mission to find the perfect dragon-themed sock to make with it. I squealed a little when I picked up this yarn because it uses the same yarn base as my beloved Casbah.

I also had a little falling down during the week and ordered yarn from Fiber Optic, so in addition to the yarn I bought on Friday, I came home to two skeins in my mailbox.

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I regret nothing. (though I must observe from the last few pictures, I seem to be going through a green period)

I ordered gift yarn from KnitPicks to get a jump on the Christmas knitting (also some birthday knitting for which I am woefully behind) and that...did not arrive. Even though it should have. I'm going to have to call the post office because I am really annoyed that my packages are not coming. My package from Twilight Knits has also not arrived, and I'm really mad about it. I contacted her and she definitely mailed it, and she is very graciously sending me another skein, which I really appreciate since I don't hold her responsible for the failings of USPS. Either someone else is getting all my yarn deliveries, or someone at the post office is hoarding it for themselves. I am not amused. I know my address has been correct on all these packages, so I don't know what's going on.

In addition to all this yarn acquisition, I did actually do some knitting. All this shopping has induced some guilt over some of my UFO's, so I pulled a bunch of them out. I finished my Summer Flies Shawl since I was close to the end - although this took a great deal more time than I expected because of the ruffle. My love of ruffles will kill me one day. I adore ruffles on the finished project. I hate that the only way to get a ruffle is to rapidly increase from a reasonable number of stitches to an insane number of stitches (or the reverse - either way, you are knitting an insane number of stitches) and then knit stockinette until you want to die.

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At least it was a worsted weight yarn. Cut it a little close with the yarn requirements on that one. The picot bind off took foreeeeever. These pictures are unblocked, since it was late when I finished.

I finished a swatch for the Simone sweater from French Girl Knits (shut up. it still counts as finishing if you started the swatch more than four months ago).

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I didn't get guage. I was closest on the size 8 needle, but I may have to knit another swatch with a 9 to see if I can do better. Supatight Knitta strikes again.

I pulled out my featherweight cardigan and began binding off the collar. This project needs nothing but that bind off and sleeves to be finished. Shameful.

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I'm a little worried my bind off is too tight, even though I'm using a needle something like three or four sizes up. I need to decide whether to keep going or undo what I've done (again - I started out with a needle only one or two sizes up) and try again with either a larger needle or a different bind-off technique. I wish I could remember what I did for the bottom edge, as that bind off is both beautiful and appropriately stretchy.

Not pictured is Veronique from French Girl Knits, which is also on my list of "just suck it up and finish it" projects. This one needs to be seamed before I continue, and I intended to block it and then seam it, since seaming unblocked edges seemed like a recipe for madness. However my hatred for blocking and my hatred for seaming have combined to sideline this project for months, which is really too bad because I really, really like the garment in the book. Therefore, I commit to you, blog, that before I post again, I shall block and seam this piece so that I may knit on. Once seamed, it will be knit in the round until I'm satisfied with the total length of it, and then it will need sleeves.

Both of these garments are knit in fine weight yarns - Veronique in Kidsilk Haze and the Featherweight cardigan in a laceweight (knit picks gloss lace, I think) so even though there isn't much left to be done on them, finishing these still represents kind of a lot of knitting. Boring knitting. Time to get some movies from Netflix.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The End Is Upon Us

Short on time today. I finished Evenstar on Tuesday except for the graft, which I let wait until Saturday. I almost attempted it on Tuesday, but I realized my working yarn was attached to my front needle instead of my back needle, and that threw me off enough that I decided to wait. I thought about turning around to the other side but I realized all my stitches would be twisted.

Finally on Saturday I threw caution to the wind and just went with it the way it was, and I think the end result is actually not too bad.

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I'm perfectly fine with it all through the beaded section - the place I am unhappy is at the base where it actually meets the shawl. I ended up with a big giant hole there, and basically I used my ends to kind of sew it shut. I'm hopping this will look a little better once it's blocked and the ends are trimmed away, it won't be quite so bunched up. I hope. But, even if it doesn't get any better than this, I defy anyone to find it when they're looking at this.

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You know what bothers me more than the graft? The ladder stitches in the center from when I first started.

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But again. Will you really see it when you're looking at this?

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And some extra glamour shots that I don't have a clever lead in for.

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It's still not blocked, and I am rather perplexed as to how I'm going to block it. It's huge. It covers my whole ottoman and I can't fit the whole thing in the shot when I'm using my 50mm. Normally, I put sheets down on the floor of my guest bedroom and pin the piece out on that, but that's not going to work unless I take the bed out (which would involve moving heavy things, and then cleaning and vacuuming and more work than I really want to do).

I have a queen sized bed that I don't think will be large enough. All the floor areas that are big enough for me to use are hardwood and not suitable for pinning. So, I'm a little stumped for the moment. I may have to go buy some of those interlocking foam floor tile thingies that lots of people like.

I did block my Maia shawl from 7 Small Shawls.

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Love. I'm desperate for the next shawl to come out - though, I'm even more desperate for my yarn to arrive. I had considered using Schaefer Audrey again in Indigo, but instead I ordered this from Twilight Knits and I have been checking my mailbox obsessively for days. It makes me giggle a little that this shawl will use the same stitch motif in the edging that was used in the Evenstar shawl. IT'S FOLLOWING ME.

While I wait I'm working on a Summer Flies shawl.

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Yeah, not very impressive looking, is it? But it's very soft, and I think it will block out pretty. Maybe not as dainty and feminine as the picture in the pattern though, and it's been a very quick knit. I'm on the second to last section, the knotted openwork area. When I finish that one I will switch to the lighter colored yarn for the ruffled edge.

I also went back to my Follow the Leader shawl and I'm almost done with the lace shoulder band, at which point it will become mindless take-a-long knitting. I'm still not sure about this project. I'm not passionately in love with either the yarn or the color, but I'm going to keep trucking on it anyway. I may give it away when I'm done.

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Whew - picture heavy post! Just as well, since I don't have time for 1000 words today.

Monday, August 2, 2010


I started this weekend on a mission. I had 18 repeats left to go on Evenstar and I thought, if I really tried, I could finish the whole thing this weekend.
But. I was really on the home stretch for my Maia shawl. I've been participating in the knitalong on the Romi Designs Ravelry group, and I just couldn't face my fellow Maia knitters without having made any progress on her all weekend long. Especially since I was so close to the end! So I decided I would go all out to finish Maia on Friday and then try to finish Evenstar on Saturday and Sunday. It seemed very possible at the time.

Sadly, I forgot about this little thing called "real life" and this other thing called "job." I had a deadline on Friday so even though I was feeling absolutely awful with some kind of stomach issue, I had to stay until my deadline was finished. It actually got done in reasonably good time, considering, but I would've made more progress on the knitting if I'd been able to go home sick!
Even so, I finished everything but the bind off for Maia. I figured binding off would take me roughly an hour, given how long it was taking me to complete rows at that point, so I just couldn't hang in there and do it that evening. I knew it would cut into my time on Saturday.

Making matters worse, I had an appointment for a haircut on Saturday morning. I am not a morning person, so getting up early to work before the appointment was absolutely not going to happen. Then, I got stuck coming back from my appointment because there was a helicopter (!!!) parked in the middle of the road, along with about seventeen billion cop cars. I still don't know what that was about - there was no debris in the road or anything to suggest there had been a crash. There was a fire truck and and ambulence on the side of the road. And the weird thing is, none of this was there when I drove to my appointment half an hour earlier. Anyway, that delayed my return, which delayed my lunch date with the SO, which delayed my getting home to finish Maia. It was clear before I even started that Evenstar wasn't getting finished by the end of the weekend. I worked a little on it half-heartedly, and got a few more repeats done, but not the nine I would have had to finish to have a shot at getting it done on Sunday.

I did, however, finish Maia, and we will pause to admire her.

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These photos are all pre-blocking. I pinned it out and blocked it yesterday, so by next post I will be able to provide fully finished photos.

Anyway, knowing that I wasn't going to finish Evenstar, I had a little bit of a breakdown and I cast on for a Summer Flies shawl in some Urban Silk I bought on sale last week. Yes, I know I'm on a yarn diet. I got $60 worth of silk for $30. I regret nothing. Most of what I bought is in chocolate but I bought one skein of either cream or silver, I'm not sure which (and I'm not at home so I can't go look). My plan is to knit to the last section and then do the last, outer section in the lighter yarn. This plan is subject to modification when we see how the yardage works out.

I'm not certain how I feel about it at this point. The design is not charted, it only has written directions (I can't imagine why people prefer this method, but to each their own I guess), it uses the dreaded M1 increase (I HATE that increase for no reason I can rationally explain), and I'm afraid the yarn may be a little too textured to look nice. But I'm forging ahead anyway. Just to add to my frustration, I couldn't find a size 8 needle anywhere. I couldn't even find a 7 or a 9! I finally found a 16" size 8 fixed circ and started with that, but I'm going to have to figure out where on earth all my needles have gone.
I did the first section and then, feeling better, I put it aside and worked on Evenstar some more.

By the time I had to quit on Sunday night, I had only six repeats left. If I can manage to get in two repeats a night, I can have it done by Wednesday. It's taking me between 40 minutes and an hour per repeat, so while I would love it if I could get it done sooner, I'm not going to count on it. Between work (blech) and going to the gym (blech) and various other necessities like feeding the dog, cleaning the house (blech), doing the laundry (blech), I'm thinking two repeats per night is probably as much as I can reasonably count on - if not more.

Of course, once the border is done, I have to figure out how to graft the edge. Here's my thinking - if done as written, the graft adds an extra row to make the join, which will disrupt the pattern a bit. However, I'm thinking that if I go ahead and graft it the way I graft socks - which is to say, very tightly - the seam row will be so small that it won't be so obvious, and the two pattern rows will be drawn together and match up. I don't really care if the graft shows a little bit, to be honest, because the shawl is freaking huge, and out of 54 (56? I can't remember) repeats of edge lace, it seems like the graft would have to be really, really awful to make a difference. We're talking a shawl 6 feet in diameter with 54 (56?) points on the edge. It can't possibly show that badly. (Right?)

Anyway, I'm thinking if I do it this way, I will need to block and then graft, since I fear the seam would not stretch, and the one thing that really would make it stand out would be wonky blocking in that one spot. I don't know, though. I'll have to ponder this.

Romi seems to be almost finished designing the next shawl in the 7 Small Shawls series, and I'm looking forward to it a lot. The shawl is inspired by a starry night sky. I debated and hemmed and hawed and then I ordered this yarn for it. We will see what it looks like when it gets here. If it doesn't look right for this project, I may look for something different and save that yarn for something else. (Yarn for 7 Small Shawls is the cheat I allow myself on my yarn diet to keep me from having bigger, messier accidents along the way - sort of a pressure release valve.) The shawl is beaded so it looks like I will be making another trip to Star's Beads. I have a pretty fair number of blue beads in my bead stash, but they are all size 8 and I will need size 6 for the fingering weight yarn. I'm debating whether I want to get blue beads, or if I want to get silver or gold or some other neutral-ish color beads to be the stars. I guess it will depend on what the yarn looks like when it gets here, and what strikes my fancy when I go to the bead store. You can't beat internet bead stores for selection, but I just never know what will grab me so I love being able to try different combinations in person.