FO: Alafoss

Alafoss is done at last!  It should have been a quick knit but having to reconfigure the yoke myself took a bit of extra time.  Also, not knitting this from the top down cost me a ton of time, though I did learn a lot!

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1.  What did you learn from knitting this?

That I shouldn’t be knitting sweaters from the bottom up anymore.  I knit this entire sweater that way, then realized the sleeves and body were too long.  I tried to rip out the top portions of the sleeves and body, but ran into problems when I tried to graft them back onto the yoke.  So, I then ripped out the body and sleeves and reknit them from the top (well, the bottom of the yoke being the “top”) down. To recap, it’s so, so difficult to get the sleeve and body lengths right when you’re knitting from the bottom up, and it’s relatively easy to convert a bottom-up pattern to a top-down one -- however I do the math, it always comes out in favour of the top-down method.

Also, it's the first time I tried the false grafting method:  you start with a bound-off and a cast-on row (no live stitches, hence the "false" part) and then you kind of weave them together to get a neat, nearly undetectable, and hopefully stronger underarm.  We'll see how it holds up, but I am pretty happy not to have as many holes as doing it the traditional way (grafting live stitches together). 

2.  Would you knit this pattern again?

Yes, I think I would.  It’s pretty straightforward and can almost be knit as it’s written.  Even without accounting for converting it to a top-down sweater, I did have to do some math with the decreases in the yoke, to make it so I didn’t end up with strange fractions of the colourwork designs in the yoke, but that wasn’t too difficult.  

3.  How will you wear your new sweater?

This sweater isn’t for me, it’s for O, and I imagine he’ll be wearing it while sipping hot chocolate by the roaring fire in the ski chalet.  

Year of Sweaters Tally:  10

Finished Project: Plum Sweater

It's done, done, done!  I looove this sweater, which is knit from the Schnee pattern by Suvi Simola, and the timing is perfect.  We're having a pretty chilly winter!  And please excuse deer-in-the-headlights quality of the photos; I used my tripod for the first time to do self-portraits and I need more, let's be kind, practice with it.

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1.  What did you learn from knitting this?

Putting in the work to plan and swatch and make sure you're going to do it right the first time is definitely worthwhile.  All that time I spent swatching and thinking about how to approach the sweater, as well as the time I spent ripping out and reknitting, was so worth it because this sweater turned out absolutely perfect, exactly the way I wanted, and I'm sure it's going to be a workhorse in my wardrobe.

2.  Would you knit this pattern again?

You bet I would!  As I was finishing the second sleeve, I was already shopping for yarn to knit another (I am truly a sucker for emails announcing sales).  Luckily I managed to keep my finger off the "buy" button, because there is so much yarn in my stash right now, but I could see coming back to this sweater later, when I've destashed some.  The fit on this sweater is so perfect -- the body is big and slouchy, which is what I was looking for, and meanwhile the sleeves and armholes aren't too big.  Kudos to the designer on that.

3.  How will you wear your new sweater?

It will probably go with anything in my wardrobe; a t-shirt and jeans, a tunic top and leggings, a dress...endless possibilities. 

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Year of Sweaters Tally:  8 (I'm so happy to have this done but eep, I'd better get knitting!)

Review of FOs from 2017

I finished a lot of projects in 2017!  There were some baby or child knits:

(clockwise from top left) Jasper Diamond sweater, Striped Boatneck Sweater, Rainbow Valley Sweater, Toddler Surprise Jacket, Baby Kimono, and Pixie Hat

There were adult-sized sweaters:

(from left to right) Hawkherst, Striking; I also completed Schnee but this one was just under the wire; finished on New Year's Eve, and so I don't have pictures yet

There were accessories:

(clockwise from top left) Birch shawl, FLK socks (two pairs, though the second pair isn't visible yet because my husband was wearing them today), Glacier Hat (in three sizes!), Floe shawl, Hot Mess Headband, and Prewitt socks

It's so satisfying to look at them all together like that; a year's worth of knitting.  As previously mentioned, I didn't make my end-of-year deadline for twelve sweaters, but the neck pain is gone and I'm knitting again, so will keep plugging away.  I'm thisclose to finishing the zipper on Killybegs and rethinking the sleeves on Montview. 

Part of the reason I started this blog was to motivate me to finish things, and it seems to have worked, as I managed to get tons of projects off the needles, out of the stash, or rescued from nearly-finished-purgatory.  I also have quite a few useful and warm pieces to use, which is always super exciting. 

I hope 2018 will be as productive!  I will be taking on a new project for 2018, which I will tell you about next week.

FO: True Friend Sweater

I'm not entirely sure what to call my True Friend Sweater...I did use three colours instead of two, switching to white when I ran out of blue, so maybe some three-based pun?  I've got it -- the Striking Sweater, because of the sharpness of the colours and the memorability of it.

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In the meantime, this sweater is done!  While I wouldn't call it a quick knit, it was certainly quick to finish -- no seams to be seamed, just ends to be woven in and a dead-serious blocking.  I thought up some questions that I think I should ask myself after every major project:

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1.  What did you learn from knitting this?

I learned that I can put together two cables from my interchangeable needle set to make an extra-long circular needle, and I also learned that I wished I could put together all three to make an extra-extra-long circular needle!  My goodness, there were so many stitches once I started knitting in the around, and they only increase as you go.

I learned that my unknown fibre is probably wool, because it really, really smells like wool when it's wet.

I learned that if I want to get something done quickly, I should pick a project with as little finishing as possible, since that's where I get bogged down.  The knitting is fun and gets done relatively fast; the finishing, not so much.

I also tried, probably for the first time, piercing the yarn when I was weaving in ends (rather than just kind of duplicate stitching) and I think that worked really well.

The last thing, I think, is that I should have a pen or pencil in every project bag, so that it's easy for me to make notes.  I didn't take good enough notes with this sweater.  For example, when I did the ribbing at the bottom hem, I didn't write down how many rows, and I didn't write down which bind-off method I used, so the bottom hem doesn't really match the cuffs well.  I acknowledge this is a very minor point, and no one will ever notice but me, but it does bother me and could have been avoided.  At least the two cuffs match each other, since I took good notes with the first one -- it would be way more noticeable if they didn't.

2.  Would you knit this pattern again?

I'm not sure I would knit this particular sweater again, as it's so distinctive that I don't think I need another, but I would consider knitting another sweater in fingering-weight yarn, and also another sweater by the same designer.  The pattern wasn't long, but it also wasn't short on salient details, and the construction is so, so clever.

3.  How will you wear your new sweater?

I think over black leggings or skinny jeans?  It's just a teeny bit too short to wear with leggings (at least at my age) so I think I'll have to do it with thicker pants.

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Year of Sweaters Tally:  7 (I'm so happy to have this done but eep, I'd better get knitting!)

FO: Hot Mess Headband

After digging in on so many sweater projects this year, I'd really forgotten how nice it is to have smaller, instant-gratification project finished.  So little knitting, so little finishing; a quick knit.

When I was knitting this, I thought the "hot mess" part referred to the way the headband looks right after you finish the cable in the middle.  Mine kept wanting to twist back to its original orientation, essentially looking like the backside of a cable with no stitches on either side to keep it in place.  In fact, and I don't know what came over me, I had to take three runs at the cable before I managed to get it right -- chalk it up to the sheer size (I've never done a 12x12 cable before) and the fact that it's an isolated twist, with nothing to hold it in place immediately.  So if at first you don't succeed, curse and rip out and try again.

Other than a few cable troubles, this was a very quick (two-evening) project.  I used needles one size smaller than recommended, and I made mine 2 stitches wider to try to compensate.  I also, if I weren't so excited to just get started, I would have realized that I should have done a provisional CO so I could do a three-needle bind-off at the end (easy peasy and clean-looking!).  Instead, I did a long-tail CO at the beginning, a suspended BO at the end, and then a neat-o crochet slip chain to seam it at the end.  Relatively painless, but a bit bulkier than I'd like.  Also for next time, I think the band could be 1 inch smaller in circumference, to better fit my head.  Overall, though, I'm very happy with my new headband.  When are you going to start yours?

FO: Pixie Hat

My coordinating set is finally complete!  I made two hats for myself and O last year, using up scraps of yarn (I mean, colourblocking), and I did the Adult Small size of PurlBee's Garter Stitch Hat for both.  I did also make one for H with leftover Madeline Tosh yarn, but it was too small (I think it was the baby size?).  So, because she really wanted in on the pokey-uppy hat (LOL, you have to love three-year-olds!) game, I made her one in the Kid size, in (what else?) pink and purple (sorry, Mallow and Rhubarb).  I'm still working and working on my sweaters, but I realized I need to have a small project going at all times so I can knit in the tiniest moments. 

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The yarn was leftovers in my stash, of the dearly defunct Mission Falls 1824 Wool variety.  I don't think I realize before how lovely this yarn is!  I had knitted and frogged it a couple of times, and it still knitted up beautifully; it was springy and lofty, with a smooth hand.  A couple of evenings of visiting with the in-laws and boom!  One new hat, one happy girl (though I can't say the candy had nothing to do with it):

Sweater Nine, Installment Two: Toddler Surprise Jacket

I've given this sweater a promotion to Toddler Surprise Jacket, given how big it turned out.  It's not overly proportional (the sleeves seem a bit short and wide) but it will work as a jacket over a long-sleeve tee, in the spring and fall.  It somehow feels appropriate, since the weather's been a bit gloomy and cool for the last couple of days.

I had a big burst of productivity the last couple of days, and I finished seaming (fun!), weaving in (super fun!) and sewing on the buttons (funnest of all!).  Check out that beautiful shoulder seam (in the third picture above), which is the only seam in the sweater.  It's a bit tricky to seam the side of a garter stitch piece to a cast-on edge, but I think it came out looking and sitting well.

I think the colour scheme came together nicely, and H seems to like it.  Ah, toddler models: she gave me a wealth of wonderful poses to choose from, ranging from tongue out to get-me-out-of-here face, LOL. 

Best thing of all, one more sweater finished! 

Year of Sweaters Tally:  6

Sweater Eight, Installment Two: Hawkherst

From a non-wearable object to a finished object in just a few days!  Actually it took longer, because according to my notes, I finished this sweater last August.  It wasn't until this week that I tinked back the sleeves and made a decision. 

It turned out that ripping back and moving the colourwork band at the wrists higher up (toward the shoulders) would leave like two inches between the colourwork bands on the sleeves; in short, they would look strangely close together, and the spacing wouldn't even come close to mimicking the spacing of the bands on the body.  So my reknitting job became even faster: all I had to do was rip back and finish the sleeves with a ribbing band.  It actually took longer to rip out than it did to finish the knitting, as I had already woven in (but not cut, crucially!) all the ends, but in the end I finished it in a few evenings.  And....voila: my finished, wearable, perfect-sleeve-length Hawkherst!

 Isn't the inside pretty too?

Isn't the inside pretty too?

Year of Sweaters Tally:  5 (a little behind schedule, but I'm not worried)

FLK Socks Are Done!

How was your long weekend? 

I finished the FLK socks on the July long weekend and O has been wearing them.  I can't recommend the pattern enough:  the heel itself is fun and easy to knit, and not fiddly at all, and the designer, Patty, includes a great guide for sizing socks.  There is also not a single gap or hole around the heel!  This was also my first pair of socks using Judy Becker's Magic Cast-On (funny enough, I haven't been able to make Judy's version work for me, so I use Andrea Rangel's slightly different version), which creates a seamless, graftless, provisional-cast-on-less toe that fits very well.  I'm so happy with how these socks turned out and they were very easy and fun to knit (because I love doing tons of stockinette -- no, really!).

O gamely modeled the socks for me out at his parents' farm.  He says they fit "like a glove," which I hope is a compliment (given that they're socks),  and I've started on a second pair for him, using the same pattern. 

Crocheted Spring Bunting

I had started this project when H was a baby, and it was intended to decorate her crib.  Greater sense prevailed when I realized that what looked like a cute bunting to me would look like a fabulous thing to wrap around a neck to an infant.  She used to be very into wrapping things around her neck -- maybe some sort of desire to swaddle?  In any case, I shelved the bunting until today, when H found it and wanted it to hang up in her room.  The colours make me think of spring, so I finished off the bunting and up it went!

As far as I recall, I didn't use a pattern.  All I did was crochet some granny square triangles (like these) in different colours of DK-weight cotton from my stash, and then I joined them by making a chain, single-crocheting across the top of a triangle, and doing two chain stitches before single-crocheting across the top of the next triangle.  I also made sure to crochet over the ends as I went -- being able to bury ends as you go like this is one of the things I love about crocheting.

H is very happy with the bunting, and it does add some flea-market-y cheer to her room and is an excellent way to use up scraps of cotton yarn.

Sweater Four, Installment Two: Rainbow Stripe Sweater

I got so caught up in knitting this sweater that I forgot to take progress pictures!  It's a really simple stitch and the pattern isn't overly complicated.   

The bottom hem is rolling quite a bit -- I know this is normal with stockinette, but do you know any super-secret knitting ninja tips for solving this problem?  Maybe it's just a feature of the fabric I have to accept and design around. 

Incidentally, I started with two skeins, and knit the gauge swatch and body from one skein, and the arms and yoke from the second.  Now I'm left with two balls, which are almost exactly the same weight (within one gram of each other; I am not an ex-lab nerd for nothing).  This is something that could help me estimate yardage requirements for bottom-up yoke or raglan sweaters: the body uses just slightly less yarn than do the arms and yoke.  I wonder if this is really a rule, as in, does it scale up when you are making a larger sweater?

H is pretty excited to wear this sweater, and I made it big enough to fit next fall/winter, but we'll still have a few cool days this spring where she can wear it. 

I'm writing up the pattern now and will release it here and on Ravelry as soon as I can.  It will be just in the 2- to 3-year-old size for now, but I hope to develop more sizes later and expand the pattern. 

Year of Sweaters Tally: 3

Bottom-Up Birch Shawl

I found this UFO in my craft room on Sunday, and realized it was nearly done!  I don't even remember when I started working on this shawl.  I always did like the look of Sharon Miller's Birch but the idea of casting on 300-some stitches in a fine, slippery yarn gave me nightmares.  Susan Gutperl's helpful recipe was really a gift to my sanity.

In any case, it looks like I had used up a full ball, and then, for some reason, declined to start on the second.  I looked at the lace and figured out where I had left off, then attached the second ball and continued knitting, intending to finish that second ball.  After one repeat, though, I realized it was taking me FOREVER to finish a row (there are 28 repeats in that last row) and the shawl is already almost a blanket -- I mean, the shawl is big enough.  So, I decided to bind off, using the elastic bind-off for stretchiness, and now I have a FO instead of a UFO!  Yay me :)

 Lace pattern close up

Lace pattern close up