Sweater Seven, Installment Five: Alafoss

Or, Hard Graft

So I had the sweater all done, but then I got O to try it on and it was too long in the body and the sleeves.  Instead of ripping and reknitting, I decided to be clever and cut the sweater apart:  I cut the body and sleeves from the yoke, ripped out as much as I needed to to make it the right length, and then tried to graft together what I had.  For some reason, I ended up with a whole bunch of extra stitches in the yoke, and so I ran out of stitches to graft after I had gone the whole way around.  Argh...

Surprisingly for me, because I haven't always been so fond of Kitchener stitch, the grafting itself went pretty well -- it blended right in, anyway, and it wasn't obvious where I had grafted, which means the tension must have matched pretty well.

After months of gnashing my teeth and trying to forget about it, I finally ripped out all the grafting, ripped out all the body and the sleeves, leaving only the yoke; I then steamed the yarn to get the kinks out (this is an amazing trick, by the way) and rewound it into balls.  I started on the live stitches at the bottom of the yoke and am now knitting the sweater from the top down, which is what I should have done in the first place.

Alafoss9.jpg

I kind of thought, when I started, that I should knit in the traditional way -- that is, from the bottom up.  But now, given how superior an experience it is to knit a sweater from the top down, I think I'm going to modify anything else I knit.

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.

Schnee8.jpg

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. 

Schnee7.jpg

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

Sweater Twelve, Installment One: Lizzie

1.  What's the pattern?

Lizzie, by Julie Weisenberger (from Cocoknits Sweater Workshop).  You can follow along with my progress here.

2.  Which yarn did you choose?

I'm destashing!  Four skeins of Cascade 220 Paints in Red Mix.  It's not quite enough yardage for a full sweater in my size, but with a top-down pattern, I can stop the sleeves whenever I run out.

3.  What size are you making?

I'm making the second size, which is a medium, and supposedly will fit me with a tiny bit of negative ease.

4.  Any modifications?

My gauge is slightly off, but I'm waiting to try on the sweater and see if it will matter.

5.  Would you knit this again?

Yes, definitely!  In fact, I did the yoke twice (my gauge was off and it was too tight the first time), and the second time was much easier going, as I'd already learned the techniques and figured out how the pieces were going to come together to make a sweater.  Also easier because the gauge wasn't as tight, and so things like picking up stitches became easier.

 You can see the clips holding the collar to the back neck, and the pick-up line for the shoulder, as well as the top of the sleeve cap (over on the left side)

You can see the clips holding the collar to the back neck, and the pick-up line for the shoulder, as well as the top of the sleeve cap (over on the left side)

Knitting Sleeves on Top-Down Sweaters

How was your Halloween?  It was a snowy one here:

Halloween2017.jpg

Apparently this isn't unusual for Edmonton, according to my MIL, but I don't remember a snowy Halloween since I moved here (in 2004).

I'm in the midst of two top-down sweaters, and while I always enjoy doing the body knitting, I really, really, really dread the sleeves.  You're knitting a small circumference in the round, which means DPNs, and the multiple points of the DPNs are constantly getting caught in the body of the sweater.  The sweater yoke and body is heavy, and keeps pulling on the sleeves, which is also a nuisance.  And, probably the thing I hate the most, knitting in the round means the body is constantly twisting and needs to be untwisted, so every couple of rounds you have to lift this terrible heavy thing and let it untwist.

First-world problems, I know, and luckily Karen Templer at Fringe Association has a few good ideas.  First, knitting the sleeves before you've done most of the body.  And, come to think of it, there's no real drawback to doing this.  You are probably already confident the yoke part fits anyway, and if it doesn't, it's as much work to frog the body as it is to frog the sleeves.  And her second is to knit the sleeves flat.  This way, you're not turning the sweater around and around, having to untwist it.  The only "drawback" is a seam to sew at the end, but it could be worth it because the knitting of the sleeves themselves won't be so awkward.  It's a bit too late for me to try these ideas on my True Friend sweater, as I'm on the cuff of the first sleeve, but I'm going to give knitting flat a go with my Schnee sweater (I'm about to cast off for the body). 

Free Pattern Friday: Herringbone Sweater

It's not often you find sweater patterns for free, and from so experienced a designer as Erika Knight, no less.

Perfect for wearing while gazing across a lake, the Irish breeze blowing through your beard, the Herringbone Sweater features a graphic pattern produced by a jacquard stitch (am I the only one who had to look that up?).  The black-and-white colour scheme is perfect, though I could see it done in cream and dark brown as well, and I betit's a thick, warm sweater.  It's on the advanced side (see instructions like "Join right shoulder with invisible stitch" and "sew sleeves into armholes to fit" -- literally, that is it) but with a good knitting reference book and a quiet nook, one could probably make it work.

Images from Olann and

Slip Sliding Away: Slippery Yarns

I am currently knitting True Friend with some incredibly slippery yarn.  Allegedly wool, though I can't be sure as I can't read the labels (in Chinese) and the slipperiness is really making me doubt my original judgment on the wool content (which, admittedly, was just guesswork to begin with). 

I got myself into a bit of a pickle when I was dragging the project around, not being careful enough.  I had the working end coming from the center, and the outside of the slippery, slippery skein started unravelling.  The two ends tangled, and I spent precious knitting time picking the ends apart and winding them back up.

 The offending ball...

The offending ball...

So that got me thinking about ways to hold together a center-pull ball made of slippery yarn.  Someone makes mesh "yarn bras" (I don't know why that term makes me shudder so much) which are basically like the mesh that fruits and vegetables come in.  I've done a DIY yarn bra; I find the one from a three-packof garlic is the right size for a typical yarn ball.  It worked well but the mesh started getting holes after a while (for what it's worth, the ones that you can buy look more robust than my DIY ones) and also the plastic mesh is slippery and can let the yarn free.  I've also seen people use old pantyhose -- you could just cut the foot off an old pair with runs (as an aside, is there anything you can't do with old pantyhose? https://thesecretyumiverse.wonderhowto.com/how-to/18-awesome-ways-reuse-old-pantyhose-0138241/ https://www.rd.com/home/cleaning-organizing/pantyhose-uses/ http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/20-interesting-household-uses-for-old-nylon-hose-stockings-212234).  And my last idea was a zip-top bag, with the zip unzipped just enough to let the working end of the yarn through.  And the ball inside the bag could twist and turn as much as it wants.  So far I've settled for winding the outside end very firmly around the middle of the center-pull ball, tucking it in tightly, and being very careful when I manipulate the ball.

Dreaming of Fall Knits, Part Five: Rowan Journeyman

Journeyman is a new collection of knits for men by Martin Storey.  Standard stuff:  a scarf, a hat, a cabled sweater, a hoodie, a shawl-collared sweater -- check, check, check.  Are knitwear designers just giving men the standard stuff they want, or are men just stuck with more tame designs than women are?  It could be that designers are, by and large, female, and designers are, by and large, most comfortable designing for the bodies they know (i.e. women's bodies).  At least the colour story in this collection is a bit livelier than most of the fall collections!  And hey, there's nothing wrong with standard; check out Dean, Heston, and McQueen, some of my favourites from this collection, below.

All images by Rowan

Free Patterns and New Trend: Granny Square Sweaters

I've been knitting pretty furiously on two sweaters and a pair of socks, but I have very few exciting WIP pictures to show.  That's mostly because I'm in the most tedious part of both sweaters, where you're adding length but not doing any exhilarating shaping or anything.  I probably should have planned it a bit better; had one boring sweater with minimal shaping and one with more things going on (like cables or lace, maybe) to keep my mind busy.  Maybe a sweater like one of these?

That's the Campfire Cardigan from Make & Do Crew and Lana Red Studio's diy granny square sweater.

I love, love, love how in both of these patterns, the designers have taken a flat, blocky shape (the granny square) and turned it into something fitted and wearable.  I'm also very inspired by the colour stories in both sweaters, though they've very different from each other.  Thinking about weaving in all the ends gives me a headache, though.  And other than weaving the ends, I think it would also be pretty fast to crochet one of these, since a granny square has so much negative space in it.  Maybe I can start a new trend in granny square clothing...

Images from Make & Do Crew and Lana Red Studio

Sweater Eleven, Installment One: True Friend

1.  What's the pattern?

True Friend, by Veera Välimäki; from the pattern collection Interpretations Vol. 2.  I found this pattern by using Ravelry and searching for a sweater pattern using a fingering-weight yarn in multiple colours, and the pictures on Ravelry are so striking!  It's an oversize sweater, fitted at the shoulders but loose nearer the bottom hem, with a most interesting construction method.  And check out some of the colour combinations in the projects on Ravelry!

 Image by Jonna Jolkin

Image by Jonna Jolkin

2.  Which yarn did you choose?

I'm trying to destash some yarn I bought in China nearly 10 years ago (eep!).  I was really into making colourwork mittens then, so I stocked up on this quite nice stuff in four colours (two balls each), but then my enthusiasm waned because of the fiddliness.  So I don't have enough of one colour to make a sweater, but putting all the balls together, I think I have enough yardage.  I'd better have enough yardage, LOL.  I'm not even a hundred percent sure of the fibre composition for the yarn as I can't read Chinese characters.  It does say 100% something, and it also features the Woolmark logo, as well as a picture of a ram. 

My MC is red, my CC is blue, and also likely white when I run out of blue.

3.  What size are you making?

I'm making the medium (the third size), because I was too excited to gauge swatch.  I probably should have swatched, because some of the sweater is knit flat and some in the round, and my gauge is never the same with both.  If I swatched, I could change needle size to get the correct gauge in the different portions, but excitement won out over good sense.  I am hoping the oversize nature of the sweater will compensate for any difference in gauge I may have, but I think I will be lucky if this sweater turns out to fit in some capacity.

Not many so far -- I have plans to use three colours rather than two, because I am limited by the quantities of yarn in my possession, but so far I haven't reached the point where I've had to incorporate a third colour.

5.  Would you knit this again?

I really think this is worth answering twice, the first time when I'm in the beginning stages, and the second when I'm staring at a finished object.  So far, I am loving this pattern, but knitting a fingering-weight sweater, never mind an oversize one, is nearly as large an undertaking as a Ph.D. thesis (trust me, I speak from experience).  At this stage, the answer is probably not, even though I'm having fun knitting it.

Sweater Ten, Installment Two: Schnee

I made some progress on this last week, while on the road to Jasper and to Mount Robson.  I've finished all the shoulder shaping (lovely short rows!).  It's a seamless top-down sweater:  you cast on stitches and knit the back to the bottom of the armholes, then pick up stitches for each of the fronts and knit each of those down to the bottom of the armholes, and then you join everything together on the longest and strongest circular that you have, shape the armpits, and continue to knit the body down to the bottom hem. 

Schnee4.jpg

That's where I'm at now; in the endless moss stitch of the body.  The sweater is getting pretty heavy, though having it on a circular helps -- I can't imagine doing a sweater like this on straights!  Wool isn't even a particularly heavy fibre, but altogether I've put, I think, 2.5 balls into it so it feels pretty heavy.  And, though it may not look so in the pictures, the semi-solidness of the yarn is becoming more apparent the more I knit, which is nice.  

Schnee5.jpg

In the picture above, I tried an easy way to keep track of the decreases at the armpit; I took out one locking marker per pair of decreases, and then attached that marker to the decrease as I did it.  That way, I couldn't forget how many I'd done and how many I had left to do, and it would be really obvious if I forgot a decrease.  I've seen this tip other places but haven't tried it until now, though I think I will continue to use it.  This would be super handy for any shaping, like for a sleeve, or armhole, or waist shaping, or even on a hat.  I recently bought these Clover locking stitch markers http://www.clover-usa.com/en/knitting-and-crochet/140-locking-stitch-marker.html  and I love them; they're sharp-tipped and smooth, and, as with all Clover tools, really nice to use.  You don't even need anything fancy to do this, though.  Safety pins would work, though I'd be careful with the coiled kind.  Even a paperclip would work, if you're careful. 

Sweater Ten, Installment One: Schnee

1.  What's the pattern?

Schnee, by Suvi Simola; a top-down oversized, long, drop-shoulder, moss-stitch cardigan.  If Google isn't failing me, "schnee" is the German word for snow.  Appropriate for a white winter sweater, textured with moss stitch (which reminds me a bit of snow; even in texture as your eye goes across the surface but not completely flat). 

 Photo credit: Suvi Simola

Photo credit: Suvi Simola

It's going swimmingly so far.  The pattern has you knit the back, shaping with short rows, then pick up stitches and knit the right front and left front (shaping each with short rows).

There are well-thought-out diagrams and a lot of explanation in the pattern, so I never got lost or had to rip.  I know it makes for a much, much longer pattern, but I really appreciate when the designer includes a high level of detail.  It means the knitter doesn't have to do as much guessing and the finished product is more likely to turn out the way the designer intended.  And if, as a knitter, you want to make modifications, more details give you more ways to know how and where to modify the pattern.

The designer also developed the pattern for a dizzying array of sizes, which I appreciate.  It's not that I would necessarily need to make more than one size, but it is an indication, to me, of how much the designer thought through the grading in the pattern.

2.  Which yarn did you choose?

I didn't go with the yarn the pattern calls for; I picked out a different yarn and colour for this sweater (Black Plum, in Sweet Georgia's Superwash DK), though sometimes I wish I had done it in white or cream, because the sample sweater is so pretty.  I'm really not a white-clothes kind of person, though.  Anything light-coloured that I wear inevitably ends up with tomato sauce or juice stains on it.

Schnee1.jpg

I bought the yarn online, and it looked very semi-solid in people's Ravelry pictures.  When it arrived I was a bit disappointed: the skeins, and also the swatches that I knit, look more solid than semi-solid.  Now that I'm partway through the sweater and partway through a couple of skeins, though, I'm happier because it does look way less solid.

3.  What size are you making?

The designer recommends 10" of positive ease, so I'm knitting the 46" bust size. 

4.  Any modifications?

My row gauge is off from the designer's, but not much, so I'm basically knitting the pattern as is.  I've done the first part of the back and the two fronts, then joined them, and now I'm knitting the body to the bottom hem. 

5.  Would you knit this again?

I'm not sure I need another cardigan like this; I hope this one lasts me a long time.  That said, oversized wool cardigans definitely come in handy, so...we'll see in a year or two, I guess.  Depends how much this one actually gets worn.

Based on how well the pattern is written, though, I would definitely knit another of Suvi's designs.  I'm already eyeing up her Leap Year Cardigan, Rhilea, and Color Your Shawl.

You can follow along with my progress on Ravelry.

Sweater Two, Installment Four: Montview

So close to the finish on this one!  Seaming is done, weaving in is done, sweater is blocked, buttons and snaps are purchased.

I had actually never seamed reverse stockinette stitch before this sweater.  I was reading a book of Deborah Newton's and she said that as seaming reverse stockinette often produces an unattractive "gutter" at the seam, she will do a stitch or two in stockinette at the edge, in order to have neater seams.  I did only read this after I'd finished all the knitting for Montview, but am keeping it in mind for my next non-stockinette sweater.

Since I didn't do any stockinette edge stitches, I had to seam reverse stockinette.  I found some excellent tips from Twist Collective (article in PDF format here) and in Arenda Holladay's article here.  The latter article instructs you to seam every row (unlike when you're mattress-stitching stockinette stitch and can seam two rows at a time), so that all the rows align correctly, while the Twist Collective article says to seam two rows at a time.  I ended up cheating a little bit, especially when easing the sleeves into the armholes (where the rows don't line up exactly because of the curves), but it looks good, overall.  Nothing anyone would notice anyway, wink wink. 

Weaving in the ends was pretty straightforward but it was strange sensation to be weaving ends into stockinette (as reverse stockinette is the public side of this sweater's fabric).  I always felt like I was wrongly weaving ends into the "right" side of the sweater, funnily enough.

I then wet-blocked.  The yarn I used on the collar was unwound from another sweater, and as I failed to wash it before knitting, it was pretty kinky and the knit fabric rumply.  So I wet-blocked by soaking (in warm water and wool wash), rolling between two towels to press out all the water, and then drying it on foam mats for, like, a week.  I'm not even joking; it took that many days to dry completely and my craft room smelled like a wet sheep for that long.  I think I have to change up my blocking method a bit, maybe press out a water a second time, with a dry towel, or maybe try steam-blocking.  I do like how crisply it dries with wet-blocking, though, and it's so easy to reshape when it's wet.

I do have to put in a set of snaps, and then a set of non-functional.  I think I'll do the snaps first, then the buttons over the snaps.  If you can believe it, I put buttons on my first couple of finished baby sweaters (lo these many years ago) with the yarn I knitted with.  I laugh now at how naive I was, struggling to pull thick yarn through the tiny holes of buttons!  I use sewing thread now, tying off with as many knots as I can manage, and the sewing goes much more smoothly.  I can't say I always do the neatest job, but the sewing is usually concealed under the button anyway.

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

Year of Twelve Sweaters Update

And I have four works in progress that I've discussed:

Montview

Killybegs

Alafoss

Toddler Surprise Jacket

As well as one more still in progress , which I haven't blogged about because it's a design I'm working on.

Of the four still in progress, Montview, Killybegs, and the Toddler Surprise Jacket should be relatively quick to finish, while I may be reknitting Alafoss entirely.  I am challenging myself to completely finish those three sweaters before I can start a new one.  If I finish them by the end of August, that will put me 2/3 of the way to my goal of knitting twelve sweaters , which puts me right on track (assuming one sweater per month). 

I'm thinking I will knit Schnee and finish up a Tomten.  Along with the design I'm working on, that will take me to twelve.

And when this is all over, I will have to pick a new project for 2018.  Year of Sock Yarn, anyone?  I was thinking I could aim for twelve projects with sock yarn.  Likely mostly shawls and socks (which is all I seem to want to knit now that I've committed to finishing twelve sweaters this year!), assuming my hands don't cramp up and fall off in 2017.  I've got so many ideas for yearly projects, I could keep going for a while.  A year of Elizabeth Zimmermann (twelve EZ projects), a year of new techniques (twelve projects, each incorporating a technique I've never done before), a year of shawls, a year of socks, a year of hats (hats are so fast that I would have to make at least 24 hats in a year), a year of cables...I'm drooling just thinking about so much knitting!

Sweater Nine, Installment One: Baby Surprise Jacket

I started this a couple of weeks ago, to have something to knit while travelling and visiting, and also to use up some scraps.  It's progressed so quickly that I have hardly had time to blog about it, and now here I am about to weave in the ends and seam up.  It's just that fast! 

First, the pattern:  this is Elizabeth Zimmermann's classic Baby Surprise Jacket http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/baby-surprise-jacket knitted in aran weight yarns.  I can't say enough good things about this pattern, though this is surprisingly my first time knitting it in garter stitch, the way it was written.  I've tried the stockinette version before (some Ravelers have kindly posted their modifications) but it's just not the same.  I'm knitting from the version in The Opinionated Knitter https://www.schoolhousepress.com/the-opinionated-knitter.html  (a delightful book, by the way; it makes you feel like EZ is right there, knitting without looking at her work.  It is funny how much a pattern written in the '60s elides, though: no notes about methods for casting on,  binding off, or picking up stitches, few about increases and decreases, not a lot of detail about row counting (only "ridge" counting) and finishing.  One can figure it out, and it always turns out fine, but going from knitting with contemporary sweater patterns that number in the tens of pages to an older pattern on a single page is a bit jarring.

Second, the yarns:  I am combining Brown Sheep's Lamb's Pride Worsted http://www.ravelry.com/yarns/library/brown-sheep-lambs-pride-worsted (a nice solid single, in turquoise and brown) and Stitch Nation's Full O' Sheep http://www.ravelry.com/yarns/library/stitch-nation-by-debbie-stoller-full-o-sheep (a fuzzier, less compact single, in pink).  The colours don't go too badly together, right?  I was just going to do the turquoise and brown at first, but then I was running out so I added in the pink to make up the yardage. 

 The ends from stripes before weaving in -- like fringe, no?

The ends from stripes before weaving in -- like fringe, no?

Third, the size:  I think because this pattern is written in garter stitch, and because it's so square, it (roughly) works to upsize by changing to thicker yarn and appropriately thicker needles.  I ended up with a pretty large gauge, and I think the resulting sweater will fit H (a newly minted three-year-old, thank you very much).  It's definitely not a baby size, which is fine, because H has already claimed it, tried it on, and told everyone in the vicinity that I'm knitting her a sweater.

 Isn't the "wrong" side as pretty as the public one?

Isn't the "wrong" side as pretty as the public one?

Fourth, modifications:  I did a lot of guessing and adding my own ideas only because the pattern isn't too specific.  I used a long-tail cast-on (my usual) and a suspended bind-off from the right side (this looks neat and holds the garter stitch well).  I mirrored my increases and decreases around a center stitch, and I'm planning to use mattress stitch for the shoulder seams.   I put the buttonholes on the right side and made six (instead of five, as the pattern says), and H will get to pick out some buttons pretty soon.  I'm not sure how I'll finish the neckline yet; it looks pretty rough so I think I'll have to do something. 

 Mitered gloriousness

Mitered gloriousness

Fifth, knitting this pattern again: I would absolutely knit this again; it's quick and satisfying.  And such a good way to use scraps!  It's also a bit boxy, so I'm brainstorming ways to make the increases a little less brutal.  I also like the ribbed cuff I saw on some Rav versions.  I really like the look of applied i-cord that I saw on Ravelry, so I might do that on my next one (an applied i-cord neckline edging with an i-cord bind-off along the front and bottom edges.  I am also thinking about knitting an adult-size one for myself, but it is really boxy, especially in the sleeves, and I'm not sure it will get a lot of wear.

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)

Sweater Eight, Installment One: Hawkherst

I finished this sweater last August, according to my notes, but when I tried to wear my Hawkherst sweater last winter the sleeves are too long.  I'm going to have to modify them, and I just need to figure out the best way to do it.  The body was knit and the shoulders seamed, and then the sleeve stitches were picked up and knit in the round down to the wrists.  I can't decide if I should just rip back past the first colourwork band, or if I should rip back past the second colourwork band; the first option has the advantage of being faster, because it will take less work, but the second is, more "proper" in that I think the end product will look better.  If I know my habits, though, and I think I do, the colourwork bands were so fiddly and annoying that if I rip back all the way to the pick-up row at the shoulders, I am very unlikely to ever re-knit the sleeves again.

So my options are a sweater that is not perfect but is wearable with less work, or a sweater that will be perfect and wearable in the end but that I may never end up finishing.  What would you choose?

Sweater Seven, Installment Four: Alafoss

To add to the story from the last post about Alafoss, I discovered after I had crunched all the numbers that the pattern repeat for the second colourwork band in the yoke wouldn't fit neatly into the number of stitches I was told to decrease to!  I would have had a fraction of a snowflake at the end of the round, which would be really obvious and which I knew would annoy me. 

So, I had to first figure out the correct number of stitches I needed to have to fit a whole number of pattern repeats around the yoke, and then I had to figure out the new "decrease evenly across rnd" scheme based on the new number of stitches.  Luckily, it worked out to something nice and easy, but man, did I ever do a ton of math on this yoke.   I also ended up reknittingthe first few rows of the snowflake band a few times, which was a bit annoying.  I still really like the pattern, but I am definitely going to document this on Ravelry so that others won't have the same troubles.  Note to self: consult Ravelry before you start a pattern, not after you're having troubles.   

The body and sleeves turned out a bit long because the yoke ended up long as well, so I devised a way to shorten them without reknitting:  I unjoined the sleeves and body from the yoke, ripped out the extra rows, and then grafted them back with Kitchener stitch.  I thought I was being sooooo clever, and I even neatly took apart the sweater and put each piece on a different needle.

This turned out to be, like, the worst idea ever.  I am still trying to figure out where I went wrong and how I should have done it, but in grafting, I am at the end of the yoke and sleeve stitches and have 24 extra stitches on the body!  If it were two or three extra stitches, I could probably find a place to hide them, but twenty.  Freaking.  Four!!  So frustrating.  So now Alafoss is cowering in the corner while I try to figure out what to do: unpick all the grafting (which took me three hours), of course, and either re-knit everything from the top down, or rejig the grafting and see if I can somehow get the stitch count to match.  And, as a very last resort, I could always convince O to grow a hump on his back, kind of under his left armpit, where the lump in the sweater would be.

 Is it killing you how there are so many more stitches on the bottom needle than on the top needle?  Gives me the sads...

Is it killing you how there are so many more stitches on the bottom needle than on the top needle?  Gives me the sads...

Sigh...the things I go through in the name of good knitting.  Sad days for Alafoss,  you guys, but I'll sort it out eventually.

The Case of the Biasing Swatch

I thought I was all set!  I decided I wanted an oversized wool cardigan, and after browsing through Ravelry I settled on Schnee.  I bought the pattern and then started looking for wool, finally deciding on Sweet Georgia DK.  It's superwash, semi-solid, and comes in quite a few colourways.   What took me so long was picking a colour I don't really have in wardrobe but that I would wear often (in that it would go with most of the clothes I already own).  I am usually really attracted to turquoise and grey, so I already have a few sweaters in those colours.  I chose the Black Plum colourway, which I feel will go with all the grey and turquoise in my closet. 

When the yarn arrived from Urban Yarns (I had an order big enough to get free shipping, and they managed to squish an impressive amount of yarn into a plastic envelope), I started swatching right away.  That was probably a month ago, and I'm still swatching.  Granted, I've been working on other projects since then, but still...

So this is what happened.  The sweater is knit in moss stitch, so I decided to use that for my gauge swatch.  I started with 42 stitches across, all knit in moss stitch, and partway through I could see the swatch was biasing: the left edge was leaning conspicuously.  Never mind, I thought, it will all come out in the blocking, and I kept knitting.  When I bound off and the swatch was off the needles, it wasn't square -- in fact, it was distinctly trapezoidal. 

I wasn't sure whether the leaning, called biasing, was due to the yarn or to my knitting style, so because the edges were so distorted, and because I remembered Deborah Newton mentioning in one of her books that she usually does two stitches in stockinette at the edges (to make seaming easier, but in this case I thought it might also stabilize the knitted fabric), I tried another swatch in moss stitch, this time with two stitches at each of the left and right edges in stockinette.  As you can see below, it was still biasing -- less, than the first swatch, but still biasing!  I did a bit of Googling (Margaret Radcliffe has some good tips here) and found out that if your stitch pattern is balanced (i.e. made of knits and purls, like moss stitch is), and your knitted fabric is still biasing, it could be due either to the way you knit or to the yarn being unbalanced.  However, unbalanced twist in yarns is far, far more common with single-ply yarns, and since Sweet Georgia DK is a two-ply, I didn't think unbalanced twist in the yarn was the problem.  However, to make sure of this, I embarked on my third swatch: a plain stockinette swatch. 

The stockinette swatch, not surprisingly, turned out just fine and square, and so I had to conclude that it was my knitting habits that were causing the biasing.  Amy Herzog's blog post was instrumental in starting me down this avenue of thought.  Thus, I began a fourth swatch, in moss stitch, with two stitches in stockinette at the two side edges, and this time, I formed my stitches in a more consistent way. 

Miraculously (or maybe not, it's really just physics!), the fourth swatch came out square and neat, and right on-gauge.  All that time, it was the way I was knitting.

The swatch saga is complete!  This seems like such a cumbersome process, but I am discovering more and more that it's the work you put in before and after the actual knitting of the sweater that makes the biggest difference to the finished product.  It's a lot of work to knit so many swatches (and I think I'll have to frog them to have enough yarn to finish the sweater), but it's still less working than reknitting the sweater pieces.

A Year of Sweaters Surprise

I was hoping to have a finished Alafoss by now, but that project has stalled -- more on that debacle next week.  Instead, I bring you a different finished sweater, one that I had forgotten about.

I was going through my boxes (and boxes, and boxes) of WIPs when I found a baby kimono sweater, very nearly finished!  All it needed was to have the ends woven in and a button sewn on.  I started this sweater over three years ago, before H was born, and she's too big for itnow, but it will make a nice gift for someone else.  I used a bulky-weight cotton yarn, which was a bit of nightmare to knit with -- so splitty -- but looks pretty good now that the sweater is finished.  I also had been planning to put ribbon laces where I ended up putting the button, so I didn't make a buttonhole when I was knitting.  Since I didn't have ribbon to match and didn't feel like buying any, I chose a small button that I could just push through the knitting.

This is from a really nice free pattern; I've made it once before in a DK-weight yarn and will probably make it again.  I can't seem to find it on Ravelry, for some reason, but it's quite similar to this one.

So one episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine + about ten ends woven in + one button sewn on = one baby kimono!  Although I didn't do much knitting on this sweater this year, I'm counting this in my Year of Sweaters Tally as the goal was to get the sweaters into a wearable condition.

Year of Sweaters Tally: 4!