Category Archives: sweaters

Trusting the Process

Swatching is a bit part of knitting (and getting knitting right), and as such is a constant and necessary task. In fact, if I were to make my list of Times When Swatching Is Necessary, Nay, Imperative, I’d start with:

1. When you’re knitting with a yarn or stitch pattern that is new to you and you need to know how it behaves on your needles, particularly for gauge purposes.

Still, I continue to be more convinced than ever that swatching for gauge is almost beside the point. To wit:

2. When you really want to start the project but you don’t want/need to actually start the project yet. (See Sublist: Dealing with Startitis).

But most importantly for this week in my knitting life:

3. When you are knitting a stranded colourwork project in no fewer than 11 shades and stubbornly refuse to go with the pattern’s prescribed combination.

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This is all a roundabout way of saying I am swatching for Autumn Rose, and it’s all going wonderfully indecisively. For the last year I’ve been saying to myself I was going to start this sweater. I even flirted with the idea of making it for Rhinebeck last year, but the Cabled Swing Cardigan turned out so nicely and besides…there was the indecision.

I have more Knit Picks Palette fingering weight than one person reasonably needs, I could easily make three Autumn Roses in all different combinations, but deciding on a colour scheme has been what’s held me back the most. I started swatching for this project back sometime in late 2008, but knew there would need to be more swatches to come. (And yep, I’ve seen the other 3 suggested schemes put out by Knit Picks in the fall of 2008. Did I mention my stubbornness?)

So that brings us to this week, when I saw Elspeth queued up Autumn Rose on her Ravelry, I summarily harassed her about it, she threw down the gauntlet by stating this was going to be her 2009 Rhinebeck Sweater #1 (because yes, she makes more than one Rhinebeck sweater), and some sort of switch flipped in my brain and I knew I had to get back on this. Because Elspeth is a teeny tiny little person who also knits like the wind, and the thought of watching her zip through the (potential) sweater of my dreams while my yarn gathered more dust was just too much to handle.

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And so I am back to the swatching. I spent more hours than I would care to admit yesterday working on the swatches. It is true that there may have been some avoidance of the grading (oh god don’t make me face another stack of exams…aghldhlhglddlhgkl), but mostly I just want to decide on a frakking colour scheme already.

I’m close, I’m getting very close. I’m using, from the Palette arsenal, a collection of purples, reds, and greens, in what, in my head at least, calls up images of a beautiful art deco garden or stained glass window. It pains me to admit that there is going to need to be at least one more swatch before I can finally nail down a scheme. I think the final decision will be some combination of the two swatches above, but slightly more like the second of the two (also pictured here below). The lipstick pink in the bottom of the first swatch is right out, and the third will incorporate some further fine-tuning of the cross-hatching panel colours and the outer shades of the ‘rose’, and use the duller green in the top half of the second instead of the paler shade used in the bottom.

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And if you’ve followed me this far, allow me to pause for a moment and just say how much I love the brightness of the middle section. I could stare at it all day. It makes me think of sun shining through windows, which is not only attractive in a colourwork pattern but also very appropriate for something to knit in the spring. My term is inching towards being finished and I can just about see the respite at the end.

Respite which will, hopefully, be composed of knitting and not just swatching. And I bet that Elspeth already has her colours decided, Drat.

Onwards, yes? Yes.

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Filed under fair isle, swatching, sweaters

Sometimes you win

Every year when Roll up the Rim rolls around at Tim Horton’s, there are people who seem to win left right and centre. There are all sorts of people collecting up the donuts and coffees, taking home the cash…The caretaker in my office sat at a sports game a few rows behind a guy who won one of the few big screen TVs. Those little paper cups are tiny little potential goldmines of elation. Some people even collect them to redistribute to the homeless, and apparently there is much debate raging about whether British Columbia and Alberta have been unfairly advantaged in their odds of winning the grand prize.

Dudes, I don’t need a car, or a big screen TV. But the little tiny winning rim sure is bright and shiny when it happens. I got my first one in a few years yesterday, and will happily turn my coffee win into a nice free cup of tea:

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But let me tells ya, a free cup of anything is just about cause for celebration, as is the soothing mostly-stockinette of my Climbing Vines Pullover (zipping along nicely – another weekend should complete most of it). I’m on the homestretch of my heaviest teaching semester ever, and folks, I’m flagging. I’m close enough to look out and see the end, but not so close that I don’t still have lectures to write or that I can just imagine away the mountain of grading that still waits for me. It’s a long treadmill that will certainly be a little easier the next time I get on it, but still. No getting around it, I’m tired.

Me and my free cup of tea, we’re going to clutch the cheerful green Climbing Vines Pullover on the bus today, and add things to the “Things to do in April When I’m Done Teaching” list. It’s helping a lot.

What knits are you dreaming of? And have you ever rolled up the rim and won?
Happy Tuesday, my imaginary knitting friends – here’s hoping Friday comes soon!

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Filed under real life miscellaney, sweaters

Recommendable

I seem to recall that it was around this time last year that I was clinging to shades of blue and green. I remember I bought a skein of Socks That Rock from Lettuce Knit in those shades, and just sort of carried it around in my bag for a week, in case I needed to look at it. (If this is wrong, then I don’t ever want to be right).

There is something about the gradual process of March and digging one’s self out of the winter slog that flicks a sort of teal-shaded switch in my brain. I don’t think there is a better testament to the value of knitting than March. Around here there is the promise of spring down the road, the promise of growing things yet to come, but half-melted piles of snow are still lingering in shady corners and the grass is still matted and damp and trying to remember that it can grow, so if you want colour you had better get the knitting on it.

To wit:

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If there is a downside to Dream in Color yarn, I don’t want to know about it. The colours are gorgeous and the yardage goes for days and I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to know that I’m knitting a sweater that I won’t have to wait a day to let air-dry before I can wear it after washing.

Round about early February I was browsing on Robyn’s store and looking at her sales and something snapped. I grabbed up 5 skeins of Classy in Blue Lagoon (and okay fine 3 in Midnight Derby, shut up it’ll make a great fall vest), and it has been sitting there for a month waiting ever so patiently. It has been waiting, as it turns out, to be turned into the Climbing Vines Pullover. I’ve only been knitting this since Saturday but I’m almost done both sleeves and plan to start in on the body tonight. March will see a finished sweater if I have anything to say about it. The dark purple Mission Falls will have to wait a bit longer to be assembled into Bonnie, but I think it’s okay with that. Dark purple yarn is friendly that way.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to arrange my Dream in Color in a place where I can see it from my desk. You understand about that, right?

Happy Moan-day. Keep the knitting close by!

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Filed under stash, sweaters

It’s the hardest part

Not the knitting, not the bobbles, not the psychological stamina of getting through all the seaming and then remembering to still knit the sash…nope. The hardest part is waiting for the danged thing to dry so you can sew the buttons on already and call it a day.

Aran-weight wool sure is warm and toasty but after a hand-wringing and two towel rolls it still needs another day’s air dry. The Blooming Cardigan is almost there….

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Check out that hot bobble action.

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The next hardest part? Figuring out which sweater to knit next. It’s a good thing swatching fills that between-time nicely.

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One more knitting week left in February. Better make it count!

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Filed under finished object: sweater, swatching, sweaters

Serious Winter

Despite the fact that I tallied up several sweaters in 2008 and several of these are already in constant rotation in my wardrobe this winter, I just need to keep on knitting more. We’re in the third week of -It’s Too Cold to Be Cheerful Celsius and I’ve got sweater quantities of yarn in the stash that need some serious attention. Also, since casting off my Twist cardigan in November all I’ve been working on are socks and small things for gifts, so it’s definitely time to get back to sweaters.

I wasn’t paying too much attention to this Winter’s Interweave Knits, until I flipped through and realized that the Blooming Cardigan pattern was a perfect gauge match for the Wild Apple Hill Farm 100% wool that I purchased more of at Rhinebeck this past October. So once I cleared the deck of a few projects this January, on this went to the needles.

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The colour here is a bit greyer than reality, but the shade is a lovely heathery mix of purple and brown. Overall I’m hoping the finished cardigan will be a versatile piece that I could dress up or down, but I don’t mind admitting that my brain has more sweaters on the brain and I hope I can finish this piece quickly. The nosegay pattern is keeping it interesting for me since I have somehow managed to go over 4 years without knitting any bobbles, until now. Score one for learning a bit of new technique.

In an effort to add some psychological speed, I knitted the sleeves (all stockinette) first, and then cast on for the body all in one piece. This does make individual rows a little slower to progress, but in the long run I think it’ll be worth it. I’m looking forward to wearing it!

What sweater(s) are on your list this winter?

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Filed under sweaters

The Season of Stuff

‘Tis the season, right? For knitting things…and buying a few things…

I’ve always been a bit hesitant about sock clubs. On the one hand, there is the excitement and mystery of getting an unknown package in the mail; on the other hand, there is the element of risk. A trade-off between getting exactly what you want and the element of surprise. Well, at the end of October Robyn was advertising her ‘ultimate’ sock club kit for November as a more-than-usual sock club kit, and the idea of getting a whackload of stuff in the mail was enticing enough.

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Lo and behold, this is what arrived. It is indeed a whackload of stuff! All in all I think I call it a win, although I haven’t yet examined the patterns (these are all on the CD, interestingly enough). 3 skeins of yarn, 5 patterns, DPNs, 3 pairs of stitch markers, assorted treats…A fun pack to be sure. 2 of the 3 skeins of yarn are colour combinations I can use pretty easily…sadly the 3rd is too candy-electric for me so I might end up trading that one away. On the plus side, I like the tape measure and trinkets, and the tote bag is lovely and sturdy.

On the minus side, all of the DPNs are short 5-inch ones, which is a size I never use. I’ve stuck with sets of 4 7-inch straights my entire sock knitting life thus far and, well, it’s hard to change. I’ve tried the short ones in sets of 5 before but they’re just not for me. These might be for trading away also. My only other concern is that while the yarn is beautifully dyed I hadn’t expected all 3 skeins to come from the same dyer. Some variety there would shake things up a bit – after all, if you try one skein and the texture doesn’t suit you, it would be refreshing to have something different to turn to next.

So, there we have my latest foray into sock clubs. I do like the 1-month shot, I might try it again in a bit when I need some more mystery in my life. I look forward to contemplating these new stashlet additions.

And in other news…I’m swatching again. Just about on schedule given that this is about exactly what I was doing a year ago.

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I’m looking forward to see how these colours blend…and will be sure to report further as events unfold. And now, back to Wednesday! May your knitting be close by.

15 Comments

Filed under fair isle, stash, swatching, sweaters

Finishing things

The upside to a workday at home is that it is extremely easy to have a break to blog about your finished knitted things. The downside is the lack of photographers.

As a result, while I’d love to show you a fantasic Finished Object photo-shoot of my completed Twist Cardi (which has been patiently languishing for weeks while I finally went out and got buttons), the best I can show you is this:

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I’ll wrangle a photographer later, this sweater deserves better. It turned out very comfy and warm, more like a jacket than a cardi, which is what I intended. For this shot I did a public service and cropped out my blotchy face…shady winter light is not a friend to portraits…but I can report that the hood is lovely and functions well.

On the hat front, I did indeed manage to finish the Inga Hat of previous posting, with some extra yarn that reader Robyn handed off to me last week when I handed over her blog contest winnings from last month (other winners – your yarn is in the mail! Mea culpa. I don’t know why it takes me so long to get to the post office). But sadly it is indeed too long. The blocking for cloche-effect did actually work, but the crown still sits too high. I am going to try one last effort of ripping out the last 6-8 rows and sewing it up. If that doesn’t work…Well, then it’s a fair isle felted tea cosy for me.

But I did finally get to another hat, after perusing Ravelry and discovering the Norwegian Star Earflap Hat (Ravelry free download link) from Tiennie. This one worked. I did have to pull out the first attempt after a couple of inches once it was clear I needed to go down in needle size, but once I got the circumference worked out the rest was just fine. Thanks to the 2/3 of a skein of the same petal pink Patons, which just happened to be sitting in my stash from last year, I now have a hat to go with the gloves I finished a couple of weeks ago.

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I figure if you’re going to make the decision to make an earflap hat, you might as well go full tilt and add pompoms to the i-cord tassels. (A decision which I feel is validated by other Ravelry users doing the same thing). My only concern is that the combination of tassels and the pink shade may have resulted in a hat more suitable for someone closer to 13 than 30, but I’ll go with it for now. It’s warm, it fits, and I’ve got all winter to make Hat Attempt #3.

The pattern is very well written, and gives you 3 child circumferences and 3 adult circumferences, and is infinitely variable in colour combinations. Since the fair isle section is only 15 rows, it is easy to adjust length by adding or removing rows to the solid colour sections. I call this one a win.

Although I still have quite a bit of work to get done in the next few weeks, and a Mt-Everest-sized mountain of prep to do for next term, I’m very much looking forward to the fun parts of December. Knitting, baking, and hibernating ahoy!

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Filed under finished object: accessories, finished object: sweater, sweaters

Things November brings

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada, Armistice Day and Veteran’s Day elsewhere. I’ve got my poppy stuck on my sweater today and will try to fasten a second one to my coat as securely as possible before I dash out the door. So far I think I have managed to only lose one this season, though, so I’m doing pretty well on the poppy count. This morning I listened to the broadcast of the service from Ottawa and was reminded during the interview afterwards with Paul Gross that I have got to get out there and see Passchendale while it’s still there.

Remembrance Day is almost mid-November and it always makes me think of the weather of past seasons; I can recall past years when we’ve had snow on the ground at this point, and some that have required very little warm clothing at all. This year, though, the cold is starting to settle just above freezing, and the knitted accessories are going to have to come on out of hiding. I intend to start more hats and mittens asap…just as soon as I finish this one little thing:

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Twist is almost finished, she just needs sleeves attached and some buttons and a good blocking. Then this wonderful sheepy warm garment shall be mine to help keep the chill away.

Mmm, squishy unblocked cables, mmm…

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Happy knitting today.

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Filed under sweaters

Soon. Soon.

In 2 more sleeps I will be on my way to New York City, to the waiting and generous spare bed of my knitting pal Rebecca, then on Saturday it will be off to the New York Sheep and Wool festival, aka Rhinebeck. Wait, there’s something missing in that description, what was it…oh yeah: WOO HOO.

I am so excited. I’ve been looking forward to this like whoa. It’s smack-dab in the middle of the term when both students and profs alike are getting a bit weary, and so far I haven’t had a bad trip to New York yet (knock on wood). For about a month I’ve been saying “I wish Rhinebeck was right now”, and soon it will be, yee-haw! I’ve got two or three vendors in mind that I want to get to first, and after that will be very happy to browse at leisure, and I’m hoping to run into a few of you fellow knit-bloggers out there too. Also, word on the street is that it’s going to be sweater-weather this weekend, which means a wonderful parade of knitwear will be waiting to be ogled.

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Thankfully, my own Rhinebeck sweater has been completed and ready and waiting for a week now, and lo and behold, it is lovely. My Cabled Swing Cardi fits beautifully and I think it looks darned smashing. Sadly it’s a bit grey out right now and this is probably not the best light for photography…and it would be even better to be wearing it IN the picture, but a photo session just hasn’t been in the cards the past few days. I’ll try to make up for that on the weekend.

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Pattern: Cabled Swing Cardi by Norah Gaughan, in The Knitter’s Book of Yarn by Clara Parkes.
Yarn: Berrocco Ultra Alpaca, colour “Lobster Mix”, 6.5 skeins. (This is much less than the 9 skeins the pattern calls for in the size I made. All evidence on Ravelry points to extremely generous yarn estimates for this pattern). I bought this yarn on sale at WEBS in the spring, and still have 3 skeins left. I’m sure I”ll think of something for the rest of it. It’s an extremely heathery brown, with shades of purple and red all mixed in, I’m pretty pleased with it considering I hardly ever wear brown.
Needles: 4.0mm for ribbing and 4.5mm for the rest.

Mods: The only changes I made were to add a couple of stitches on either side of the back to give it just an idge more ease on my shoulders – I have a fairly slim waist but slightly wider shoulders than most standard sizing accounts for given the size of the rest of me, so that’s a pretty common modification for me. I also opted for i-cord ties on both the inside and the outside front edges, instead of the button on the outside which the pattern instructs. I did this to allow more flexible ease to let me tighten or loosen the fit at the bust according to preference.

All in all, I call this pattern a win. I completed it in just over a month and probably could have had it done quicker if I’d worked on it more dedicatedly in the beginning. The cables are surprisingly intuitive on the front and once you’re finished those, the only other cabling is a small amount on the sleeves. I really like the double seed stitch texture at the top of the bodice.

I have, naturally, already cast on for another sweater. We’ll see if it comes with me this weekend to keep me company in airports.

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If I don’t get back to the blog before the weekend – have a good one, whether you’ll be fondling yarn at sheep & wool festivals or no! Catch you on the other side.

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Filed under cables, finished object: sweater, rhinebeck, sweaters

Hay is for horses

Hey there folks – where is the time going these days? How is it possible that in a mere two days, October will be upon us? I’m all conflicted about that. On the one hand, I love fall and I love cool weather that allows me to wear my knitted things, and I love that October will bring some travels to NYC and the Rhinebeck wool festival…but on the other hand, time always does tend to pass by faster than you think it should. This whole last year I think the only month that appeared to go by “slowly” was July, and now I have very little recollection of what I actually did in that month.

As far as what I’ve done this past month, well, I have indeed made some good progress on the Cabled Swing Cardi. The chocolatey Berrocco Ultra Alpaca is lovely and soft and heathery…

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…however it is possible the alpaca content is not the best idea ever for my hands. Yesterday afternoon suddenly my right hand started to cramp up while in the clasping position, and then this morning the same thing happened when I was turning the shower knobs. Not a huge setback yet, there are still 3 weeks left to go until the Rhinebeck deadline of course….But still, one never does want to be plagued by injury. Here’s hoping a few days of ibuprofen and stretching and 100% wool knits only will do the trick.

In other news, in between agonizing over how best to convince my students that ideas are actually important and do in fact matter a great deal in our every day lives, I’ve started to fall a bit behind and have a couple of book reviews to catch up on. I also have some catching up to do on blogging and passing on good will. Marie at Sel & Poivre and Froggie girl at The Crafty Frog have ever so kindly nominated me for blogger awards, and I was extremely touched.

In the rules of this game, one generally does the “pass it on” thing and nominates more bloggers…I always have such a hard time with that because I feel guilty for excluding people at the expense of others. Y’all know I have my fantabulous sister who also knits and whose blog I think is awesome, and I regularly try to keep my Blogroll (down there at the bottom right) updated with the bloggers I read on a regular basis, and I often link to my knitting friends around these parts who I think are the bee’s knees. Please visit them and know that if I was passing out blog awards, these folks would be the first I would turn to.

When it comes right down to it I think anybody who writes a blog, a knitting blog or cooking blog or whatever-you-are-most-passionate-about blog, is doing something that is not without significance. It takes time, energy, and thought to write a blog, any blog, whether you’re posting every day or every month. I have a lot of respect for anyone who does it, and having this blog right here has been an important experience for me. I could write blog posts while I was working on my thesis and remind myself that writing things down and thinking thoughts was not always going to be an agonizing experience, just as one example, and yanno, that’s not nothing. Reading others’ blogs always reminds me that we are not just our knitting, we are people who find knitting very important, and our blogs are always some very small window on what that means in our lives.

Ever since Ravelry came on the scene a year and a half ago or so, there has been a lot of speculation in the Knitblog world about whether Ravelry would take the place of blogging. And I think there’s some truth to that only if you value Knitblogging for pictures and Finished Object specs and yarn information. But for me Knitblogging is more than just an archive of information; it is a different medium for sharing ideas and expressing ourselves and figuring out who we are as people who identify so strongly as Knitters. I mean, we haven’t abandoned newspapers, magazines, or novels, merely because Google has become such a big part of our lives, you know?

Anyway, if you’re a blogger, cheers to you. Me and my yarn stash salute you.

With that, i’d better get some lunch and continue sorting out my day and the rest of my week…Onwards to October! I sense great things in October, don’t you think? What’s on your knitting plans for October?

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Filed under knitting addiction, knitting philosophy, sweaters