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A three week sweater for sure, though

Well dear knitter friends, after two weeks of knitting I am pleased to report that I have…

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…most of a sweater. The lion’s share of it is done – I have the body and two sleeves, and I’m now joined up and am working on the yoke. Once I split for the front neckline it’ll start to reel in pretty quickly, so maybe it’s still a two-and-a-half or a three-week-sweater, which I can also be pleased with. I am admittedly a bit bummed that I didn’t quite get it done in the imagined two week goal, but I’m also glad that I did things like eat and sleep and get physical exercise and take time out to, well, write down notes for said sweater (rookie mistake not writing it all down first, dangit Glenna do you think athletes go to the Olympic trials without practicing first? Tsk), so all in all I’ll take it.

Can’t slow down too much though, because once this one is done…

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…it’s going to get a buddy in a different colour – because I’ve decided this definitely needs to be a cardigan as well.

No rest for the wicked! I hope you get lots of great knitting in this weekend too. Until next time!

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Pattern: Sweater design in progress (by me)
Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Purple Label Cashmere sock (‘truffle’ colourway)

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Arbitrary goals are still goals

My “two week sweater” efforts are continuing, dear knitter friends, as I continue knitting away, and trying to make up for a bit more non-knitting weekend time than I might have liked. Although non-knitting time does assist in, you know, helping one’s arms and wrists not to fall off, so there is that.

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So far I’ve gotten a large portion of the body done – though I will need another couple of inches on that before I join it up to make the final yoke – and have started the second sleeve. All in all this is pretty good progress, I must admit.

Will I make it to a finished sweater by Friday? Well, I’d be lying if I said I was completely confident about that, but having the arbitrary goal is getting me knitting on it pretty briskly, so I am pleased with that.

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I’ve had personal sweater goals like this before, but they were usually attached to things like Rhinebeck or travelling deadlines when I wanted to be able to wear the finished thing. This one is a bit more arbitrary, but still good – I think sometimes it’s easy to get mired in all the things that need to get done that we slow down, and a deadline helps pick up the pace.

Maybe I’ll have a finished sweater by the end of the week – or darned close to one? Fingers crossed either way.

Do you have knitting goals for the current season? I hope that you’ve got something fun to get absorbed in.

Happy Tuesday, knitter friernds!

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Pattern: Sweater design in progress (by me)
Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Purple Label Cashmere sock (‘truffle’ colourway)

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New Pattern: Dundas Pullover

In between breaks from attempting to finish a fingering weight sweater in two weeks (don’t worry, I really am doing things besides knitting, I promise!), I’ve got a new spring/fall pullover pattern to share with you. This is my Dundas Pullover, available on Ravelry and Patternfish now!

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This is a casual, almost ‘sweatshirt style’ sweater, easy to wear and a little bit airy thanks to the lace pattern panels. It’s my habit to knit cable patters when I design sweaters, but this year I’m trying out some lace options to stretch out of my comfort zone. I’ve also included some modern details for some stylish flair, using short row shaping to create a sloped hem that is slightly longer in the back than in front. (Although one could easily knit this straight and omit the short rows for a regular pullover hem) The cuffs are also a bit long, just the way I like them!

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This sweater is worked in DK-weight yarn and is shown here in Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label DK, in ‘poppy’ red, which has been great to work with the last little while as winter has finally receded. I think this would work well in a variety of yarns, and actually if I had time I would love to do up another one in a wool/cotton blend.

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It’s knitted seamlessly in one piece from the bottom up, with raglan shaping at the yoke, and a modest scoop neck for comfort. I’m liking this for the in-between days of spring and fall, or cool evenings in general. And glad to have the pattern out in the world!

I also want to give a shout-out to my friend (fellow knitter) Lisa who modelled this for me, who actually matched her shoes to the sweater, even though you can’t see it in the photos. I now desperately want a pair of red flats to wear this with. Dangit, Glenna, get it together of course you match your shoes to the sweater, what were you thinking.

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Anyhow, whether your shoes match your sweater or not, I hope you have a great weekend ahead! Happy knitting.

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Pattern: Dundas Pullover, on Ravelry, on Patternfish
Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label DK, shown in ‘poppy’ red

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Because why not

April is here, the sunshine is suddenly not only bright but warm, and things are ticking along here in knitting world. I will actually have a spring sweater pattern available shortly, and I am really looking forward to sharing with you hopefully in a few days. In the meantime, I am already ticking away on something new, with an extra personal challenge added.

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Shortly before Easter I was thinking up another sweater idea and mentioned it to my sister, whose response was essentially, “That sounds great, I’d wear it. Just knit that up in 2 weeks.” I couldn’t actually start it right then (I was concentrating on finishing the above-mentioned sweater pattern), but the idea of knitting it up in 2 weeks was an intriguing enough challenge, especially since I’m working with fingering weight on this one. (A worsted weight or even DK sweater in 2 weeks….now that’s something I’ve done before. Never one at 6.5 sts/inch though). I think this was partly vicarious, since she doesn’t get to knit as much at the moment, but also just to goad me into trying.

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Still, I cast on on Friday and the idea of just charging through this as quickly as possible started to seem pretty appealing, so I’m going to give ‘er my best shot. I also, just for fun, want to do this as both a pullover and a cardigan, so maybe that could turn into 2 finished sweaters in a month? I don’t know, man, it’s spring and just about anything seems logical at this point. All this sudden sunshine and green things outside, they’ll start to mess with your perception of reality, I swear they will.

The moral of the story is, here I am now with about 10 inches (in the round) worth of a sweater, and am hoping that if I just keep going and line up some good Netflix viewing for evening knitting time, I’ll just keep knitting really fast and pretend that I haven’t had time yet to get bored with the same stitch pattern over and over. And then I’ll just suddenly get a sweater. Sure, that’ll work…right? Why not.

I hope you have some good knitting time ahead this Wednesday, and that the outside world is treating you as nicely as ours is around Ontario! Until next time.

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Pattern: Sweater design in progress (by me)
Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Purple Label Cashmere sock (‘truffle’ colourway)

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Drastic measures

There’s a funny thing that happens in blogging world, probably in many different areas of the DIY/crafting/making/creative spheres, which is that we have a tendency to focus on completed projects and attractive successes more so than the yucky middle areas or failures. I don’t think this is necessarily a conscious decision, either, and it happens to the best of us, but when left unchecked for a while it can all to easily start to appear as though we’re all producing perfectly completed things all the time and never worry about mistakes any more. I can tell you that experienced knitters/designers/creatives of all stripes would probably respond to that with a loud HAH BLOODY HAH, and then proceed to tell you about their many fuck ups. Experienced knitters don’t stop making mistakes, we just do them more rapidly and keep finding new ones.

So, let me take you back to one of these mistake times, a little less than a month ago when I was finishing up my Ossel dress (which has by no means been retired for the season yet, true to form we have snow predicted for Easter Sunday just for kicks), I had a situation arise that I discovered during the blocking phase.

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This dress is worked in pieces from the bottom up, and once I finished the pieces I washed them and then pinned them all out to block and dry. It was then that I discovered that I had knitted the back piece a full two inches longer than the front. I don’t have an exact explanation for why this happened, just that it is indeed the kind of thing that can happen, and when your pieces are as long as those for a dress, it can be more challenging to measure your pieces against each other with the right amount of accuracy and make sure both are the length you want. This is also an increased risk when you are working in pieces from the bottom up as opposed to top-down/seamless – but then also because I worked this in pieces, there is the upside of being able to address the problem on only one piece, not the entire sweater. (Every technique has upsides and downsides, I am here to reassure you).

The extra 2 ins in length was in the skirt section (i.e. the widest half at the bottom). There are a few different ways you can go about fixing this, depending on your level of skill/patience/interest:

1. Rip back the piece to the skirt, including ripping out 2 ins of extra length, then re-knit the shaping decreases and increases for the body and everything all up to the shoulders.

2. Rip back the piece just enough to remove the first 2 inches from the body, then re-knit from the armholes up and say to hell with any of the shaping increases and decreases matching up.

3. Turn your attention to the front piece instead, making it 2 inches longer in order to match the back.

4. Ignore the mistake and just seam it up as best you can anyway, accepting that the back is going to be a little bit bunchy from the extra fabric.

I did none of these things. I wanted the extra length gone from the back, not added to the front, but I didn’t want to spend another week or more re-knitting. I went for Door #5.

Let me also pause for a moment and say that I am a person who is normally pretty free with my encouragements about knitting techniques – I really believe that most things in knitting seem much much harder than they are, and a lot of the time just plowing ahead and learning the New Thing will get you past the hesitation and you’ll be fine. I still think this is a useful approach most of the time. However, this is not one of those times. This is a Break Glass Emergency move. We are playing for all the marbles with this move, and it is not for the faint of heart.

Reader, I got my scissors, and I cut that extra fabric out of the knitting. Yes, yes I did.

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Now, I am a big fan of cutting my knitting when it properly applies, in other words I really enjoy cutting steeks. Steeks, though, are planned well in advance and have a normal sequence of steps involved, and they make vertical cuts not horizontal ones. Cutting across your knitting horizontally is riskier, and is awkward when you are cutting off the bottom of something because it’s harder to unravel “up”. Most knitting wants to unravel “down”, or possibly a little bit sideways if it’s going to unravel at all.

So, in making this cut I had to be pretty precise and cut exactly where I wanted to to be, and because it was moss stitch I had to pay close attention to the cutting line. (Also, I was doing this in the basement TV room, so no, it really wasn’t the most ideal lighting ever, and also it was the weekend so I’m pretty sure I had had at least one cocktail if not two, already. HI, ISN’T THIS FUN? I’m such a good role model, kids.) I’d never done anything like this before, but I’d heard of it done before, and the knitting part of my brain is home to most of my confidence, so I just went for it.

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Once I had the cut made where I wanted it, I put the stitches back on the needles as quickly and carefully as possible (removing more bits of cut-yarn fuzz along the way). You can see some knotted bits at the end where I secured some of the cut ends at the sides. It’s not pretty but it’s fine, because the seaming at the end turns all that crud to the inside of your work not the outside.

From this point forward it was actually pretty smooth sailing. All I had to do was re-knit (“downwards” direction) the ribbing at the bottom hem, and we were good to go. Actually, having the ribbing made it easier than it might have been otherwise because trying to match patterns would have been more challenging when picking up and going in the other direction.

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Then, I continued with seaming up the dress and it was all fine after that. The only real disadvantage was that now I had the bottom of my skirt freshly knitted and bound-off and I have admittedly still not re-blocked it, so the back hem is going to be a little bunchy until I finally wash it again. This is something I can live with.

This was a high-risk, high-reward fix. If it had failed, my recourse at that point would have been to re-knit the entire piece over again. Luckily that didn’t happen, but I do take some comfort in that fact. I don’t know how many material hobbies exist that would allow you to remake the same item all over again, with the exact same materials, in order to correct a mistake, but I am guessing it is pretty few. Unless your knitted item has accidentally fallen through a shredder, it doesn’t actually matter what the mistake is. You can knit it again. (Of course we don’t usually want to do that, but it’s a good safety net to have).

Have you had big time mistake-fixes recently in your own knitting life? I hope they turned out well in the end.

Happy weekend, knitter friends!

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A shawl, no reason

I don’t know about you, knitter friends, but I seem to have arrived at pre-spring state of mind where it has finally sunk in that the big projects I was working on for a few months over the winter are finally done. My knitting brain knows that there are other projects it wants to work on but can’t quite seem to remember which one I was going to work on next.

So, while I was figuring that out, I busted out a quick shawl.

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This is my Duke St. Shawl pattern, that I only ever knitted once for the original sample but always meant to go back and make another one, even bigger. Since I’ve also been taking long and longing glances at my yarn stash, I also felt pretty good grabbing a few skeins of worsted weight yarn that were not getting used any time soon and pressing them into immediate service.

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I used 4 skeins of Tanis Fiber Arts Green Label, in the garnet colourway which has always been one of my favourites of Tanis’ colours. (For those with the pattern, this involved adding an extra repeat of the ‘plain’ body section as well as the edge chart). The only hitch is that I didn’t acquire all of these skeins at the same time – at least two of them are old enough that they were made with the original garnet dye composition that has since changed, which means this shawl takes a time jump from about 3 years ago to…6 or 7? Yarn world, it’ll keep you guessing.

My only real attempt to manage this was to try to work the skeins in as similar an order as possible, so that the “most like” skein appeared next. It should stand to note that I could have alternated skeins every 2-4 rows throughout, which would have produced a more consistent appearance overall…but I did not, I simply went forth and knitted. The advantage of a triangular shawl worked this way is that any difference in yarn colour will appear more like stripes than pooled sections of colour variation, so it’s an easier risk to take on.

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The result almost turned out to have an almost ombre effect, grading from light to dark towards the outside edge. I like it. I even took the time to pin out the edges into lace points during blocking to give it a good finishing touch. I’ll be honest, I don’t actually know if I’ll wear this shawl or simply save it to give away as a gift some time in the future, but knocking 4 skeins out of the stash and into a finished object is darned satisfying.

I’m working away on finishing a new spring pullover design, but I think I’ll be looking around for another stash project as well, before too long!

Happy knitting this Tuesday!

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Pattern: Duke Street Shawl
Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Green Label, ‘garnet’ colourway

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Changing it up

Greetings knitter friends, on this second day of spring that may or may not be colder than the first day of winter we had back in December. And if I still have sweater knitting weather in my future you can be darned sure it’s going to be colourful! I’ve been making good progress on a new design that I’ve actually had swatched up and in the brain for almost a year already. It feels good to be knitting up some bright red sweater action when it’s still pretty grey outside.

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I’ve been spending some time this week hanging out with some kitty pals while their regular humans are on vacation, so the couch knitting time has been plentiful. I’ve actually gotten to the point where I need put down the body in order to start the sleeves before joining them, and so that means I need to decide what I’m doing with the sleeves before casting them on (simple? I’m thinking simple sleeves to go with the lace panel on the body…yep I think that’ll work), so while I put that aside for a moment I’m picking up the Duke St. Shawl I started spontaneously the other week.

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So basically I am all red yarn all the time right now. The greys and browns and dull purples can wait a bit longer.

Hope you’re having some good knitting time this weekend! And a refreshing beverage or two.
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Pattern: pullover design in progress
Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label, ‘poppy’ colourway

Pattern: Duke Street Shawl
Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Green Label, ‘garnet’ colourway

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