Category Archives: design

FO Friday: Scalloped Lace Toddler Cardigan

Scalloped Lace Toddler Cardigan

Pattern:

My own

Yarn:

KnitPicks Shine Worsted in White, Cosmopolitan, Grapefruit, Dandelion, Citrine, Reef, Sky, French Blue, Pageant, and Iris

Notions:

The buttons are, again, from TessaAnn on Etsy. Aren’t they perfect??

Notes:

I love(1000) this sweater. It might be my most favorite project ever. And the munchkin informed that she “yuvs” it, too, which is high praise indeed.

It’s a little bit big on her right now, but hopefully that means she’ll get a bit of wear out of it. The round yoke is quite roomy and the sleeves could be worn as 3/4 length on a larger child.

Time to complete:

Just under three months, which is pretty good considering that I forgot the yarn on vacation and then lost the last skein of white yarn and had to order more.

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In praise of i-cord

I’ve been told that the “I” in i-cord stands for “idiot,” which I find to be quite unfortunate, because it is one of my favorite knitting techniques. By itself, it makes lovely ties and is a fun way to finish off the top of a hat. Applied i-cord gives you even more options and is one of my favorite ways of finishing off a raw edge.

For the Scalloped Lace Toddler Cardigan, I decided to work the button bands with applied i-cord in a contrasting color. I picked up and knit on the right side with the purple yarn, purled back, and on the next row worked 3-stitch i-cord. When I came to a buttonhole, I worked the bottom half of the buttonhole like TECHknitter’s Tulips buttonhole, and for the top I simply worked three rounds of plain (unattached) i-cord. It worked like a charm.

I liked the way the contrasting trim looked so much, I decided to do the same thing around the neckline. Except that I didn’t want to work any extra rows. I picked up stitches around the cast-on edge of the neck with a sock-sized circular needle. I tried to work i-cord directly on those stitches, but the white yarn underneath showed through. I knew there had to be another trick, so I hunted around online (Thank you, Google!) and found this technique at The Purl Bee. Brilliant!

Scalloped Lace Toddler Cardigan, i-cord neck trim

I even figured out how to weave in the ends so that the I cord appears to travel seamlessly around the neckline. So all this time spent waiting for my yarn order so I can finish the sweater wasn’t totally wasted.

To keep myself from stalking the KnitPicks site to see if my order shipped, I’m working on weaving in the hundreds of ends. I think I’ve tackled about five hundred, with about three hundred left to go…

Ends, billions of ends, waiting to be woven in...

The next sweater I knit is going to be a solid color, with a yarn I can split-splice, so I only have two ends to weave in when I’m done!!

Knitting, thou art a cruel mistress

My husband and son went camping this weekend, so I figured my daughter and I would have a lazy, relaxing weekend (which implies that lots of knitting would happen while the munchkin was napping or after she went to bed for the night). But alas, the munchkin had other plans. She decided that Friday night was a great time to learn how to climb out of her crib, so the weekend (and most nights since then) ended up being an exercise in munchkin retrieval and sleep deprivation. (I think it was 11:30pm or so on Saturday before exhaustion won out and she finally crashed, too tired to make one more foray.)

I had big knitting plans for the weekend. The Scalloped Lace Toddler Cardigan has been languishing in my knitting basket since we got home from vacation and it was reunited with the missing skein of pink yarn. It needed two sleeves (and eleventy-billion ends woven in), so really, it was practically done, right?

Scalloped Lace Toddler Cardigan, nearly done

Wrong. I knit away at the first sleeve, ripping back several times as I debated the best way to reduce one pattern repeat on the underside of the arm. I had this season’s Wallander on the DVR to keep me company (I ♥ PBS!), so I was having a merry old time. I bound off and went to start the second sleeve (which, I reasoned, would take me much less time, since I didn’t have to tweak the design this time. I was more than halfway through the skein of white yarn, but hey, it wasn’t a very big sleeve as toddlers don’t exactly have huge arms, and I had another skein of yarn in my stash. About halfway through I looked down and realized that I only had a few yards left. I went upstairs and… (You know what’s going to happen here, don’t you? The ominous music is swelling in the background, like a horror movie in which the heroine has to go check out the mysterious thump in the basement, despite the fact that she’s only wearing underwear and several of her friends have just met grisly ends.)

Yes. I was out of yarn. With only a little over two inches of a small sleeve to go. Gah! So I sulked. And knit on a sock for a while. But finally I accepted there was no way around it; I was just going to have to order more yarn. This particular yarn (Shine Worsted) came from KnitPicks. It’s about $3 a skein. So I went to the KP website… and promptly spent $50. On the plus side, I got several books from their 40% off sale, and free shipping. On the minus side… I spent $50 to get a $3 skein of yarn. My husband would not find that to be such a great deal. So I also bought three skeins of Felici Sport to make a pair of socks for his gargantuan feet. I’m sure he’ll understand.

But the darn sweater is still sitting there, mocking me. It was chilly yesterday morning, and the munchkin informed me that she was cold. A sweater would have been perfect. Sigh.

Knitting, sometimes thou art a cruel mistress….

Sock it to me

I finished the second Solemate sock last night. I love it. The shadow-wrap heel fits better than the German short-row heel, feels smoother inside, and looks nicer. I like the way I reduced the gusset stitches on the second sock better, too. (I worked it flat, like a heel flap, rather than reducing the stitches in the round, which made the first sock a bit baggy around the front of my ankle.)

Solemate socks, version 1 and version 2

Solemate socks, version 1 (bottom) and version 2 (top)

Both socks are about the same size, but the second sock used 4g less yarn than the first. I’m not sure how much of that was the heel structure and how much of that was gauge. I worked the the first sock using DPNs from and the second using circulars from a different manufacturer. I worked the back of both socks above the heel turn using needles one size smaller, but I switched back to the larger needles sooner on the first sock.

The only piece of the puzzle that I’m not totally happy with is the bind-off at the top of the sock. I worked the k1, *p1, slip both stitches back to the left needle and p2tog, k1, slip both stitches back to the left needle and k2tog, repeat from * bind off. (I’m not sure what it’s called exactly.) It’s super-stretchy, which is great, but it flares out a lot, which is not so great. I didn’t weave in the ends yet; I think I might pull it out and work a tubular bind-off instead.

In the meantime…. Right after I snapped this picture, I ripped the first sock back to the heel. I’ll ponder the bind-off while I redo the heel and leg. I’m open to suggestions!

Heel-tastic!

My first pair of socks was a pair of top-down, traditional heel-flap socks. They fit my too-long, too-narrow, too-high-arched feet perfectly and hooked me on sock knitting. Then I discovered toe-up sock knitting, and was torn.

There were a lot of pros for toe-up socks:

  • Running out of yarn 1/4″ from the end of your sock is a lot easier to deal with if you’re working toe-up
  • Judy’s Magic Cast-On is An Amazing Thing of Beauty (and is way more fun than Kitchener stitch)
  • Short row heels look more like “store-bought socks” (and tend to be better-received by non-knitters)
  • Easy to check sock fit and make adjustments as you go along

But there were a few cons, and they were pretty significant:

  • Short row heels don’t tend to fit people with high arches as well
  • My attempts at traditional, wrap-and-turn short row heels were pretty darn ugly, full of holes and stretched-out stitches

So I played with a few variations. My Serpentine socks used a gusset heel that fit my instep well, but were a bit too big around my ankle. The short row heels in my Everyone Outta the Pool socks fit well but still weren’t that pretty, and they were a bit harder to keep track of/adapt to other patterns. The German short row heel I used in the first Solemate sock was easy to execute and looked okay, but was a little bit lumpy inside and required a plain round in the middle of the heel that messes up self-striping yarn patterns (and would also make it difficult to add a contrast-color heel).

But once again, Ravelry came to my rescue. Another Raveler mentioned being pleased with a “shadow wrap heel” in one of the Rav forums the other day. Of course, I had to look that up immediately. And then I had to try it out on the second Solemate sock, which had patiently been waiting for me to get around to turning the heel.

To accommodate my high instep, I combined the shadow wrap technique with a gusset: First I increased 1/3 of the heel stitches on either side, then I worked the shadow wrap short row heel (over the original number of stitches only), and finally I worked a 1×1 rib heel flap, consuming the gusset stitches until I was back to my original heel count (well, in this case, until I was down to my new heel count, as I needed a few extra stitches to continue my cable pattern seamlessly around the sock).

Shadow-wrap short-row heel

Success! The heel fits beautifully and comfortably over my arch, and the ribbing (which I worked on needles one size smaller) hugs the back of my heel and adds a little bit of padding like a top-down heel flap does. The short rows are easy to execute and keep track of, and the finished seam is pretty and gap-free. I think I’ve found my go-to short row heel!

Now the burning question is… should I leave the first sock alone, or should I rip it back and redo the heel using this technique? I’ve already decided I want to rip the ribbing at the top and redo it. But how far should I rip? If I redo the heel, I can also try a few things to round out the shape of my short-row heel a bit, to accommodate my super narrow heel even better. Hmmmmm…

What’s your favorite sock knitting method? Top-down? Toe-up? Heel flap or short-row? Wrap-and-turn or something else? Gusset or not? Have some other fabulous technique I haven’t heard of yet? Please let me know in the comments!

I felt bad

So… about those slippers I made for my daughter… The first set I made was a bit too small, but (since I had a large amount of Patons SWS in my stash) I decided to knit up another pair. I finished this pair while we were on vacation, despite having to improvise a bit on needle size. They languished in my knitting bag while I was catching up on our post-vacation laundry, but yesterday I pulled them out and decided to do something about them.

Slippers, Version Two

Slippers, Version Two, Pre-Felting

I felted the first pair in the sink. It took a loooooong while, but I finally got them to felt up. In fact, they felted up a bit too small! For the second try, I decided to do something different and try felting in my washing machine.

We used to have a top-loading washing machine. When I made slippers for my son, I used it to felt them. I could open the top and check out the felting process as I went along. Worked like a charm. But then that washer died, so we got a new high-capacity, high-efficiency front-loading washer. For everyday washing, it’s great. Low water usage, gentle on clothes, yadda yadda. But for felting? Hmm. I read on Ravelry that you could felt in a front-load machine, but that it took several cycles. So I put the slippers in and selected the highest-temperature wash cycle. This machine is electronic, so instead of setting the time/temperature/etc. manually, you pick the type of cycle and the machine adjusts accordingly. Again, great for everyday washing, but a bit tricky for felting. The highest-temperature cycle is also the longest cycle, but the washer is so gentle on clothes, I thought it would be okay. (You’re laughing and rolling your eyes now, aren’t you? You should be!)

Rumor has it that you can open up a front-load washer during the cycle and the water level will be so low that it won’t spill out. I tried this out once and got suds all over my laundry room floor, so I wasn’t about to try it again. I threw in some towels and turned the washer on. When the cycle was finally done, I fished out the bag with the slippers in it. They had felted. In fact, one of them had felted closed in the middle of the foot! And everywhere they had creased in the washer, they had felted into a lump. So I had two small, lumpy, misshapen slippers, only one of which would actually hold a toddler’s foot.

Felted Slippers, Take Two

The too small, the too lumpy, and the too much like a coaster

Yes, I’m going to knit her another pair. In a bit. I’m still feeling a bit grumpy now though!

The best laid plans….

I finished my first sock. I’m pretty happy with it, but I’m going to make a few tweaks with the second sock (make the toe and heel a tad narrower, make the gusset a bit smaller, and make the cuff at the top a tiny bit tighter). I was all set to cast on for the second sock when a little munchkin stole my sock and put it on. (It came up to her thigh.) When I tried to get it back, she pitched a fit and refused to give it back, insisting that she needed a sock, too. So what’s a mom to do?

Well, first I tried to distract her by offering up a store-bought sock. She’s no dummy, though, so that approach was doomed from the git-go. I had no choice by to grab some pretty sock yarn and cast on for a sock. Only that wasn’t going to turn into a sock fast enough for my munchkin, so we went to Plan C:  Felted slippers.

Before felting, on foot

They’re a little big, Mom…

A few years back, I knit up some super-quick socks for my son and felted them in the washing machine. Sweet kid that he is, he looked doubtfully at the gigantic socks I’d made and said, “I love them! They’re a little big, but that’s okay, Mom.” He was pretty surprised when they felted down to fit him. 🙂

Slippers, before felting

Before

The munchkin was equally skeptical about the slippers, but she did think the splashing about in the sink part was pretty fun (we have a new front-loading washer, and I wasn’t sure I could felt them enough in there). They actually felted up a bit too much, so I have a feeling I will be knitting up another pair soon. That’s okay; they are a seriously quick knit. I knit up the first slipper while watching the Olympics Friday night and knit up the second Saturday night.

Slippers, after felting

After

I actually felted them a little too much. (Who knew? Score one for elbow grease!) I also used a short-row heel without adding a gusset, so it’s a bit of a squeeze to get your heel in. (I’ve been kind of obsessed with them lately, so I slapped one in there without thinking about it too much.) Felt slippers usually stretch a bit, though, so I think they may be okay in the long run. I still need to paint the bottoms with some puff paint to make them a little less slippery.

Now, about that second sock for me

WIP Wednesday: Olympic Edition

I admit it: I’m a total Olympics junkie. I’ve been glued to the TV since the opening ceremonies, and I’ll probably be there until the closing ceremonies. This isn’t too good for the other things I need to accomplish in life, but it’s great for my knitting!

Ravelry has an event called the Ravellenic Games (formerly known as the Ravelympics until the USOC informed them that they had trademarked the -ympics suffix; I’m going to go trademark -ing and -es, so I should be set for life). I hadn’t planned to participate originally, since my summer schedule is so crazy. But then I got the bug, so I starting looking around for a project that I could cast-on and complete in the two-week Olympic period. I gave serious consideration (and massive swatching) for a cabled vest in some heavy-weight (i.e., quick-knitting) yarn, but then my Olympic fever came up against my other illness: Finishitis.

I have so many projects around the house, in varying stages of completion, that my husband mutters under his breath about “decorating with yarn.” (Really, isn’t that a brilliant idea?!) But fall weather is coming, bringing along a whole bunch of other projects I want to knit, and so I’ve been getting a bit anxious about all the unfinished projects that are still lurking about here. Hence, a bad case of Finishitis. It’s a Good Thing, though: In the past two weeks, I’ve finished up both my Linen Stitch Scarf and the Pinkerton Shawl (pictures to follow, as soon as I have time to photograph them properly).

Solemate socksBut back to the Ravellenic Games: When I was talking with my friend Carla about them, she said she was considering entering the “Sock Put” (an event name that made us both giggle). So when they lit the torch on Friday night, I picked up my Lorna’s Laces Solemate socks and got to work. Since I’ve been making this pattern up as I’ve gone along, much ripping and re-knitting has ensued. But I’m more than halfway up the leg now (working from the toe-up) so I’m hoping to bind off tonight or tomorrow. The second sock shouldn’t involve nearly so much frogging, so I’m hoping that one will go faster!

In the off chance that I get the socks done before the end of the games, I’ve got a PolarKnit hat that I need to finish, and the Scalloped Lace Toddler Cardigan is still lacking arms.

Are you working on a project for the Olympics? Or the Ravellenic Games? I’d love to hear about it!

Thrashing About

In the computer world, the term “thrashing” is used when a computer is swapping information in and out of memory so much that it can’t make progress on the task at hand. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of knitting on a lot of projects but not finishing anything, so it feels like all I’ve been doing is thrashing.

I’m making progress on the Pinkerton Shawl. It’s a good tv-watching knit. (My husband and I finally got around to checking out the PBS series “Sherlock,” and we’re totally hooked. Gotta track down season 1 on DVD now.) Each row is shorter than the last, so (in theory at least, even though it doesn’t feel that way!) the pace is picking up.

I added the other side of the buttonband to the Scalloped Lace Toddler Sweater… and it was too long. I picked up exactly the same number of stitches as I did on the buttonhole side, but it looks longer. Pondering whether I need to frog it and pick up fewer stitches (and if so, should I redo the buttonhole side, which seems fine?), or do I try to block it out? Nothing is ever easy, especially where my knitting is concerned…

I even pulled out my Linen Stitch scarf the other day, which I haven’t touched in months. I had a lovely knitting playdate with a friend (our kids played, she and I sat and gabbed and knit; bliss!) last week. She was working on a lovely linen stitch scarf using multiple strands of lace weight cotton yarn. It’s worked lengthwise, and you swap one strand of yarn out at a time, so it slowly transitions from one color to the next. Inspired by her scarf, I pulled out my own linen stitch scarf. I had about 12g of yarn left, and each round uses about 1g of yarn, so I only had about 10 more rounds to go before I could bind off. But man, these rounds are slow. The ball of yarn doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller, and if it wasn’t for my yarn scale slowly counting down the grams, I’d feel like I was stuck in an endless loop, knitting the same row, over and over and over.

I do feel a strange compulsion to finish something (or several somethings!) right now, so I think a case of Finishitis might be in the works. With any luck, I’ll have at lesat one finished object soon!

WIP Wednesday

Man, I love knitting for babies and little kids. These projects go fast!

Scalloped Lace Toddler Cardigan

I finished the body of the Scalloped Lace Toddler Sweater the other day. I love the way the colored scallops worked out. Perfect for a little “girly girl,” doncha think? (Although I will admit that I’m somewhat less enthusiastic about weaving in all of the ends!)

Flower ButtonsI found some perfect buttons on Etsy (again from Tessa Ann).

I’m not sure about the button band, though. I originally planned to do an I-cord button band in white. Then I thought about doing it in the same pink as the top scallop. Then when I got to the end of the body and still had the purple yarn attached, I thought I’d use that instead. But now I’m back to thinking that I might like buttons better against the white. Hmmmm. Anyone have any opinions on the subject?

Sweater with buttons