Category Archives: yarn

Yarn

Knitmare on my street

In addition to being cruel, knitting just loves to yank my chain. Just when I’m feeling smug about some technique that I’ve mastered, along comes a project eager to smack that confidence right out of me!

While I was waiting for the yarn for the Scalloped Lace Toddler Sweater, I decided to cast on for the second sweater I had planned to knit the munchkin this fall. Several years ago, I had stumbled across A Cardigan for Merry, which was a baby-size adaptation of A Cardigan for Arwen from the Winter 2006 issue of Interweave Knits. I loved the clever reversible cable, and decided to use it as the inspiration for a sweater for my daughter. I had some Knit Picks Andean Silk yarn (an alpaca, silk, and merino blend) that I’d picked up when it was discontinued a few years ago which seemed as though it would make a scrumptious and warm sweater. It was a worsted weight, though, which meant that the cables from the original pattern would be too large for a child-size sweater. Serious swatching ensued, while I tried to determine the best-sized cable and settle on a fabric that would be dense and warm but not stiff (or unpleasant to knit).

I decided that I would put a small cable at the bottom of each sleeve. Since the cables are reversible, the cuffs could be worn folded up now and then unfolded later, so the sweater could hopefully see more seasons of wear. (I had used this same approach on a Baby Surprise Jacket for my daughter which she’d only recently outgrown after nearly two years of use.) To make the cuff completely reversible, I decided to graft the cable pattern. It was top-to-bottom grafting, so there wouldn’t be any half-stitch jog to complicate matters. And after all, I told myself, I am old pro at Kitchener stitch. Grafting in pattern wouldn’t be that hard.

Oh, such hubris! My first attempt wasn’t horrible, but I discovered that I needed to rethink how I’d planned to pick up stitches along the side of the cuf for the sleeve. So I knit a second cuff. That time, I used a different provisional cast on, keeping the loops live around a spare circular needles. I read a couple of articles about how to graft in pattern. I was ready! Well, that approach ended in abject failure (not to mention some rather unladylike language!). I tried again. Same result. (Well, maybe worse language, which I followed up with a beer and a good night’s sleep). The next morning, fortified with coffee, I decided to use the K.I.S.S. method: I cast on with waste yarn and knit four rows. I switched to the working yarn, knit the cuff again, and switched back to waste yarn for several rows at the end. Then all I had to do was follow the path of the waste yarn. Finally: Success! Picking out the waste yarn was a pain, but better than ripping out my hair!

Seamless cable cuff

What do you think? The grafted seam is just above the end of the yarn on the left side.

So tell me… what techniques give you fits?

 

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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….

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

Stash overflow

Worsted for Wear, 2012-06-18

Another great one from the folks at Worsted for Wear!

PS If you’re a computer geek, you’ll understand why the title of this post makes me giggle. 😉

WIP Wednesday

We’re in the thick of summer here, so this week that means swimming lessons three mornings a week. It also means not as much knitting time. And it’s hot, which means having a lapful of wool while sitting out back watching the kids play in the wading pool isn’t the most appealing option.

I did manage to finish the little baby hoodie sweater (pics to follow, as soon as I can get my camera connected to my laptop again… which will happen if I can kick my son off my laptop for a few minutes!). I picked up the Pinkerton Shawl again and added a few rows, not that you can tell. And I picked up the Twisted Lace Cardigan, frogged it back to the end of the raglan increases (with the help of my new niddy noddy), and soaked the skein to get the yarn to relax.

Clearly what I needed was to cast on for a pair of socks, using the Lorna’s Laces Solemate yarn I picked up in Philly.

However, I am rather picky about my socks, so it wasn’t quite as easy as I’d hoped. I like my socks to be knit at a very firm gauge. I don’t like them to be very lacy. And they have to have some ribbing, so they don’t get baggy around the ankles.

The Solemate yarn is rather fine, so I had to go down to a size 1 needle to get a fabric that felt sturdy enough for socks. At that gauge, I need 68-70 stitches to fit my foot. And the yarn is pretty variegated, so the pattern had to be something that wouldn’t compete with the yarn. I tried a couple of ribbed patterns, but nothing really worked for me. I tried a brioche rib, but that didn’t really show up in the yarn. I finally settled on a slipped-stitch cable that shows off the yarn colors.

Crazy Cable Socks

Now I just need to catch up to all of my frogged yarn!

Yarn bombed in Philly

When we were in Philly last week, we saw this:

Yarn bombed phone

Even my husband laughed. And then he pointed out that it would be kind of hard to use the phone now. I wonder if that knitter has as much trouble adding buttonbands as I do….

Yarn as a souvenir

Last week, my husband and I celebrated our 15th anniversary. We decided that a milestone like this called for something special, so we headed up to Philadelphia, dropped the kids off in the ‘burbs with my parents, and spent 24 hours playing tourist in the city. We stayed at a nice hotel, ate at some incredible restaurants, took in a show at a comedy club (which is what we did on our very first date, mumble mumble years ago), and spent some time just wandering around, taking in the sights.

If you’re a knitter, you know that I wasn’t going to leave town without checking out at least one yarn shop, so on our last afternoon, we wandered past Loop. What a lovely shop! I wished I lived close enough to hang out there on a regular basis. There are two yarns that I’ve been wanting to try, and I found both of them at Loop.

Lorna's Laces Solemate yarnThe first is Lorna’s Laces Solemate yarn. This yarn is interesting because it is 30% Outlast, a material developed by NASA that is supposed to keep you warm when it’s cold and keep you cool when it’s warm. Sounds like the perfect material for socks, doesn’t it?! I found a gorgeous one-of-kind color that I scooped up just as quick as I could. I immediately wished I’d brought my sock needles with me, so I could cast on right then and there!

Rowan Kidsilk CreationThe second yarn I found was Rowan Kidsilk Creation (in the “Smoke” colorway). This is similar to their Kidsilk Haze, but it comes in a mesh knitted tube that you knit (or crochet) as you would a self-ruffling novelty yarn. I love the look of the ruffled scarves that are all the rage right now, and with this yarn, I’ve heard it takes less than an hour to whip one up. I have a feeling these scarves could be as addictive as potato chips. Maybe gifts for teachers this winter?

Aside from food, yarn was the only thing I purchased on our trip. Several years ago, I decided that yarn was my favorite souvenir. I enjoy using the yarns that I’ve purchased on my travels, as it brings that destination back in my mind.

So tell me, do you bring home yarn when you travel?

Beer at the Finish Line

I must admit that not much KIP happened for me on WWKIP Day. We rode 12+ miles on the hottest day of the year (so far). And although the scenery was awesome and the ride itself was great fun, I was totally beat by the time we made it to the finish line. Where, mercifully, they had—in addition to more of the cold water and gatorade we’d enjoyed at the rest stop—a couple of kegs of ice-cold, locally-brewed beer. Nothing has ever tasted so good. (Okay, it might have been tied with the store-brand Oreos they had at the rest stop!) We found a shady spot, collapsed in a heap, ate a few hot dogs and hamburgers to go with our beer (the kids got more water, since I was the hydration police), and tried not to think about the fact that we were going to have to get back on our bikes to return to the parking lot. My kids were real troopers, though. My son did his fair share of complaining, but he hung in there until the end (and being a kid, had a lot more energy on the home stretch than I did!), and the little one proclaimed, “I wuv bike wides!” (of course, she didn’t have to do much work, since she’s still in a seat on the back of Daddy’s bike).

I was too tired to even dig out the little WIP bag that I’d stuck in my bicycle basket before setting off, nestled beside extra bottles of sunscreen and water and spare tire inner tubes. At the last minute, I pulled out the sock I’d originally planned to bring and stuck in the Pinkerton Shawl that I’d started a year ago in some lovely Malabrigo sock yarn in Indiecita (which is one of those really awesome variegated colors that I pick up over and over, because it never looks the same, but it always looks gorgeous). I’ve cast on for this four times now. The first couple of times, I wasn’t happy with the needles or the fabric I was getting. Then my little one yanked the needles out, and it was easier just to start over. It’s a stockinette-based pattern, so part of my restartitis was trying to find a way to combat the curl a bit. I finally settled on working the first few rows and the last three stitches on the stockinette side in garter stitch.

This shawl begins with the longest side, and I think that’s part of why it’s been languishing in my WIP basket for so long. Most of the shawls I’ve done have you start in the top center and work down to the bottom hem. The rows get longer as you go along, but it’s so much fun to watch the lace pattern develop that I’m motivated to keep going. But a shawl that starts out on the long edge, in stockinette? Um, not so much. I told myself it was a great traveling project, but that just meant I had a good excuse to leave it in my knitting bag when I wasn’t actually traveling anywhere. As a result, my progress with this project has been pretty infinitesimal, which is a shame, because I think it’s a great combination of yarn and pattern. I did finally get around to adding a few more rows in the car on the way home and again today, as the kids and I celebrated the first official day of summer vacation by hanging out in the backyard by the kiddie pool and the sprinkler.

So I’m thinking that maybe some projects, like long, hot bike rides, need a cold beer at the finish line (or the next entrancing project) to keep me motivated. How about you?

WIP Wednesday

It’s been a long time since I posted for WIP Wednesday! So here’s what’s on the needles right now… (Or, cough, at least what I’m actually working on right now, as opposed to projects that are on needles but haven’t been touched in a few weeks!)

 

The Scalloped Lace Baby Sweater

I have to finish this one by June 7th, so this is my first priority right now. I was stalled on how to handle my goof, but then I looked at it some more and decided that the buttonholes were a little too far apart (the perils of knitting the buttonbands at the same time as the body of the sweater). The bad news was that fixing that meant dropping the 4 stitches of the buttonbands back quite a few rows. Blargh. The good news is that the new buttonhole is exactly opposite my goof, so I can just sew the button over it and go on my merry way. Cheating? Yes. But I can live with that!

20120529-133055.jpg

Baby Hoodie

I am knitting this baby sweater out of KnitPicks Comfy yarn. This is the first time I’ve used this yarn, and I must say: it is very aptly named. It’s one of the softest yarns I’ve ever used. After so much time working on the Scalloped Lace Baby Sweater, I’m a bit tired of knitting with cotton yarn. But this yarn is a blend of cotton and acrylic, and manages to take the best qualities of both to create a yarn that is machine washable, soft, and much easier on the hands than pure cotton. This might be my go-to yarn for baby knitting from now on.

I can’t decide if I like the green stripes or not. I found some adorable buttons on Etsy that are brown and blue with a bit of pale green, but they haven’t arrived yet, so I’m not sure if this is quite the right green. I had some Knit Picks Shine Worsted that I bought for another project in a bright green, so I tried to use that to add a hint of green to go with the buttons, but I’m not sure I like it. Next to the brown, the stripes look more yellow than green. I have another skein of Comfy on the way in a paler green, so if I like that better, I’ll rip the last few rows and redo with that color. This project is on hold now until buttons and yarn arrive, hopefully later this week.

Lastly, I have a fun new toy! I am writing this post on my new iPad. (I took the photos with it, too.) I’m still getting used to the touchscreen keyboard (and I might end up getting one of the cases with the built-in keyboard eventually), but I’m excited to play with some of the iPad knitting apps that some of you have recommended to me.

A good time was had by all…

I am still tired from Saturday’s marathon Sheep and Wool Festival. But oh my: Such fun!!

Cherry Tree Hill Supersock and Cephalopod Bugga!

Cherry Tree Hill Supersock and Cephalopod Bugga!

Carla and Hope and I met up at the gates at 9am, just as the Festival officially opened. We started out at the All About Yarn tent, where Hope went a bit nuts with Shalimar Yarn. Then we got about ten feet past that tent, and I got sucked into a couple of skeins of Cephalopod Yarn Bugga! (I’m totally blaming Hope for this one. Somehow we’re having a little challenge to knit up simple sweaters using only 760 yards of Bugga!) Then I was good… for a little while.

At lunchtime, we met up with another fiber friend, Claudette, and hijacked her to join our merry band. We waited in line for gyros for entirely too long, but they were sooooo good I can’t feel too bitter about the wait.

Spindle and Fiber

Spindle and Fiber

And then we went a bit berserk in the main building. I splurged on a Golding Spindle that I’d been daydreaming about. (And I think I sort of talked Claudette into buying one, too.) And such a pretty spindle deserved some gorgeous fiber, right? So you can totally understand my next two splurges: some Handmaiden merino/silk in a beautiful deep purple and plum and some merino/silk from Chasing Rainbows (at the Carolina Homespun booth) in drool-worthy shades of blues, greens, turquoise, and purple. Hope knits gorgeous intarsia sweaters, so she stocked up on a whole rainbow full of fingering weight yarn. Carla (like me) is a sucker for pretty sock yarn, so despite her best efforts to be good, one or two skeins found their way into her bag.

Signature needles and other tools

Signature needles and other tools

I’d planned to buy a US size 8 circular from Signature Needle Arts, but while I was in line, I talked myself into getting size 7 DPNs too. (And now I’m wishing I’d gotten the size 6 DPNs as well. These needles are just too addictive…)

Buttons!

Buttons!

Sadly, Moving Mud did not have the perfect buttons for my purple sweater, but she did have some gorgeous blue and green swirly buttons that I fell in love with. I had picked up some pewter buttons at the Bartlett Yarns booth for my green sweater, but maybe I’ll put those buttons on the purple sweater, and the Moving Mud buttons on the green sweater…

Miss Babs Yet Color Affliction kit

Miss Babs Yet Color Affliction kit

I had not planned to buy yarn to make a Color Affection Shawl. In fact, I’d sworn I wouldn’t. For one thing, I have yarn for a Stripe Study Shawl (also by designer Veera Välimäki) that I’d bought at MDSW three years ago that I still haven’t finished. And for another, the Color Affection Shawl is just so popular right now. Why knit what everyone else is knitting? Ahem. Well, I went into the Miss Babs booth and made the mistake of looking over at the Wall o’ Affection kits. And of course, I fell madly in love with one of them, in her yummy “Yet” lace (merino/silk). Sigh. I’m really just a lemming at heart…

I also bought another nifty notions case, a knit fixer tool (crochet hook on one end and a knitting tip on the other), and some highlighter tape that I’d been meaning to order online. And a skein of sock yarn at Cherry Tree Hill in shades of purple and magenta and teal that was just too pretty to leave behind. And I got some yummy almond honey and creamed honey from The Bee Folks to bring home for my husband (a total honey fanatic).

Trying out the Pocket Wheel

Trying out the Pocket Wheel

I was pretty good about more expensive fiber tools. I drooled a bit over the Ashford Knitters Loom. (And I got to meet Richard Ashford, which was pretty cool!) I carefully avoided making eye contact with the Ashford Joy Spinning Wheel. I did succumb to the invitation to try out a Pocket Wheel, though. Pretty neat! I’m a long way from buying a wheel, but I’d definitely keep this one in mind.

The day had started out quite hot and sticky, and despite generous application of sunscreen, my face and the back of my neck got a bit sunburned. Then a cool front blew through and threatened rain, but fortunately it held off. Not that some rain would have dampened our spirits!

By the time I got home, I was totally exhausted. I had just enough energy to get a shower and crack open a nice, cold beer.

Now comes the hard part… resisting all the pretty new yarn and projects calling to me! I need to get a few works-in-progress taken care of first. First up, finishing the scalloped lace baby cardigan…

I hope your weekend was full of fibery friends and fun, too!