Category Archives: sweaters

We offer that in “too small” and “slightly less too small.”

Whenever I say I am going to stop knitting to deadlines, let’s just all assume that I am L-Y-I-N-G. Apparently, I love the added frisson of uncertainty (Can I get it done?) more than I loathe the agony of defeat.

I brought this on myself.

Fionn Body Complete (sort of)Way back in January, I started Fionn for my lovely husband. I had some vague idea that it would be done sometime soon, surely in 2010 because that’s a whole year and even though I’m a slow knitter, how long could it take? It’s a drop-shoulder sweater, after all – three pieces and Bob’s your uncle. No sleeve cap, nothing. So I started the sweater, got up to the armholes, then went off and knit like eight other things, and Thanksgiving arrived. Of course, I was all “I am finishing this sweater for Christmas, or barring that, your birthday five days later.” So I finished the body…and the armholes are too small. So I ripped out the three-needle bindoff, added some length, and the armholes were slightly less too small.

Now, there appears to be something interesting going on here which is not the designer’s fault. I think I thought Fionn was more close-fitting than Jennifer Hagan intended; I liked it precisely because it was a drop-shoulder sweater that seemed more tailored than the average drop-shoulder sweater. However, careful comparison with other husband sweaters and consultation of the stellar book Knit to Fit by Ida Riley Duncan revealed that the ideal armhole depth for the sweater’s recipient needed to be something like 11 inches rather than 8 (Have you read Knit to Fit? I cannot recommend it enough; Ida is the no-nonsense knitting aunt who asserts that “of course you can design your own sweaters – all it takes is math and a measuring tape!”). Coincidentally, 11 inches was the armhole depth for the 47″ size for Fionn…three inches bigger than the size I’m actually making.

The troublesome Fionn armhole But we like the size and ease and length of the body now, so rather than add length above (which would make it into a tunic), I am (once again) undoing the three needle bindoff, so I can rip back to where you see the orange marker in this picture and start the armholes earlier. I’m at peace with it, save for the fact that there’s no way on God’s green earth it’s getting done in 2010. Now, 2011 (early 2011!), that’s a different story.

I think the moral of the story is not “You should know what size to make” (because based on actual measurements, I thought I did – the armhole was an unanticipated hiccup). Maybe instead, it’s “don’t worry, you can totally fix it without having to reknit the whole thing. Just check with Ida.”

You would be wrong.

Punctuated Ribs Sock Top You might think, after working a month and a half on preparing a sock knitting presentation for my spinning guild, I’d be sick of sock knitting – almost, but you would be wrong. I promised mom a pair of birthday socks, and before I headed off into the wild blue knitting yonder to cast on hats and sweater and non-socks, I needed to finish a labor of love. These are the Punctuated Rib Socks from Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn, a book I’ve now knit two patterns from (a record!). The yarn is Aslan Trends Santa Fe, a soft, economical sock yarn that I would call the “poor man’s Koigu” if I were feeling snarky, but I’m not. Nice to knit with, my only complaint is that I needed to swipe my one and only Addi size 1 out of the Fionn sweater I’m working on. Added incentive to finish the socks, since I found out after just a few rows of the sweater on straights that I am no longer a lover of straight needles unless they are DPNs. See the pair here. I feel like I’m definitely going through a dark yarn phase, which is inconvenient when your knit night is in a bar.

For the opposite of dark yarn, I present these Maine Morning Mitts Maine Morning Mitts, knit out of long-stashed Kureyon intended for a Lizard Ridge afghan. I think I held off making these because I was concerned I couldn’t get two mitts out of one skein – I am here to tell the Internet you can make two Maine Morning Mitts with just 100 yards of worsted weight yarn (I did shorten the cuffs a bit, but I’m confident even the originals are one-skeiners). These were quick and fun and they knit up in a week, satisfying my raging case of startitis. They also served as a convenient distraction from the hooligans who shot my new car with a BB gun while the Knit One Purl Too crew was out to dinner in a perfectly nice Cleveland suburb. At least the insurance adjuster thought the mitts were nice, and everything’s back to normal now. Frankly I cannot believe that I drove my new car to Chicago and all over the Windy City without a scratch (the Dan Ryan! the Ike!), then I come home and some loser tries to make my Honda Fit into a hoopty.

Quincy Quade Quentin In my righteous indignation over HooptyGate I have not one, not two, but three finished objects for you – this weekend, I stuffed and sewed a Quincy Quade Quentin monster, and I have to say that while it was a lot of work because I am not a sewer, I am charmed. I’m also pretty proud that he looks suitably monster-y (with the help of Knit One Purl Too’s monster engineering staff, aka my husband, who suggested teasing the stuffing to make it less lumpy, installed the safety eyes and cut the teeth for me). I loved making him, and even though the finishing was more involved than I expected, it reinforced my love of getting details right on knitted objects. Finishing work is actually fun for me.

But if I love finishing, why do I have so many things started? I have 9 things on the needles right now, which seems ridiculous. I’ve started things I haven’t even logged as projects on Ravelry, like a Cassidy cardigan (I met Bonne Marie Burns in Chicago last month at YarnCon and yes, I was a total fangirl: “I love your patterns!”) and the Desdemona shawl in Lorna’s Laces Helen’s Lace (I may have gushed a little at the Lorna’s studio sale: “I love your yarn!” – that’s what happens when you buy yarn once a year; you get excited), and a pair of Roger socks for a dear friend. You would think all of these works in progress would have me a little overwhelmed and maybe a little guilty – but so far it just feels like really good knitting. In other words, you would be wrong.

Never give up! Never surrender!

Corriedale/Mohair spun for Heifer International raffle For me, learning to spin has been an exercise in patience. I balanced the idea that every time I tried to spin it was hard and I sucked against the notion I kept reading about: it takes a pound of fiber to get any good at spinning. So if I gave up before I had spun a lot, I might miss out on the fun of really developing some skill and seeing that pay off.

As much as I try to be a “process” person, I am a “product” person. I see the fiber, I want the yarn. I see the yarn, I want the socks (or the sweater, or the scarf or the hat). So it was especially gratifying to cross the finish line with this, my first completely-stuffed-full bobbin of fiber, a Corriedale/Mohair mix spun as a fine single for my local spinning guild’s Heifer International fundraiser later this year – it will become part of a woven shawl that will be raffled off. I sold two winning tickets last year, but was too bashful to spin something for public consumption. Six months later, I sat down and did it like it was nothing, and as I said to someone while the bobbin was filling: “I never thought I’d get to the point where some parts of spinning are easier than some parts of knitting.” I’m now deep into the spinning of this fiber, about two ounces down, and a little over 3 ounces to go. Things seem less hard if you practice, is all I’m saying. And if you watch Galaxy Quest, where “Never give up! Never surrender!” comes from.

Leyburn, finished: full Meet the socks that are harder than some parts of spinning: these are MintyFresh’s Leyburn socks, in the Claudia Handpainted Fingering colorway Circus Dancer (more pictures here). I sailed along with these two-at-a-time on one needle, and then, during a particularly tense moment in Crazy Heart, I looked away, my hands kept going..and I goofed up the slipstitch pattern. And I had a devil of a time fixing it – I had to separate the socks, and knit, and reknit, and rip…and at some point while I was knitting with friends (in public! on Knit in Public Day!) I looked down and realized my hands knew what to do; they understood the pattern better than my thinking brain did. That was both good and weird, a knitting breakthrough of an entirely new kind for me, and one for which I’m very grateful. Sadly, they’ve gone to live with a knitting friend in Montana, but I did get a bodaciously good pair of beaded rib socks in Knit One Crochet Too TyDy in return – I would show a modeled picture of them, but it’s 90 here, so that will have to wait for later.

Fionn, up to the armholesAnd then there’s Fionn, up to the armholes and forsaken not due to the heat, but sock-related deadlines, so I’m due to pick it back up shortly. It’s turning out just as expected, and thus far has been a pleasure to knit, particularly when there’s air conditioning available. I have this fantasy that I’ll clear off my knitting needles, but even as I finish one project, others are calling to me – I have a small but mighty UFO pile, which includes a handspun hat (from my first plied yarn) and a pair of Paraphernailia socks that are so! close! to! being! done! But I might have started a new pair of socks this weekend instead…

Not for lack of trying.

Yes, there has been Olympic knitting chez knitonepurltoo, but my Olympic sweater was completed in the wee hours of March 1, long after the closing ceremonies were over. I am not as broken up about this as I thought I might be; I made a valiant effort, I tried some new things (first yoked sweater!), but I ended up with a garment that didn’t work out (which made staying up until 1:30 a.m. a bitter pill to swallow, let me tell you).

Modern Olympic Garden I knitted the Modern Garden Cardigan in DROPS Eskimo, colorway 29 (a spring green, which longtime readers could use to safely win bets on “What is Donna’s favorite color?“). That cardigan is super-cute and very knitworthy, but it ended up being a high-stakes project for a few reasons, chief among them the fact that I did not get row gauge, and even though I was just one row off, I ended up with a cardigan 3″ longer than I expected as a result.

I didn’t have a lot of maneuvering room in terms of needle size; the pattern calls for size 15 needles to give you a stitch gauge of 2 stitches to the inch, and I needed to go to size 17 needles to get that. I tried the knitter’s math trick of using the numbers from a different size to get the fit I wanted, but the Modern Garden sizing is fairly spread out because there are only so many number combinations that will allow for those beautiful, large leaf motifs. So the knitonepurltoo support crew (aka my husband) made a trip to Joann’s with me to get a big pink set of Susan Bates circulars, size 17.

And I knit the thing. Like any knitting story, there were setbacks (the large was too large, so I reknit in medium), and triumphs (the leaf motifs were easy to work and very pretty). But the spider sense that was tingling pre-Olympics, leading me to question my project choice and even write to Nordic Mart and ask if I could return the yarn, was accurate. Other knitters had gauge issues and several found the sleeve sizing small – me too. But I enjoyed knitting it, and was glad that I followed through to the end, even if I did feel like the guy who crosses the finish line last. My one regret? I turned off the Olympics after the (awesome) hockey game because I didn’t want to see the torch go out without having finished, and I missed William Shatner and the dancing maple leaves.

I also have no idea what to make with the yarn, once I’ve ripped it back – a baby sweater? A felted bag? Something crocheted? I’m mulling my options, because not being able to get the DROPS Eskimo out of my stash seemed roundly unfair after so much hard work.

Corwyn's Sock My Modern Garden mishap taught me nothing about knitting to a deadline, though – I picked my needles right back up and polished off a pair of birthday socks for my husband’s godson, finished the day of the birthday party during a spinning workshop offered by my local guild. These are the Yarrow Ribbed socks from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush; I subbed in a garter stitch short-row heel for the flap and gusset style. He tried on my mom’s cashmere socks when they were close to the finish line, and asked for a pair with stripes – who am I to say no to that? So I didn’t medal in the Knitting Olympics, but to one seven-year old who may still be wearing his socks, I’m pretty cool. I can live with that.

Next up: I get serious about spinning, and progress is made on Fionn.

You never forget the first time.

Do you remember the first yarn you stashed? I do; I found a single skein of Paton’s Ballybrae in navy Black Forest Tweed at my (very) local LYS not too long after I first picked up the needles. It was already discontinued in 2003, so with my usual retail obsessiveness I set off on a hunt across the interwebs. After several well-timed requests to knitting swap lists, I have a total of 10 skeins. I always thought I would make Kathy Zimmerman’s The Very Thought of Him or Bonne Marie Burns’ Ribby Cardi with it, because I do like a monochrome tweedy cardigan as much as the next person, but fate intervened.

Fionn ProgressJust a few days ago, knitonepurltoo’s Pattern Review Staff (aka my husband) saw Jennifer Hagan‘s Fionn pullover over my shoulder, liked it and it took about 13 seconds for me to realize I could use my oldest yarn to make my newest sweater. As if that weren’t cool enough already, I’m doing that knitterly thing of using the numbers from the next-smallest size to get the (bigger) size I want. For those who are all “didn’t you just promise to knit from your queue?” I did, but I also thought I’d give myself an exception, just in case, and this looks like it. We are still proceeding with the “buy as little as possible, because you already have four bins of yarn” plan, but unlocking a sweet spot in the stash with the perfect pattern feels like a gift. Don’t you love that?

That alchemy is my favorite thing about knitting – older, less-loved yarn marinating in the stash becomes new, fresh and fascinating when it meets the right pattern. I knit slowly enough that I have plenty of time to change my mind about what I should make with a given skein of yarn, and sometimes waiting pays off, because a combination comes to light that I can’t help but love.

Corriedale fiber, Thunderhead colorway And get ready for “Waiting pays off, part two,” my first skein of handspun yarn (more pictures here). This is approximately 125 yards of 2 ply Corriedale from gwen erin/granolasuit; it took a shockingly long time to finish because I developed a throughly unreasonable fear that I would somehow wreck the yarn in the plying. So the bobbins sat, and I spun a little bit of other things, and then I sat down once more with the Start Spinning video and did it. Yay! The knitonepurltoo spinning wheel pit crew (aka my husband) has already called dibs on this for a hat; it’s going to be hard to wait to cast on until after I can show off the finished skein at spinning guild tomorrow, but I’ll try.

Lace and me, we’re BFFs

Lizzy, CompleteWhat’s holding up the show around here is this: I don’t have the beauty shot. You know, you finish a big project and you want to take the perfect picture of you, carefree, (and with great hair) wearing the perfect sweater? In advertising, they call that the beauty shot. Well, I finished Lizzy when it was 90 degrees out, so there was no sweater-wearing any longer than it took to say “yes, it fits.” so this is what I have, for now.

For the first time, I got the sweater I expected based on the measurements I picked – it fits, and the waist shaping I added looks lovely. Plus, I am now a master of the set-in sleeve. I don’t want to tell you how long I spent getting it right, but I did, and it was worth it. As excited as I am about Lizzy’s greatness, it’s taken me a good three weeks to admit it will be awhile before the final FO shot gets taken. You’ll be the first to know when it does.

Pot Pourri Socks, FinishedIn the meantime, I have a consolation prize for you: socks. These are Deb Barnhill’s Pot Pourri Socks from the terrific Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn (you’ll recognize the yarn as the Seacoast Handpainted merino tencel reincarnated from my failed Punctuated Rib socks – which I am totally going to make, Ann Budd, I promise!), knitted on size 1 needles. I’ve read elsewhere that the double-figure 8 row is a pain in the neck, and I can’t lie – it was time consuming, but it works to break up the pooling very nicely.

In the knitting confessions department, this is just my second third pair of lace socks (I always forget about these), and I think I’m finally starting to get lace in a way I had not before. Which is a good thing, because I start the Nancy Bush lacy Mystery Sock for Sock Knitters Anonymous tomorrow…and I’ve wound the yarn for my Flower Basket Shawl, after four long years. Lace and me, we’re BFFs for sure.

The James Brown of sock yarns

Paraphernalia Progress It’s been an eventful month around these parts – work is exceptionally busy which explains why you get last week’s photo of the current sock instead of one taken yesterday, as I approached the toe. As you might have guessed, the sock is Paraphernalia, out of stashed Opal. This is my last ball of Opal in the sock yarn bin, and given that I still have a fair amount of knitting up to do before I reach 20,000 yards in stash, Opal and I will be separated for a good long while.

Can I just say again how much I love it? Opal is the James Brown of sock yarns – the hardest-working yarn in show business. Color, durability, yardage, and value; Opal has it all. Love! If there’s anything reading forums at Ravelry has taught me, it’s that there are a million kinds of sock yarn and an equal number of people who love each one. You can have your Merino/Cashmere/Nylon blend – I’ll take Opal any day.

The only downside? This sock may turn out to fit my mother’s size 7 foot instead of my wee size 6. So I might lose out, and mom will get two pairs, since her Bells and Whistles Socks are next up in the “Finish Me!” parade, sock division.
Lizzy Progress First to be finished will be Lizzy, seen here as last week’s pile of pieces, now a seam and a ruffle away from being a cardigan. I’m as shocked as you are to find that…I like seaming. For a results-oriented person like myself, it’s easy to see the relationship between the time spent learning how to do it well, and the lovely seams that are the product. It also makes me feel like the 14 months I spent with this sweater in progress were worth it because I’ll happily wear it out of the house…when it’s not 90 degrees here.

Tune in next time: will I start the Chicknits Ribby Cardi or Slinky Ribs from Custom Knits? Can I keep from casting on two pairs of socks for the July Socknitters Anonymous challenge? Will my budding crochet skills allow me to start Evelyn Clark’s Flowerbasket Shawl as it was meant to be started? You and I are both dying to find out.

2008 isn’t the only thing that’s finished around here.

Cable and Rib, "finished" 1576 days ago, I thought it might be a good idea to knit my husband a sweater; tomorrow, I knit something for myself.

For the final time: This is the Cabled Rib Cardigan from Men in Knits by Tara Jon Manning. I used just over 8 skeins of Blackwater Abbey’s wooly Bluestack on size 4, 3 and 2 needles. Best thing about this project: It’s done, and it doesn’t suck – it fits pretty well for a sweater (only my second!) that took four years to knit. Biggest learning experience: Knit both sleeves at the same time, or you’ll need to employ creative seaming techniques to compensate for the fact that one is an inch and a half wider than the other. [Surprisingly, no tears were shed when I discovered this; I just looked it over and said "I think I can fix this without reknitting it" and then I did. - ed.]

I set a goal of knitting 14 things in 2008, and didn’t meet it (total FO count: 10), but I think I may have knit more stitches than in 2007. Best of all, this sweater, my white whale, is done – and the recipient and I are happy with it. Happy knitty new year to you and yours – stay tuned for news about another FO (accidental Christmas knitting), and my first project of 2009. Surprisingly enough for the new year, it’s a bigtime blast from the past. Knit on!

All this waiting is ridiculous.

I was recently tagged for the perennial “7 random things about you” meme by the lovely Kat; I soon realized that if I didn’t get off my butt and post, my 7 things would be FOs, such is the knitting production in these parts. So, off we go. [For those who can't get enough lists, I give you ten knitterly things you don't know about me - ed].

Sunset Fancy Socks Complete 1. My 60 GB iPod is almost full. I love music, all kinds – even bluegrass (which took some getting used to), and my dream job might be “producer who picks incidental music for Marketplace. They have excellent taste, and I consider it a point of pride that I have found and liked songs that have later appeared on Marketplace. Looking for good stuff? Try KCRW’s Today’s Top Tune. This item brought to you by Nancy Bush’s Gentleman’s Fancy socks in Trekking 108, completed in October for me and perhaps my favorite pair of socks yet.

2. My favorite word is “intransigent,” because I am, occasionally. Particularly with people who say making their own pie crust is too hard. Just try it! It’s better. I also have a favorite punctuation mark, the semicolon, because I’m nerdy like that.

3. In my stashbusting quest, I am completely taken with the idea of finished knitted objects giving you the opportunity to shop for yarn guilt-free, and have decided that henceforth two FOs will earn me the equivalent yarn for a future project. Gloria Cowl, finished This Gloria Cowl was made out of the last 2/3 of a skein of Mountain Colors Bearfoot which had been hanging out forever, and is now the newest knitted item for my loyal husband, willing to walk the dog on cold mornings because I provide a steady stream of handknits. [Yarn purchased as a result of these two FOs? Lamb's Pride Shepherd's Shades for the Bird in Hand Mittens. - ed.]

4. I always say that my favorite holiday is the start of Daylight Savings Time because we get an extra hour of sleep, but my real favorite holiday is Thanksgiving; all of the food and festivity and none of the stress of holiday shopping.

5. A few years ago, my husband and I were bored with cooking the same ten things over and over, so we decided to see how long we could go making something different for dinner every night. Turns out, the answer is “more than a year, even when you’re remodeling your kitchen.” We like Recipezaar because you can plug in ingredients (if you don’t feel like Googlecooking. The biggest thing we learned? If you plan and shop for a week’s worth of meals at a time, you save money and you’re a lot less likely to bail at the last minute and eat out because you have tasty choices at home.

6. I have at various times considered graduate school in social work, hospitality management, law, business, and library science. The itch for hospitality management lasted about 29 minutes; library school still seems cool to me.

7. I’d love to live outside the United States for an extended period of time, even six months. Paris, anyone?

In the non-random department, I am steaming ahead on the last sleeve of Cable and Rib, thanks to the company of Friday Night Lights on Netflix. I estimate that I’m about 86 percent done – when I reach buttonband territory, you’ll be the first to know.

I may be a square after all.

Greensburg Afghan Detail 1 Much to my surprise, my return home from the road trip to end all road trips marked the beginning of what could only be called a finishing frenzy. At the frenzy’s center? An afghan for the Rebuilding Greensburg Block by Block project that I had hoped to have seamed up months ago.

I had high hopes that after I completed this sweater, I’d whip through the afghan like butter and finish by the end of January. After all – how hard could it be? Harder than I thought (as so many things in life are), but after poking along and worrying that I wasn’t quite good enough to do the fine work of all these knitters and crocheters justice, I rallied. Greensburg Afghan, All Seamed Up And I fell in love with my afghan. I have a favorite square, but really, I liked them all – and now I am salivating to start a Lizard Ridge afghan, a Manos Four Seasons Throw – bring on the squares! I think I may have discovered the other portable thing (besides socks) that I’m interested in knitting one after the other.

Cable and Rib Progress, first sleeve As if that weren’t enough, I give you the first sleeve of Cable and Rib, officially taking forever to finish, and the only project on Flickr tagged “ithoughtiwouldbedonebynow” Get it? Beautiful, beautiful, ready for another sleeve and a button band…and slightly too big for Knit One Purl Too’s rail-thin sweater model (aka my husband). Ah, the irony; she knitted too much! I might need to downsize it, so stay tuned for updates (as if I could stop myself from telling you). If I finish by December 30, the sweater will have been a UFO for 1575 days – wow.

Which brings me to a status report of sorts. I’ve been telling myself that my knitting goal this year is 14 finished objects from patterns I already had or knew about. Seaming the afghan brings me to 5 FOs for the year, and it seems more important to clear off my needles than to knit a herd of dishcloths just so I can reach some arbitrary number. So I’d like to finish Cable and Rib, and Lizzy (the Noro cardigan – one front to go), and the Step Above Socks (pretty far along), and the Sunset Fancy Socks I’ve been carrying around as my mindless knitting (I haven’t told you about those, but I will soon enough). That would leave me with just these beautiful lace socks (better view of the pattern here – not my socks). Seems like a good way to start the year, no? And if I finish early, there’s always dishcloth knitting along with Dick Clark!