Category Archives: sweaters

The siren song of garter stitch.

Without my really paying attention, I managed to complete two sleeves and almost the entire back for Lizzy, the Noro Silk Garden cardigan that I was noodling around with when we last saw each other. I had fantasies that I would be able to finish knitting the pieces for Lizzy in the month of April, and it looked likely except for one thing: the siren song of garter stitch.

Here is what I’ve learned about myself (the “knitting as a growth experience” part of the entry): the easiest project on the needles will invariably rise to the top of the working rotation. I can talk a big game about cables as easy to knit as stockinette or a lacy sock I am dying to make, but apparently there were days this month when purling was too hard, and Lizzy was cast ruthlessly aside in favor of the Better Mousetrap Socks by Debbie New from Interweave Knits Fall 2001; I would show you an FO picture, but the Internet seems to think that I’m the only person who wants to make them. It doesn’t look like much more than a strip of knitting, but simple decreases give you half a heel and toe on each side, then you graft the whole thing together, and voila – a garter stitch sock magically appears, thanks in large part to the inspiring gift of Trekking sock yarn from Theresa as a blog contest prize. Better Mousetrap Sock, in progress

Except not. In late-breaking news of the “knitting as a growth experience” variety, I started the second set of heel decreases and got the sneaking suspicion that while the adjustments I made to ensure the foot was the right shortness (it seems wrong to say “length” here, since that’s not my problem) appear to have worked, the sock itself will turn out to be too wide side to side, with potential bagginess looming all over the place. Damn.

Part of me wants to treat this as a learning experience and figure out how to customize the second sock to fit me so I can reknit the first one in all its garter-y goodness before the Michigan/Ohio State football game in November (yes, these are my secret “M – Go Blue!” socks to be worn in Buckeye country). Another part wants to finish the sock and give the sock and yarn to someone with size 6 or 7 EEE feet – let them knit the second one! And a third part of me wants to admit that the only way God meant for us to knit socks is top down or toe up, and rededicate the yarn to that purpose. What should I do?

Blame it on the Bossa Nova.

Tidepool Socks, Done So I told myself that a March finishing frenzy was inspiring me to actually finish things, and indeed I have finished something: the Tidepool Socks. Except for the harrowing hunt for coordinating yarn when I thought I would run out, these were a totally relaxing, fun knit. Details: Koigu KPPM p211 on size 1 bamboo needles, 72 stitch picot hemmed cuff, 68 stitch leg, 60 stitch foot. Koigu KPPM p213 for the heels and toes purchased from the charming Merilyn at Foxyknits. The heel is Dawn Brocco’s 6-point afterthought heel, which I continue to recommend wholeheartedly. Best of all, Mom loves them, so the hunt for more Koigu was worth it. Tidepool Heels

Whether it’s an abiding wish for spring, having my iPod serve up Eydie Gorme singing Blame it on the Bossa Nova, or a deep desire to just do something else, I have succumbed to cast on fever. More specifically, lace cast-on fever. It’s time. With just one pair of socks, one aborted shawl, and hundreds of patterns bookmarked, I have surprisingly little to show product-wise for my fascination with lace. Until now. Meet the (latest) project I love unreservedly, Nancy Bush’s Wishbone Socks. Much like the Little Tent Dishcloth, this is a project I was inspired to make from the moment I first saw Cassie’s version on Ravelry. Wishbone Sock, First Repeat
Piecework Magazine to the rescue – the pattern was published in their March/April 2008 issue. This is Apple Laine Apple Butter in Dark Chocolate – a little somber for spring, but I am so tickled to actually be using yarn I stashed in 2004, I don’t care.
To counteract any gloominess, I’ve also swatched for Lizzy, the Noro ruffled cardigan I’ve been yammering on about for the better part of a year. Not only have I swatched, I’ve washed and blocked my swatch to check my true gauge. Lizzy Swatch Properly informed, I also whipped out the better part of a sleeve in the car going back and forth to my parents’ house for Easter (total number of knots found in two skeins of Silk Garden: 2 Level of annoyance: low, because I am using Anja’s terrific “weave your ends in as you go” method). It occurs to me that I could have titled this entry “Let’s Get Ready to Ruffle!” How great would that have been?

Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

I was really, truly afraid that Christmas was going to suck. Despite my enduring affection for cookies, carols and presents of every stripe, I was not feeling the love this Christmas. Everyone in the Knit One, Purl Too household had the stomach flu, so close to the 25th that I was sure we would have to say “no, we can’t visit – we might throw up on you” to my family. There was no tree until I bought a wee one at the grocery store on the 22nd, and Christmas shopping didn’t get finished until the 23rd. Plus, I dumped a full cup of coffee on the Knit One, Purl Too Interweb hub – I could not have soaked my laptop more throughly if I had been trying. So there’s all that. Between the creeping crud and various mishaps and holiday chores, Cable and Rib languished for a good two weeks, which was another downer.

With just a few hours left in good old 2007, I’m here to say I rallied. I won’t be done with Cable and Rib by the time the ball drops, but I have just a sleeve and a half to go. I’ll be so proud when it’s finally done, and despite feeling incomplete, it’s worth remembering that I did manage to finish 14 things this year – here’s a look back:

2007 Finished Objects

Yes, I know one of them’s a sewing project, but I’m not counting it, just showing off. Even without a finished Cable and Rib, I’m very happy with this year’s highest-ever FO total. Obviously, the key to more FOs is starting more small projects! I have very few knitting resolutions for 2008, except for this: For the first 14 projects of 2008, I’ll knit from patterns or books I already have or know about – so I can buy a pattern I’ve had my eye on for awhile, but new patterns or new knitting books go to the end of the line. It’s knitting from another kind of stash, and with 154 items in my Ravelry queue, I think I’m covered.

Happy New Year to you and yours – everyone at Knit One, Purl Too wishes you a germ-free, knitting filled New Year!

Project Bagway, or, “Damn!”

knitting is fun It is a tense time here at the house of Knit One, Purl Too. The best of intentions are meeting up with reality: a. November and December are really busy at work, and b. it takes what seems like forever to make it to the end of a sleeve if you start by picking up 168 stitches. Translation? I will probably not be done with Cable and Rib by December 31. Damn.

Cable and Rib, the first sleeve started I did a beautiful job of picking up stitches for the sleeve, if I do say so myself – and then I lost momentum when I saw how wide it was. [It’s like starting the back all over again! The sleeves are bigger than the fronts! How can that be right – is this a plot? – ed.] We’re on the downhill slope again now after seven inches of sleeve knitting, but the idea that I need to turn around and do it all again on another sleeve in 18 inches is killing me. Also, as I feared, this is no longer a portable project – and I have crossed that line after which I am pretty sure I must knit every waking moment in order to complete this sweater by the end of the year. Plus, I haven’t even started my Christmas shopping.

Hey there, Jordy Girl! I’m pretty bummed about this total and utter failure to meet an arbitrary, self-imposed deadline, but I distracted myself with a little something – my first serious sewing project. This is the Jordy bag made famous on Craftster, and sewed by me – and Knit One Purl Too’s Chief Seam Wrangler (a.k.a my husband). I learned how to thread our sewing machine and I sewed the lining (peek inside), and he sewed the outside (while I made gingersnap rum balls) – we used material from the sleeves of a denim jacket, so that closure you see there is one of the cuffs. I have a bling-y button ready to top it off, which I have had stashed in one jewelry box or another since I was nine. If I can’t finish this sweater in time, at least I can sew an endless supply of sock bags now.

Bonus link: if you are a fan of Christmas music in all its forms, you will love DJ Riko’s Mixmas mixes as much as I do – just the right mix of classic and kitsch.

Songs for the three-needle bind off.

The body of Cable and Rib, she is done. I thought it would look more like a sweater, but the unseamed body without sleeves just looks like a postmodern ruana, with a whole bunch of ends which need weaving in. I found the bindoff more challenging than I expected; I love the cleverness of the technique, but keeping everything lined up was a challenge. Thankfully, the end result was worth it.

I’m chagrined that my next step is the picking up of 160 freaking stitches for each armhole – that doesn’t exactly make the sleeves seem smaller than the other parts of the sweater, and we all know how I feel about picking up stitches. I will do it, because I am too close to the end to stuff the sweater in a bag for another two years. But it won’t stop me from whipping out a little something knitted before Pickup-palooza 2007 begins.

Little Tent Dishcloth This is the Little Tent Dishcloth, which holds the distinction of being the first project on Ravelry that someone else’s FO inspired me to knit. Sidebar: as someone with *cough* well over 100 projects in her Ravelry queue, I was unreasonably excited that casting on for something actually removed it from that long list. Give me a break; I haven’t started something new in awhile.

I am, however, itching to start the I Love Gansey socks, because I won some yarn (Opal!) from Brooke (check out her terrific Central Park Hoodie here) as part of her blogiversary contest which would suit them to a T. Don’t tell Beth Brown-Reinsel, but the gansey has never been my favorite type of sweater. Those socks, however, are just my cup of tea. Thank you, Brooke, for providing the yarn and the inspiration! In the meantime, I still have 1 month 22 days to finish a certain sweater.

The end of the tunnel?

As you read this, I have crossed the halfway mark for Cable and Rib. I have completed the right front, and right now, when I am a fair piece into the left front, I have to admit that even counting the buttonband to come, I have knit more on this project than I am going to knit. Even Knit One Purl Too’s Impartial Knitting Observer and Human Yarn Swift (aka my husband) commented on the speedy nature of my progress, but I think this is because he recognizes that “how’s my sweater coming” comments are kind of superfluous. It’s happening, baby!

I am, of course, thinking about what I will knit next* beyond finishing the lovely Step Above Socks. I suspect all of this…what do you call it…”progress” may just turn me into a project monogamist. Pretty much. I mean, there’s nothing better than starting something new, but how can you argue with the yards and yards of cabled fabric spewing forth from my needles? If you can’t be fast, be persistent. *[most likely Yarnissima’s Firestarter socks, or my Silk Garden cardigan, Lizzie – ed]

Which brings me to the nerdy section of this post: I am estimating that there are about 99,000 stitches in this sweater. If I have 44,500 stitches to go, and 75 days to do it, I need to knit roughly 604 stitches a day. Eight rows on the front equals 704 stitches, or 15 percent more than my daily “quota.” [Because I cannot bring myself to do it, please insert your own joke here about my canny impersonation of child sweatshop labor. Thank you. – ed] Can you believe I figured this out? Me either, but I am so excited that my combination of excessive planning and seat-of-the-pants guesstimating is paying off, I could plotz.

This post has waited for a picture for a good five days, and sadly, while my schedule includes 8 rows a day, rain or shine, it doesn’t include a lot of quality time with natural light during daylight hours. Trust me – the left front in progress looks a little like this, this, this or this – but left front-ier. Lots of pictures next time, I promise. Why will there be lots of pictures? Because the body of the sweater will be done, and I will be getting my passport stamped for Sleeve Island.

Nothing to it but to do it.

Right Front In Progress And here I present to you the right front of Cable and Rib, worked up to (and including) the armhole shaping in a mere two weeks. You may clap now, if for no other reason than (wait for it) I am still on schedule with this crazy “finish the big sweater by the end of the year” plan. I know it’s only been two weeks, but I’m pretty proud of myself.

I made a plan, which basically boiled down to saying “I think I need to knit about 8 rows a day,” and gosh darn it if working on the same project every day didn’t yield some real progress. Even though I know “slow and steady” is an obvious philosophy, I am honestly tickled pink that it’s working.

I started this sweater when I was still a relatively new knitter, and it’s surprising to me that my technique has improved so in the last three years that things I remember being difficult for the back (a cable row worked immediately after casting on, spotting and correcting mistakes) are no longer difficult. I’m no knitting expert, but I think I’ll need to redefine my notion of “challenging” projects. In a few inches, I start the V-neck shaping; I’ll report back when I’ve reached the summit. In the meantime, here are links to a few non-knitting things I’ve been enjoying.

1. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver – I had been planning to read this regardless, but a very interesting discussion over at sockbug’s prompted me to move it to the head of the line. My verdict? Even as I see that she writes from a privileged position I have an urge to plow under my backyard for a garden and learn to can. At the very least, my husband is getting a book about cheesemaking for Christmas this year.

2. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – Holy cow, this was such a pretty place to spend vacation this summer. Even the National Park Service, not known for effusiveness, called the views “spectacular”. They weren’t kidding. Also, many great local wineries nearby on the Leelanau peninsula. If you like that sort of thing.

3. Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare, by Stephen Greenblatt – This is the audiobook that’s seeing me through much of this sweater knitting frenzy. Honestly, and to my detriment, I am not so much for the history – but this is a fascinating look at the circumstances and events that might have influenced Shakespeare to become who he was and write what he did. It’s fantastically narrated by Peter J. Fernandez, which is obviously making all the difference for me.

Pardon me while I go knit on with confidence – see you on the left front…

1102 days down, 112 days to go.

My fabled knitting slump lasted all of three days, during which it might have looked as though I cast on approximately 40 times for Lizard Ridge – but that didn’t really get my mojo working, so I shelved the squares for later.
It also might have seemed I was reviewing every sock pattern written in the last four years: my current favorites are Ann Budd’s Seduction Socks (pdf) and a new-to-me treat for variegated yarn, Mad Color Weave. I may or may not be carrying a printout of that very pattern around in my car at this moment in case spontaneous knitting breaks out.

This would have once again been a perfect opportunity for a pattern choice flowchart: I wanted lacy, but not too open, or textured but not too complex, preferably with some detail running down the leg into the foot. Must use stash yarn. Points given for toe-up construction. Bonus if it features or can be adapted to a picot hem. Dark horses included the Uptown Boot Socks (I saw a pair made from the very yarn I had in mind on Flickr – why redo what’s been done?), and Veronik Avery’s Spiral Boot Socks (adapting them to toe-up so I didn’t run out of yarn seemed like a lot of work). Apparently my flowchart needs an option that says “if this is a pattern for boot socks, cast on immediately.”

Instead, I finished the back of Cable and Rib. See more pictures here, including a shot I have helpfully titled “So big, you can see it from space“.

Why yes, I do still think it's pretty I realize that I can’t call this an FO in any way, shape or form – but it’s a little bit of a rush nonetheless. To review: this is the project that has languished for almost exactly three years as you read this, since 2004 when I was swept away by the greatness of Tara Jon Manning’s Men in Knits. I like symmetry, and I like patterns – it just never occurred to me that to get a nice, densely textured fabric you would knit the same six stitch, four row chart over and over. And over.

I said I was going to finish this in 2007, and I’m sticking to that – which means I have 112 days in which to knit two fronts, two sleeves, seam, and knit on the button band. If you are laughing at the depth of my folly, go sit in the back where I can’t see you. I have a plan. First, the twoCable detail fronts should take just over three weeks apiece at my current breakneck pace. That leaves five weeks for two sleeves, and lets me declare December “Button Band Month,” so I can try to avoid staying up until 2 a.m. during the holiday season for a finishing party. Second, Tara Jon, are you serious? Knit the (honking) sleeves onto the (huge) body, down from the shoulders? I noticed this detail a long time ago, but confronting it once more now makes me think that this project is going to be so big that my knitting bag will be a rolling suitcase. So much for inconspicuously knitting in public.

Rockin’ Girl Blogger Isabelle was nice enough to nominate me as a Rockin’ Girl Blogger – thanks! I resemble that remark, and I’d like to nominate any knitter out there who’s also on the cusp of finishing a huge, languishing UFO. You’ve earned it.

I love the smell of lanolin in the morning.

When I look at the Cable and Rib sweater, I will always remember that I was watching Apocalypse Now when I bound off the whopping 14 stitches for the armholes. Heh. What a milestone, reaching that bindoff after some two years of on and off knitting. As with another infamous sweater, I knit beyond the length called for in the pattern – luckily Favorite Knitting Recipient #1 (a.k.a. my husband) is supah-tall, so a half inch between friends is nothing but a design element.

I think it’s ironic that I knit my heart out on this sweater and there is still no FO to show for it; I am more than a little sad that my total for the year will be seven objets finis rather than the twelve I had hoped for – eight, if I’m lucky. The everlasting gobstopper of a sweater is nowhere near done, so if there is an eighth to be had, it will be this charming hat crafted out of Encore worsted goodness. The idea is based on this adorable hat, sized up for a larger wee head. You’ll notice that in my crazy inspired brain, I decided to drop in a little basketweave stitch, so the hat will look even more like a basket of flowers once the accoutrements are sewn on. I’d like to give a big shoutout to Knitswapper Heidi who dove into her stash to provide me with oddments of superwash perfect for flowers.It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a hat!

The holiday season has been all about ebb and flow for me this year – comings and goings and ups and downs of all sorts. Shortly after we last saw each other, Charlie my cat, recipient of my first knitting project was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and so the Knit One Purl Too household has been “all treats, all the time” for our feline member. We are taking such good care of him that he may live into the new year, but whatever happens, he is having a great last few weeks on his way to the big catnip patch in the sky [tm our neighbor; I love that expression so much – thank you, neighbor! – ed.].

And while there have been cookies, and cards and carols and menorah lightings and gelt and dreidels, there has not been very much knitting. Truth be told, though I’m reading about what all of you are knitting, I lost my mojo after Charlie got cancer, and am only now getting it back. One of the things that’s helping is Learn How To Knit, an offbeat Christmas carol from the awesome Canadian Hawksley Workman – is there nothing Canada can’t do? Additional mojo-enhancement came from the sole knitting-related present I received this year. I was deeply touched that the Knit One Purl Too in-laws, (after just one mention of the greatness of Alice Starmore, several years ago) gifted me with The Celtic Collection, so Cromarty will be mine, soon enough. They were so excited about finding any Starmore book at all that I felt I had to disclose that The Celtic Collection was a Starmore still in print. Nonetheless, they were excited at their find on my behalf, so I must be doing something right as daughter-in-law #1.

So, somewhat belated holiday greetings from the Knit One Purl Too family. Here’s hoping you find an extra ball of yarn under the couch to start the new year.

Hello, what’s this?

First, for those who asked, in a concerned way: no, I did not finish the shawl in time for Halloween. I am not in any way bitter about this, because Susan sent a loaner(!) Charlotte’s Web in a similar color – so lovely, it was an inspiration to me and difficult to return. So my Halloween costume was complete [I was part of a group that went as the Bennett sisters from Pride and Prejudice, and for the record, I actually sewed part of my dress, though not the part you see here with the fancy scoop-neck elastic. — ed.]. Thank you so much, Susan!

You would think that without a deadline, I would return to the Meadow Flowers Shawl invigorated…but no. I am not abandoning it by any means, but an odd moment brought me to my senses. Every Monday, I reflect on what I might take to Knit ‘n Drink Tuesday at the local watering hole. Meadow Flowers is not appropriate for a dimly-lit bar, and with my Trekking socks finished, and the Retro Ribs finished, I felt as though I had nothing to knit. I even swatched for the Ribby Cardi, but found that true gauge would require new needles – roadblock, as they say on the Amazing Race, so no go on short notice. Of course, there are socks: “I need to cast on for a new pair of socks – I have nothing to work on!”

But that’s not true.

There’s always the Cabled Rib Cardigan from Men in Knits. Started in September 2004, I stalled out shortly thereafter because a. it’s a big sweater with no end in sight and b. there are twenty cable twists on the back every four rows. Fiddly. I think this is what happened: I figured out how the pattern worked, then yawned at the prospect of repeating the same exact pattern for yards of knitting. But now, it’s the perfect almost-mindless project for the months of sweater weather ahead. And, slowly, I can see it growing. There’s ten inches and some change twelve and a half inches here, with four two and a half inches to go before the armhole shaping (be still, my heart – Shaping! Something besides “knit, purl, cable!”). Bonus “yarn pron” b r o o k l y n t w e e d-style stitch closeup here.

Because I am independently crazy like that, I had already started figuring out just how many stitches were in this sweater when I read about NaKniSweMo (answer: at least 97,936 – there are 35,000 stitches in the back alone). I wanted to know where I was in relation to a completed sweater, percentage-wise. Answer? It’s too soon to be thinking about the completed sweater – just knit.

Thing 2879 you might not know about me: I am a NaNoWriMo winner, class of 2002. It was a heap of fun (genre: chicklit, number of appearances by the dear, departed Peter Jennings: one), but given that I have just completed a freelance writing assignment that required a huge amount of writing, I’d rather commit to finishing making steady progress on the back of my oldest WIP by November 30 – after all, I have less than 22,000 stitches to go. Like the Retro Rib socks we saw in our last entry, this Cabled Rib Cardigan appears to be a Commitment kind of project; for the knitter of average speed, you have to really want to finish the garment because you may be knitting on it for several years (not counting any time it lays fallow in your project basket). [One side benefit of restarting this project? I found my missing socks – they were in the felted bag I use as a project bag for good ole Cable and Rib – woot! — ed]

So, is this blog going to be “all Cable and Rib” all the time for the next two years while I finish this sweater? First of all, I am finishing this thing before the end of 2007, if I have to ring in the new year with Dick Clark and my Addi Turbos. I am totally starting a knitalong called “I Thought I’d be Done By Now,” membership: me. Second, I have never been a “small project” kind of person, but I think that’s going to change – I’ve been watching the Lonesome Skeiners and getting inspired, plus the 2006 Knitting Pattern a Day had a few winners that I might or might not be looking into if I were making an effort to knit up my stash, which I totally am, one skein of Blackwater Abbey at a time, as I work my way up the back of this huge cardigan. Only nine and a half skeins to go – whee!