Tag Archive | handknit sweaters

WIP Wednesday: Sweater Progress

The sweater WIP is still going, and I’m enjoying it more than my first sweater experience. I love my Harvest cardigan, but so much stockinette is just not my favorite knitting. So this new one, the Textured Pullover, is a 10-row repeat that keeps me going with color changes and alternating stockinette rows with k1, p1 rows. I zipped right through the yoke, discovered my stitch counts were wrong because I’d put my BOR marker in the wrong place, frogged about 10 rows, knit them again, and was finally able to put the sleeve stitches on waste yarn.

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Look at this pretty raglan sleeve detail!

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I’m not convinced it’s coming out big enough to fit me, but if not, I’ve got a girl who might wear it.

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Now I’ve just got about a foot of the body to knit, and it makes for perfect knitting while I watch the Olympics!

A New…Sweater??

Well, apparently I’m crazier than I realized. After knitting my first sweater last year, I said I never wanted to do it again. Getting gauge, determining size, having enough yarn, miles of endless stockinette, the hassle of sleeves…why would I want to do that again?

I still don’t know the answer, but I now have a new sweater on my needles. I was browsing Ravelry the other day and was overwhelmed by the urge to make a pullover. I didn’t want to have to buy yarn for it, though, which limited my options. Since I never committed to being a sweater knitter, I don’t buy sweater quantities of anything. That made my decision easier, because all I had available was some value-pack acrylic from Joann. (I know, I know, I prefer natural fibers too! But this is pretty good acrylic, feels soft and not too plastic-y. And I’ll be able to machine wash and dry without worrying.) I had 2100 yards each of purple and gray, more than enough for a pullover. Once I put all the filters into Ravelry, I started browsing and the only one that caught my eye was this Textured Pullover by Joji Locatelli.

My gauge came out pretty darn close on the first try, close enough that I was willing to take the risk. I decided to do gray with purple stripes, and cast on over the weekend. It was exciting! My first pullover! The short rows, never my favorite, went smoothly and the yarn was pleasant to knit with. The textured pattern is perfect, because it’s not all stockinette so I’m not getting bored out of my mind. The stripes help a lot with that, too. For the last few days, I’ve thought about this project when I wasn’t knitting on it, and it’s the only thing I worked on at home. Last night I was so excited because I got to the point where I was ready to divide for the sleeves, and just to double-check, I counted my stitches. They’d all been right after each previous section, so I felt confident. Wrong. My stitch counts were all wonky.

I went back and re-read the pattern, looked at my sweater, and realized that my BOR marker wasn’t in the right place. Somehow, mine was between the back and the left sleeve, and it was supposed to be between the back and the right sleeve. Nope, I don’t know what I did wrong. And yep, it made a difference, because for the last 10 rows, I’d been increasing the sleeves when I was supposed to be increasing the front and back. ARGH. There was no way I was going to frog back farther than absolutely necessary, so I found a smaller needle and threaded it through the stitches of the row where I wanted to start over, and frogged back all 10 rows that I’d just knit. By then it was after 10 and I was tired and annoyed, so I set it aside. But all day today I’ve been thinking about it, waiting for when I can get home and get it all straightened out. I think this sweater is going to be finished a lot faster than my first sweater, and with any luck, it’ll fit better too. And if it’s happily ever after, then I’ll feel confident enough to buy a sweater quantity of GOOD yarn! (Malabrigo, here I come!)

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Finishing Everything

This has been a very productive week, friends. I decided I needed to make a big push to finish the second baby blanket, as it is nearing fall and the babies are two months old now. I finished it Thursday and it is currently being prepped for blocking. Here it is unblocked:

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This one made for easy, mindless knitting, which also made for boring knitting. Nevertheless, it is lovely and should be nice and cozy for the little boy who will be receiving it. Now I’m only hoping that the two blankets are roughly the same size after they are blocked. We shall see. This pattern is the Garter Rib Baby Blanket and the yarn is KnitPicks Swish Worsted Brights in Razzleberry.

With the blanket done, I could turn back to socks, and I quickly finished the second sock I had on my needles.

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I ran out of the blue and only had the gray with me to finish the toe, so the second sock had the contrast toe as well (which is what I’d intended in the beginning anyway). So they don’t match that way, but they’re the same size! Almost exactly! I believe that’s the first time I’ve done that with socks. These are Blueberry Waffle Socks  in KnitPicks Stroll Glimmer in Peacock and Chrome. I quite like this yarn; it’s lovely and soft and sparkly.

Well, finishing those two things felt so good, I decided to keep finishing. I had my Harvest cardigan that had been sitting around for four months, waiting only for sleeves. Again, fall is coming. Wouldn’t I rather have a cardigan to wear than one to stare at? Yes. Yes, I would. I started knitting sleeves, and discovered that sleeves are also very boring to knit. But I had a little movie marathon and knit around and around and around and finally by 6:30, I had a complete cardigan! YAYYYYY! Sadly, I also had approximately twenty million ends to weave in. Still, I conquered those in time to have the husband take a photo before daylight was gone.

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It’s too big (I was between sizes and opted for the larger one) and there’s a faint stripe from before I started alternating skeins from different dye lots, but it’s a wearable sweater. It’s warm and cozy, and full of satisfaction. I MADE that. With my own two hands! And that feels pretty damn good. Mind you, I don’t know that I’ll ever do it again, given that it took forever and wasn’t the most interesting project at times, but who knows. Never say never, right?

This yarn (Universal Yarn Cotton Supreme Splash in Plum Blanket) and I have a long history. I bought the first few skeins back in April of 2014 to make a cardigan. I cast on for a Lilas Cardigan but too soon succumbed to the boredom of endless stockinette and set it aside. I had a couple more short bouts with it before finally frogging it early last year. I decided it would become a new sweater, and I chose the Harvest cardigan by Tin Can Knits for its simplicity to make and ease to wear. I cast on over six months ago and all went smoothly for a bit, until I moved into a skein purchased after the first batch. Yes, a noticeable difference. It went in timeout while I ordered more yarn. I knew it would be a different dye lot, and I would have to alternate skeins. I couldn’t bring myself to frog all the way back, though, and I think I can leave with that pale stripe. So here it is, over three years after first trying to become a cardigan, something I can wear! I’ve learned a lot, mostly to buy a sweater quantity all at once. That whole alternating skein thing was a pain in the butt.

Whew! Three FOs in one week! That left me with three WIPs. One is another blanket, which I moved to Hibernation until it gets cooler. One is my lace Zuzu’s Petals, which I’m eager to get back to. And the last one is Miss Winkle, which I started at the end of December. 8 months ago.  I didn’t really enjoy the knitting, but it’s such a cute pattern, and the loops truly are adorable.

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But. OMG. Making those loops?? I found it really tedious. Much like short rows, I liked the look but found myself getting annoyed at having to stop my knitting groove to make these long strips that made a loop. This morning, while I was lying in bed trying to decide whether to get up, I realized I was dreading having to go back to Miss Winkle, and I remembered what the son had said last night while I was finishing my cardigan: “I think next you should make something you like to knit!” Indeed. Why should I spend my precious knitting time on something I didn’t enjoy? Further, why would I waste yarn I love as much as this? So, this morning found me frogging.

It was a relief. Quite liberating, to be honest. Now I can happily finish Zuzu, and cast on for some new lunch-time knitting, and not have to look at all those lingering WIPs any longer!

I know Start-itis is a common thing; what about Finish-itis? Do you go through that as well?

Birthday, Sweater, Sock

Last weekend was just too busy for blogging. The girl, MY girl, keeps growing up: we had a party to celebrate her 17th birthday!

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The weekend was full of grocery shopping, baking, cleaning, partying–and then recovering! So there was knitting, but no blogging. I don’t have any FOs to share, so it may not seem like I was productive, but I did make good progress on two big WIPs.

Let’s look at the sweater first. I’m done with all the increases in the body, so that’s great. It’s even better when you consider that I had to frog around four inches last weekend. See, after I did my last post, I saw a line in the sweater:

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It was subtle but undeniable: a lighter stripe right there in the middle, and once I saw it I couldn’t unsee it. I checked the dye lots on all my skeins and the skein that produced the lighter stripe was the only one like it. The rest were more purple. Stripe aside, I worried about what the sleeves would look like when I picked up the stitches with the other shade of yarn. I knew I needed another three skeins to finish the sweater, so I ordered those knowing the dye lots would be different, and set the sweater aside. (Obviously this is why one plans ahead and checks dye lots and buys sweater quantities all at once.)

When the yarn arrived, I was kind of relieved to see that it was more of the lighter version, because that would help me blend the shoulders into the sleeves. I couldn’t bring myself to frog the whole thing, but I also couldn’t live with the big stripe, so I frogged back to where I split for the sleeves and reknit, this time alternating the two shades every two rows. I still have a stripe but it’s smaller and mostly on the back, and the following section is nicely blended. I think I can live with it.

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It’s smooth sailing from here on out, I think. The biggest hurdle will be combating the boredom of 12 more inches of stockinette!

The sock reappeared while the sweater was in time-out. I’d gotten bored with the leg so I’d do a few rows and then set it aside.

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I finally got to the heel a few days ago and that really amped up my interest. The heel flap was fine — I was helped a lot by the notes on cstein’s project on Ravelry — but then came the heel turn. I knit the first six rows, then it said “Continue in this manner.” To me, that meant to repeat that section. I tried that three times, and the stitch count didn’t work, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. Thankfully, my Knitting SIL has made these before so I texted her, and it turns out that “Continue in this manner” meant to progress with the increasing number of stitches you knit/purl in each row before the decrease and turn. I mean, yeah, okay, that’s not hard…but that’s not what the pattern said! Grr. Okay, with that information, the heel turned quickly and looked great.

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After that, foot went quickly and this morning I was doing Kitchener to close up the toe, and BAM I have a finished sock!

IMG_3263Grace is unimpressed.

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Despite my frustration with some of the pattern (or may because of that?), this was a great learning project. The foot is just a hair too long, so I know to make that a little shorter in the future. And the leg feels too tall, so I’ll shorten that in future socks. Plus I learned a new heel, the Eye of Partridge heel, and got to practice my Kitchener. Now, how long will it take me to knit the second sock??

 

Day of Knitting

We have had a lot of germs in our house already this year. The kids have been taking turns being sick, back and forth, and the husband took a turn once, and all along I managed to stay (mostly) healthy. But for most of last week, I could feel something creeping up, and I kept the symptoms mostly at bay out of stubbornness. But the germs are fighting hard this time, and yesterday my body told me I needed some time to just chill out and let my mind and body rest. So with the exception of a needed grocery run, I rested. I sat outside in the gorgeous weather to let the dogs run around. Then when they made too much progress on their tunnel to China, we went inside and hung out on the couch, watching Mean Girls and Property Brothers. I finished one book and started another, and I did some knitting. Of course some knitting!

I started by officially casting on for my Harvest cardigan. I pulled out one of my favorite sweaters to measure so I could choose a size. Based on the chest measurement, I could go down an inch or up three. Because I like my sweaters loose and oversize, I chose the bigger size, especially since the upper arm measurement was better on that one. Then I gathered up all the tools I’d need for the project, and cast on. So far, so good!

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Of course, it’s just a straight row of garter stitch so it doesn’t get much easier! The only trick is making sure I keep track of how many rows I’ve done.

Then I set that aside to save the easy knitting for a concert I’m going to today, and revisited Miss Winkle. This one is a slow knit for me for some reason. Maybe it’s that so much of it involves knitting those 4-stitch loops. I do love how it looks but this isn’t my favorite thing to knit.

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After yesterday’s talk about gauge, I decided to check my gauge on Miss Winkle, and sure enough I have more stitches per inch than called for. But my skein has 120+ more yards than hers, and the pattern is designed to be knit until your yarn runs out, so I feel confident that this one will end well. I just don’t feel confident that it will end anytime soon!

I also took a quick trip to my LYS in hopes of getting the yarn I needed to finish my Hitchhiker Beyond, and got kind of lucky. They did have the right yarn in the right colorway, but as with most Malabrigo, there’s a lot of variation between dye lots. I bought my original skein while on vacation, plus I’d thrown away the tag (rookie mistake) so the odds of getting the same dye lot were slim to none. I decided I was okay with that if I could get the project done soon. So yes, my latest Hitchiker is complete, just not perfect.

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Yep, if you’re looking for it, the color difference is noticeable. But I certainly won’t notice it while I’m wearing it. I love the shape of it, long and more narrow than the original Hitchhiker, but after this and now with Miss Winkle, I might take a break from garter stitch shawls for a little while!

Other than that, my day was mostly like this:

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Adventures in Gauge

Gauge is dumb. Okay, no, I know it’s not. I know it’s very important for some things. For things where fit is critical, making sure your gauge matches the pattern is kind of a big deal. Because my brain struggles to understand gauge (do I go up a needle size or down? If I’m off by one stitch, do I need to adjust my stitch count? Will it be bigger or smaller?) I typically avoid projects where matching gauge is critical. Hats? They’ll fit somebody. Cowls, scarves, shawls…those are forgiving projects, and as long as you like the drape of the fabric you’re making, you’re fine.

EXCEPT. If your gauge is off, you will use a different amount of yarn than the designer. Sometimes it’s not enough to matter, and sometimes you have plenty of yarn so maybe you don’t notice. And then sometimes, you don’t. And that sucks. I’ve always been fine not worrying about gauge. The times I did check it, 99% of the time my gauge matched the designer’s with the recommended needles and yarn weight. But lately, I’ve had problems with several projects and I think gauge is to blame. Remember my Black Diamond cowl? How I ran out of the Anzula even though I should have had plenty? I’m guessing that was a gauge issue.

Now, I’ve got my Hitchhiker Beyond on the needles, and the pattern calls for 350-383 yards, and I figured my 420 yards of Malabrigo Mechita would be more than enough. I used the recommended needle size and happily knit away. Then I got about six inches from the end and ran out of yarn.

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What the heck? I checked my gauge and instead of the recommended 22 st/4″, I have 25! This is where I struggle with gauge, because even though I know I should have gone up at least one needle size, I don’t really understand why this used up my yarn faster. But clearly, it did. So now I’m stuck with a few options that all kind of suck: frog and reknit, bind off with a stupid blunt edge, or buy another $20 skein of yarn. Because I am too lazy to frog and reknit like my garter stitch dense and squishy, I’m going to buy more yarn to finish on these needles.

Learning about my gauge is important, because I’m still committed to making my first cardigan. I ordered some black Irish wool and had to go down two needle sizes to get gauge, and I was mildly panicked to think that my gauge had loosened up that much and it would affect every project I would ever do in the future. (I know, it’s really not a big deal, but I got really spoiled getting gauge easily in the past.) Now I know that’s not the case, partly because with the Malabrigo fingering, I was knitting more tightly. But I also know because I did another swatch for my cardigan today.

You see, even though I matched gauge over a week ago, I still haven’t cast on for the cardigan. I kept telling myself it was because I didn’t have the time to focus on it. Finally I realized I was putting it off because I didn’t like knitting with the yarn, especially on the size 6 needles. The yarn is so rough and scratchy, and I can’t imagine knitting with it long enough to make a whole sweater. If I’m going to commit to something like a sweater, it’s only going to happen if the knitting is pleasurable. So, with relief, I gave up on the scratchy Irish wool. At some point I will use bigger needles and make some felted totes or something, so it won’t go to waste.

In the meantime, I picked some purple cotton out of my stash for my Harvest Attempt #2. I have six skeins, the result of a failed cardigan attempt a couple of years ago. It’s not enough yarn; I’ll have to buy more eventually. But it’s enough to get a really good start. Thinking I probably do knit looser than I used to, I started with size 7 (instead of the recommended 8s) and made a small swatch: 20 stitches/4″ instead of 18. Made another one with 8s and this time I got 17 stitches. That’s pretty darn close, and I’m going to stick with it.

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So, FINE. I give in. You swatchers win this round: I concede that doing swatches is important. BUT: I’m still only going to do it for garments and when I have a limited amount of expensive yarn and I’m not sure I have enough. (And honestly, in those instances, I’ll probably just start knitting the project and check my gauge partway in. That’s gonna have to be close enough sometimes.)

What about you? Do you always check gauge? Never?

Socks and a Sweater

The socks are done! I have my first pair of handknit socks!

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The second sock was a breeze, came off the needles quickly and without a hitch. I’m eager to do a pair in sock yarn now that I’ve got the gist. I’ve already chosen the pattern (Hermione’s Everyday Socks) and the yarn (Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock Multi in a purple/gray color). My only little hiccup was that it’s a little loose where I picked up the stitches on the side of the heel flap. Any tips on preventing that?

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And now that I’ve conquered my fear of socks, I’m moving on to my next knitting hurdle: a sweater! This hurdle has more to do with attention span than knitting. I have crocheted a cardigan, and I’ve begun a sweater in the past, so I feel confident that I CAN knit a sweater; I’m just afraid I’ll get bored with it halfway through and never finish it. But, like the socks, I’m ready to challenge myself. Plus I want more ways to wear my yarn. Plus I just want more sweaters.

First came the yarn. For Christmas, my mom gave me a cabled sweater from the Aran Sweater Market in Killarney, Ireland. It’s beautiful and so warm! With it I got a $20 coupon, so I browsed the sweaters but couldn’t commit. Then it hit me: Yarn! Yes, they sell yarn! I picked Charcoal and ordered 5 skeins.

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Next came the pattern. I had some in my library but they were either DK or bulky. After much searching, I found Harvest by TinCan Knits, one of my favorite designers. It’s top-down, no seaming, appropriate yardage, and has enough interesting bits to keep me from getting terribly bored with it. (I hope.)

Now I’ve got all my tools assembled and I just need to get going. My first gauge swatch (YES. I’m even making a gauge swatch!) showed that my gauge was too loose, even unblocked, so I reknit it in smaller needles. I think it’s still a bit loose but I’ve washed it and will measure again once it’s dry.

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I’m also hoping the Eucalan will soften it a bit. The yarn is…rustic, we’ll say, and not terribly soft. If Eucalan doesn’t help, I might try some hair conditioner. But even if it doesn’t soften as much as I’d like, it’s a cardigan and I’ll always be wearing something underneath it. It just remains to be seen whether that something will always have to be long-sleeved. And now, while I wait for my swatch to dry, I’m off to cast on a new project or two! Happy knitting, friends!