FO


Howdy, doody – the Girlfriend Tank is finished.

 

Maizy likes it, which is good enough for me.

Super simple to make.  I like the way the striping came out, even though I flew by the seat of my pants with it, alternating colors along the way, gradually working toward a higher white-to-blue ratio closer to the top (excluding the straps).

PatternShort Snort Girlfriend Tank, by Wendy Bernard at Knit and Tonic (available free here)

Yarn:  Louisa Harding Coquette (blue, 2 skeins) and white acrylic baby-weight of unknown manufacturer from the stash

Time to complete:  about a week

Suggested alterations:  add a couple of decreases in each of the four rows coming up to the underarm area (prior to the 6-stitch bind-offs) to create a bit of a tighter fit and prevent accidental boob exposure

 

It's a high-fashion item

It's a high-fashion item

Upon being presented with this garment, Maizy asked, “What’s this thing?” in reference to the silver ring on the front bodice. 

I explained that this was a high-fashion item that would make her shirt more special. 

Later that day, she followed up with several other questions about high fashion, which I answered confidently, if not in a laughably unqualified manner. 

 

 

A nice air-conditioned stripe, if you will.

Once the tank was blocked, the two different yarn types flowed together much more smoothly, as one might expect.  The few rows of solid blue that I’d done at the bottom came out just as I’d hoped; a bit breezy and airy looking, owing to the use of the lighterweight Coquette on its own. 

 

 

Initially I made the straps plenty long, so that I could just shorten them to fit once Maizy could try it on.  The problem, as I had figured might arise, was a bit of unwanted boobage on display with the straps anything less than as short as they could be and still fit over her head. 

Hot off the needles, unblocked, plenty of strap length

Hot off the needles, unblocked, plenty of strap length

Fully blocked

Fully blocked, shorter straps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I shortened the straps to this short-as-can-be length and it looks much better, but any sudden movements and she’ll be flashing the general public.  Not that public toddler-boobage is the world’s biggest crime, but since she usually does wear a shirt when she’s out on the town…Sissy B may add a small dart tack  (½-inch or so) under each armpit to keep things contained.

All in all, it’s a cute little project that I hope will be a bit of bling for the wardrobe, even over a turtleneck on snow days.

I think she looks fabulous in it, but I’ve got major auntie bias.

 

I did embark on one other wee project recently, inspired by my sister’s a) craftiness and b) environmentally-friendly choices.  Months ago we made a trip to Jo-Ann’s during which we picked up some fabric for making cloth napkins.  She of course forged ahead with the project, churning out a number of cutie designs that have since replaced her paper napkin supply (she’s also gotten rid of paper towel – even with two little ones – using washcloths and towels to clean up all spills).  I on the other hand made no such progress.

Spurred on by the chance to use my mom’s feisty Bernina (Sissy B now keeps the legendary sewing machine at her place), I got down to it in making a few cloth napkins of my own.  That said, sis did end up doing most of the sewing while I was blocking my knitting.  But I did some of it.  And cut out the pieces and pressed the seams.  Not that there’s much of a pattern to these puppies, but we did follow Amy Karol’s Bend the Rules Sewing pattern, because we could, and because we like Amy and her phenomenal blog.

I dig these.  Not only are they pretty, but I can do my part by decreasing the unneeded consumption of paper products in our household.  The Napkins That Saved The World.

 

OK, one parting funny before I sign off.

As part of Maizy’s b-day, her parents got her a Barbie Rock Star Guitar

Absolutely hilarious. 

It comes with a headet mike (think Britney) that really works, real strings to strum, and a number of really-not-that-annoying music tracks, which you can speed up or slow down to meet the mood. 

The frontrunner of the available songs it plays is “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” (Sissy B said that once she heard that, the guitar was immediately added to the shopping cart).  Maizy was very serious about her newly unveiled instrument, and she serenaded us with a full concert of her best material, complete with professional-looking shimmying, hopping, and facial expressions.  I think my favorite was the swaying – “Guys, I’m going to do a slow one now.”

Anyway, had to share.  Her leader-of-the-band rocker chick impersonation will forever be linked in my mind with the sparkly Girlfriend Tank that she sported around for us the weekend she turned three.  Happy Birthday, Maiz.

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I’ve been all in a kerfuffle since the end of Ravelympics:  life, unfortunately, has come back to remind me that there are other things to do than knit. Like eat, which I do like. And sleep – also like. And get out of bed and go to work. Hmmmmmm. Small things like that.

On the home front, I finally cleaned up my area yesterday after it had been messy – messier than even my usual disorganization – since before vacation. The packing-my-suitcase process leaves my part of the bedroom cluttered because I toss everything on the bed that could be a candidate to pack, then put only those items that make the shortlist into my case (once I’ve had a gander at everything all splayed out), and then remove whatever doesn’t fit (even after sitting on it to get it zipped).

Of course all of the clothes that didn’t make the cut are swept off the bed onto the floor (where the pile is less noticeable from the doorway) and not put away properly – I always pack at the last minute, and therefore there’s no time to straighten – but what does it really matter? We’re leaving town! Who cares if the house is messy?

Oh, Bridge, how I love ya.

Oh, Bridge - how I love ya.

Upon return, you’ll be shocked to hear, it was all still there. In my attempt to make progress in adopting better habits, I “unpacked” within a day of returning (read: dumped case out on top of existing pile and placed empty case in closet). Then it’s back to work busybusybusy and tiredpoopedweary at night and nothing gets put away.  The ramifications:  going to work with wrinkled trousers and a shirt that marginally passes the sniff test.  Very Bridget Jones.  And I love Bridge, but what kind of life is this? Get it together!

So yesterday I did (yeah, and just a shade under a decade, all right). Clothes away or in the laundry, shoes back in the closet, balls of yarn back to the shelf or in a knitting bag, the floor once again in view. I knew there were some bills underneath all that mess, too – lying there dormant, just waiting to pounce on my checkbook once unearthed – and unfortunately I found them. Now all I need to do is pay the people who sent them.

Righty roo – after all that business of cleaning up, I deserved a sit. I had a glass of chilled tea (I prefer “chilled” to “iced” because it’s not your run of the mill Lipton Sun Tea I was enjoying – I decided to get funky with some Celestial Seasonings and stick my wee teapot in the fridge after it had steeped and cooled down a bit so that it would cool down further to reach “chilled”.  With a tea called Goji Berry Pomegranate Green Tea, it just doesn’t seem right to call it “iced tea”).  I put my feet up.  I watched the convention on the telly.

And then – I cast on my second sock of all time.

And why would I be casting this on?

Because I FINISHED MY FIRST SOCK EVER OF ALL TIME.  EVEREVEREVERERERERERER!

True, I did not accomplish the feat of finishing both Braided Cable and Broken Seed socks (plus another pair of Raindrop Lace socks that I had put down on my Olympics to-do list…um, yeah).  In the end it just doesn’t matter.  I’m so stinkin’ proud of that one sock that I’m not at all bothered by missing out on the gold medal.

This is what sockie looked like at the strike of the clock ending closing ceremonies Pacific time:

Needles down!  Progress at end of Olympics

Needles down! Progress at end of Olympics

Not bad, really.  I’d finished the heel flap and just begun my gusset decreases. 

But I could taste victory (easier when it’s on your own terms).  The day before, realizing that the complete pair of socks just wouldn’t get done in time, I’d set the goal of finishing just that one sock by the end of the weekend. 

And I did it!  Yay for me!

Now I know this is small potatoes, really, and that many many people can knit two socks in one day – some while doing cartwheels, composing limericks and at the same time speaking in tongues (with a mouth full of Hubba Bubba to boot).  Yes.  But for me, this is a milestone, so I’m blogging about it.  That’s what bloggers do.

No waiting for good lighting...I couldn't wait to capture my moment of sockful joy.

No waiting for good lighting to take this photo... couldn't wait to share my sockful joy

I do realize this isn’t an actual FO, even though I’m treating it like one.  I’ll come back and FO it up with the full pair very soon. 

In spite of these festivities, or perhaps because of them, I do admit to a bit of second-sock syndrome having set in.  After knitting up a storm over the weekend (and making excellent progress on my knitting callouses as well: middle finger left hand, first finger right hand), I only had one sock, folks.  I mean, come on – who wants to go through all of that again just to end up with the same thing?  The same gorgeous, cozy, pride-enducing, and (arguably most importantly) matching thing?

Well, after a day off the needles – even the most obssessive among us need a break sometimes – I was ready.  Plus, casting on was a great excuse not to go back to cleaning.

At least it’s going faster this time, and it looks better (not as loose at the joints of the dpns).  I think the second-sock syndrome has passed; I’m really chomping to finish this puppy now.  Then I’ll want to finish my Fisherman’s Sweater, which is bulky and as such should wrap up quickly.  Oh, but how I’ve been dreaming of other new and – gasp! – potentially simultaneous projects to cast on!  A few times in the last week I’ve just happened to find myself with some very nice patterns in front of me on a number of fabulous new sites I’ve found.

But more on that later.  I have a whole list of fabulous discoveries that I want to share with you, and I will certainly do just that at my next opportunity to gush.

Looks like I’m having my own Knitapalooza this weekend.

Here’s where I am with my first socks ever:

Now I know it might not look like I’ve gotten very far, but I’ve learned a lot in these couple of inches. And I like the way it’s looking.  And feeling.  Love the texture!

I was inspired by Allison’s comment on my last post about her sock-making experience. I want these to be divine on my feet! And it’s good to know that the 2-circular-needle method is out there, if the double-pointed needles (dpn) don’t end up doing it for me. Although, ironically, once I stopped pouting about the scary pointing-in-every-direction dpns, I went back to using all 5 (instead of just 3), and I’m doing fine, with much less whining.

I’ll also want to try the 2-at-a-time Socks dealio, as outlined by Melissa Morgan-Oakes in the book I bought during vacation (when I was feeling justified in being quite good to myself). Haven’t cracked it open yet, but maybe I’ll try my Raindrop Lace socks using this method.

Yes, I’m resigned to the fact that I’m not going to get all of my Ravelympics projects done by the end of the closing ceremonies, which will end by 9AM my time tomorrow morning (if I’ve done my math correctly). But that’s OK – I’m totally OK with this. I’m into some good momentum now with my socks, and I’m glad for the new skills. If I can finish the first sock in the pair of Braided Cable and Broken Seed socks by the end of the weekend, I’ll be happy. The two FOs of the Olympics for me will remain the Little Girl’s Shrugs I made for the niecies, which I was soooo happy with.

Speaking of, Sissy B texted me this phone snap yesterday:

I just want to scoop them up.

I just want to scoop them up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Honestly, is this not the cutest thing you ever did see?  I can’t imagine a happier place for those two little shrugs to be.

Back at ya after the last curtain of the Olympics.

Oh my heavens, I’ve been itching to get this blog out for the last two weeks. 

I’ve just returned from vacation with my extended family, which was truly wonderful – I spent a lot of time with actual people (instead of my laptop).  This is, I suppose, the point of taking a vacation with one’s family.   No matter how much one’s laptop is clearly jealous – sitting right there on the coffee table, whimpering in neglect and beckoning with the sweet, glowing ember of its power indicator – family (at least a fun one) beats computer.

Frankly, however, now that I’m again surgically attached to the internet, I’m giddy with delight.  I’ve been busting to share my Ravelympics progress. 

I’d heard about the Knitting Olympics before, and had seen shiny little medals adorning a few knitting blogs, but I was a bit in the dark as to what it all meant.  Obviously it wouldn’t take a brain surgeon to find out; but alas, laziness had won out over curiosity.  And, to be honest, I was a little frightened of the unknown:

  • What kind of project was required for this?
  • How would achievement be measured?  Would someone show up at my door to inspect my stitching?
  • Would there be actual physical activity required? 

(pause to catch breath)

  • Would there be a uniform involved?  Something without adequate coverage in the upper thigh area?
  • Would I be flogged if I let the team down?
  • Would sleep deprivation be involved?

On that last one, I did kind of hope I’d be pressured into knitting into the wee hours for days on end.  I’ll take all the help I can get when it comes to justifying knit-time.  If I took part in the Olympics, it wouldn’t be just me obsessing over my knitting, but, in fact, me and my country in our quest for the gold.

So I checked it out.  I found that the Knitting Olympics, as initiated years ago by The Yarn Harlot, is held only every 4 years in alignment with the Winter Olympics, and that Stephanie Pearl-McPhee wouldn’t be leading a Knitting Olympics for this summer.  Ah, stink.

But – shocker! – I didn’t have to look much further to find that Ravelry was all over it.  The first ever Ravelympics was kicking off very soon, apparently.  Maybe because the actual Olympics were going to kick off?  Still a bit suspicious, I landed on gloriana’s post and read about her taking the plunge, and I was jolted into action.  I marched over to Ravelry, figured out the rules (clicking on big obvious links called “Ravelympics” does tend to clear things up), and decided quickly on the following projects:

  1. Niece gifts – I was inspired by gloriana’s niecie motivation, and conveniently, I’d recently found a pattern that would work well for both of my girls in their almost-3- and almost-1-year-old sizes.  The challenging part of these two projects would be not so much in technique, but in knocking them out quickly.  No dilly-dallying.  This is war, Peacock.
  2. Socks! – This was the project coming to mind that most closely fit on the “challenge” element of the Ravelympics call to action.  I’ve lurked around blog posts with people cooing over socks for a while, but I’d never dipped my toe in that water.  I decided I’d try it.  Secretly I hoped that I’d get hooked and start cranking out socks with the same glee I’ve so enviously observed.

The patterns:

  1. Little Girl’s Shrug
  2. Braided Cable & Broken Seed sock
  3. Raindrop Lace Socks

Little Girl’s Shrug

Casco Bay Worsted, 100% cotton

I picked up the Little Girl’s Shrug pattern at The Yarn Lounge in Richmond, Virginia, where I found myself a few weeks ago after passing through on business and visiting my dear friend Kimlee.  I loved The Yarn Lounge – I lingered for a loooong while and chatted with the lovely Melanie, not only about knitting but also about the indisputable merits of wine and cheese (oh, yummy).  I also picked up the perfect light summer cotton yarn for my two niece projects – on deep discount!  Purple for Maizy, pink for E-dot.

On my way back through D.C. a couple days after that, I stopped in at Knit Happens in Alexandria.  This LYS (Local Yarn Store) popped up on my radar after I found out about the Stefanie Japel design workshop they are sponsoring there the first weekend in November, just prior to her launch of Glam Knits.  I was gung-ho to splurge on a trip out to attend this workshop, but over the last couple weeks I’ve chickened out.  What if I can’t keep up?  Here comes that junior-high dodge-ball team-picking feeling again.

Neighborhood Fiber Co., Studio Worsted;

Neighborhood Fiber Co., Studio Worsted

Anyway, I drooled all over their yarn at Knit Happens and ended up walking away with a locally made yarn in a pretty deep purple variegated hue.  It may have helped that the sample knit for this yarn on display was designed by already-on-the-brain Knitting Pure and Simple, the maker of my Little Girl’s Shrug pattern.  This was a baby cardigan (pattern, incidentally, available free for download here), which in the store was modified to have buttons instead of ties as pictured on the website as linked above.  It was so darn cute I shelled over 13 smackers for 98 yards of the yarn they made it with.

Socks.  Well.  I happened to come across another couple of patterns at So Much Yarn the following week in Seattle (yes, I do get around), which was a shop recommended to me by knitsurg (the creator of a va-va-voom version of Stefanie Japel’s Orangina) on Ravelry.  Words can’t say how much fun I had in So Much Yarn, but of course I’ll give it a shot.  Beautiful, beautiful yarns, in a huge space, with lovely displays and a nice big table and workspace in back to peruse possible purchases and crunch the numbers on yarn yardage.  After meandering around in my comfort zone for a while (my comfort zone being just about everything except the sock yarn category), I broke down and asked for assistance in picking a good starter pattern and fiber for my Ravelympics sock project.  Theresa was very sweet and pointed me in the right direction in picking up the Braided Cable & Broken Seed Sock pattern, which has a lot of nice detail on techniques like the Kitchener stitch, and was designed by Lauren Lindeman, the owner of the shop.  I also picked up the pattern for Raindrop Lace Socks, which I liked a lot and decided to go for as an additional Ravelympics goal, in spite of Theresa’s concerned looks and comment that these socks might be “a little too advanced”.  Hmmmm.  I still think I can do it.

So – the update!  Boy, it took me a while to get to this part.


Cozy cardi

Before the button

Pattern #1, the Little Girl’s Shrug, I’m happy to report has yielded 2 FOs!  As I was with Maizy over my vacation, I hand-delivered her light purple cropped cardi, and my heart melted at her delight.  She strutted around saying how much she liked it, telling me once more for the road before she headed out at the end of our vacation, “Actually, Amy, I still really like this.”

Didn’t quite plan ahead with the button, so the purple sparkly number I picked out is going in the mail to her mom, along with the second FO, the pink one, for E-dot.  My flying fingers couldn’t quite finish off the arms on hers in time to give it to her before we parted ways.

Anyhoo, I really do like the way they turned out. 


front

The yarn, Casco Bay Worsted, was light and springy like the sample that sold me in the store.  Melanie at The Yarn Lounge told me there was no reason these couldn’t go in the washing machine.  Probably OK to machine dry as well, although there may be some shrinkage. 


back

I knit both shrugs on US 5 circular needles, with the tiny bit of arm ribbing completed on US 2 double-pointed needles.  The final fabric was soft and slightly textured to the touch.  I blocked each of these, but the purple one wasn’t quite finished at the time I declared it dry enough to let Maizy wear, so it could use a little more blocking to help the lace border, which I opted to use instead of plain ribbing on the body, lay nice and flat.

First ever cast-on for a sock

First ever cast-on for a sock

Pattern #2, the Braided Cable & Broken Seed sock, is in progress.  I admit to initial palpitations, as I had anticipated, working with all five US 2 double-pointed needles in my newly-purchased set per the pattern’s instructions.  It took me a while to get started, but I forged ahead, Helen

The picture on the right shows how far I got after over 2 hours of earnest work…yeah, not too far.  But immediately after I took that photo I made the decision to lose two of the needles.  Three was enough to comfortably get around the circumference of the sock, and it was much less of a headache.

I knit a bit more on the flight back from the Midwest where we were visiting family, but not a lot more because I had a happy and unexpected distraction – Lish, my aforementioned BFF, was on the same flight as me back to California, as she too had been back home for the weekend.  I didn’t know this until I saw her at the airport, at which time I was very pleased (and also feeling quite fancy and cosmopolitan with the bumping-into-of fabulous people in airports).  Hooray for happy coincidences and for cross-country airplane chats.

Right – for Ravelympics, it’s clear I’ll need to get my booty in gear to get through both socks (and at least start on my Raindrop socks, for pete’s sake) before the closing ceremonies.  I’m up for it.  I’m juiced at my progress so far.  There may be a lot left to do, but there’s nothing like pushing yourself in the name of knitting.  Stay tuned.

Woo-hoo, off the needles!  As of two days ago, technically speaking, but I needed to seam and block before my über-high-fashion photo shoot.  Blocking didn’t change much in terms of the fit, which overall I’m happy with, but it did even out the stitches a bit.


Ta-da!

So – I like Airy.  She’s easy breezy to look at, yet surprisingly warm – thanks to the mohair – given that it’s a lacy summery top.  As for completing the look, I need to find/buy another white camisole or sleeveless tank.  Couldn’t find the one I know I have that’s hiding from me, so I went with a scoop tee for these shots.  I’m sure I’ll experiment with other undergarments for this, but to show you, I wanted to stick with basic white.

Pattern: Airy Wrap-Around Lace Sweater from Fitted Knits, designed by Stefanie Japel
Size:  The one in the middle of the five
Yarn: Almost 5 balls of Lane Cervinia Softer in shade #3331 (light lavender), 50/50 mohair/acrylic
Needles: size 11 circular
Time to knit: about six weeks of heavily-divided attention
Modifications: Longer torso and sleeves (2 added inches each), shorter tie-flaps (about 10 inches each)

As you’ll note from my Ravelry project notes, I used the yarn prescribed by Stefanie – Lane Cervinia Softer – down to the color (I know, I know, very unoriginal thinking, but what can I say – I liked what I saw in the photo).  Yarn-wise, the Italian blend gets a thumbs-up:  easy to work with, nice drape, nice feel (in spite of the acrylic component).  I’ve seen a few knitters question what to substitute if you’re not into sheddy mohair (I say no biggie with such a light color – I just won’t wear black on the bottom).  Tough to say, since I’m not an expert on all things lacy, but I wouldn’t be quick to approach a substitution on this one.  It seems critical not to end up too heavy on the weight.  Also, with a size 11 needle (which I did achieve gauge with as written in the pattern), you don’t want to go too lightweight with the fiber holding together the larger lace stitches – it’s not that they’re that complex, but it’s that you don’t want the fragile-looking stitching to actually become fra-gee-lay  (um, yeah…being a big movie-line-quoter, I almost always think – or say – “fra-GEE-lay” when I write or say “fragile” – I can’t help it.  It comes from A Christmas Story, when the dad won a “major prize” and gets all excited about the fantastically still-unknown, full-of-possibilities contents of the large wooden crate marked “FRAGILE” that arrives on his doorstep: “Look at that, it says fra-GEE-lay…must be Italian!”).


From the left: sleeve cabling,
tie-wrap end (spread out),
tie end curled up

Anyhoo, back to Airy.  In the way of putting this puppy on and actually wearing it (I know it’s not really difficult – just wrap the ties around and then – you guessed it – tie them), there are a few things you might want to think about in advance.  As I’ve already mentioned, I doubt you’ll want to make the ties as long as they are written to be in the pattern.  Luckily my waist circumference must be in the same ballpark as others who’ve come before me who have made this suggestion.  I stopped at 42″ on the first flap until I caught up the other flap to the same length, then ultimately found that I needed another 2″ or so (another 6 rows of stockinette following the lace stitch where I stopped), given that the decrease rows that form the pretty detail on the end of the ties would add probably another 6 inches.

You should think about how tight you’re going to wrap yourself up when you’re actually wearing it – and who among us wouldn’t be tempted to crank those ties pretty darn tight to cover up the bulge from that HUGE Mediterranean platter we devoured at lunch?  Also consider that the ties will stretch a bit more once you’ve pulled them taut (even after blocking) – and thank goodness for that, since we’re not going to be able to keep it up with that corset-like attempt we made up above there to hold in the gut.  Even in tying and re-tying the knot to get it to look right (yes, I too was shocked when I didn’t get it picture-perfect the first time), the ties took on another inch or so as the fibers settled into their designated places in the wrap. 

In a nutshell, proceed with caution unless you want to swear while ripping back inches of knitting.  You should be prepared to lose at least 6″ off the ties as written. 


Front of sweater
The tie on the right is in its
natural state – all curled up

Back of sweater
Sure the lower-back cabling
gets covered up…but isn’t
it fun to know it’s there?

The tie-wraps are hard to visualize until you’ve actually knitted them (or seen more detailed photos than the pattern book provides – like, say, these photos here!).  The dimensions diagram in the book doesn’t show the flaps, but they are in fact long extensions of the right and left front.  When I first read the pattern it seemed like they should be narrowing sooner than they do in order to actually become “ties”, but it ends up making sense – ultimately they curl in lengthwise toward the end of the flap, which makes them look skinnier.  Around the back it’s nice to have substantial flaps to wrap around so that the cabled bottom edge is nicely tucked under and less likely to end up unevenly hanging out below (or even partially above) the wrap-around part.  I actually tucked in the bottom edge of the back cable when I was wearing it so that it was nice and smooth across the whole back.  Others on the Fitted Knits KAL on Ravelry made other modifications or wore the ties slightly differently so that the cabling detail is more visible; some didn’t bother doing the cable detail on the back at all.  Different strokes.

The only modification I made other than to shorten the oft-mentioned ties was to lengthen the torso and sleeves (extra 2 inches each).  The added length in the torso required picking up another 4 stitches at the start each front flap.  I added 2 stitches to each end of the row throughout the knitting of the flaps; if I’d thought about it more I may have added the 4 stitches evenly in-between the lace stitches…but you know what?  It wouldn’t have made a difference.  Those little flappies start to roll up at the edges (by design) and the lacy yarn-overs just blend into the over ambience of the ties.  The extra four stitches meant I needed to add four more decrease rows at the tie-ends in order to land on the 21 stitches at bind-off; I divided the extra decreases evenly and did 2 in each set of the garter stitch repeat before the row of yarn-overs.  Easy peasy.

Even though I did try this on all along the way and it seemed the extra inches were needed (as I would usually expect), in the end I don’t think I needed to add any length.  The sleeves hit me a little lower than they do on the model in Fitted Knits, but so it goes.

Seaming the sleeves took about 2 minutes – very easy.  I saw someone dreading it on a Ravelry forum (“What?  Stefanie’s making me seam something?”) – but this tiny little lightweight, big-stitch inseam is about as simple as it gets where stitching seams is concerned.


Checking out my own bum

Thanks to Sissy B for the hand-me-up pair of khaki shorts for my rear-shot on the right.  I’ve been frightened of shorts for several years now – I like to say it’s because I’ve refined my sense of style: “Europeans don’t wear shorts, you know” – but mostly it’s because I’ve become frightened of my thighs.  My sis gifted these during her recent visit (and if I’m not mistaken, they were gifted to her at some point a while ago by Wee C, our youngest sis); she’s moved on to another style, so she shared the love.  These have been all the way up the sister food chain, and will now be gracing my booty, as long as I can rev up the courage to wear them.  Let’s face it:  in California people would wear these to work – say it with me, oy – so although I will never ever bend on that one, I could probably give them a spin in public.  I mean come on, the people at the grocery can handle these tree trunks.  My Airy Wrap will take my mind off my upper-leg-paranoia –  I’ll glide along feeling fabulous in mohair, just as I’d imagined the day I cast this on.

So this puppy’s done!  Why it took me so long, I don’t know, but it’s now raring to go.


The finished product!
from Fitted Knits

Overall, I’m very pleased with it.  I had to resort to an unorthodox work-around to fix a too-long giraffe neck, but it all worked out, and the upside is that now I’ve got a new technique in my bag to share.  Needless to say I could’ve prevented the neck problem if I’d tried on the turtleneck before moving on to the body, but of course I did not do this.  Oops.

Anyway.

I added on about 3″ of body length to cover the long torso (I try to avoid the inadvertent belly-shirt show; you can bet that doesn’t happen on purpose these days!).  Now it hits just where I want it to – comfortably long on its own, nice under a suit.


Front of vest

Back ribbing

Here’s the front view, next to a close-up of the back shaping.  The front and back are the same apart from the early ribbing that starts on the back, well above the waist.  The pattern calls for 1″ of ribbing one row in on each side, but since my back curves in (or butt sticks out, depending on how you look at it) more than the average girl, I did another inch with another row in on both sides.  This turned out nicely, with a bit of extra hug where I needed it.

One of the things I learned while making this sweater was actually the art of trying on the project along the way (although unfortunately I didn’t figure this out until past the turtleneck, but I digress).  Not rocket science – but I’d missed any clear suggestion on how to best accomplish this from any book or blog I’d read, so I discovered that transferring the stitches entirely to a length of scrap yarn is a great way to do this.  Stefanie Japel, the author of Fitted Knits, suggests holding the stitches (between steps in this pattern) on either a stitch holder or scrap yarn.  I’ve always used stitch holders since it seems cleaner and faster to me, but whether it is or not, using the scrap yarn does actually provide a nice opportunity to try on the garment.  The circumference of the neck/bust/waist won’t be constrained by the circular needle (or a mixture of the needle + other stitch holders, as I’d sloppily tried before).  It’s easy to move the stitches off and back on your needle, and it doesn’t take very long.  Use a small crochet hook and get down to business.  Note to self – take the time to try on at different stages.  It’s pretty much as important as knitting a swatch for gauge at the beginning, at least if you want whatever you’re making to fit you properly.

So what do you do when your FO is perfect except for the *teensy* problem of not being long enough from the cast-on edge (for a traditional bottom-up sweater), or, if knit from the top down, the neck is too long or otherwise requires adjustment. Well, I can tell you from previous experience that frogging from the cast-on edge is an entirely different ballgame than your usual oops-I-need-to-tear-back-10-rows-from-where-I’m-working frogging. While I’m at it, frogging = rapidly pulling out knitted stitches, backwards, tugging steadily on the yarn from the place where you’re currently working (removing stitches from left needle).  Apparently the term is so named from the sound “ribb-it, ribb-it” that comes with each rapid pull to unravel the stitches.

Usual frogging: well, if it happens as often for you as it does for me, you get to view it as some kind of cathartic experience, right? Right?? If I didn’t make myself see (or pretend to see) it as a fresh opportunity to get it right the second (or seventh) time, I’d lose my marbles.

Reverse frogging, i.e., unraveling from the cast-on edge: you’re welcome to try it for yourself, if you haven’t already, but attempting to frog work from the cast-on edge just doesn’t work. There’s certainly no “ribb-it” involved, because as much as they look like they might, the stitches don’t melt away like butter with a tug on the yarn as they do moving backwards from mid-bodice of your sweater. Not to say you can’t undo what’s been done, it just requires a little more patience.

In short, if you need to take out stitches from the cast-on edge, your choices are the following:

  1. Attempt the reverse frog: as already warned, this is a slow unraveling process, beginning from the slip knot that started out as the first stitch of the project. I’ve attempted this to unravel about an inch from the bottom of a sweater. Yes, it can be done, but this is likely to be the longest inch of your life – just so you know. It’s amazing how convoluted the route of that little piece of yarn seems in reverse. Unfortunately, even after all that work, it’s not a very clean operation to get your needle back in there to bind off at the length you’re after. When you start unraveling from the beginning, you’ll be tempted to pull and see what happens, and sometimes you’ll end up unraveling up into another row, rather than across. You’re likely to have trouble finding a “lifeline”, or one set of loops on the same row all the way around, from which to continue knitting or just to bind off.
  2. Cut to the chase: this sounds scary, and it is in concept, but it’s actually the cleanest way to do it that I’ve seen. The word cut does indeed mean cut – as in, “Look at me, I’m cutting into my knitting!”. Yes, I too had heart palpitations at this suggestion initially – sacrilege! – but I remembered my previous less-than-graceful attempt at a reverse frog, and decided the cutting method was worth a try. Here is my process, documented with pretty pictures, which worked very well for this project:

How to shorten from the cast-on edge
In this case, I’m removing 1 inch from my too-long turtleneck.


Just a wee bit too long

Step 1: Try on the garment to determine exact measurement of length to be removed.

 

 

 

 


Place marker at 1″
(Note: stitches still unblocked)

Step 2: Mark measurement with a stitch marker (I wouldn’t advise eye-balling this).

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3: Place scissors in position to cut one stitch, ideally on the side or back of garment.

 

 

 

 

 

Step 4: (breathe) Cut. (breathe) It’s OK. Everything’s going to be OK here.

 

 

 

 

 


Tip: use the other end of
the needle to help unravel
once the lifeline is established.

Step 5: With your needle tip at the ready, begin to unravel one of the loose ends, gently. You’ll see first one loop (just hanging out, looking for attention), then another emerge as you’re unraveling. Immediately slide these loops onto your needle. This is your “lifeline”.

 

 

 

 

 

Step 6: Continue sliding on the loops that free up as you unravel all the way around until the entire lifeline is on the needle.

 

 

 

 

 


Halfway around, you may want
to unravel from 2nd loose end

Ready to bind off at new length
(or add new color or design)

If you’re working with a circular needle (as pictured here), once you reach the halfway-around point, you may find it easier to slide the stiches to the opposite end of the needle and begin slipping lifeline stitches on to that end, as unraveled from the second loose end of the original cut. This is 100% optional, but you may find it easier since the remaining loose end will be shorter and therefore quicker to pull out and through the extraneous stitches. If you’re working with straight needles and a seamed garment with front & back sides, you’ll need to first un-seam and then perform this process on each side.

That’s it. Not too complicated, and I’ve documented and illustrated every step right here. The lifeline is a very clean way to jump back into the knitting when you find yourself in need of an alteration when you’re well past being able to consider the traditional frogging solution.


Finished! Corrected neck length after final bind-off

I should note that once I had my lifeline completely on the needle, I did not complete any further knitting, but went immediately into my bind-off final row.  As Annie points out in her “Tricks” post on www.modeknit.com (from which I gained the confidence to try the method she refers to), any kind of unraveling from the cast-on edge is going to result in a slight shift in alignment of about a half-stitch, since the loops that form your lifeline are not actually the same loops that you’d be using to stitch if you were knitting along in real-time. This shift is not distinguishable, practically speaking, if all you’re going to do is bind off (as I did – I can’t tell any difference from normal bind-off).

Where this shift might matter is if you wanted to add on from where you’d cut in (for instance, if you wanted to cut off 2 inches at the bottom of a sweater and add a stripe or ribbing in a different color, or perhaps re-knit those 2 inches with little “V” vents on the sides). In this case, you may be able to see this slight half-stitch shift in alignment at the point where you are joining in with new knitting, but it’s probably not too big of a deal – especially if you really want to make the change/addition you’re after.  Like, say, your 13-year-old step-daughter says she really would prefer the sweater with those little V vents on the sides (meaning she’d prefer not to wear it without them…now you know about my first attempted reverse frogging experience!). Ah, good times – if only I’d known about the “cut to the chase” method then.  This project was Squeezer’s Hoodie Sweatshirt from the Yarn Girl’s Guide to Simple Knits (in the book it’s called “Not Your Standard Issue Sweatshirt”) – highlights and photos of our FO coming soon to a blog near you.


The end of my 3rd and final skein

Wrapping up my diaglogue on my Periwinkle friend here, it took very nearly all 3 skeins of Cascade 220 (color 7810).  I had less than a yard left, but I could have harvested enough from the 1″ cut off of the turtleneck if I’d needed a bit more.  All in all this yielded a satisfying pretty-much-used-it-up feeling with respect to my $21 investment in this project.

As I’ve shared previously, this shade of “periwinkle” is a bit too purple for my definition of periwinkle, which is closer to the color of my blog banner at the top of this page.  Needs just a bit more blue in it, but not so much to spill over into cornflower (although that too, is a lovely color).  Ah, Crayola, thank you for instilling my opinions on these colors so early in the game, and for teaching me what to call them in my grown-up quest for the perfect yarn.

Hmmm.  Now I’m supposed to move on to my Airy Wrap-Around Sweater, but I’m not sure I’m feeling the love on that one just now, even though it’s been cast on and is beckoning to me from the top of the knitting crate next to my nightstand. 

Not sure what I’ll do, but I do know there are a bunch of anxious balls of yarn in storage that are trying to get my attention.  You can bet I’ll keep you posted on this exciting decision.

It’s a sleepy Sunday afternoonish evening, and I’m feeling quite pleased with my lazy day – the first one in a long while.  Oh joy, I spent much time in rounding the bend of the home stretch of the getting-a-little-old-now ribbing to finish my tube vest.  Definitely within reach now – 3 inches left according to the pattern, but I’ll probably do at least another 2-3 extra inches to come within normal waist range on my tall-girl frame.  In any case – I want it to be done approximately now

I actually cast on my airy wrap last weekend, which I said wasn’t going to do yet, but extenuating circumstances called for Plan B: I found myself unable to proceed with my WIP as I had fantasized and was forced to re-assign my captive plane-knitting time to start the new project.  Oh, the tragedy.  Let’s just say I am occasionally 12 years old; in these times my little heart gets all smashed when my (apparently not-so-well-planned) plans get de-railed.  There were tears involved; also an AWOL US 5 circular needle, a poor inventory selection at Michael’s, and then, a rush to the airport.  I think I’d better change the topic in order to avoid post-traumatic stress.  Why yes, I am slightly insane.

Until my fingers can manage to finish the job on the aforementioned belatedly near-completion WIP, I’ll go ahead and update you on another FO from the past year or so.  Today’s happy subject is the Cabled Baby Blanket from Simply Baby, by Debbie Bliss.  The pattern calls for Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK, and although an alluring idea at first (would be so soft and luxurious against my new niece’s skin! expensive? no, it’s an investment, an heirloom!), enough so that I was narrowing down the color palette, I eventually came to my senses.  I read a couple reviews on Yarndex that made me think about the durability (and likelihood to pill), and then I went overboard reading many, many other reviews about others’ baby yarn favorites:

  • Never use acrylic for baby items!  Don’t you know it’s flammable??
  • Never use wool for baby items!  So many babies are allergic!
  • Always use something machine-washable!  Anything that needs hand-washing won’t get used!

The first two I took under advisement, but it was the third one that made me say, “Amen, sister.”  Sure I’d be happy to have the blanket be considered an heirloom, but more than that I’d like it to be used.  Really used.  Like I’d love it if it became the tattered but beloved woobie over time.  My sister had already birthed another child (who missed out on a baby blanket from me altogether since I couldn’t generate anything from a set of knitting needles at the time she was born – uh, sorry, Maiz);  I’d been around enough to see the mountain of baby clothes, baby washclothes, and baby bedding that she was continually churning through the laundry.  Even with one baby on her hip, hand-washing anything was not going to happen, let alone with a baby and a toddler.

I stumbled across lots of proclaimed tried-and-true favorites in my research  – Baby Ull by Dale of Norway was one that got rave reviews from many, but the gauge was a bit too small for the Debbie Bliss blanket.  I settled on Cascade 220 Superwash, which given my recent tendecy to Cascade everything isn’t surprising, but at the time I hadn’t compared the Superwash version to the regular 220 wool.  I ordered it in a brighter pink than the blushing, softy-soft barely pink colors I’d frequently seen in yarn colorways created “especially for baby”.  I figured my niece was going to come out one sassy chica just like her mama, and no wimpy pink was going to cut it.  I was careful, however, not to stray into the hot-pink range, lest she later think I was stuck in the 80s when I picked out her blanket color to match my neon shoelaces from junior high.

I like the detail in the cabling of this blanket – so pretty, and although I think the stitch looks complex, it’s not.  It’s just right to keep the stitching interesting, and you memorize the pattern quickly enough that you just keep chipping away at it while you’re doing other things without the interruption of pattern checks.  The color is Cascade Superwash 836.  I made it several inches longer than recommended because it just didn’t seem long enough for me at 31 1/2″.  I ordered 5 skeins of the 220 (pattern called for 7 skeins of Cashmerino at 137 yards each) and still had plenty left over.

My tension matched the recommended gauge with the US 6 (in the cable pattern, US 5 for the end borders), but before blocking, the cable stitches seemed too tight to me; not enough space to appreciate the stitch definition, and too tight to be drapey and soft.  Not too worry – blocking to the rescue.  I gently washed and rinsed with softener (I’m such a sucker for Downy – in the original April Fresh scent from the good old days with Mom, not these new-fangled Lavender or Linen scents), towel-dried (I like the roll-it-up-in-a-towel-and-walk-on-it method, at least for a sturdier fiber like this), and proceeded to stretch the heck out of it.  I held the corners and edges taut with many impressive-looking (yet unread, at least by me) hardbound ]books and let that puppy slowly air dry for nearly 2 days.  I think it was good and done within a day, but I wanted the blocking to be perfect, so I just didn’t touch it.

I started this project in May, once my sister knew it was going to be another girl; I nabbed the pink yarn, got down to business, and wrapped it up at the end of July before she delivered my lovely niece – E-dot.  Now that E is nearly 9 months old and has a bit more say about which blanket she gets to roll around on (OK, just pretend with me that she does), I’m pretty sure she likes my blanket the best, in comparison to the others in her closet.  I’ve seen the way she drools on it, and I think that speaks for itself.  She knows a nice superwash wool when she sees it.

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