Sunday, February 9, 2014

2014 Ravellenics Project

It's that time again! I'm putting aside my (sleeveless) Idlewood for 16 days so I can attempt to knit a sweater during the Olympics for Ravellenics. I did manage to do this in 2012 with my Acer Cardigan. I'm not so confident about finishing this year because my full time job is pretty demanding, but I'm definitely going to give it a go. Even if I don't finish, it's still fun to participate and see everyone else's projects.

The pattern I've chosen is Samovar by Laura Chau. It's a worsted weight cardigan that uses Italian ribbing as a stitch pattern. I like the stitch pattern because it's lacey but will still be stretchy like ribbing so it should fit really well.

I'm using some Cascade 220 Quatro that I've had in my stash for awhile. It has two strands of a darker aqua color and two strands of a lighter aqua color, which gives it an interesting look. Because I'm short on yardage, I'm going to knit 3/4 sleeves rather than full length sleeves. It's more spring-like that way too, which works with the yarn.

The color is really more of an aqua color, but of course it photographs as blue. My gauge swatch was right on for the stitch count. It was a little off with the row count, but I can work with that. I have absolutely no idea what kind of buttons to use with this yarn because of it's brightness. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

WIP: Idlewood

And I'm back to sweaters! I started working on this sweater on January 1st this year and I'm over halfway done with it. The pattern is called Idlewood and it's a top-down tunic-length sweater with short sleeves and pockets. I will be altering the pattern so it has long sleeves because I couldn't see myself wearing a sweater this thick with short sleeves. It's just not practical in Wisconsin, ya know? I'm still debating putting pockets on the front.

I'm using 3 skeins of Cascade Eco Wool that I bought off a fellow Raveler for $15. That's right, $15 total. Just goes to show that mindlessly wandering the stash listings on Ravelry pays off sometimes. I originally wanted to make DownEast by Alicia Plummer, but my gauge wasn't even in the same ballpark as the pattern's. Oh well, it's definitely getting made at some point. I love that cable down the front!

My gauge for this was a little funky too. I swatched in the round and from that determined that I should make the largest size to have it work out to the actual size I needed. I cast on for the cowl section (which is thankfully the same for all sizes) in a needle one size larger than the main section. It was looser than the pattern gauge, so I decided that I'd actually be o.k. knitting the size closest to my measurements rather than having to adjust. Maybe I was super stressed when swatching so it was really tight?

The gauge on the main part of the section looks like I'll be pretty close to having a zero-ease sweater, which is what I was going for. My goal is to finish with this sweater in early February so I'm free to start a project for Ravellenics (a.k.a. the festival of craziness where you try to finish a project during the Olympic games along with a bunch of other knitters). I still need to decide what pattern I want to do- a lacy cardigan for me, or a vest for my husband. The vest is mostly seed stitch (which I loath), so I might have better luck finishing the cardigan, even if it's a lot more yardage. To be determined!

Monday, January 27, 2014

FO: De Morgan's Law Socks

One of my favorite stitches in knitting is twisted rib. I just love how tight and neat the stitches look. Cookie A. is one of my favorite sock designers because of this; she's all about the twisted rib. I've recently discovered another designer who shares our love of twisted rib- Rich Ensor, who blogs over at That Bald Guy Knits.

pattern: De Morgan's Laws by Rich Ensor
yarn: The Sanguine Gryphon Skinny Bugga! in Adonis Butterfly
needles: 1s 
raveled:  De Morgan's Laws

I started knitting these socks in October of last year. I think my pattern and yarn choice worked perfectly together. I was also glad to use up this sock yarn because I've had it for a couple of years. The pattern is pretty easy if you know how to read charts. I did knit one chart too many on the first sock (even though the pattern warns you), so it sat for awhile until I could bring myself to rip it back. The second sock flew by quickly. The best part about these socks is that besides having such a cool pattern, the ribbing makes them fit really well. I'm definitely going to be knitting more of Rich's patterns in the future!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

2013 In Review

Wow, 2013 really flew by! So much so that I'm writing this at the end of January. I had a very busy year that included getting a new job and getting married. Sadly, I barely had time for knitting! I finally got around to updating my Knit Meter yesterday and the tally for the year is 1.7 miles. Not bad, but definitely not great when you compare it to my 2012 total of 8.01 miles! I had even less time for blogging (as you can tell my the complete absence of blog posts for the year). So I thought I'd make a quick post to show the projects I did complete in 2013.

pattern: Feather and Fan Scarf by Karen Caron
yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage
needles: 8s

pattern: Chuck by Andi Satterlund
yarn: Kimmet Croft Fibers Softi in Cardinal Red

needles: 8s
raveled: Chuck

pattern: Astrid by Astrid Ellingsen
yarn: Cascade Yarns 128 Wool in Natural, Grey, and Purple

needles: 8s and 10s
raveled: Purple Astrid

pattern: Baby Sophisticate by Linden Down
yarn: Hobby Lobby I Love This Yarn! in Forest

needles: 8s

pattern: Hourglass by Bev Elicerio
yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy in Giant Peach

needles: 1.5s
raveled: Peach Hourglass

So there you have it! A scarf, three sweaters (more like two and a half) and a pair of socks. The socks were probably my favorite project. I just love that stitch pattern.

I've got a bit more catching up to do on projects for the blog, but I've definitely got a good start on knitting this year!

Monday, December 31, 2012

FO: Blueish Orange

As the last post of the year, I can think of nothing better than to share my favorite (and last) finished object of the year. I actually started this sweater back in July. I was able to knit most of the body before I put it away to knit my Ravellenics sweater. I pulled it out at the beginning of December and completed it on Christmas Eve. 

pattern: Oranje, by Ann Weaver
yarn: Cascade 220 Sport, in Blue Hawaii, Natural, and Vandyke Brown
needles: 5s and 6s
raveled: Blueish Oranje

This sweater had a couple of firsts for me: it was my first time steeking, first time using more than two colors in a row, and first time knitting braids. Out of all those techniques, the three colors at once was probably the hardest. Catching the floats of the colors not in use really slowed me down. The braids were the biggest pain in the butt because the two colors of yarn get twisted around each other and then untwisted on the second row. Steeking was actually the easiest technique!

I only made a couple of modifications to the pattern. I spaced out the waist shaping so it wasn't as dramatic and added an inch to the body because I like longer sweaters, although that probably wasn't necessary because the yarn grew a bit after blocking. I took out an inch from the armwell to account for a different row gauge than the pattern. Lastly, I knit chart C to match the pattern pictures, not the pattern charts.

Below is a view of the sweater inside out. I think I did a darn good job of making nice sized floats with the unused color. I may add a strip of ribbon on each side to cover the folded over steeked edges, but for now I'm quite sick of sewing.

I'm totally in love with the sweater and I'm already planning on knitting another one in 2013. I'm thinking a red, white, and black sweater with full length sleeves that I can wear for Badger sporting events. This sweater was a lot of work but it was worth it. It feels nice to end the year with such a great project. 

Happy New Year to everyone!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Note on Steeking

Earlier this week I finished the majority of the knitting on my final sweater for the year. All that needed to be done was to steek the front of the sweater, pick up the buttonbands, and do some final sewing. Sounds easy, right? Well, it pretty much was. Tedious, but easy.

That was quite the surprise for me as I have never steeked anything before in my entire life. Frankly, it's a pretty terrifying idea. If I've spent over 60 hours knitting something, why would I create an opportunity for the entire thing to unravel? Thankfully, steeking turned out to be nothing like the old time cartoons where a sweater gets unravelled in a matter of seconds.

Before I started steeking, I took a couple of pictures for posterity in case disaster struck:

Awesome hidden hem action!
In preparation for the big moment, I watched a lot of Youtube videos and read a lot of tutorials about steeking. There are two ways a knitter can reinforce their knitting before cutting into the fabric: by crocheting lines by the steek or by using a sewing machine. The pattern I was using specifically called for machine-stitched reinforcements.

Unfortunately, that isn't a very common method because it's less stretchy than the crocheted reinforcements. I was able to find videos of people using a sewing machine, but every single one of them was just doing it on a swatch. I can understand why someone would use a swatch, but it didn't give me a good idea of what the process would really be like. My biggest worry was how I was going to fit the narrow neck of my sweater on the machine.

I hand stitched a line down the middle of my steek in a contrasting color so I could sew a straight line.

Through trial and error, I found that it does fit on a sewing machine, but I really had to squish everything in to place and adjust it every couple of inches as I was sewing. I took a couple of pictures of the mess in hopes that another knitter with the same question will stumble over them.

I stitched a line on either side of the yellow string using the shortest length stitch my machine could do. I then took out the yellow string and made the cut. It was scary at first but then I saw just how sticky 100% wool is. The yarn on the cut edge barely moved at all. Once I finished cutting, I sewed another line on each edge just to be safe.

I had a really good experience and I'm really pleased with how this project has turned out. I've already started looking at other stranded knitting projects to add to my queue. Now this is how I feel about steeking:

My next post will have pictures of the finished sweater. I'm so excited to share!

Merry belated Christmas to everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

FOs: Renfrew and Arbutus

A month or two ago I was browsing Ravelry and saw some new designs from Jane Richmond in the "hot now" pattern section. She was releasing a book of five patterns called "Island". I really liked most of the patterns, but I wasn't sure I wanted to spend $20 on an e-book. Thankfully during my process of mulling it over for a couple of days, my local yarn store sent out an email saying they were taking pre-orders for a physical copy of the book, signed by the author. It was just a couple of dollars more, so I was all over that. I think Jane does a really beautiful job with the layout of her patterns, so getting them in print is really nice. The great thing about it was that Firefly Fibers is part of Ravelry's In-Store Pattern Service, so as soon as I bought the book, Alisa emailed me a redemption code to download the patterns immediately from Ravelry. 

I decided to make the cowl and hat patterns from the book using some yarn I had leftover from my Acer Cardigan. I finished the two projects in about a week over the Thanksgiving holiday. Misti Alpaca Tonos Worsted is seriously becoming my favorite worsted weight yarn. It's just so soft and pretty! However, photographing the orange color once again proved to be a huge challenge.

pattern: Arbutus (cowl) and Renfrew (hat)
yarn: Misti Alpaca Tonos Worsted, colorway Copper Penny
needles: 8s for the cowl, 7s for the hat
raveled: Arbutus and Renfrew

Arbutus is a cowl made from a relatively small amount of yarn (I used less than 200). The genius thing about it is that it uses short row shaping to make the front thicker or taller than the back. It also has three "sections" to it that makes it looks like you wrapped a scarf around your neck three times when you're wearing it. This pattern was absolutely brilliant and would make a great gift pattern.

Renfrew is also a great design. It's actually knitted inside out and flipped after finishing so that you can knit for most of the time but still end up with a reverse stockinette stitch hat. I made the slouchy version of the hat, but if I make it again I'd do the beanie version because slouchy hats don't stay on my head very well.

Overall, I'm really impressed by these two patterns. And they weren't even my favorite patterns when I saw the book! I'll probably knit a Strathcona as we get closer to summer. And maybe I'll knit Grace someday, when I have enough patience for a fingering-weight cardigan. 

'Til next time, folks!