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Archive for the ‘Finished projects’ Category

Things have been pretty hectic the last month or so . . . plenty of not-so-good stuff, but there have been bright spots.

Since my last knitting project update, there has been some (albeit limited) progress:

Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan:

I have to knit about 6 rows on the button band and embroider in the black hooves and noses on the sheep.  However, I haven’t touched this sweater in about a month and the baby will be here in just a few weeks.  Finishing is a goal for this weekend.

Druid Mittens:

When last I wrote, I thought I’d figured out a workable gauge (cuff on 2.5 mm, body of mitten on 2.25) but . . . since then I’ve knit almost to the tip of one mitten, only to realize that it is still way too short (like 2 inches too short).  The pattern doesn’t let me repeat it without some funky fiddling, which I don’t really care to do, so the mittens are “resting” at the moment.  Since I have so much yarn, I’m considering ripping and re-knitting with the yarn doubled.  I WILL CONQUOR THESE MITTENS!!!

– Baby Booties:

So the whole idea of making up my own pattern has sort of fallen by the wayside in favor of all the projects I keep accumulating.  I did manage to do an eyelet variation on Saartje’s Booties: instead of the straps, I worked a row of yo, k2tog and yo, ssk, then just threaded a ribbon through the booties.  Fast and dirty (took me under two hours to do both) but they sure did turn out well I think:

Ice Queen:

Somehow I managed to finish, block and gift, all without getting a photo.  I loved the project though — a quick, easy smoke ring with a single ball of yarn.  The beading was really fun too, and came out beautifully.  I would absolutely knit this pattern again.

There is other big news too . . . I know, I know, way to bury the lead . . . but finally, after so much trouble, I’ve managed to climb aboard the Monkey Sock bandwagon.  Using Knit Picks Essential (soon to be Stroll) I was able to knit a decent pair of socks.  Since I started the socks without a foot in mind (long story, I needed an portable, emergency knitting project) I found a foot to fit the socks after they were half-knit:

This particular foot belongs to Miss V, one corner of my four-person knitting circle.  I think the socks ended up fitting pretty well:

Now that I’ve knitted socks for one member of the group, I’m going to knit up a pair for the other two ladies.  Fun 🙂

Of course, as soon as the first pair of Monkeys were done, I immediately cast on another pair, this one in the Essential Kettle Dyed colorway Eggplant.  The socks are a gift for Adorable, whose birthday is today.  Here is my progress as of this moment:

I have just one more repeat and the toes to finish — lucky for me, she has tiny little feet.

A truer picture of the beautiful deep purple of the socks:

As you can see, there is a slight color change at the top of the gusset where I changed skeins.  I don’t love it, especially since the yarns were both from the same dye lot, but hey, they are handmade socks made from kettle dyed yarn.  I am also hoping that the difference will be more subtle when the socks are worn, and that a good washing will help blend the colors a bit.

And what’s next up?

I would like to make some birthing socks to go with the Sheep Baby Sweater — if I start a pair of Monkeys now, can I get them to the mom-to-be before her due date in late July?  I think so . . . I hope so . . . I would also like to make a small stuffed animal for the baby, to go with the sweater and socks.  It’s a lot of knitting and not a lot of time!

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A friend remarked to me the other day that everyone we know seems to be having babies. It’s true . . . and I guess it’s just that time of life. My little cousin just had her first, the cutest little boy, and I spent the weekend with a high-school girlfriend who is now the mother of two. It’s such an interesting experience, being with someone I know well who has actually created another person. Totally crazy.

All of this is just to say that I’m slightly obsessed at the moment with knitting baby things. Sure, there’s the lace and some socks on the needles, but there are a bunch of little-kid sweaters that I’m just itching to cast on. I’m procrastinating posting a round-up of the Trellis Baby Sweater in large part because I’d like to make a second one, modified to eliminate as much finishing as possible. We’ll see if I ever get there!

In the meantime, here is the finished Trellis Baby Sweater, a free pattern from Knitty. The yarn is a bright-purple shade of Rowan All-Seasons Cotton, which I got from Mick in exchange for the yarn leftover from my Peacock Feathers shawl. I love how it turned out . . . please humor my larger-than-usual picture!

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The one change I made to the sweater: the large cables down either side were written to twist the same way and I wanted them to wind in opposite directions . . . it just seemed more symmetrical to me. It’s a subtle difference, but it made the OCD knitter in me feel better.

My other favorite thing about this sweater: the buttons. They are wooden toggles that I picked out with help from the button lady at F&S Fabrics on Pico. My mother-in-law, an amazing quilter, gave this store a very mixed review — too crazy and too expensive — but their button selection is amazing. They literally have an entire wall of buttons and I’ve always gotten good advice there. I’m especially pleased with these toggles so I’ve given them their own glamor-shot:

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I hope that sooner or later I’ll get some photos of this sweater in use!

Now that I’ve met my friend’s new baby boy (he’s 6 months old and the most giggly, smiley baby ever) I’m going to try and get the second edition of this sweater done.

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The good news is that last night I cast off and delivered Adorable’s Nereid mitts (a fingerless glove adaptation of Cookie A.’s Pomatomus socks) and she seems to love them. The bad news, for me at least, is that I’m now facing the whole Memorial Day long weekend with no knitting project at all.

Here is the finished product, modeled by Adorable herself:

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I really enjoyed making the mitts, first and foremost because I got a chance to play with the Koigu KPPPM that I picked up at String in New York. I’ve worked with self-striping and variegated yarns before, but never with a fiber that just feels so super-saturated with color, even in the muted brown and pink colorway. The yarn itself is beautiful to touch as well as to look at, and the finished knit had a spongy, rich feel that is frankly luxurious. I can already tell I’m going to be a sucker for this yarn! I worked the mitts on Clover Bamboo needles — a bit sticky, but so soft that I actually broke off the tip of one — and I’m still undecided about whether I’ll reach for the bamboo or the aluminum next time.

At first I wanted to work both mitts at the same time, but I just wasn’t happy with the feel of the fabric on the size 2 or even size 1 needles I have (see my this-is-not-a-sock-it’s-a fishing-net dilemma from my last Cookie A. sock attempt). On size zero, the fabric was just right. Confession: one of my key motivations for liking two-at-once socks is not second sock syndrome, it’s that I just can’t seem to count properly. Invariably one sock or the other ends up being longer or shorter which is sweet and, yes, confirms that the finished pair is truly homemade, but just doesn’t give me that happy feeling of successful completion that I’m looking for in a knitting project. What should have been obvious to me is that working a sock in pattern means that socks become error-proof. It’s far easier to keep track of 10 rows of ribbing for a cuff than for 150 rows in the entire length of a sock. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me — perhaps because Jaywalkers seem like “patterned” socks and I managed to mess up their length — but I suddenly feel free to try more complicated patterns on DPNs. I guess I am having a somewhat backward sock experience, but hey, that seems typical for me.

One issue I had (really the only one) was that the scallops on both mitts faced the same way instead of going in opposite directions. I guess the way to reverse this phenomenon would be to work the chart backwards. Or maybe upside down and backwards? I’ll have to look into it for the next time I knit something that is directional. I must admit that as I worked the mitts (and I added an additional chart repeat to make the mitts arm-warmers instead of simply wrist-warmers) I admired the way the tubular lace pattern looked and thought that it might make a very pretty knitted sleeve, especially given the subtlety of the varigated yarn against the subtlety of the pattern itself. I’m filing that idea away for the day in the far far far future when I attempt another adult sweater again.

My favorite thing about this project: I pulled out my trusty Knitter’s Handbook and taught myself the Tubular Bind-Off (aka Kitchner Bind-Off or Grafted Bind-Off) for K1 P1 ribbing. I’d create a tutorial but there is a fantastic one here if you are interested. It’s actually quite simple, if a bit tedious, and creates an edge that looks something like the edge that’s formed by folding a square of stockinette fabric in half. I’m curious if there is a similar bind-off for garter or stockinette fabric, but from now on I’ll be using the Tubular Bind-off for ribbing on most everything.

After writing all this I’m thinking that maybe taking a stab at a toe-up patterned sock is the way to go for this weekend. Nothing like a new project to get the heart racing! Or maybe I should return to the dreaded Monkey socks . . .

Some final photos that make me happy . . . the awesome color/pattern combo in close-up:

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Adorable rocking her mitts Wonder-Woman style:

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. . . my camera’s battery charger (or for that matter, the spare battery for my camera!) I would post the photos of my finished Tangled Yoke Cardigan.  Although I didn’t end up sewing any ribbon into the ball-band, I’m still pretty happy with how it turned out.

Even though I’ve already done several lace pieces, and even though I really love sweaters, I was so intimidated to try and knit one.  Lace is basically a gauge-free zone (I find it’s much more about the texture and appearance of the blocked lace than about size) and I was very nervous about sizing.  But it all seemed to work out in the end.  It’s such a pleasure to finish something, and to be able to hold and touch and see the final product.

I made a sweater!

Now as soon as I find my batteries I’ll show it off.

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VITAL STATISTICS:

Pattern: Peacock Feathers shawl by Dorothy Siemens from Fiddlesticks

Made for: My Godmom

Yarn: JaggerSpun Zephyr Wool-Silk Yarn, 2/18 Lace Weight (50% Chinese Tussah silk, 50% fine grade Merino wool), Violet Colorway

Yardage: I estimate I used about 1220 yards of Zephyr. My “one-pound” cone originally weighed 17.3 oz and now weighs 13.4 oz — I used 3.9 oz of yarn — and according to Ravelry a 16.1 oz cone should yield 5040 yards of yarn)

Yarn Source: Sarah’s Yarns

Needles: US size 4 KnitPicks Options circular needles

Modifications: None

RESOURCES:

Dorothy’s reflections on her design process from Knitting Beyond the Hebrides provides wonderful insight into the design process.

SMOOTHING OUT THE TANGLES:

This pattern is unbelievably easy to knit and work with. The hardest part for me was reading the charts both ways. Basically, since the pattern is a mirror-image of itself along the center spine of the shawl, you work the chart from right-to-left (which to me is the “normal” way) and then once you reach the end of the chart you’re at the center-point of the shawl and you work the chart backwards, mirroring exactly the work you’ve just done.

I really struggle with messing up visual things and so reversing the slip-slip-knit and knit-two-together stitches, and symbols, was a challenge. I literally had to write out a big box for myself at the top of the pattern reminding me which was which, and I constantly referred to my little diagrams.

Other than the reverses, the only other thing to keep an eye on is the double yarn-overs, which will fall apart on the wrong (all purl) side of the piece unless you purl and then knit. This was hard for me to remember as the purl rows were my space-out rows and I had to go back more than once to re-do them.

Sadly, even though this pattern was so relatively easy, I managed to lose track of my knitting twice. Once it was so bad that I had to rip back about 10 rows to my lifeline. When things went south the second time, I fought back and was actually able to rescue the lace. More details on lace resuscitation can be found in my post on the ordeal here.

Edging:

One of my favorite parts of this shawl is the edging, which is actually knit back and forth as part of the shawl instead of as a later add-on that must be knit perpendicular to the shawl edge. If you’ve never worked a crochet hook before, don’t despair. All that’s required for this edging is simple single-crochet and if you mess it up the crochet is stretched out so much that it will never show up anyway. In the below photo, each pin is securing a crochet loop and you can see that the loops are pulled tight.


Blocking:

Right off the needles, it was clear that Peacock Feathers is a beautiful pattern. More than other lace I’ve worked, it had character beyond the mushroom-of-fiber that most lace resembles. I really got the sense of the texture and pattern of the piece from the unblocked finished product:

I don’t know why, but a photo of lace in a blocking bath just looks yummy to me! Here is Peacock Feathers resting in a bowl of warm water and a capful of Soak wool wash (the best stuff — thanks to Mick for turning me on to it!)

I really blocked the crap out of this sucker, making each feathery flourish as rounded as I could make it.  I’ve seen other shawls out there with more linear edges, but for mine I wanted a look that was as scalloped as I could get.

The shawl was so large that I blocked one whole side first, from the left tip all the way down to the central “feather” and even one feather beyond (this was necessary to make the central feather block out correctly).  Once the first half was blocked, I re-dunked the still-slightly-damp second half of the shawl and blocked it the same way.  I used blocking wires secured with T-pins to secure the top, straight edge of the shawl and I ran a second blocking wire down the center-line to help keep things even.

This isn’t the most gorgeous finished-object final shot ever, but it gives a good sense of the drape and airy lightness of the piece.  It’s as elegant and unique as it’s namesake!

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In a gesture of love and gratitude for the gift of my engagement ring, I finally felt the curse lift and started work on a stocking cap for The Baron. I gave it to him for Christmas in the midst of a mini-hiatus from blogging, but since it’s my first knitted gift to him I want to show it off.

Here he is, modeling the hat:

Since the hat was a surprise, I made the brim of the hat extra-large by starting with a way-too-big cast on and knitted according the the pattern for a stocking cap by Nathalie Godbout. I gave him the hat before knitting on the fringe, and with one of my long Options needle cables serving as a giant stitch-holder. I had him try it on, wove in a piece of waste yarn at the spot he designated, and then ripped back to the waste yarn. I knitted on the fuzzy fringe and voila! A custom-fit hat.

My one modification: instead of alternating between tiers with and without decreases for the entire hat, once I got to a certain (arbitrary) point I decided to just do a slip-one, knit-two-together, pass-slipped-stitch-over decrease (three stitches become one) every other row. I think it worked out fairly well and produced the kind of long, smooth taper down to the pom-pom that I know The Baron was hoping for. You can see the decreases here:

A final note: The Baron picked out the novelty yarn I used in the trim of this hat for its color and softness and specifically requested a dark teal, very soft and smooth yarn for the hat itself. I like a man who knows what he’s looking for in a handknit.

Edited to add:

As Marsha pointed out, yes, this hat is made with the dreaded novelty yarn.  I was fairly horrified when The Baron picked out this yarn as the one he absolutely positively loved, because I had no idea what on earth I would do with novelty yarn (blech!).  I can report, however, that this yarn was soft and delicious to work with and has held up well (so far) to frequent wearing.  It’s Fuzz, made by the Great Adirondack Yarn Co. and purchased at Websters in Ashland, Oregon.  The body of the hat was knit with Rowan RYC Cashsoft DK.

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While The Baron and I spent Thanksgiving happily ensconced at home, eating mashed potatoes and green bean casserole in our jammies, Glamorous headed north to spend the holiday with our Mom.

While there, they played around with Mom’s new digital camera and, at my request, sent me some photos of my early knitting endeavors . . .

Not all bad, but by no means all good, here are some of the first knits to emerge from my needles.  After all, what are moms for if not receiving the clumsy but ardent “first tries” at getting crafty?

All the way back at the beginning of my knitting life, I started with a whole bunch of Lion Brand Homespun and some size 9 straight needles from Michael’s.  After getting the hang of garter stitch by knitting half of a very ugly scarf, I decided to branch out to ribbing with a scarf and hat set.

Looking back, I’m not as horrified as I thought I’d be about this little set, but I’m not too excited about it either. At this point, my homespun days came to an end and I discovered Knitpicks and became a yarn snob. I quickly worked up the Kate Gilbert Shining Star hat in Andean Silk with no regard to gauge and ended up with this too-loose cap:

From here, I got inspired and decided to teach myself sock knitting with some Knitpicks Parade (now discontinued) in Crayon and armed with Grumperina’s Jaywalker sock pattern. I was quite pleased with the end result:

I love the way the Jaywalker pattern and the long runs of the stripes work together in these socks. I knitted top-down on double-pointed needles and of course did not count my rows, so I ended up with ever-so-slightly different sized socks.

Next I tried toe-up socks with a yarn Mom specifically picked out for herself:

Since the first picture doesn’t do justice to the “wow” power of the yarn’s bright colors, here’s a better representation.

Pretty crazy, right? I really liked working with the yarn and it nudged me along my way to yarn snobbery.

I fell in love with the wonderful Clapotis pattern from Kate Gilbert and worked it in a single-ply yarn, all the while purling backwards, so that the stitches that were supposed to be twisted came out normally, and the stitches that were supposed to be normal came out twisted. Nevertheless, the scarf came out nicely and Mom seems to like it.

If you look closely at this photo, you can make out my shamefully twisted stitches.

Finally, my first really accomplished finished object, my first really long project, my first lace: The Icarus Shawl from Interweave Knits— it’s the one they’re featuring on the cover of their new best-of pattern book. In these photos the shawl is not well-blocked, and the horrible dye-lot problem I had is clearly visible — by the time I got to the end of the piece, I was out of yarn and had to purchase another skein from an obviously different dye lot — and it SHOWS. The shame!

The shawl itself was relatively easy to work. It’s almost entirely stockinette, so you don’t get to the lace until the very end.

For me the stockinette structure of the shawl was helpful, because by the time the lace came along I was feeling comfortable with the yarn (Mountain Colors Bearfoot in the Phoenix colorway) and feeling confident about what I was doing.

Looking back on all my clumsy first-attempt creations I’m struck by how far I’ve come — and how far I have yet to go on my journey of knitting adventures.

An extra-big thanks to Glamorous, who suffered through the world’s slowest Internet and smallest camera memory chip to bring me this pleasant stroll down memory lane.  I appreciate you!!

I’ll update shortly on my Tangled Yoke Cardigan progress (some) and the exciting new project I’m preparing to start.

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