30 January 2008

The Progress of a Perfect Sweater

Pattern: Sweater no. 4 from Lopi no. 20
Modifications: Lots of adaptations for gauge (Létt Lopi instead of double stranding Alfoss Lopi). I think the patterns mostly inspiration with all the figuring that I'm doing.
Materials: Istex Létt-Lopi (PINK!) 9438
(Re)Start Date: November 30, 2007

I am actually pleased as punch with how this sweater is coming along! Monogamy DOES work! Sweater Angst is (hopefully) banished for good! Exclamation Points Abound!

K. So what happened? Why is this actually working this time? Weeeeeeeeell. I did the boring right thing and was realistic about my current body shape as opposed to knitting for my mental 'how-I-REALLY-see-myself' body shape. Super boring and realistic and lame but it's working......so.....yeah. The measurements are all based on a sweater I wear all the time (Cotton Navy Blue thing) just like Mrs. (Ms. ?) Zimmermann suggests and there's a reason people go gaga for her (it's because she's right).

Other thing that happened to make this sweater better? Gauge! I was on the bad crack/taking crazy pills (or something) and decided that 3.5 mm would be a good idea AAAAANNNNNNDDDDD then thought that I should also knit really really REALLY tightly (uh, life and anticipation MAY have been a factor there....) and ended up 5 inches narrower than I was aiming for.

Now what's the deal? Well I ripped it back to the ribbing (cause gauge was good there, even with the 3.5 mm and rolling with the Continental skillz) and on suggestion of Mr. Peabody (my brother, the local yarn expert) was super-crazy-nerdy-yarn-girl and wound it back into skeins AND THEN steamed those skeins with my iron.

Why with the steamy steamy? Well according to Mr. Peabody (super-nerdy-former-yarn-store-employee) reknitting with already-been-knit once yarn (the kind with all those Krazy Kinks) affects gauge (in a bad way). Soooooooo he recommends winding it back into skeins and then said skeins all loosey goosey in big loops next to the shower for a few days so it can relax. I mean who wouldn't benefit from some good sauna time really? But as I'm being Monogamist Knitter (Sharon's my hero) I don't have the attention span for such things. I mean what am I going to do, actually WATCH CSI?

So I steamed it with my iron. I secured one end of the skein around the pointy-er end of my ironing board, held the other end in my left hand and steamed away until it was well straightened. I, uh, may have been a TAD overzealous with the iron and the yarn MAY be felted in some places (mental note: steam on actual wool or lower setting). But it got the job done. Straight (!!!) yarn then to be immediately wound into the pretty cakes and then immediately reconnected to the ribbing via spit/felted joins. In case you were wondering, I did in fact also iron the meter (or so) of yarn that was left attached to the knitting (I say if you're going to be crazy-nerdy-yarn-girl, be crazy ALL the way!).

And what's with those little bits of other yarn in the sleeves? Well, that's my own Patented Personal Row Counting System™ (not actually patented or likely an original invention, but it's more entertaining this way)! Insead of using the pen with the papers or other row counting devices, I weave in little bits of yarn to mark the point where I should be counting from. Like the beginning of a pattern repeat or here, so I can count how many rows to the next sleeve increase.

Why not use the pen and papers or the specially-built devices? Well that's because I have an interesting memory. Have used the specifically-built devices and then forget (sometimes during the row) wether or not I've ticked of the row or not. The pen and papers? Requires stopping the knitting and I'm all about the rhythm baby! With knitting the body in the round, I have to yell at myself to stop knitting cause there's no end of the row to naturally pause at. Yes, there's the end of the round with a little stitch marker, but if I stopped there, the marker would fall off (bad) so I continue the knitting and then the rhythm starts and all of a sudden I've knit another round.

What's that mysterious line in the back of your otherwise lovely white background? That would be where the extra leaf has been added into my white vintage Ikea kitchen table. Inherited from my parents, that table has seen much family dinner action (as old as Mr. Peabody) and has the war wounds to prove it. The entire underneath of is all coloured with markers by two young future creative types.

So that's the progress on the Itchy Pink Lopi Raglan. And though it's itchy in the skein, it softens when knit up and then again when blocked into place. Don't believe me? Then next time you see me ask to see my Neopolitan Squirrely Mitts. They're knit with the Icelandic sheep wool (different company. same animal) and are SUPER soft now.

Us super-crazy-nerdy-yarn-girls and super-nerdy-former-yarn-store-employees (aka Mr. Peabody aka my brother) luv luv LUV the Lopi. If you think we were coocoo for coacoa puffs about the Briggs & Little, just wait 'till you see us in a store with the whole Lopi rainbow. There's drool & fondling & total loss of control.

28 January 2008

Journey to the Perfect Pattern

Being at Boring Job Inc. has limited the amount of photography have included in last week's posts. I've been so frantically bored that I've been writing a day ahead, then adding photos at home and then posting them. But not all topics really have pictures to go with....so.....I should really just stick to writing about actual projects. But when posting everyday, an inch more stockinette in Itchy Pink Icelandic Wool doesn't seem all that terribly interesting. Maybe it's just me. One day this week I'll be sure to post pictorial proof that the Perfect Sweater does indeed exist.

A fellow knit blogger had a destash recently and I snaffued 10 skeins of fabulously squishy merino (yup that pink's all mine now!). Purchased on a boring Friday afternoon and arrived on my doorstep in Monday's post, I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out what this yarn wants to become ever since. Because it would just be irresponsible to add yarn to the stash without some sort of future plan for it.

Because of the inherent sproingy-ness and good twist of the yarn I figure it will be perfect for something cabley. As any responsible knitter, I first consulted my Ravelry queue to check for a suitable project. Possible contenders were Rusted Root by Sarah and Rachel, Anais by Norah Gaughan, Manon by Norah Gaughan, and either Capecho Cabled Bolero (#2) by Norah Gaughan (the cover knit) or Sideways Spencer by Annie Modesitt (sorry could only find a Ravelry link).

But then I was having some pattern choosing angst. I have more than enough for Anais and Rusted Root. And neither is super-fatastically-cabley as I was imagining would be good for this yarn. Most importantly, I have more yarn that I need to complete either of these. Plus I didn't have pink in mind when initially planning Rusted Root.

Manon fits the awesome cable-y-ness that I'm going for, but it's for an Aran weight yarn aaaaaaaaaand I don't have the yardage (poop).

The Bolero & Spencer are kind of in the same boat as Rusted Root: not going to make the most of what I've got to work with, not really a style of knit garment that I really see myself wearing a lot lot, especially a pink version (not that there's anything wrong with pink, this shade is particularly suited to a certain kind of sweater in my mind).

I briefly considered Patti by Sarah Hatton but I a) don't have enough yardage and b) I think this sweater is better suited to something tweedy. Plus I think these sweaters look better on a slighter frame soooooo.......once I lose the 'back in North America' and 'tropical holiday with the family' weight, I'll be game for one of these babies.

So I browsed through the fantabulous Ravelry pattern browser for a DK sweater that would be lovely and cabely like I'm imagining. Side note: I would love the pattern browser more if it had a bit more criteria. Like Woman's or Colourwork or Cables so that it wouldn't be 38 pages of sweaters to look through. Maybe I just want to be too specific when browsing for something.

Generally nothing jumped out and grabbed my eyeballs. I kind of liked the Organic Cable Turtle Neck by Norah Gaughan [Ravelry] (I have to say that I lurv what she does with the cables!) but I'm really not a turtle neck person. Generally the neckline of this sweater isn't super inspiring. Plus the pink factor means I don't think this will be the answer.

There were some cute cardigans & such with a little lacy tweedy goodness, but I have cables on the brain for this yarn. I did find a sweater that I LOVE LOVE LOVE buuuuuut it would require learning Icelandic even just to order the pattern. That's a crazy reason to learn a language right? I mean how hard would it be just to learn the reading part? Crazy, moi?

So far this online pattern search was a bust. It made me grumpy and quite frantic to find something to do with this yarn. But I couldn't deal with being disappointed with MORE potential sweaters. Our search continues the next evening. While sort of watching CSI: NY, I grabbed ALLL of my Interweave Knits/Vogue Knitting/Knit.1/Rowan Magazines and plunked myself on the couch to breeze through them all for possible sweater answers to the yarn dilemma. I was on a mission!

Probably spending no more than 5 min per mag, I would flip through and any potential sweater contenders would get that mag set aside for a final review (closer look at gauge/yardage/pink potential). It took me the length of the show to get through the stack. (I mostly watched. Some magic bullet action and a conspiracy to kill a judge.)

For the record I consider all CSIs in the same category: beautifully produced/filmed but for me I'll watch 'because it's on.' Miami's the prettiest (and Callie is inexplicably fascinating), NY is VERY NY and I STILL don't get why the lights NEVER work in Las Vegas. Yes, I get that it's the night shift, but does EVERY crime scene have electrical issues?

K. Back to the knitting. Something I found kind of interesting how similar sweater patterns tend to appear in the different mags (usually different seasons though). The Counterpane Pullover by Pam Allen [Ravelry] has a veeeeerrrrry similar looking sister in Vogue Knitting by Betty Monroe of the same vintage (both are Fall '07). Interesting non?

Also, I managed to find a sweater quite similar to that Icelandic one by none other than Norah Gaughan (so maybe I don't need to learn another language after all). Perhaps the Icelandic is a translation/re-interpretation?

But looking through the stack, I had my Ureka moment. The Rambling Rose Cardigan by Martin Storey out of Rowan 39 (which is totally worth buying JUST for the hilarious/awesome Tribal photo shoot. Play where's the knit with your friends!). This sweater is totally the answer to my quest. I have the yardage. The yarn is pretty much the same gauge. AND appropriately pink-able. I'm very satisfied.

25 January 2008

Refound Project Monogamy

Last night's knit night chez* Ariadne was tons of fun. Sharon (who has every intention of having a blog one of these days but is just too darn busy at the moment to even add photos to Ravelry) brought up an interesting topic that I feel like writing about (hopefully she won't mind that I stole her life): Knitting Monogamist or Polygamist?

Recently returned from visiting home (New Zealand) for the first time in several years, Sharon has suddenly found herself with a stash. She (until this point) is the type of knitter we all aspire to be. Monogamist, focussed and stash-free. She works on one project at a time and her 'stash' is really just any leftovers from past projects. She's not one of those (read: me) who buys yarn just because of over fondling/drool on the yarn and so must be purchased (or be thrown out of the store) or because she has a project in mind and is thinking ahead when the current project shall one day be done. Nope. She doesn't even seem to cast on for multiple projects at once. She's not a Polygamist Knitter (like me).

But all of a sudden she has a stash. Sharon bought/brought a bunch yarn from home to work with. Now by 'regular' Polygamist standards, it's really not terribly bad. Sounds like a pair of mitts, a few hats, a scarf and possibly enough for a sweater. Really not much at all. For the Monogamist knitter however, I could see how this could be a problem. Her basic Project Fidelity is being called into question by the tempting presence of so many potential projects. How can she commit to one project when there are so many options?

Maybe her Monogamy was conditional. She's been able to focus so much on what she's currently working on because there's no other projects around to flirt with her attention....drag her away with the promise of a perfect cast on, interesting yet challenging pattern repeats, the gentle caress of a new fibre and feel of an unfamiliar pair of needles to create a fabric with that 'je ne sais quoi' drape to it. And the new knitting project has none of the problems of the old knitting project. No problems with gauge, confusing pattern lingo or errata, or even just general misbehaviour. No, the promise of the new knitting project is always that fresh start. The clean slate. The exotic lingerie (uh, High Fidelity will explain that reference). Instead she's hired out her very capable hands to various local knitwear designers while she regains her focus.

Sharon's knitting focus and fidelity dilemma brought up and interesting personal investigation for me. Before leaving on holiday and my hiatus, I was really having lots of project fidelity issues because of all the yarn sitting around my apartment staring at me. The Siren song of the new project was just too much to resist when I would hit a rough patch with whatever current sweater I was working on. One little fight and I would be out the door and casting on for something new.

The time apart from my knitting has really done me good. I have had a chance to reflect on what's been going wrong with our relationships and what I need to do in order to fix things. Not just break up completely and start anew, in most cases we've sought out therapy and are starting to work things out. Not to say that there haven't been some break-ups, but for the most part, we're working things out.

And since being back in a knitting relationship, I have begun to be a Monogamist as well. The stash is still around, but I have learned that the promise of a fresh start is very cold and eventually will lead me into more trouble with my relationship with my current Project. It's important to keep alive the initial passion of the project and not be swayed by the sweet caress of new yarn, no matter what the colourway...

* I've begun to call them Spinster Knitting Club meetings to my regular non-knitting friends (and my brother). To be perfectly PC, I don't consider those who go, or the lovely Ariadne girls that host it to be Spinsters. In fact quite the opposite. Most have boyfriends, husbands and/or babies.

To be clear, I'm the Spinster (by old school corset & petticoat definitions, by current one I'm just a 'Feminist' which is far less entertaining) and knitting (with others) is my Spinster behaviour. Gots to get out of the house sometimes. BTW, we should reclaim Spinster to be non-derogatory like we did with ho.

Though I should probably actually learn how to spin in order to add legitimacy to my claim to be a 'spinster.'

** Daily posting is brought to you by Boring Job Inc.

*** And the Pink Lopi Raglan has been ripped to ribbing, the yarn wound into skeins and steamed with the iron to remove all the curls and is in progress again, this time on 4.0 mm needles. I measured it this morning and it is becoming the perfect body! If it wasn't still stooopid winter I'd have shown you pics of all my crazy 'hardcore' yarn treatment.

24 January 2008

I should start the Holiday Knitting

No, I'm not starting early. Actually quite late. Instead of trying to KILL myself knitting gifts for people for actual Christmas or Birthdays, I instead run the planned project by them first to work out the details (size of feet, preferred colour, I really don't want a sweater vest, etc.) before bothering to acquire the yarn and cast on. I just say, 'For Xmas you're getting [blah] but not until laters, k?' Less stressful.

Knitting should be fun. Especially knitting for others. So I like to follow my own pace and then send 'em off whenever they get done. Right. Good plan huh?

Great plan, 'cept for the HUGEMUNGO list of things to knit for other people I've got going on (before now, only listed in my head):

Cuttlefish Socks—Sylvain
Shedir—my brother
Double Knit Argyle Scarf—my brother
Qiviuk Webs Tam and Scarf—my mom
Anchor's Away Sweater Vest—my dad
About a dozen slouchy berets—London Girls (various locations)
Skull Socks of Fury—Mary (former co-worker)
Gentleman's Socks in Railway Stitch—Mirah
Everybody's Changing Scarf—Miss Lisapie
Knitted Shark Toy—Cosmo (but I hear he's being a stinker so no rush)
Cloud Bolero—Katelyn (Cosmo's sister, can't have any reason for sibling rivalry and the Divine needs to be used for something but as the Shark's on pause, so's the bolero)

Well maybe it's not so bad. I think I'll start charting out the Cuttlefish socks this weekend in anticipation of the Pink Lopi Raglan's conclusion. Gots to gauge & figure out sock sizing. I've got some pretty cool ideas for the deep water colour changes...it's going to be awesome! Oh and yarn shall be Briggs & Little Sport (like that's really a question). And despite my luke-warm feelings towards the technique, these will be toe-up socks.

23 January 2008

The Internet brings out the stalker in me

I'm not a stalker in real life, I swear! (Although I hear that's the oldest trick in the stalker book, I hold by my assertion). But for some reason all these social networking sites really bring out the stalker in me. Though I like to think that Internet Stalking is not nearly as serious as the real life kind.

Let this be a formal notification to the Internet, if you comment on my blog/Flickr/Ravelry project (or favourite said items) I will be checking your profile and your project listings/photos and possibly even your blog/Etsy store. It's just the way it goes. In fact, it's now part of my daily routine to check the Ravelry/Flickr for comments/favoriting/etc., and the good old Sitemeter is my best friend, I've even started using the Flickr stats feature too (!!!).

I'm not like keeping lists or anything, no Excel spreadsheets have been set up, well, Sitemeter does that crap for me, but other than that, it's just interesting for me to watch who's paying attention. On the blog, it's mostly Canada (really Montreal & area—mad props to Montreal Knittters, holla if you hear me!), with some Eastern US attention too (send Red Vines), but in the past few weeks, the next group has shifted from the UK to Norway. I think it's those mittens...but welcome! Never been to Norway, but Sweden's close right? Spent a fun few days in Stockholm a couple of Novembers ago. Nice town. Country landscape very similar to Alberta in the early winter but with cooler rocks. Loved that Sweden's souvenirs were also stuffed mooses.

I've developed few of my own Ravelry rules. Friend me on Ravelry or Flickr, I'll friend you back (it's weird that it's a one way relationship, like I can consider us 'friends' but you don't have to acknowlege it at all...what's the deal?). If you favourite one of my projects, I'm gonna check out your profile and projects and it could possibly go to the Flickr/Blog/Etsy store level. If you comment on a project of mine, I'm gonna reply (usually just to say thanks yo!) in addition to the profile/project/blog stalk.

And if you're Pinneguri (Ravelry) and have favourited a project, nominated them for a Bobby, and continue to berate me for not accepting a compliment, I'm gonna friend you on Ravelry, and blog stalk you (even if I can't read most of it). She's made many a fine pair of mitten, so I guess I better accept her compliments as an official mitten expert.

So consider yourselves officially warned....but I wouldn't worry about looking over your shoulder for me in a dark alley. Stalking is just for the internets.

Blogs that have recently been 'Janed' (or read from the beginning, near beginning, or from what Google Reader would load for me while at Boring Job™):

Lolly Knitting Around—recommended by the Google bots
Knits & Pieces—friended me on Ravelry & favourited the Mittens
Hello Yarn—Favourited & commented (!!!) on the mittens & recommended by Google bots
Knit and Tonic—Google bots & I've knit her Le'Slouch enough times to actually read her blog

I'm currently reading my way through Cosmicpluto Knits! Not a new discovery, just figured it should be properly Janed (see above).

Now if you'll excuse me, the Mittens have been favourited a few more times

21 January 2008

Juno is my Sweater Vest Hero

I know there's been so much hype about this movie, but unlike other films that have more manufactured hype, Juno's is well deserved. From the brilliant script, fabulous cast (although we already loved Allison Janney), great sets & details and down to a perfectly matched soundtrack, this movie had me with the first lines of the film. Even before the title walk through town. Oh and I'm definitely going to be checking out Jason Reitman's other films (not I have not seen Thank You For Smoking yet, I have a good excuse, I was out of the country). And not just because he's a Montrealer.

Well, Juno, she's my hero. I'll never be as cool as Juno MacGuff. It's not like Daria where the first time my Mom saw it she said, 'When did they make a cartoon about you?!?!' (the reason I became a little less obsessed with the show but that's another story). No, Juno is definitely exactly who I wished I was in high school ('cept for the teen pregnancy and all, but even that she deals with brilliantly). Smart, HILARIOUS, fantastic turn of phrase but not without some flaws, Juno is a great female character. Everyone should drop what they're doing right this second, run to the nearest theatre and watch this movie. Right now. Go!

I do tend to be rather enthusiastic about much that hits the silverscreen, but believe me, this is not a film to be missed. If for no other reason go for the knit wear.

Photo courtesy of Ellen Page Online

The first 5 secs of the film I was taken with everything about this character. Right down to the quirky wardrobe choice of sweater vests under hoodies. The vest in the first scenes and title sequence totally grabbed me and I was charting it in my mind for much of the film. Yes, I'm a sucker for green. It's a well established fact. Especially shades of mossy/olive/grass greens combined with chocolate brown with rows and rows of fabulous classic Super Mario-like flowers. Sigh. I need one.

So me and my memory got to work developing a chart for this fantabulous sweater vest as soon as I got home and after I had acquired the soundtrack. With Juno tunes aiding my memory I came up with this chart:

Further research on the internets helped me hone and verify the shape of the flowers (leaves were a little off), colour changes and fine tune the overall chart but some of my own amendments have been added. Dashed rather than solid white line and I'm toying with the idea of the alternating +'s and x's rather than just +'s but probably won't be trying to juggle 3 colours in one line. I've done it. It's possible, but I'm not terribly driven to become the yarn juggler at this moment.

Amended to be more like this I think:

I figure this vest will be straight forward. Cast on. Work until under arms. Steek! Steek! Steek! (arms & then neck) Oh and STEEK! (can't forget the back of the neck) and away we go.

I hear you may be asking about the yarn. What will I possibly ever use for such a fine vest? Well immediately Briggs & Little Sport springs to mind (I know that really shocks you all) mostly just for the brilliance of their Paddy Green. But for the olivey greens and dark chocolatey brown I'm thinking of finally trying out Jamieson's 2-ply Spindrift to fill out the palette.

When shall we see progress on this most fantastical vest? Uh, that's a good question. I'm going to say not for a while. So much else in progress at the moment. But one day I too shall be dressed just as cool as Juno!

20 January 2008

37 Reasons that I'm NOT a Master Knitter

I knew someone who I would call a Knitting Artist or Master Knitter, Virginia van Santen. Her earliest memory was when she was 2, sitting on the back of her mother's bike, knitting. She worked in the same yarn store as my brother in Edmonton and knew everything about knitting. She died her own yarns specifically for projects (and to sell) to be able to expand her palette of colours. My brother and I would always go to her to ask her about problems, new techniques, fibres whenever we came across them. Really she was a living knitting expert. She could rattle off the proper recipe for socks, sweaters, mitts off from memory like nobody's business.

The coolest things that she would make would be these fabulous knitted boxes/bowls. Stranded with her own dyed yarns and knit in the round, she would start at the inside bottom work her way up, turn for the top edge and knit all the way back down to the bottom again. Some even had matching sculptural lids. She never used patterns, would make up her own regardless of stranded colourwork or knitted lace. Virginia was a Master Knitter.

And though I'm able to knit lace, and make a mean stranded colourwork mitten, I'm no Virginia.

But the main reason that I wouldn't call myself a Master Knitter or associate 'Artist' with my skills as a knitter is because I have yet to make a sweater that fits just how I like. The first sweater I ever made, I don't even wear. The next two are in time outs (as some may have noticed on the right side) and the third, well, let's just say the body's going to be going back to ribbing.

That's why I took NO knitting with me on holiday. Nothing. Not one skein of yarn or pair of double points entered into my luggage the ENTIRE trip. But that's not to say I didn't have knitting on the brain. I was spending the quality time away from the knitting to figure out what to do to fix the sweater angst I've been having. This may be the first time you're hearing of it, but let me tell you, there's been angst. And it's been tightening my gauge for months.

Let's take a look at the gallery of misbehaving sweaters:

1. Illfittin' Sweater, 2. Too Short Sleeves, 3. Pregancy Pouch, 4. Adds two extra inches

This sweater is made out of beautiful Rowan tweedy goodness and cost a pretty penny. I figured if I was going to take the time to make a sweater, I might as well use something I liked. And at the time I had very few expenses and a well paying University job. But I should have been more discriminating when choosing a pattern.

The sweater has been adapted to be narrower, longer, and to get rid of the drop sleeves and STILL could use more improvements. The gauge is too loose. The front pocket should have 2-3 rows less than the sweater behind so that it doesn't pooch open and add more to the bellular area. There's at least 2 more inches that could come out of the side. I may have been sporting a little more poundage at the time I knit this, but this was never a fitted garment. The sweater could use 2 inches more length and 1.5 inches longer on the sleeves. Oh and that white stripe? It's a slightly smaller gauge. And when I don't wear a cream t-shirt underneath, you can see (or read) what's underneath.

Plus this mo-fo is WAAAAAAARM. Really it's an outer layer Spring/Fallish sort of sweater, not the deal with the winter thermostat wars at work weight that I was going for. That's what you get with worsted weight 100% wool I guess.

Next, whatever happened to the Noro Surprise Jacket?

1. Bodice Neckline, 2. The Back, 3. The Front, 4. But the sleeves are good

Well I'll tell you. In the second (or is it the third?) reknitting of this sweater, I over compensated in the creating a better fitting sleeve and rather than start all over again (again), I decided to be smarter and knit in some short rowish darts or 'speed stripes' as I termed them. What I didn't consider was how these speed stripes would change the neckline from a simple square necked cardigan to a Renaissance Festival ready bodice necklined sweater (not that there's anything wrong with that, it's simply not my style). But the sleeves are perfection right down to the colour transitions that the yarn gave me.

So frustrated with the having finished this sweater for the second (or is it the third?) time, I put the misbehaving knit into a time out. Theoretically all it needs is some buttons & blocking, but some careful consideration of how to get this knit to behave have left it in a time out for a while now. I am the sort of crazy that would completely rip it out for a third (or is it fourth?) time and start all over again, but then I'm pretty sure something else would go wrong. Or maybe I just wouldn't like how the colour on the sleeves worked out.

Instead, I think taking it back to wear the 4 inches of neckline stitches are put on holders and knit a few inches more. Then reducing the neck by 1 or 2 inches would probably work much better with the amount of extra neck that's added by the 'speed stripes.' At least that's what I'm thinking. But I'm still not quite ready to launch into the shenanigans quite yet. So Time Out is where it shall remain for the moment.

How about the progress on the Sideways Pullover?

Also recently placed in a time out, this sweater has some problems as you can see. I was worried how it was going to turn out, so stole Sharon's strategy of seaming while knitting to see how this was going to fit and was not happy with what I saw. The sleeve is too long. The body of the sweater is too short. The bottom ribbing is picked up and knit down from where it currently ends and I'd have to knit about 4 inches to get it to a length that I like and that's NOT the look I was going for. Oh AND the sweater body is too narrow. I'd like a little more ease please.

You can see that when blocked flat (which was in my plans) the brioche expands enough to add the length the sweater is lacking (yay for blocking!) but I've knit the sweater at a tight enough gauge that I don't think it will want to stay blocked out, or block as much as I'd like (boo for tight gauge!). So looks like a restart is needed.

But that's not where we're going to be stopping with this examination.

The length of the sleeve and general sleeve appearance could be fixed with a simple stitched down hem with a lovely contrasting colour in a lighter weight yarn (Briggs & Little Sport anyone?) and I think I'll begin with a provisional cast on to allow for just that.

In terms of adding more length, I could follow the pattern more closely and add some more rows before & after the neck part. Instead, I think I'm going to go for more of a boat neck/cowly sort of thing and knit the neck itself longer. If I were to continue in this gauge I would rip back on the front & backs to just before casting off the neck and add an inch or two. But as I'm pretty sure about going for a looser gauge, I think I'll make the neck a little taller too. I think a little more cowl won't drive me crazy.

But what's the status on the Pink Lopi Raglan?

Well the body's all knit up. But measuring the width I've realised it's not wide enough and no amount of magic blocking can fix that. I'm not even sure I could physically get it on my body and am certain that I'm not comfortable putting what that would look like onto the internets. All you need to know is that it's too narrow, the gauge is way too tight and the ribbing flips up even just as I'm knitting.

Instead I give you two perfect sleeves!

The power of a little bit of smart knitting, I spent time measuring how wide I REALLY wanted it to be at the wrist and how much ease I REALLY wanted around the biggest part of my arm. I plugged those measurements into the gauge to figure out the initial cast on and the target number of stitches. Then I took the length of the sleeve to the underarm and figured out how frequently I would have to increase to get to the target amount of stitches in the right number of rows. This probably isn't going to mean much to some of you, I just wanted you to know how hard (or not hard) it was.

The big change I made from knitting the sweater body to the sleeves (and probably why they are so perfect) is that I went up by 0.5 mm in needle size after the ribbing. No flipping and perfect gauge make these sleeves perfection. Even trying to wrangle an octopus can't get me down on these sleeves. I'm so high on the now completed perfect sleeves that I'm about ready to re-tackle the sweater body and maybe even start on the Time Out pile.

Some of you may be asking 'But what about the Cable Eyelet Ribbed Cardigan? Is it also been misbehaving and in a time out?'
Nope, it's coming along just fine. Like a great book, I'm in no rush to finish it. Instead I pick it up here and there and savour every stitch. Every yarn over, knit 2 together, and purl is so delightful that I don't mind making it last. With the gauge of yarn that I'm using it's not hard to do.

17 January 2008

My Ears ARE in fact burning

I have to say thank you.

Thank you for all the great comments on these mittens.

Thank you to everyone who has favourited it or commented on these mittens on Ravelry. Thank you to Pinneguri for nominating the mittens for the Bobbys 2007 in the category of Most Colorful Project, I don't think they'll win, but I'm extremely honoured that they're nominated to be among the technicolor rainbow.

Thank you to all the people that have looked, commented and favourited this photo on Flickr, it's now by far my most popular photo. I'm honoured that it's not only knitters, but regular photographical folk who have given this bunnie props. Thank you to all the Montreal knitters who have ooooed and aaawwed and helped with the colour changes on these mittens.

I feel humbled if they have in any way inspired other people's knitting. I am especially humbled by all the people from Nordic countries who have paid enough attention to them to favourite/comment. Not being a big researcher and not living with the traditions, I co-opted a traditional pattern, technique to use with my own possibly non-traditional aesthetic. So it's like my cavalier attitude to colour/pattern usage is somehow validated by being favourited by someone in Finland.

I suppose it doesn't make sense for me to feel like I've somehow bastardised a tradition just by changing colours & adding more, but I can be all crazy like that. The same kind of crazy that chooses to spend a day each mitten to weave in a bazillion ends instead of having non-precise, hand felted colour changes. But that's just how I roll.

And most of all, I'd like to thank Marcia for inspiring these mittens. Without that simple phrase 'autumnal colours' these mittens would never have been cast on.

14 January 2008

Magic Loop or Wrangling an Octopus

No pics I'm afraid, but trust me on this, Magic Loop is like trying to wrangle an octopus. I have finished the body of the Pink Lopi Raglan and Saturday cast on for the sleeves. I decided that the working on both sleeves at once is a good strategy and as the sweater's all about being worked in the round, this means using the über trendy Magic Loop™ to do the job.

I first worked the ribbing on 4 double point 3.5 mm for each sleeve separately and then knit them onto 2 4.0 mm, 80 cm circulars. Partly because I wasn't sure how to handle starting in the round with the loop de magie (especially with tubular cast on) and partly because I have only one 3.5 mm circular which is only an 80 cm and is currently housing the sweater body.

Now let me just say that I put Magic Loop™ in the 'trendy knitting fad' category along with cute beaded/custom/jewelry-like stitch markers (not to say that I don't own any of those) and toe-up socks: way too much hype. And my experiences in the past few days have not changed my mind.

There's too much switching. Every 25 stitches I have to either drop a needle or switch balls of yarn. And the first couple of rounds, the whole thing would get SO tangled that I would let the entire fidgety mess fall to the desk and then just walk away to make some tea or something. AND THEN sometimes I forget to switch the needles in both hands and end up with 3 halves on one needle, and one half on the other (which sometimes gets all switched around and front half of one sleeve in on the same needle as the back half of the other sleeve). Disaster.

But I've sort of become somewhat used to working this octopus. For the most part anyways. I'm working through the wiggly giggle mess at least. No trendy knitting technique is going to get the best of me!

I think it will better on one super huge circular rather than wrangling two smaller ones. I've got a 120 cm kickin' around somewhere and it's bamboo to boot. The squeeze/grind of metal needles rubbing all against each other is NOT my favourite. Especially when using squeaky acrylics. Yuuugch.

Update: I tried using one super long circular and had issues with ladders/losing my place on the sides (I tried with stitch markers and the ladders got worse). So I've gone back to the 2 circs and I'm managing. I could see that if the concept of working with double points was especially aggravating, Magic Loop™ may be a more successful alternative technique.

But for the whole 'Second Sock Syndrome' sufferers I have to say I think you're suffering from a made up disease. Before going to the internet to read about knitting, I had never heard of anyone having problems finishing a pair of socks or mittens or anything else that comes in pairs. Yes, the pattern is the same as the first item so the joy of discovery isn't really there. Yes, it's the same yarn that you've just spent a sock working with.

But the second sock/mitten/whatever always is faster than the first one (just like the second time driving/getting somewhere is that little bit easier/more familiar). Plus it gives you the opportunity to knit this one better! You'll be knitting it with more confidence, a better idea of what's going on and the particular tricky bits of the particular pattern you're working on. I'll add the challenge that you may even be able to knit most of it from memory as well. How cool is it to knit something without consulting a pattern for any of it?

If you still think you have 'Second Sock Syndrome' then try this magical cure I've just heard about. It's called Magic Loop™ and it means (with some minor wrangling) you can knit both socks at once!*

(warning: knitting two socks at one time may slow the perception of knitting time)

11 January 2008

These are MY mittens

I got out of the taxi cab, wrestled my suitcases up the stairs and found this fabulously addressed package waiting patiently for me.

Needless to say I immediately opened it. And was so happy with what was inside. Mrs. Yarn Love put together a GREAT package for me. Two skeins of her hand dyed yarns, two little lovely scented yarn washes and the most amazing pair of thrummed mittens ever! OMG I love them! Thanks Katie!

Yeah, they're a custom pattern, made with hand dyed yarns, and roving and everything. They rule!

I took a bunch of silly pictures of me playing with the mittens. A great pair of mittens instantly cause me to make them into hand puppets (they should have had iPods when I was a kid walking to school in the winter). You can see the documented silliness on my Flickr.

Oh and I did in fact FULLY intend on going to Ariadne's Knit Nite yesterday, but I am really not yet adjusted to this time zone. And the day after I arrived, I started a month long temp gig. So it took me two days to finish all the dishes I didn't do before I left on holiday (gross I know, but I was super busy and sick and stuff) and I didn't buy groceries until last night. Exhausted and not really rolling on any projects, I just couldn't deal with a 20 min Metro ride across downtown.

BUT I'm going to be there on Sunday. Really for reals. I mean it. Unless I go to a matinee of Juno or something. No, I'm just kidding. I have to go deposit a cheque at my bank and check out the new Knitscene so have to go downtown anyways.