Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Silk Stripe Sweater (Beginning and Re-beginning)

After blocking the swatch I did for this sweater, I realized I swatched with the wrong needles. I swatched with the smaller ones the pattern called for instead of the larger. But since I was doing a size that would be slightly small on me, I figured it would be ok. (The next size up was a little too big.)

So in mid-September, I cast on and got started:
The sweater is knit from the neck down. Instead of dividing the front and back at the side seam, they are divided at one of the "seams" formed by the color change. This means you can knit an entire sleeve at the same time. It's very, very clever.
So I knit the yoke and then joined under the sleeve and knit some more. But I became more and more convinced that the size was too small. So I took a deep breath and frogged it all. I reasoned with myself that although it looked like a lot of knitting, I had only been working on it for a couple days, so I could soon recover.

While I was restarting, I decided to remove the elastic strand that was included with the teal yarn. It was a good thing to include because silk does have a tendency to droop and sag (when you want it, you call it "drape"), but it made the teal just a little too tight. And without it, the two yarns would behave more similarly.

On the first ball, I just removed the strand as I knit. It meant I could cast on again right away, but I also have to stop every row or so and untangle and tear off the elastic. When I was getting ready for a road trip last weekend, I decided to prepare a whole ball at once.

It took an hour of winding, but I got the silk onto the ball winder, and the elastic off the ball winder.
Knitting without it is so much more pleasant!

Before I left, I got the first piece started and knit down to the armhole. On the road trip, I cast on the second half (front or back, they're identical)
and had quite a bit of time for knitting. Troy doesn't like to drive as much any more, so not quite as much time as I used to get. But hands need their rest so I guess it's good for me.

Although the sweater is written to have the front and back knit in two separate pieces that are seamed at the end, I decided I could get rid of at least one of those seams. When both pieces were knit to the armhole, I joined them into one long piece. Now I'm doing both parts at once, working with four balls of yarn in intarsia:
Especially since the seam would run right up the front of the shirt, I wanted to get rid of it if I could. I should have done this from the beginning so I wouldn't have a half seam from about the underarm to the neck, but I didn't think that far ahead. (I thought I would be able to knit it in the round, but it was a little more complicated than I was thinking. And then my cable needle turned out to be too long to do it comfortably, so I just resigned myself to one seam. Now, at least, I'll know which side is the back!)

I'm about half way through the waist shaping and making good progress. Although I can't really try it on like you normally can with top-down sweaters, it's looking much better since I went a size up.

I don't think I've said yet that I'm making this out of two raveled sweaters. The teal blue is 100% silk (Ann Taylor, so you know it's good) and the wheat colour is a silk/rayon blend. I'm a sucker for silk and both colours are really gorgeous. But I did think the teal was too strong and wondered what I was going to do with it. (There's only so much yarn you can justify just because it's pretty!) The wheat colour is very pretty, but I thought it would probably wash me out. When I saw the pattern in a magazine I bought for another pattern, I thought these two colours would be perfect. Since they're both silk and a similar weight, it is working well. It is interesting, however, that the teal is a perfectly smooth silk yarn, and the wheat is much more "slubby." But the contrast is good.

This is the only thing I have going right now, if you can believe it. I think about other things to start, but then I have to go to bed, or to work, or have to can or pickle some fruit. Plus Socktober is right around the corner and that will bring on a new project as well. I guess I can wait. (And work on this bit of loveliness in the meantime. It's rough.)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Deadline Schmeadline (I made it)

I love you thiiiiiiiiiiis much!
At about 8:00 this evening I finished Troy's anniversary socks. They are freakishly long. All they need now is a nice blocking. Happy anniversary, honey!

After I finished them it occurred to me that I don't have any projects on the needles. Quelle horreur! I don't think that's happened since 2008.

But I do have one swatch I just finished
so it is set to be cast on...

...and this one is blocking
and ready to be assembled and have the trim knit on.

Later I remembered I do have this little dish cloth on the go:
It's one of the ones I work on while walking, and it has been a while. But really, I can't count this. It would be like reading over the grocery list and claiming that you're reading a book. Time to cast on a couple things. My stash has been waiting long enough.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch

Knitting on my lace tunic during a power outage
in June that lasted a couple days. That would be
too long to go without knitting in the evenings!
So I know, I know, I'm supposed to be working on Troy's socks all the live long day. But sometimes a girl needs a break. And I've been sneaking them in and working on my cotton lace tunic. (shhhhh)

I finished the main knitting a couple of days ago and got the last piece cast off tonight. I hope to have it blocked this weekend and then I just need to seam it together and knit the trim around the neck and armholes. If I'm really good, the socks will be done on time on Monday (fingers crossed) and then I'll be able to finish up this tunic in time to wear for the last few warm days we should (hopefully) get before fall really sets in.

The tunic's been a bit of a funny knit as I got stitch gauge on the "netting" stitch of the side panels but had to do a lot more rows to get the right length. And on the main lace stitch, I was good on row gauge but really had to pull on it to get it to be wide enough (which means my stitch gauge was too small). But I was able to block to measurements so let's hope it fits. :)

I had a frustrating obstacle to finishing the knitting...my ball of yarn ran out with only half a row of bind off to do!
The long tail (top) just wasn't going to be enough
to get the stitches cast off. (Boo!)
So I had to join a new ball of yarn, but there were a few things to consider. 1. The yarn is cotton, which is harder to join reliably and smoothly. (Certainly no wet join was going to work.) There are several methods but they're all pretty bulky. 2. The join was going to be right on an edge that would be worked into a seam and I really didn't need a super bulky join or things would get really ugly really fast. But the good part of it being on a seam is that it didn't necessary have to be the prettiest join.

Yarn from commercial sweaters is "unplied" (not
twisted or spun). They feed the yarn to the knitting
machines from separate spools.
Right about that time I read through a thread on the Ravelry Unravelers group about working with the unplied yarn you get from raveled sweaters. Somehow the topic of joins came up and one member commented that they do offset knots on the different plies. Often enough there's a knot in the yarn (in one ply only) straight from the sweater factory and it is knit into the garment with no ill effects. So she figured if you offset the knots, it should work fine as a join. Light bulb goes off in my head as I agree with her.

I decided this is the perfect join for this situation. Not too pretty, but not at all bulky. So I overlapped the ends of the two yarns I wanted to join by about 12". (Yes, this uses more yarn than most joins, but not a lot more.)
I tied a knot in one of the plies at the left end of the overlap. This gave me a final length and I stretched the yarn over a tray so that it would be taut. The only tricky part of this was making sure each ply ended up the same length.
I secured it by wrapping it around the handle.
It didn't have to be super tight or take a lot of pressure. I then worked on the other plies one by one until I had them all knotted. I ended up with six knots over about 8 inches.
Then I trimmed the ends to less than 1/4 inch.
When I used the yarn, I could tell where the knots were if I looked closely,
but that will become hidden in the seam and it isn't noticeable from further away. And no bulk. It is great.

There's a rule that there are no knots in knitting.

Except when sometimes there are.

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I Say! or at least I did once...