Friday, March 29, 2013

Fix it Friday!

So I had this hat -->
You might remember it. I knit it to match my Whistler sweater.

The problem was I wanted it to be for very cold days. Blustery days. Those bad winter days when, if I'm outside, I need to feel that I am prepared and well-protected.

But this hat, despite being stranded and therefore twice as thick, didn't stop the wind. It did a lot, but not enough.

Before our trip to the Great White North, I wanted a hat to withstand it all.

Fortunately, since I knit this hat I had learned some new skills. Because at the time, my solution would have been to knit a liner--a second layer that would nest inside the one that's already there. I had a lovely gold alpaca silk blend that I thought would do nicely. But I doubted it could really stop the wind.

And then I made a Subway hat. And then made two versions for Troy, and let me tell you, felted cashmere takes no guff from winter winds. So the solution presented itself and a deadline was fast approaching.

First thing--take off the tassle by removing the safety pin holding it on:
(I was never really sold on the tassle, so I didn't want to permanently attach it. A nice time saver here!)

Then cut a piece out of a felted sweater to fit:
Note that the fabric is doubled (folded on the left side).
In my other linings I did a double seam on the top (an X shape) to more closely approximate a sphere. But this stuff stretches, so this time I just did one rounded seam. Easy.

Previously, I sewed the side and top seam first and inserted the lining so that the seam wouldn't show. (It was between the layers.) but I had been having trouble getting it the right size...usually too big, and then it would be too much trouble to undo it all to fix it. So this time I didn't worry about the seam, and you can see it from the inside of the hat. Too bad; so sad.

So, in this case, I sewed it to the hat along the bottom first:
Don't pull very tight or it won't stretch over your head (but you knew that).

Then I did a very basic whip stitch up the side and over the top to hold the two pieces together:
Not the prettiest, but it will work! (I lucked out and the seam on the lining lined up with the back of the hat! I hadn't paid any attention to it, but it worked out anyway.)

And presto! a lined hat:

And of course for the final touch, pin the tassels back on:
And the last final touch, take a picture in front of a mountain:
Guess what. That was a very, very cold day, and my head wasn't. Where's the "like" button?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

(Not So) Lacy Underthing

Here we have another knitting thing finished shortly before our trip...the (not so) Lacy Underthing.
I've already written that the lower front panel was supposed to have a lace pattern that I complete forgot to do. How does that happen?? I don't know. Let's put it down to distracted knitting.

Other than that I followed the pattern pretty closely except that I switched it from bottom-up to top-down. I used short-row shoulder shaping, and then I messed up on the front cross over. (But you can't tell.)
I could maybe put that down to distracted knitting too, but really it was bad number memory. I knit the left and right sides separately, and then when they were long enough (and wide enough since I was doing the neck increases), I knew I had to overlap 13 of the stitches at the center and knit them together on the next row. I kept reading 13 and thinking 18. Reading 13 and thinking 18 all while I was preparing for this step. And sure enough I overlapped 18 stitches and didn't notice until the knitting had calmed down (there was a lot going on there for a while with the overlap and joining everything in the round) and I recounted everything to see where I was at.

At that point, I tried it on to make sure 5 missing stitches wasn't going to make it too small to wear. (It didn't.) And then I continued on. That's where I forgot the lace. (Distracted.) Of course, if I had done the lace, missing five stitches would have been a bigger deal.

Oh well, it is done. It feels quite lovely. The size is pretty good. I would rather wear it over a shirt than under everything, but it will still keep me warm.

I did a picot hem on the bottom:
This is the easiest "fancy" trim you could ever do. I remember first learning it. I was young and my mom had given me some yarn and a pattern for a baby sweater/dress. At that point, I just followed the directions row by row, not yet knowing where all this would lead. You started at the bottom, knit a few rows, then did a row of knit-two-togethers and yarn-overs. And then you knit a few more rows. This creates a row of holes--like eyelet. When I realized that folding on that line created the scalloped edge of a picot hem, it was a revelation. (Remember that older patterns would not have had the multiple clear pictures that today's do.)

I added a shorter picot edging to the armholes because as far as I could tell the pattern didn't finish them. The stocking stitch was curling way too much for me to be able to leave it. I also added a short 1x1 rib to the center back neck (not pictured). I didn't want a rolled hem there, so I picked up from the cast on edge and knit a few rows of ribbing. At each side, I knit together with the edge of the front so that it would be anchored and I wouldn't have to come back and sew it together later.Project Stats
: 3 Feb '13
Finished: 5 Mar '13
Pattern: Cotton Bam Boo Little Shell Top by Tonia Barry
Materials: 582 yards/.7 oz light fingering alpaca ($3)

I will add for the nay-sayers around me--I had plenty of yarn. I used 7/8ths of the ball I had, and that was plenty comfortable for me. That's two recent points for me, if you're keeping track: the bulky cable vest, and this one. Cock-a-doodle-doo! (That's me crowing in case that's not obvious!)

General summary of my impression of the vest: I like it. I like the vertical lines of the narrow slip stitch pattern. I'm not super crazy about the horizontal line right under the bust line, but somehow it seems better with it than without. I am happy with the waist and hip shaping, which is nice considering I was making it up as I went. And the vest works just as well over the pants as tucked in, so a good length and not too bulky. Nice. It's becoming clear that this one is a win!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Painted Toes (Or the Case of the Mock Monkeys)

Much as I like painting my toenails, there's not much point in the winter. So how much nicer, then, to have "painted toes" on your socks!?

I started these last summer as a time filler and to take along when larger projects wouldn't do. And they have played their part nicely. I left them in the car most of the time in case I had a spare minute or an unexpected wait. But it didn't happened too often so they kind of languished.

Until early this year. I didn't keep track, but apparently a few things fell off my plate and these socks got more attention. The first one took from August to January to do, and the second one was finished over little more than a month. That's how it goes sometimes.

As I said before, I knew as soon as I saw this yarn what type of socks they needed to become. And they turned out just as I wanted! Not quite the working socks that become stuffed monkey toys, but close enough that everyone thinks of them.

Start with red toes,
and then knit a plain foot. I increased as for a normal gusset, and then did a short row heel over the larger number of stitches.
The larger heel helps the fit and I felt it would make the red sections more balanced.

Knit and knit and knit on the leg.
I switched to a 2x2 ribbing and just knit and knit and knit forever. At first I was going to knit until the black and white wool was gone, but that didn't happen. Finally I realized they would be long enough to be true knee socks, and I said that is enough.

Add a 1x1 cuff to help keep them up:
and finish (as always) with an invisible cast off (Kitchener style).

Project Stats
: 28 Aug '12
Finished: 10 Mar '13
Pattern: pattern? what pattern?
Materials: Regia 4-ply (1.7 skeins black/white; 0.7 skeins red) ($3)
Then wear and enjoy!

I finished these up during our trip to Alberta and wasted no time in trying them out! I found them quite warm, and that they stayed up adequately. (I don't expect perfection in that department.) I would not want to walk long in them, however. I think it's the nylon content, but I find the yarn rather unyielding under my foot. I can feel all the stitches and they don't give enough. (I'm finding it hard to explain.) But for most of my "regular" days, they will work just great.
Oh look! A mountain!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Big Bulky Cable Vest

Ready for a parade of finished projects? The combination of a deadline of leaving on a trip and the time during the trip to work on knitting has led to a great number of things being finished and/or photographed.

Of course, I also figured everything looks better with mountains in the background. (Or if it doesn't look good, you don't notice because Look! There's a mountain!)

Last time I wrote about the Cable Vest, I had finished the neck bands and was working on the armhole trim. Or I had picked up the stitches, but hadn't knit them. It took me a while to pick it up again--I'm not sure why. But with this trip looming, something got me going and I knit both sides pronto. I did three rows on each side, so that didn't take long. Turns out that's a good thing because I'll be redoing them, but I'll talk about that in a minute.

Project Stats
: 25 Dec '12
Finished: 8 Mar '13
Pattern: Ruffle Trim Vest by Shiri Mor
Materials: 574 grams raveled bulky cashmere (~$5-$7)
After that, I had to deal with the bottom hem. I had done a provisional cast on so I had a bunch of live stitches to deal with. I wasn't sure what I was going to do when I started, but when it was time to work on it, I had decided to do a cable around the bottom, much like the neck trim.

I put all the stitches onto a cable needle and started at the bottom of the front center cable. I took half of the stitches and added a couple more so that I had six stitches--enough for a four-stitch cable with a purl stitch on both sides.
I then knit along the bottom, twisting the cable every six rows (like the neck) and working the one purl stitch together with a stitch of the bottom hem.
I think it turned out pretty well.

I threw the vest into my suitcase and worked all the ends in at some point on the trip. Probably the first night in the hotel, actually, because then I blocked it! Soaked it in the little sink and laid it out, first on the floor and then on a luggage rack.
At some point I thought maybe this was going to be a bad idea because it took all of the two days we were there for this to dry! At some point I thought it was never going to be dry, but finally it was.

And I could put it on, and pose with some mountains in the background.
I like the way the bottom cables come out of the center braid. (If you don't look too close, and really, who's going to be?)

And here is the back with its swirly twirly cable design:
I'm not too happy with the holes where the cables begin (bottom of the looping circles--see the very bottom of the design and the loops on the right and left sides). This was the first time that I had done this technique and apparently didn't do it very well. There's a "make 5" at that point, and that's a lot of stitches to get out of one stitch. I may be able to sew it up with a separate strand of yarn to get rid of the hole. I haven't tried it yet.

Also, I will be doing the armholes again, when I get to it:
I don't like the way it uncurls, especially on the back. It's supposed to roll to the front side (taking advantage of stocking stitch's tendency to curl to make it match the reverse stocking stitch on the main panels). But there aren't enough stitches around the hole and that is making it pull. I'm going to have to rip them back and add more stitches so it has lots of room to curl.

And that last thing is the colour. Since the beginning, I have not been too crazy about it. Pale blue is one thing, but this is just too washed out. I have determined I am going to dye it, at some point. (I'll wear it a few times first so that if the dyeing is a total disaster, I will have at least had that!) Although my calculations at the beginning made it look like I may be short on yarn, I actually only used half of what I had!

I will experiment with some KoolAid dyeing on the extra yarn, and hopefully have good enough results that I will dye the whole garment. KoolAid has a reputation for being splotchy and being "taken up" unevenly, but I am just going to have to risk it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

These Socks were Made for Traveling

So if you haven't heard from other sources, I should tell you that we just got back from a big trip to Alberta, to the Jasper and Banff National Parks. We went to celebrate our 12-1/2 wedding anniversary. (It's a Dutch thing.) (Yes, it's real.) It was fabulous.

But this is a knitting blog, so I will show you the anniversary socks I started for Troy. Note that I started them on our anniversary trip. Just as celebratory but without the pressure of having to finish them for a particular date! (Tricky, aren't I?)

I've showed you the yarn I bought for Troy's socks before:
I bought it on my road trip to Grand Rapids (Jenison) in December. It's got some alpaca in it, which will hopefully make it "soft" enough for Troy to wear. (He's really not sure he'll be able to wear wool socks. I'm making them anyway, just in case he loves them. That puts me at risk of having to make more, but I'll chance it.)

The wool is sort of a mustard brown, which usually isn't a pleasant colour, but it's a heather with lots of yellow, blue, and red bits in it like heathers are wont to have. Troy is a sucker for heathers. (That's with a small "h.") Yes, by now I know his weaknesses! I didn't realize it at the time, but I have since learned that in the Netherlands, 12-1/2 is the copper anniversary, and I think this wool could be construed to be sort of copper-y in colour. Nice coincidence!

I shopped around for a pattern and even printed one that I brought with me, but after talking to Troy, I decided to do a "plain" ribbed pair. At the first airport wait, I cast on the short row toe and got going:
(All those bags sticking out of my carry on are different projects I brought with me. I didn't work on many of them, but you never know!)

In the first flight I got the toe done:
Next wait at the second airport, and I've started the 2x2 ribbing:
That's my Kindle in the background. A couple months ago I was proclaiming to anyone that would listen that they needed to make a reader that could switch from written text to audio book for knitters. (I can't read and knit and have a good time all at the same time.) Then I discovered Kindle's text-to-voice. It's not the most nuanced reading, but it helps a lot if you skim along the words while it's reading. I'm enjoying it.

On the next flight, I continued up the foot, working in near darkness. The lady next to me was trying to sleep. She was amazed I was allowed to take my knitting on the plane. I ignored her. I only had to turn the light on twice to pick up a dropped stitch.
This plane was equipped to receive satellite TV. I watched the Leaf's game with the off-duty pilot next to me. This picture happened to catch the Leaf's game-tying score. Very exciting. Unfortunately they lost in the shoot-out. The pilot beside me didn't say so, but he was probably happy because despite living in Calgary, he is a Habs fan. He is also a goalie so he winced audibly every time an "easy" goal was scored. He sympathized with the net minders on any team.

The next day, I knit a little more in the car as we were leaving Calgary.
Here's a better one to show what we were driving into:
Gorgeous, right?

Once we actually got into the mountains, I couldn't knit anymore. I was too busy craning my neck and looking through all the windows I could. I love these mountains.

In the evenings, however, I managed to do a little knitting. On Sunday, I made Troy try it on:
This was about the time I was going to start the gusset, and I wanted to check the length.

He happily (and with a little too much surprise in his voice) said, "They fit!" In his defence, the ribbing is a little deceptive because it pulls the sock in when it's not on the foot and makes it look much narrower than it is.

It occurred to me that ribbing is having your cake and eating it too. Because it pulls in, it will fit a narrower foot than the same number of stitches in stocking stitch. But because you move the yarn from front to back between the ribs, you actually use more yarn so there's more stretch and it will fit a bigger foot than the same number of stitches in stocking stitch would fit. Isn't that breaking some law of physics?

At the end of the week, I had him try it on again:
Here I was judging whether I could start the heel yet. Almost there! Troy said they felt very good. I made him do the happy toe dance. It is mandatory when trying on socks-in-progress. (Optional when wearing the completed sock, but sometimes you can't help yourself.)

On the way home, I worked on them in the Calgary airport. Here the heel is finished:
I did some shaping to the sole stitches and then knit up the heel flap, decreasing the gusset stitches on the way. To reinforced the back of the heel, I slipped every other stitch on every row. This pulls the stitches in, as I think you can see here:
Compare the top and bottom portions. The top part
pulls in because only every other stitch is knit. (The
alternating stitches are slipped with the yarn in back.)
On the back side, this results in the yarn making horizontal bars:
Now the slipped stitch portion is on the bottom of
the picture.
This is like an extra layer behind the stitches and helps to make the sock more durable. I think it also gives a little extra cushion there.

I got as far as about an inch done on the leg and haven't worked on it since getting home. (Vacation's over.) I also need to have Troy try it on again to make sure the leg isn't too narrow. Of course, I'll be doing the 2x2 ribbing all the way around so I do have a little leeway...

Ok, one mountain shot, just for fun:
This is in Jasper, taken from one of the main streets. Yup, that could be the view from your living room or office.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

In Which My Enthusiasm Runs Away with Me

Last time you saw the brown "shell" I'm knitting, progress had made it to the waist. In the week since then, I have finished the hip increases and the fold-under hem at the bottom. Then I added an edging around the arms. (As far as I can tell, there's none written in the pattern, but the stockingnette stitch curls under terribly.)

Tonight I finished sewing the hem in place and managed to get it blocked:
Lovely, no? Well, wait, something doesn't seem right... After I was done casting off the bottom, I looked at the pattern again to double check (again) about the arm trim. And wait, what do I see here?
This is the picture from the pattern. The lovely lace that I really liked, and wanted to do, even in dark brown, is somehow absent from my finished piece. I realized I thought I knew what was coming in the pattern and after I got the front and back all put together and the horizontal band done, I just raced on down to the bottom. And I raced right past all that lace!

I'm pretty bummed. I had brief thoughts about ripping it all out. And I had an even briefer thought about just ripping the front section back and trying to knit up just that section. (It would be a nightmare.)

So I will live with it. And try to remember next time that if I want to follow a pattern, I should actually read it.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Still Like Knitting

I sat down to work on a project I might even finish with just a little stick-to-it-ness. Instead I couldn't resist some new madelinetosh I had sitting on the couch. I have a pattern in mind but this is a different weight yarn so I definitely have to swatch.

Sometime last year I was in Red Purl and Amy showed me a new pattern she just loved, Scarpetta by Kirsten Johnstone.
I caught her enthusiasm and bought the pattern with no immediate plans to make it (something I don't often do). After I got home, I filed it away and didn't really think I would ever make the sweater. It's knit side-to-side (not a feature I'm fond of) and I just didn't have that "must-knit-it" vibe from it, although I loved the neckline and collar.

Months pass and then I see some yarn in Red Purl I really love, two colours of madelinetosh merino light:
I loved them both and thought they looked good together--Amy said she ordered them because they worked so well together--and I started to wonder how they would work for the Scarpetta. But I thought they might contrast a bit too much for the look I would want. But then I had the thought of using them together, alternating between the two skeins every row so they would blend into a third unique colour.

So last night when I could have been finishing other projects, I started a swatch so I could see what it would look like:
Pretty good, I think.
It was a nice evening of almost thoughtless knitting. Next up I block it and see which of the four sizes of needles I used most closely matches the pattern gauge.

May I suggest?

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