Monday, November 26, 2007

Minimalist Cardigan wrap-up (and more!)

Minimalist Cardigan
Valley Yarns Colrain, color "Chestnut" (109 yards per ball), ~7.2 balls
US 4 Knitpicks Options circular needles (32")

First off, I want to apologize that these photos are a little dark and unspectacular. I'm having trouble finding good light in the house this time of year. Now to the real stuff: I have been battling my (more or less completed) Minimalist Cardigan for over a month now, and I'm happy to announce that we have come to an agreement of sorts.

You may have noticed that I haven't really mentioned it much. Unlike some bloggers (whom I admire greatly!), I don't feel like posting about a project when it's giving me real trouble. I prefer to stew privately, I guess. I realize that it would be much more interesting, not to mention more useful, for me to let you know what's going on. I could then solicit ideas from you guys about how to go about fixing things, and you might learn something in the vein of "what not to do" when you're knitting a sweater (or this sweater, at least). Ahem. That would be grand. Anyway....

Modifications, etc.

I knit the smallest size. My initial swatching showed that I was almost getting gauge with US 4 needles (the pattern recommends US 7). Instead of trying again on US 3's, I decreased the number of stitches I cast on for each piece to make up the difference. However, I neglected to alter the number of stitches involved in armhole and shoulder shaping, resulting in deeper armholes and narrower sleeve caps than desirable. Luckily both are still workable -- they're just not proportioned as nicely as they could have been. I used short-rows for shoulder shaping and did a 3 needle bind-off for each.

I also chose to add additional length (a half inch) to the fronts and backs (it has been my experience that sweaters are often too short on me if I don't add a couple of inches, at least). This turned out to be a bad idea.

After blocking it was too long/too big looking in general:
I hadn't taken into consideration the drapiness of the fabric or the fact that this cardigan is meant to be worn open over a shirt (and is not fitted at all). It hit in the middle of my butt, and looked like a limp red tent on me. Ooof.

Maddeningly, it looked OK (actually rather nice) with the fronts cinched together like this:
(although the back pooched out strangely around my waist in order to accommodate my buttocks)

I looked for a clasp, but was not happy with the clunky looking overly-fancy ones available, so I sewed on hooks and eyes to keep the fronts closed instead. Unfortunately, this focused too much tension on the hooks/eyes so that the fabric around them pulled rather disturbingly (no photo, sorry).

I took these off and made i-cord frogs, which I sewed to the fronts like this:

While they look nice just sitting there, frankly, they destroyed the minimalist nature of the Minimalist Cardigan (not to mention I attached them a little high, which made me look extremely flat chested and weirdly proportioned, and they looked kind of crooked). Soooooo..... off they came.

I decided that I needed to go ahead and crop the cardigan, or I was never going to get any wear out of it. I picked out the seams toward the bottom of the sweater and lopped several inches off the back and both fronts. Then I put the live stitches onto a needle and worked downward - adding about a half inch of the k2,p1 ribbing before binding off (I know this doesn't match the length of ribbing on the sleeves, but I was afraid of adding back too much length after my surgical escapade). When finished, I reblocked the bottom edge only.

Now, I may be completely batty, but I'm much happier with the way the sweater looks on me! Yay!

I may still add some kind of relatively invisible closure (I was thinking of putting a button or two on the inside of one front edge and a loop or loops on the inside of the other), so that I have the option of wearing my Minimalist Cardigan with the fronts cinched in.

Oh, yes. One last note: the ribbing at the cuffs wasn't tight enough to stay put if I shoved the sleeves toward my elbows a bit (which I am prone to do, and I think this looks better, anyway), so I wove some elastic thread inside each cuff -- much better!

Oops! Not quite done.... I just love the look and feel of this yarn -- it's buttery soft, and the tencel gives it such a nice sheen and drape. Highly recommended!

Sheepy Roving!
A friend of mine brought me some wonderful natural roving that her mother harvested (and prepared) from sheep she has raised over the years. I definitely have to learn to spin now!

Just look at this stuff!
Bug approves : )

Schaefer Yarn Model Knitting

So, ignoring what time of year this is (um, holiday gift knitting, anyone?), I offered to knit up a model for Schaefer Yarn.

I'm working on the Judith Chevron Shawl in their new, yummy alpaca yarn, Judith, alternating balls every two rows to reduce pooling issues.. The colorway is "Betty Friedan" -- a melange of plums and blue-toned purples.


I'm about halfway done.

Holiday Knitting Update

Ok, so I'm guessing that none of my family members will scroll down this far (at least not the ones these gifts are for), so I thought I'd let you see a little bit of my holiday gift knitting.

Morehouse Merino Farm Alligator Scarf
Morehouse Merino Sport, color "CreekCroc", ~1.4 skeins
US 3 Knitpicks Options circular needles (24")

This is for one of my nephews, but Moana wants to keep it. I think it came out nicely! Rawr!

I got stitch gauge, but the pattern didn't list a row gauge, and mine was evidently not what it should have been, so I added extra repeats a number of places. I bought this as a kit at Rhinebeck, but I'm not sure exactly what weight of yarn they included. It seems heavier than sport, has three plies (their sport weight yarns seem to have only 2), and the skeins were much bigger (94 grams each) than those they advertise on their website. Who knows...

I think it's pretty cool how the alligator gets his bumpily back (it involves increasing and binding off strategically). Here's the underside of him:

Next, there's the Morehouse Merino Rat Race Scarf for one of my nieces. You may notice that I altered the pattern a wee bit:
Morehouse Merino Farm Rat Race Scarf Pink Weasel Scarf
ONline Linie 130 Champ, color 25 (77 yards per ball), ~2.4 balls
US 7 dpns

I substituted a heavier weight (and different color) of yarn, and I added length to the "rat's" midsections to transform them into pink weasels. Additionally I changed the tail and used hematite beads for the eyes.

I hope you are all having a wonderful November! Thanks for reading : )

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Bug presents: Hemlock Blocked

Hemlock Ring Blanket
Cascade Ecological Wool, color 8087 (478 yards per skein), ~2.3 skeins
US 8 Knitpicks Options circular needles (up to 60" cables)
US 8 dpns

This was a great project, though I didn't find it to be as quick a knit as many others have described. As I tend to knit loosely, I used smaller needles than suggested.

The pattern Jared links to has an error in round 35. This version of the pattern has the correct instructions for the round. I used the expanded chart offered on the Hemlock Ring Blanket KAL until it ran out on Round 121. Then I increased during Round 122 following the methodology of earlier chart increases and worked through Round 126 before following the instructions in the original doily pattern (Round 87) for binding off (whew! that took awhile).


I used approximately 1100 yards of yarn. Post blocking, the blanket measured 58 inches in diameter. I'm guessing I should have used larger (US 9 ?) needles if I wanted my blanket to block out flatter (not to mention larger, for the same quantity of work). As it is, there's quite a bit of what amounts to ruching in the feather and fan portions of the blanket. I don't really mind this - I think it's quite pretty, actually.


I'm very happy with how it turned out!

When you hold it up to the light, it looks so airy...
but don't worry - it's nice and warm : )

Here are some close-ups:

Once again, Moana tried to play coy for a while, but eventually she succumbed to the call of the wool...

And then... Bug knocked me over so he could enjoy the Hemlock Ring Blanket with me (he was clearly wondering when I was going to put the camera down).

Friday, November 2, 2007

The jellyfish has landed.

I finished the Hemlock Ring Blanket! Unblocked, it still looked very much like a coelenterate drifting along in the ocean currents...


Here are some close-ups of the jelly's lovely details:
IMG_0650.jpg IMG_0722.jpg

Spread out a bit, it looks more like the blanket it is. Of course, Bug wanted to check it out (WARNING: Gratuitous quantities of cat/knit photos ahead).


Moana didn't want to help with the photoshoot. She sat staring out the window instead...

Finally, she decided to come take a look (and a sniff):

Then she got a little too cozy with it for comfort:
Umm... that's quite enough, Moana! Step away from the Hemlock Ring Blanket, very carefully...

Eventually the cats let me block it. Here it is all pinned out.
Note that it hangs over the edges of our guest bed (which is a double bed, not a queensize, for reference)

It's been unpinned for a while now, but I haven't had the chance to take post-blocking photos yet. I have to keep it away from Moana when not in use (she can still smell the sheep in the wool), lest she massage it to death with her sharp, pointy claws : )

Hemlock pattern wrap up and post-blocked pictures to come...

Prize Yarn!


I won this amazing, sparkly handspun yarn made by Jess in Knittymama's Flood Relief Contest. Thanks Knittymama, for running the contest, and Jess, for offering her handspun yarn as one of the prizes!

Kasia's Earrings

In addition to knitting (and sewing) amazing things, Kasia of Morgiana's Manifesto makes lovely, distinctive earrings that she's selling in her Etsy Shop. I bought her Path of a Serpent earrings. They're really beautiful (and I need to take a photo of them now that they're in my possession) - Thanks, Kasia!

Also, Kasia tagged me for 8 Random Things, but since I did that fairly recently, I'll just link to that post here (scroll down a bit).

After an otherwise wonderful visit with my brother in law, his wife, and their 15 month old baby, my husband and I have both succombed to a nasty cold the little guy passed on to us. I hope you are all managing to avoid getting sick this fall! Have a good week : )