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 : )


Oiyi said...

The cardigan looks fabulous. Great color choice.

I love the Schaefer Yarn. My favortie colors.

The kitties are too cute with the scarves.

Rosina said...

Wow! You have been busy. Glad your cardigan came out okay in the end. The rich color is very nice.
*little gasp of envy* The roving looks so lovely :) It took me a bit to get the hang of spinning, but now I really enjoy it. Looking forward to hearing about your future spinning adventures!

knitography said...

Great cardigan! I think you were right about the length, the shorter version suits the style better. The colour is fantastic!

Kirsten said...

Wow! That's a lot of goodness crammed into one post!!
The cardi looks great on you. It was worth the effort.
I love the gator & rat scarves - so much fun!!
That's a pretty nice haul of roving! Of course Bug approves, she looks so good sitting next to it - brings out her baby blues.

The_Add_Knitter said...

Moana us SUCH a good sport... You are firing on all cylinders with your knitting!

Jane said...

love the sweater. Sweet kitties look so cute and cooperative too!

My favorite is that shawl you are working on...

Alli said...

Love the cardigan! I think you were very wise (and patient!) to take off the extra inches because the length you ended up with looks just right to me!

kmkat said...

The cardigan is a testament to your persistence and inventiveness, not to mention that it looks great, too. I like the scarves; can I be a niece, too?

anphoe said...

Love the cardigan. Too bad the i-cord frogs didn't work out. Very pretty frogs!!
Aliigator Scarf is cute. Look good on your cat :D

Cindy said...

I love the scarves and your cardigan looks lovely on you. You put a lot of work into all the details to make it just right and it looks perfect!

Mel said...

So much knit to absorb! Lovely, lovely. I could never have lasted through all the changes you went through w/ MC. It looks great!

The scarves are too cute, as are the models, natch. I kind of like the roving just as it is...all fluffy and balled-up, sitting there like abstract, modern art. They have a lot of personality, those little balls.

That purple is soooo pretty!

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who stockpiles T. Joe's Organic Sugar....

LisaB said...

The cardigan looks great - sometimes it takes all that struggling to get the perfect fit. Way to persevere!

Love, love love those scarves!

Tammy said...

Wow! You've been busy! When I soaked my Minimalist and went to block it, it stretched about 3 sizes in every direction. I scrunched into it's proper measurements, then, well, eventually threw it in the dryer. You're a much better knitter than me!

Oh, and as always, I love your pictures!

rachel iufer said...

so many good things in this post i hardly know where to begin! the minimalist cardigan is brilliant, absolutely lovely. there has got to be a small kind of closure that doesn't ruin the minimalist nature of the cardigan right? either way, it's a great cardigan.

i love the alligator and weasel scarves are so stinkin cute! i love them!

thanks for the great post!

Sea Anemone said...

I adore the croc scarf. Moana looks very happy in it. ;)

soknitpicky said...

Love the cardigan. It's too bad the frogs didn't work out because they really do look lovely lying flat in the photo. I hate wrestling with projects. They mostly just sit there if I run into any snags at all :-( Your other projects are great, and I'm particularly fond of the alligator

Kasia said...

I love your new cardigan! It's so pretty! This colour really looks great on you! Scarves are fantastic! I've been rambling about purchasing those two patterns for a while! You made adorable job!

Stacey said...

Wow that cardigan is gorgeous! Excellent job & I love the colour.

The kitties with scarves made me smile - how cute!

SJ said...

All those mods you made clearly worked well, because the cardigan looks fantastic on you. It's the first one I've seen on a real person (i.e., not on the IK model). I wouldn't have had the patience to do all that tweaking, so I admire your perseverance in getting it just the way you wanted it!

Jana said...

I think at this point the cardigan is practically your own new pattern and not the Minimalist Cardigan anymore! Too bad about those frogs, they are so pretty! it does look much better without them though. Love that red Colrain-gorgeous!

And I love the Schaefer too. I have a scarf made from Elaine in the Rosa Parks colorway. I love it that the colors are named after famous women, it's so neat...

Bobbi said...

oh my gosh! you've been busy! I'm glad the Mini Cardi worked out, it looks great!

jennsquared said...

The cardi looks awesome on you! And I love the color!!!

I'm also doing a model knitting for Scaefer Yarn using Judith... So glad I'm almost done (2 more repeats to go!) so I can get on with my holiday stuff.

s t a c i said...

The cardi looked good before the mods, but it looks GREAT now. Even though it didn't work out, I love the icord frog, too.

Disentangled said...

Wow you have been busy! Such a nice collection of FOs. I'm glad you were able to make your cardie work for you. It does look nice on and such a great color!

Marlena said...

The cardigan was clearly worth the effort. It looks great on you, and sounds like it'll get lots of wear. Also, thank you for your review of the yarn! I'm very curious about the Valley Yarns line, but hesitant to try something I haven't touched.

Yours scarves are great! I'm gearing up to start the Morehouse hat pattern I bought at Rhinebeck.

Ewe-niss said...

I love your cardigan! Very lovely. Well worth the effort. Why have a gorgeous sweater that looks better off than on? I too have redone the bottom of a few sweaters. I hate it hitting at mid bottom or below. I feel dumpy in it.

Your poor cat, how does it put up with the indignities? :-)

Kara said...

Ooh, the minimalist cardigan is perfectly lovely. I think your mods were spot on.

Amy said...

This post has just a wealth of riches.

* Oof, the Minimalist Cardigan looks fantastic now, but hoo boy. What a journey. Congrats for persevering!

* Judith looks YUMMY, and so does the shawl. How did you go about getting a sample knitting gig?

* Eeeeeee, I have to cast on for the alligator scarf now! SO CUTE!

* *giggle* weasels.

wildtomato said...

You've had a busy November! The garments all look great and Moana is a star, as usual.

Anonymous said...

I think the cardi is darling on you! I really thought that i-cord closure you had was beautiful, but if it wasn't working out, I understand.

You're such a good auntie, to knit the kids such cute gifts.

LizKnits said...

wow you have been busy! The sweater looks great and I love those scarves... really cute.

f. pea said...

oh man, i've been struggling with that minimalist cardigan too. yours came out beautifully! thanks for the inspiration...

Bryony Ramsden said...

You just made my entire week! My first thought was about how beautiful that cardi is, but the cat scarves - fantastic :D Best thing ever to see an animal scarf on a cat :D

Sunflowerfairy said...

Wow. So many finished!

The shawl is beautiful. So is the cardi. I've had my eye on it for the past couple of weeks. We'll see!

Cute kitties. :)

Laiane said...

I admire your tenacity re-working the cardigan. I think I would have thrown my hands up in the air. The yarn looks divine. I've not worked with a wool/tencel blend, but it does look tempting. [The gears are starting in my head -- what to make with it??]

Knittymuggins said...

I'm so sorry for all your frustration with the Minimalist Cardigan :( But it turned out great in the photos and I hope you enjoy it after all your mods!

All your other projects look fantastic too! I especially love that alligator/crocodile scarf (now I really want to knit one!) and the kitties look adorably cozy wrapped up in them!

I just received some spinning stuff from a swap pal, so I'll be curious to hear how it goes for you since I'll be learning soon too :) Fun! Your roving looks lovely.


amber said...

love the cardigan! And the scarves for the kids are so cute. I sepecially like the texture on the alligator.

Madge said...

For all the hassle of the knit, your Minimalist Cardi turned out beautifully. It looks very nice on you, and I like that it's open; its simple lines are very pleasing to the eye. *applause*

Congrats on the Schaefer test knitting gig. The purple shawl is yummy.

Pink weasels! Pink weasels! Yay.

kelp! said...

Omg, cats in rat scarves! That's too cute.

I absolutely love the frog closure you created for your Minimalist cardi! That sweater needs a closure, and yours is perfect!

Juliet said...

the minimalist looks amazing - just wonderful, after the tale of woe I am even more impressed as it looks such a simple relaxed knit - I guess thats down to the finished item looking so simple (though the frog closure is a brilliant idea and I'll have to remember for another project). The purple yarn is beautiful as is the knitting of it. BTW the cat photos are hysterical - poor kitty wrapped up in inedible mice and the photo of the cat-igator (for want of a better term) is brilliant!

Knits & Stitches said...

Thanks, she's much better now! She really scared me though.

I am LOVING your minimalist cardigan, and the yarn for your shawl!!

BTY: you take really nice pictures...not to menation, of gorgeous projects.

Emily said...

The cardigan looks great - way to fight through all the troubles with it. Me, I tend to abandon projects when they get frustrating!
Love the cats in scarves, by the way. I'm sending Dave to your blog so he appreciates that other people pose knitting on their cats and the cats don't mind!

mel said...

Wow - so many great FOs :0

First off, your Minimalist Cardigan is perfect. Definitely worth all the effort in finding the right mix! And it's reassuring to know that things like this happen to other knitters. I have a cardigan that has been nearly done for about a year now and I want to love it so much, but the edgings are just not right. I've tried a few different things and have only ended up more frustrated - you've inspired me to give it one more go ;)

And those scarves are so fun!! I especially like the alligator - your nephew will LOVE it!

Erin said...

Wow. This is quite the post. Your FOs are all lovely--especially the Minimalist Cardigan. Just beautiful!

schrodinger said...

Holy Cr*p you've been busy!! Love, love, love the cardigan.

Brown Berry said...

Oh I'm so glad I scrolled all the way through - what eye candy!! I love the cardigan's fit and colorway, and the gifties are great!

Beth said...

I am in utter and complete awe, of all of it! The gifts are spectacular too. Do you ever share patterns?

elizabeth said...

Wow! Can I borrow Moana to model my knits? She's great! And thank you for relating your closure problems - I felt like I was working through your possible solutions with you.

Yarn It said...

blogger has kicked my comments out twice now!

Anyway, I love your cardigan and all your modifications (and frustrations) certainly paid off because it looks fabulous! I love those Morehouse scarves cute!

Pax *knits said...

Long time no visit your blog because i am in Hong Kong now.
The cardi is really nice.I love both of the sleeves not too long.

catknits said...

The cardigan is beautiful. You have been really busy and have some great projects.
Have a great week.

Dana said...

SO glad I found your website--the cardigan looks fabulous. I am halfway through knitting it, and am having some weird complications: On the front panels, the moss stitch section is tighter than the stockinette stitch section--which means it's getting longer and longer at the front. Did this happen to you? Can't see it on your fab pictures. . .

I'm doing the moss stitch the way I was taught, knit into purl and vice versa. I didn't do as the pattern recommends, which is to start the row with one stitch on stockinette. If I pull everything out to get that one stitch, would it really balance out the whole front panel?? It's making me crazy. . .

Octopus Knits said...

Hi Dana! I couldn't find a link associated with your name, so I'll reply here and hope you see it.

I just looked at my sweater, and it doesn't seem to have the issue you describe. I'm thinking the way you're doing the moss stitch might have something to do with it. In the U.S., what you are doing is better known as "seed stitch," which, if you write it out has a two row repeat. U.S. "moss stitch" is slightly more complicated.. it's actually a four row pattern repeat.

The following website shows the difference and tells you how to do each:

I don't know how far along you are, but it may be that you can go ahead and continue in U.S. seed stitch and things will even out during blocking, but if it's something that really drives you nuts and you don't think you could see it as an interesting modification, you might consider unraveling and starting from scratch.

Whatever you choose to do, good luck :)