False start

This is how much sweater I knit…

… before I realized I was making the wrong size.

I had calculated the gauge years ago using a much thicker yarn. While this size technically fits, it doesn’t fit well, so I’ve started over. I’m certain I brought it on with the hubris in my last post.

As a silver lining, I am glad that it gives me the chance to fix a few flubs I’d made in the very beginning. Fourth time’s the charm?

Ready for this sweater

In any craft or creative pursuit, there comes an encouraging moment of, “Hey, wow, I’m getting pretty good at this!”

The Cable-Down Raglan is precipitating that moment for me now. I’ve tried knitting this sweater two other times when I wasn’t really ready. The first time I was still a fairly green knitter and couldn’t even make sense of the pattern. The second time I started it as a gift, but I flubbed the cables and realized I still wasn’t ready yet.

Not this time. Now I am ready, and hey, I’m getting pretty good at this. I’ve finished enough sweaters to understand the construction, I’ve followed enough charts and cabled enough things that I know how to do it correctly, and I’ve even worked with enough yarns to know this one is a really good fit for this project.

I’m excited to see how this one comes out.

A Yarn Story

Way back in undergrad I decided I wanted to learn to knit. I made the decision fairly spontaneously in the middle of a craft store while I was buying painting supplies, tossing a skein of variegated worsted weight acrylic yarn into my basket. It was Red Heart’s Super Saver economy line, and its color is called Painted Desert. It evoked so many tranquil, outdoorsy thoughts in its mix of jewel tones with a warm tan and sienna color that I just had to learn how to knit it.

My mother lent me a pair of her needles and taught me how to cast on and make a knit stitch (I’m sure this is why I knit English – my mother is left-handed). I didn’t learn to purl, so the first thing I ever knit, over the course of several years in college, was a massively wide garter-stitch scarf-wrap type thing that I wore outside of the house exactly once.

It was a disaster of dropped and accidentally added stitches, wonky irregular gauge, and basically all the classics of a new knitter’s mistakes. In 2006 I decided to learn to knit again, branching out beyond garter stitch rectangles, and it stuck. I found a sweater pattern that I thought would show off the little bursts of color in this yarn, and I bought quite a few more skeins. I knit up the back in what became a somewhat Ravelry-famous example of spectacularly dizzying, ugly pooling.

Not surprisingly, I frogged it, and the yarn hung out for years. It actually looks pretty nice in a ball, so I was willing to relegate it to a random decorative accent on my bookshelf, but it bothered me.

I kept thinking there was a secret to this yarn that I hadn’t cracked. I didn’t like the way it looked in garter stitch, nor in stockinette. Because I have such a large quantity of it, I was considering working it into an openwork afghan. I don’t know what made me think of it again, but I browsed through all the projects using this yarn on Ravelry, and I saw a beautiful seed stitch scarf. I fell in love with the fabric and immediately cast on.

It is so pleasant to watch the colors shift and combine in seed stitch. Each color tends to stretch about 3-4 stitches, and although it has pooled a touch in some places, I like it overall. I’m so pleased to have found a way to make this yarn do what I knew it could.

I have a whole slew of projects planned with this yarn in seed stitch, starting with a moebius scarf, then matching hat and gloves. I also want to make a set of cushion covers for my couch and maybe some slippers or house socks. I expect pretty soon I’ll be surrounded in Painted Desert yarn.

FO: Montana Neckwarmer

Pattern: Montana Scarf by Craig Rosenfeld, free pattern from Loop Knits. My project page is here on Ravelry.
Size: converted to a buttoned neckwarmer (I need to measure)
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky 12-ply bulky, 80% acrylic / 20% wool, in color 127 Walnut; I used about 1.5 skeins, approximately 210 grams, which was 229.5 yards/ 210 meters
Needles: Size 10.5 (6.5 mm)
Buttons: 6 La Mode style 2906 3/4″ (19mm) brown, washable and dry cleanable
Modifications: Shortened to a cross-over neckwarmer with buttons

Started: October 7, 2015
Finished: November 3, 2015

I made this neckwarmer for my nice brother as one of his birthday gifts this year. To say he spends a lot of time outdoors would be a gigantic understatement. Between working on a charter boat and hunting, he is basically always outside, even when the temperatures are below freezing and he is getting covered in snow. I discovered this pattern last year and made a buttoned neckwarmer in green for my father last Christmas (which no, I still haven’t photographed yet, oops). My brother coveted it and asked if I’d make him a brown one for the start of duck season this year, and fortunately enough time passed that he forgot he’d requested it, so it was actually a surprise by his birthday.

I love this pattern, as it is simple and fun, producing an attractive reversible rib that lays nicely flat despite being worked in a bulky yarn. I went with an acrylic-wool blend so it would be machine washable and soft against the skin because even though my brother is an outdoorsy tough guy, I still want knit things to be squishy and pleasant to wear. I made simple yarn-over buttonholes, which I reinforced with a single ply of the yarn using what I now know is called a buttonhole stitch.

Because my birthday is November 1 and my brother’s is November 3, we always celebrate together with our family. This year I made us a German sweet chocolate cake from scratch and immodestly declared myself Star Baker, as it is probably the loveliest thing I’ve ever baked.

I’ll try to get photos of my brother wearing his neckwarmer (and my father’s, while I’m at it) the next time I see them.

Shifting the seasons

Even though it’s finally feeling like fall, I thought I’d sneak in one last laceweight, candy pink sweater that I almost certainly won’t wear until next spring. It’s like a very colorful form of hibernating, to promise something for my future self.

After this, I’m switching gears to something bulky and Icelandic.

I brought a suitcase full of yarn back from Iceland five years ago, so it’s a little embarrassing that I haven’t finished any of the projects I had planned for it yet.

I hope by the time New York returns to its polar vortex state, I’ll be armed with a big sweater to keep warm and remind me of my trip.

That time I wore my damp sweater to work

Success! I avoided literally killing my new sweater while killing the acrylic last night, and I was able to wear it to work today.

(The lighting and ambiance in our work bathroom is maybe not ideal, but I hope you get the idea).

When I put it on this morning, it was still damp, but I was intent on wearing it today. It wasn’t damp like you could wring out the hems, but even I can recognize that it is a bit strange to put on a sweater and then spend half the day irrationally afraid that someone would touch my shoulder and wonder why I was so clammy and cold.

I’ll try to take some nicer photos and put together a proper FO post soon, but in the meantime I am very pleased that I actually finished and got to wear this sweater in the spring, before it became too hot to consider for another year.

A time to kill

I’ve killed before, and it came out so nicely it made me a devoted acrylic lover, but for some reason I was very anxious about killing my recently completed Mint sweater.

It’s got to be the most nerve-wracking form of blocking because it’s irreversible and so easy to accidentally leave the iron over one place too long and end up with a flattened, lifeless bit. I very dopily scorched a light-colored sweater when killing without a press cloth two years ago and still haven’t forgiven myself for it.

I had half a mind to wear this sweater to work tomorrow without washing or blocking it, but I bit the bullet and carefully steamed it. It’s sitting in the kitchen with a fan trying to hasten it fully drying and, ideally, fluffing back up into something soft and lovely.

Fingers crossed!

WIP: Art Deco Lace-Edged Cardigan

I don’t know why I’ve never knit a DROPS pattern before, seeing as there are so many gorgeous free ones out there that appeal so specifically to my taste and style. All that is changing now.

Described as DROPS 113-33 Jacket with Lace Pattern, I’ve rechristened it my Art Deco Lace-Edged Cardigan because the pattern reminds me so much of my favorite details from Art Deco architecture, especially the Chrysler Building’s spire.

© Carol M. Highsmith, via Wikimedia Commons

I’m knitting it in a lovely sagey blue-green shade of CotLin DK, a cotton and linen blend that is quickly becoming one of my favorite yarns.

This project has everything I love about knitting going on, and I’m enjoying it so much already.

All about that lace, ’bout that lace, no cables…

(Actually I have no truck with cables, but I couldn’t resist the rhyme.)

This weekend, cranky about the snow, I finished knitting a bright pink seamless lacy sweater. I didn’t weave in the ends or find / sew on buttons yet, but I’m already really happy with how this one is coming along. And if the temperature ever rises consistently out of the 30s this spring, I’m looking forward to wearing it over floral, springy dresses.

Soon, I really hope.

Thinking nautical thoughts

Working for a jewelry company, I frequently encounter charming, beautiful things that I’d love to own and will probably never be able to afford.

Like this 1930s bracelet I came across last year that uses nautical flags to spell out “I LOVE YOU.” Lacking a spare $14,000 for this one, however many thousand a Cartier “DEAREST” would cost, or even the several hundred dollars that contemporary charm versions run, I had temporarily disregarded my vision of a nautical bracelet spelling out my name.

For a lark, I read The Official Preppy Handbook by Lisa Birnbach today. I was feeling a little homesick for the super preppy town where I grew up, and on a rainy Smarch day, I could all but taste salt water and feel the sun on my face while sailing.

One of the recurring references was to needlepoint belts and accessories, which I had all but forgotten from my childhood. There was also a cute quip about how the only acceptable “monogramming” of one’s car was perhaps to put small nautical flag decals of initials under the driver’s side door handle.

It all came together in my mind. Nautical flags totally lend themselves to grids! I charted out my full name and more commonly used nickname.



VICTORIA


VICKI

(Definitely prefer the way “Victoria” looks.)

And then I remembered the symmetry of my first, middle, and last names, with 8, 4, and 8 characters respectively. I compiled a 20-flag grid and voilà, an afghan pattern has all but written itself:

I thought surely someone would have already written a nautical flag afghan pattern, but a quick trip through Ravelry only brought up a crochet pattern. I am confident that with some graph paper and/or knitPro, I can come up with what I want and make myself a super-preppy afghan.

As for the bracelet, I have a few ideas I want to try, maybe including an entirely new craft. I’m psyched.