Rich’s “Christmas” Sweater

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I cast on for this sweater last October, telling Rich I was knitting him a sweater for Christmas.  Thankfully, I wasn’t specific as to which Christmas, so I’m still on schedule.

I finished the body last year sometime and then got hopelessly bored with the project.  I set it down for what became months, then finally got up the gumption/discipline to FINISH IT.  I cast on the first sleeve and was quickly reminded of why I set the project down in the first place: I don’t love working with this yarn.  No doubt, this is fantastically sturdy, warm, heirloom quality wool, and it’s going to make a great sweater.  But it’s not a great knitting yarn.  Hope that makes sense.

Well, I’ve finished that first sleeve (after an eternity) and am on to sleeve #2.  Now that I’m on a long and cozy stay-cation, I do think I’ll be able to finish this before the New Year (while on Christmas break so it’s still a “Christmas” sweater (ahem)).

EZ Swatching

Like most knitters (I think), I don’t especially love to swatch. When I start a new project, I always go back and forth as to whether I really *need* to swatch, and if I do, how small of a swatch can I get away with.

And on nearly every skimpy-swatching occassion, I end up with a garment that doesn’t fit very well. Argh.

So, I’m starting a new sweater project (a KAL with the lovely Espino) and here I go again debating if and how much I should swatch. The Devil on my shoulder says, “oh just make a little square, back and forth, it’s close enough.” The Angel on the other shoulder says “you better make your swatch in the round or you *know* it won’t be accurate!” And then Elizabeth Zimmerman walks up behind me, swats the Devil/Angel off my shoulders, and says “why not knit a swatch cap?” Oh you wise and wonderful woman.

I’m not sure why – but the swatch cap doesn’t *feel* like a swatch. It’s a hat! I’m not knitting for calibration (which really isn’t a bad reason to be knitting), I’m knitting a future finished object that will have a practical-wearing use. And, I’ve also learned the hard way, if you don’t block your swatch, then why on earth did you even bother knitting a swatch?? The swatch cap is a perfect little blocking garment too (dries fast).

So, I’m half way through my Merle/BT Loft swatch cap and I’m so glad I listened to EZ. Granted, I’m going to take a little longer to get to the sweater (sorry, Espino, I’m knitting as fast as I can), but I’m confident that this sweater is going to fit me (and not the poor person I gift it to because I can’t bear to see this beautiful sweater just sitting in my closet).

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Fun with Fair Isle

I’m getting ready for a fun fair isle holiday knitting project – MJM’s Fair Isle Vest via her Craftsy class.  I’ve already done a few fair isle projects, and this Spring I made my first steeked project, but I have yet to made an adult-sized fair isle garment.  So here we go.

Step One: Yarn Acquisition

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I decided to be somewhat uncreative/safe and go with the pattern-suggested colors.  [Aren’t they lovely?]  The yarn base is Jamieson’s Double Knitting which is quite exciting for me because I’ve only ever knit with J’s jumper weight.

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Craftsy was selling a yarn kit for this project, but sold out before I could purchase one.  Thankfully, Camilla Valley Farm sells this kit, plus a few others using Jamieson’s.  The pattern does list which yarn colors are required so you don’t need a kit, but I think I saved a few bucks going with the kit.  Also, the Double Knitting base was a little more challenging to find online.  This is the first purchase I made from Camilla Valley Farm and I would definitely buy from them again.

 

Step Two: Study Pattern Materials and Preview Class

In my Craftsy experience, I have found that it’s a good idea to watch the entire class all the way through before beginning my project.  And study the pattern.  But that could just be my Type-A-ness bubbling up.  Anyway, between the clearly-written pattern and the details/demonstration via the class, I think this should be a fearless project.

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Step Three: Swatch

OK, I really shouldn’t start swatching this until I’ve progressed much further on my current WIP, but the happy balls of Jamieson’s are staring at me from over there on my project table and I just want to play with them a little bit….

I purposely purchased a larger kit size so I would have plenty of swatching yarn.  I plan to make a swatch cap (a la EZ).  MJM doesn’t give stitch counts or guidance for making a swatch cap (even though she does encourage you to do so), so I’ll wing something here.  Probably 6 repeats of the 16-stitch pattern, so cast on 96.  That sounds about hat-right.

 

In the meantime, I’m still working on my Secret Sweater which is coming along slowly but nicely.  Suspicion has not yet been aroused.  Surprising?  Slightly.

Pierrot Yarns

A knitter-friend of mine recently recommended that I try Pierrot yarns (based in Japan).  Once a year, they have a sale where you can buy a bulk offering of winter-based or summer-based yarns.  You pick the season, they pick the colors.  Risky, I thought, but that’s how I live my version of la vida loca.  I ordered up the Winter Lucky Bag (of course it’s lucky, there are 30 balls and 3 cones of yarn inside!) for a little over $100 (free shipping).  I tracked my order daily.  After 2.5 weeks of suffering, my Lucky Bag arrived – YES!!!!

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The peachy colored yarn is their Soft Merino Fingering yarn.  Very soft to the touch, and a heathery quality to the color.  I got ten 40g balls, enough to make a sweater for myself.

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The black yarn is called Jewel and has strands of silver and gold metallic fibers spun throughout.  I don’t usually go yarns like this, but I really like it.  I can’t find it on the website, but I *think* it’s 55% wool / 45% acrylic (I have limited Japanese-knits reading skills).  With ten 40g balls, I’m thinking a holiday sweater for myself…

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And then there is Chiffon, the baby alpaca.  Oh.  My.  Word.  This yarn is so soft, I thought it was cashmere at first.  Ten 30g balls is enough to make yes another sweater.

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Last but not least, on a cone, is their Super Wool.  50% wool / 50% cotton. Three 100g cones would make a nice summer tank or sleeveless top.

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And just to make this Lucky Bag even luckier, they included some awesome stickers.

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This was easily the best yarn deal I’ve ever got in my knitting life, so I’m reallyreallyreally excited for some warm heart handicrafts.  Oh yeah.

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Wishing you a lucky knitting weekend!

http://gosyo.shop.multilingualcart.com/index_en_jpy.html

 

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Crazy times

Crazy times

I don’t know about you, but 2013 has been a crazy year for me. Lots of crazy stuff, most of it not great. So, I made a crazy sweater. I used all of my sock yarn scraps from other projects. I didn’t care if the colors matched, I just used what I had and picked the colors as the mood determined. The finished sweater is, well, crazy. But I like it. Maybe after this year is over, I’ll look back and be like “dang, that’s a crazy year, but I like it.” We’ll see.

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Baby Bartelt

Baby Bartelt

I designed this baby version of my co-workers favorite sweater for his new daughter, Helen. Design-wise, I nailed it. Truly. But I HATED every second of knitting I did on this project.

I don’t know what it is about colorwork that I hate so much. I lovelovelove the finished product. I actually kinda like knitting with both hands at the same time. I enjoy all that stockinette. I feel such a sense of accomplishment watching the pattern develop as I complete each row/round. And most color patterns are extremely easy. But there is this strange tediousness I feel when I knit a colorwork project. I think having two strands of yarn attached to my work is somehow bothersome (but I can’t really figure out why)? It doesn’t seem like such a little thing like that would make me rage-level hate colorwork knitting. I don’t get it. Anyway.

I finished the sweater, and that was a feat in itself. I may publish the pattern later on….when I can bear to look at my notes again.

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Economical good-times sweater project

Economical good-times sweater project

Every sock knitter knows what it’s like to have a lot of scrap sock yarn. I’ve never used an entire skein for a pair of socks. And since I knit a lot of socks, I have a lot of scrap sock yarn. Which feels a little wasteful when you see it sitting there in the yarn stash. There are a lot of stash-busting patterns available but I haven’t found any that I’m excited about.

I’ve decided to make an EPS sweater using nothing but my sock yarn leftovers. On size 4 needles, this is a very soothing stockinette experience. It’s fun to watch the colors come together, and to remember the original project with which I first used the yarn. Good times.

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Knitting cajones.

Knitting cajones.

Apparently, I have them.

Here’s why: I knit this lovely yoke sweater – my own design – and it fit poorly (too small). I tried all my get-it-to-fit tricks, but none of them worked. So, I thought to myself, this sweater can sit in my closet until the end of time, or I can Do Something About It. So I cut it right down the middle!!!! Obviously there are no steeks in this sweater, I just found what was basically the middle two stitches and cut in between them all the way up the sweater. And though it was late, I had NOT been drinking.

Here’s the fabulous part. It is not running. Not at all. Those rumors you hear about Shetland wool really are true.

I think I’ll pick up stitches on either side of the cut to make a button band. Or not. Can’t decide yet.

The sweater certainly fits better though the sleeves are still a bit tight around my upper arms. But at least I know I will wear it now – and what a thrill to cut my knitting on a whim! That’s how cray-zay it gets around my house on a Saturday night.