Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Love the pug!

Last night, I finished up my Fuzzy Mitten Pug. Isn't that cute little red raglan sweater adorable? I wish I had one for myself. I'd make one for Moose to match, but he'd never wear it, probably not even for the picture!

It was fun to take a break from sweater knitting to whip up this little creature; it only took me two or three days, so it was a very quick knit. The pattern was very easy to follow and I'm pleased with the results. Moose isn't too impressed, but that's probably because he's sleeping - as usual! Anyway, check out the terrific Fuzzy Mitten animal patterns; they are uniformly wonderful.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Time to reboot?

One of the greatest inventions in the history of mankind is undo. I love the ability to go down a creative road with writing, drawing, or whatever, decide I don't like what I've just done, and then press CTRL V. Undo. Go back a step. Or two. Or 20. Or just start over.

I wish I could do that with knitting. (And with men, but that's another story.)

I'm over halfway done with my Diamond Yoke Cardigan but had to frog back to fix my M1stitches. Bored, I decided I'd detour and make a quick project instead. I grabbed the Knit Picks Swish Bulky I'd just gotten in the mail and whipped up the new, adorable Fuzzy Mitten pug pattern. I am the proud mamma of Moose, pug extraordinare, so of course I had to make his body double.

Big mistake.

Not the pug. Just the yarn. Swish is gorgous: merino, plush, squishy, and soft, soft, soft. It great to knit with this lucious yarn, which holds its shape much better than the Comfy Bulky I've been using for the cardigan. I tried the cotton/acrylic Comfy because I'm menopausal and live in the Mid Atlantic where the winters are fairly mild. But after knitting up the Swish, I think I need to abandon ship and swim towards that Swishy shore. (Hmmm... maybe I should be undoing that particular metaphor!)

I swatched up the Swish in both plain stockinette and in the twisted rib pattern. My only response is SIGH.

I've done a lot of work on the Comfy version, but I really think I should reboot and start over. Now that I've got the pattern down pat, it will be easier and faster to re-create. And hopefully I'll end up with the sweater I'd envisioned to begin with.

I was going to buy Swish, but I found Louet Riverstone Bulky on sale at Webs, God bless them. You can always count on Webs for a great deal! The Swish would have cost me over $90 with shipping, but the on-sale Riverstone is only $58. Both are 100% wool; let's hope I like the Riverstone as much as Swish. I do love the color, which will be becoming with my dark hair and pale skin.

Perhaps this additional purchase will remind me that yarn substitution makes all the difference - and that I really don't like acrylic blend yarn, at least not for sweaters for me.

So here we go: CTRL V. Or even better: CTRL ALT DEL!!!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fixed by frogging

After wise counsel from my online gal pal and fellow ample knitter, Teresa, I frogged my Diamond Yoke Cardigan to remove the unsightly M1s (see my previous post). She suggested a variety of different M1 techniques, and I settled on Elizabeth Zimmermann's backward loop method. You can't lose with EZ - nor Teresa!

This video shows the backward loop technique to cast on, but it's the same technique when increasing stitches, too. (Thank you, Lynn for pointing out that the previous video I had posted here was on yarn overs, not backwards loops.)

I frogged back the body to before the increase row and altogether threw away the sleeve I'd made. I started the sleeve over again yesterday using the backward loop method - and it works much better. Here's proof:

Teresa is right - I would have hated having all those little holes everywhere. I despise frogging, but knitting a half-ass sweater is even worse. It takes so much time and effort to make a garment. Might as well do it right... maybe not the first time, but at least the second or third. :-)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Duct tape dress forms, part two

Earlier this year, I started the Knitting at Large blog by detailing my sweat-drenched difficulty in creating my duct tape body double. I followed the instructions provided in Wendy Bernard's fabulous book, Custom Knits. The result: an incredibly useful dress form that I've employed to make my last two sweaters. It's not perfect; I overstuffed the form and I forgot to wrap my neck, so the shoulders and upper chest aren't quite right. But it's been very helpful in fitting these two cardigans to my overabundant frame.

Lots of women have made their own body doubles and posted pics online. Here's a small sampling. Isn't it interesting to see the similarities and differences between the female human form?

I got a little thrill last Friday when Interweave's Knitting Daily reported on a knitting group that made their own duct tape dress forms. Editor Kathleen Cubley writes:

Designer Wendy Bernard came up with the idea of duct-tape dress forms, so my knitting group decided to give it a try. It was surprisingly easy, and not-surprisingly, super fun! Basically, you wrap a friend as tightly as you can in duct tape, cut it up the back, retape it, and stuff it with polyfill.

I know from looking at my blog's statistics that lots of folks come here to read about duct tape dress forms. If you're one of them, welcome! Now go ahead and make yours - and send me pics when you're done. I'd love to see the results.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What does M1 mean to you?

I'm plowing away on my Diamond Yoke Cardigan; I've finished the body and most of one sleeve. After my initial problems, it's been going pretty well, but now I've stumbled again. The problem? M1.

What does M1 mean to you? I've discovered it means different things to different people. For example, when you say M1 to my bff, Theresa, she'd probably think of the BMW concept car:

But my boyfriend would automatically envision the rifle:

And his son's definition would be that wacko motorcycle he dreams of owning:

To my nephews, I bet M1 would be a smartphone:

But what is an M1 to a knitter?

For me, M1, or make 1, has always meant knitting an increase stitch using the strand of yarn between two stitches. This is how The Complete Idiot's Guide to Knitting and Crocheting instructs (and the way I've done it for 30+ years).

But to other knitters, M1 apparently can mean a different kind of increase. In this rendition, you knit into the front and back of a stitch to increase one. (See eHow for a fuller description of this technique, or visit the Cabin Fever Sisters blog for a terrific explanation of the different ways to knit m1.)

I'm not sure what the folks at Classic Elite intended, but I now have rows of little holes on all the increase rows.

I'm not sure how I feel about this; it looks a bit lacy, but I wouldn't have designed it this way myself. Now I'm faced with three choices:

  1. Frog the damn thing to death and start the increase rows over

  2. Wait until I'm done and then sew up all the holes

  3. Leave it the way it is and have just have it irritate me forever

I'm not sure which solution I will choose. I'm inclined to just keep going because I want to finish this cardigan and move onto other projects. But my jury is out.

Meanwhile, please don't ask me why I had to knit six or seven increase rows before I realized it bugged the living crap out of me. All I can say is that I knit at night when it's darkly lit and I'm tired. And I'm old and menopausal. Do any or all of these excuses work?

In my final observation of the day, I will remind you that my profession is graphic design and branding. This qualifies me to declare that any company that names their product "M1" is nuts. Look at how many things already mean M1 - and I'm sure there are more. Find another product name, guys - one that half the people on the planet don't already associate with something else!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Thank God, she's loves them!

I blogged a few weeks ago about making a pair of fingerless mittens for my bff, Theresa whose birthday is next week. She's big neither on birthdays nor presents, so I was a little anxious that my well-intentioned present might backfire. I searched diligently for a design that she would like - plus I made them in black, her favorite accessory color. Still, I worried.

I sent them in an unadorned, brown envelope hoping that if I made little fuss that I might sneak them by her. Grace of God, she loves them. The first thing she said was, "Oh my God, I can wear them to the Giant!" (A perpetually cold grocery store in our area.)

So happy birthday, Theresa, my good friend and ardent supporter who - despite the fact that she'd rather have her wisdom teeth extracted than knit a single stitch - always she encourages my creativity.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Every girl wants a big diamond

Every girl wants a big diamond - especially me!

I am working away on my Diamond Yoke pullover. After a few sputtering false starts, I'm now a lean, mean knitting machine. Well, there's nothing about me that is ever particularly lean (or mean!), but I do knit pretty fast, especially when I spend every night watching Dexter reruns and needling away (what a great show, btw).

I'm happy with my progress. The diamond cable pattern is easy as long as you pay attention. It's just complicated enough to engage my brain; I don't nod off from boredom nor am I eternally frustrated because I can't figure out the stitches.

I'm interested to see how this sweater will wear. In the Classic Elite model garment, it looks pretty... stiff... for the lack of a better word. I think mine is going to have more drape because I'm using a cotton blend yarn at a larger gauge. Hopefully the cardigan will be pretty though. I've already got a blouse in mind to wear with my Diamond. If the sweater turns out well, I'm wearing this ensemble to our Thanksgiving celebration/family reunion. Where does the time go? Thanksgiving is just a couple of months away...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Waist deep!

Just a quick entry to show my progress on the Diamond Yoke Cardigan - and to prove that yes, it's going to fit me! Woo hoo!

I adjusted my gauge to 3.25 per inch instead of 3.5 per inch to make the sweater larger. I also added 20 extra rows, or two of the cable row sets, to lengthen the cardigan. I am a firm believer in covering my belly!

I'm less concerned this time that the sweater is curving around my hips in this picture. The same thing happened when I was at this point with the Ditto, but the final sweater didn't cling at all.

Tonight I start the yoke's diamond cabling. It's coming together - or at least I hope so. How exciting!

Monday, September 14, 2009

A knitting joke

This morning, my old high school friend, Mayra sent me the following:

A highway patrolman pulled alongside a speeding car on the freeway. Glancing at the car, he was astounded to see that the blonde behind the wheel was knitting. Realizing that she was oblivious to his flashing lights and siren, the trooper cranked down his window, turned on his bullhorn and yelled, "PULL OVER!"
"NO!" the blonde yelled back, "IT'S A SCARF!"

I have to admit that I knit sitting in traffic; if people can text, apply mascara, eat, smoke, and talk on the phone, why can't I get in a couple of rows while I can?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Three times - or Kristen TenDyke - a charm

Well, despite my recent whine fest about my difficulties with Diamond Yoke Cardigan, I'm back on track. The very nice and helpful Kristen TenDyke from Classic Elite Yarns came to my rescue and answered all my questions about the edge stitches and errant ribs. I was ready to throw in the towel, but I figured if she could take the time to help me, I could make the time to knit the damn thing over again - for the third time! This picture shows rounds 1, 2, and 3. Hopefully this last version is the beginning of a very beautiful sweater.

And check out my pretty edge stitch - what an improvement. Thanks, Kristen!

As proof that we live in a very small world, I had unknowingly communicated with Kristen earlier in the day about her absolutely gorgeous Renaissance sweater now available for free from This is the perfect sweater for an ample, curvy girl - especially me! And God bless her, Kristen made the largest finished bust size 61 inches. I asked for the pullover's schematic(because of course, I have to upsize it a bit to fit me, dammit). Kristen sent one to; it was up on the site later that day. Renaissance is definitely coming to a queue near me soon. As I always say, so many projects, so little time.

But for now, I give a million thanks to Kristen TenDyke for her knitting wisdom and fantastic designs!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Dazed and confused :-(


I'm having two big problems with my Curvy Knits Diamond Yoke Cardigan. First, I can't figure out the edge stitch. Here are the instructions:

Beginning of row: (WS) Slip 1 st purlwise (edge st, slip on WS, knit on RS)...
End of row: p1 (edge st, purl on WS, slip purlwise on RS)

I think this means that on the wrong side, I should slip the first stitch at the beginning of the row and purl the last stitch. Conversely, on the right side, I need to knit the first stitch and slip the last stitch purlwise. Maybe. I don't know why this is so hard for me to figure out, but I know it's a problem because my edges look like sh*t:

My second problem: I am exceptionally unsure about the twisted rib that starts at the bottom of the sweater. I could go through the specifics, but the fact of that matter is that the directions just don't work. The second twist stitch should happen on the right side of the sweater, but if you follow the instructions, the twist stitch happens on the wrong side of the sweater. This has got to be a mistake. Maybe this is my first case of errata? Either that, or I'm dumb at worst or mistaken at best. I sent a message to Classic Elite asking what to do; we'll see what they say.

These snafus make me want to chuck the whole damn thing and go knit something else. I'm going to try and fix the edge stitches without frogging what I've done thus far. If I can, I'll move forward. If not, I'll be bellowing NEXT!

On a much more somber and important note, I'm feeling sad this morning remembering September 11. I live outside of Washington and grew up here, too; my father watched the Pentagon burn from his balcony in Georgetown. Those brave souls who fought the hijackers and died in Somerset County, PA, saved the lives of countless DC residents - and perhaps our government as well. The loss in New York, of course, was the worst. It's as unbelievable to me now as it was then. At the time, I said over and over again that things would never be the same. I was absolutely right.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jared Flood is a genius

Have you seen Classic Elite's new booklet, "Made in Brooklyn" by Jared Flood? OMG, it's wonderful. It is one of those rare pattern books where I could make almost anything in it and be happy.

Jared Flood's versatility defies logic. Most designers have a look, a feel, something that makes you know it's theirs. Not Jared. He does Fair Isle. Lace. Cables. Simple. Complex. You name it, he designs it. And it's all wonderful.

For ample knitters, he's a dream come true, too. His cute Rockaway hooded cardigan goes up to a 54.25 finished bust size (although I'd avoid this one with the huge horizontal stripes, but that's just me). One of my favorites, Huron, is offered with a finished bust size up to 57 inches. I'm just crazy about this elegant Fair Isle pullover. I want to make it but add some waist shaping (after my Ditto sweater, I'm sold on waist shaping).

I also really like Seneca, which sports a gorgeous cable yoke neckline. I'd love to knit this sweater, but I'd have to do a lot of figuring before I tried since it only goes up to 48 inches. Upsizing would be tricky because the yoke would have to be expanded with additional cable repeats. Maybe I could do it... maybe. I've going to cogitate on this one.

One disappointment: the mega-cute Redhook vest only goes up to 45 inches. This simple tunic design would be a natural for ample women, but unfortunately larger sizing isn't provided. The pattern would be easy to replicate in Sweater Wizard, so maybe I could try that - and add some waist shaping, too. You can tell Jared Flood is a skinny dude because almost none of his designs have curves!

Finally, I'm anxious to knit the gorgeous Willoughby stole/scarf. It's the prettiest scarf I've ever seen. Jared says, "Oh how I love working up lace in dk and worsted weight yarns - I love seeing the construction of the work, direction of stitches and the 'pop' of a lace pattern in these heavier-than traditional yarns." He proves his point with this beauty. The sample is knitted in Classic Elite Marly, a new 100% cashmere yarn that retails for $49.99 a skein! (There are 190 yards per skein, but still!) The Willoughby calls for four skeins. ACK! $200 for a scarf ain't happening here. I'll have to find something else, but I've got to admit it's stunning.

As you can see, I heartily endorse "Made in Brooklyn." One or more of these beauties will be in my queue soon. Sigh... so many projects to knit, so little time...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A marginally better picture and some new creations

To improve on the lousy pics my boyfriend took of me in my just-finished Ditto cardigan, I tried to take a better self-portrait. NOT. Unfortunately, my photos aren't any better, but here's a new picture anyway. Note that I found a tee to wear under it. I like this look better than wearing the sweater by itself.

So what am I knitting now? Well, I'm making my cousin, Sarah a pillow to commemorate her new house and her new basset hound, Porterhouse. Here is a chart of the design. I got the dog chart from Peggy Gaffney at Kanine Knits.

But more importantly, I've started on my next ample-sized sweater. This time I'm tackling Jillian Moreno's Duchess Diamond Yoke Cardigan from Curvy Knits Cambridge. With this project, I don't need to do a bunch of math to get it to fit. I'm going to adjust the gauge slightly and I think it will work. We'll find out if I'm right! I'm looking forward to this project because it should knit up a lot faster because it uses bulky yarn.

The pattern calls for Classic Elite Duchess yarn which while pretty, would cost me close to $200. I just can't afford this. I hope I'm not making the same mistake twice, but I'm going to use Knit Picks Comfort Bulky in Flamingo instead, which cost me around $65. Despite the name, the yarn is not fuschia but a soft peachy pink. I hope it will work well. I'm going to knit a few inches; if it doesn't look right, I'm going to abandon ship and go fishing for a different yarn. So far, I think it looks pretty good, but I'm only on row 3.

See my beloved and perpetually sleepy pug, Moose modeling my brief pink progress below. He doesn't look too impressed now, does he? Believe me, he's just happy I'm not knitting him another dog sweater. He objects to apparel of any kind. What a little nudist he is!

Friday, September 4, 2009

A secret project... shhhh...

So what have I been up to since I finished my Ditto sweater?

I've been working on a pair of Cheryl Niamath's Dashing Fingerless Gloves for for my bff, Theresa's birthday. She hates her birthday. She hates when people buy her stuff, especially personal things. She's probably going to be totally pissed off at me for doing this, but I'm taking a chance anyway. Black is her favorite accessory color. Maybe she'll give me a pass.

I made these using the recommended Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, which is beautiful. My only complaint is that the yarn appears to be magnetized for my pug's white fur. My God, I've already spent hours pulling off dog hair and lint!

Another complaint, but not about the yarn: these things look MUCH better on your hand than off. In fact, laying flat, I don't think they look like anything! But on, they're very pretty and practical. I figure Theresa can use them at work. She's always cold and with these, she can keep typing.

I hope she likes them. If not, Theresa can give them to one of her gazillion sisters or to a homeless person or even sell them on Etsy. Don't care. It's the thought that counts... let's just hope she remembers that!