Sunday, July 31, 2011

Undertoad update

Just a quick note to show you I'm making progress on my Under Toad (aka Undercurrent). I've finished the sleeves, as you know if you read my blog; now I'm working on the back. Check out the darts I've put in to decrease from my wide behind to my narrower waist.

At this point, normally I'd doing increases to add room for my bustiness, but I'm going to try knitting straight up to the armpits and then doing the underarm decreases. All of my sweaters have ended up with a pool of fabric at the waist, as you can see in my Petrea.

I think this happens for two reasons. One, I've been making my armholes too deep. And two, I don't need the extra room for my bust at the back of my sweater; I need it in the front. So for this sweater, I'm going to do increases in the front only. We'll see what happens.

I was going to put in some short rows at the hips to counteract my sweater riding up in the back, but I couldn't do it without breaking up the stripe pattern so I'm skipping it. I'll probably regret this but I don't know what else to do.

Onward and upward - on the Under Toad back anyway. Meanwhile, I'm off to the pool before all the happily screaming munchkins show up and wreck my peaceful swim. :-)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Swimming against hope

I swim every day. I take a deep breath, strip down to my old-lady, skirted bathing suit, and dart straight into the water. I spent a year hesitating to take off my clothes to go swimming. I finally decided if the world didn't like seeing me half naked, it could turn away. Then I realized the only one who had a problem with my body in a bathing suit was ME.

So I swim anyway.
I almost drowned as a child. Like so many others my age, I watched my parents inaugurate the Me Generation by focusing completely on themselves. One hot summer afternoon, my mom and dad took their three kids - ages four, five, and six - to a backyard pool party - and then promptly started drinking. No one was watching when my sister and I crept into the pool. We were fine at first; the water was only three-feet deep. We bobbed along - and then in an instant, descended into the deep. Drowning, I stood on my sister's shoulders and desperately thrusted my hand out of the water, holding up one finger, then two, and then three - for all I knew about drowning I'd learned from Bugs Bunny. An eternity later, my father dove in and dragged us out. I've been scared of the water ever since.

But I swim anyway.

Every single day, I swim laps for 30 minutes. Well, that's an overstatement because I really can't swim worth a damn. I dog paddle back and forth across the pool, first on my belly, then on my back, walking, swirling, floating. In my dictionary, any movement underwater is considered swimming. Meanwhile, healthy twentysomethings hurl their tan, supple bodies head first into crystal blue water and move effortlessly from one end of the pool and back again. I sputter by, moving against their tide. I used to be young, but in an instant, became the older lady in the bathing suit swimming against hope.

I swim anyway.

Oh, to be young! To be lovely and fresh and completely without pain. To be burnished gold but as yet undamaged by relentless sun and time. To be visible in a world that honors only youth and beauty. I am invisible. Aren't all women of a certain age? No one ever notices the countless older, graying ladies at the bank, the grocery store, the pool.

But all is not lost. Maturity rewards. We do what we need to do, regardless of age, pain, size, or fear. Deep, murky childhood wounds heal over into jagged pink scars that sometimes ache - but no longer always. We know who we are and we find each other; invisible women congregate to listen, share, strengthen, support - and knit.

And every single day, no matter what, we swim anyway.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Moosie update

Teresa, the very first and most supportive Knitting at Large reader, asks, "Where's Moose these days? How 'bout some photos of the old boy on the blog?"

You got it! This morning, Moose is doing what he's always doing: sleeping. He's worse than a cat. But that's why I wanted a pug. We had one growing up and all he did was sleep. Last thing I need is some bounding ball of energy. Low-energy pug matches me completely.

I hate knitting blogs that don't talk about knitting so I plied Moose with new yarn I've acquired during all the summer sales. Moose was very compliant - until he wasn't. And then he was again. :-)

He's cuddled up in yarn as we speak. But if I said "treat," or "convertible," or "stew," or "Tom," he'd wake right up and be all ready to go.

Here's my favorite Moosie pic taken a few months ago. He's wearing my Early Bird (I need to get back to that project, don't I?). I love that old Moose. Good dog!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The unlikely Under Toad

I spent the weekend knitting (are you shocked? NOT?) and finished the Under Toad sleeves. This project just flies. Although it's straight stockinette, the Under Toad (aka Lisa Kay's Undercurrent from Knitty) keeps me awake because of the color changes. Bottom line, it's a really fun knit.

I'm making my Under Toad with Berroco Remix in Strawberry and Plymouth Kudo in 52 Magenta Teal Burgundy. Although the Kudo is a smidge smaller, the yarns look like they were made by the same hand. Remix, made from nylon, cotton, acrylic, silk, and linen recycled fibers, offers the same tweediness as the variegated Kudo, a cotton, rayon, and silk blend.

Now here's the strange thing. I knitted one sleeve and then promptly casted on for the second. When I finished the cuff, I thought it was funny that the new cuff had the same colored stripes as the first. By the time I knitted to the elbow, I realized that the second sleeve matched the first exactly! I didn't even try! What is the statistical likelihood that I would get matching sleeves with zero effort? I'm shocked - all while my anal retentive side prances happily down the street. Symmetry rocks.

I started the back last night. Instead of doing the 2 x 2 rib which would pull the sweater in around my mighty derriere, I created a 5x5 rib. This approach maintains the look of ribbing, eliminates the contracting fabric, and keeps the bottom from rolling up. 

My plan is to make this sweater longer and with more ease to wear with jeans. I'm adding waist shaping via vertical darts however. I don't want a baggy sweater; I just want one that's becoming and comfortable to wear.

Meanwhile, I'm also working on my lessons learned for the Laura Petrea. Stay tuned... I'll post my post mortem the next day or two.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Better pictures! Good sweater!

Well, I still didn't manage to do my hair and the photos still suck, but at least you can get a better view of my new Laura Petrea. Today I took pics in three different outfits. Let's start with the denim skirt. I like this look the best, but I knew from experience that a shorter sweater would work well with this skirt. I love the lacey cami peaking out from the neckline.

Next up, jeans with a white shirt. This looks better than I thought it would frankly, but I still lose my waist. I might get it back if I rolled up the sleeves to my elbows. I like the collar. I didn't think of this sweater as a vest, but it sure could be one.

Finally, a white, summery skirt. I thought I'd be able to wear this sweater with a white skirt during the summer, but the cardi is too wooly and warm for me. The Laura Petrea will be great for spring and fall and even winter with something underneath, but it's out for midsummer. If DC weren't in the middle of a heat wave, and if it wasn't 100 degrees here at 11:00 AM, I might feel differently. :-)

I'm still contemplating lessons learned on this sweater. I hope to blog about what I've learned this weekend. For now, analysis continues...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bad pictures! Good sweater!

I finished the Laura Petrea - unbelievable since I started only four weeks ago. Please excuse the literally just-rolled-out-of-bed pictures. Truly heinous. But I wanted to show you the sweater right away. I'll post better photos soon.

The whole point of making this sweater was to test the hypothesis that a shorter sweater would be more becoming on me than a longer one. I think this view makes me look thinner and less hippy than anything else I've ever made. Black bottoms sure help, too.

The photo from the back doesn't do the cardigan justice because it should have been pulled down and adjusted prior to picture taking. I added back shaping and an inch of short rows to make the back fit better. These efforts would have been more effective if the waist shaping hit at my waist. As it is, it's hits too low; yet again, I need to move the waist up. I had the same issue with my Waltham.

Now for the good news and the bad news. First the good. By adding that extra inch of short rows in the back, I come closer to evening up the hemline so that my sweater doesn't ride up in the back. It still pitches a little but I think if I'd pulled down the back even a little, the sweater would be even. Next time, I'll do an inch and a half of short rows and see if it does the trick.

Now the bad news, which I don't even need to tell you because you already know yourself. Wow, does my belly show. ACK. And my weird hips are very apparent, too. I think the lighting in this shot doesn't do me any favors but it does underscore my conundrum with sweater length.

My conclusion on the sweater length issue is this: I need two different kinds of sweaters. If I'm wearing a skirt or dresses, I should wear a short, fitted top that fits almost like a medieval bodice. If I'm wearing jeans, I need a longer sweater along the lines of my Handstrikket.

When I post better pics, I'll show you the pretty lace along the sleeves and back, and I'll model my Laura Petrea in a skirt (and wash and dry my hair, too). As always, I'll also post a formal lessons learned. But all in all, I think Amy Herzog's Petrea sure is pretty in pink.

One down, 700 sweaters to go. I desperately needed some mindless knitting last night to I started the sleeve for my Undertoad - aka the Undercurrent by Lisa Kay from the latest Knitty. I knitted more than half the sleeve in an hour and a half! I wish every project moved this quickly. Of course, it's simple knitting that doesn't require concentration or constant frogging because I screwed something up. I'll be interested to see how these colors come together over the garment. We'll see. I'm thinking of making this sweater a long one since it will definitely be a companion to my jeans, but I'm still cogitating...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rounding third

If knitting were baseball, I've rounded third and am racing my way to the plate. The body pieces for my Laura Petrea are home safe and resting in the dugout and now my first sleeve is up to bat.

I'm forgoing the bell sleeves and instead making a conventionally shaped, elbow-length sleeves. I've decided to do as Deb Gemmell and some other folks suggested and put the same motif from the back on the sleeves, except upside down; it will look something like this with three garter ridges as ribbing.

I've put some accessories in my lineup, too. First, I found a pink camisole buried in my underwear drawer that I didn't even remember I had! It will be perfect to wear under this sweater to keep my bra from peeking through. It just needs to be washed to get out all the wrinkles.

And second, I stumbled across a gorgeous rose quartz necklace on the Sundance website. It would be PERFECT for this sweater - but it's $225 plus shipping! Not happening. So I poked around Etsy for a while and found a terrific vendor, EyeWantIt, who agreed to make a custom crocheted and beaded necklace designed just for my Laura Petrea. It turned out beautifully and cost only $40!

Oh... and I found some perfect, tiny metal buttons on Etsy, too. I love Lyanwood, the button vendor, who has hundreds of buttons from China you've never seen before. I bought three different sets of little buttons but these are the best for this sweater. She's inexpensive, too; I bought ten of these buttons for $6.00.

I started the sleeves last night. Let's hope they are big hits so I can score a home run with my Laura Petrea!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sweaters fit for a duchess

WWKW? What would Kate wear? Today I survey the sweater choices of the future Queen, Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge. Which is your favorite?  Which would you most like to make? Leave a comment on the blog with your choice.

1. The elegant, handknitted angora cardi she wore to her wedding reception. Stunning, simple, and regal all at once.

2. Kate goes to Walmart in a green ruffled shawl.

3. A cotton knit sailor dress seemingly designed to match her (and earlier, Priness Diana's) gorgeous sapphire and diamond engagement ring.

4. Now the inverse: a navy and white crocheted blouse that again matches the glorious engagement ring.

5. Kate hits the slopes in a bulky fair isle black and white cap.

6. Kate runs errands in a classic pink cardigan.

7. Kate must run lots of errands. Here she is in a black or navy cardigan.

8. Kate either walks the dog or does something with a horse - can't tell. But here she tops her white jeans with a fitted, v-neck lacey cardi.

9. Check out the groovy hat from my junior high school days. And lightweight v-neck light robin's egg blue  pullover.

10. More errands! This time in a fuschia ribbed wrap sweater.

11. And finally, Kate in her knitwear finest!

So what say ye? Which is your favorite Kate sweater? And which would you most like to make? Leave your comments below. (BTW, my personal fav: the angora reception cardi. Pure perfection.)