Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Show and no tell

Today I'm just going to show since I don't have time to tell! I'm knitting away...

Friday, May 25, 2012

Finally! Back to sweater knitting

After my brief foray into shawl knitting, I'm finally back where I belong: knitting sweaters. I started by trying in vain to make the Wrought Iron Cardigan but just couldn't get the neckline to work correctly. Well, it's probably more accurate to say that I couldn't negotiate the charted neckline shaping. I ripped it out three times over three nights and decided life was too short to be so frustrated. The heck with it!

Plan B! I casted on the next night for another of my favorite sweaters: Quenna Lee's Trio Jacket. This beautiful cabled cardi comes in sizes up to 55 inches (the Rav pattern page description is incorrect - the sweater does not go up to 59 inches). It features "a complex cable/leaf/seed stitch pattern with bottom up construction combined with top down sleeves. Short rows are used for the sleeve caps, shoulder sloping, and the collar." 

Quenna made her original sweater in Knit Picks City Tweed Aran, but I decided to use my exquisite Woolen Rabbit Grace instead. OMG, what a yarn! The soft, soft, soft merino! The incredible hand-dyed color! It's just perfect. I'm ruined now for conventional wool yarn; it just makes me yawn. The Grace knits up beautifully and offers surprisingly precise stitch definition, too. The cables really stand out even on this rather dark color.

I'm making some mods to accommodate my particular lumpiness. The pattern features a slight a-line fit, but I'm adding waist shaping instead. I'm also going to see if I can add in an inch of short rows at mighty derriere. I've always been reticent to do this on a cabled sweater, but I think I'll be able to work it out on this one. Stay tuned... I'll be sure to blog about this when I get there.

I'm using more buttons than called for in the pattern; at one-inch, they're also a little smaller than the 1.25-inch buttons spec'd in the design. Etsy, as always, came through with the perfect buttons: nine silver nickel concho beauties from the southwest. I like these buttons because they mirror the diamond shapes in the cables. If you're looking for fantastic buttons, check out ButtonJones on Etsy. Lots of terrific options, particularly if you like cool metal buttons. 
I'm so happy to be back where I belong knitting what I love to knit. It's been too long! I want to get this sweater finished before Ravelympics starts in July. How wonderful to think that I could get at least two great sweaters completed this summer - and who knows? Maybe I'll get another one in there, too.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend, everyone! And remember the military members in your life, too. This weekend, I remember my uncle, Captain Charles D. Gage, who  landed in North Africa and fought in the heavy artillery in Italy, France, and Germany. Here is Uncle Chuck with my grandmother, Hattie Klingler Gage, during the war. She was so proud of her eldest son; ultimately, all four of her boys fought in World War II - and all four came home, too. Our family was very blessed; many others were not. This weekend, let's remember all those who fought for our country.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

And the winner is...

Thanks to all of you who entered the free giveaway of Stephannie Tallent's amazing California Revival Knits. I've decided to pick the 19th entry because today is May 19 - that's the best random selection method I can think of this morning. So our lucky winner is: DEBBIE who would like to make the Wrought Iron Socks. I can't wait to see what she comes up with. Congratulations, Debbie!

If you didn't win, buy your own California Revival Knits from Cooperative Press.

But the games aren't over! As many of you may already know, my would-be sister, Nicki has enrolled us in the Ravelympics. I'm copying her post in full since she can describe the event better than I ever could: 

Dates: July 27 - Aug 12, 2012
When do we start?
We have a firm start time with a Mass Cast On (all events) during the Opening Ceremonies. When the Olympic games kick off in London (TBA GMT) that’ll be your start time, whatever time that is in your timezone.
Here’s a nifty time zone calculator. Head over there to figure out what your start time.
Our events are WIP Wrestling and Sweater Triathalon.
How to Compete
Pick an event, create project page with special tags, and cast on with thousands to compete. That’s it in a nutshell.
The Mass Cast-On is July 27, 2012, as the Opening Ceremonies begin in London! Find out what time that is in your local zone here. No casting-on before this moment! (with the exception of WIP/UFO event entries)
Official End time: 11;59:59 GMT Aug 12 2012; the closing ceremonies will be earlier that evening, but since the exact moment of torch extinguishment is unknown, we’ll give you until midnight. Each Ravelympics project must be marked Finished on the project page prior to the ending time in order to qualify for a medal.
What is Finished? 
Does it mean blocked? Ends woven in? Sewn together? Photographed? That’s up to you. See the big rule at the top: Challenge YOURSELF. Do you feel it’s finished without the ends woven in, or before blocking? Then mark it finished. If not, don’t. Be honest with yourself, and we’ll celebrate with you.
The Finish Line
Each event will have its own FINISH LINE thread on the Ravelympics 2012 board. Post details of your finished object in the thread(s) for the event(s) in which it is competing. (Details of what to post – link to project page and picture, for example – will be listed in the thread.) The FINISH LINE threads will be open for a day or two after the closing ceremonies, so if you can’t get a pic and post by the official closing time, just cross as soon as you can.
BobicusMaximus will hand out medals (blog badges) to each finisher in the event threads.
Scoreboard You’ll be able to follow your team and event progress on the special Ravelympics stats page that Casey’s magic machine assembles out of all properly tagged projects. Chat and cheer in special threads for each team and event.
The One Rule To Rule Them All:
Challenge yourself by starting and finishing project(s) during the 2012 Summer Olympics.
What will be a stretch for you: a new technique, that first sweater or pair of socks, something massive, something delicate, finishing that monster in the closet? The goal of the Ravelympics is to support you in expanding your knitting/crocheting horizons.

Just remember the one rule: Challenge yourself and have fun! That’s it!
We have an officially Team Knitting at Large 2012 logo and ravatar:

If you'd like a ravatar customized with your name, just message me. I've been making personalized versions so that we can tell each other apart! Here's mine.

We also have merchandise emblazoned with the Team Knitting at Large 2012 logo available at our CafePress store. Again, there is no markup on these items (meaning I don't make money on this), but they are great products. The tote bags and coffee mugs are wonderful - I ordered those with the Knitting at Large original logo, also available in the store. But I'd love to get a pair of these silly flipflops; they're out of stock now but hopefully will be available soon.
I'm going to be participating in the WIP Wrestling event. My goal is to finally finish my Early Bird Cardigan, modeled here by the beloved Moose. Ravelympics is just the kick in the fanny I need to get moving on this. Get 'er done! That's my Ravelympics motto.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the California Revival Knits giveaway. Now I hope you'll join us in the Ravelympics.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The uber-talented Stephannie Tallent

I've been California dreaming of late. No, I'm not singing old Mamas and Papas songs nor planning a cross-continental escape. Instead, I'm envisioning sweaters from about the best knitting book I've seen in years: California Revival Knits by the incredibly talented Stephannie Tallent.

I ordered this book the minute I saw the Wrought Iron Cardi. This unique but classic v-neck, shawl-collared cardigan features waist shaping and an easy twisted stitch motif. I started mine yesterday now that the Color Affection is off the needles. The sweater uses an interesting construction. You start by knitting saddle shoulder straps (Dottie, do you hear this calling your name?) and then picking up stitches and continuing from the top down. The sleeves are worked by picking up stitches along the armhole, working short rows for the cap shaping, then continuing in the round.

I ordered Woolen Rabbit Grace, a hand-dyed, 100% merino in the Forever In Blue Jeans colorway. I'll write more about this gorgeous yarn soon but suffice to say, it's spectacular. For now, I'll show you the beginnings of my saddle shoulder. Honestly, I'm in love. And of course, everything looks better when modeled by an ever-patient and always-sleepy pug.

I asked Stephannie about modifying the Wrought Iron cardi for a perfect fit. "If you need to add length, I recommend adding one full back repeat's worth once you've gotten past the armholes, because the bottom chart begins after the last row of a full repeat," she said. "If you want to add a partial repeat, you're going to have to adjust the initial cast on charts at the top of the shoulders.  Each of those start at a different place depending on size, so that the sweater could increase a little in length as the size increased."

She also gives a great hint for plus-size knitters. "You could potentially add some armhole increases to the front to make the front wider, i.e., use the smaller size for crossback then add extra armhole increases to increase the bust measurement." I'll definitely be making this mod.

If you're not up for an entire cardigan, then try one of the Wrought Iron Cardigan's lovely siblings: the Wrought Iron Socks, Mitts, and Tam. Aren't they gorgeous?

I'm a sweater knitter though; I'll leave the accessories to the rest of you while I plan for the Tiles pullover. Stephannie transforms a simple sweater into a beaded delight. The deep V-neck and waist shaping will work perfectly for me. I love the weekend look, but I can also imagine this knitted up in a soft white yarn with pearl beads.

Stephannie also offers insight on modifying this pullover. "The Tiles sweater should be easy to modify for length in most sections.  See where the waist shaping works best for you, and adjust from there... note that the neckline beading starts at the armhole bind off row.  If you think you need more room after the bust increases than this will give you, you'll need to take that into consideration.  Check your row gauge, see how many inches 22 rows will take you, and see if you need more than that. Bust short rows may be a little tricky given the neckline design, too."

California Revival Knits offers 14 extraordinary designs. There's something for everyone. I bet you'll just love her unusual Peacock Cowl and Gauntlets set. So creatively different and absolutely beautiful.

And don't forget these whimsical Fringe Socks. Love them!

To celebrate this amazing book, I'm giving away a free copy! Just leave a comment below; tell me which design you'd most like to make and I'll pick the winner at random. If you'd like to order California Revival Knits, visit Cooperative Press. To learn more about Stephannie, visit Sunset Cat.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Color Unaffectionate

I finished my Color Affection shawl yesterday. It's a striking piece and looks great on my dog. Not so sure about me, however.

I just don't seem to be one of those women who can pull off a shawl. They remind me alternatively of Little House on the Prairie and my junior prom. Mostly I just want to shed the damn thing so I can move. The Color Affectionate does fit well on my shoulders much to my surprise, probably because it curves at the top. It falls to my waist in the back. That's okay, I guess.

But the long trailing pieces that are supposed to hook over my arms bug me. I never know what to do with those on a long wrap, since I'm afraid the edges will get into something. Remember Tony Soprano's girlfriend setting her kimono sleeves on fire whilst making egg beaters? YIKES!

I guess I'll have to wear it out into the world and see how it feels. For all the time it took to make, I wish I'd knitted a sweater. This project offers more proof that I am a sweater knitter at heart. I've got a few of them up my not-too-long sleeves. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Will it ever end?

I love Color Affection, the uniquely beautiful shawl created by up-and-coming designer Veera Valimaki. I also adore Bijou Lhasa Wilderness, the unusual yak and bamboo luxury blend yarn died by the venerable Lorna's Laces. But I'm at the end of my rope. Will I ever finish this damn thing? Will I spend all of eternity endlessly knitting garter-stitch stripes?

I persevere, but good God, I'm bored. Almost at the end, I'm now knitting across  hundreds and hundreds and HUNDREDS of stitches. Every row is an unceasing procession made tolerable only by remaining completely mindless. 

I long to finish this project and go back to sweater knitting. I hate knitting shawls. The next time I yammer on about making one, please remind me that I hate the process and never end up wearing the shawl either. Sigh...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Knitting and sex

In case you missed this on Facebook, ain't it the truth?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

How to widen a sweater

So, how do you widen a sweater? Just by asking that question, I know I have your attention! This is an on-going challenge for a plus-size knitter. Teresa, my very first blog reader, asked me last week how to widen Chris de Longpre's Our Gang pullover. The pattern only comes in a size 46, but she needs a 56-inch finished bust size measurement. She doesn't want to adjust any other measurements; the size 46 will fit her crossback, sleeves, and neckline just fine.

As always, I start with the schematic. The pattern says it comes in size 46 so I expected the finished bust size to be 46-inches wide. WRONG. The finished bust size on this pattern is really 49.5 inches. Here is a perfect example of why I tell you that sizes are completely useless. If you want to knit a sweater that fits,  you will never again look at the size on the pattern. You will always look at the finished bust size because it's the only size that matters.

Anyway, in the original design, the schematic tells us the body width is 24.75 inches for one side or 49.5 inches around. Teresa needs 56 inches around - or 28 for each side (56/2=28).

Next we need to figure out how many stitches to cast on for this bottom-up sweater. The design's gauge calls for 7 stitches per inch in the k3, p2 stitch pattern (and of course, Teresa has already knitted her swatch because she knows the only way to knit something that fits is to swatch first). So, to figure out the cast-on stitches, we multiply the width in inches by the gauge per inch:

28 inches x 7 stitches per inch = 196 stitches

I always add two more stitches for the seams, so the total number of number of cast-on stitches is 198 for each side. Now that was easy!

After cast on, she knits for her total body length. The pattern calls for 14 inches, but she can easily adjust this measurement to match her body by knitting more or fewer rows.

There are only two other modifications Teresa needs to make to enlarge this sweater. First, she needs to bind off additional stitches at the armholes to remove the extra inches she added for the body. As we already established, she wants to use the largest size offered by the pattern to knit the top of the sweater. So, when she gets to the armhole bind-off, she'll need to bind off the stitches called for in the pattern plus X more for the extra inches she added. 

How do we figure that out? First, calculate the total number of inches added to the newly sized pattern:

Upsized version of 28 inches - Original version of  24.75 inches =
3.25 total inches added to both front and back

When she added these new inches, she essentially added them to the side seams of both the front and the back, so now we need to figure out how many inches went to each side seam:

3.25 inches / 2 = 1.625 inches on each side seam

Finally, we calculate the total number of stitches based on the 1.625 measurement and the gauge:

1.625 x 7 = 11.375 or 11 stitches

So, when Teresa gets to the armholes, she will bind off 35 stitches:

11 stitches for the additional room + 24 stitches called for in the pattern = 35 stitches

The other modification she needs to make is to add those additional inches she's decreasing from the armhole on to the top of the sleeve cap. The following diagram shows where the original sleeve cap ended. 

But for Teresa's modified sleeve needs to be deeper to accommodate for the added width:

So, she will add the 3.25 inches added to each side of the garment to the top of the sleeve cap. This makes the sleeve fit perfectly in the notch created by the underarm bind-off. When she knits the sleeve cap, she will make it 4.5 inches long as prescribed in the pattern plus 3.25 inches for the modification or 7.75 inches.

Well, after all those changes, that's it. Sweater is officially resized! I hope you followed all that. Note that these mods work for modified drop-sleeve sweaters only; you'd have to use more sophisticated techniques to resize set-in or raglan sleeve sweaters. 

Here's wishing Teresa's Our Gang turns out perfectly - and that it fits her perfectly, too.