Thursday, August 30, 2012

Much better

Whew! After two miserable attempts at picking colors for my Hiro Cardigan, I've finally found my just-right combination and finished a swatch that doesn't make me cringe. :-)

I'm using Berroco Ultra Alpaca in these colorways:
  • 6232 Pastel Pink
  • 6233 Rose Spice
  • 6258 Cyclamen
  • 62171 Berry Pie Mix
Last night, I also finished the second sleeve on my Graceful aka Trio Jacket. All I have to do now is a neckline bind-off and block.

Tom and I will soon be in Maine where I plan to do some serious sitting around, eating out, watching the scenery, and knitting. Hiro Cardigan, here we come!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Juggling sweaters

I'm knee-deep in (unfinished) sweaters, but I'm bound and determined to complete them all. Today I'm updating you on my projects mostly so that I can keep them straight!

Most recently, I finished my Ravel!@#$%^ Pullover for the quadrennial knitting competition. This sweater stopped all my presses until I'd reached the finish line (mixing metaphors much?!) I'll be doing lessons learned on this sweater soon; just need to get some 360-degree photos first.

Prior to finishing my gold-medal creation (I'm so proud to be an official Rathlete), I was working on my Graceful aka Trio Cardigan which I've now picked up again. I just need to knit the second sleeve and a neckline edging (I'm skipping the collar prescribed by the pattern) and this will project be finis.

Meanwhile, as I announced yesterday, Deb Gemmell and Robin Hunter kicked off their KAL for their "Need a Plus Cardigan?" book. I started test knitting this red wool sweater for Deb earlier this year; now I'm going to finish it. Given where I am in the process, I'm leaning towards making the Lace Frock Vest, unless I get ambitious and knit the sleeves. Either way, I love the garment and I think lots of other women will, too.

And last but not least, I am completely infatuated with Julia Farwell-Clay's new Hiro Cardigan. Maybe it's my graphic design background (I'm a branding and web designer in my real life), but I love the pixelated way the colors transition from the sweater to the yoke. I particularly appreciate Julia not only for her true creativity but also her commitment to provide her designs in larger sizes. The Hiro, for example, comes in sizes up to 60 inches (God bless her).

I thought I'd nailed the colors for my Hiro when I bought my yarn on sale from Webs. My plan was to use Cascade Pastaza in burgundy, pink, and green. But after two dismal swatching attempts - awful!!! - I almost gave up.

After significant thought, I decided instead to use the narrower-gauged, wine-colored Ultra Alpaca in my stash plus some similar shades to make a gradient that moves smoothly from burgundy to pink. I'm still waiting for the extra skeins to come in so I don't have a swatch yet, but I created a mockup that shows my plan. I think this will  work well (goodness, I hope so). I will share the swatch when I've finished, of course.

I'm leaving soon for a week in Maine and will have extra time to knit - I obviously need it! The best news is that I'll have lots of new wardrobe options when the weather cools down. I'm sad to see the summer go, but new sweaters give me a lot to look forward to.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A new book and KAL - and book giveaway, too!

Great news! The ample community has a new plus-size pattern book to celebrate: Deb Gemmell's "Need a Plus Cardigan?" Deb is one of the few knitwear designers who routinely provides larger sizing in her patterns, but with this book, she's designed some beautiful sweater just for US.

The exceptionally helpful book provides a comprehensive recipe for making a top-down, no-sewing raglan in your size and in the yarn of your choice, from sportweight to chunky. The patterns come in finished bust sizes from  44 to 61 inches and include options for waist and hip shaping, A-line choices, sleeve circumference adjustments, body length options and much, much more.

But thisbook is more than just a recipe. You'll love the designs, which are all top-down and no-sew (yes, Teresa, there is a Santa Claus). Deb gives us a go-to cardigan option in the Basic Cardigan. This is the one I'm going to make; in fact, I've already started.

The Panel Cardigan comes in two different motifs, one lace and one cabled. These two beautiful sweaters below show a summer and winter version of the Panel Cardigan.

I predict the most popular design will be the Lace Frock. It reminds me a bit of the February Lady Sweater, but Deb's lace skirt version actually fits! If you've ever wanted to make the ubiquitous February Lady, make this lady instead. 

Oh! And meet Deb. Here she is modeling the cap sleeve version of the Lace Frock.

You can purchase Deb's book from Patternfish; it comes in both soft cover and electronic versions. After you buy the book, come join our new Deb's Need A Plus Cardigan knitalong on Ravelry. The knitalong begins September 15 so you've got time to get the book and your yarn, too.

And, last but not least, I'm doing another book giveaway! I've got one electronic copy of Need a Plus Cardigan? that I'll be happy to send the lucky winner. Just leave a comment below telling me the sweater from this book that you'd most like to make. I'll pick a winner on August 30. Good luck!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Countdown: Three days left

Three days left! Made some progress last night, but I've got at least six more inches to knit plus the garter hem... sorry, you're not getting anything more out of me blog-wise until this is finished!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Next to last lap

 It's Thursday morning and this sweater needs to reach the Ravel!@#$%^ finish line by Sunday. Will I make it?

I need to knit about six more inches and then add a three-row garter hem to the bottom and the sleeves. All I hear in my head is "run, Forrest, run!"

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ravel!@#$%^ progress

ACKKKK! Ravel!@#$%^ ends this Sunday, August 12 and I have to finish an entire sweater by then! I'm making fairly good progress, as you can see:

I'm now past the armhole divide and am knitting downward to the finish. My biggest concern is that it's too large, especially in the back. This is an on-going concern for me with any sweater that doesn't have a crossback measurement like on a set-in sleeve garment. I get a good fit when I can tighten up the back above the waist, but raglans and round-neck sweaters by their very nature can't give as tailored a fit, at least on a large, curvy woman like me.

As an example, compare my Under Toad to the Sophisticate. From the side, you can see that I have a smoother fit on the Under Toad, a set-in sleeve design, that on the raglan Sophisticate.

You can really see the difference from the back. Look at how baggy the upper back is and how the extra fabric pools at my waist.

I'm afraid my Ravel!@#$%^ Pullover is going to be the same. But I'm not going to worry about it. Not everything I own needs to be tailored, and I envision this sweater being a comfortable vest/tunic that I wear around town. (Frankly, all of my sweaters are knock-abouts, but who's counting?).

Anyway, I'll be back to knitting this evening while watching men's gymnastics, track and field, springboard diving, and beach volleyball. Either that or reruns of Storage Wars, because I'm madly in love with Barry Weiss.