Sunday, December 20, 2009


Remember the yarn I gifted to myself as a birthday present? Sometimes a yarn speaks to you and tells you exactly what it should become. This yarn was destined to be paired up with Jared Flood's Girasole pattern, no doubt about it. But when I compared the yardage I had with my six skeins and what the pattern required, I wasn't quite sure if I'd have enough, and at about $ 10 per skein, I wasn't really excited about buying any more. This pattern is written for two weights of yarn (aran for a blanket and fingering for a shawl), and could also be knitted with any weight for different sizes and uses. My yarn was somewhere in the middle of these two weights.

I decided to settle for a solution that would also take care of my other problem, namely how to wear a round shawl. Do you fold it over, or scrunch it up in your neck? And wouldn't it make sense to have just the part of the circle that you can actually see? In a blanket it makes more sense, but I've always wondered how you'd wear a round shawl. So I knitted a wide wedge, with six tenths of the pattern repeats.

This meant knitting back and forth, instead of in the round, and some of the patterns ended up having pattern rows on the wrong side, too, but nothing too challenging so that didn't turn out to be a problem. Most of the time every other row is just plain knitting. I also had to figure out what to do with the edges -both edge stitches, and the shape of the edge for when the pattern wasn't straight. I used two garter stitch edge stitches, which is pretty typical of lace shawls/scarves. The leaf pattern I knitted out so that the total stitch count increased in the first part of the leaf and then decreased for the second part. The diagonal rows of holes I cut off so that I got a straight line for the edge.

Otherwise I had no problem knitting just six tenths of the pattern, and the patterns and stitch counts all behaved very well and caused me no issues.

The needle size for lace depends on the amount of empty space that is desired and how airy the resulting fabric should be. My yarn was buttery soft, quite substantial and heavy, and I didn't think it could necessarily hold up to a very "lacy" or airy structure. Plus I wanted the shawl to be quite substantial, as well, so I used a 4 mm needle. If I had just gone based on the ratio of my yarn weight and what was recommended for the yarn weights in the pattern (4 mm was recommended for the fingering weight and 6 mm for aran), I should probably have used at least 5 mm needles. The 4 mm needles produced, however, very good results, and the size, I think, is pretty perfect!

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Here's a project that has been in progress for a long time:

Hanne Falkenberger's Tweedie. Lately I've been pushing myself to finish up old projects and get some loose ends tied up (quite literally). This is one of the few sweaters that I purchased as a kit, and it was quite spendy, so it didn't make any sense to leave it lying in a basket half finished. I liked the style, the color and the fit, so really no reason not to finish! The only problem was that it was quite tedious... And every time I picked it up, I had to figure out the instructions all over again. The instructions, including color patterns for 11 different colorways, had been fitted into as small a space as possible, onto just two pieces of paper. For a lot of patterns that's plenty of space, but this pattern used some creative and unusual techniques, which could have been explained more clearly using more space. All in all, this pattern would really benefit from using just one extra piece of paper, and for the $130-plus that the kit costs, I don't think that would be an unbearable additional cost.

The texture of this sweater is created with a clever use of garter stitch and slip stitches. The colors are created using three different color yarns at all times, changing one color at a time when moving from one section to another.
The yarn is fingering weight 100 % wool and quite unprocessed, which means it is quite rough to the touch. I plan to wash the sweater with some Eucalan to see if I can soften it up a bit... I'm also thinking about adding a couple hook-and-eye closures, since there are no buttons.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Warm and fuzzy feeling

This gives me a warm and fuzzy:

pattern: Something Red by Wendy Bernard
yarn: Rowan Kid Classic, 8x50 g balls
needles: 4.5 mm Addi Turbo circular
size: M, adjusted for gauge

I really enjoyed knitting this. The pattern is well written and easy to follow. The fit is great, partly due to the fact that the sweater was easy to try on when it was in progress.
The other day, this appeared on the fridge door:

It reads: "Watch out because it will be slippery". Mr S. (5 yrs) decided to clean the kitchen floor on his own initiative. Afterwards he told me "Mom, now you have to give me one of those green things." That would be money -the green kind, as opposed to the metal kind. So he got paid $ 1, and I got a clean kitchen floor. Not a bad deal at all, if you ask me! I sure hope this is a precedent for times to come, and when he's 17, I don't need to tell him to go get a job to make some money. And as I'm doing all this knitting, I don't have to worry about house work!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Since the last update, I've been working on a few different things. The amorphous mystery sweater has only progressed little, and is currently out of favor and out of the knit cycle. This always seems to happen, when I get back into the knitting groove. I frantically go back and forth between a few projects, trying to figure out what I really want to, or need to be working on, before actually settling on something that feels right. In addition to the mystery sweater, I've been working on Tweedie, started a shawl and another sweater, and even finished something:

This is Amelia, Laura Chau's pattern from the -08 Winter Knitty. I used Louet Riverstone in color Burgundy. I think it's a very nice, solid worsted wool, one of those basic yarns that is always good to have around. I was between sizes, and cast on something in between M and L, because I didn’t want the sweater to be too tight around the bust. A couple of other changes I made were:
  • Button holes every 14 rows instead of every 10. I wish I would have started them an inch or two earlier.
  • I modified the sleeve cuff to twisted k1p1 rib, and I did the sleeve increases slower and made fewer of them than specified. Looking at other people's projects, sometimes the sleeves seemed too wide, at least to my taste.
  • I made the front neck line decreases one stich further in (k1, p1, ssk), and I added a button hole in the neck band.

Overall, a nice project, and a good, well written pattern!

After finishing Amelia I thought, what I really need is a couple of new sweaters I can wear to work. I searched through patterns and rummaged through my entire yarn inventory, and paired up yarns with patterns, deciding what is going to be what. The first sweater that got on the needles was a silvery gray version of Wendy's Something Red:

I'm using Rowan's Kid Classic and Addi Turbo 4.5 mm circulars. (Shocking news: Addi has changed the color of the cord in their circulars from the familiar gold to a transparent blue!) This sweater should take me another couple of weeks with the sleeves and the neck band, if I manage to stick to knitting monogamy from now on.

October is birthday-month for me, and despite having made a resolution to be on a strict yarn diet, I figured I'm allowed to splurge on my birthday. Right?

This was my "happy birthday to me"-gift: a soft pile of Malabrigo Silky Merino in color Topaz. I'm thinking a shawl, something in the style of Jared Flood. Jared is one of my favorite bloggers and designers, and I'm really fond of his use of thicker yarns for lace patterns. By using a DK or a worsted weight yarn in a lace, you really get the best of both worlds; the intricate texture and pattern, but also the substance (and warmth!) of the thicker yarn.

The weather has been absolutely miserable lately around these parts of the world, but only during the weeks. Somehow magically it always seems to clear up for the weekends, and this weekend is no exception. This of course makes me very happy -not only for the kids, but for poor old me, who has to take them trick-or-treating tonight, and if the weather was as bad as last night, no amount of knitwear could keep me warm! I hope you all have a happy (and scary!) Halloween. Stay warm!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

End of hiatus

I didn't even realize how long it had been since I last posted... Seems like time to end the hiatus and bring the blog back to life! The past year has been chaotic, stormy and challenging on a personal level, and posting in the midst of all that just didn't feel very appealing. But life goes on, and now that the dust has settled (and the weather is getting colder!), it's time to come out of the hiding, and take out the needles and yarn again.

So what is going on on the knitting front? Some of my work that I finished between the last post a year ago and before I completely stopped knitting for a while (that's right! completely stopped... didn't see that coming!) I have posted on Ravelry, available to those of you that are members there. Recently, I tried on a lovely cardigan at a store and thought, no way am I paying $ 119 for that! A two piece construction in garter stich, fairly simple and should be a quick knit. This and the afore mentioned cold weather were enough to get me to go rummaging in my yarn totes for something suitable that could produce the same cardi, albeit in a prettier color. I found a bag of fingering weight Knitpicks Gloss in color Cosmos, knitted a 5x1.5" test swatch, and cast on for a sleeve.

This will be one of those "make it up as you go" pieces. Yes, I'm taking a risk here, and yes, you may slap me, if it doesn't turn out because of the lack of planning. In my defence, I do have a couple of scetches in my notebook, and I have taken one measurement! The back piece measures from my elbow to my knuckles. Very scientific, no? And the reason I think this has any chance of working out? Well, the shape of the sweater is very "organic", not fitted in the least, so the exact measurements aren't absolutely critical. Famous last words, before a knitting disaster...

Maybe I want to think that I've still got the touch, and I can figure this out without spending two days planning. Maybe I'm just delusional... Or maybe I've totally forgotten anything I ever learned, and that unplanned pieces of knitting rarely turn out. We shall see. Until then, let's admire the magnificent October sky (the sky is so big here in South Dakota!) and the pretty view from my deck: