Friday, June 15, 2007

EZ October Sweater

“The Old Man, on reading what follows, said, ‘They will sue you.’ I said ‘Why?’. He said, ‘They will be bald.’ I said, ‘What?’ He said, ‘They will tear out their hair.’” Knitter’s Almanac, p. 110.

Of course I am only more attracted to this sweater after such warnings.

I didn’t, however, really think the bald look will work for me, so I attempted to unravel this sweater in miniature before starting in earnest on the real thing. I pulled some leftover sock yarn (Claudia Handpaints, Eat Your Veggies)
from the stash and picked up my #1 DPNs and provisionally cast on 84 stitches. Why 84? Well, I can’t always be trusted with math, so I figured 100 would be a good key number. The sweater starts with 85%, and I rounded down to an even number. This cast-on edge will later be woven together to form the outer-collar edge. It occurs to me now that if one used a figure-8 cast-on, one could avoid the weaving at the end.

I then decreased on each side every other row until I had 64 stitches, and then cast off 16 stitches in the middle of one side.

Next, I rejoined in the round and start a lopsided version of raglan shaping.

(Sweater is facing left.)

I cast off for the sleeves when I had 25 stitches, as the mini-sweater needn’t be functional and I had little interest in knitting tiny sleeves for it. At the same time, I put the extra stitches in the front on waste yarn. I cast off 16 for the back neck opening, so I put 16 stitches on waste yarn for the center front, giving me an 8-stitch facing for my neck opening. As before, I rejoined under the pouch (and at the same time cast on 8 stitches at each underarm) and continued knitting the body for a few more rounds, a few garter ridges, and cast off.

I grafted the collar, too.

Now for the fun part, Phase 2 of the neck shaping. I crocheted my small steek, and cut.

Then, I put the live stitches of the facing on a needle, and knit some more facing. Just a few garter ridges, and then I cast off.


Now, about the real thing. I’m no longer sure that the October sweater is the ticket for my green Patina. It will be pretty warm with the facings, even in cotton, and especially with the silk content. Here in the land of endless summer, single-thicknesses are best.

Maybe, someday, a fine-guage winter sweater? If I can work up the nerve to knit long sleeves top-down in the round... I do hate turning the whole sweater.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Not Purple

The coffee socks are done! And my husband likes them, despite his frequent commenting about how much purple there is in the colorway. For the record, he chose this yarn over the solid brown.

Pattern: Spey Valley Socks, Nancy Bush, Knitting on the Road
Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock, Java
Needles: US1 Susan Bates sock kit dpns for sock A, two Knit Picks classic circulars for sock B

Best part(s)? Love the horizontal braid detail. And just look how much yarn was leftover!

The reason that this excites me so has to do with the first socks that I ever knit for him, the Socks That Hated Me.

Pattern: Gentleman's Shooting Stocking with Fluted Pattern, Nancy Bush, Knitting Vintage Socks
Yarn: Knit Picks Essential Tweed, Flint
Needles: started both at once on 40" Addi 0, magic loop, split and knit sock A on Knit Picks 0 dpns, sock B on Susan Bates sock kit dpns, size 0 (yes, I have knit a pair of socks on the same needles before, but what's the fun in that?)

Issues: As stated above, started on Magic Loop. Did not like it. Didn't particularly enjoy knitting the stitch pattern, although I like the way it looks. When I knit the first heel, I was being so careful to keep the stitch pattern on the heel flap that I didn't realize that I was wrapping the stitches on one selvedge when I slipped them, which created a ridge. I knit the gusset anyway, put it on waste yarn and made him try it on. Sure enough, uncomfortable. So I took a deep breath and told myself it was better to knit a heel twice than to knit a pair of socks that wouldn't be worn, and ripped the heel back. Put the socks away for a while. Felt guilty and pulled them back out, finished sock A. Husband tries them on, say's they're a little short. Put sock away. Feel guilty. Pull sock back out, rip toe, add a repeat to instep, reknit toe, start second sock. For the second sock I switched to blunter needles, and this made the knitting considerably more enjoyable (i.e., tolerable) because they didn't split the yarn. Kept telling myself that this second sock never did anything to me, despite it's evil twin, and powered through to give my man a pair of handknit socks. That is, of course, until I ran out of yarn halfway through the second toe. Sigh. I really don't understand this, either. Two socks, two balls of yarn. One is plenty long, the other is, well, plenty short.* We were on a road trip at the time, so I put the socks away until we stopped for the night, and then sat and carefully cut about an inch off of the top of the first sock. (That felt kinda good.) Washed the yarn to get the kinks out, and knit the second toe. Used a sewn bind-off on the cuff of sock A, but it looked kinda messy.* Attempted to do a single crochet edge around the top to neaten it up, but of course ran out of yarn again. Stuffed socks to the bottom of knitting bag and didn't look at them for the rest of the trip. A week or two after returning, carefully cut the second sock to match the first, and did a single crochet border around both sock cuffs. They aren't perfect, but they're good enough for a man who always wears long pants. I think they'd make excellent kindling (self-extinguishing properties of wool aside), but he likes them.

* Incidentally, the Knit Picks website now showcases the Shooting Stocking in Essential Tweed, in Flint no less, and they recommend 3 balls to complete the socks. I don't know what to tell you. Maybe my long skein was an anomaly.

** Have since read in Elizabeth Zimmermann that it is unwise to try to cut around on a single row (not to mention one knit at a very fine gauge!) because you will invariably get 'off.' Instead, snip a single strand and unravel it left and right, trimming the length if necessary, and then rip the cut-off portion from the raw edge. You can believe that's what I'll be doing next time.

In case you were wondering, his third pair is going swimmingly.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Doll Clothes

I picked up the Lily of the Valley Shawl this weekend after a one- or two- week hiatus and knit a couple of rows.

It must have got me to thinking of tiny yarn and fine knitting, because the thought popped into my head, "didn't that doll come with some knitted garments? I wonder if they were handmade..." "That doll" being the one that purportedly belonged to my great-grandmother Bathsheba, although I question this because she had two sons when the doll was made. Perhaps she was a collector? I don't think there's anyone surviving on that side of the family now, except my father, and he wouldn't know.

He has such a sweet little face.

Made in 1914 by Louis Amberg & Son, he's a Newborn Babe.

My grandmother had a local seamstress outfit him in new clothes at some point, as his were wearing frightfully thin. His "new" duds are very detailed.

He wears a bonnet and two gowns, each trimmed in lace and silk ribbon, with a t-shirt or onesie underneath, a cloth diaper, knitted tights, and acrylic [gasp!] crocheted booties.

I'm not sure I had ever lifted his dresses before this weekend (seems so rude!). Below are his original clothes, or at least what's left of them, a simple gown and machine-knitted socks, which, incidentally, are very like the socks/tights he wears now.

At the very least, my newborn shall have some knitted wool booties. But the wheels in my head are spinning, thinking how adorable he'd be in a Shetland lace christening robe like this one.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Thanks, baby.

Yesterday, my husband ventured alone into the unknown, the local yarn store. I needed a new needle for a project, and, since yarn stores tend to keep bankers' hours, I wasn't going to be able to go by and get one until the weekend. So he said if I'd write down exactly what I needed, he'd go get it for me, and that's just what he did. Just like in a "Love is..." comic.

To show my appreciation, I finished the last few inches of the cuff and turned the heel on his Spey Valley socks. This second one has been been my "coffee sock" for weeks, getting a round worked here and there while I'm waiting on the coffee to brew, letting the dogs out, or otherwise waiting around in the kitchen. Progress has been slow but steady, despite his concerns that I'd never finish them that way. Things are looking up in that regard; I had a serious case of "just one more row" last night. Perhaps because this was my first time turning a heel on two circular needles.

In other news, there has been swatching for the October sweater.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


Elizabeth Zimmermann's "Open Collared Shirt from the Top Down. Faced Collar and Neck Opening." from the October Chapter of her Knitter's Almanac has captured my attention. I have this nice cotton and silk Classic Elite Patina sitting around in my stash just waiting to become a summer sweater. Perhaps I should give it a try?

I haven't been able to find any other reference to this sweater online, so this could be interesting.

Look what was on my doorstep yesterday!

I'm already on Part II of the videos, and I am absolutely charmed.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Perfect knitting

This is the left front of the Hex Coat from Knitting Nature. Knitting it is pure pleasure. There's enough texture and shaping to keep the fingers and the mind busy without requiring full concentration, and it falls off the needles at a surprising speed, leaving the knitter with a real sense of accomplishment. It's the perfect antidote to all the stockinette stitch of the Somewhat Cowl (which should be just dry from blocking, photos to follow).

And best of all? No rush on this one. I won't be needing a wool coat for many months, so I'm giving myself permission to pick it up and put it down at will.