Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sweaters and Spunky and bad odes.

If nothing else, I can now stop calling this sweater the top-down raglan using reclaimed Malabrigo. Instead, I'm naming it Lobel, of Frog and Toad are Friends fame--the yarn knows its way around the frog pond and, well, that's as far as I got with reasons for the name. At any rate, it works for me.

Speaking of working for me, here's the body shot:


The chest stripe is noticeable here and you can see that it's also on the arms (d'oh, top-down Lobel!). I *like* it, though, as I mentioned the last time.

This apparently is my new favorite pose, thee olde camera on the head shot:

body reflected

The color in this shot is a little off, but that's due more to the poor lighting and the mirror. The more observant among you may notice that the bottom is no longer bound-off. That's easy to explain--I did some kind of crazy bind off that was, at best, an attempt to have a loose edge. Instead, my attempt resulted in a non-elastic hem. After frogging the remaining original sleeve, I balled up the yarn, spit-splicing as I went and then weighed and divided that yarn for the two sleeves. Then, I ripped back the cast-off edge and put the live stitches on a gigantic stitch holder, courtesy of Denise. Once I'm done both sleeves, I'm going to bind off the hem using a larger needle (the sweater's knit on US11s, I might go up to US15s for the hem bind-off). I did the larger needle on bind-off for the first sleeve, and that did just what I wanted:

Sleeve, folded over

I haven't spent much time on Lobel since Saturday when Jody came over for a visit--I meant to knit on it some Monday night and also this morning, but Monday night I think I crashed on the couch and this morning I registered for a belly-dancing class and made a number of other phone calls that seemed to suck the life right out of me. The telephone has got to be the devil's invention... Anyway, there are a few other shots of the sweater in progress here. And, for those of you waiting for the weekly cat picture, look no fur-ther:

Chico and the Chibi

Show of hands, here, we need new projects (future UFOs, no doubt) like we need holes in our heads.... In other words, I have this skirt, see:

NL Skirt

And I need something to go with it, see:

Cilantro: Tank with peplum

So, that's where these come in handy, see:

Nashua Cilantro and NL skirt

And now, an ode:

Summer knittin', cotton-y twist,
Summer knittin', just like a wish.
Found a yarn, perfect for me
And a pattern, cute as can be
Summer knittin' it's all the rage
So long as I can gauge...

Well-a, well-a, well-a, uh!
(Tell me more, tell me more)

Nashua Cilantro in Lime Sorbet, a 70/30 cotton/acrylic. It has a matte finish and feels springy (both in weight and in texture). I pawed over this a couple of times while browsing at Tangled Web on Saturday, but it wasn't until Annie directed me to the Nashua booklet that I knew I had to have this yarn! The booklet is Nashua Vacation it has a pattern or two in it that made it easy for me to justify the expense. That, and after my last craft-room cleaning event, I found a half dozen TW frequent buyer cards: combined, I was able to get my 20% and have some holes punched in a new card. Sweet.

I'm going to make this summer sweater (it doesn't have a name outside of Cilantro Peplum; I'm going to nickname it Wicked--1. it's green, 2. it's the name of the show) with just a few modifications (it's not knittin' unless you modify it, right?): I'm adding sleeves (top down), I might do bust-shaping... I need to have this done by late July--that's when mom and I are going to see Wicked! Before I can start this little number, though, I need to finish two cross-stitch projects and the other Jaywalker. And, I have to try my best to not start any other new projects...

Oh, and did I mention that I joined the Fiber of the Month Club? Yeah... so much for not starting any new projects, RIGHT?!!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Top-down raglan sweater

Also known as: Who knew it could be so easy?

Raglan - flat

The neck was cast on haphazardly, making sure only that the ribbing met up in pattern (I've ribbed a number of things only to discover that there's some sort of miscommunication between the knits and the purls, resulting in, say, a 2x2 ribbing that suddenly has a 4-stitch section... Please tell me at least half of you understand what I'm saying!). When I threw in the alternating 1x1 cables, I realized I was missing about half a pattern repeat.
I'll blame it on the (freezing) rain.


It's definitely warm and snuggly...


I tried to delude myself that the color discrepancies were the result of a combination of lighting and white balance. But...

Progress on the raglan

At least this one fits! Though, I will definitely have to modify the sleeves more than I expected--the armholes are almost droopingly too big.

sideview - shaping

Here you can see the decreases along the "seam" as well as my ill-concealed bust shaping. One side ALWAYS comes out better than the other, damn it! Is it TMI if I tell you this shot would have been greatly improved had I taken the time to put on a bra? Well then.

frontal shot

Here's a clear shot of what Mike's calling the muted Charlie Brown stripe. He said it LOOKS like it's supposed to be that way, but of course, he's not a knitter and he wants to have a sex romp. I say, "How can anyone have a sex romp knowing that they've knit a sweater using kettle-dyed yarn and NOT alternating balls?" He said the mere mention of balls was sex romp-ish enough for him.

Those last few shots were from this morning. I have to say, of all the sweaters I've knit (and unknit), this one is by far the most comfortable. My only complaint about the Malabrigo (and no, it's not subtle color differences--that's kinda growing on me) is that the yarn sheds a lot. It's not so much pilling as there're just bits of fluff that work their way out of the ply. Maybe that's because it's single-ply, maybe that's because the wool is particularly cloud nine amazingly soft, or maybe that's because I frogged it (and didn't rinse, thwack, and dry).

For a few other shots, check out this link.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Wool you be my Valentine?

Dear Jaywalker: YOU ARE MINE.

Attempt Number 5, Sock Number 1 (and yes, I shaved my legs for this. Bonus that I've now got smooth legs for V-Day, eh?):


Here's a shot that shows off the colors of the Soxie a bit better:


Now, I just need to take a break from knitting that specific sock... Seriously, with as many attempts at that sock as I had (5, with the fifth working FINAL-fucking-LY), I just need to sort of have a course of mental sorbet. That, and I need something ... larger.

Cue the beginnings of the raglan turtleneck. On US11s (I'm finally using my Christmas Denises!!!), it's knitting up in a flash. Since it's bulky, I don't want it to be overwhelmed with cables, so I'm doing a 2 stitch cable. For the neck, at least, this looks pretty nice! I've already changed my mind about doing cables along the seams (or, where the seams would be) since I think the sweater will ultimately benefit from less bulk where possible. No pictures yet, but hopefully before Lost comes on tonight, I can take a progress shot.

Hopefully I will have made substantial progress by the time Jody and I hang out in a couple of weekends. AND, maybe I'll even be able to WEAR this new-fangled raglan when my parents treat us to King Tut (and we then treat them to drinks and dinner/lunch) in March!!!

Lastly, it's Megan's favorite and pretty much sums up the reaction Philadelphians are having to this montrous snow storm:

Crazy cat

Yup. That's my crazy-ass cat...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Raging Raglans

I've spent more time than I should admit these past couple of days looking at raglan sweaters online. I know I shouldn't be planning my next sweater, but!

Since yesterday, I've decided that I'd like to have some cabling in this sweater-to-be. I don't want the cabling to interfere with the simplicity of the sweater, though, so I really need to plan this out, do some sketches, and try to work out as much of the pattern in advance as possible.

Here's what I'm thinking:
  • Turtleneck: do cabling on both the right and wrong sides so that it's 100% reversible/turn-down-able. Or, knit the cuffed-over part of the neck (the part that is covered by the turned down neck) at a slightly tighter rib, which would mean casting-on for the one-sided cable portion at a proportionately higher number of stitches and then decreasing to make for a tighter ribbing. I think this might solve the problem I run into with turtlenecks that lose some of their vertical structure, but I could be wrong...
  • Raglan seams: cables along both sides of the seams--the shoulder and the chest. Where these cables meet at the armhole, have the cables than merge into one and continue down the side of the body and the length of the arm. I've seen cables on seams in a couple of patterns; I want to go a step more with the cable merge.
  • Cuff: on the sleeves, cables from mid-forearm down.
  • Hem: not sure if I want to do some sort of cabling or if I want to have a roll hem or if I want something that looks a bit more finished....
  • Sleeves: maybe have a single cable on the outside from neck to cuff, though with cables on the neck and at the cuff and elsewhere, this may be overkill.
  • Body: centered cabled motif front and back; empire-waisted cables; or cables and ribbing alternating (I've seen this on some sweaters in person lately and I'm not sure if I like it or not...).

Any advice, suggestions, or warnings about my ideas for a top-down raglan turtleneck with cables?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Still fighting

Yesterday, I found myself off and alone. After running down to the Whole Foods and fetching a couple of bags of groceries, I was faced with a long afternoon or complete and utter nothing. Oh, what's a girl to do?

I should have sat in my room and made some birthday cards, but instead I pulled out my Malabrigo sweater made last year. It's the Pearl colorway--cloudy greys with soft pinks. Here's a progress shot from last year:

I've tried wearing this sweater this winter, but each time I put it on, I'm reminded that I need to frog it: it's too big! I shouldn't be surprised, for two reasons--one, I've lost weight (holding steady at 40lbs), and two, I designed this sweater using elements from Banff. Anybody that's not been following along, here's what my first attempt at Banff (made with Bernat Softee...) looked like:

I only ever half-finished the seaming on that monstrous mistake before I left the yarn to sit ignored for as long as it took for me to forget about this sweater (for those keeping count, the picture's from April 2004. The yarn is still not being used.). BUT, I was in LOVE with the idea of the pattern--a slouchy, comfy, weekend-ish turtleneck. I had fantasies of making the pattern and then sipping hot cocoa at some coffee shop, posed ala Jenna Wilson.

When I finally felt as though I'd cut my knitting teeth, I decided to make my own pattern, drawing on aspects of other patterns and sweaters in my closet. I wanted something with ribbing, like Banff, but I wanted a v-neck. I wanted to include bust shaping (ahem...), but I also wanted slight waist shaping. I swatched using Christmas yarn (the Malabrigo Pearl). I ultimately went with the yarn doubled because I wanted a quicker knit--I started the sweater sometime around February 10, 2006, and finished it in a couple of weeks (all save for seaming). The sweater was knit with a fair amount of ease to begin with (see: slouchiness desired), and I was rather content to sport my own knitwear at work and at home.

But, as with anything I make, I was instantly critical: the ribbing wasn't tight enough, the fabric knit too loosely, the edges too unfinished, the seams too bulky. By April, I was 20lbs lighter and I knew that the sweater would likely have to be frogged; still, I stored it for the winter and hoped for some sort of magic wherein I not regain the weight but yet, the sweater somehow one day fits.

Yesterday, I flirted with the idea of felting the sweater (yes, it's THAT big), but then restrained myself. I like this yarn too much to somehow accidentally screw it up, and I knew that felting the sweater would likely leave me with $77 worth of fucked up yarn. Don't know about you all, but that's just not cool in the Book of Squirrel. So, instead, I found myself carefully unseaming this sweater, and then slowly frogging it. I got through the sleeve, a front, and part of the back before I had to go to bed.

I weighed the sweater before starting so that I could get a rough idea of yardage; I started with 23 ounces. That's roughly 6.5 skeins by my calculations (not that my calculations are in any way necessarily correct); each skein 3.5 ounces, and roughly 215 yds per skein. So, even though I already know I have WAY MORE THAN ENOUGH yarn to fashion another hand knit sweater, it's still good to have some numbers.

Some of the things I'm going to do differently once I reclaim all this yarn (I'm frogging, balling, skeining, and then thwacking, before drying, balling and then knitting) are:

  • tighter gauge - Malabrigo relaxes a great deal once washed and worn. What measured as a perfect fit freshly knit grew tremendously over just a few wearings.
  • top-down - I suffer from a specific type of knitting impatience: I nearly always break for the armholes on sweater entirely too soon, leaving me with sweaters that are *just* too short. Knitting top-down will allow me a better chance to make the damn thing long enough.
  • raglan and turtleneck - this really goes with the second point, but I'm separating it out for different reasons. I've yet to successfully make a turtleneck! My first sweater was designed to be a turtleneck, but I was terrible at neatly picking up and knitting stitches, so that sweater became a scoopneck (it's also in the to-be-frogged pile). The raglan sleeves will contribute to the weekend-wearability of this sweater.
  • edging/hem details - double-stranded, this sweater will be a bulky knit. Still, I'd like to do something interesting at the end of the sleeves/hem. Not sure what, though, which is another good reason to go top-down, right?
  • circular - this is sort of redundant, since the top-down raglan can be knit in one piece. However, I most definitely do not want any more seams than necessay on this sweater! Bulky knit seams are a bitch, no matter how neat your mattress stitch.

I think that's it, really, for the Malabrigo.

In other knitting news, Jaywalker sock the first, attempt number 5 has been successful. I'm down to about 10/50 grams of Soxie, so I'm 80% done! I made sure to take note of any pattern modifications so that when I get around to knitting up JW S1A5, I can knit as perfect a mate as possible. *PHEW* I think the final modification I'm going to make to this pattern is instead of knitting an inch of ribbing at the cuff, I'll knit the pattern in garter stitch, sort of reminscent of Broadripple.

Updated and more recent pictures soon--I'm getting ready to go Pro with Flickr, so I expect to be going on a digital photo-organizing spree.