Friday, April 27, 2007

Ding dong the witch is dead

The good news is, I knit and blocked Wicked in less than three weeks. The bad news is I allowed my bad habits to take over as I coasted through the body and towards the end... The shoulders are too wide, the armholes are a smidge too tight, and the body.... Well, another inch wouldn't hurt. What I need to do, perhaps, is start knitting sweaters but using a provisional cast-on so that I could easily rectify the short-body syndrome.

I'm at Ella's right now. She's packing, I'm itching (cats! dog!). We're going to run errands and eat and get booze and GO TO MAINE.

I'll post pictures, any solutions to the dead witch problem, and more when I return next week.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Indeed, attempt #2 of sleeve #1 was aided by the letters G and T:

bottoms up hem
Not more than a few rows in and I already knew that I was going to definitely frog the first attempt...

sleeve2 seamed
One freshly-seamed sleeve...

sleeve 2
I don't know if this is what these stitch markers are really for, but I'm using them to hold the two pieces together. You know, for look.

Tonight: make the other sleeve happen. Tomorrow: seaming party! Wednesday: composting workshop! Thursday: pack for Maine!!!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bad sleeve juju

(Apologies to Gilmore Girls...)

My last post had beautiful pictures of wonderfully picked up stitches around the armhole of my current Wicked in Progress (WIP). Since the pattern I'm working with is for a tank sweater, I'm knitting over the edge here and finding myself in uncharted territory (LITERALLY). But, I've been game, and didn't mind that my first attempt at a top-down sleeve was a horrid failure. And while I'm not exactly calling the second sleeve attempt (still the first sleeve, just the second have at it) a failure just yet, I think I've got some froggin' in my near future.

sleeve short rows
(Click to make big)


And, finally, the real reason I might need to go bottom-up (if not also bottom's up):
sleeve hem #1
The lace doesn't behave the same way going down as it does going up (stopping here to make a dirty joke to audience at home). It would be possible for me to block the sweater so that the lace does start to resemble that of the body, but that would require some serious fucking blocking--we're talking possibly stretching the yarn beyond its comfort level.

So, it looks like I'm going for attempt #3 on sleeve #1. I'm leaving the top-down sleeve in place for now and am going to compare it with the more common bottom-up sleeve to see which I prefer. I'm pretty sure, though, that attempt #3 is the charm and the real reason I'm not yet frogging the second top-down sleeve is pure laziness.

Completely unrelated: on Monday, not even a week ago, I walked out to work in a sloppy inch or so of slushy snow. Now, it wasn't covering everything (save for where my feet needed to go in order to make forward progress), but it was strange enough to make note of the snow. YESTERDAY, I sat out on my deck, in shorts, and spun a few ounces of unidentified fiber offerings (UFO?) and got my first sunburn of the year. What the hell is up with that?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Wicked pictures!

Here are some progress shots of Wicked--you can view the full set here.

three balls deep
About three balls in... The first ball scared me with how quick I knit through it, then I realized it had been knit in a lace pattern, on larger needles, and with more stitches in each round. The second ball behaved better and each subsequent ball as well.

second knot
Well... the yarn behaved *mostly*. Two balls--I think the first and fourth--each had knots like this. I was able to work with through the knots though in that both are neatly hidden on the inside of the garment.

shoulder seam
Even though I did the shoulder seams last week, I'm still pretty freaking impressed with myself. *ting*

Sleeve #1, Attempt #2
My second attempt at sleeve #1... I learned that patience makes all the difference. However, I hope that when I go to pick-up and knit the stitches for the second sleeve, I can achieve that first row in less than 90 minutes.

What's everyone got planned for the weekend? I'm still trying to decide: Wissahickon walk, Philadelphia Book Festival, gardening, basemess, Ghia, biking, sleeping in, Sideshow Bob-ectomies... All I know for sure is I do not have to work (it was touch and go for a couple of days...).

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Such a tease

The Wicked sweater is WOWEE WOW WOW, a quick knit! I'm also balls ahead of where I should be, which I attribute to the pattern modifications I made (no 54-in hem circumference for me!). I plowed through the back, did the keyhole shaping at the neckline, found a perfectly matching button, bound off both shoulders, and then finished the front. I tacked the right shoulder together before moving on to the left shoulder and tried the sweater on and YES, it fits! And it's JUST WHAT I WANT!!! This is truly a great feeling. I left the right shoulder tacked and finished the left front before seaming the left front to the left back. I also happened to just do my Best. Shoulder. Seaming. Ever. The stars are truly aligned, my friends!

I've been taking pictures of the WIP (Wicked in Progress)--boring shots of stockinette, taken at the start/end of each ball. I also took what I fear is going to become my trademark shot--trying on the sweater without a bra. It's doubly noticable in the shot from last night because only one shoulder is done... But, that's not going to stop me from posting the shot. You just have to wait until tonight or tomorrow!

The yarn has a nice but heavy drape and I knit it about half an inch shorter, knowing and hoping and fully expecting gravity and wear to lengthen the garment. The hem will need a good blocking, but that will bring out the scalloped edges and really make the lace pop. With the modifications I made, the lace isn't going to be lost in the hem. Looking at the picture in the pattern booklet, the lace doesn't look like lace--it looks like a bunch of increases and decreases used to create the appearance of a gathered or almost pleated hem.

I'll untack and seam the other shoulder tonight, then I'm going to attempt top-down sleeves. The pattern calls for a crocheted edge at the neckline and armholes, but I've long hated my arms and refuse to wear any sort of tanktop unless I'm biking--then, I'm all about the tank. But I'm still debating whether or not I want to create a sleeve that mimics the hem on the body. Excuse my inexperience, but will knitting a top-down lace pattern (*yo, k2, k2tog, k2* round 1, *k2, k2tog, k2, yo* round 2) produce the same or similar effect as knitting bottom-up? Will the details be all in how I block it? Should I just knit plain sleeves and crochet the finishing touches as written?

At the rate I'm going, I'll be finishing this sweater while in Maine next weekend and then wearing it while in Nashua the following weekend. I'm already planning on wearing it to Mike's graduation in May!!!

And while I'm on the topic of graduation, can I just say how freaking excited I am that my wonderful husband is finally graduating? Yes, there will be a party. And yes, you are all invited. And, no, I won't be taking my shirt off or flashing anyone. The shirted festivities must wait until after Mike's senior design team participate (and win!!!!) in Solar Splash '07. Get ready to add "watching my husband graduate from college" to the list of things that make me cry.

Monday, April 09, 2007

I've been working on the railroad

On the train ride down to Marcus Hook yesterday morning (and what better way to spend a Sunday morning than riding the rails through the less desirable locales?), I swatched and started my next knitting project, the Nashua Cilantro Tank with Peplum, or, the Wicked Sweater. By the time I was ready for bed last night, I was well through the lace pattern and onto the rows and rows of stockinette with shaping:

Cilantro tank--hem
Not bad for a bunch of train-knittin'!

Thoughts on the yarn and pattern so far:
  • The yarn doesn't like to be frogged. I swatched, made notes, double-checked my swatch, then frogged. I know, I know--I should have washed the swatch, too. But I'm terrible with swatching. I've never kept a swatch. I've never bound-off a swatch. I've always frogged my swatches. I'm a yarn-thrift. The yarn, 70% cotton, tends to unply some when frogged. Not unworkable, but noticeable--at least while working. Once knit up, you can't tell the difference.
  • The yarn has a degree of stretch to it that I hadn't expected. I spent some time sproinging it as I knit on the train. I'm trying to not knit it with too much tension because then I'm afraid the yarn will lose some of its sproing, or even worse, the garment will look wonky.
  • All that considered, the yarn is pretty damn nice to work with. It knits fast (then again, what doesn't when compared to socks) (and, also, I'm using the Denise trick of having my left needle smaller than my right needle).
  • The lace pattern doesn't seem to be blocked in the booklet. Or, it was blocked but because the yarn's so sproingy, the laciness got lost. I'm not sure how I feel about this yet and could go either way: either it's a neat little secret splash of lace, or I wasted valuable counting and stitching on something that won't be noticed.
  • I modified the decreases thus reducing the peplum--the initial measurements would have resulted in almost a skirt-like effect (some 8-10 inches wider than the waist; the decrease round following the lace hem was knit 2, knit 2tog, repeat all around. That's some serious decreasing!!!). I figure I don't need too much more emphasis on my hips and butts and that this modification will result in a more graceful silouette. We'll know soon enough...
I'm now ready to begin the ribcage/bust increases, aka the part I hate because it involves remembering to increase evenly and I tend to fall ill with knitter's ADD whenever this type of prolonged, staggered counting is involved. I shall soldier on, though!

Before catching the last train of the morning out of East Falls yesterday, I spent some time finishing my grandmother's Christmas gift (yes, I said Christmas):

Tea cups for the seasons

Mostly, I'm happy with the finished project--because it's done!!! There were too many color changes, as I've noted in previous entries, as well as a number of other peevish aspects to this kit.

Next up for cross-stitching: finish the Drawn Thread piece I'm making for my mom. But first: Celebration of Needlework in NASHUA, NH (yes, I deliberately started knitting with a Nashua yarn because I'm going to Nashua. I don't understand myself, either). Free lodging (at sister's)! Day-trip to Boston (for shopping)! Complete and utter avoidance of NYC on the drive both up and back!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Branching Out

It only took me a year and a half, but I finished Branching Out.


I used The Fibre Company's Terra in the Acorn colorway (60% merino wool, 20% baby alpaca, 20% silk, 4 sts per inch on US9, 50 g - 100 yds) and I think I started with US9s but then put the whole thing on a lifeline and then picked it back up using US8s. No worries--blocking is my friend. I used about 2 1/3 skeins, which is about on par with the second yarn used in the pattern.

What I like about this pattern: it's DONE! But seriously, it does exactly what it says it will, and that's introduce the knitter to lace knitting. Since starting this way back when, my knitting skills have greatly improved. If I were to pick out a lace pattern to knit today, it probably wouldn't be this one, if only because I'd want more of a challenge. Still, lace knitting is impressive--my husband regularly checked the progress as I finished this up over the last few weeks and he was continuously amazed that all that counting, knitting, unknitting, and note-taking was producing what indeed looked like little leaves. Go me!

If/when I block this again, I might consider running waste yarn along the length so that I can pin that instead of the edges of the scarf--I admittedly was impatient and used too few needles and this left a bit of a scalloped look to the scarf. You really can only tell when it's laying flat and since I've no desire to leave this laying flat, you might not ever be able to tell.

When I started this scarf, I had an aubergine long winter coat. The yarn has flecks of a deep purple throughout and I was excited to have an interesting scarf to match the coat. Well, I lost a ton of weight (ok, really only about 40 pounds), sold the coat, and tried to find a new aubergine coat. Instead, I settled for an Anne Klein coat from Burlington Coat Factory--it's chocolate and that's a color that works well with this scarf, too! In the fall ('06), I bought a corduroy jacket in aubergine (what the fuck is it with me and aubergine?), so as the weather warms a bit, I'll be able to get some wear out of the scarf with that jacket. It's like a 3-season scarf!

Here's a shot of me wearing it RIGHT NOW:

Not the best picture, but you get the idea. This, however, is a self-portrait I'm in love with. Narcissistic much?


Speaking of the N-word, I must go make myself pretty--I'm meeting Flea (no, not THAT Flea) for drinks and nachos at 5!!!!