January 2011 Archives

Aspinwell At Last

20110102_AspinwellFront.jpgProject: Aspinwall, Interweave Knits, Winter 2009; size S & M
Yarn: The Fiber Company Terra, Main Color: Beet
Needles: As specified in pattern

I'm so happy to be finally sharing the finished pictures of this sweater. I started it early winter 2009 and thought I would have it finished before the winter ended.  But zipper insertion mojo evaporated and it wasn't until this holiday break that I got all the components together and the motivation to put them all together.  I'm glad I pushed my way through it (and I learned how to use the basting function on my Bernina), because the zip neckline and roll over collar are really flattering on John. And I'm not the only one happy with the finished result!

In order to make this sweater work well for John I started off with the lower half of the sweater in the small size (he's fairly narrow through the hips) and used the medium size for the body above the ribbing where his broad shoulders take over.  Those adjustments created just the right amount of ease for him all over, instead of swimming in a sweater that is just to wide at the bottom, which has been a problem in previous sweater attempts.

The Terra is a silk/wool blend with a lot of silk, so this yarn is light and warm (perfect for John) but lacks much in the way of elasticity. Also perfect because once I blocked the ribbing out a bit, it no longer has the unflattering clingy quality that would have made it a no go for my fella.

20110102_AspinwellSide.jpgOne thing it bears pointing out about Terra is that it is not a "polished" yarn.  It has thick and thin areas, an a very rustic quality about it and even within the same dye lot, the color should be considered to have the same kind of variability as hand dyed stuff (see the back shot of the sweater -- the darker ares in the ribbing are pooling, not shadows). I really like it, and the outdoorsy, manly tone it gives the garment, but if you consider this sweater and don't like the little slubby bits in the finished garment, you might be better off selecting a different yarn.  What remains to be seen for me is the durability of the sweater.  The yarn is wonderfully soft -- definitely against the skin soft, which is what made it worth the cost.  And I've always liked silk for the strength it brings to most yarns, but this yarn is relatively lightly spun, and it's not clear yet whether the wool will want to pill with wearing.

This sweater got it's first outing on New Years Day (here's to hoping that start as you wish to go on applies to my husband enjoying his hand knit sweaters), hanging out with family.  The sweater got compliments from John's younger (and *ahem* slightly more stylish) brother and good reception from others who were surprised that it had been made by hand.  What could thrill a knitter more than hearing her husband happily let people know that his wife had made him the sweater?

20110102_AspinwellBack.jpg I enjoyed making this sweater. It was a nice blend of two-color knitting, brioche stitch (which I will certainly be back to) and beautiful yarn.  I learned a little, pushed my skills in other areas and now have a "mold" for the kind of sweater my husband enjoys.  And even though the pattern may seem complicated at first blush, it was well written and easy to modify to suit my husband's shaping needs.  

Getting this sweater wrapped up on January 1 also works well with my "start as you mean to go on" thoughts at the beginning of 2011 -- I am still working my way through the many ongoing projects I have and hope to keep that going!

Happy New Years, Everyone!

If you've followed me over the years, you've probably realized I'm pretty horrible and maintaining any resolutions.  I always have good intentions, but those intentions tend to get lost along the way when I realize that I'm not really all that personally motivated or I was counting on others to get me somewhere and they don't really have a stake in the project. 

This year, I'm approaching the process more from a "begin as you would like to go on" way of thinking.  What have I begun?

  • Shopping from my stash.  Every time I visit my stash, I'm impressed with the nice things I find.  I have enough yarn to create beautiful sweaters, scarves and socks... socks for an army of feet!  I'm not trying to deny myself new yarn, specifically, but I'm trying to make sure I consider all the possibilities in my stash before making new acquisitions.
  • Eliminating clutter.  It's hard to believe that in May John and I will have been in our "new" house for 10 years.  That's given two pack rats a long time to accumulate.  We both agree that it's time to refine what we keep.  We also would like to repaint the inside of the house in the spring.  And who wants to move a lot of stuff we don't really want all over the place?
  • Finishing or frogging in progress projects -- and not just knitting projects.  I include in this photo projects, sewing projects, video games, etc.  Anything that I'm working on or working through.
  • Hang pictures on the wall.  This is more emblematic of actually deciding not just to live in our house, but to make our house the place that we love to be.  So painting, picture framing, picture hanging, and furniture updating are all things I'd love to be doing this year. 
When John and I first bought our house, we were so excited.  We'd moved back into the city, had 4 bedrooms and 3000 square feet to call our own.  We had skylights and granite counter tops, a balcony and a home theatre and treated ourselves to a smattering of new furniture.  But we just never settled in.  We thought we might move out of Chicago or find a place we liked better.  We didn't like the way the top floor of the house could be freezing cold in the winter and too warm in the summer.  We dealt with basement leakage and not enough natural light.  For every good thing, we had a bad counterpoint.

But this year we had a realization:  we need to love where we live or just get over ourselves and move.  The market doesn't make that last one very easy.  But we have also come to the conclusion that even if we don't desperately love our house, we adore our neighborhood.  We can walk everywhere, or take public transit.  We have great local restaurants and wonderful neighborhood stores and boutiques.  We can walk to the grocery and at least 3 parks. And don't even get me started about the artisan gelato and local bakeries.

So it's time to take the plunge and do more things that make us happier with the place.  To accept that it has flaws that we aren't going to change and to try to embrace those flaws as an opportunity to think creatively. 

Here's to 2011!    

Another Post with No Knitting Content

This lack of content might lead you to believe that I have not been knitting.

In fact, there's a new cowl to show off, a sock that has started wrapping it's way up my foot, and a new vest underway. 

What's lacking is pictures... the cowl needs to be given a soak, the sock is not far enough along, and the vest would be stunningly uninteresting at this point in time.

So I will share a few child-related knitting anecdotes that make me smile:

My 7 year old niece really wants to learn how to knit.  The Christmas before last I got the components together for her, but we've had no time to sit and start some lessons.   While the Packers were taking the Super Bowl away from the Bears, she and I started some simple knitting lessons.  One of them was finger knitting (which I had never tried before, but which I found to be rather enchanting) and the other was knitting with one of those Clover knitting spools that create the I-cord-like tubes.  We talked about yarn (how does that whole multi-color knitting thing work) and socks and what you could do with I-cords.  She headed home with a start on her spool knitter and some nice left over variegated Shepherd's Worsted so she could see that multi-color thing happen for herself.

My three year old will pick up almost any string and tell me she's going to knit me something with it. She always asks me if what I am knitting is for her.  Today she pulled the cuffs all the way up on one of her store bought pairs of socks and told me she wanted "tall socks".  I love the idea of knitting her some stripey knee socks... maybe mismatched.  When you're three, you can totally do mismatched

There is little else to report.  My knitting from my stash effort is still going well and I am contemplating the arrival of another 4th decade birthday. My not-so-new job still gives me those "wow, how did I get here?" (in an absolutely good way) moments, and I am in constant awe of my daughter, who is reading her books to me now (and not because she's got them memorized!).   Life is quiet, but it's also quite good. 

More next week, when I will make all best efforts to have some pictures of actual crafting!


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