Recently in Sweaters Category

My Newest Infatuation

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Yes, I know about the drawbacks of big yarn without much twist (both from a fashion and maintenance perspective). But I really really really want to make this in the Marble colorway (or perhaps I should say colourway, since it's from Colinette). I should probably know better (this sweater certainly wouldn't be popular with Stacy and Clinton or Trinny and Susannah), but I love the tunic shaping and the neckline.

I have never really been drawn to Point 5, but ever since first seeing Shimmer 5 on Marie's Blog, I have to admit I've started stalking the Internet for the stuff.

Yarn stalker. Yep, that's me.

You can see the lovely Shimmer 5 colorways here

And the other designs in from the Shimmer 5 pattern book here.

For pictures of the sweaters with yardage requirements described click here (link added on 10/28/04)

(Actually, Colinette seems to have had a small explosion of new pattern books recently... you can find some of them here)

Could it Be?

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I'm in the process of becoming a French yarn fanantic. Yes, I know, everyone else discovered Phildar wonderfulness last year while I was having Filatura di Crossa fever. In addition to Tendences (which I picked up to be ready for the Onde-A-Long that Bonne Marie is hosting), I also decided to treat myself to Famille which has lovely patterns for the Phil'Onde as well. (In case you are looking for a North American source for these publications (with English translation), you can find them at Knit 'n' Tyme in Canada.)

While paging through Famille, I came across this:

20040405_PhildarThalassa.JPG
Thalassa in Jeans and Ciel

And I thought to myself, That Husband guy of mine with the big shoulders would look awfully good in that. But would he wear it... hmmm... it is grey... and then I put the magazine away for a while until he came home.

Then the big test came. I opened Famille, put it in front of him and asked him (as I have so many times) Do you like this?

Of course, I was expecting I don't think so, Therese (which is what he calls me, and what he usually tells me when I confront him with a sweater pattern. Instead... Yeah, I'd wear that. That's not bad

Whoa.

Now, Phil'Onde is actually a good yarn as far as man-friendliness is concernded. It's mostly acrylic, with a little cotton thrown in for good measure, so it's very washable, which means he can wear it against his skin, which he likes. It's also soft and friendly without having that acrylicky feel. It only has one little problem... it likes to be knit up on 3.5 - 4.0 mm needles. And the love of my life is not exactly a small guy -- he's got nice big shoulders. So this won't be a tiny sweater, but it will be on tiny needles

But he likes it. And it will be very striking on him.

What do you think? Should he get this sweater? Wouldn't it be great for fall?

P.S. Today's real "knitting content" can be found here at the Audrey KnitAlong blog. I've been swatching, and I finally got gauge!

Almost to the Neck Shaping

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Shadow Boxes Cardigan Back  Shadow Boxes Back from the Side.JPG

I'm still pretty fascinated by how this shadow thing works. At some level it just feels a little magical. Even though the knitting is mostly garter and stockinette stitch, watching the patterning keeps pulling me forward. Where the Raspberry starts is the edge of the center color panel panel. There's a little bit of neck shaping that starts soon.

I also got something nice in the mail from my mom. On my last visit, I placed a special order at Knit A Round for some yarn to start Elsabeth Lavold's fabulous Culdesac from the Fall 2003 Knitter's.

Jaeger Matchmaker Merino for Culdesac
The beginnings of culdesac

I think Culdesac will be the right combination of interesting detail and standard stitches for me to get accomplished this fall. The Matchmaker is Mmm Mmm Soft! It's almost an exact match for the Debbie Bliss yarn suggested for the pattern. I think there's enough sheen in the yarn that the cables will come out well. One more project to add to my "to do list". But I am going to make myself finish something before I get started on this one. Anyone else out there going to do Culdesac and want to knit along with me?

A Few More Boxes

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Back of Shadow Boxes Cardigan  Side View of Shadow Boxes Cardigan

Wednesdays are not a high productivity knitting night for me -- but I did get half of the next color interval done. Ever since my husband and I started dating, Wednesday has been our date night. In the past 6 or so years, I think I can count on one hand the number of times that we haven't spent the evening on a date. Tonight we went to Frontera Grill for margaritas and a little new job celebration for John. If you want a good margarita, Frontera is one of the best places to go. It's also one of my happy places.

I also got a little work done on my travelling project today. It was just nice enough outside so that I could sit on the grass and soak up the fall sunshine. This picture was actually taken yesterday, I've now turned the heal and am doing the ankle decreases.

Regia MultiEffekt Sock

The yarn is Regia Multi Effekt, 5375. I purchased it from KnitPicks a while back when Knitters Review posted the 10% off coupon and I just couldn't resist fall sock yarn. Supposedly this sock yarn is "masculine". But when I tried it out on my resident male, I got a raised eyebrown. Good thing I didn't buy it for him. So I guess the folks at KnitPicks need to think again. (BTW, when did KnitPicks drop the free shipping on orders over $30?)

Here's a closeup that gives a little closer look at the colors and patterning.

Regia MultiEffekt 5375 Swatch

It's such a pleasure to knit with Regia. I love how soft it is right out of the skein, and I am always intrigued by the patterning. Maybe another sock will be born this weekend!

Back of Shadow Boxes Cardigan Head On View   Back of Shadow Boxes Cardigan Side View
The back of the cardigan begins...

This is the first color panel of the back of the Shadow Boxes Cardigan (which I will probably refer to as SBC because, a) I am lazy, and b) as a scientist I have a pathological need to turn everything into an acronym). This sweater is worked from side to side instead of top to bottom. The patterning is essentially garter stitch rows offset by stockinette areas. Only the lower part of the cardigan (the bottom 36 stitches) have the shadow patterning. The stitch work is a little wavy at this point, but I think a good blocking will take care of that!

So far, so good. Finished with the iris striping for a bit and onto plum!

Oh! And a big Happy Birthday to my very first knitting buddy and teacher, Judy Smith. She's busy being a pediatric rhumatologist, but hopefully someone is taking time to feed her cake!

Next Up...

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Why was I so adamant about getting Pebbles finished? Well, in addition to really wanting the sweater, I had this yarn whispering sweet nothings in my ear...

Shelridge Farm SoftTouch Wool DK Weight
Yarn Parfait

Iris, Raspberry, Plum and Black all waiting to become the Shadow Boxes Cardigan (see my side bar for a link to the sweater on the designer's site) for Mom for Christmas. Once I finished Pebbles I gave myself license to start swatching for this project. For once, I decided not to be a cheap cheeser and do a real swatch that I don't rip out -- with all the colors. If I'm feeling really ambitious, I might actually wash it....

Shadow Boxes Swatch Head-On
Berries Behind Bars

Of course, this isn't really the interesting angle. Take a look at it from a different direction and it looks completely different.

Shadow Boxes Swatch From the Side
Raised Berry Boxes

Neat, eh? And even better, I got gauge on the first shot, so now I am ready to go. Whaddya think, Ma? Do you like the colors? Click the link to my comments and let me know!

This year Mom and I decided to trade handmade things for Christmas (just so you don't think that she's the only one whose going to have something special for the holidays). She's getting this sweater, and I am going to get a beautiful handmade art doll. I've made her promise to take progress pictures of the doll project. Would you like to see them here? She doesn't think anyone would be interested, but I'm betting otherwise. Here's a simple little project that she did for me. Mom wasn't very happy with them, but I love them -- they sit in my knitting room. I think they're the perfect knitting mascots.

Froggy Went A Courtin'
Froggy Went A Courtin'

You've gotta love those sculpted feet and hands and those great froggy eyes. I wish I could get Girl Froggy posed better with her hand crafted dress and pantaloons. My Froggies are a little more country than what's coming. My Christmas present is supposed to be some kind of fairy themed doll. Are there knitting fairies to go along with Mare's Felting Pixies? We'll know soon.

Pebbles Makes Her Debut

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Finished Pebbles on a Hanger
Oh yeah!

Here she is: Pebbles in all her Summer Tweed-y glory. The fancy pin holding her closed is one of my Chibi needles. Before I treat you to the glory shots, I thought I'd share some of the finishing process. This is the second raglan sweater that I've put together. I do like to put these sweaters together -- it's a lot easier and less fussy than sweaters with set-in sleeves, at least as far as I am concerned.

Pebbles Front Cables
See the pretty cables...

This is probably the best picture I have of the cables. Summer Tweed in Powder is very camera unfriendly when the flash goes off. All that nice silk reflects the light and washes everything out.

When I first started working on this sweater, Emma made the suggestion that seaming with Summer Tweed was not a good idea. For any of you that haven't worked with ST, it breaks fairly easily if you pull on it too hard. I didn't have any problems with this during the knitting, but it didn't seem worth taking the chance at the finishing step. Instead, I went out and bought some fingering weight white cotton. Not only did this work like a charm, but it reduced the bulk of the seams. I may do this with other sweaters even where the yarn would work.

The following is a little slide show of the sweater assembly. I know it's a lot of pictures, but I think of this blog as a knitting journal, so I hope no one minds as I indulge in sharing the process of putting this sweater together.

All the Pieces Ready to Seam
Ready, Set, Seam!
The First Raglan Sleeve Seam
The Front Left is Connected to the Left Sleeve
The Second Raglan Sleeve Seam
The Front Right is Connected to the Right Sleeve
The Third Raglan Seam
The Right Sleeve is Connected to the Back
The Fourth Raglan Seam
The Left Sleeve is Connected to the Back
After the Neck Band
Neck Band Added
All Seamed Up
All seamed up. Is there somewhere to go?

I wish that the pictures I took of the neck band had come out better. But don't worry, you aren't missing too much. You just pick up 101 stitches and knit two rows of garter stitch and bind off. Here's a close-up of my raglan seams from the right side of the work.

Raglan Seam
Can you find the seam in this picture?

I'm pretty pleased with how the finishing worked out. But the proof really isn't in the finishing, is it? It's in the wearing. So with out further ado, here's my new favorite sweater:

Finished Pebbles from the Front
Comfy sweater and retro jewelry
Finished Pebbles from the Back
Pebbles from the back
Finished Pebbles from the Side
Look, Ma! Pretty side seams

Can you tell I like this sweater? I've decided that I am not going to add the press studs to the sweater as directed, I am just going to pin it closed when I want to wear it that way. I've worn it most of the day, and it's been keeping me warm and happy. It's loose without being too baggy and the shaping is perfect for me. After a day of wear, the sweater is holding its shape just fine -- gravity seems to be kinder to silk/cotton blends than to straight cotton.

This pattern, all things considered, is a pretty good one. I didn't find any errors and the yarn estimates were just fine (I had most of the 10th skein left over). The only thing I didn't really like were the edges of the pieces, but in the end that didn't make too much difference.

And what did I learn on this project?

  • I'm done knitting with un-elastic yarns for a little while.
  • I'm done knitting moss stitch sweaters for a little while.
  • A Summer Tweed moss stitch sweater is a little unfriendly to knit, but the finished fabric is fabulous and worth the effort.
  • Seaming is a lot easier with a finer yarn, and makes for less seam bulk inside the sweater.
  • Becky is right to advocate selvedge stitches. If I were to do this sweater again, the edge stitches of all the pieces would be in stockinette. It wasn't that hard to mattress stitch the thing together, but that would have made it easier.
  • My husband would wear a Summer Tweed sweater (OMG!), albeit not in baby blue.
  • AddiTurbo circular needles ROCK! (And probably saved this project from oblivion)
  • In my hands, Summer Tweed is not the demon yarn that a lot of folks wanted to make it out to be. It didn't break on me and I don't think it smells funny. I'd definitely do something else with it in the future if the right project presented itself.

And for everyone who had the patience to read down this far... I leave you with the cheesecake shot I promised if I got the sweater finished over the weekend...
No beach, no hotpants, no tan. Just a pasty white woman and my beachwear from France. My photographer selected the shot. All those Rowan models should start quaking in fear now! Can You Say Cheese?.

Have A Great Monday!

Things I Wish I'd Known

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Right Front of Pebbles
Not much progress tonight, folks

Well, that's it. That's the sum total of what I got done tonight. I wish I could make the cable stand out a little better. At least this is a better representation of the true color of Powder.

I've enjoyed reading all of the people who have posted the knitting things that they wished they had know earlier. Since Nanette, one of my favorite daily reads, invited us all to jump in and share, how could I not participate? Sometimes I wonder if we do know these things early on, but we avoid them and only decide they are important after some major knitting disaster like a far too large sweater or ugly seams. At any rate, here's my top ten list, in no particular order.

  1. Two words: Mattress Stitch. The wonderful friend who taught me how to knit, showed me how to seam using backstitch, and it never occurred to me that there were other wasy to do this. Then, when I did figure out there might be other ways, I couldn't find a good picture of how to do it. I finally learned through Debbie Bliss How to Knit, which I definitely recommend.
  2. Blocking is the key to a beautifully finished garment. Blocking makes it easier to deal with edge stitches and really does help set the finished shape the way you want it to be. Blocking is not hard. It just takes a space to do it in, patience, a spray bottle and rust-proof pins.
  3. How you hold the yarn makes all the difference. For a long time I carried the yarn in my left hand, but was a thrower. It was a lot of effort for me to knit this way, and it was hard for me to maintain my tension consistently. With the help of Maggie Righetti's Knitting in Plain English and a few other pictoral references, I finally got it down. My tension is better and my speed is much improved.
  4. Don't be afraid of speed demon needles. I used to worry about the loss of control with AddiTurbos. Now I don't want to knit with anything else. Along the same lines: circular needles are the only way to fly. I like straight needles as art objects, but I find I get a lot less strain on my joints when I use circs.
  5. Sock knitting is not hard! I wish I had learned to knit socks much earlier in my career than I did. Socks are quick and rewarding and can be wonderful color trips. Self-patterning sock yarn can make even boring stockinette interesting.
  6. There is no knitting religion. Everyone has favorite techniques, but that doesn't mean that there aren't other ways to do things. If I had to use DP needles to knit socks, well, I wouldn't knit socks. My best kntting buddy wouldn't knit them any other way. We both get great results. Don't let anyone tell you that there's only one way to knit something!
  7. Patterns are only reference points. I'm still learning this, but I've ventured off the beaten path enough to know that there's no pattern police and no reason why you shouldn't make a garment be what you want it to be.
  8. If you're going to knit for other people, knit with them in mind. I no longer expect my husband to want a brightly colored Fair Isle sweater or Koigu socks. If you knit something for yourself for someone else, don't expect them to be as excited about it as you would be. The only way to make sure that your gift is appreciated is to make sure that you fit the recipeint's style and likes.
  9. Felting is fast, fabulous and therapeautic.
  10. It's okay to have a range of projects going at any one time. In the late 90's I didn't do much knitting at all because I thought I could only do one project at a time, and I was working on a complicated project that needed a lot of attention. Now I almost always have a couple of simple projects (like socks and scarves) that can go in a car, and one or two more challengeing things. Even when I don't feel motivated to work on the hard stuff, I have something I enjoy.

And Then There Were Two...

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Both Pebbles Sleeves
Moss Stitch A-Go-Go

I do wish this yarn photographed better. Of course, it would probably help if I was taking my pictures during daylight hours. Tonight I made it over the hurdle of Pebbles' second sleeve. Miles and miles of uninterrupted moss stitch are now complete. I was hoping to get the last piece cast on tonight, but work and my masters thesis slowed me down a little on the sleeves. Tomorrow I'll be casting on the remaining front piece for the sweater -- cabling, moss stitch and nifty shaping all await. And possibly a new sweater in my wardrobe over the weekend. What more could a knitty girl want?

I'm also pleased to say that I have two full skeins of the yarn left at this point -- more than sufficient to finish the project. It really just makes me ecstatically happy not to have to worry about running out of yarn.

Circular Reasoning

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Some of you might have noticed that I re-organized my works in progress section. I broke my projects into three categories:

  1. Projects I am actively working on.
  2. Projects that I started but stalled out on.
  3. Projects I could start if I wanted to.

I understand that there is nothing revolutionary about this scheme. However, like any good scientist, I couldn't just leave well enough alone and go on to something else I needed to do, I had to analyze exactly why these projects fell into the categories they did. Why things fall into the first and last category is more or less self-evident: I'm either working on them or haven't started yet. But what caused me to get stalled on the rest. Hmmm...

So I dug into my big basket of stalled projects... several scarves, the Pebbles sweater, the Malin sweater, a project I can't reveal here and a sock. Well, they aren't all the same kind of knitted item, so it couldn't be just shape or size. They're made out of wool, ribbon, acrylic blend, polar fleece, a cotton-wool blend and a cotton-silk blen. So no correlation there either.

Hmmm... Hmmmm... Hmmm.... Certainly there must be some connection. After all, I am a human, a creature of habit!

And then I had one of those "A-ha!" moments. I was doing all these projects on straight needles. And all the ones I was plugging away at happily were on circs. "But wait", you say, "What about that sock? You never do socks on straights!" Heh. Well. I frogged the sock when I realized that it had stalled because I hadn't followed the pattern and I wasn't going to be able to fit my foot into it. In other words, like all good scientists, if some data point didn't fit my model, I threw it out.*

Now, in the spirit of making deals with myself, I decided that I couldn't start anything off the third list until I finished something in the second list. I really do want to wear the Pebbles sweater before I grow old. Maybe you don't remember Pebbles? Here she is in all her Rowan glory:

pebbles.jpg

And here is how far I had gotten as of May 7th. The back and one of the fronts.

PebblesFrontLeft.jpg

And then I started on one of the sleeves and just coudn't keep myself moving on it. I told myself at first it was the moss stitch. And then it was the dry texture of the yarn. But now I know it was something else: the needles. I slipped that sleeve off the Casein straight needles and onto AddiTurbo circs. Et Voila! The stitches just seemed to fly by. No more problems with moss stitch or dry yarn.

Pebbles Sleeves in Progress

Now I am in absolute love with this project and with the Summer Tweed again. This stuff has great drape and the moss stitch makes for a perfect texture for it. I've only got one more set of increases to go before knitting straight to the cap. It was all in the needles. Not only is the nickel plated surface better for me, but having the weight of the fabric shifted from my elbows to my lap is much more pleasant.

So Pebbles is no longer stalled. And I have more insights into my personal knitting demons. All it needed was a scientific approach. And if I can get it done by the weekend, I'll do my best to wear Pebbles just like the model -- minus the beach. Be afraid. Be very afraid.


*I hope you all realize that I am joking about scientists fudging their data sets. That's a no no. I would never do it in real life. But this is knitting, not trying to find a cure for cancer, so I hope you'll all be lenient with my data selection/manipulation techniques.

Happy Endings

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No pictures today. I've gotten through the decreases on the front of the Simple and Sleeveless top. But the front and the back of this piece are identical, so I'll show do more show and tell when I've accomplished a little more.

Instead, I want to share with you a happy ending to the start of my sad blue Merino Light sweater story. On Thursday I showed off the back of the Lo Tech Sweat that I had started for my Dad. The more I thought about it, the less happy I was about the situation. After all, I wanted this sweater to be a gift for my Dad. I wanted it to look like it was knit by someone who at least understood how to pick all her yarn from the same dyelot.

And then Sarah posted this to my comments:

I had the same experience with Tahki Cotton Classic and with K1C2 Frosting. Tahki responded to my letter with a "gee, that's never happened before." K1C2 responded by sending replacement yarn -- and letting me keep the old yarn, too!

That got me thinking that maybe I should contact Elann and ask them what I might do. I figured they might let me return the unused yarn for a credit, but then I realized that I had purchased it over 30 days ago. Oh well, I figured. I lose this time, but maybe they'd at least like to know.

So at midnight on Friday morning I sent them an email. I got this back from Diane, one of their customer service reps:

Thanks so much for your email...I am dismayed at what happened with your purchase of Schoeller Stahl/Schoeller Esslinger Merino Light in color 11 Denim. Thank you for the link to your scan of half of the sweater. The picture is very clear; I doubt that it will be necessary for you to send a photograph in the regular mail.

I have forwarded your message to Bob, who will discuss your concern with Ann and then contact you with precise details of our remedy to you. Rest assured that, as our "Returns Policy" states:

"Most important to us is that you be pleased with your Elann order. We guarantee our products to be of first quality and free of manufacturing defects. If you are not completely satisfied with any purchase we want to know about it."

Under your circumstances, you do not need to worry about our 30-day policy for returns, which applies more to people changing their minds about colors and so on.

Wow! I thought. I'll probably be able to return the yarn for credit. How cool is that? I figured I wouldn't hear back from them until Monday. But this showed up in my email inbox later that afternoon:

Diane has made Ann and I aware of the problem that you are having with the Merino Light. We are certainly distressed by this, as we never want to sell anything but the finest quality yarn. We offer excellent pricing, and excellent service, and we want only to sell excellent yarn.

I have just placed a credit into your Elann account for the full cost of the yarn, including shipping. You may keep the yarn as well, if you want it. Or, if you would rather return it to us, we will also credit your Elann account for the return shipping.

By the way, we have taken this color off our website until we investigate further. We will be contacting all customers who have bought this color to see if we can determine the extent of the problem. We certainly hope that the problem you have had with the yarn is an isolated incident, but until we are sure, this color is not for sale. Schoeller Stahl is a very reputable supplier, so we are hoping that the problem is not extensive.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Please let me know if you intend to return the yarn.

This really blew me away. Not only did they credit all my money and not want the yarn back, but they were also going to make sure that they didn't try to sell something that could cause problems for someone else! It really made me feel good about Elann and how they want to do business. I'd always felt that they were a class operation, but that became even more apparent on Friday. I've shopped a lot of places because of good prices, but only a few places because they've earned my respect. The folks at Elann are certainly worthy of respect. At some level, the problem was not their problem, but the manufacturers, but they took care of me anyway. You can bet they are going to get a lot more of my business and that I will have nothing but good words to pass on about them!

I got one last email from Elann that day:

Recently, you purchased from us some Schoeller Stahl Merino Light yarn in the color 11 Denim L219027. We were wondering if you have any problems with this yarn. One customer has contacted us and has had a problem with the dye lot not being consistent from skein to skein, or even within a skein, and thus her garment’s color is not consistent.

This is a surprise to us, as it is impossible to tell by looking at the skein if there is an inconsistency, and all skeins have the same dye lot number. Also, the supplier, Schoeller Stahl, is a very reputable company.

Could you let me know what your experience with this color has been?

I’m very sorry to inconvenience you, but your response will help us to make sure that the quality of our yarns is only first rate.

If you bought any of this yarn, please look at it carefully and let them know about any strangeness you might encounter. I got word from them this morning that some people had responded and that so far it looks like my experience was an isolated one. (I also got permission from them to share my story here -- I thought their emails said it all, so I decided to post them for everyone). I hope it is, because they certainly deserve to be able to sell their yarn, and everyone else who bought it deserves to be able to knit up something beautiful without worry.

And I want to say "Thanks!!!" to Sarah for making her suggestion. I never would have thought to do that without a little encouragement.

After a lot of hemming and hawing and an email discussion with my mother, I've decided that I will go ahead with Dad's sweater. It won't be his primary Christmas present anymore, but even if it has odd stripes, it will still keep him warm while he's out running in the Michigan winter.

Proceed with Caution

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Back of LoTech Sweat Shirt

Well, with one sweater finished, I decided I needed to get focused on another one. I started my first ChicKnits design, the LoTech Sweat for my Dad during the middle of August. This is great, easy knitting. Given the color and yarn I chose, I am not sure that this project will make for exciting pictures, but I am enjoying it.

I do have one bold statement of the obvious to make however: Men are Big! There's a lot more knitting in man's size 44 than in my usual 34-36.

The title of this entry comes from something that will become obvious if you stare at the picture long enough -- a color change that would suggest to you that I grabbed this yarn from multiple dye lots.

But I didn't. I went back and checked all my ball bands and they all are the same color and dye lot shipped directly from Elann. Honestly, these skeins were all sitting in the same bag together and I couldn't see the differences between them. But now, knitted into the garment, it is as plain as day. I'm not terribly happy about that and I wanted to put the word out to anyone who may have bought the Merino Light from Schoeller Esslinger from Elann that this could be an issue.

It's not so much of a problem for me because the goal of this garment is really to keep my dad warm in the winter while he is out keeping his heart healthy. But I would be really bummed if this was a less formal garment. It makes me wonder if this is a problem for this yarn brand, or if this is the reason that Elann could pass on such a good deal. Otherwise, this yarn is soft and pillowy to knit with and makes a delightful fabric.

I'm thinking that I am going to start another project as well. Just not sure which yet. I'm deciding between the following:

  1. Bonkers Rainbow Dyed Pullover kit I bought at the fiber fest
  2. Neroli Sweater in Jaeger Chamonix
  3. the Simple and Sleeveless shell (top right corner) from The Purl Stitch in Colinette Giotto
  4. A Day in the Life of a Knitter's Cat sampler scarf in a Blackberry Ridge wool silk blend
  5. Shadow Boxes Cardigan which I ordered as a kit from Shelridge Farm and which mom picked out for her Christmas present. (It's not here yet, but it should be soon!)

I'll probably give myself a couple of days to decide and work on one of the sleeves for dad's cardigan (I want to work on another "big" part of the sweater before I tackle the fronts). At least 2 of these projects will require the size 8 Addis that are in that diagonal scarf -- so I definitely have to finish that before I can go too much farther...

Silk Garden Sweater Finished

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Warning to everyone: lots of pictures in this post. Advance apologies to those with slow Internet connections. I hope the pictures are worth the wait!

Silk Garden Cardigan Trimmed and Finished

Well, here she is! This is the Scoop Neck Cardigan from Debbie Bliss Noro#1 done in Noro Silk Garden #71 -- trimmed and finished. The crochet edging makes a big deal in this sweater -- it adds lots of structural integrity to the overall garment, but it does have to be blocked again to make everything lay flat.

In spite of the 1.5 mm crochet hook that I used to put all the edging on, I am very pleased with it. I pretty much abhor buttonholes -- but didn't mind creating them this way at all. If you do the edging, follow Bliss' instructions closely when it comes to stitch spacing in the first row of crochet. If you don't you'll get too many stitches and the edging will flare out.

Here's some up close pictures of the edging, from the right side of the sweater:

Edging as Seen from the Right Side

And from the wrong side:

Edging as Seen from the Wrong Side

And here's a couple of those button holes that I like so much:

Crochet Edging Button Holes

And in case you wanted a better look, here's a close up of one of the buttons (run your mouse over the image to see a little secret about how I attached the buttons -- I'm still not sure if the size or the button is exactly what I want, so this helps keep them attached without making them permanent.):

Sweater Button Close Up

And here's me in the sweater. I know the white shirt doesn't really make the best background, but I don't have a thin enough black shirt right at the moment. I'm trying to do my best combination smile with heroin chic here.

Sweater with Closed Front

Here's the back:

Sweater Back

I know the neck line looks a little uneven -- but it isn't really, it's just the angle John took the picture from. And here's a shot of how I will probably be wearing the sweater most of the time -- John says this is my "biker chick" look:

Sweater with Open Front

This is obviously a tight, fitted little sweater. It's supposed to be a 34 and it's exactly that. If you want to do this project and don't like skin tight, move it up a size. I had no problems dealing with this pattern -- the instructions were clear and easy to follow. I did modify the sleeves a bit to make the decreases symmetrical, but even if you didn't it wouldn't make a radical difference in the look of the sweater. The set-in sleeves are probably the hardest part of the assembly, but now that I've done a few sweaters with that kind of sleeve, it didn't seem so bad. The yardage estimates were good. I definitely needed all seven recommended skeins, but I had enough of the last one left that I never got worried about having enough yarn to finish the project

What I really enjoyed about this sweater was the crochet edging. At first I thought that the call for a 1.5 mm crochet hook must have been a mistake, but it worked fine and definitely helped make the edging nice and tight. This sweater made me think a lot more about the possibilites of crochet (hence the book purchase from my last post), especially for button bands.

Right now the sweater is a little stiff looking from all the blocking. I think I am going to need to wear it a few times before it softens up and looks a little more natural.

I'm still not settled on the buttons... the edges of the buttons don't play nice with the button holes (they get caught on the edges too easily), and I think if they were 1/16" wider in diameter they would sit better (I don't know if you can tell from the picture, but they rotate in a lot and don't sit as flat as I would like them to.

One thing I really like when I knit is to learn new things. This pattern is a great chance to try a few new skills out: crochet edgings, short row shaping, and cast on rows in the middle of the fabric. I can't wait for it to get cool enough for me to actually wear this sweater for real.

If you want to see another version of this sweater, check out Elisabeth's version in her post for today. She did her lovely version in the colorway I almost picked!

The Silk Garden Starts to Bloom

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My only ambition today was to finish up the second sleeve. I decided to go with the same kind of look as in the pattern book and make the sleeves different as far as where the striping pattern was concerned. I only have one complaint about this color way -- I wish they hadn't put quite so much grey/black striping in the mix. It is much more dominant in the knit up garment than I thought it would be from the swatches I've seen. But this is a relatively minor complaint. When I look at the sleeves together in the picture it bothers me much less than it did while I was knitting them. I guess I am only happy when I am knitting in color.

Our original plans for the day fell through, however, due to an all day rain, and I had some extra time to assemble the sweater in. Here's the result:

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This sweater is still quite a ways from being finished. All the edges have to be crocheted yet and a set of buttons have to be attached. I tried it on and am generally pleased with the fit. It's definitely not a loose fitting sweater. It's going to need that crochet edging for me to have any hope of ever buttoning it. The proportions are all correct, and the sleeves are long enough, which is the most important thing at this point, as I wear very few of my cardigans buttoned up (I can already picture it over this little black turtleneck that I love). The edging will also add a level of structure to the sweater that it doesn't have yet.

But I think this garden is going to have to wait patiently for more rain. It's my Mom's birthday next weekend and I have to get a little something going for her before we head to Ann Arbor. I swatched for that project too, and am pleased with the result (pictures tomorrow, maybe). So I'll be casting the real thing on tomorrow once I figure out what kind of cast on I want to do...

Bribery

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One back, two fronts, one sleeve down and one sleeve (started) to go. I'm pretty pleased with getting that sleeve finished yesterday. Especially since I was working on it along with another project I need to work on that isn't on my WIP list -- my masters thesis. Yesterday I told myself I could only work on the sleeve if I worked on the code. So every time I made it to a coding milestone I got to do a few rows. Worked out pretty well as I got to where I wanted to on both projects.

It's a pretty ugly day here in Chicago, so I am thinking the next sleeve might get done today. Might even be cool enough here to wear it when I am done...

Oh -- and for anyone who might want to know, the sweater is blocking on my SpaceBoard. You can get them at KnitPicks. They're a pretty handy blocking accessory for an urban knitter without too much extra space!

The Silk Garden Grows

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Not the best picture, but it gets the main point across. I completed the two fronts for the sweater and am now onto the sleeves. So far, I've used just under 3 skeins of Silk Garden (the sweater is supposed to take 4), so everything is working out the way it is supposed to.

One of the things that makes this sweater special is that it is finished with a pretty crocheted edging. At the rate I am going, I though it would be wise to see if I had the right crochet hook. The pattern calls for a 1.5 mm hook (I have no idea how this is going to work with worsted weight SG, but Debbie Bliss hasn't steered me wrong so far.). This is a very small hook. So small that I couldn't find one at any of the LYS that I would usually run to for a quick purchase. But I'd been looking for an excuse to go back to Mosaic Yarn Studio. Not only did they have the crochet hook, but they also had the AddiTurbo circular that I needed for another project. So off I went. Determined only to get my "justafiable" knitting supplies... and maybe, just maybe, a copy of the new knitters if I liked a few of the designs up close as much as I did over the net.

Of course, with that kind of set up, you know I didn't behave myself.

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I wasn't so bad. In addition to the hook, needle and the magazine (which yes, I do like very much), I also picked up Sally Melville's The Purl Stitch and 3 skeins of Silk Garden in colorway 87. I haven't had time to thoroughly digest The Purl Stitch, but the thing that struck me most about it is that there are some good template patterns in it to go along with some excellent technique visuals.

The Silk Garden...I'm just addicted to the stuff. For me, it's like heroin. There's something about the silk-based yarns that just sucks me in. I couldn't see making a sweater out of that rainbow colorway, but I thought it would be perfect for that scarf I've seen everyone making. I should've added it to my order with Rob and Matt (it would have been cheaper) but a girl has to support a good LYS. At least that was my justification this time...

Silk Garden #71

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I got the back finished on the Silk Garden sweater last night and got started on the right front. This may seem like an amazing feat of speed, but it's not, really. It's pretty easy knitting, it's on "big" needles (US size 8), and I only have 34" bust line and this is a tight fitting sweater. Not to mention that being part of a DINK family, I don't have a lot of the responsibilities that many others have.

But if you want to know something that did change my knitting speed dramatically -- it was learning how to knit Continental without throwing. About a year ago I realized that I was doing a lot more work than I needed to be and learned a better method of tensioning that doesn't involve throwing. After I got comfortable with it I was faster, my tension was more even, and my gauge stayed bang-on. I also became a much tighter knitter.

I am not sure that this would make a difference for everyone, but it made a difference for me. My goal is to get the fronts finished today...

Planting a Silk Garden in August

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Yes, I know it is still August, but I like to plant my seeds early when it comes to growing flowers that will become Fall sweaters -- since I think it would be wonderful to have several new sweaters before March, 2004! Lately I've been assessing my stash and I have decided that it is time to get some of my previously planned projects started. It's particularly sad to see 8 skeins of Silk Garden languishing in a closet. And then there's that lonely Chamonix...

This is about 2/3 of the back of the Scoop Neck Cardigan out of Debbie Bliss Noro #1. I'm using Noro Silk Garden that I ordered from Matt and Rob longer ago than I want to admit to. The colorway is #71. This pattern, while mostly simple knitting, does have some details that make it more interesting than other stockinette pullovers I've done:

  • It's knit side to side instead of top to bottom
  • It has a very pretty crochet edging
  • It has simple short row shaping
  • It has buttons

Yes, I know, I've done buttons before. But I have never felt I've done them particularly well. I've decided that it is time to put that demon to rest because I do really love cardigans.

I have a feeling that this sweater is going to knit up very fast.


I want to say "THANK YOU VERY, VERY MUCH!!!!" to everyone who came and left nice comments about Charlotte. Y'all are way too kind and made me feel so good. I haven't had time to get John to take a picture yet, but I will take one. I threw it over a white V-neck T-shirt and black jeans and she did pretty well -- believe it or not, that fringe helps to give her a go out and party sort of hippy-chic feel. I'll try to get an action shot over the weekend.


Just got rid of the tag bars and the flash progress bars... page was just stalling too often. I also noticed something that I consider totally unacceptable -- something was causing a pop-behind to be loaded when my blog came up. I don't think it's my webhost (my service is not free service), and I am suspcious of the Tagboard and pnavy, so they're gone. If you want to say something, leave it in my comments or send me an email -- I try to respond to both!

Omnivorous Knitting

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My slow work with the halter continues. I thought about getting wild and doing another cable interval yesterday, but then my wrists reminded me why that wouldn't be such a good idea. I'm quite enamoured of this simple cable pattern, however. If you want to take a look at a closeup, click here.

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After the halter, I switched my attention back to Charlotte's Web for the first time in a long time. Probably because I had enough peace and quiet to do the repetitive counting that I need to do to maintain lace patterns. Those of you who are familiar with Charlotte know that the basic pattern is 18 repetitions of the primary lace panel, divided up into 2-repetition stripes, which alternate between a solid color (or as solid as Koigu gets) and alternating stripes of two colors. I'm halfway through the 4th solid color stripe, which means that I am actually starting to come down the home stretch. At this point there are ~220 stitches on my needles. By the time it's done there will be greater than 300 stitches. Fortunately, the lace pattern is fairly easy to memorize, and Koigu is a joy to knit with.

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By around eleven or so, my brain isn't usually functioning well enough to cope with lace patterns so I decided to switch off onto another wooly project, Dad's LoTech Sweat. The perfect knitting to end the day with -- simple but satisfying. I love the way this wool is knitting up. My stitches are even, the fabric is soft and dense, and even the purl side looks great. Just makes me happy, even though it's simple stockinette.

When I was in the lab, I always liked to have several projects moving at once. That way, if I got stalled with one of them, there was always something to do. These three projects work well together, given their yarn and complexity levels.

I took the marquee tags off my works in progress list. Those tags don't seem to be equally compatible with all browsers, plus, I discovered that it was annoying to me to wait to see them come by. Of course, I was surprised to see how big the whole list has gotten.

It's a good thing a lot of the projects I have waiting in the wings are done on size 8 needles... means I have to wait to free up my AddiTurbos, which are fast becoming my only needles. Working with bamboo just seems to slow for me now that I have my Addis.

Progress

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Slow but steady wins the race -- hopefully! I got past my third cable iteration and started on the first set of shaping increases with the halter. While I am still not falling desperately in love with the yarn, the more I knit, the more I like the way the top itself is coming out.

I also started something new to fulfill my need for a simple, fun wooly project:

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Here's the bottom of the back of the ChicKnits Lo Tech Sweat done in Schoeller Esslinger Merino Light. (Check here, too, for some of their upcoming yarn offerings). The color is Denim. Merino Light is a 100% merino wool yarn. It's also superwash, which is what I wanted. It's a pretty respectable match for Mission Falls 1824 wool. It knits up big and squishy and soft and definitely makes my hands happier than the Zodiac does.

Last but not least, please feel free to check out my newest site addition -- Links to Yarn Manufacturers and Distributors (you can find a permanent link under my "knitting info" panel in the right hand bar). Of course, it is not all inclusive, but I am going to work towards making it that way. Email me if you find a link that doesn't work, have a company that should be added, or know a link for one of the companies that I couldn't find a link for. It's meant as a personal resource, but I'm happy to share!

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