Recently in Surprise Jacket Category

YarnCon

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While a whole  lot of lucky knitters and spinners are heading off to Rhinebeck this weekend, I'll be staying here in Chicago and checking out a much smaller fiber show, YarnCon.  What YarnCon lacks in the presence of live sheep, it makes up for by being practically within walking distance of my house. But don't think that I won't be a little jealous of all those heading to NY -- though that jealousy will mostly be over getting to see fibery friends rather than getting to indulge in fibery consumerism.

In addition to YarnCon (which should be doubly fun, because I hope to be heading there with Julie), since the weather is likely to keep us indoors this weekend (what, I ask you, happened to the gentle entry of fall?) I suspect my needles will be in motion.  I cast on and got started with Elijah this afternoon, and last weekend, while heading out to our pumpkin patch experience I picked up my second Francie sock and made some headway on that project.  The other thing I did today was start to work out the design for my next pair of socks for John -- these socks are going to be my first foray into designing with twisted stitches, which I think will be just the perfect amount of patterning for the lovely cashmere blend Sophie's Toes.

In lieu of actual knitting photos, I have a few pictures from our trip to see the pumpkins.

20091015_Pumpkins.jpgI just loved the way those green squash looked with the pumpkins.  They were just the perfect sagey color contrast to the bright orange.  Definitely not a pair of colors I would have thought to put together, though!

20091015_MeAndZ.jpgAnd here is rare photo of me and Z -- riding a toddler sized train and both wearing our handknits. Z has on (and she actually requested to wear) her upsized "Baby Surprise" sweater and I spent the whole day cozy and warm in my cotton turtleneck and OWLS sweater (which I love).  The Owls are rapidly becoming one of my favorite go-to cold weather sweaters! 


A Baby Surprise for My Baby

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20090226_BabySurpriseAngle.jpg
Pattern: EZ's Adult Surprise Sweater, Modified for Small Person
Yarn: 2-ply "Cotton Candy" Corriedale (CMF) Handspun

Once I got it all cast on, this project really seemed to fly by.  At times I found myself doubting that this would fold the way it was supposed to, but clearly EZ can be trusted not to lead a knitter astray.  Even though things strictly in garter stitch tend to get boring for me, I never found myself tiring of this project.  Maybe it was the handspun, maybe it was the construction.  Maybe it was getting to see it on the intended recipient.

20090226_ZAngle.jpg
Speaking of handspun, even though the runs of color in this yarn were not long enough to really create any pronounced striping effects, I do think this project was a really lovely use of this yarn.  It avoids the pooling and wierd color effects and the changing colors instead create depth in the garrment and help to emphasize the ridgy texture of garter stitch.


20090226_BabySurpriseStraig.jpgWhile I've knit socks and scarves from my handspun, this is the first full on (albeit small) sweater that I've ever knit from it.  Every time I knit with my own handspun, I find the whole knitting process to be richer.  I enjoy touching the yarn more, watching the color.  And, if I do say so myself, even though I am a novice as far as spinning goes, I still think my yarns are better constructed that most commercial yarns I buy.  And that gives me some extra pride as I turn it into something.

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This yarn was just a little stiffer than most I've plied, making it perfect (I think) for stretchy loosey goosey garterstitch when it comes to helping the sweater keep its structure.   I think the fit is reasonable on Ms. Baby -- I wanted something closer to a 2T in the hopes that she'll get a spring and a fall out of it.  She's definitely got a couple of inches of sleeve to work with, so hopefully it will be roomy enough and long enough as well.  (BTW, I love the soulful look on her face in this picture.  She is a sweetheart, but she has many serious moments.  It was nice to catch one of them.

20090226_BabySurpriseSleeve.jpgI trimmed up this sweater with the little hearts -- I like the contrast of the dark red heart with the greens and yellows and pinks. 

20090226_ZSleeve.jpgIt may sound funny, but often, in my head, I think of Z as "my heart baby" --  the whole process of bringing her into the world was such an emotional ride, and by the end, I feel like my heart has become a bigger place because of her.  So the hearts seemed perfect for the buttons.  My heart baby wearing the gift of my hands, a handknit, handspun sweater.  It makes me happy in a deep warm place, and has helped keep me a little warmer in the last cold days of February.

Handspun Surprise

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The start-itis just keeps on acting up around my house.  This time, I'm going to blame Emily for mentioning that EZ's Baby Surprise Jacket pattern has an "Adult" version as well -- and that that version explains how to vary the jacket depending on size and yarn gauge.  I've wanted to knit Z a Surprise Jacket with a very particular handspun yarn that I have in my stash, but the pattern as written doesn't come with information for sizing it up or down (other than varying the yarn used), and since my yarn was DK weight (or less) I was pretty sure that the Baby pattern would result in a sweater too small for my kiddo.  The adult version, however, provides the details for sizing the pattern based on your gauge and the width of the sweater you need to make, so I ordered the leaflet from Schoolhouse Press and when it arrived I through all will power to the wind, found the yarn, made a gauge swatch and got to the business of taking care of the simple calculations needed to get started.

20090208_CottonCandySwatch.jpgThe yarn is a two-ply handspun made out of hand-dyed Corriedale roving in the colorway "Cotton Candy" from Crown Mountain Farms (note: I don't see this colorway on the website anymore -- if you wanted to see what it started out like, you can find it here).  This is the little garter-stitch swatch I made 5.5 sitches/inch on US 4 needles (selected because they were the smallest set available in my Harmony interchangeable set and I couldn't find a set of US 3 needles ).  I liked the fabric density and thought it would be good for a spring baby sweater, so I decided to roll with it.  You'll notice that it stripes, but that the color runs are pretty short.   Not ideal for  this pattern which really shows of stripes to their advantage, but this yarn has far too much yellow in it to be for any garment I would ever wear.

With the help of EZ's pattern recommendations I used the gauge and my final desired width of 12" (based on a 2T size jacket that I have for Z for the fall) to determine the number of stitches that I needed to start with.

20090208_SurpriseJacketForZ.jpgIn spite of the many stitches I had to cast on, this project is just whizzing by. I've finished the initial decreases and am now working on the increases after setting aside some stitches for the collar (or what I think is the collar, I have to admit that my orientation on this sweater is poor -- even with all the pictures out there).  The picture above is just before I started increasing again.

Even though there's no distinct striping pattern, I'm pleased with the way the fabric is turning out.  It's more or less random, but little bits of striping show up here and there.  I'm thinking that the Kureyon  and Silk Garden sock yarns might be nice made up into this pattern -- assuming that one was willing to consider completely unwashable yarns for a child.   In fact, though, this is the one place where I am making something completely impractical for Ms. Z -- this yarn is most definitely not superwash, and is definitely a light color.    I guess I'm just going to have to be prepared to do a little hand sweater washing when it's done.


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