Recently in Zebra Striper Category

Zebra Striper and Ms. Z

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20091115_ZebraSweaterUnworn.jpgProject: Zebra Striper Sweater from Dale of Norway "Favorite Baby Designs"
Yarn: Dale of Norway Baby Ull, Various Colors
Needles: 2.5 and 2.0 mm Circular and DPs


I now have an incredible appreciation for people who have to photograph clothing on small children.  It's so hard to get them to face the right direction and look at you at the same time.  I chased Z around for the better part of an hour on Saturday -- lucky for us the weather was stunning and the little sweater actually got some sunshine to go along with the baby action.
 

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As you can see, it's quite large on her.  The sleeves are much too long, and the shoulders are quite broad.  But loose is good when you're a toddler on the move.  And large means that it could possibly last beyond this season.  Which would make this momma knitter very happy indeed.

20091115_ZebraSweaterCuffs.jpgOf course, during our "photoshoot" the one place she wanted to be was the dirtiest place in the park -- the baseball diamond.  She's fascinated with dirt right now, and drawing in it.  I guess it's a good think that Baby Ull is superwash wool.

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One thing that makes me quite pleased, is that you would be hard pressed from a distance to tell that the sweater is handmade.  I think I did a bang up job with neat seaming and weaving in ends.  About the only thing that would make you notice (if you got up close) is that the motifs aren't quite centered on the front.  This was one of those "read the instructions" bits that I didn't do as well as I should have (because they were in the front of the pattern section, not with the pattern), but, in the end, marks the sweater as something made by a loving person and not a machine.

I don't have a lot more to say about this little sweater than I already have in the series of construction posts.  I'm very happy with the black buttons.  This was a fabulous introduction to both colorwork and steeking.  In fact, steeking was in no way as scary as I thought it was going to be and I can't wait to try it out on a larger sweater project.

As far as this pattern is concerned, I found it quite easy to follow.  I think the instructions are clear, but sometimes you need to read very carefully to make sure that you follow the whole train of thought.  I did have to refer to some internet tutorials to help with the steeking process -- mostly I wanted a few more visuals to make sure that I was handling the machine stitching the right way.  While it can get a bit tedious knitting a sweater on tiny needles with tiny yarn, if you want to try out colorwork and/or steeking, this is the perfect sort of project to get your feet wet on.  The amount of colorwork is actually quite small relative to the rest of the sweater and, since it is a small project, I think there's a little less fear when it comes to the "cutting your knitting" part.

Before I had children, I could never understand the point of knitting them anything complicated. What was the point when the recipient wouldn't really understand the work that went into it and would grow out of it so quickly.  When I see Ms. Z in this sweater, it makes me so happy inside, I forget all about how much time it took me and the fact that there will be a time that this little sweater will be relegated to the "outgrown" pile -- and then I start trying to figure out what I am going to make for her next.

Last Little Zebra Striper Steps

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And the last steps in the process... (I wish these pictures were a little better... my time has been more limited by the fact that it's dark so early now, so these were all shot while I was trying to run out the door on my way to work).

20091112_ZSAssem13.jpgButton holes!

20091112_ZSAssem15.jpgSewn Down Button Hole Band

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Button Hole Detail

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Button Hole Band Joined to Bottom Band

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Black Buttons and Backstitched Button Hole

So, clearly you can see that I went for all black buttons.  I loved the idea of zebra striped buttons or zebra shaped buttons, but they didn't materialize when I went button shopping, and I found my options very limited in the size and type that I needed.  I wanted shank buttons for this sweater so that I could conceal the threads used to sew the buttons down (Z has a tendency to fidget and chew on stray threads) and because they create a little more depth between the bottom of the button and the button band, which is important because the button hole band is actually quite thick. 

The pattern called for the button holes to be edged in button hole stitch, but I didn't like the look of that at all, and it narrowed the button opening so much it made it hard to deal with the buttons, so I just backstitched them.  The back side isn't quite as neat as it might have been with the button hole edging, but the back side won't be seen very much, and this edging is probably creates a more robust button hole opening. 

Obviously, this means that the sweater is done... but I don't want to do it's big reveal until I have time to get the sweater in action -- hopefully with the dress -- this weekend.  Think sunny thoughts for us this weekend!

And the Zebra Striper Sweater... she continues.

20091108_ZSAssem8.jpgA Collar Completed

20091108_ZSAssem9.jpgButton Band

20091108_ZSAssem10.jpgNeck Band and Button Band Join

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Button Positions Marked

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Marking Button Hole Locations

I decided to post this last picture because I thought it might be of value to discuss how the buttons are positioned and the button holes located.

After you finish the button band (which is pretty straightforward picking up stitches and knitting a bit, knitting a turning row and then knitting the facing and sewing it down) you have to position the buttons.  The pattern suggests locations for the top and bottom buttons, but the rest have to be evenly spaced between.  I positioned the first two buttons and marked the positions by threading a piece of green yarn where I would sew in the button.   Then I measured the distance between them, and divided the distance by the number of buttons to add plus 1 (this is the number of intervals between the button) and used that number to determine the distance between the remaining buttons and the edge buttons -- and marked those locations with the green yarn as well.

After that, I started on the button hole band.  After 1 cm of knitting you have to place the button holes to correspond with the buttons.  I pinned the sweater edges together to make sure the top and bottom of the bands were even, and then I used pins to mark the stitch that corresponded to the green marker on the button band.  Since the button hole involved casting off three stitches, I used coil-less safety pins to mark the stitch plus the stitches on either side of it for casting off. 

I'm now a bit past the turning row on the button band, so I've started to think about buttons.  I am thinking about the following options:

  1. Go simple: 6 red buttons that are a close match to the button band and blend into the background of the sweater.
  2. Go simple but contrasting: 6 pink buttons that match the pink stripes in the background of the sweater and pop out from the button band a bit -- but not too much.
  3. Go bold:  really work the zebra theme: alternate black and white buttons and mirror the zebra stripes and the black and white trim detail.
Opinions anyone?  I'm leaning strongly towards the third option at the moment.


Zebra Striper Sweater Assembly

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My own version of a photo essay documenting the finishing of the Zebra Striper Sweater.

20091103_ZSAssem1.jpgThe first sleeve

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Pretty Sleeve Join

20091103_ZSAssem3.jpgPretty Sleeve Facing Sewn Down

20091103_ZSAssem4.jpgSecond Sleeve

20091103_ZSAssem5.jpgBottom Hem Sewn Down

20091103_ZSAssem6.jpgPretty Sweater Edge

20091103_ZSAssem7.jpgNeckband Start

This is actually going a bit faster than I expected it to.  After I complete the knitting for the neckband and sew down the facing edge, then only the two front edges remain before button shopping can occur in earnest.  I do like all the clean edges in this little sweater, even if getting the setting in of the sleeve started is a little bit fussy.  Fussy or not, though, it's nice to watch this turn from a shapeless sack into a boxy little sweater.  I am still convinced that they must grow Norwegian babies larger than they do over here, but at least that guarantees more than a few months of wear!

Thank you all for the the comments about the little socks.  I highly recommend the knitting of little socks for instant gratification knitting!

Zebra Striper Parts Complete

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At long last both Zebra Striper sweater sleeves are complete.  For most projects, this would feel like getting close to the finish line, but with this project, there are still three steeks, two shoulders to sew, two sleeves to set in and sew down facings for, the facing around the bottom to sew down, creating the neck band and sewing down it's facing, creating the button bands and, finally, buttons to sew on.

Clearly, if a sweater project is a journey over a mountain, I feel like I've reached the summit after a long climb, but I still have to turn around and head back to the bottom over complicated terrain.  Seeing these pieces is a bit like looking out over the landscape, imagining all the possibility, being amazed by how far I've come.  This project has definitely gotten me excited about two-color knitting.

I thought I would be nervous about the thought of impending steeks, but actually I'm kind of excited to try my hand at this time-honored kitting technique.  I've been looking over Wendy Johnson's tutorial on Norwegian Steeking -- and I can't wait to get my sewing machine ready and get going!

Zebra Striper Dress in Action

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Finally, finally, finally I acquired the right turtleneck and leggings so that Z could wear the Zebra Striper dress.   Norwegian 24 month olds must be quite large, because it took her a while to grow into this dress.

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A front, side and back shot to demonstrate how long and voluminous this dress is on Ms. Z - and she's tall for her age group.

She was a real sweetie about getting into the dress and wearing it all about.  Lately she's been asking me to make her socks and to wear her hand knit sweaters and telling me that she wants to knit something.  It's nice to be in that phase where Momma's hand knits are appreciated and desired.  She was also quite careful with the dress.  We went out to Sunday brunch in it and she didn't get an iota of jelly, butter or bacon on it. 

What's nice about this garment, though, is that it's not the sort of garment that has to be treated like it's made out of glass.  It went to the park after breakfast and performed admirably.

20091025_ZebraStriperDOnFie.jpgNeed to stop and check out something close to the ground?  No problem!

20091025_ZebraStriperDOnSli.jpgWant to take a trip down the slide?  No problem!

John and I both figure that this dress is going to last her well past her third birthday, as a dress and then, probably, as a tunic.  I love the color on her (yellow almost never looks good on me!) and love that it provides an extra layer of warmth without restricting her mobility. 

And, apropos of nothing, I just have to tell you all how much I love her shoes.  I almost wish See Kai Run made them in adult sizes. 

Two Color Knitting Experiment

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The second sleeve is never interesting to talk about -- unless you can talk about trying something different with it.

I'm a real newbie when it comes to two-color knitting.  It was while working on the Zebra Striper dress that I finally managed to get both hands in on the action.  My normal "mode" of knitting is Continental style, and I have to admit, it was a real mental hurdle for me to get over to get my right hand pulling it's weight. 

I'd always read that which hand you carry the yarn in has an impact on the final fabric.  On the first sleeve (the one on the right), I knit with the main color in my left hand (my dominant knitting hand) and the secondary colors in my right.  You can see that the secondary color stitches (i.e. the non-red stitches) almost fade back into the fabric, while the red controls the show.  On the second sleeve (the one on the left) i knit with the main color in my right hand and the secondary color in my left.  In this, the secondary color stitches are much more prominent.  The main color stitches are also a bit looser (I know it doesn't look that way... I accidentally neglected to do some increase stitches because I am not good at reading instructions and decided not to rip back and just make it up as I moved along the sleeve since it doesn't really make much difference) and the color stitches come to the foreground much better.  Unfortunately, this meant that the knitting went slower, because my speed with my right hand is not all that good.  But I like the general effect.  So I'll have to file this information for future reference.

Now all that remains is to do the alternating color rows.  I'm about 1/3 of the way through the sleeve.

My other project is to figure out what I'm going to take with me to knit in Austin (we're looking forward to a little burst of warm weather and getting to see my adorable nephew for the first time).  I figure with two small children and no grandparents for miles, there's not going to be a lot of free time, so it's likely going to be a sock project and my next baby toy project.  But just which sock project should I take... or should I start another one, just to be sure that I don't "run out" of sock knitting?


Back to Sleeve Island, Zebra Style

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20090924_SecondZebraSleeve.jpg
Yesterday I decided that I absolutely had to start the second sleeve for Z's Zebra Striper Sweater.  October and cooler weather is fast approaching, and since even after I finish knitting this sleeve, there are still ends to be woven in, a sweater to be steeked, sleeves to be sewn in and the neckline and fronts to be edged -- clearly I need to get going or plan this sweater to be for another child other than my own. 

So, after knitting the two rows on the Dragon Shawl that I do ever day that I have free time in the daylight (I'm now up to 80 rows completed and have just started on the head of the dragon), I cast on for the second sleeve.  The picture was meant to show an unconventional angle on the sleeve -- after all, if I showed the same things as I did for the first one, the second sleeve would be just as boring to read about as it is to knit (after the brief two color motif at the wrist, it's pretty much just plain stockinette until the bind off).  I sort of like how the purl bars line up and alternate on the inside.   The good thing about it being simple after the cuff, though, is that it will be easy to take with me to Austin next week when we head down south for a long weekend. 

Zebra Striper Sleeve

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20090816_ZebraSleeve.jpg
This weekend I hit another milestone on Ms. Z's next sweater and completed the first Zebra Striper sweater sleeve.  Like the rest of this sweater, persistence is what gets you through. And you have to be a little extra persistent with the color work since two color knitting on double points is a little more fiddly than when just using a circular needle.

Really, though, once the cuff is complete, the rest is simple and it doesn't take too long to finish if you actually dedicate some time to it. 

In the background, you can see the body of the sweater -- I realize now that I don't think I made a point of mentioning that I had completed all of it.  Frankly, it was hard to get a good photograph of it since it is in that kind of awkward stringy phase before the steeking begins. 

And one more sleeve... and then some steeking will begin.  I am equal parts excited and anxious about that!

Off the Cuff

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20090802_ZebraCuff.jpg
This weekend was one of crafty fits and starts.  I started a new pair of "TV socks", tinked back three rows on the Dragon shawl and re-knit two of those rows (I know that doesn't sound like much, but the rows are 230 stitches each and there is lace knitting on both the right and wrong side of the fabric) and sat myself down and started up on the first of two sleeves I need for Z's Zebra Striper Sweater.  I'm beginning to enjoy stranded color work more and more, but I don't think I'm ever going to like it much on double pointed needles.  Just two much shifting of yarn and needles and so forth.  But I'm well past the colorwork now, and just have to alternate colors until all the increasing is complete and I've reached the needed length.

I really want to get this little sweater finished by the time it starts to get cold -- since she's already put in her request for socks (she keeps picking up my Wee Skein Socks and asking to try them on!) and I feel like I've got to take advantage of her requests for knitwear before she gets old enough not to want anything to do with what Momma knits.

The Zebra Striper Sweater Continues

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I have been on the under motivated side of the equation while on my holiday break.  I try to sit down and work on something and I find myself drifting from one thing to another, not really accomplishing very much.  This is usually an indication that my focus is too broad and that I need to limit my peripheral vision a bit.  It used to be that 5 or 6 projects banging around didn't cause too many problems, but since Z entered my world, the breadth I can keep that focus at has narrowed.   I want to make so much out of her nap times that sometimes I just can't decide how to use them best.  The other thing that gets me into this state is the simple lack of inspiration by my projects.  And, to some extent, I have to admit that that is going on here, too.  All the interesting parts of Rogue, for instance, are done.  The sewing in of sleeves and the applying of i-cord edging is just hard to get motivated for me to do, for some reason. 

20081230_ZebraStriperSweate.jpgHowever, when this kind of boredom strikes at the same time as the breadth of focus problem, starting another project, no matter how interesting or inspiring is usually the worst thing for me to do.  Instead, what usually works better is to pick one of the collection of projects and make enough project to feel some satisfaction in the process.  Since I am feeling very bad about the fact that my baby keeps looking at what I am wearing and saying "Sweater! Pretty!"  (and then she tries to pet me... it's very sweet) while she no longer has any hand knit sweaters that fit, I've decided to try to get some more accomplished on her Zebra Striper sweater.

I have to say, I think I like this two color knitting stuff.  The process is slower (making the product knitter in me squeak a bit) but the results are so much fun to look at.  There's 12" of knitting before this sweater gets to the base of the armholes, so I still have a bit to go, (about 5 more inches, in fact), but it's beginning to feel like a little sweater, so I'm also beginning to feel the energy in the project build.

20081230_ZebraStriperDetail.jpgThis second snap is just a cross section of the two-color work.  Initially I wasn't completely sure about the whole red/pink stripe thing, but the more I look at it now, the more I like it.

On another note... it's hard to believe that this is my last post of 2008.  John and I have a quiet evening planned.  After we put Z to bed we're planning to pull out some champagne, boil some lobster (or other unlucky crustacean) and have a lovely little dinner to ring in the 2009.  I hope wherever you are, you have a lovely evening.   Happy New Year, everyone! 

Finally, Another Baby Sweater

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Wow!  Thanks for all the suggestions for the post-zested lemons.  I know I'll be trying this recipe again, so I will keep those in mind -- and also I will suggest to Santa that I might like a microplane in my stocking.  Sounds like a handy tool.  Plus Santa will get better cookies on his stopover at our house!

We had a good deal of fun at our party.  Good friends and good food always make for a winning combination in my book.  I love our party, but it's always a bit of a relief to have it wrapped it up for the year. Then we can take a breather and think about other things.  Like how much Christmas shopping we still have left to do!

Seriously, the knitting product has been low for the past week or so.  Not even so much as a baby sock has been completed.  So I had to reach back into my few weeks ago wayback machine to pull out a few pictures that I hadn't yet talked about: the start of a new project, Z's Zebra Striper Sweater.

20081222_ZebraStriperSweate.jpgLike the Zebra Striper dress, this little sweater features the intersting two color knitting (including that un-memorizable zebra stripe) at the bottom of the sweater and then shifts to single color per row knitting farther along. What makes this garment different than the dress is that the sweater is a cardigan and is steeked after the knitting is complete.  So, having gotten comfortable with two-handed two color knitting on the first project, I'm now moving to the next phase of two color knitting: taking scissors to a garment.  But that will be sometime down the road, as I am essentially knitting a sweater in sock-weight yarn.  So there is much to go before I have to get too worried (and find some way to sharpen my scissors).

20081222_ZebraStriperDetail.jpgWhat I have been very happy with so far on this sweater is my tension.  On the dress, before I blocked it the stitches definitely pulled in.  With this garment, my stitches are laying well and are relaxed and happy.  That makes me feel that I am getting better mastery of two-handed two color knitting. Clearly practice helps ingrain those important rhythms that bring manual dexterity skills together. 

With our holiday party in the history books, this sweater will recapture it's place on our couch and I will plug away at the remaining inches of straight color knitting.  I still have hope that I'll at least be able to try this on Z before it gets too warm for sweaters again -- even though the incredible subarctic weather we're having makes it almost impossible to believe that it ever will be warm again...


Zebra Striper Dress, Finished

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20081118_FinishedZebraStrip.jpg
Well!  This project has been a long time in coming.  At least, the pictures have.  It's actually been finished for over a month or so now and has mostly been awaiting a nice day for photographs.  So here it finally is: the Zebra Striper Dress from Dale of Norway, enjoying it's time in the fall sun.

20081118_ZebraStriperNeck.jpgThis is one of those projects where you had better love the little details because the rest of it is just a slow slog through a lot of stockinette in the round in one color of yarn at roughly the same gauge that you would knit socks.  Since the base of this project starts at about 350 stitches around, that's a lot of knitting after the fun two color part.  That said, I loved trying out the duplicate stitch (which I had never done before).  It's so sweet and so perfect on the little dress.
20081118_ZebraStriperEdging.jpgThe edging for the neck and armscyes is also sweet and delicate and perfect for the design. 

20081118_ZebraStriperHem.jpgOf course, it's really the bottom edging that this project is all about.  It starts with a little lacy scalloped bottom and works its way into the two color stranded work.  It's all easy, but the zebra striping is slow going because the repeat is hard to memorize.  The final result is quite worth it, though.  And having a lot of knitting to do helped me perfect my two handed two color knitting.  If I were to do it again, I would switch hands and hold the white in my left hand and the black in my right so that the black wouldn't look quite as overwhelming.  For my first time out, I feel really good about how the color work worked out.  After blocking, it doesn't pull in hardly at all.

20081118_ZebraStriperInside.jpgNo project like this would be complete without a look on the inside.  See?  Not so bad. 

You might be wondering where my final shot of the recipient wearing the garment is.  Well, apparently 2 year olds in Norway are absolutely gigantic, because my 16 month old baby positively swims in this thing, which is unfortunate, because I think she would really like to wear it.  I can only hope that when she does grow into it a bit more, it will be cold enough for her to wear it without melting.  Then I promise as many cute pictures of her as I can take!

Project Details:
Pattern: Zebra Striper Dress from Dale of Norway, Favorite Baby Designs Nr. 8101
Size: 24 months
Yarn: Dale of Norway, Baby Ull (Superwash Merino Wool)
Needles: KnitPicks Harmony Circulars

Project Notes:
This is an easy introduction to colorwork.  There's no steeking and all the finishing is relatively simple.  The miles and miles of yellow knitting in the main body of the dress become a little tiresome -- until you have the finished dress, and then it's all worth while.

The only element of the project that I changed was to sew the seams on the top of the straps.  The pattern has you put on buttons and loops to hold them closed, but that seemed like a lot of work for something that could just get caught on things and certainly wouldn't be needed for dressing and undressing a two year old (perhaps it would be helpful for a younger baby, but the neckline is pretty wide, so even then I don't think it's necessary).  The other reason I seamed the tops of the straps together was that I thought it gave the garment a more finished look -- otherwise the cast off edge would have been visible and I didn't like that at all. 

Would I do this project again?  Yes, but definitely only for my own kid.  There's just too much time in this thing to make it as a gift if you're making it for a larger child.  Even the smallest size is quite large, so it definitely falls into one of those "labor of love" project categories. But it is clever and sweet and I really just can't wait to see Zosia wear it -- and fit into it -- for the first time!

I've been busy with my swift and ball winder lately.  In the past two weeks I've gotten prepped for 4 new projects.

20081009_NewProjectYarn.jpgThis rather motley collection of yarns starts on the left with the Dream in Color Smooshy that I am using for my Francie socks, Blue Sky Alpacas Dyed Cotton that will become a Hemlock Ring Blanket, Blue Moon Socks that Rock Heavyweight (color: Thraven) destined for man-sockliness, and Dale of Norway Baby Ull that is kicking off the beginning of the Zebra Striper sweater and will be joined by a whole host of other Baby Ull colors.

All the yarns but the STR have moved past the contemplative phase of the project into the active phase.  This afternoon's nap was dedicated to starting the Hemlock Ring Blanket.

20081009_HemlockBlanketStar.jpgThe bright sunlight that I took this picture in washed out the color quite a bit.  The actual colorway is called "Periwinkle".  It's a bit more blue and lacks the purple tones that I normally associate with periwinkle (based on growing up with that 64 box of Crayola Crayons), but it's still a fine color for a baby blanket for a new baby boy.  This very special baby will be making his entrance in the southern US, so a wool blanket, while more up my alley given the array of lovely superwash merinos that there are to work with now, didn't seem very practical.  I opted for this Aran weight cotton because it's held up fairly well in the little jacket that I made for Z, and because, as cotton yarns go, this is really several cuts above anything else I've knit with and reminds me much more of silk than of cotton. 

What helps to creat that lovely hand is relatively low twist, making this a somewhat impractical fiber for a baby.  But since this baby will be the child of a very important person in my life, I have decided that I am allowed a touch of impracticality and indulgent luxury. 

I haven't gotten very far yet, but at this point this blanket lives up to its positive reviews.  It's definitely the sort of project that makes you want to do row after row, just so you can see how the pattern is going to evolve into a blanket.  And if it continues to speed a long as it did this afternoon, I could definitely imagine putting this into my "go to" pattern collection for blankets for new small people.


Zebra Striper on the Board

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20080915_ZebraStriperBlocki.jpg
Holy moly!  A million miles of yellow stitches finished and blocked. Blocking color work is almost as much fun as blocking lace.  It's nice to see it relax into a smooth form and have all the stitches even out. 

You might wonder how cleaning up the join area worked out.

20080915_ZebraStriperJoin.jpgUnfortunately it looks a little strange  because of the crease in the fabric from flattening the dress for blocking, but, all in all, I think it's a decent first effort.  It took some patience on my part to get it to be relatively neat looking, but I think it was well worth the time.

There's not much more to work on now.  I've got to duplicate stitch the motif on the front and knit on the neck and armhole edgings. With any luck, Ms. Z could be having a photo shoot with this little dress before the month is out.

Miles and Miles of Yellow Yarn

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20080904_ZebraStriperDress.jpg
Or at least that's what it feels like!  With a healthy boost from the Olympics (and a few MythBusters for good measure) all the big knitting for the Zebra Striper dress is complete.  In all honesty, I really felt that something that too so many tiny stitches should look more impressive at this point.  This is one project that clearly will need a good bit of blocking to make look the way it should. 

But before blocking can commence, I've got one last daunting task to complete. 

20080904_ZebraStriperJog.jpgThat's the jog in the circle where the new colors were joined in.  Since there's no steek in this dress (which is where I think this kind of thing would normally be hidden), I need to go in and tighten things up and sew in ends so that that area looks as neat and tidy as the rest of it.  And I've found the end weaving-in process to be a little more challenging for colorwork than for normal knitting -- those floats across the back mean that I have to work a little harder to see where I'm weaving.

I think there might be a reasonable hope of Ms. Z wearing this little jumper this winter since all that remains after the blocking is some duplicate stitch on the front, knitting on the edging to the armscyes and neck edges, and attaching some buttons and small loops to hold the straps together over her shoulders. 


It's A Good Thing I Have Two Couches

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Because that way I can have two couch projects!  My Kusha Kusha scarf continues, but I'm finding that threadlike silk/stainless steel yarn with an increasing smaller progression of needles to be completely incompatible with watching Olympic Track and Field events.  So, since I have two TV's (if you count our home theatre projector) and two couches, I've decided that I can have two projects that I focus on when I'm dedicating myself to visual pursuits.

And almost nothing could be more perfect for this than the Zebra Striper Dress.

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Around and around and around many stitches on small needles with only the occasional decrease row to look forward to over the course of about 15 inches.  And with a baby who isn't getting any smaller, I really need to get going if I want to be able to make the dress and the sweater in the same size! 

It's a good thing that there is a lot of Olympics to watch!

A Little Zebra a Lot of Yellow

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20080505_ZebraStriperDress.jpg

Well, that's it.  At this point I have pretty much done most of the interesting knitting on the Zebra Striper jumper project (except for a bit of duplicate stitch and some detailing around the arms and neck.  Now that the colorwork is done I have an ocean of yellow stockinette to knit through, punctuated by the occasional decrease row as the dress slims from bottom to top.  Believe it or not, I am happy about this.  I enjoyed the color work a great deal, but I wanted to have at least one project that required no thinking in my current batch.  This one has now become perfect for apres-nursing TV watching and for any other time I need something to just relax with.  Lace knitting may provide me with a mantra to meditate on, but simple stockinette lets my hands stay busy while my is free to wander.

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But I couldn't let this post go by with just a small picture of the overall project.  After all, this is the project that helped me get my two handed two color knitting mojo going.  With simple motifs and a long long way around, it was perfect for that task.  My stitches are hardly perfect, but I suspect with a little blocking most of the most egregious problems will be eased away.  Though the fabric puckers now, it's easily pulled into a better shape. 

The zebra stripes are an excellent demonstration of the importance of choosing carefully which hand you carry your yarn in.  Since I am still only moderately proficient carrying the yarn in my right hand, I always carried the yarn that was going to get used the most in my left hand.  In the case of the zebra stripes, this was the black yarn.  However, I think it would have been better if I had been more patient and carried the black in my right hand since the white seems to get lost under some of the black stitches and the black is a little more dominant than I think it should be in the design.  A good lesson for the future, I think.

I'm enjoying knitting with the Baby Ull.  Even though the gauge is tiny, it moves easily through my fingers and isn't as splitty as I might have expected a superwash yarn to be -- something that makes knitting in the dark more do-able since I don't have to stop all the time and be worried about whether I missed a ply or whether I'll have little slubby areas in the fabric that I don't want to have there. 

It's a long haul project -- but when Ms. Z comes up to touch it and then gives me one of her megawatt smiles I know it's going to be more than worth the effort.

336 Stitches

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Doesn't look like much, does it?  But it's actually the sum total of all my knitting time over the past week and a half.  I have discovered that 336 stitches around is a lot of stitches.  It seems like even more stitches when you are knitting them on 2.5 mm needles.  But, finally, the Zebra Striper dress for Ms. Z has started.  I'm making the 24 month size figuring that that will give me plenty of time to get it done.  After seeing how long it takes me to get around once (even with just basic stockinette) I think giving myself plenty of time was the best choice I could make for the project. 

This pattern starts out with a simple lace motif to make the bottom edge scalloped.  After that, it launches you into the two color work. 

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The positive side of having so many stitches in a round is that it gives you plenty of time to memorize stitch motifs and to try out different ways to handle the two color knitting. I spent a lot of time doing things with both yarns in my left hand.  But things just kept getting tangled and it was hard to keep my tension good when I used a lot more of one color on a row than the other color.  Then, suddenly, on the row where there are three green stitches followed by one red stitch repeated throughout the row, something clicked in my brain and I figured out how to knit two color with one color in my left hand and one in my right. Don't ask me what happened or how it happened, but it did (I had a similar experience learning how to use the drop spindle).   I am far from speedy and my technique could still use a lot of work but the breakthrough has been made.  Whatever barrier I had in my brain that was preventing me from doing this has been broken.  Now it's just a matter of continuing on this way and re-enforcing the neural connections involved with letting me knit with both hands at once -- which shouldn't be a problem since I still have quite a few more rounds of 336 stitches with which to practice ahead of me.

Now, hopefully I can apply this two handed stuff to the second Fiesta Foot!  That would make the instep part of the project a whole lot easier!. 

Zebra Striper Socks

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Time is short tonight.  So a picture is going to have to provide most of my words.

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Zebra Striper Socks, 6-9 month size.  Dale Garn Baby Ull 100% merino superwash yarn.   I did the two color work holding both yarn strands in one hand (continental style) with the help of a little tool from Clover that you wear over your index finger and it keeps the two yarns separate.  I've tried the two handed thing and English style knitting, for some reason, doesn't come very naturally to me.  As you can tell from the fact that I'm posting them today, this pair of baby socks is a quick knit, and I enjoyed watching the color work come together into a recognizable.  It was a nice warm up for the main event.

We're packing up Zosia and heading for the warmer weather near Naples, Florida next week -- I always like to have a special pair of socks when I get on an airplane, and these little socks will be Zosia's first special pair for a trip (maybe I'll even get a picture!).  I've decided I'm taking a little project for me with me on the trip.  But a little dress will be next up once I get back.  A happy healthy next 10 days or so to everyone.  I don't think I'll have much Internet access while we're away from home.

The Baby Made Me Do It

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20080223_ZebraStriperYarn.jpgLook what fell into my shopping bag on a recent trip to Madison (and a follow up online shopping trip to Webs).  Yep, it's a riot of color in Baby Ull (superwash merino yarn by Dalegarn).  Whenever I visit Madison, my good friend Judy gets me all inspired by multicolored knitting.  She has a baby 3 months older than Ms. Z and on our visit we set off to Lakeside Fibers (a very cool yarn store with it's own coffee shop in the back), wherein we perused the Dale of Norway baby garment pattern books. 

20080223_ZebraStriper.jpgOne little sweater, the Zebra Striper (above) caused me to lose all control and buy up as much Baby Ull as I could find. (And the pattern book, too, which is Dale of Norway, Favorite Baby Designs Nr. 8101)   Of course, they didn't have all the colors I needed, so I had to browse around the web to find the rest of what I needed.  And then, after I got to Webs, it seemed a waste of all that shipping money to buy just 3 skeins of Baby Ull, so I bought enough to do the sweater, dress, hat and socks in the 2 year old size (I may be crazy, but at least I am realistic about finishing times) .  I figure anything worth doing is worth doing in a somewhat obsessive compulsive manner, and if I am going to try out two color knitting, I might as well go for it.  This little garment set seemed like a good start -- all the pieces have some two color components, but none of the garments is entirely two color.  And the dress and had have this sweet lace edge trim on them. 

And I'll be honest, something about the look on the face of the baby in the photo really melted my heart.  She reminds me a little of my own baby, I guess, and the idea of seeing Z in something so precious knit by me inspired everything else.   It's hard to feel quite as grey in the face of such lovely bright colors, so, for that reason too, it was the perfect shot in the arm against that midwinter blues that seem to have grabbed me pretty hard this winter. 

So, crazy or not, here I come!  Baby's going to have some new socks soon (the socks only go up to a 12 month size and it seems like it would be easier to make a pair of socks than to swatch in the round for the project).


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