Recently in Salt Peanuts Category

Presenting Purple Peanuts

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Salt Peanuts in Huntley

Woohoo! It's another finished sweater! I can't believe that I actually finished a heavy weight sweater before fall set in. I would have been doing a happy dance in this picture, but I was actually standing on the side of a hill and dancing combined with my poor balance would have resulted in me finding out whether Salt Peanuts added to my bouyancy or not. (If I was to have started to dance, it would have been to "It was a one eyed, one horned flying purple people eater.." which for some reason kept running through my head while I was doing the finishing work).

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Top: A Side Shot Bottom: Salt Peanuts Shapely Back

The color of the sweater is best represented in the top picture where I'm facing front. The others were affected by the fading afternoon sun. (Yes, only a crazy knitting blogger out shopping for luggage in a Huntley, IL outlet mall would actually pack a sweater and a camera "just in case" we didn't make it back to Chicago proper when it was still daylight. Amazingly enough, my husband plays along and has not yet decided that I am slowly slipping into insanity). The ribbon tie is a little piece of Giotto left over from another project, and it will be replaced when I find a suitably purple ribbon to replace it with.

On the overall, I am quite pleased with this sweater. It came together quickly, has a comfortable quality to it that reminds me of a well broken in sweatshirt, and it has a few body conscious elements that make it figure friendly as well -- or at least as figure friendly as you can be when you are working in a bulky yarn gauge. It assembled easily after I wove in the large number of ends that result from knitting with big yarn without a lot of yardage per ball. While the instructions for the fronts of this sweater gave me some frustration, the designer included a number of details that made it much easier to put together than it could have been. I really do love it when a designer includes knit selvedge stitches on edges when ribbing has to be seamed together. The same selvedge stitches were also created for those neck bands, and it made putting them together a breeze, too.

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Attaching the Neckband

Because of the way the lace neckline needs to fall, on this garment you actually do your mattress stitching with the wrong side facing,so the seam stitches are on the right side.

I also thought that the three needle bind-off used to join the two neck bands at the back was a clever touch -- and much easier than grafting.

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Salt Peanuts Neckline After Joining

The above pic is a better representation of the neckline finishing than the pic showing the back of the sweater. Since John and I were "on location" I didn't have the tools to make sure that everything was set correctly. Actually, one of the reason I like taking pictures of the sweater is so that I can see where the finishing didn't quite finish. In this case, it looks like I need to get out my steam iron and make sure that the collar lays flat. I also discovered that I need to flatten the inside seams of the right front sleeve. It doesn't stand out too much (but you can see it if you look) in any of the model shots, but it bulges a bit and takes away from the overall polish of the sweater.

What did I learn from this sweater?

  • Not all bulky yarns are the enemy if the design is architected correctly. And Veronik Avery is a good architect.
  • Yes, you can do simple lace in a bulky weight yarn. I think the open work ribbing in this sweater is very effective.
  • This is not a lightweight sweater. At 50g/ball and 15 balls (yes, the pattern yardage suggestions for the 37-1/4 size can be trusted, I had almost all of the 16th ball left, even after doing my swatch), that's about .75 kilos or 1.7 lbs (if I'm doing my conversions correctly). This could be a recipe for disaster if the tension had not been chosen correctly, but the yarn is knit at a very firm gauge and allows the sweater to support itself better.
  • Don't be afraid to leave my AddiTurbos in their packages. My Crystal Palace bamboo circulars were perfect with this yarn where a little grip contributed positively to keeping my stitches even and the yarn from slipping off my needles.
  • When dealing with knit-tube based yarns that can unravel, when cutting the ends, cut on a diagonal. It doesn't completely arrest the un-raveling, but it does impede the process.
  • And I've said it before, but it bears repeating... never underestimate the power of a simple selvedge stitch to make the seaming process more seamless.

In spite of the bulky yarn gauge, I wouldn't consider this a "beginner sweater", only because the instructions for the fronts require a relatively high degree of integration. You definitely have to read ahead. There are also a couple of (what I consider) to be mistakes in the pattern with regard to the instructions for the short rows and the placement of the short rows. But these could be interpretation problems on my part.

Of course, by finishing a bulky-weight wool sweater in early September, I am sure that I have commited the fall-knitting equivalent of washing my car on a sunny day -- I am guaranteeing that it will be tank-top weather until November. My apologies to all you fall, cold weather loving Chicagoans. At least now you know who to blame!

Those Who Do Not Study History...

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...are doomed to repeat it.

Sometimes a quote can be applied to many situations. In this case, it applies to my knitting of Salt Peanuts.

One would have thought that making many annoying and frustrating mistakes on the left front of the sweater would have made me read just that much more carefully when I started on the right front of the sweater. One might have thought that I would actually create better instructions for myself to follow so that I could spare myself the ripping and picking up of stitches.

Alas, this was not the case. I did read through everything, but apparently the part of my brain that can integrate knitting instructions, overwhelmed by the complexity of dealing with decreasing on two edges and shaping with short rows, simply turned itself off for a second time. Believe it or not, I made almost exactly the same set of mistakes on the second front that I did on the first front... botching where the first set of short rows in the collar went, not handing the collar shaping decrease intervals correctly, forgetting an imporant yarn over in the lace patterning on the collar. It was as if I had amnesia.

When you are a project rather than process oriented knitter, this kind of experience just creates serious misery.

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All Fronts Present and Accounted For

But but big yarn and big gauge and a little perserverence paid off in this case. I am now only one sleeve short of a full sweater. While the instructions for the fronts are a little frustrating, and I did not execute them to the degree of technical perfection that I wanted to, I am also happy to say that the way this sweater is constructed, combined with the bulkiness of the merino tape yarn, makes some of the problems difficult to detect.

For instance, can you see the decreasing interval differences at the neckline between the two front pieces? Go ahead, be honest. I can take it.

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Can You See the Mistakes?

Even if you can see them, I have an ace in the hole with this sweater. The collar pieces are actually in the reverse orientation to the rest of the fronts. When the sweater is assembled, they will flop over and cover the areas where the decreases occur. So even if my little mistakes are visible now, when I am wearing the sweater, they will be pretty much invisible.

And that's one of those things I love about knitting... mistakes happen, but you don't always need to lose sleep over them.

I've already made a little headway on the final sleeve. John went out and found himself another first person shooter to get involved with, so now I am knitting while he prowls around an island covered in tropical jungle and gets chased around by mercenary commandos and exotic birds. You get extra geek girl brownie points if you can guess what game he's playing now...

Peanuts Progress

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Thank you to everyone who came by and said nice things about Diva. She is very appreciative of the warm reception and agrees quite heartily with those who feel she needs to be taken out and about on a special outing. As soon as it gets a little cooler in Chicago, she will get her wish.

A couple of people asked about the button and the snaps and how I got the button not to drag the lace down. The answer is a simple one: I cheated. The snap was attached firmly to the fronts of the garment. When the snap was snapped, I found a place just above the snap to push the button shank through. I pushed the shank through both layers, then I used a button holder saftey pin to secure the button in place. I also worked hard to find a button that wasn't too heavy. This button is actually just on the edge of being too heavy. I don't think I'll ever be able to sew it down and have it behave properly. But that's okay, because it will need to come off if Diva ever gets a bath (the snap, on the other hand, is a clear plastic, totally washable, ironable, abusable clear nylon snap).

Salt Peanuts also saw some action this weekend. Friday night, I finished the left front and got the piece ready to be blocked. The front, like the back, is very curvy and shapely.

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Salt Peanuts, Front Left

The fronts of this sweater are really an exercise in "how well can you follow instructions". I won't go so far as to say that the instructions are bad, but I feel like there should have been a better way to communicate all the things that are going on at the same time. I had three different ripping moments with this piece. The ripping in and of itself wasn't bad, and it didn't take that long to repeat what I'd ripped out, but it was a real pain to pick up the stitches. The Bergamo loops are much tighter than you might expect and don't grip each other as well as you might like. This means that you need a tiny need to grab them all up with and you still have to be careful.

Other than that, the knitting goes fairly quickly. I'm almost done with the right front. Stay tuned for tomorrow's episode.

P.S. The other thing I did over the weekend was experiment a bit wit Movable Type. I finally figured out how to get a real live archives page set up and I started to set up subcategories (a new feature of MT 3.1). You can get to my archive page by clicking on the word "Archive" in my tool bar above. Also, you'll see below the comment link for every post, information about which category the post is in. If you want to see more about the back story of a project, you can click the name of the category the project is in and pull up all the entries.

Thinking About Fall

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The weather here in Chicago has been all over the place lately. Last Saturday night, John and I went downtown to take in some of the Viva! Latin Music Festival. It was raining and cold and felt like October instead of August. We felt bad for the performers, since the Petrillo Bandshell doesn't offer visitors any shelter and the crowds were pretty small. Even we didn't stick around as long as we wanted to since we got cold and damp so quickly.

All throughout our time downtown I kept thinking how much happier I would have been if I had had a nice wool sweater underneath my jean jacket. Is it any surprise that I got the back of Salt Peanuts finished up?

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The Back of Salt Peanuts: A Sweater with Hips

It is an interesting coincidence that I finished up the back of this sweater at almost exactly the same time that John finished Doom 3. Hopefully I won't need to convince him to start another video game for me to get the rest of the project finished!

I think it's striking how shapely the back of this sweater looks pinned down on my board, and how shapeless the sweater looks on the model in the magazine. I suspect that the thickness of the fabric will minimize some of the shaping, but I have hopes that it will look a little more flattering on me when I try it on. I think I have a few more curves than the model, at least on my lower half. I hope that will work in my favor!

Knitting Towards the Weekend

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Shapely Salt Peanuts

The warm and humid weather we are experiencing here in Chicago right now is wreaking havoc on my ability to make much progress on most of my projects. Most of my serious knitting has happened in accompaniment to Doom 3 gunfire and demon bashing because it involves the cool and friendly basement that surrounds our home theatre (John is playing Doom 3 on his home theatre computer which is connected to a nice projector and a 8' x 6' movie screen so it's a fairly cinematic experience).

I've got about 4 more inches before I come to the shoulder shaping for the back of Salt Peanuts. Can I just say that I love the way this project is designed and shaped? Not just for the curvy quality of the sweater (which is not completely obvious from the pictures that accompany the pattern), but also for the details that just make a sweater easier to finish -- like selvedge stitches in the lacy ribbing to make seaming a much more pleasant process, and some clever looking double decreases that are both useful and decorative.

I'm still a little nervous about yardage from the Bergamo, but I have two more balls on the way from Elann, hopefully that will give me enough to get to the finish line without too much worry.

Speaking of things that come in the mail. I just have to show off some of the non-knitting goodies that I have ordered from Levenger recently:

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Hand and Tote Bag Happiness

My current favorite is the blue suede bag (The 7 Day Tote) that I picked up for $19.95. This is a totally awesome bag that can easily do double duty going to work or going out to play. I'm in love! The orange bag (The Newport Tote) also comes with a cell phone holder and extra little inside bag to hold goodies and is also a steal at $19.95. (Sorry if this sounds too much like an advertisement, but I am enjoying my recent haul. And, Levenger is really a nice company to do business with. Whenever I have needed to take advantage of their customer service, they've been friendly and helpful).

Something Purple This Way Comes

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The cool weather we've been having in Chicago has got me thinking about fall knitting and long sleeve wooly garments. In the spring, I ordered some Muench Bergamo in a nice purply color to make Salt Peanuts, a Veronik Avery sweater from the Spring 2004 issue of Interweave Knits.

Of course, by the time I had the yarn and had the time to make the sweater, it was time to get into the swing of warm weather knitting. So the Bergamo got stashed.

And then Doom3 arrived on the shelves.

Now, you might be wondering what a first-person shooter could have to do with Salt Peanuts. Well, the answer is simple. I've be watching my favorite guy play Doom 3 in our home theatre room. A dark room makes for the best gaming, but not for the best knitting. I needed something simple and mostly stockinette that could keep my hands busy while I watched John make progress on Mars.

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All Swatched Up: Muench Bergamo for Salt Peanuts
Click Here for a Closeup

Pretty, no? I just love the heathery quality.

One little surprise for me: this lovely swatch was knit on US size 10-1/2 needles and is 17 stitches x 25 rows to 4" square. For whatever reason, when I looked at the sweater in IK, it just didn't look like a sweater on the slightly bulky side. But I definitely got gauge on the recommended needles and I got a very nice, dense fabric. It reminds me a little bit of sweatshirt material from a density and comfiness perspective.

Relatively large needles and just a bit bigger than aran weight yarn also makes for very fast knitting. Here's the results of a couple of gaming sessions:

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Starting from the End of the Pattern: The First Sleeve

It's the little lacy detail in the ribbing that separates this sweater from just another cardigan done on big yarn and big needles:

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Salt Peanuts Lace Rib Detail

I ordered the recommended amount of yarn, but I am already worried that maybe I should have ordered an extra skein. This sleeve took just about 3 skeins. I was thinking about trying to get both sleeves out of the way first, but now I think I am going to tackle the back next, just in case I have to be creative towards the end...

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