Recently in Shimmer 5 Sweater Category

Cerys* and Cashmere

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When we last left the Carys story I was about to face off against a mighty zipper. The stage was set.

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YYK Zipper Meets Cerys

Looks ominous, eh? And, intially my plan was to spend a lot of time and pictures describing the whole process. But take the fact that the whole point is for the thread and zipper not to show up agains the sweater, combine with a sweater made of a somewhat shiny yarn that violently reflects my flash, and you get a lot of boring photos that don't really demonstrate anything.

Instead, I'll just try to provide a brief summary and then cut to the good stuff.

Since I didn't think my sewing machine would deal well with the uneven Shimmer 5 fabric (and because I am secretly afraid of the lovely old Singer that lives in my basement closet) I decided that I would sew the zipper in by hand. Once again, my old VK book came to my rescue. Here's the process I followed:

  • pin the zipper to the edge of the sweater front with the fabric just moving over the zipper teeth.
  • baste the zipper in place with a contrasting color thread, remove the pins.
  • with the wrong side facing, whip stitch the edge of the zipper to the sweater.
  • with the front side facing, back stitch the zipper into place
  • repeat for the second side

I had to repeat those first few steps twice before I realized what I had to do make the zipper look the way I wanted to, but sewing the zipper in by hand definitely helped me understand the process better.

The finished product?

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Cerys and a Cashmere Assistant**

Ski trip in the Alps, anyone?

After inserting the zipper, the collar is flipped over the ends of the zipper to give it a little more structure. I helped the collar out a little more by tacking it down on the inside (Want to get a better look at the waist shaping on the sweater?Just click here.)

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Cerys in Profile...

I like the sleeves -- long enough to be fashionable and fun (and warm) but not long enough to get in the way or need to be rolled up.

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...and from the Back

Perhaps the only flaw with this sweater is that right below the shoulder blades on either side there is a little more fabric than I would like to have there. This could have to do with the fact that I blocked this area a little wider than it should have been blocked, or it could just be a necessity in a bulky sweater to make sure that you can actually move your arms when the thing is zipped up.

I would never have even noticed if it hadn't been for John.

John: Hmm, not bad, I like that on you. Turn around so that I can see it from the back.

Me: Turns around. Thinking, how cool is that? A husband who actually wants to see the back of the sweater. He must actually be interested.

John: Well, it's nice except for that funny baggy thing it does near your arms. It's so well shaped in the front. Too bad it isn't as nice in the back.

Me: Sigh. Thinking: Nothing like a mixed blessing, is there? Out loud: But I think the zipper came out well, don't you?

John: Yeah, that turned out pretty well. Maybe you can put one in a sweater for me someday. But not all the way down. Just at the neck.

John is right about the issues with the back. And I was pretty disappointed Sunday night. But after putting Cerys back on and looking at the pictures from my photo shoot, I'm not really bothered by it as much. Maybe that's as a result of being overwhelmed by successful zipper insertion euphoria. Or surprise that John actually thought that I put a zipper into a sweater well enough that he might let me do it on a sweater made for him. Or just the fact that I love the front and that collar. But now I am pleased and looking forward to giving Cerys her first outing to work tomorrow.

In spite of being a big bulky sweater, there was a whole lotta learning going on in this project.

What did I learn?

  • Zippers aren't so bad, and putting one in by hand isn't all that hard or time consuming. It probably took me less than 3 hours to put this one in, and that included re-doing the first side.
  • The Shimmer 5 needs to be at a little tighter gauge than I knit it at. I knitted to gauge, but I must not be picking up enough of the slack between the stitches (I found it difficult to knit on 15 mm straight needles and maintain a tight gauge) because the fabric is a lot more open than I see in the Shimmer 5 and Point 5 garments that I see made up in Colinette's books. That, and I didn't have as much yarn left over as I would have expected.
  • The folks at Colinette like short armholes. 8-1/4" depth just isn't enough when you figure that you're going to lose 2 of those stitches to the seam and 2 stitches = roughly 1 inch. Next sweater I'm going to change the arm hole depth just a little bit if I am working in a bulky yarn.
  • Ripping and re-cycling can be a good thing. If I'd left my Shimmer 5 as Margot, I hardly ever would have worn this sweater. As a zippy Cerys, I don't think I am going to want to take this sweater off.
  • The Shimmer 5 passes the low itch test. After I first go the sweater seamed up, I tried it on over a tank top and did not go into a major itching fit.

The only question that remains for me now is the "how well will this sweater wear" test. I have high hopes for the Shimmer 5 because of the viscose content of the yarn. Tomorrow Cerys will get her first real test.

*Thanks to Amy, I now know how Cerys is really supposed to be pronounced (see the comments for yesterday's post). Don't think that will keep me from from bad puns, however -- in fact, now I have one that even more appropriate: "Pre Cerys-ly".

**the cashmere turtleneck fortuitously arrived on my doorstep today just in time for the photo shoot -- I think it was meant to be Cerys partner in crime, although it wasn't ordered for that purpose. I got it on sale from Casual Corner (online) for $20 (!) And it was my husband who pointed the good deal out to me...and helped to fuel my obsession with all things cashmere this year.

But Cerys-ly

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So many bad puns to make on sweater names, so little time..

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Cerys in Pieces

By early Saturday afternoon all of Cerys' peices were flattened out on my blocking board, just waiting to become part of a sweater. While the pieces dried, I headed out to Fishman's Fabrics to see if I could find a zipper or two that might meet my needs. I had forgotten how fun it is to wander through Fishman's. Great fabrics everywhere. And even a few zippers. And some cotton-poly thread.

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Cerys Gets a Collar

I thought one of the benefits of working Cerys from "recycled" Shimmer 5 would be that I would be able to keep that overwhelming pink action from happening because I was working with some smaller balls of yarn. No such luck, I guess, as you can see here. I'm just going to consider it to be part of the character of the sweater. Who knows, maybe it will turn out like Margot, and once the sweater is assembled completely I won't even notice.

The collar looks a little awkward and floppy, but there's a reason for that -- it's going to be doubled over on itself after the zipper is added to provide a more substantial fabric.

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Cerys Awaits a Zipper

Before I went to bed on Saturday night, I had a pretty good idea of what Cerys final form was going to be like. Only a zipper now remains to be added, and a collar folded to complete Cerys. In spite of my desire to get Cerys finished, I decided that starting something complex like setting in a zipper for the first time called for a clear head and a survey of my knitting books.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a dicussion of my zipper adventure!

Shimmer 5 Sweater Re-incarnation

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John appreciated all the nice comments you left about him and the sweater. It went to work today, and aside from it being a little warmer today than he would have liked, it was a pretty good experience. Score one for the knitting biologist.

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A New Beginning for My Shimmer 5

Now that John has his sweater, I can feel good about getting my recycled and relaxed Shimmer 5 into a new garment. The pattern for Cerys is from the Colinette Wayfarer book. Cerys is a bit shorter than Margot and has deeper armholes, but has very similar dimensions otherwise.

I'm looking forward to a quick knit and my first zipper experience. And hopefully having a good final result for my Shimmer 5.

Spa Treatment

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Margot Unwound

My poor Shimmer 5! Look how stressed out and kinky she looks after being ripped out of Margot. It's only the best of everything for the yarn chez Keyboard Biologist, so I figured my Shimmer 5 needed a full spa treatment before moving on to Cerys.

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Spa Tub, Candles and Lavender Eucalan

What yarn can remain kinked up when a spa tub, lavender Eucalan, warm water and candle light are provided? I decided to opt for tub instead of sink treatment so that all the yarn could enjoy the same soothing experience at the same time.

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Treatment for Stressed Out Yarn

I actually invited the last skein that I had from the lot to join in, even though it hadn't been put through the stress of becoming Margot. I wanted it to have the same treatment in the event that spa therapy created any subtle changes in the attitude of my Shimmer 5.

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Shimmer 5 After a Long Warm Soak

After a reasonable soak, my Shimmer 5 did loosen up and come back to its calm, relaxed, unkinky self. I think it looks quite happy soaking in all that wonderful warm water and Eucalan. Certainly it released a warm wooly smell into the air.

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A Sauna Before Winding

Finally, sauna treatment. After a bit of toweling off in a soft cotton towel the Shimmer 5 was subjected to a bit of gravity treatment (she's a bit of a heavy yarn, so I decided that no extra weights were needed to promote that final elongation of the spine). She'll also get a little bit of sauna action as the drying process proceeds. Once dry, she'll be ready for her next adventure: a sweater with full fashion shaping and a gravity resisting zipper, Cerys.

For anyone who might be interested in where my therapy preparation info came from, I'd like to recommend this page as well as the recommendations found in the big Vogue Knitting book, one of my constant and favorite knitting companions.

Knitted Mark of Zorro

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Now, I do think it is likely that if Zorro were to knit, he would probably not knit for children and he would certainly not knit with pastel blue funky baby novelty yarn. Nonetheless, I present the second knitted gift I've made for the holiday (there will be a third gift, but I don't need it until after the holidays are over):

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Filatura di Crosa Bon Bon Scarf

This little scarf is almost exactly 36" (I think that will be perfect for the 18 month-old that it's for and maybe give her another year or two) and is just over 3" wide. It's made out of Filatura di Crosa Bon Bon, color 12 (which I mentioned briefly here) -- a very funky novelty yarn with tufts at regular intervals. It's 100% polyamide and machine washable, so even though it has an impractical looking texture, I think it should still be a mother-friendly gift to give a child.

The pattern is a very simple one:

Cast on 14 stitches on US 10 needles.

Knit 2 rows
Knit 1 row
Purl 1 row
Knit 1 row
Purl 1 row

Repeat this unit until you have enough yarn left to knit 2 more rows and bind off... then knit 2 more rows and bind-off knitwise. Basically, you are alternating 2 rows of garter stitch with 4 rows of stockinette -- a pattern I chose so that I could minimize any curling that the stockinette wanted to do. In a wool yarn, I probably would have needed more garter stitch, but in this yarn, which doesn't move much from where you put it, the garter stitch balance is fine.

Up close, the texture looks like this:

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Bon Bon Scarf Up Close

You can see the garter stitch ridges framing an interval of stockinette. I chose not to do all garter stitch A) because I wanted as long a scarf as possible out of 99 yards and B) because I think the tufty things come out better on stockinette.

While I am not going to run out and buy any more of this yarn (it's not a real blast to knit with for the same reason that it makes a neat texture) I do like the fact that the tufty bits make it so that both the "right" side and the "wrong" side of the scarf look more or less the same or are at least equally nice to look at.

Chuckle... I just have to add an aside here that I think it is a testament to my wordiness that I can create so much hypertext about a simple scarf for a baby

And on an unrelated note... a front view of "Cerys" the purple Point 5 sweater for Claudia:

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Cerys From the Front

Not the best picture, but the only other picture they provide. Looking at the pattern, I think the shaping is almost the same as Margot's, there's just a few places that the sweaters differ (neckline, cuffs, zipper and bottom edging). I do think it's the sweater that my Shimmer 5 was meant to be though. Much ripping will ensue as soon as I have the chance to get back to what will only briefly be Margot. Looks like I am going to get my money's worth out of those 15 mm tree trunks that I bought!

I almost forgot! Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it this weekend, and for the rest of you, a peaceful and happy weekend!

Margot Approaches Completion

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Margo, Assembled

It was a happy weekend filled with John and my usual last-minute shopping efforts and a holiday party at a friends house and liberal dose of X-box game playing. Not so much knitting occurred, but I did get Margot seamed up. Margot is definitely going to need some edging around the front opening and neckline and perhaps even a button or a clasp before she will begin to be what I want her to be.

(It should probably be noted here that I decided not to rip the front panel that I thought looked more pink. My reasoning for this was two fold: 1) the panel as is now has a homogeneous kind of color, and the ball that I added to finish the panel started somewhere in the middle. The skein I have left over is likely to look very different, especially if started in the middle, and it takes a little more than one skein to complete the front panel 2) the garment hangs at an angle with me in the middle, when I actually put it on after it was seamed up, I didn't even notice the difference on each side. Thus I decided that discretion was the better part of valor here and no ripping and re-knitting was attempted).

I've left all the ends from the seaming of the sleeves and sides un-woven in. There's a nagging little doubt in the back of my mind that says I might have to re-work some aspect of them and having to deal with un-weaving ends would just make the process more difficult. When I tried the sweater on last night, it was a little tighter in the arm-hole/shoulder area than I would have liked. I know better than to completely judge a garment before all the trim/structural elements have been added (and a crochet edging will definitely add structure). But I also have a feeling that the bind off edge of the sleeve caps may have been too tight and that I am going to need to re-bind off while thinking very sloppy loose thoughts.

Thoughts on a Shimmer 5 Sweater

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The Last Pieces of Margot
Is the Right Front Blushing?

This weekend was all about knitting and shopping and X-box games. John and I made progress in our trek through Baldur's Gate, Dark Alliance II, Julie and I did some damage at Oak Brook Mall, and I made some reasonable progress on Margot. Now all the pieces are knit up and all that remains is to get this bad girl seamed up.

I have to admit, though, I am feeling a little hesitant. I was more or less comfortable with the differences between the back and the left front, but the jury is still out on the differences between the left front and the right front. The right front skein definitely had more pink in it.

After knitting the better part of this project, I still have one whole skein of Shimmer 5 left (shown at the top of the picture). And knitting the front pieces really isn't that time consuming. So now I am trying to decide whether I should rip back on the front right to where I started a new ball (just above the waist shaping) and re-knit with the yarn from the remaining skein, or just roll with it the way it is, knowing that there is really no way to make the color look more even without knitting this sweater from alternating skeins (which I opted not to do because of the bulk of the yarn).

Once I've figured that out, I'll have one more decision left to make: to crochet around the front edges of the garmet or not. I was actually able to find a 15 mm crochet hook (Lion Brand mondo plastic thing) to do the job with, but I have no idea whether that's the right size to choose or not. Should one usually match needle and crochet hook sizes when both fabric construction methods are used?

So many questions. Who would have thought that a bulky sweater could be so thought provoking!

Shimmering Beginnings

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Just because I am still utterly in love with the look of this yarn, I have to post a daylight beauty shot of it all stretched out on my back balcony.

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Shimmer Sunning

Unfortunately, not all that is beautiful is easy to knit with. So much so, that for a while I considered not knitting anything and just wearing it a la Mr. T.

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Fortunately, It Weighs Less and is More Insulating than Gold Jewelry

The hubster did't think that it was quite the right look for me, so I went back to trying to get it knit into a garment. It took me several attempts just to get gauge.

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Bulky is as Bulky Does: 7.5 stiches and 9 rows to 4"

That tree trunk that the swatch is still attached to is a 15 mm (US 19) needle. I actually had to invest in some new knitting needles (I know, how tragic for me!) just to swatch since the 12 mm Addis just didn't get me where I needed to go. But I'm quite fond of the needles I found -- Lantern Moon needles in palmwood. Very slick and a nice sharp point for a big needle.

There were a few other things that made this yarn a little challenging for me to work with. For one, I like to loop the yarn around my pinky before it goes to my left hand fore-finger. This yarn is big and slubby, so it just kept getting caught on my pinky, so that slowed me down a lot and didn't do much for keeping my tension even. Eliminating the pinky wrap worked much better.

For another, the slubbyness of the yarn means that it doesn't always slip through the loops evenly when I knit it. And sometimes it got "stuck" and created bigger loops than I would have liked, making it so that I have to tug a little bit on each stitch.

Also, in spite of the instructions for the yarn, I just have no idea how I could work from two balls and carry yarn up one side without creating an incredibly bulky seam, so I'm doing just one ball at a time (of course, I had to knit up a goodly part of the back before realizing the problem).

Since I was already on Sleeve Island with the sleeves from Fitzgerald, I decided to order myself up another fruity tropical drink and work the sleeves for Margot. After a lot of soul searching, I decided that a shaped cardigan would probably end up being a much better choice than an unshaped tunic (can you believe that this sweater actually has short-row shaping in the front panels?). As a cardigan, it will probably also get a little more wear and thus I will get a lot more enjoyment out of snuggling up in it.

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Margot's Sleeves

Because of the big yarn and the big needles, I hadn't even finished my fruity island beverage by the time I had both sleeves finished. I couldn't easily tell from the photograph in the book, and it's hard to tell here as well, but Margot has slightly ruffly bell sleeves. How cool is that?

The back is next (since some of the instructions for the fronts are made relative to the back. While I'm looking forward to the sweater, I'm not really looking forward to holding the weight of the piece on the needles. I thought I could just power my way through this sweater, but the weight and the fact that I am working with straight needles means that my wrists and elbows are getting quite a work out, and I need to rest them more than usual. So I'll be alternating between Margot and Fitzgerald this week during my knitting time.

Shimmering

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I was going to put up a picture of another little project I finished while I was in Corpus Christi. But then this arrived at my door today...

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Shimmer 5 in Marble

...and I decided that I just had to show it off. The little picture really doesn't this luminous yarn justice. So I also took a close up that better represents the Shimmer in Shimmer 5.

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Shimmer 5 Up Close

For whatever reason, I have never been a big fan of Point 5. Something about it just didn't grab me, even though I loved the big, saturated colors that it came in. The Shimmer 5 isn't terribly different from a texture perspective, but the sheen really does make a difference. It seems a little more sophisticated to me. Either that, or it's just my inner crow (lover of all things shiny and metallic) asserting itself. The yarn is 50% wool, 50% viscose blend. It seems a little more tightly spun than the Point 5 I have encountered before as well. And I'm pretty sure that it is soft enough to be worn against the skin (this is hard for me to judge until I actually wear it against my skin for a while).

This color palette is a somewhat unusual one for me given the whites and pinks and greys. The idea of winter pastels really appeals to me for a big shimmery sweater. So the only real question that remains is what sweater to make?

I bought the yarn with Giselle in mind -- a big tunic with a notched neck that looks both cozy and sexy -- at least on the model (yes, yes, I know, never judge a sweater by the model). But now I am also feeling attracted to Margot, a cardigan that actually has a little shaping going on.

I would probably get more use out of the cardigan, but I feel very drawn to the tunic. The real question is will the completed tunic just look like a shimmery sack on me or will it have the comfy/sexy (is that a clothing oxymoron?) qualities that I really want it to have, especially if paired with the right skirt or slim pants? Would it make it better or worse if I took the shaping from the cardigan (which is almost exactly the same circumference and length) and applied it to the tunic to make it a little shaplier.

I very much want to dive into knitting with this yarn (I, very conveniently, still have the 12 mm AddiTurbo needle on indefinitely loan from Rob that is the recommended needle size), but for once in my knitting life it has occurred to me that some heavy thinking might be in order if this project is to have the finished result I want it to have. As always, I am interested in any opinions that anyone might want to share.

And once again I have to say a very hearty thank you to the best blog-ring neighbor a knitter could ask for, Emma -- the arrival of this yarn is the result of her help and a little trading action.

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