Recently in Phil Eponge Pull Category

Pink, Spongy and Finished!


I got my wish this weekend -- yesterday was all about seaming up my pink and spongy Eponge sweater. I had the body complete by late afternoon and then spent the better part of the rest of the evening fiddling with the neckline. While I have to give the Phildar designers a great deal of credit for exploring very elegant and technically sophisticated finishing techniques, let's just say that they don't always combine well with the yarn . Put another way: clever backstitching techques involving provisional cast ons and free loops would probably have been exciting and fascinating for me had I been working with some beautiful and simple merino yarn. But elasticky, fussy boucle yarn at a tiny gauge that likse to snag on itself?

I tried. Really I did.

But in the end, I resorted to using regular old backstitch to attach the neckline to the body of the sweater. This is probably the first time I've backstitched anything since I learned how to mattress stitch a couple of years ago. I just couldn't figure out any other way to make sure that the neckline was neatly attached, short of ripping everything out, picking up stitches and knitting from the neck.

Theresa Attempts to Do the Rachael

I'm mostly pleased with the result. I say mostly, because looking at the sweater through the lens of the camera, I realize that I really shouldn't have blocked it -- it's a little too loosey-goosey. But a quick trip through the washing machine should resolve that (that's one of the things I adore about Phildar yarns -- most are quite washing machine tolerant, if not down-right washing machine friendly).

Pink and Spongy from the Side

Even with the slightly-too-much blocking, I'm pleased with how the sweater hangs. Loose and comfy without being too sloppy. Want to see it from one more angle? click here see Pink and Spongy from the back

The Pink and Spongy Neckline: My Best Button Affixation to Date*

I think the brute-force backstitching that I did gives the neckline a little harder edge than you see for the magazine model, but I'm happy with the neckline over all. And the husband's first comment about the sweater? I like the neckline. So if my most serious critic is cool with it, so am I.

So what did I learn?

  • Phil Eponge is a love it and hate it sort of yarn. It creates an excellent fabric (a bit like sophisticated terry cloth, if terry cloth can ever be considered sophisticated). But it is fussy to work with. It likes to catch on itself a little bit and stitch definition is non-existant. I would not recommend this yarn or this sweater to a new knitter.
  • I think Phildar may underestimate the yarn requirements for this project. I used a little over 10 skeins for my size, including a swatch or two. That said, given the stretchiness of this yarn combined with the ribbing, it's not completely trivial to figure out what getting gauge means. Makes me glad I ordered that 11th skein!
  • I'd really like to try the free-loop backstitch neckline attachment process. But it's going to have to be with a more user friendly yarn at a larger gauge. If this had been Calmer, it would have been a piece of cake. If you want to see what this process is all about, you can find it in Katharina Buss' Big Book of Knitting or Montse Stanley's Knitter's Handbook.
  • Phildar suggests a very clever way of making the button loops that involves creating a simple loop of yarn at the edge of the band and then doing the buttonhole stitch along it.
  • I can completely understand while French knitters might never need to go beyond Phildar for patterns and knitted garments. This is my 3rd Phildar garment and I am once again impressed with the styling, construction and fashion-forward feel. Even if I couldn't get the English translations of the patterns, it would be worth learning French terms just to work with their patterns. Most of what makes a garment special are the little details and Phildar patterns always pay special attention to these and rarely leave you guessing as to how to execute them.
  • I need to work on my tensioning when it comes to ribbing. The edges of my ribbing are definitely getting a little wonky. Perhaps it's time to explore combined knitting...
  • My next project needs to be at a bigger row gauge than 10 rows/inch...

So now I have a new sweater in hand and I am all ready to head for Maryland! If it's cool enough, you know what I'll be wearing while cruising the barns looking for my first spinning paraphanalia...

*Phildar actually has a fairly neat trick for the button loops, and I would normally give you more technical details about this, but the Eponge doesn't really lend itself to showing off'll just have to trust me that the button loops are clever.

Stunningly Unmotivated

Two Sleeves Connected to the Back

I love textured yarns to knit with. I almost inevitably hate them when it comes to putting the garment together. It's almost impossible to identify where the middle ground between two stitches exists, thus making mattress stitching the sleeves to the body more of a trial than a joy. I've been seaming with the Phil Eponge, and, surprisingly, if I am careful, it's not a terrible experience. But the being careful part does slow me down more than I like, and I found myself needing to put the sweater down after only sewing in the unnecessary ends and seaming the back to the sleeves. Not terribly impressive, but at least it is forward progress.

Blog of the Day
Leisel in Colorado Springs, Colorado is my link for today. The title of her blog, Knot Again makes me laugh with all its punny goodness. She's just discovered the yarn heroin that is Koigu, is working on a lovely crochet baby afghan and has just moved into her new home on TypePad.

V is for Victory (Almost)

V Neck for Victory

Piece by piece, this sweater makes its way to the finish line. The white edging is an invisible cast-on. All the major knitting is now done! Now the Eponge seaming adventure begins...

Blog of the Day
This evening I swished my fingers electronically through all the people who have been kind enough to tell me where they are from (I'll be updating that soon!) and pulled out the link to Moni's site, Blacksheep. Moni's in Santa Cruz, California and her To Dye For mohair pullover with bell sleeves almost has me wishing for colder weather (note that I said almost...a Chicagoan knows not to tempt fate too much when snow storms are happening just a state across the lake.) And if you like to combine a little computer geek with your knitting, don't forget to check out the link she posted (in her post on April 25th) that discusses some popular blog categories on Bloglines!

Maryland Sheep and Wool or Bust!


With MS&W less than two weeks away, I'm working hard to try to get my Phil Eponge sweater finished. I know this is a bit of an artificial deadline, because if it is as warm there this year as it was last year, this top is likely to be much too warm to wear while wandering around at the festival. But a girl never knows, so I am going to try to hold myself to the original timefame I set for myself. After all, I have another very texturally interesting pile of Phildar yarn sitting very close to my desk, and I have told myself that there will be no interaction whatsoever with it until the Phil Eponge sweater is finished.

Catching the Last Rays of Sunshine

I'm now done knitting all the main pieces of the sweater. This is my attempt to get a sense for how it will look when put together. The sweater is really beginning to come alive for me now, and that really helps push me onward. While the front piece gets subjected to a spot of blocking, I'm working on the two pieces that will make up the neckband. I debated for a while whether I would just pick up stitches or whether I would follow the assembly instructions for the neckband a la Phildar. I ended up deciding to go the Phildar instruction route, because I think it might give the neckline a little more structure. With a squooshy-stretchy yarn like Eponge, I'm thinking this could make the difference between a garment that gives me several summers of enjoyment and a garment that gets mis-shapen and gets to live at the bottom of one of my dresser drawers.

Blog of the Day
Today I'd like to encourage everyone to go to Jeanette's blog and welcome her to her (relatively) new blog home (Jeanette - I hope I've gotten your name right, since I see that your blog is titled "Miss Janet's Knittings", but you left the name Jeanette in my comments). Jeanette is working on her Ph.D. in the biological sciences in Denmark -- in between knitting some lovely socks and a non-Noro version of Karalund that is quite lovely. She also has a nice collection of links to other Danish knitters for those of you looking to add more Scandinavian knitters to your daily reading list.

Pink Progress Report

All The Pink That's Fit to Photograph

Here's the pink Eponge sweater checking in. I'm 38 rows from the neck and raglan shaping. Soon, soon, soon. And then I will have to think seriously about how to deal with the ribbing at the neckline.

Blog of the Day
In honor of her guest appearance at our KIP outing tonight, I hope to direct your browser to Melanie's blog. Melanie was working on what will be a gorgeous Vittadini sweater. It will be a lot of fun to see it come together on her blog. It was a pleasure to meet you Melanie. Be sure to look us up again if you get back to Chicago on more business!

Tired of Pink Yet?

Spongy Pieces

I like raglans. Putting them together is like assembling a simple puzzle. Match edge to edge and away you go. Unlike a set-in sleeve, there's no guesswork as to how the edges line up.

It's not visible in the picture, but I made one small change -- I added a selvedge stitch to either edge of the back so as to make the seaming process a little easier when I get to that point.

You might wonder why I am blocking a ribbed sweater piece. After all, blocking ribbing is supposed to be something of a no-no. But the fabric of the sweater seems quite loose and drapey in the picture, so in order to help even out some of my not so pretty ribbing stitches and to try to achieve that drapey quality, blocking has occurred. Also, Phildar doesn't include much need for stretching your ribbing to get gauge in their stitch gauge -- they tell you how many stitches/inch without any stretching required. And so this piece is hardly stretched at all to meet the measurements it needs to be at.

Blog of the Day

You may have seen Marta, who blogs from Germany, before if you've been following the Audrey knit-a-long at all (which is how I first "met" her). She's an Audrey finisher and also just finished a lovely version of the Rebecca wrap cardigan. I'm looking forward to see her London Calling come to fruition!

P.S. to my wonderful Dad -- Happy Birthday!!!

Two Sleeves and Almost a Back

Not Quite Done With the Back

I'm afraid that there's not too much to say that hasn't already been said about this project. It's still springy, spongy and pink and I'm almost done with 3 out of 4 pieces. I don't even have the potenial threat of not having enough yarn to complete the project to talk about, although it was probably a good thing that I ordered that extra skein. I would have liked to have finished this piece tonight, but I'm entering a sleepy zone that is incompatable with successfully knitting in K4P2 rib and decreasing at non-standard intervals.

Blog of the Day
You knew I wouldn't be able to go too long without pointing to the blog of another knitting scientist. Dharia is knitting, spinning bench scientist from the biotech Mecca of Massachusetts. She's also just started the ScienceKnits ring. I'm not much of a ring joiner, but how could I resist this one? The ring code and links are already in my side bar! If you're a sciency knitter with a blog, click here to get yourself hooked up!

Gobsmacked and Eponge Back


Can I just say that I am completely floored by all of you? I feel like I've been sent post cards from all over! Gobsmacked doesn't even begin to describe what it felt like reading each one of your comments with your home territories in them. I had no idea there were so many knitting biologists out there, either! I may not always be able to respond to my comments, but I have MT send them to my inbox so I do read every one of them! I'll be working on the maps over the weekend. I can't wait to see what they look like. And if anyone wants to add their location to my my map... just click here. Again, to everyone, thank you so much for waving to me from where-ever you are. Thanks to Christina's comment yesterday, I have this image in my head of all of you on surfboards surfing in, gliding by my beach and waving hello as you cruise through the Internet ocean.

And, for those of you who asked, everything went fine with my server watching, hopefully I won't have to do that again for a while!

Eponge Sweater Back Basking in the Morning Sun

What was I working on while I was waiting? My pink and spongy Eponge top! I'm now working on the back and am not quite half-way to the raglan shaping. I think this (with the lovely early morning Chicago sunlight) is the first picture I've posted that captures well both the color and the texture of the piece. It's really all that textured ribbing that makes the project interesting and is making me excited about adding it to my wardrobe. There's no shaping on the back or the front beyond the ribbing, but I think the placement of the K2P2 ribbing will help give it some gentle shaping at the waist and make it feel a little shaped while being worn, withouth being too tightly form fitting.

My only change from the pattern was to add a stockinette selvedge stitch to each end. This stuff is going to be hard enough to seam up with out having to seam purl stitches together, and for my size, there were just purl stitches at the edge to make the pattern work out in a way that looked nice.

The back is a long slog, but I'm beginning to get that excited-must-knit-constantly feeling of having a sweater close to being ready to wear.

Must go knit constantly! Have a great weekend everyone!

An Ocean of Pink

Much Poorly Photographed Pinkness

Hold that next round of Margaritas, it looks like I'm ready to cast off from Sleeve Island. Two spongy pink sleeves are now complete. It's amazing what you can accomplish even when you stay up until 5 in the morning playing networked Civ III with your husband. Could a front or a back be far behind?

I feel like I hit my groove with this second sleeve. Nowhere near as many mistakes to correct. Even the ribbing didn't feel quite as onerous, even though I am not completely happy with the tension on the stitches on the left side of the stockinette sections.

P.S. to anyone who has sent me email in the last two weeks... I'm way way behind due to general busy-ness at work. But I am trying to catch up...

Still on the Beach


First of all, the Beezle would like to apologize for not doing anything entertaining enough today to spare you from the picture you see below. He feels deeply guilty after reading all those nice comments that he couldn't come up with something that would prevent slow motion pink knitting from again coming to the fore. He is also surprised that so many of you have cats who like to do the same trick. He is now trying to figure out what he can do to top his first trick....

Doesn't Look Like Much Progress, Does It?

Hopefully over the weekend, I will finish the gosh darn sleeve and be able to move on to the equally exciting back piece!

In the meantime, just so you don't think that the Beeze is a one trick basket pony, I leave you with this shot where he also demonstrates his incredible portability. Believe it or not, he actually let John walk around with him a little bit like this.

A Journey of A Thousand Stitches


...begins with just 66 stitches cast on.

Second Sleeve in the Making

Since I am comfortably entrenched on Sleeve Island -- my tent is pitched, my sun chair and umbrella are solidly staked and I have a pitcher of excellent margaritas with me -- I decided that I would just stay here until I had a second sleeve to show for my isolation. After 3 .5 hours of knitting tonight I have just over 4" of sleeve to show for my efforts. 10 rows/inch (I got a little out of hand when I said it was 39 stitches/inch a while back -- it's actually 39 stitches/4 ") is probably not my favorite gauge and doesn't make for spectacularly interesting pictures. But at least I've avoided all the dreadful mistakes except for a little bit of tinking. The second piece of my Eponge adventure is starting on a much better note.

It May Not Seem Like Much...


...but it's a great victory for me.

One Eponge Sleeve

I made 4 swatches for this sleeve before getting gauge -- one after I had officially started the sleeve. I cast on for this sleeve at least three times for various different reasons, most involving dumb counting mistakes. I repaired numerous mistake stiches via dropping whole columns of stitches and picking everything back up correctly. I ripped out the entire cap of the sleeve after realizing that I was doing the cap shaping completely incorrectly. It would be nice if I could blame this on my inability to properly interpret a French language pattern, but I was using the English translation instructions.

Sigh. I figure that when I sum it all up, I probably came close to knitting this sleeve almost twice.

Hopefully I'll do better on the next one. I keep looking at the picture of the sweater and in spite of my technical difficulties, I still totally want to have this sweater to wear this spring. (Yes, I did say totally... am I a child of the 80's or what?) I figure I am going to tackle the second sleeve next -- then all the second sleeve syndrome will be gone before it even gets started.

It must be a special year: my company has Good Friday off. In reality, what this means is that too many major holidays that we would normally get off fall on a Saturday or a Sunday, so we're forced to go with some non-standard days. But I'm not going to complain. After all, as my dad always and so wisely says: No one ever dies wishing they'd spent another day in the office...

Thus, here's a shot of what my morning will be filled with, instead of the usual email...

Idyllic Morning: A Knitted Sleeve and a Latte

In this case, I'm pleased to say that both the latte and the sleeve are of my own making. I've been getting more adventurous in my attempts to froth milk properly and I think I'm actually closing in on success. In spite of having a very nice machine (the Saeco Magic Deluxe is worth it's weight in gold, from my perspective -- and it's not a lightweight machine) for quitesome time, it's been only recently that I've decided that it's pretty pathetic that I can't make my own lattes.

And I really do need a good latte to enjoy while working on this *&^*!!#$* sleeve. It seems like during this whole project I've spent most of my time tinking or doing this:

Not So Idyllic Yarn Experience: Fixing Ribbing Mistakes

Apparently the combination of me, this yarn and a ribbing pattern that is not K2 P2 is just too much for my limited brain when I sit down to work on this project.

When I posted last about this project, I provided a link to the sweater on the Phildar site that apparently doesn't work very well (it does work, you just have to click to it twice for some reason, the first time it always wants to go to the English Phildar site where the image is not). Janet (who, by the way, has just completed the lovely Ballet Wrap Top from the most recent IK -- you really should run over and take a look. Don't mind me, I'm on vacation today, I'll wait) asked if I wouldn't mind posting an actual picture. So here one is, liberated directly from Phildar (but not hotlinked, I don't have many good web manners, but I try to avoid doing that).

Stolen from Phildar: A Picture of the Sweater

And if you are feeling up to clicking twice, I present the actual link again. While you're there, be sure to click on the Modeles Gratuits. Phildar always makes several of their nice patterns available for free, often some of the best ones out of their books, for the cost of just your email address. I'm quite taken with the Veste pattern that is also currently available... but am not sure I am ready to deal with more Eponge quite yet.

Spring Ribbing


Even though it still doesn't feel like spring here in Chicago, I've decided that it is time to get started on my spring knitting. With the way my time has been lately, I know that if I don't get started now, the spring knitting won't happen at all.

Last summer I bought the yarn for this comfy spring/summer sweater with the help of a friendly enabling rabbit. However, I hadn't started it by fall, and since I didn't think it would be a good bet for winter (and I was getting frustrated trying, unsuccessfully, to get gauge), I left the yarn to hibernate and dream of springy fashions in my closet.

After a more or less successful new swatch on 3.75 mm needles, I decided that I would move onto a sleeve and use that as a real test of my gauge.

So much ribbing, such small (for me) needles...

This yarn is not so nearly bubble-gum pink as it appears in these pictures. In person, it is most definitely pink, but much more in the rose end of the spectrum. To say this project will likely move slowly is something of an understatement. At 39 rows/inch this knitting does not go by quickly. And it is very easy (for me, at least) to lose track and make mistakes in the ribbing (you can see this fairly clearly in the picture). But the texture is nice and the knitted fabric has a nice feel, so I am hoping the long term result will be worth the effort. I'm somewhat unsatisfied with the vertical edges of my ribs, but I'm hoping that will even out following blocking and garment washing, as happened with my Phil'Onde sweater.

I've decided that this sweater and one other will be my primary new wardrobe goals for the spring/early summer. And since this sweater is coming out of my stash, I decided that I could treat myself and order new yarn for the second one. Hopefully the new arrival will land on my doorstep sometime this week!

What Could This Be?

Pink and Spongy

Can you guess what this is the start of? I'll give you a hint. This yarn made it's way to me with the help of a certain dancing rabbit. I think technically the yarn is a boucle yarn. It has a elastic fiber core with cottony thread making up the boucle part. Knit on 3.75 mm needles with 39 rows and 24 stitches per 4" it isn't going to be a fast going project for me.

So far, I'm finding the yarn to be a little rough to knit with, but the finished texture of the fabric is quite nice and soft. It will be a nice garment to wear directly next to the skin.

And, I'm feeling pleased with myself, because I'm knitting yet another project out of yarn that I already have.

Of course, that doesn't mean that I am not considering a few other projects... I am particularly in love with Liberty from the Rowan Classic Cafe book. I love the blending of the stripes with the subtle texture and the wrap design. I'm also quite taken with Marianne from Rowan 37. Anyone out there want to trade 5 skeins of Kidsilk Haze in "Chill" (a discontinued color -- the same color that I made this sweater out of) for 5 skeins of another Kidsilk Haze color? I'm particularly interested in Trance (#582), Heavenly (#592), Dewberry (#600) or Blushes (#583).