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In Other Stitches

Winter is a great time for us. Even though it has been unseasonably warm, there still isn’t enough daylight in a day to spend a lot of time outdoors.  So, we have been spending more time indoors, sitting by the fire, and playing games.  And I have been doing a fair amount of knitting.

Late Christmas present from hubby for an Owls sweater.  Looking forward to knitting a chunky sweater!  #knittersofinstagram #rowanyarn #ravelry

Last winter, I bought a sweater quantity of chunky Rowan wool to make an Owls sweater.  As this winter approached a few months ago, I decided I needed to have this sweater as soon as possible to help keep me warm.  The chunky yarn would not only be warmer, but it would also make the sweater a fast knit.  I started it way back in September, thinking it would be my Rhinebeck sweater, but then I got sidetracked.

Once all the Christmas knitting was finished and my projects re-prioritized, I picked Owls back up and charged ahead.

Well, it was more like start and stop because one thing I did not anticipate was how tired my hands would get from knitting with chunky yarn.  I could not do more than about an hour’s worth of knitting before I had to stop and take a break.

The only exception was the four hours I spent in a crowded, hot indoor pool building.  While I waited for my son to swim in 3 races that lasted about 30 seconds each, I was able to complete an entire sleeve.  I took lots of breaks, of course, but I think the heat and humidity did help keep my hands from getting as tired as they would in our 65 degree house.

Anyway, the original pattern is a pullover, but I decided a chunky sweater like this would be more wearable as a cardigan, so I modified the pattern a bit.  I’m not always super fastidious about taking notes when I alter a pattern, but I did make a few notes on my Ravelry project page.

Amazingly, this actually turns out to be one of the best fitting sweaters I think I have ever made.  The sleeves are just the right length, the collar is not too high for me, and it is not baggy at all.  The original sweater is meant to be close fitting.  I was worried that it might not translate to a cardigan well, but, happily, it is just right.  I’ll try to get some pictures of me actually wearing the sweater soon.  I just need to pick some buttons and find someone who is available and willing.

At the same time I was knitting Owls, I was also knitting Coastal Walk.  The dk weight Plucky Cozy yarn seemed tiny and light in comparison to the chunky Rowan wool.  This shawl practically flew off the needles.

This color, Strawberry wine, is impossible to capture accurately.  It’s a berry pinky purple and I love it.  What I did not love, however, is how much the dye bled when I soaked it for blocking.

This has happened to me before with red and pink yarn and it is also common with fabric in these colors as well.  I tried vinegar and that did not seem to do the trick, so I ended up changing the water probably about a dozen times before I gave up and went ahead and blocked it on a beach towel.  I’ll just have to try to remember not to wear it over a white shirt in the rain!

It was an interesting shawl to block as it had only two points and two curves.  I wasn’t sure my flexible wires would be strong enough or long enough here, so I opted to use just one pin at each point, and stretch it out with my hands as far as it would go. Then, I just let it dry overnight.

The result is an amazingly drapey and luxurious shawl/scarf thing that I want to wear all the time.  It must be the 10%  camel wool that did this because merino by itself is very bouncy.  The yarn stretched out quite a lot, which makes it just perfect for a shawl.

The dk weight will be extra warm, especially with the garter stitch border.  All in all, I think I am quite prepared for wintry weather now.  Perhaps winter has just been waiting for me to be properly attired before arriving to stay.

In the meantime, just in case those are not enough, I have picked up yet another sweater wip to try to finish this winter.

This is Chartreuse by Thea Colman in Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter yarn, color Sweatshirt.  I’m working on the pockets right now.  This is a new process for putting in pockets for me, so I am looking forward to seeing how it turns out.  Stay tuned!  What are you working on?

Clearing Up

Happy New Year to you!  I hope that you had a wonderful break from your normal routines.  We sure did enjoy ours.  It was very full of baking, travel, and spending time with good friends.   Now that it is over, I can feel just how good it was to take a break from the everyday work of our regular lives.  We really needed that physical and mental break!

Also, now that I am not a crazy person who bakes every moment of every day, I have really enjoyed revisiting my other hobbies: quilting and knitting.  On the quilting front, I was able to get my charity quilt for do.good.stitches organized for machine quilting.  I’m doing simple straght-ish lines because my machine is really basic and doesn’t really do free motion quilting that well.

I do really love all the blocks that came in for this quilt.  I’ve got all the horizontal lines done and just need another afternoon or two to get the vertical ones done as well as the binding.  The only trouble is that I really need to do the quilting on the dining room table in order to be able to have enough space to move it around.  Unfortunately, the dining room is also the most used space of the house!  Well, maybe I can convince the boys to go somewhere else to work for a day or two if I give them enough chocolate!

This week, I also took an afternoon to take a hard look at all my knitting projects and my yarn.  I took out every work in progress and asked myself if I really liked the yarn and wanted the finished product.  After ripping out three projects, I was left with a few that I felt could be finished rather easily and quickly.  A couple of dedicated knitting evenings meant that I had a handful of things that needed a bath.

Clockwise from the top right are: Fraxinus from Ysolda’s 2016 club, Mareel from Knitworthy3, an 1898 hat that I gave to the husband for Christmas, a cowl that I made from a blanket strip from Blanket Statement, and in the middle is a really old Andean Chullo hat that just needed its crown finished.

I’m really happy with all of these, except for the Llama hat.  After blocking, it turned out too big for anyone.  I started that hat years ago and let’s just say that my stranded knitting skills have greatly improved since then and I am not happy with how uneven it looks.

My happiest finished object of the bunch has to be the cowl I made from the unfinished blanket strip.  Oh, how I love blankets, but Oh, how I hate to knit them!  I thought maybe a club knit along atmosphere would help me with that, but alas, though the spirit was willing, other projects were just more interesting.  As I was holding it in my hand, wondering if I should rip it out, the thought of turning it into a cowl suddenly came to me.  It was just the right length.  Eureka! Fifteen minutes later, I was sewing in the ends and giving it to my older son who expressed an interest in it.  I just love it when things like that happen.

With my Mareel shawl, I was able to use the new blocking pads and wires that the husband gave me recently.  They worked like a charm!  Blocking shawls is not always my favorite thing to do, so anything that makes it faster, more accurate, and easier is great in my book.  I especially like the fabric that has 1 inch grids that came with the blocking mats.  With that underneath the shawl, it was easy to make the points symmetric–something that is always challenging to do with a shawl.

Oh, and I almost forgot!  I did manage to finish a secret sweater project for the husband for Christmas.

I designed the sweater as I went along, but couldn’t really talk about it here because it was, you know, a surprise.  The most challenging part of the sweater was sewing in the zipper along a steeked opening.  I used a sewing machine, which has a tendency to push stitches along as it sews, so even though I basted in the zipper, I had to redo it to make the colorwork pattern line up properly.

Also, I am worried that the steek will start to unravel as the garment is worn, even though I reinforced it with two lines of sewing–time will tell!

Overall, I am happy with it, though there are a couple of things I would do differently if I were to do it over again.  The collar does not quite come up far enough and it is also a bit tight when fully zipped.  He’ll just have to go for a casual, partially zipped look when he wears it!  The important part is that it fits, which is always a worry when one is knitting a surprise sweater.

What about you?  Have you been doing any organizing or clearing out?  I’ve got some more to do in my sewing room, but that will have to wait for another day.  I’ve got a little startitis to work through.


Amazingly, my Rhinebeck sweaters are done.  Last week, I was seaming this one.

Early this week, I was back to working on the second sleeve for this one.

Yesterday, I steam blocked and sewed.

Today, I finished the collar with the last of my yarn that I had to unwind from the gauge swatch that I did.  That was a close one!

They had a bath and are now drying with the help of a fan.

As I was suddenly without any knitting this afternoon, I immediately cast on another sweater, this time with bulky yarn.

If you see me at Rhinebeck, say Hi!


Long on Ambition

Someone must have flicked a switch on fall because we have not had to turn on an air conditioner in the house for a week.  It’s been heavenly to have a quiet house (no loud droning of multiple machines) and the ability to go outside without getting all sticky and hot.  I have also been able to turn on the oven and bake things.

What a wonderful thing to be able to bake without heating up the whole house!  However, summer is not quite done with us, but I can bear it now because I can feel that the end is near.  I can even see it in a few trees around us.

With the cooler weather, it was inevitable that I would start thinking about warm knitted things and that mecca of knitting events, Rhinebeck.  I did finally finish and block my Olympic sweater, yay!  I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.  It fits great and feels great.

Then, I took a look at all the other projects that I have yet to finish and picked one that I thought I could complete in time to wear in October.

Shadow knit with Miss Babs Yowza has been on my needles since 2013.  It was time to finish or repurpose the yarn.  It actually did not take me much time at all to finish the front and back pieces and now I am making slow progress on the sleeves.

The progress is slow because I found myself distracted this weekend and cast on another sweater.

#16-Geurnsey Pullover knit with Plucky Sweater.  I was so intrigued by the construction and different look of this sweater that I actually made the husband drive me to the closest big bookstore and bought the magazine.  It’s been years since I have bought a knitting magazine, but once I forked over my $6 and some cents, I wondered why I didn’t do this more often.  There are over 20 patterns in the issue, which is quite the bargain compared to buying patterns online one by one.

Anyway, being me, I have already modified the pattern from the beginning to knit the bottom body in the round.  I do what I can to avoid unnecessary purling and the thought of knitting 9 inches of stockinette on two flat pieces was a recipe for non completion.

So far, things are going well, but I haven’t reached any of the interesting bits yet.  It has made for fantastic knitting while we tackle our first full week of school this week, though.  I’ll try to keep you posted, but I have to say that as the kids get older, homeschooling takes a lot more time.

Finishing Flurry

Last week, I was able to finish two big knitting projects, just in time for the weather to get warmer!  The first was a test knit that I have been working on since the beginning of January.  It’s Milk Stout by Thea Colman in Harrisville Highland yarn.

The cables on this sweater are great and the ribbing makes the sweater very cozy.  It’s the perfect oversized sweater to wear over one or two layers in the coldest part of winter when you just want something that will keep you extra warm.  It could double as a jacket if worn with a nice scarf or cowl and some mittens.  The only thing that is lacking is a pair of pockets.  It feels so much like a sweater jacket that I actually did reach down the other day and try to put my hands in pockets that weren’t there.  Hmm.  I might have to look into how to put in afterthought pockets.

Anyway, this yarn color, garnet, was really hard to photograph.  It is not pink or purple or red, but somehow a combination of all of those.  My only complaint with the yarn is that there were a lot of knots in the skeins, but that did not end up mattering really.  The yarn was very easy to spit splice together, so I actually had very few ends to weave in once I was done.

Now, because this was a test knit, there ended up being one or two things I would have done differently if I had to do it again.  Firstly, I would have made a smaller size.  The ribbing stretches quite a bit once the weight of the entire sweater is hanging off of it, so the gauge swatch I did was quite deceptive.

Secondly, I don’t normally pay much attention to row gauge, but because the yoke is knited all in one piece, row gauge actually becomes quite an important factor.  Mine was off a little and I was able to account for that, but the yoke still turned out a bit too big.  Combine that with the stretchiness of the rib and the yoke ended up feeling way too big.

However, I was able to fix it with a bit of crocheting.  Basically, I put a line of single crochet stitches on the back where it meets the collar and around each armhole (skipping the saddle shoulder part).  This created some stable faux seams that work to prevent the knitted fabric from stretching any more than I wanted it to.  It looks like this.

Before I did the crochet, it looked like this.  See how wide the neck of the sweater wanted to stretch?

Now, the sweater is still roomy, but it fits much better and I did not have to rip out the whole yoke and reknit.  That is a win in my book!

The second sweater I finished last week was my Stopover sweater.

This one took less than 20 hours and resulted in a light, comfy, and great fitting sweater.  All in all, this was a fabulously fun knit, mostly because it was so fast and the product was the sort of sweater that you don’t mind having multiples of. In fact, I was so smitten with it that I almost immediately cast on another, but I stopped myself.  Because spring is coming and I suddenly found myself dreaming about knitting shawls and fingering weight sweaters.

Spring.  It’s coming.