Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Should be Cleaning

My dear friend Tracey is coming tomorrow. Dear friend. The kind of friend who knows all your deep dark secrets, hypothetically, that is, if you had any (Hi Honey!).

Tracey started knitting three years ago when I gave her a refresher while vacationing in Florida. She has knit like mad since then, and (can you tell I'm so proud of her) not just scarves and blankies either. It took me five years to go beyond the rectangle, but not this girl, she's made quite a few sweaters.

The only thing is, none of them fit. So, she is here for five days, she is bringing a large suitcase filled with ill-fitting knitwear (and one quilt) and I get to play Knitting (and quilting) Doctor!

I am really excited! We will do all the crafting that 4 small children will allow! I hope that she will agree to be the subject of my blog for a few days.

So, when I could/should/would be making sure the bathroom is relatively bacteria free, or that the clutter is shoved in a corner so they have a place to lay their heads, I am doing this:

Obsessing about what I will knit for the next five days.

While I was organizing my projects, I thought it might be blog-worthy to pile them on the table and take a picture.

On the left, we have almost-finished projects. Yes, I have been in a finishing frenzy, but when you're finishing about six things at a time, it takes a while. In the middle are marathon projects, and on the right are things I'm dying to cast on.

Let's have a closer look, shall we:

The almost-finished side. Yes, I do like pink, but honestly, I don't know where all these pink projects came from. It's like my brother-in-law, who got three male gerbils from the pet store, left them with my in-laws while he went to Germany for several weeks, and now they have twenty two. Well, maybe not really like that, but that story has been freaking me out for a couple of days now, and I knew I had to work it into the blog somehow.

Clockwise, from the top: baby blankie knitted, but awaiting satin ribbon binding, raspberry wrap ready to be sewn into a faux-wrap poncho-y thing, navy blue dress for 3yo I found lurking in my closet that just needs armhole and neckbands, pink sock finished (well, it needs three ends woven in, but I could still wear it like that, so I call it finished), pink Miss Bea sweater that is still buttonless, VK lace trimmed bolero that may not be very flattering on me so it's languishing, and green Koigu sock within an hour of being done.

Here in the middle we have three marathon projects. The Opal Sock, the white Goa cable and eyelet pullover, and Rowan "Hush" sweater from the Calmer Collection.

On the right: the projects I'm dying to cast on. From the top: burgundy Misti Alpaca for the Teva Durham turtleneck shrug, green Nature Cotton for a bag I'm test knitting for Bruxknits, pink Kid Silk Haze (thanks to this blog, my brain synapses have forever linked pink and gerbils) for the Kiri Shawl, multi pink-blue-tan Lorna's Laces knee-high socks for 3yo, baby socks (to match the baby blankie) and Rowan Handknit Cotton for a tiger sweater (Zoe Mellor) for 5yo.
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Saturday, July 16, 2005

Miss Bea

Last night I started the button bands on the Miss Bea sweater. (The Windmill Sweater from Miss Bea's Colours, in Cotton Ease color Bubblegum.)

This morning I was excited to finish up the last band, sew the buttons on, and have Molly try it on before swimming lessons. Then I got out the buttons, and Oops. Seven buttonholes, five buttons. Back to Joann's for me. Oh well, I didn't really love those buttons anyway, for some reason, when I was at the fabric store the pink button section was half empty (the papers have been all over the rain shortage here, but nobody has reported on the severe shortage of pink buttons) so maybe they have refilled by now and have a better selection.

I learned something exciting last night while knitting the bands and I thought I'd share it. First of all, I'll tell you how I knit my bands while ignoring the instructions.

1/ If its a really really nice sweater, I'll knit the front bands first, and then knit the collar band. That way, I think, looks nicer, but it is more complicated to estimate the button hole spacing, since your top buttonhole will be knit on the collar band. If it is a more casual sweater, a kids sweater, I'll knit the collar band first, then the front bands.

2/ For the collar band. I pick up and knit: one stitch for every one stitch on the horizontal, one stitch in every "stairstep", and three stitches to every four on the vertical. So, I'll start at the right front, pick up in every stitch across the front, when it starts stairstepping up I'll go once into every stairstep (there will be a bigger hole on the stairstep, and resist the temptation to go into a big hole, you will only make it bigger. Try to go into a tight space, usually right above the big hole right underneath the bindoff, it will be much neater. I learned this in a Sally Melville class. She is a knitting goddess.) Then pick up three stitches on the vertical, skip the fourth, three stitches, etc. I try to skip over the shoulder seam but pull very tightly on those stitches. In fact, I pull very tightly on all the stitches as I'm going around picking up on that first row.

I don't count, don't follow how many the pattern says, and don't worry about making sure they are the same on both sides, they will be, if I follow the formula. If I need a certain amount, say an even or odd number depending on a ribbing pattern, I will decrease on my knitting back the next row.

3/ After the collar band is finished, I use the same formula for the front. I pick up and knit three stitches for every four down the vertical. I do a slip stitch edge at the top and bottom edges of the bands, and it kind of mimics the cast on and bind off edges. That is, I slip the first stitch purlwise, and knit the last stitch of every row, regardless of where I was in the seedstitch pattern.

The top edges of the button band. (Sorry this one is blurry.)

The bottom edges of the band.

Here's the thing I discovered last night that made me really happy (it doesn't take much!)

I have made this sweater before, and I was unhappy with the way the seedstitch collarband didn't lay down nicely, it kind of stood up (like a Nehru collar, for lack of a better description). I wanted the band to continue with the nice slope of the shoulders. But, if you are knitting a straight band on, it makes sense that it would stand up. To look set in, it would have to be smaller at the top edge of the band, does this make sense? I thought about knitting the last couple of rows on a smaller size needle, but I was already on a #3 and I didn't want to kill my hands.

So, on the sixth of eight rows, in the center back, I did a double decrease. I knit 2, pulled the second stitch of the right needle over the first, then pulled the first stitch of the left needle over too. It took the band in by 2 stitches. And its barely noticeable.

Next time, I would do a double decrease twice, at the shoulders instead of the center back, and it would pull it in even more, but I didn't feel like ripping it out and re-doing it. I was happy enough to get the band somewhat shaped, and to have learned something I will use again.
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Friday, July 15, 2005

The Sock Situation

You may have noticed, when I get overwhelmed by the amount of projects I have going, I tend to cast on a new sock. So, I usually have a few unfinished socks lying about. These are the three current socks. The first one is light grey/denimy blue/dark grey Opal, and has been in-progress for a few months. The green one (the only second sock of the bunch) is a evergreen with other neutrals thrown in Koigu, also OTN for a few months. The pink one is a beautiful pink with melon colorway that reminds me of Campari and orange juice, that I just started a couple of days ago. (Don't mind the weird bulginess of the pink one, it's being modeled by an empty toilet paper tube.)

The thing I have just noticed, is that I really only like wearing dark, neutral socks, and I only like knitting brightly colored socks. Hmm.

In finishing news, here's my list:

1/ Weave in ends on pink wrap and decide whether or not to sew it together into a poncho/faux wrap thingie.

2/ One ball to go on the never-ending pink baby blankie.

3/ One sleeve to go on the Rowan Cash Cotton bolero (pink).

4/ Button bands on the Miss Bea sweater.

I feel a photo shoot coming on! If you don't like pink, consider yourself warned!

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Monday, July 11, 2005

Make a Commitment, Already

It has been a really good summer so far. What could be better than some sibling knitting? Sibling knitting, on vacation, by the lake, with drinks!?

Said sibling, bestowing knitted gifts on my offspring.

(Yes, I have a two-finger sucker. The index finger usually rests casually on her nose.)

On aforementioned vacation, I performed great feats of knitting for anyone who made the mistake of expressing the teensiest interest in what I was doing. Here, I unraveled 8 or 10 rows and reknit that section. Note to self: Rowan patterns with lots of cables and drinking don't mix.

Back home, and back to reality. The past several weeks have caught up with me. A little trip knitting, a little mindless knitting, seduced by a sock yarn here, a sale yarn there, and a pattern from a new magazine, and the result is this:

Doesn't everyone love a photo of a Big Sloppy Pile of Knitting?! Well, maybe not those of you who came here by googling for Bo Bice. (People. Please. Move on.)

I just feel like I have nothing to show for all this knitting I've been doing. So, this week I decided it was time to make a commitment to finishing. I have been very fickle this summer, and (although it has been quite enjoyable) I think I now have Project Hangover.

I finished the lace wrap from the new Interweave Knits.

Blocked her.

Finished the pieces for the Miss Bea cardigan.

Shown here in its pre-blocking status.

And, feeling mighty accomplished, I cast on a new Koigu sock.
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