Monday, December 31, 2007

Hat with Holes...

Pattern: Urban Homesteader by Christy
Needles: US 6 & US7
Yarn: SWTC Karaoke - Held Double stranded for most of the knitting

Comments: Sorry about the "flashy" photo - I was needing to do the self portrait thing and I wasn't having any luck outside. This hat was a really fast knit, and it worked well to help bust some of my stash :) While it does make my head look a little jelly-fish like - especially in that center photo - I love how deep the hat is. It means my ears definitely stay completely covered when worn (even when I don't wear it with my hair sticking out one of the flaps). Right now, I'll probably be using it mostly in Pony tail mode, only because my hair is much longer than I realized it was :) Definitely recommended. Don't skip out on whipstitching the edging on those flaps, btw - otherwise you may notice your flaps are really curly!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Cabled Goodness (Central Park Hoodie)

Pattern: the Central Park Hoodie, originally from Knitscene now available from Interweave's Knitting Daily shop.
Yarn: Paton's Classic Merino Wool in Burgundy - less than 6 balls used.
Size: 44 - though my gauge was slightly smaller, so it's somewhere between a 40 & 44.
Needles: US 5 & 7
Modifications? Of course!

I do believe this is one of the fastest sweaters I've ever knit. I don't recall ever being quite so eager to cast on for any given project - I blame this one on the cold weather snap that has me bundling up in all my handknits - definitely a rare treat down here in the desert! Anyhow, I purchased the pattern and went hunting for yarn on December 11th, knit a hasty swatch and cast on that evening. That would be where modification # 1 came in - I knit the body in one piece - after consulting the pattern, I found it odd that the fronts and the back didn't end with the same type of stitching allowing for nice seam in the ribbing, so I simply cast on the total number of stitches (I didn't subtract 4 stitches for the seams) and knit happily away on my 2x2 ribbing. After 4 inches of ribbing, that was where I discovered that there must have been an error in the pattern - The right sides of the fronts should have started out with opposite stitches - the Right Front should have started with P2 instead of K2, and vice versa for the Left Front - voila, the missing stitches and the non-smooth ribbing was now accounted for. Undeterred, I decided I could make things work out and didn't rip back the 4 inches of ribbing on small(er) needles.

In order to make things all look good, I had to decide if I was going to have the cables appear to seamlessly emerge from the ribbing on the fronts or the backs - or see if I could fudge things around to make it look excellent on all counts. I wound up settling for having the outer cables on the back not flow perfectly up and out of the ribbing, though I was able to salvage the center cables by turning them into 4x4 cables rather than 3x3...Of course, I came to this realization after I had knit several inches of the body - fear not, I didn't rip it all back to resolve this - instead I opted to drop back all the cable stitches for that center cable sequence and pick them up and reknit em from the ribbing upwards :) Sadly, I didn't take photos - it was an impressive sight. My husband thought I was nuts. Once I had the cables changed to my liking, everything from then on flowed quite nicely. I had been tempted to graft the shoulders together, though I was not satisfied with my initial (hasty) results, and wound up doing the 3-needle bindoff instead.

For the hood, I decided I wasn't going to be happy with the cable ending abruptly at the top bottom of the neck, nor was I going to be satisfied with it ending at the top of the hood to disappear into a seam - I figure a hood is just like a really big sock heel, so I went ahead and modified the pattern, changing the decreases and carrying the cable up and over the top as if it were a heel flap - I also modified the ending sequence of the cable pattern to have them merge together into a single 2x2 twisting cable at the front of the hood. While I am very happy with the results, I should probably confess to having ripped back the hood at least once as the first attempt left me with a gigantic hood that would have looked more at home on a flowing cape than on a fitted cardigan (it was way too voluminous). With a lot more patience, and my handy Vogue Knitting Ultimate Knitting Book opened to the 1x1 rib grafting instructions, I wound up grafting the edging cables together at the top center of the hood quite nicely if I do say so myself :)

Sleeve Island was conquered by knitting both sleeves together, at the same time, circularly - the same way I knit socks ;) Finally, I set in the sleeves, and picked up all the stitches for the 2x2 ribbed edging (yes, another modification, I went to all that trouble to make the hood look seamless, I couldn't very well have allowed for a seam front and center now could I?) and knit like a fiend. I finished all the knitting on Christmas Eve Eve, tried various methods of closures from simply holding the cardi closed by overlapping the front edgings and pinning them with a DPN, to installing buttons on the insides to allow for clean lines of ribbing to be featured - I wasn't happy with either option, so I gathered up some yarn scraps and braved Jo-Ann Fabrics on Christmas Eve to find a zipper - lucky me, they had a perfect match, in a perfect length...and it was 50% off all I had to do was get the darned thing installed...

Those of you who are aware of my previous cardi adventures know that I don't trust my handknits to myself and my sewing machine - I typically hire out to have my zips installed. Unfortunately, there was no way the zip was going to get installed in time for Christmas if I went that the rest of Christmas Eve was spent referring to various sources on how to hand-install a zipper.

I patiently pinned the zip in (as recommended by the Domiknitrix book) and carefully tried it on to make sure there was no bunching or rippling. I then basted the front of the cardi shut to make sure all the ribbing was happily aligned (per the fantastic instructions by Bonne Marie at Chic Knits and adjusted my initial pin-job accordingly. I then threaded my needle with matching thread and whip stitched that baby in place as directed in that Vogue Ultimate Knitting book. Once the zip was secured, I turned back around and backstitched my way right back down the zipper to make sure it was in for the duration. I should note for those wondering that there were no modifications required to get the zipper to go in nicely, though you will notice a slight mashing of the yarn about a stitch or two in from the bound off edge - this is where the backstitches march on the fabric. You might want to go with a different edging, rather than the K2P2 rib, but as I didn't do so, I can't comment how well a different edging might look - I'd think a plain stockinette hemmed band would work well, though it would mean additional seaming/finishing - but I suspect it would be easier to install the zip on something other than the 2x2 rib - especially if you're slightly obsessive like I am and want all the knit parts to line up nicely with all the purl bits :)

I daresay I did a pretty good job of it, don't you?

And here we are, outside, where the light gives a much better represntation of the actual color of the cardi. With nice long sleeves, and a slightly longer body than my Ribby Cardi, I think this will become a favorite this season!

Of course, I can't leave you without a view of all the cabled goodness :D Definitely a treat to knit, and fast too - and yes, I was done before Christmas :D

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Guinevere - the Secret of the Stole

Pattern: Secret of the Stole I by Nautical Knitter
Yarn: Spritely Goods Fey, in CoffeePot Rock Colorway. Approx 2.5 skeins used (10 oz)
Needles: US6
Miscellanea: Iridescent and Luster glass beads in complementary colors. Only one small bit of the "middle" section was actually knit due to concerns over the finished length of the stole.

Finished Dimensions: 100 inches by 26 inches - yow!

Comments: This stole was (I think) my first ever "mystery" type project - and the knitting was enjoyable. The finished stole is quite lovely, though had I estimated my yarn usage better I would have blended in the 3rd skein of yarn in over the entire length of the stole - it is the same colorway, and dyed the same day too - this is the nature of handdyes though. Unfortunately, no matter what I do, I can't seem to get a good shot of the stole - it's very long, and I seem to be lacking in drape-worthy surfaces. Every time I laid it out on the floor for photographing, I wound up chasing the cats away. If I had it to do all over again, I probably would have opted to forego any knitting in the middle section at all to shorten it up another several inches and I might have gone with one of my more solid colored yarns. While the coffeepot rock colors are fairly muted and don't obscure the pattern too much, a solid (or only slightly variegated) yarn would have displayed the motifs even better.

If you are interested in knitting the stole, I do recommend joining the yahoo group to read up on the inspiration and background for this stole.

A much more gorgeous photo by the Nautical Knitter: