Posts Tagged ‘sweater’

Duo of Finished Objects

August 5, 2018

I try not to set too many knitting goals for myself, but sometimes a knitter has to do what she has to do. And I must admit that I’m quite pleased to have achieved my vacation knitting goal of completing two projects.

Since they had a true deadline — birthdays are exact dates after all — the Monkey Socks were my top priority. A couple of people have asked about the significance of the name. The simple truth is that it’s the name of the pattern by Cookie, available on Ravelry and on Knitty.

On the 26th and final repeat of the 11 row pattern, I finally committed it to memory. A relatively quick toe shaping and seaming and then into a pot of sudsy water.

They dried quickly in the sunshine and were tucked away for the birthday girl.

Yarn is Flying Finn Yarns one-of-a-kind (OOAK) that I bought at J.P. Knit & Stitch’s reopening a few months ago. I just love the subtle color variations.

At that point there was no way to avoid the Sunshine Coast sweater anymore. As I explained earlier, I had a bit of an emotional hurdle to overcome on that one. But finish I did, and I’m delighted to report that I’m delighted with the final product.

On the ferry back to the mainland, I started my next project, a Baby Vertebrae frontless cardigan for a friend’s baby-to-be, who’s expected to make an appearance in early September.

baby-vertebrae-ferry

Since I’ve now got only one WIP, I feel free to cast on something else. I’ve got time, right? Unlike birthdays, baby due dates aren’t exact — until they become birthdays, of course!

 

 

 

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Life Lessons from a Sweater

July 28, 2018

Like many knitters, I’m usually always working on more than one project at a time. Recently, however, I’ve been playing favorites, spending much more time with a pair of socks than with the Sunshine Coast sweater. Sure, I can blame it on a deadline. The Monkey Socks (pattern on Ravelry and Knitty) are a birthday gift for a special friend.

But there was something else keeping me from finishing the Sunshine Coast sweater: fear. That’s probably too strong a word. How about dread?

It had to be something emotional that was keeping me from finishing because I love everything about the project. The bright apple green cotton yarn is a perfect match for this casual summer sweater.

Green Sunshine Coast sweater knitting at beach

The pattern is simple yet detailed, with lovely eyelets interspersed at the neckline and sides and subtle bands along the body.

Detail of eyelet holes along neckline of sweater

After casting off the body (more than two months ago!) and before picking up the stitches to knit the sleeves, I held it up and realized that it was too short — at least, too short for my liking. Here it is just before bind off when I tried to gauge length with circular needle still attached.

Sunshine-coast-body

I picked back the bound-off stitches and knit for a few more inches, increasing as the pattern directed. And that’s where my brain kicked in. When I finally bound off the body, it looked too wide, too boxy, and that triggered my body self-image “baggage,” that inner voice that says “that’s too boxy; it’ll make you look fat.”

I expect we all have an inner voice telling us who we are or how we should be, a voice that really isn’t our friend. I try not to listen, but boy, it can be persistent sometimes.

Now I know I’m not fat, but I used to be — at least, I was heavier and fatter than I wanted to be. But that was decades ago — like three decades ago. But that self-image and those feelings linger and, apparently, are still pretty powerful.

But I’m happy to report that my rational brain was helped along by a good dose of reality from my dear, wise daughter Hannah, who responded to my “this may be too boxy” concern on Instagram with “Mom, you think everything is too boxy. I’m sure it’s beautiful and perfect.”

 

She was right.

MAH-sunshine-Coast

 

 

 

 

 

More Sunshine than I Thought

May 18, 2018

As I’ve mentioned a few times, progress on the Sunshine Coast sweater has been slow although it’s been moving a bit faster now that I’ve got the pattern memorized. There are 12 stitch markers, which was a bit daunting at first. I think part of why it feels so slow-going is the way it “sits” on the needles. This is my usual view.

Sunshine-coast-plane

That’s a heck of a lot of stockinette stitch. But now I realize that the subtle details that first drew me to the pattern are what make it interesting to create: The occasional eyelets that run down each side and the five that sit just below the neck edge. And the gently tapered side panel that adds a bit of visual interest.

Sunshine-coast-side

Since I hadn’t measured the length since I separated the sleeve stitches from the body, I hung it up to get a good view. I’m delighted to report that I’ve only got a couple more inches to go.

Sunshine-coast-body

Of course, I’ll then have to pick up the armhole stitches and make the sleeves — two of them! But at only about 1/4 of the stitches as the body, they should practically knit themselves. Right?

 

 

That Mistake? It’s Part of the Design.

March 29, 2017

I’ve written often about important it is for knitters to learn to spot their mistakes and figure out how to remedy them.  I firmly believe that one won’t become a Fearless Knitter without learning how to fix mistakes. If you allow an error to ruin a project — in your mind — then you’ll abandon it, be discouraged, and be less likely to try something else.

I’m also a firm believer in each knitter finding the best remedy for his or her particular project at the time. This will differ based on complexity, how far into the project you are, how long you’ve got to go, the scope and scale of the mistake (among other things).

How far back do you need to go to fix the mistake? How obvious is the error? It’s nearly impossible not to see an error — since we knitters can spot our own mistakes from across the room.

The real question is: How comfortable are you with letting go of a mistake and just letting it be? Every knitter has a different tolerance for mistakes, one that may vary depending on project, mood, and deadline for finishing.

Just as each knitter develops her or his own way of holding needles and yarn, there is no right or wrong way to handle a mistake. As The Yarn Harlot says, “there are no Knitting Police.”

Like me, Fearless Knitter Marcia is comfortable with finding her own way to deal with the inevitable mistakes. You may recall how she treated a few errant stitches  on the complex Aran Afghan square that she worked on during her girls’ fishing and drinking weekend.

At class recently, Marcia shared how she remedied a mistake in the button band of a baby sweater. See that row — opposite the button hole — that she forgot to purl (or maybe knit, depending on the direction)?

mistake in garter stitch button band

Well, Marcia didn’t see it until she’d knit a couple more inches of the top-down sweater. So, rather than rip back all that work, she incorporated the new “design element” into the rest of the button band, lining up the next line opposite the next button. Damn clever!

garter stitch button band with mistake incorporated

What mistakes and/or fixes have you been particularly proud of?

A Lesson in Seaming

November 11, 2015

Fearless Knitter Gillan arrived at class Tuesday morning with her Flared Baby Sweater nearly finished. She’d ripped out the button bands after her first attempt and had re-knit to her satisfaction.

But she wasn’t happy with her seams, which were bumpy and looked inside out. “What did I do wrong?” she asked.

 Turns out she hadn’t really followed the Mattress Stitch instructions that I’d thrown into her hand at the end of the last class. She’d used a whip stitch, which doesn’t lie flat, and had seamed stitches too close to the edge.

Since she’d put a lot of work into this beautiful creation, she readily ripped out the side and arm sleeves and started again with a one-on-one Mattress Stitch tutorial.  

Although she felt her progress was slow (which it wasn’t, but it felt that way), she was very pleased with the results. This side-by-side comparison shows the difference.


Next step – and finishing touch – after seaming will be button selection. I recommended 5 buttons of different colors, picking up on the fiery rainbow of the Gina yarn. What do you think?

Lessons Learned on Re-Sizing a Sweater

September 30, 2015

There are lots of online tips for making a too-big sweater smaller. But as I discovered when I had the opposite problem — a too-small sweater that needed enlarging — there wasn’t a lot of help. With a fair bit of in-person, online, and book research, I was able to figure out how to make Michael’s special sweater large enough to fit his 17-year-old body. I learned a few things along the way, about myself and about knitting.

  • I’m not afraid to rip back and try again, especially when making something complicated and very time-consuming. A lot of time and effort went into this sweater even before I discovered that it didn’t fit. I’ve knit plenty of finished items that didn’t turn out right and were abandoned to a drawer or thrift store somewhere. This time, I decided to invest the time and energy into remedying the situation.
  • Making a sweater longer is pretty straightforward: Rip or cut back the ribbing. Pick up the stitches (I used a lifeline for this bit), and knit!
  • Knitting in the opposite direction changes the orientation of the stitches. If you look carefully, you can see that the white “specks” point up or down, depending on whether they’re in the original body of the sweater or in the added two inches.
    stitches point in different directions when knitting in opposite directions
  • Gussets are pretty nifty inventions. I needed to add about 4 inches to the circumference of the sweater, so I made two two-inch gussets — rectangular from the ribbing to the underarm and then tapered over about 4 inches into the arm sleeve.
    gusset stitched into the side of a knit sweater to make it larger
  • I appreciate attention to detail but not enough to make the gussets fit the sweater pattern.
  • Wrapping a knitted gift is a wonderful thing!
    finished stranded knit sweater in gift boxI’m delighted to report that the sweater fits — at least, that’s what Michael has told me! He’ll allow a photo “session” once the weather gets cooler. Of course, I’ll share.

 

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Making a Too-Small Sweater Bigger

September 5, 2015

As I’ve mentioned previously, the sweater that I knit for Michael is finished but not done. What I really mean is, it’s too small. This may have something to do with his increase in size from when I started the sweater. At the beginning of the year, he was on the high school wrestling team and was pretty lean — for a six-foot tall 16-year old. But after wrestling season, he started lifting weights and training in anticipation of football and, well, he got larger — much larger — as in 35 pounds heavier (“increased muscle mass” is his phrase).

We both managed not to get too upset (well, mostly) when he barely squeezed into the finished sweater sometime around the end of May, an event I did not photograph. We agreed that it’s beautiful, but there’s no way he could wear it. Here it is blocking before sleeves.

front of nordic sweater blocking on bed

Kevin, who’s older but smaller than Michael, volunteered to take the sweater, assuring both of us that it would fit him just fine. How very generous! But I resolved to figure out how to fix it.

I consulted other knitters, looked through several knitting books, and searched online for “how to make a enlarge a sweater” and “my sweater is too small.” I settled on the following strategy:

  • take apart side seams
  • remove lower ribbing,  add 2″ to the front and back, and knit the ribbing (This involved using “lifelines,” a technique I’ve found very handy!)
  • knit two 2″ gussets to sew into the side seams, thereby adding 4″ to the circumference of the sweater (well, minus maybe 1/2″ total of seaming). The gussets are rectangles up to the underarm and then tapered to a point over about 4-5″. I hadn’t reached the tapering in this photo.

two rectangular knitted  gussets for enlarging a sweater

I’ll have to open the underarm sleeve seam for a bit and add the tapered part of the gussets there.

I really, really hope this works. Wish me luck!

 

Throw Me a Lifeline (or Two)

June 17, 2015

Knitters won’t be surprised to learn that the definition of “lifeline” in most dictionaries, paper and digital, does not include this handy technique that has saved the life of many a knitter. FIguratively, not literally, of course.

But learning how to use a lifeline can enable you to finish a project, thereby “saving the life” of the project, and that should count for something! Last year, when the cuff of a sock was too tight for the intended wearer, a lifeline allowed me to cut off the offending section, pick up stitches, and make a new cuff.

In the past week, I’ve used lifelines to rescue two projects, Michael’s finished-but-not-done sweater and the recently started Old Shale Wimple.

Michael’s sweater is about two inches too short. It’s also too tight across the chest, but that’s a more complicated issue to be dealt with at another time. Rather than tear out the ribbing around the bottom of the sweater bit by bit — too slow and painstaking a task for me — I wove a strand of white yarn into a row above the ribbing, catching each stitch.

Creating a knitting lifeline by  inserting yarn into each stitch of row

With that row firmly held by the lifeline, I cut the ribbing off the sweater.

yarn lifeline holds row of stitches

And then picked up each of the stitches held by the lifeline. I picked off the extra bits of yarn from the ribbing side, so the stitches on the needle were ready to be worked. I’ll need to add two inches to the body of the sweater and then add the ribbing.

pick up each stitch from the knitting lifeline

The wimple’s rescue was similar but was necessitated by my carelessness in following (i.e., not following) the pattern. I’ll save the specifics of that adventure for another post, but here are the steps of the wimple lifeline.

lifeline inserted in knitting

picking up stitches with knitting lifeline

Learning how to fix mistakes is the key to finishing projects. And I’m getting lots of practice these days!

Curlers in Her Hair

June 8, 2015

For the past few months, I’ve been monogamous in my knitting, working on Michael’s sweater with the hope of finishing it by Memorial Day, when it’s still cool here in Massachusetts. The sweater is finished, but it’s not done. But that’s a story for another day….

In the aftermath of finishing/not-finishing, I’ve cast on two smaller projects, neither of which will have size issues.

Last fall, I bought a skein of Kidding Ewe by Done Roving Yarns at Bee’s in Bar Harbor, Maine. “Cherries Jubilee” is a yummy mix of reds, purples, and greens that will make a lovely cowl or, in this case, a wimple.

First 2 inches of Old Shale Wimple

Yes, “Maria” has been running through my brain.

Second project: “A Good, Plain Sock” in Berroco Sox. This pair for Patrick, who casually commented that I’d knit socks for everyone in the family except him.

Good plain sock recipe

What’s on your needles these days?

 

 

 

Sleeve Setting

May 6, 2015

I must confess that sweater sleeves make me nervous — specifically, the sewing of sleeves to the body and shoulder of a sweater. The seams along the length of the sleeve are easy enough since the stitches line up one-to-one. But as you approach the shoulder, the geometry gets a bit more complicated, with decreases that create shapely curves but can create challenges when it comes to lining up the sleeve to the sweater body.

So it’s no accident that the sweater pattern than I selected as the basis for Michael’s sweater has “flat top” sleeves, no taper, no sleeve cap. If I’d watched this terrific, clear, and helpful video from Knit Picks on how to set in sleeves before selecting the pattern, I may have chosen something different. Next time perhaps….

First step (after blocking all pieces, so really it’s the second step) is to line up the sleeve with the body and secure it. Some knitters use safety pins, clip-on stitch markers, or even paper clips. I prefer to tack — or tie — the sleeve to the body, taking care to line up the center of the top sleeve edge with the shoulder seam.

tacking sleeve edge to shoulder of knit sweater

It’s also important to be sure that the side edges of the sleeve extend equally down the front and back of the sweater. That makes an even armhole, but even more importantly, ensures that the sides of the sweater line up evenly when the time comes to sew those together.

close up knit sweater sleeve tacked before sewing

When I’d secured the sleeve to the shoulder, I asked Michael to try it on to see if the armhole was big enough. He carefully put his head through the neck, draped the cape-like garment over his shoulders — and the sleeve dropped right off!

Pro tip: be sure to actually tie the yarn that holds the sleeve to the shoulder. Gravity is everywhere and will pull off just looped yarn “tacks.”

Attention to Details

May 5, 2015

As I near the finish of Michael’s sweater, I try to balance the desire to hurry up and be done with it already with the desire to ensure that it’ll fit properly and look nice enough that he’ll want to wear it. Most knitters can recount clothing they’ve made for family or friends that never sees the light of day, remaining in drawers or closets somewhere.

Blocking before sewing is one of those important details. Plus, it’s fun to see the pieces laid out and lovely.

front of nordic sweater blocking on bed

Last night, when the 1.5″ neckband that the pattern called for was too high and turtleneck-ish for Michael’s taste, I calmly patiently carefully tinked* back several rows and binded off a 1/2″ neckband (K2 P2 ribbing). Much better, Michael declared.

close-up of knit ribbed neckband on sweater

Tomorrow, the sleeves.

* Tink = knit spelled backwards; the process of un-doing knitting stitch by stitch, rather than ripping out row by row.

THAT doesn’t look right…

March 1, 2013

When my children were first learning to skate, I took them to a community rink for a lesson. They spent the entire first lesson falling onto the ice, flopping onto the ice, protected by their snowpants and jackets, and learning to get up.  “On your hands and knees and bark like a dog,” the teacher commanded. “One knee up, and then the other.” Brilliant teaching. Everyone falls at least once, and if you can’t get up, you’ll never learn to skate.

Kind of like knitting. Unless you learn how to fix mistakes, you’ll never learn to knit — or you won’t learn to enjoy knitting. Mistakes are inevitable. Like these purl stitches that I discovered on this sweater for a colleague’s baby-to-be.

PurlNotKnit

I didn’t notice the errant purls until a few rows later, of course. With a crochet hook, good lighting, and a few calming breaths, I slipped the stitches of each vertical row, one by one, and then “re-knit” them with the hook.

FixMistake

Until each purl had been turned into a knit. Problem solved. Move on to the next row.

FixMistake2

Baby Stripes

February 26, 2012

I got a new neighbor just before the New Year when young Parker arrived into the world. What perfect timing since I’d finished my quick and sparkly scarf and was on the look out for a new project.

I’m a sucker for babies and a cleverly designed knit. This one fit the bill. It’s knit in one piece. Nary a seam on the whole thing. The Yarn Harlot was my inspiration yet again. She knit several kimono-style baby sweaters last year while awaiting the arrival of a friend’s baby. I loved the style — no over-the-head wrestling needed since it buttons up the front side. Plus it has a few clever-but-not-difficult design features and stitches which always makes a project more intriguing.

picking up a few stitches along the edge

It’s called the Puerperium Sweater (by Kelly Brooker), named for the period immediately after a baby’s birth. I was running a bit late since wee Parker had been around for a while, but that didn’t faze me.

I even managed to find some cute buttons to complete the look.

blue and white star-shaped buttons

I used Cascade 220 Superwash in Aran and Navy. I hope he hasn’t outgrown it already….

finishes Puerperium Sweater

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