Just In Time

 

Last night (New Years Eve) at approximately 10:30pm I finished Sibella! That's right: Sibella is complete! That's 5 better sweaters, and 2 shawls, in 2014!

This project's been a real beast. Cotton is so unforgiving. Not only did the yarn dry out my hands, it also hurt them as I strained to keep proper tension. Ultimately, though, the struggle was worth it and the final product is lovely. Soft but with structure, this sweater is perfect for all seasons.

I'm planning on taking some legit pictures this afternoon at the Berkeley Rose Garden and will post them soon with more details on the knitting process.

Happy New Year!

 

Better Sweater (2 Shawls!) No. 6

 
IMG_1327_2

Awkwardly, I have completed project No. 6 before No. 5. Nothing like that Christmas pressure! I knit up Better Sweater No. 6 (two shawls!) as a special Xmas gift for my mother. She was kind enough to take some photos with me at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum yesterday and was the perfect model. My father and brother kept us laughing all through the “shoot” while E snapped our pictures.

The yarn for this project was actually purchased in a real life local yarn shop (!!!) in 2013, but the original sweater I knit up–Caramel Cardigan–didn’t quite do it for me. The Better Sweater Project gave me the courage to frog the cardi and try something new. While this yarn would have knit up one heck of a gorgeous sweater (that blue merino goodness!) my heart was set on the beautiful Palmyre and, seeing that I had a DK yarn on my hands, I thought I’d try out a shawl instead.

I began Palmyre back in October and after completing it realized that I would have enough yarn leftover to knit up something else. My mom has been wanting a hand knit lace shawl for ages (I actually started knitting her one years ago and still haven’t completed it…I’m so sorry, Mutti!) and the Woodland Shawl was a good candidate…well, kinda. Actually, the weight was all wrong (the pattern calls for lace weight) but I thought why not cast on fewer stitches and maybe this thing will knit up quickly and still look rockin’. Luckily, it did! I cast on 53 instead of 89 stitches and used a size 6 needle. Once blocked, the width came out to about 11 inches when measured at the widest part of the “leaf.” It’s really the perfect size.

For more info on these shawls visit my Ravelry pages: Woodland Shawl and Palmyre. For more photos of the completed shawls and images of the original sweater check out the Project page for Better Sweater No. 6.

 

These Days No. 2

 

1. "In process" frogging shot for Better Sweater No. 5 // 2. Harvested yarn. Such a lovely shade of blue! // 3. New pillows for our new living room! The back one is linen and the front one is a lovely cotton from Japan.

Today I finally cast on Carrie Bostick Hoge's Sibella Pullover (aka Better Sweater No. 5)! The journey leading up to this project has been long indeed. All the moving this summer really threw off my game and knitting, or rather time for knitting, became a luxury around here. I'm happy to report that after what feels like many months we are nearly 100% moved in (our kitchen renovation is basically complete and our living room is now livable - who knew painted floors took so long to cure?) and I can return to my regularly scheduled knitting program.

In celebration of our new living space, I sewed up a couple pillow covers with material that I've had stashed since before the summer. The mountain fabric I purchased from the amazing institution that is Stonemountain & Daughter in Berkeley. Such a fabulous shop!

Last thing: The Better Sweater Project was mentioned on the Craft Sessions blog, one of my absolute favorite sites! Thanks, Felicia! Visit the post for links to some of her very helpful yarn recycling tutorials.

 

Palmyre

 
Palmyre

Another day, another project! What a lovely pattern! Quick and oh so fun to knit up. I'll definitely be turning to it again come the December holidays.

Technically I have this bad boy listed as Project No. 6, but since I started/completed the shawl before picking up Project No. 5, it doesn't really feel like it. Oh well! May it be motivation to bang out Sibella!

A few comments on this yarn: First, what an incredible color. I wore the shawl at a retreat this weekend and received several compliments on this gorgeous shade of blue (and the lace edging). Depending on the light it has hints of purple and green. Lots of depth and richness to this color! Also, what fun to knit with 100% merino, something I haven't had the chance to do with a Better Sweater Project yet. Of course, I frogged one of my legit bought-the-yarn-in-a-yarn-shop sweaters so it feels a little like cheating. This experience will hopefully push me to search for better quality thrift store sweaters to frog in future.

I'll take more photos with my legit camera (after I finish blocking) in the next couple weeks to post to the projects page. Also, I have yarn to spare from this project so I think I'll knit an additional something something for No. 6!

 

The Not Much Better Sweater

 

Well, Better Sweater No. 5 is done but I'm not much pleased. Some projects just aren't meant to be. The facts were these: the yarn weight was hard to determine, the pattern was tough to find, and the project took forever to complete. Recognizing and accepting the facts, however, is hard. I should have broken up with this project a long time ago (like maybe when the yarn ran out)! I certainly didn't enjoy the process of knitting this sweater as much as I do normally.

Anyway, I finished what was going to be sweater No. 5 in my series yesterday. Sadly you won't find it on the home page...because I'm an anal perfectionist (redundant yet true) who isn't really satisfied with the finished look. I wish it was shorter, that the bottom edging was black (a statement that could only be made in hindsight), that the two yarn fibers were the same, and that the yarn used for the body was just better period (not so pilly, rough, and acyrlic-y).

Moral of the story: it's not always bad to cut your losses early and move on. Lesson hopefully learned!

ORIGINAL SWEATERS

  • Purchased from: Crossroads
  • Brand: MNG Suit // made in China
  • Yarn: 50% acrylic & 50% wool // cream beige
  • Knit gauge: 21 stitches per 4 inches // worsted weight
  • Purchased from: Old Navy
  • Brand: Old Navy // made in China
  • Yarn: 60% cotton & 40% acrylic // black
  • Knit gauge: 20 stitches per 4 inches // worsted weight

BETTER SWEATER

  • Pattern used: Uniform by Carrie Bostick Hoge

Here's the sweater in all its imperfect glory:

And here are the before pics:

I'm so excited to move on to some better knitting! New Better Sweater No. 5, here I come!

 

Project Dilemmas: When the Yarn Runs Out

 

1. Madewell Journal Cardigan / 2. J.Crew Cashmere École / 3. J.Crew Collection Cashmere

Major project dilemmas, I should say! Turns out, I don't have enough yarn to complete the pattern I selected for Project No. 5. (This is what happens when you forget to measure your harvest. Let it be a lesson for us all!) But because I was on vacation with nothing else in my knitting basket, I decided to start anyway and then frog it later. The things I do to keep my hands busy!

Well, now that I've started I don't really want to stop! Even though I'm fully aware that I don't have enough of this color/ type of yarn to complete the project, I just don't know how to quit it. What do I do?

Here's what I'm thinking: color-block. This will be slightly more complicated than usual because not only do I need to find a complimentary color, I also need to locate a weight and texture that is similar to what I'm using now. This sweater could take some time to finish, folks!

(GIF Source Brokeback)

 

Knitting on the Go

 

Every summer my family rents a small rustic cabin in Zephyr Cove, Lake Tahoe, where we kick-back and relax as a fambam of six. This past week was spent kayaking and swimming in the lake, reading this book, playing lots and lots of Bohnanza, and knitting Better Sweater No. 5.

As you know, I love knitting. Nothing beats getting cozy on the couch with a cup of tea, a good tv show, and whatever fiber project I'm currently working on. But you might be surprised to hear that I also like to knit on the go (which is, like, the complete opposite of my normal knitting routine).

For some reason I am better able to focus when my hands are busy. One can often find me knitting during a conference call or while riding the bus. Even knitting on the bus while on a conference call. Whoa! And then there's knitting while traveling. Looking out the window of a train or sitting on a park bench admiring a gorgeous vista, your needles quietly clicking, generating something that will be instilled with whatever energy you are gazing upon. It's pretty cool. And, counterintuitively perhaps to non-knitters, super relaxing. I couldn't feel less busy and more at peace when I'm knitting [on the go]. What they say about this craft is so true: it's good for your health!

 

Finding the Right Pattern

 
Finding the Right Pattern
Finding the Right Pattern

1. Flex by Heidi Kirrmaier // 2. Naiad Tank by Meghan Jones  // 3. Ipsi by Jane Ellison // 4. Togue Pond by Pam Allen

Finding the right pattern for your yarn, especially harvested yarn, can be a bit of a chore. Even so, it's an aspect of the knitting adventure that I relish, despite the time it takes. Here's a glimpse into my process:

First, I go onto Ravelry and sort my personal library by yarn weight and type of pattern (e.g. sweater). If the results don't look promising, I turn to the general Ravelry pattern library. This can be incredibly overwhelming so make sure to use the filters (e.g. sweater, aran, woman, adult, etc.)! I then select patterns that catch my eye and add them to my library without purchasing (who knows, you might want to use them later for a different project!). I know this is not typical for Ravelry users, but I find it so much easier than favoriting as you can use all the sort filters later.

Ravelry
Ravelry

Next, I cull. I try to bear in mind the fiber of yarn I will be working with. Am I using an animal or a plant based fiber? How might this sweater sit if I'm knitting it with wool instead of linen? (That is a legit question I'm asking myself right now as I attempt to knit Flex with a wool/acrylic blend!)

Once I have three to six patterns that I like (the contenders for my current Better Sweater Project are at the top of this post), I pick my top choice and begin swatching. Remember, even if you use the weight of yarn suggested by a pattern that does not necessarily mean that your yarn will produce the same gauge as the pattern. If my swatch doesn't match up to the gauge indicated on the pattern page, I try using a different needle size. If this doesn't work out, I move on to another pattern and begin the swatching process again. Once I have the winning combo, I progress to the final step.

Leap into knitting! Take a chance and see if your project will fly. Only time will tell if my acrylic/wool version of Flex will end up awesome or get frogged and turned into something else. But that's part of the grand knitting adventure, right? Cheers!

In short, I:

  1. Sort through my personal Ravelry library or the general Ravelry library by weight.
  2. Select patterns that I might want to work with and add to personal library.
  3. Cull these patterns, picking out the ones that would work with they fibre of yarn I'm using.
  4. Swatch and swatch and swatch.
  5. Leap into knitting!

Update: After taking a "leap" and beginning Flex, I soon discovered that I had completely inaccurately gauged my yarn as aran when in fact it is worsted. I blame this mis-reading of yarn weight on the slightly fluffed out quality of the yarn from washing (and not on my utter incompetence). Back to the library I go!