Monday, August 27, 2012

Build me up buttercup

Last week I finished a pair of arm warmers but haven't gotten a chance to blog about them.  The pattern is a Blue Sky Alpacas pattern called Arm Warmers by Sylvia Hager.  Mine were knit using Blue Sky Alpacas Sport Weight yarn in the Cappuccino (#540) and Buttercup (#537) colors.  I used Cappuccino as the main color (2 skeins) and Buttercup (1 skein) as the contrasting color.  This yarn was wonderful to work with (seems like I say that a lot) and softer than I thought it would be.  My only complaint is that it is a tiny bit splitty, but not nearly as much as some other yarns I've worked with.  Overall I'd highly recommend this yarn and I look forward to working with it again.
The pattern gives two sizes and after a bit of research, I opted to knit the smaller size figuring that the ribbing about be somewhat forgiving (it is!).  Another reason for knitting the smaller size? These arm warmers are meant to fitted.  If you don't want a fitted look, then definitely knit the larger size.  In fact, you could even knit a size larger than the largest size given in the pattern by casting on extra stitches in multiplies of 5.  Even though I knit the small size for the arm, I decided to give myself more room at the elbow.  When it came to joining the contrasting color, instead of following the increases as written, I opted to increase to the number of stitches for the larger size glove.  
A unique feature of this pattern is that it is knit from the hand to the elbow.  The thumb is actually shaped using a form of short rows instead of a traditional bind off X number of stitches.  The reason I say a form of short rows is because they aren't true short rows, but the concept is similar - you'll see if you decide to knit these gloves (which I highly recommend!).  My only complaint with the pattern is with the instructions for how to join after shaping for the thumb.  It's not entirely clear that you shouldn't be joining "backwards", which would lead to knitting these inside out (which you aren't suppose to do).  

The details:
Needles: US 3 (3.25 mm) DPNs
Glove #1 = 43 g
Glove #2 = 44 g

Yarn remaining of each color:
Cappuccino = 16 g & 15 g
Buttercup = 30 g

Currently these gloves are residing at my local yarn store (LYS), Park Avenue Yarns as a shop sample for an upcoming class on double pointed needles.

P.S. It's really hard to take a photo of yourself wearing gloves.  Here is probably the best one (which is actually just the least worst photo), so that you can have an idea of what these look like on.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

It goes on & on & on

I am knitting with the skein that won't quit.  Seriously.  This Miss Babs Yowza - Whatta Skein! is starting to feel like the never ending skein.  I am ~11.5 inches from the underarm of my cardigan to the bottom edge and I have 23 grams of yarn (57 yards) left in the first skein.  I'm beginning to think that I'm going to be able to finish the cabling on the back before starting the second skein, which will put me in good shape to finish the arms & ribbing without running out of yarn.

Okay, so where am I at in the cardigan?  On 8/16 I finished all the instructions on page 37, which left me deciding if I should do the errata to increase the circumference of the sleeves & depth of the yoke.  After much hemming and hawing and of course Ravelry research (no joke, I read TONS of Ravelry project pages & threads related to the cardigan), I ultimately decided to follow the errata instructions.  My decision was influenced on my research, but also on the fact that if the arms did come out too big for, then I could decrease stitches more rapidly/easily then it would have been to add stitches.
Nerd alert! I made an excel spreadsheet for the increases!
On 8/17 I finished the errata and split for the sleeves.  Now here is where my progress slowed, at least compared to my initial progress.  I know what you are thinking, didn't you just cast on for this on 8/14?  How can you possibly say it's slowing down?  Well, I guess it just felt like I slowed down.  While I was initially pretty enthusiastic about knitting the back, it quickly began somewhat less appealing as the inches crept on.

This cardigan is knitting up pretty quickly and I'm already beginning to feel the itch to knit more garments.  Or at least more cardigan type garments.  As far as fit, I'm still on the fence.  When I try the cardigan on, the fit seems good, maybe even great, but I'm concerned that the ribbing is going to change how I feel about it.  The good thing is that it keeps me motivated to knit on it because I'm excited to see how the ribbing is going to affect the fit.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A cardigan?!?!

No, you are not dreaming.  As the title does suggest, yes! I am knitting a cardigan.   I posted back in January some 2012 knitting goals.  The #1 goal I wrote was to knit a garment.  There are some other things on that list, but I'll get back to those in another post.  Okay, so what garment?  Well, I am going to knit something that should be relatively easy - a top down cardigan with a forgiving fit.  The pattern: Rocky Coast Cardigan from Coastal Knits.  This book was written by Alana Dakos and Hannah Fettig and the Rocky Coast Cardigan in particular is one of Hannah Fettig's designs. 

I actually pegged this design to be my first garment sometime in the spring or at least before I knew I would be visiting my family in MD.  I originally planned to knit this shawl using the yarn that the pattern called for and it just so happened to be my luck that the yarn store I would be visiting in MD (Fibre Space) carried the yarn the pattern calls for: The Fibre Company Organik.  This yarn is absolutely lovely, let me tell you, but it retails for around $12 a skein.  I was going to need at least 11 skeins for this project which would make this a $120 cardigan, give or take.  Now, I'm all for knitting a cardigan with awesome yarn and ending up with a beautiful cardigan worth $120, but I wanted to buy more at the store than just this yarn.    The yarn budget only stretches soo far, if you know what I'm saying.  In looking around the store I came across Miss Babas Yowza - Whatta Skein! and knew I found the perfect substitute.  
Top swatch = US 10.5 needles; bottom swatch = US 11 needles
The pattern calls for a gauge of 16 sts & 20 rows in 4 inches in the Cable Stitch pattern on US 10.5 needles.  I swatched with the US 10.5 needles and ended up with 9 sts in 4 inches.  Since I needed less stitches to an inch, I went up a needle size and swatched with US 11 needles.  The US 11 needles gave me a gauge of 8 sts in 4 inches.  Spot on.  I kinda like the look of the 10.5 swatch more, but I decided to go with what gives the right gauge.
Back panel
I'm knitting the 43"size which should give me the 4-6" of positive ease that the pattern calls for.  I'm 11 rows in and so far I'm enjoying it.  I'm still not 100% on whether I like the look of the fabric that the US 11 needles gives, but I'm trusting in the gauge and knitting on.  Another new skill learned in this project: knitting cables without a cable needle.  I can't wait to get further along so that I can try it on!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Closing ceremonies

Ravellenic Games 2012 has come to a close and I'm happy to report that I finished two cowls!  Upon finishing up my blue Brush Suri Loop Scarf (Cowl), I realized that I had enough left over from the blue & white version to make a striped version.  I had 57 yards of both and opted for a helical striped version using the blue for the top & bottom edging.  The key to helical knitting is to divide the number of colors you are working as evenly as possibly over the number of stitches.  For example, if you are working with 3 colors and your patten is 12 stitches, then you would divide such that each color is cast on over 4 stitches.  Then just work your pattern in the round as directed, switching colors as you come to them.
After working the four rounds of ribbing, I then knit half of the stitches (70 sts) in blue and switched to white for the second half (70 sts).  The pattern ended up using all of the blue I had left over, in fact I actually had to rip back some because I knit too much before realizing I wouldn't have enough blue to do the final four rounds of ribbing.  I have a decent amount of white left, so I'm thinking of doing another colored version.
I blocked this cowl a little too aggressively and as a result, the striping effect was somewhat lost. I'm not going to re-block it yet, but will just wait until the next time I need to wash/block it. You can also tell in my photo of it being worn that it's a little too long length wise. I'm not sure if I will be keeping this one or the blue one for that matter.  I might end up donating them to charity and/or gifting them, only time will tell.  Because really, do I need three cowls???

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Socks on two circulars

I've been looking forward to the August meeting for the knitting Guild that I belong to for a long time now.  We had the meeting yesterday and the anticipation was totally worth it.  Why have I been looking forward to this program for soo long?  Well because the program for August was knitting socks on two circular needles as taught by the wonderful Maxine.  Maxine is a phenomenal knitter who I've learned a lot from our conversations about knitting and things in general.  It's hard to believe that I've only known her for about a year and a half.  One thing she's always advocated is knitting socks on two circulars as this is the main way she knits socks.  

Prior to the meeting I picked out a pattern and some yarn, which as it turns out is the yarn the pattern calls for.  I would say that it's pretty unusual for me to knit a pattern with the exact yarn that a pattern calls for, but it seems to be happening more for me lately.  This particular yarn was actually gifted to me from my mom's stash.  She saw someone knitting socks with this yarn at a shop and just had to have it. Then it turns out that I had to have it since she had more than enough yarn in her stash to knit socks with.  
The pattern is Thuja by Bobby Ziegler.  I've had this pattern in my queue for awhile now, actually since December 31st 2008.  The pattern isn't written for knitting on two circulars, but I've found that I've been able to adapt it pretty easily.  I'm actually surprised as how easily I've been able to convert the pattern - not something I think I could have easily done in 2008.  I guess that is what knitting a lot will do for you!
The yarn is Artyarns Supermerino in color 143.  The color is a mix of blues & browns.  This is a variegated color and it is knitting up quite nicely with no color pooling.  I'm actually pretty impressed with how well the blues & browns work together.  Part of me wishes I had more of it because it could have made a pretty top of sorts.  Though let's be honest, I haven't knit a completed garment since my first garment back in 2007, so it's pretty unlikely that I would have knit a top with the yarn.

P.S. I'm going to be playing around with the look of the blog over the next couple of days, so don't be too surprised if you stop by and it looks different.  I should have this finalized by the end of the week.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Have swift, will bock

Finished up my (first) Ravellenic project!!!  I actually cast-off for this yesterday, but didn't get around to blocking it today.  Right now I only have a blocking photo, but once it finishes blocking I'll post a photo & finished measurements.  This is really a fun and very quick project to make.  The total yarn used for the cowl was 85 yds (30 grams).  Since this is my second cowl like this, I now have two balls of the Blue Sky Alpacas Brushed Suri left weighing 30 grams each....of course you know what I'm going to do with them!  I'm going to knit a striped cowl.  Stay tuned for an update on that.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

W is for Wedge

Awhile back I posted about how I came across on a group on Ravelry that was dedicated to Cookie A.'s book Knit. Sock. Love. and that the current KAL (or about to start anyway) was for the Wedge sock pattern.    I cast-on for the sock June first and got knitting away.  I completed the first sock on June 13th and cast on for sock #2 on June 19th.  Now, this is the part in the blog post where I tell you I went on and finished the second sock in two weeks, just like the first.  Well, that didn't exactly happen.  Of course I got distracted by other projects and thinking that I had until the end of July to finish the second sock, I put it off.  

Then July rolled around and I worked on it some more, but still figured I had plenty of time.  Fast forward to this past Sunday (July 29th) and suddenly it hit me that I really need to put in more time on the second sock to get it done by the end of July.  By Tuesday I had the sock finished except for grafting the toe and weaving in ends.  Tuesday was a pretty busy day for me and I didn't end up finding the time to graft the toe and weave in the ends.  I was a little disappointed to not finish in official time for the KAL, but I did get up today and my first order of business was to graft the toe and weave in ends.  The result is that I finished the second sock and the overall I'm pretty happy with the result.
The details:
Pattern: Wedge by Cookie A. published in Knit. Sock. Love.
Ravelry project page: Wedge!
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock Multi; colorway Argyle (501) 
Needles: US 1 (2.25 mm) double pointed needles
Size: Medium (64 sts)
Actual yarn amount used: 85 g (370 yds); Sock #1 = 42 grams; Sock #2 = 43 grams
Modifications/Notes: I knit this pattern exactly as written.  I conquered a lot of firsts with this pattern: knitting short rows in the round, short row heel, & short row toe.  Basically all the firsts revolve around short rows.  I've knit projects using short rows, but just not like how they were used in this pattern.  The pattern is well written and offers a wide variety of sizes from XS all the way to XL, which is pretty unique for a sock pattern.  My version was knit using 3 repeats of the increase wedge, stockinette band, & decrease wedge sequence.  For the foot, I completed the full sequence a total of 2 times.  I'm pretty happy with the fit of the socks, though they seem a tad big (loose?) in the foot.  The heel and the leg fit seems just about perfect, so perhaps if I knit these again I'll do everything the same for the leg/heel but then decrease to the next size down for the foot.  I'll know for sure if it's too big/loose in the foot when I wear them for the first time.