Grey Matter

It was my goal to finish up the sleeves of this sweater during the driving portion of our recent trip.  There were about 10-12 hours in the car each way.  Fortunately Sweetie likes to do the bulk of the driving, so there was a lot of time to sit back and knit.  I finished the first sleeve on the way down, and the second on the way home!

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  • Pattern: Baby Cables and Big Ones Too by Suvi S. (ravelled here) Started December 20, 2008 Finished March 23, 2009

  • Size: 37 (medium), about 2 inches of positive ease

  • Yarn: Valley Yarns Stockbridge (50/50 wool alpaca) in Light Grey. 10 skeins/1,090 yards

  • Needles: US 6/4 mm

  • Mods: I omitted the cables on the arms.  This was something that I really liked about this sweater when I first saw it, but I was ready to get this off the needles.  Instead, I knit it plain and finished the cuffs with garter stitch to match the hem.  I also only did 9 decreases on the arms instead of 10.

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The garter stitch yoke is so big and stretchy that I could have easily gone down a needle size.  It didn’t seem so big until after I blocked it.  Then those ridges opened up and it grew.  The portion at the top of the arms feels particularly bulky.  I’m also not completely satisfied with the arms.  Seeing how it ended up, I would have liked to do more decreases at the top of the arm making it a little bit closer fitting.  As it is now, there’s quite a bit of bulk under the arms.  It feels like I have bat wings when I hold my arms out to the side!

Aside from those 2 areas, I am pleased with the fit of the body.  It was a seamless top-down sweater, so I was able to adjust the body as I went along.  No such luck for the sleeves; it’s hard to try on a sweater in a moving car and decide if the arms are fitting well or not!

Now that I’m thinking about it, I could have knit the yoke and arms in size small and the body in size medium.  Would that solve these issues?

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Overall I am satisfied that this sweater is finished and wearable.  It was only my second sweater, and each time I have learned so much.  I am figuring out what to look for in a pattern that will suit my body and knitting style.  Both sweaters have ended up with ill-fitting arms, so that’s something I need to pay attention to in the future.  In any case, I’m happy to be finished with this winter sweater just in time to see the daffodils bloom!

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This sweater was in the works for a good 3 months.  If you’d like to read more about the process of knitting this sweater, check out these posts:

  1. Getting Started: Sweater #2

  2. Baby Steps

  3. Reignigted

Now I’m off to think about what garment to knit next.  Ideally it will be something lightweight, perhaps a cardigan or cropped sweater of some sort.  Any suggestions?

Reignited

I took myself and the Baby Cables sweater out to Starbucks yesterday for a bit of a marathon knitting session. There were many chores at home to be avoided done, so before I left I switched the laundry over and made a shopping list, then grabbed my knitting and fled. Some days the bare minimum is all that can be expected when it comes to housework, don’t you think?

I had the pleasure of several brand new podcasts to listen to, so I  decided to sit and knit, drink a chai tea latte, and listen to Cast-On. It was during that hour that I fell miraculously and hopelessly back in love with this sweater.

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After finishing the decreases at the waist, I decided to try the sweater on for the first time.  Not doing so before this point was a bit of a leap of faith, one I hoped not to regret.  When I pulled it over my head and shoulders and felt that wool/alpaca blend against my body, I just knew it would fit perfectly.

Seeing the sweater as a garment and not just a long-running work in progress has reignited my desire to finish it.  My new plan is to keep working on it this week to finish up the body.  Once that happens I will reconsider whether to start a new project or keep knitting away at the sleeves.  I am open to either possibility!

Fun in a Box

I have the best Sweetie ever!

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After having a little bit of a bummer of a week, I had a very sweet surprise at my doorstep.  Sweetie “sent” me a care package full of goodies that taste, smell, and feel delicious.  Yarn, lotion and bubble bath, mini candy bars,  watercolor markers and canvas.  Plus a few letters that spell “Baa” for the craft room.  Fun in a box!

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I’ve been wanting to try the Lion Brand Organic Cotton for some time now, so it was nice to see it in the box.  This is the Macadamia Nut colorway, and it is a beautiful, natural shade that I can see knitting up into a sweet cardigan or baby blanket.

This was a good weekend for knitting.  I got a few inches done on the stockinette body of my Baby Cables sweater, but I still can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I like the sweater and look forward to wearing it, but there are so many other projects I’d like to get knitting.

I keep breaking up the monotony by telling myself I can work on another project after I get through each progression on the sweater.  For instance, I’m on the decreases at the body, and when I finish that I plan on starting something else.  Probably the mate to my bubble gum pink socks.  Yeah, I think a little bright pink is in order!

Baby Steps

I love my cat.  I love my cat.

I am reminding myself of this because we just had an Incident.  An incident in which I had an entire finely crafted blog post highlighted to change the font  size when one well placed cat paw touched the keyboard.  Gone, kitty, gone.

In lieu of trying to reconstruct it, I will give you the highlights:

Instead of knitting my second sock this week, I decided to tend to some other projects that were already on the needles.  Poof was one of them.  Once that was finished, I turned my attention to the oft neglected cabled sweater.  I started this beautiful knit back in December, but progress has been slow.  I got distracted by socks and scarves, while still feeling a strong urge to finish the sweater.  It’s going to be Spring soon, and I have to wear this at least once while it’s still Winter!

With a renewed sense of dedication, I knit almost exclusively on it all week.

Baby Cables & Big Ones Too

Baby Cables & Big Ones Too

After all that knitting, I only just put the sleeve stitches on waste yarn.  This has been a black hole project: I knit and knit and feel like I’ve made very little progress.  Hopefully it will feel faster now that I’m onto the plain stockinette body.  Purling across every other row really slows me down!

Cabled Sleeve

Cabled Sleeve

I am loving how the cables are turning out.  This yarn, a 50/50 blend of wool and alpaca, is ever so slightly variegated within the strand that there is a lovely depth to the yarn.  A slightly fuzziness also adds interest, and it all makes the cables really pop.

I’m off to enjoy my weekend activities which include a double feature, a knitting class, and a doggy play date with Martha and her friend Hugo.  I hope you have a great weekend!

Getting Started: Sweater #2

I started a new sweater project last week: Baby Cables and Big Ones Too by Suvi S.  This is a more involved pattern than my previous sweater, involving 5 cable charts, a backward loop increase, and pages of instructions.  I found myself feeling a little discombobulated when getting started.  Over the course of the first several rows, I came up with a few ways to make the process a little bit easier on myself.

The yarn is Stockbridge from Valley Yarns, a nice alpaca and wool blend in a slightly heathered grey.  It sheds a little bit, but is knitting up beautifully.  The sweater is knit seamlessly from the top down, with the arm increases magically hidden within the garter stitch background.  All of those things are great, but the main reason I wanted to knit this sweater is for the cables.

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There are 5 cables spread across the yoke of the sweater, and 4 charts for these cables.  That means a lot of stitch markers!  I did the first couple of cable rounds with the stitch markers as is before I realized it would be helpful to label them.  So I got out my trusty Dymo label maker (yes, I’m that nerdy) and got to work.  I printed out the coordinating chart letter for each cable and put it onto the marker.  Voila!

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Now I can knit along mindlessly until I see that “B”, look at the chart, do that cable, and continue on.  Of course, after a few inches I knew which cables were which, but this really helped me get a handle on things in the beginning.

There are also stitch markers on each side of the sweater to demarcate the raglan increases for the arms.  These are orange and the cable markers are green.  Again, a lot of stitch markers, but they really help you along.

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I put the pattern in a plastic sheet protector to keep things tidy (again with the Nerdy).  Then I’m also using the green highlighter tape to keep track of what section I’m on on the charts.

And this is how I got started on my second sweater!  Organizing yourself for a project is as individual as the knitter, and these are just some of the ways I have found that help me stay sane.

Do you have any suggestions, tips, or tricks for project organization?

Yarn Pilgrimage

Friday’s trip to Mecca WEBS proved to be both inspiring and fruitful.  There is so much beautiful yarn there, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.  But thanks to a courteous staff member, I was directed to the types of yarn I was looking for, and in what felt like no time at all I was surrounded with great options for a sweater.

In searching for the perfect pattern for My First Sweater, I had these criteria:

  • Seamless construction.

  • Modern and stylish.

  • Something that would look good on my body that I would like to wear.

  • Simple but not boring.

In the end, I purchased two top down patterns.  I went to WEBS with the intention of getting the yarn to make one or the other, whichever I was more excited about when I saw the yarn options.  Silly Peaceful Knitter!  There were a few great options for each sweater, and I ended up stocking up to knit both.

  • Pattern: Wicked

  • Yarn: Artyarns Supermerino in color 239.  It’s a gorgeous blue-purple semisolid colorway.  Love.

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See that cable coming up the sleeve from the wrist?  That’s what did me in!

I wound up the yarn over the weekend and started swatching.  That’s right: I took your advice and swatched then swatched again.  Apparently I had a little bit of a mental block when swatching for Wicked.  The pattern calls for a size 7 needle.  I got 5 1/2 stitches to the inch with 7s (too few), so I needed to try another needle size.  This is when I glanced back at the pattern to make sure of the needle size.  I saw US size 7 and US size 4.  “Really? 4s with worsted weight yarn?” I thought to myself.  Okay….so I swatched with 6s.  Then 5s and finally 4s.

I was feeling beyond frustrated about not achieving this mythical gauge when I started complaining to Sweetie.  She said she’d take a look, and I handed her my knitting and my trusty Susan Bates gauge thingy.  She chuckled and said something to the effect of “shouldn’t you be going up a needle size if you want fewer stitches per inch?”  After a moment of complete humiliation, I thanked her for being so good with measurements and proceeded to rip out and start over.  Apparently when I saw size 4 I was looking at the information for the laceweight version of the sweater, not the worsted!  I ignored what I thought I knew about gauge and was implicitly trusting what I thought the pattern said.

I got a good start on Wicked at knitting group yesterday, and am about to start the raglan increases.  I love the yarn, and the pattern seems straightforward and just interesting enough.  Is it wrong that I’m already excited to be finished with this one so I can start Baby Cables?

While at Mecca WEBS, I also found a better yarn for the Hanami Stole than what I had swatched with before.  This is a beautiful raspberry wine color of Misti Alpaca.

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One our way out of the parking lot, Sweetie and I both noticed the bead shop.  “Do you want to stop?” she offered.  “Well, I do need some beads to go with this lace yarn…”  We pulled in, found the right beads almost immediately thanks to another courteous staffer, and were on our way.  The day was a great success!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to my sweater.

Ha!  I’m knitting a sweater!  I really like the sound of that.