FO: Climbing Vines Pullover

Well, it took me from November to finish this sweater, but I did it!  I was beginning to think it would be one of those seasonal knits that gets finished just in time to wave winter goodbye, but we’ve had a return to the cold temps so a wool sweater has been a necessity.  My little family spent some time playing in the backyard this weekend and Sweetie snapped these shots in the lovely morning light.

  • Pattern: Climbing Vines Pullover by Joelle Meier Rioux from Interweave Knits Winter 2008 (Ravelled here)
  • Yarn: Dream in Color Classy in the Happy Forest colorway, 4 skeins (approx 1000 yards)
  • Needles: US 7 & 8/4.5-5mm
  • Mods: Added length to the body and sleeves.  See Ravelry notes.

What can I say about this project? I learned so much along the way, it’s hard to know where to begin.  Let’s start with what I love about it: the simple shaping, scoopneck, and leaf motif.  That’s why I chose the pattern in the first place. I think it’s a very wearable piece that looks good over a t-shirt, tank, or even a button-down shirt as it was shown in IK.

The yarn and colorway are stunning and lovely to work with.  Classy is a sturdy, superwash merino that produces smashing stockinette and makes those leaf motifs pop.  It’s also soft enough to wear against your skin.  I did not choose to alternate skeins, and was happy with how the color looks over the whole sweater.  Cheerful!

Brrr...need more wool...

It is a fairly straightforward knit, but my inexperience in knitting a sweater in pieces psyched me out, and I did a lot of second-guessing; this is probably why it took me so long to finish.  In fact, the knitting has been done for weeks, the pieces blocked and waiting for me to gather up the gumption to tackle the seaming.  Seems like a shame, now that I’ve done it and realized there was nothing to fear!  I took a lot of time and care getting the seams just right, but still ended up with some bunching at the shoulders.

I did encounter a few tricky bits during the making up of this sweater.  My first flub came way back at the beginning when deciding on sizing.  I had a 38″ bust at the time (subsequent weight loss only ads to the following misstep).  The sweater appeared to have very little positive ease built in, and I wanted something that would work as a layering piece.  The sizing options were such that I felt compelled to knit the size 42″ instead 38″ bust.  This ended up working out for me in the hips, but being large everywhere else. I didn’t make the connection that as I was adding length to the body, I could have also removed length and/or width from other areas, essentially creating a hybrid of more than one size sweater.  I’m comfortable making these types of modifications in top-down raglan style pullovers, but didn’t know how to go about it with the sweater in pieces.

In the interest of being totally transparent, let me show you what I’m talking about:

Too much positive ease, armhole too tall, wonky shoulder seams

My hand indicates where my actual underarm is...

Remember, knitting is not homework, but it can be helpful to do your homework before you start knitting.  Here are a few tips I learned on this project:

  • Have someone help you take measurements of your body.
  • Knit a swatch.  Wash and block this swatch.  That way there will be no surprises after you’ve spent hours and hours knitting a sweater to your measurements, only to find it outgrow them when wet.
  • Don’t be intimidated by new techniques.  There are loads of resources out there to help you tackle them, from resource books, helpful videos, and generous knitting group friends.  Seaming is nothing to fear!
  • Just because your bust is one size doesn’t mean the rest of your body is.  I’m a classic pear shape with a long torso and slight shoulders.  Choosing to knit a size based on my bust measurement and my desire for positive ease left me with a too-large armhole and shoulder.
  • Customize the fit where you can.  Having knit a couple of tops with my long torso in mind, I knew I would have to add at least 2 inches to this sweater to get a comfortable length.  I also added a couple of inches to the sleeves to make them full length.

In case you’re a novice sweater seamer like I am, here are some resources I found helpful on my journey.

And when in doubt, it’s always a good idea to take your bag of sweater pieces to knit night and ask for help and support.  This is what I finally did, and it gave me that final push I needed to get finished.  Thanks, Laia!

When the Official FO photo shoot ended, I joined PB in the garden for some exploration and compost churning.  It was chilly, but Spring is definitely in the air.

frozen Brussel sprout, anyone?

Have a great day today, and come back tomorrow for a little giveaway!

Yarn Along:: Slogging Along

From Small ThingsTwo of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading?

Dang it.  Each week I hope to be able to share that I have finished the knitting on this green sweater.  How can it be that I was once so excited about this project, and now I can hardly stand to look at it?  I love the yarn and the pattern, but knitting it has become so tedious.  I worked on it for a couple of hours last night and am relieved to say I have reached the armhole and neckline decreases!  It won’t be long now.  In fact, it’s probably time to start thinking about how to seam this sweater up.  This is my first knit-in-pieces sweater, and I have been looking at different methods of seaming the arms and body.  What are your favorite methods?

PB received these charming little books for her birthday: Little Pea, Little Hoot, and Little Oink.  The illustrations are whimsical and sweet, and the stories can’t be beat.  In Little Pea, the storyteller is bemoaning the fact hat he has to eat sweets for dinner before he can have vegetables.  Little Hoot just wants to go to bed early like his friends; Little Oink doesn’t want to be a messy pig and craves order instead.  Very fun and cute.

As for me, I’m on the last few pages of last week’s book, Unearthly, and am starting to think about what to read next.  As with knitting, I find coming to the end of a book exciting, and enjoy anticipating and planning what my next read will be.  While I have a nightstand full of unread books, I’m still always looking for ideas and suggestions.  hint, hint.



Yarn Along:: Still Knitting…

From Small ThingsTwo of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading?

I think this is at least the 3rd time I’ve shown this green knitting for Yarn Along Day!  I guess that just gives you a clear idea of just how long it’s taking me to finish up this sweater. The arms and back seemed to go so fast as they were plain stockinette with just a bit of shaping.  I am really enjoying knitting up the front with its pretty leaves, but the chart and keeping track of increases and decreases keeps this firmly in the “knit when PB is asleep” category.

Enter the blue yarn.  That’s Malabrigo merino worsted in Bobby Blue, and it’s going to be an Owlet sweater.  I knew it would fit the bill for my “knit when PB is awake” category of knitting when the pattern says something like “Cast on x number of stitches, knit 8 inches”.  Perfect!  So far it’s speeding right along; I even took it with me to toddler storytime at the library today and was able to knit a few rows!

And on to the book: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand (a college classmate of mine!).  I started reading it at beginning of January, but cast it aside in favor of finishing up Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.  Then came a couple of other nonfiction reads.  Now I need a little paranormal romance fiction so it’s back in the rotation, and I am really enjoying it.  If you liked Twilight, you’re going to really like this.  And if you didn’t like those vampire books, you’re probably going to love this because it has a plot and strong female characters (with some wit, teen angst, crushes, and no violence so far). ; )

What are you knitting or crocheting this week?  Any good books on your nightstand?



Three Books & a Sweater

In my last post I mentioned something about clearing out the knitting basket a bit in January.  At the end of 2010, I had 3 projects lingering from the year: Hamamelis, TTL Mystery Socks, and the Climbing Vines pullover.  In keeping with the natural yearning for a fresh start this time of year, I fantasized about having these projects finished in January.  More realistically, I just hope to finish up the sweater this month, moving on to the socks afterward.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a new wool sweater to wear while the weather is still cold?  That’s what I’m telling myself, and it’s working.  Plus, the verdant green in the Dream in Color yarn is a breath of fresh, spring-like air and has me fully entertained through the miles of stockinette.

So far, I’ve completed the sleeves and am halfway up the back.  Saving the best for last seems to be a good motivation for me, and so I am knitting toward some lovely, leafy charts on the front.  Once I get all the pieces knit up, I will be searching high and low for the motivation to seam them together, I’m sure!

This week I am reading 3 lovely books.  I tend to have more than one book  (and knitting project, ahem) on the go at once.  Typically there’s a fiction and nonfiction option to suit my mood at any given time.  Over the weekend I picked up Animal, Vegetable, Miracle in hopes it would help me get my imagination in order in time to plant a spring garden.  Unsurprisingly, it has also gotten me thinking about eating more seasonally, which in January can be somewhat of a bleak undertaking.  Imagine my delight, then, when I was shopping this week and found locally grown kiwi fruit!  Not kidding!  If it were April 1st, I would think this were some sort of locavore joke, but apparently someone in town has a greenhouse so who am I to refuse these green gems?

Up next is the hot-off-the-press debut novel Unearthly by Cynthia Hand.  I’m not typically into Young Adult Fiction, although I am a devoted Harry Potter fan and am somewhat embarrased to admit I’ve wasted a few hours of my life on The Saga.  I picked this book up because a friend of mine from college wrote it!  Naturally we have to support these things, and Sweetie marched right down to Borders (after I called every bookstore in town to see if they had it), and made them put the book out on display.  She’s definitely someone you want rooting for you, eh?  I have only read the first few pages, but have already found the book to be captivating.  Do me a favor and go check out the description on Cindy’s website and think about whether you or someone you know might enjoy this book.  I hear angels are the new vampires…

And last but not least is the sweet Phoebe’s Sweater.  I got this for Christmas from my mom, and could not have been more pleased.  Part children’s story, part knitting book, it’s a lovely blend.  There’s this mama mouse who spends all winter and spring knitting a sweater for her daughter mouse; and then there’s a pattern for the very same sweater at the end of the book!  Not to mention patterns for a charming little mouse complete with a dress and matching sweater.  I can hardly wait to knit up something from this book, and am heartened to know that even in the world of fictitious mouse knitting, it’s okay for a sweater to take months to knit.

So that’s what I’m knitting and reading this week.  If you’d like to yarn along, head over to small things and put your blog on the list, or leave a comment here telling me what you’re up to.

I’m still trying to finish my sweater by the end of January, though.  I mean it.