Birthday Dress Update

IMG_9578I’ve made a commitment to knit G a sweater each year for her birthday.  As a knitter with a winter baby, it seems like a sensible time to knit her an annual sweater (and an inspiring excuse to do so).  You can see her first birthday sweater here.  I can’t believe she’s going to be 5!

It feels particularly important and special that I put some extra love and work into the Birthday Sweater this year.  Our new baby is due later this month, and I want her birthday to be special, memorable.  She may not remember whether the dress was finished before her birthday or after, but I hope she remembers that I made her special clothes for her birthday.  That I knit a different one each year until she asked me to stop.

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Except this time she requested a dress.  A floor-length dress. With a train.  Like Queen Elsa.

I wasn’t about to commit to that much knitting!  Fortunately, we quickly negotiated and agreed that a sewn train/cape would be acceptable.  But that’s a whole other project…

A couple of months before her birthday, I start asking G what she’d like in a sweater this time.  Color, style, themes.  This gave me time to favorite some patterns on Ravelry and pre-select some yarn for her to choose from.  She quickly chose Oriental Lily by Georgie Hallam and this shade of yarn from Yarn Ink, appropriately called Frozen.

This dress has been a really fun knit. I’ve been working on it monogamously (more or less) for a couple of weeks.  It’s been in the car, at work, in cafes, and just about every room of our house. Of course, it seemed like it was not growing at all for a few days there; every time I measured it felt like I still had 6 inches to go!  Thankfully she has requested it have short sleeves, so this should be done by the weekend.

Now to figure out how to sew an organza cape…

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!

Hesitation.

I’m feeling a certain amount of hesitation about my Coraline sweater.

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There are plenty of things I like about the sweater, and a few things that are causing me to rethink my commitment.  The pattern starts out with a provisional cast-on and turned hem, which I decided to modify into garter stitch.  My foggy brain can only handle so much right now, and maneuvering a crochet hook around my knitting needles wasn’t something I was up for.  So I knit the garter border and really like how it turned out.  You can never have enough garter stitch in your life, I think!

Then I went up a needle size to 4s and have been working on the stockinette for the body.  The interesting detail here is that it has an i-cord edging which requires that you slip the first 3 stitches of every row.  It looks nice on the front, but it’s not quite coming together on the back like I had imagined.  Can you see the floats?

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Then there’s the issue of this being a DK weight yarn on size 4 needles.  It feels like it will be 2020 before I get this sweater done and it’s only been a week! I’ve already knit an entire ball of yarn (that’s 144 yards) and feel like I don’t have much to show for it.  I only bought 10 balls altogether, and even thought that’s 1,440 yards I’m worried about running out of yarn!

So, I cast on a baby project in kitchen cotton to take my mind off these worries, hoping that things would become clear if I gave Coraline a couple of days off.  Thing is, I’m just not sure yet.  Sigh…

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?

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!