Verity, Verily

The smell of damp wool hangs in the air around me, a direct result of my impatience and excitement.

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  • Pattern: Verity by Ysolda Teague (Ravelled here)

  • Yarn: Valley Yarns Stockbridge in Light Grey, approx 165 yards to knit Medium size

  • Needles: US size 7/4.5mm circulars and double points

  • Mods: None!

I finished this gorgeous beret last night, washing and stretching it out over a dinner plate to block.  It’s been cool and breezy here, so I thought that it would be dry when I got up this morning.  Wrong!  So I moved it to a room where I could open all the windows and crank up the ceiling fan.  A few short hours later, and the body of the hat is dry, but the band is still a little damp.  That turns out to be a bit of a blessing in disguise.

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The blocking process stretched out the body in such a way that I think it has the perfect amount of slouch without being too baggy or droopy.  The dinner plate trick does little to stretch out the band, however.  So I stretched and pulled things into place before stitching down the tab and sewing on the button.  Now I’m wearing it so that it will stretch to be a custom fit over my own head.

The yarn was a good match here.  I wanted something versatile in color so I could get a lot of use out of the hat, and knew I had some of this yarn leftover from my Baby Cables and Big Ones Too sweater.  It’s a 50/50 wool alpaca blend in varying shades of pewter and silver.  The slight fuzziness of the yarn works with the charm of this design to make a really special hat.  In fact, I still have yarn left over.  Gloves, perhaps?

The entire time I was knitting this hat, I was picturing a fun, contrasting colored button.  Purple, teal, red, or black had all crossed my mind. When I started pulling button options from my ever-growing button collection, however, I was taken with this shimmery platinum button.  It’s a perfect match!

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I have nothing but good things to say about this pattern.  Right off the bat it’s stylish and easy without being too boring.  The knitting begins at the top of the hat, with just enough going on with increases and yarn overs to keep you entertained over the few hours it takes to knit.  And that band is a work of genius.  Bet you thought is was simple seed stitch, right?  I did too!  Turns out it’s a slip stitch pattern knit width-wise onto the live stitches of the hat.  This keeps the band stretchy yet firm, with a beautiful finished edge.

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I’ve never really worn a beret before; I was skeptical that I could pull it off.  I’m still not too sure, but this hat is so cute that it doesn’t really matter!  I’m off to see what other beret I might make…

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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?

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.