Category Archives: knitting

The mojo returns

WIP
Viajante WIP

On Sunday, my creative mojo returned. To me, the mojo is the urge to create. It’s what helps me make sewing and knitting the top priority. Up until now, I’ve been doing a lot of daydreaming about sewing but not taking any action (extenuating circumstances and all that, but still). But now, the urge is back. And so on Sunday I looked through the pre-fall offerings at Neiman Marcus, pre-fall and fall shows at Style.com, and new patterns on Ravelry.

It was on Ravelry that I found Viajante – a very interesting ponchoid shawl. It goes over the head, which means it stays put. And it has a long tail which can be left dangling or wrapped around the shoulder. I plan to wear it wrapped and held in place with a shawl pin. It can also be used as a regular shawl, wrapped around the shoulders, but I find the over-the-head aspect much more intriguing.

My stash may be severely diminished, but I did recall a lovely purple lace-weight yarn from Brown Sheep. Luckily, it had escaped the great purge. After a bit of fighting to get it wound into cakes, I sat down to knitting. And that was all she wrote. I only went to bed because I had a hard time seeing the stitches anymore.

I continued working on the shawl today, stopping only to attend to basic needs (husband’s and mine). And to look at everybody’s SWAP pictures. Oh my, what a lot of inspiration! Beautiful garments and great combinations… There were so many times that I thought to myself “ooh, I want one of those”.

And then it came to me. I had been lurking on the summer 6-PAC thread but could not come up with a reasonable 6-PAC to attempt. But now I had it – I need clothes that are nice, will withstand the demands of a busy travel schedule and attending to household matters, and must be washable as well.

Wardrobe plan - BW summer 6PAC

For the bottoms, I’m looking at cotton twill (pants) and cotton canvas or pique (skirt). For the dress, Sophia knit. I already have these fabrics. I do not, however, have fabrics for the tops (which will have 3/4 sleeves but I couldn’t find better pictures) and cardigan. I hope to find those soon.

That’s it, I’m off to do some more knitting.
See you soon!

Neck things – finished

Just a couple of quick projects to keep out the chill:

the Chickadee Cowl for me
Chickadee cowl - wrong side

and the Lazy River Scarf for my husband
Lazy River scarf - tied
Both are free patterns found on Ravelry and very quick to knit. The cowl took one skein of Malabrigo Chunky and it’s a simple tube in linen stitch. The scarf took three balls of Lana Grossa Cinque and the pattern is alternating 1×1 rib with garter stitch. Easy and satisfying.

Wrapped Jewel pullover – finished

Gray again – this time a little lighter shade and not a cardigan. I wanted a pullover with wrapped effect and I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. So I used my TNT knitting pattern – Jewel by Kim Hargreaves – altering it yet again for the faux wrap in the front.

front view 1

Finished, the sweater looked like it could use a little pep. I dug through the button and ribbon stash, and in a nod to my romantic side, I sewed on a bit of black lace so that it’s just peeking out from behind the front edges. The large black button anchors the waistband overlap.

Side view:
side view 2

I knitted the peplum flat until the garter stitch waistband was finished, then joined the work and continued in the round until the bottom of the V-neckline, then flat again.
The yarn is my favorite sport-weight: Nature Spun by Brown Sheep, in Grey Heather.

Back view:
back view 2

I am quite happy with how this sweater turned out. It was a quick knit with minimal math, and the fit is perfect.

Altered Jewel cardigan – finished

Another gray sweater…
This one took a month to finish because knitting the first sleeve in one day proved to be too much for my left hand, which resulted in a two-week break from hand-knitting. The cardigan was actually completely finished and ready to wear yesterday but the gray skies outside were not conducive to taking decent pictures.

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I really liked my Jewel cardigan so I used the same pattern, with only a few changes.

  1. the original Jewel cardigan requires a camisole, this cardigan has a longer button band to cover the bits that need coverage – this required recalculating the neckline decreases as well as buttonhole spacing;
  2. I added a shawl collar – this was simple: instead of decreasing the total number of stitches at the neckline, for each decrease in stockinette I added one stitch to the front band that would become the collar;
  3. full-length sleeves instead of bracelet length;
  4. I wanted the back more fitted at the waist – I decreased the peplum by eight stitches where back darts would usually be and then recalculated the side increases to add the eight stitches back.

Side view:
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The yarn is sport-weight Nature Spun by Brown Sheep. I just love this yarn – it’s so easy to knit, blocks beautifully, and it feels soft and warm on the skin. I have a few more cones of it in this color and a lighter gray so you’ll be seeing it again 🙂

Back view:
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I am very happy with how this sweater turned out. I’m thinking about making it in multiple colors. One additional change I would make on future cardigans is move the buttonholes in by a stitch or two. I think it would be prettier to have more of the edge showing.

Georgie cardigan – finished

I am back in Germany for a little while, just until we make the big move to North Dakota in January.

I’d been busy arranging all sorts of things prior to leaving Florida but that did not stop me from knitting. Even the knitting injury that made me take a break from hand-knitting couldn’t stop me from knitting on the machine. And so, here is my Georgie cardigan, adapted from Kim Hargreaves’ book Breeze.

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The yarn is Brown Sheep Co.’s Nature Spun in sport weight; the color is Evergreen – a much more vibrant shade of emerald than these pictures would lead you to believe. I love how evenly this yarn works up on the machine.

Side views, belted and unbelted (I will be wearing this belted because I like the waist definition the belt adds and also because then no other closure will be needed):

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I adjusted the fronts for a slightly smaller overlap because I wanted to knit the hood in one piece, which limited it to no more than 200 needles. (I used them all.) I’d left the neckline stitches live to hang back on the machine after blocking the pieces and grafting the shoulder seams. The decreases at the center back of the hood were a royal pain because I was working without a garter bar or my 9-prong transfer tool, which meant transferring close to 200 stitches toward the center three stitches at a time. Let’s just say that the hood took longer to knit than the rest of the sweater combined.

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I started with 2″ deep hung hems and continued in stockinette all the way up. I had originally planned to make a 1×1 ribbed band at the center front, then changed my mind after blocking the first front piece. This necessitated re-knitting that piece and coming up with a different edge treatment. I decided on crab stitch but after multiple unsatisfactory attempts I changed it to a simple row of half-double crochet stitches all around the front edges.

This was a really straight-forward project. I will wear the cardigan for a while before making another one because I want to see how I like the overlap. I’m thinking smaller overlap next time but I want to make sure.

Jewel cardigan – finished

Another project finished. This time, it’s the Jewel cardigan from Kim Hargreaves’ book Amber.

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I used another yarn from Brown Sheep – Nature Spun in sport weight. It works up to the same gauge as their Lanaloft but it is a 3-ply yarn so the stitch definition is much crisper. It comes on cones, as does Lanaloft, which is very convenient for storage and leaves fewer ends to weave in at the end of knitting.

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The shape of the cardigan is nicely fitted at the sides. There is no shaping at the center back so the cardigan hangs fairly straight down, as viewed from the side. I like it better pulled in closer with a belt.

side view comparison

The depth of the neckline definitely requires something underneath. It is a great layering piece and I am already planning to make it again.

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As with my previous knitting projects, I made this one without side seams – the fronts knitted in one piece with the back up to the armholes. I find that it makes for quick knitting because I do the biggest portion of the work while I’m still riding the high of the initial excitement. From the bottom of the armholes, things go much faster: I’m working fewer than half the total number of stitches and I’m decreasing for the armhole at the same time. The body of the sweater is finished before I know it. And then it’s just the sleeves and finishing. Easy-peasy.

Bea cardigan – finished

I have not been particularly talkative lately, I know, nor have I been sewing. With the stress at work combined with the stress of planning the move to North Dakota, I have found it easier to turn to knitting for relaxation and quiet time. I’ve had fun rediscovering the joys of hand-knitting.

My latest project is the Bea cardigan by Kim Hargreaves. I can’t wear it here in Florida yet because it’s still too hot for it but it will be perfect for my trip to Minot next week.

Here is the front view:
Bea cardigan front 2

The yarn is Lanaloft Sport from Brown Sheep – a single-ply 100% wool heaven on needles. I love all the shaping in this cardigan – it makes it fit just so. I did rewrite the pattern to omit the side seams and end with live stitches at the shoulders. I did not do the picot edge on the button band and sleeve hems. I shortened the back by about an inch, short-rowing the fronts, to account for the length difference between my erect back and B-cup bust. ( Knitting patterns usually say to do extra short rows in the front to add length for bust but when I work with sewing patterns, I shorten the back by an inch, adding the difference to the bust dart takeup, so that’s what I did here.)

Side view:
Bea cardigan side 2

Back view:
Bea cardigan back 2

And a few notes:

08/31/10
I’ve cast on. I’m not a fan of seaming, so I cast on the fronts and back together in one piece. That’s a lot of stitches on fairly small needles. I have knitted 42 rows of the garter stitch peplum – easy knitting so far.

I also read through the whole pattern and did some calculations to figure out where the buttonholes will be, before I get far enough to make the first one. In this pattern, the buttonhole borders are knitted in one piece with the fronts (my preferred way).

09/04/10
I am loving the textured pattern! So subtle and intriguing, in a how-did-you-that way. And it keeps the cardigan from becoming a death-by-stockinette project.

09/10/10
I finished knitting the body of the cardigan. It’s drying on the blocking board now.

09/12/10
I kitchener-stitched the shoulders, wove in the yarn ends, and finished the neckline. Tried it on (at least 17 times). Not sure the neckline shape is very flattering on me but with a scarf it won’t be an issue. I might make the front neckline deeper on the next one.

09/22/10
It is finished! I sewed on the buttons and steamed the shoulder seams so it will be ready for pictures tomorrow.

I used a store-bought ribbon for the waist tie – I really wanted a nice velvet one but with Jo-Ann’s being the only game in town, the glitter ribbon will have to do until I find what I want.

I bought three different sets of buttons because I just couldn’t decide. After hours of deliberation, I decided to use the matte gray ones – they’re actually made of recycled cotton fibers (up to 80%), which is pretty cool. The label says they’re washable. I backed them with small flat buttons for stability.

All in all, a fun easy knit. I love the fitted shape. And it is definitely warm.

Stay-Put Wrap – finished

It’s official! We’re moving to Cold Country aka Minot, ND! Yes, I did say North Dakota, and yes, contrary to popular opinion, they do have summers up there so hold off those condolences 🙂 because it was our first choice. That said, it gets much colder than any place I’ve ever been and we will be moving in January-February so please do keep your fingers crossed that I don’t turn into an alexsicle.

Anyway, we found out on August 2 and I immediately went to the local yarn shop and picked up this beautiful eggplant-colored heavenly soft merino to make something warm. I finished it today.

Front view:

SPW view 4

Side view:

SPW view 2
A few notes:

08/02/10
Gauge swatch shows I have more stitches per inch. Turns out the largest size has the right numbers to make the second smallest size so I cast on 68 stitches and go to town.
After 8 rows I rip… because I just realized the wrap direction is wrong for me. I never wear wraps/shawls/ruanas with the long end over my right shoulder. Always over the left.
And so I cast on again, this time making a mirror image (cable at the end of RS rows, not the beginning).

08/06/10
So far so good, easy knitting. The 12-row repeat is an easy daily commitment, doable even after a long hectic shift at work. Today I made another adjustment: not a fan of binding off only to cast on again and then having to pick up the stitches for sleeves, I just used a piece of waste yarn to hold those stitches live.

08/12/10
The “wrap” part of the wrap is done. I blocked it last night, then started on the first sleeve today. It’s slow going because there aren’t quite enough stitches to move easily around the circular needle, and I don’t have a smaller one. I may have to resort to Magic Loop.

08/21/10
The left sleeve is done. I’ll start the other one tomorrow.

08/26/10
The wrap is finished! Ends darned in, the whole thing is ready to be worn.

Closeup of the back view:

SPW back view closeup

All in all, this was an easy project and I love the result. There are people who don’t like to do this much seed stitch but it never bothered me a bit. Seed stitch allows me to settle into a nice rhythm and helps me relax.

You can also see this project on Ravelry.

2009 #1 Machine knitting sampler – part 4

Here’s the latest installment of my sampler project – the knitweave (or knit weave) sampler. In this technique, the resulting patterns look very similar to the fairisle sampler, but in knitweave the pattern is actually formed on the purl side. This is a rather involved technique because it requires the machine operator to move the contrast yarn from one side of the carriage to the other after each row. No zip-zip like some of the other techniques.

Knitweave sampler

From left to right: cards # 1-4, 7-9, 11, 14, and 20.
Not all cards are suitable for knitweave. Long floats are bad enough on the inside (as in fairisle) where they can be protected with lining. On the outside of the garment, they’re a disaster waiting to happen. Even some of these cards produced floats that are not acceptable to me, although yarn thickness is probably a factor here.

I’m guessing that if I were to use a main color yarn closer to the higher end of the thickness spectrum that the machine can handle, the floats would be shorter in the end product. I’ve been knitting the Wool Crepe on tension 5 so the fabric is quite stretched on the machine. The contrast yarn has to cover the whole distance between the end needles during knitting so when the fabric comes off the machine and relaxes into its natural narrower state, there is extra contrast yarn length in each row. This is a problem when the floats are three stitches or longer. Any knitweave projects will require samples not just for gauge but for the resulting texture as well.

I really like #1 and 7. They would produce a lovely tweedy looking fabric suitable for jackets. I’m thinking a solid main color and a variegated contrast yarn. Or a nice boucle yarn that would be a PITA to knit (but easy to knitweave because it just lays over the needles as it’s woven into the fabric).
I also like #8, the herrigbone. I love herringbone – it’s such a classic pattern. With the right combination of yarns, it could be quite spectacular.

A while ago, Kat asked “Okay, okay now! 🙂 What machine is this and where did you get it?”
So, let me introduce the wonderful Singer 700 Memo-Matic.
Knitting machine

It’s a standard gauge (4.5 mm) machine that knits yarns from fingering to about sport-weight. I got it in probably 2001 or 2002, from a lady in Canada whose ad I found online. It was not working well in the beginning and it took a few years to find someone who knew anything about knitting machines. It turned out that it needed a new sponge bar, a part that is not mentioned anywhere in the manual. After that, it worked like a charm.

This machine has all the bells and whistles that a mechanical machine can have – a 24-stitch punchcard reader for patterns, knit radar for knitting shapes from sewing patterns (rather than row by row counts), and a built-in row counter. I also have a lace carriage for this machine; it comes with its own set of punchcards for lovely lace patterns. And I have a ribber, which is another long bed of needles that can be mounted in the front at an angle – together the two beds can produce ribbing patterns and other things that I have yet to explore.

Mary said “Very nice…makes me want to get a knitting machine now, but where would I put it?” Hmm… let’s see, mine is in what’s supposed to be the dining area. (We don’t have a dining table; we eat at the kitchen counter bar.) But then, we don’t have a traditional living room either because I needed the space for my sewing studio. It’s all a matter of priorities, right?

2009 #1 Machine knitting sampler – part 3

Posted by Alexandra at Studio Alexandra

Well, the tuck stitch sampler was hard to photograph to show its texture but the slip stitch sampler really takes the cake. The texture is so subtle it’s hard to see with a naked eye, let alone in a photograph. But here it is, in all its (barely visible) glory:

Slip stitch cards 8, 7, 4, 3, 2
Left to right: cards # 8, 7, 4, 3, and 2.

Slip stitch cards 9-12 & 14
Left to right: cards #9, 10, 11, 12, and 14.