Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Picking up where I left off

A friend recently offered me a bit of input regarding picking up stitches on my red sweater.  Don't you know - the Rhinebeck sweater? The sweater that I haven't touched since ripping out the mile of ribbing I knit while rushing to complete it to wear along with forty other knits during the span of two days?

As I sit down, attempting to figure out where to begin, I realize that in my haste to finish the sweater, I neglected to take notes of what I had done. One thing I did right was to take pictures along the way. The nice thing about ribbing is that it is easy to calculate stitch counts from a photograph. And the nice thing about photographs is that even after I've ripped out, I can go back and analyze what went wrong and make a better guess at what to do next.

How about a bit of the Red Sweater Chronicles?

Exhibit A: The Red Sweater in its workshop, before the button band.

Exhibit B: Friday night before Rhinebeck, the button band in progress.
Red Sweater

Exhibit C: The ride down to Rhinebeck Saturday morning. Look at all that ribbing at the back of the collar!
look at all that ribbing!

Exhibit D: Ribbing band completed in the wee hours of the night on Saturday. Note the taut edge,an indicator that not enough stitches have been picked up.
Red Sweater

Exhibit E: Full view in the light of day. Notice the bottom of the button band; when I removed my hand, the sweater bottom would tend to ride up.

Red Sweater

Exhibit F: The back side. Note how the ribbing has affected the shape and fit of the sweater, as well as the funky bit at the top of the back.
Sweater 14

As I go to publish this post, I have the sweater sitting on my lap. Wish me luck as I attempt to amend these shortcomings, and stay tuned for the results!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lace blankets, wraps, and Norwegian experimittens

Winter weather has settled in a bit more here in eastern Pennsylvania, and I'm loving it. Knitting puts inclement weather into a very different perspective.

I've been working up warm woolies of all sorts during an extended weekend with knitter friends. 
My Leaves Of Grass blanket is coming along... I actually made my way into Chart C!

2013-01-22 10.06.52

I'm also nearly finished the Hypotenuse wrap. I intentionally left LOG behind so I could bang this one out. After a while, I just wanted to be done. If being chilly had not been rushing me to finish, I think it would be a wonderful long-term project; it is easy to pick up and put down, and while there are a ton of rows, one row is not really so bad. I am still tempted to try this pattern again.

2013-01-22 10.00.27

I brought Igor along as the project bag, and found him to be a delightful companion during the trip.

Here is the project that prevented my actual completion of Hypotenuse:


I had purchased one ball of each of these colors with the intention of sampling them together, perhaps for a stranded sweater design. I figured I could use a bit of knitting circle mojo and extended time to bring it about, and my plan worked!


I settled on the Norwegian Selbu Mittens pattern by Henriette Hope. It's very basic, leaving some details to the knitter's imagination, particularly in the area of increases and decreases. That's fine; I don't like to have too much detail to follow anyway! I modified them to make a convertible mitt, and I'm pretty pleased overall.


I love this yarn! It's Peer Gynt by Sandnes Garn in Norway, and it has a deliciously 'toothy' texture that becomes evident whenever I weave in the ends. Because of this quality, I felt comfortable being a little less obsessive during the ritual weaving in of so many loose ends. Now I just need a sweater's worth of this stuff...

This mitten took shape over about two days, but I'm not done yet; the second mitten has yet to be cast on, and I am thinking of working a different method this time around. My method of picking up the stitches left something to be desired. It worked, but it was finicky and left more crease than I would like. I'm eager to try the method used in Kathy Cochran's Glittens pattern. Stay tuned to see how that turns out!

Monday, January 14, 2013

New Years FO Parade

Happy New Year!
To everyone who popped into the comments section to send a holiday greeting, I thank you!
I hope you had a good holiday season to usher in the New Year. I have not had much of a break, since I work in the healthcare industry; in fact, I worked both Thanksgiving and Christmas this time around. Still, I managed to knit whenever I could, and here is a rundown of how things went.

Some of the Christmas knits included a couple pairs of Diamondback Mitts:
2013-01-01 15.37.38
Since I used dk yarn it turned out a bit smallish, a great size for my mom's hands. Since the intended recipient was not my mother, though, I made a second pair, adding stitches and working it at a much tighter gauge to tweak the sizing. Can you tell which mitts are which size?

Then I had a last-minute worry that my mom might not appreciate the chain-link look of the mitts, so I whipped up another pair just in case, this time using the Nalu Mitts by Leila Raabe.

I think my choice of the above pattern was perhaps influenced by the halting of my work on a pair of Galadriel socks by Claire Ellen. Isn't that a great cable? Sadly, the smaller sizing for the sock turned out to be too small, and I had to rip all of this out. I am not quite as far as I had gotten the first time around.  Eventually.

Another knit that when awry was an attempt at Barbara Gregory's "Ringo and Elwood" mittens. Besides botching up the thumb by holding the yarn double, I did a lousy job catching the floats, making this cute guy look just a bit mangy. 

Look at that back! It's like a car ran over him a few times.

I used the same yarns yet again, this time in a design that does not have super-long floats. Score!
The stranding made these yarns feel so friggin soft. I was pretty pumped to give these to my sister.

I finished Jeff's arm warmers, and after a few lessons about the difference in arm size and shape, I am very pleased with how they turned out.
2013-01-01 15.31.25
I had to make some modifications, including an extra cable bit to stabilize the cuff. I think I prefer it that way!
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When all my main gift knitting was done, I dove into some delightful little mitten ornaments. These are so much fun to make!

I kept some of my handspun for our tree, and gave the rest to family and coworkers.
Smitten with Handspun

And here's my Bartek hat. I wouldn't mind a cabled sweater in this yarn, though I don't know that I'd love doing the knitting. It's pretty comfy on the head.

On New Years Eve I found a sort of symbolic strength to rip out the ribbing on my red not-quite-Rhinebeck sweater -- though that is as far as it has gone. Someday that sweater will have thought about its failings enough that I will consider allowing it back into the pool of WIPs. I also ripped out a baby blanket I had started in order to reuse the yarn in Jared Flood's Leaves of Grass for a knitalong with Girls In Sheep's Clothing.
2013-01-01 15.38.21

At midnight I ushered in the new year with the beginning of the Leaves of Grass blanket, using some Briar Rose Fibers that the guys at the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat surprised me with. While other knits have gotten in the way, I'm looking forward to getting back to this. You can read about everyone's progress in the knitalong at the Girls in Sheep's Clothing blog. I'm posting as a guest blogger there, too. It's a fun way to get involved, and I like having the assurance that other people are interested in seeing my progress and encouraging me to press on to completion on such a large project.

One of the projects that is getting in the way of this blanket is the Hypotenuse wrap designed by Anne Hanson. It is also using one of the Briar Rose Fibers yarns gifted by the guys at MSKR, and it is beautiful. When I finish I will try to get better photographs of the colors, which are very tricky to capture. Think a dark, woodsy green and a dark, slightly intense purple.

By the way, I think there are only a few slots left in this year's registration for the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat. They are even reserving two of those slots for newbie knitters, so if you are a guy who is interested but feel intimidated by not being able to knit (or knit well), never fear. You will be surrounded by inspiring and skilled men who would love to usher you down the rabbit hole that is knitting. There is something wonderfully restful about not having to defend or rationalize your knitting based on the fact that you are a man. I would love to go every year, if nursing homes paid more. But, since I bring that up, there are a few scholarships being offered, including a travel stipend, to make it truly accessible. So hop over to this page to find out more about the retreat and to make a nomination for a deserving guy - make sure you get his permission first!

Oh, and I hereby give you permission to nominate me, if you feel so inspired! :)