Sunday, February 26, 2006

First photo is of lavender Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in a 2/3 done sweater. I stopped because the sweater was just too heavy. Darker purple skein is Cascade 220 (my purple period?). These are being previewed as choices for Spring Forward KAL. Second photo is of the sleeve start for FLAK and yes I did add some cables going down the sleeve. By the stitch counter shows the sleeve in the round. Third photo is the SFCKAL Shirt Tail Hemmed sweater with the hem finished!!! I wish I'd picked up fewer stitches on the curve but it is okay. Now to get back to pattern knitting.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The self imposed trauma is over and the Shirt Tail's hem is picked up and knit. Perhaps the next provisional cast on will go a lot easier - or I bet you all hope it does! It's far from perfect or really even very good but the hem won't fall apart and any non-knitter is not even going to see the stitches that didn't pick up quite right. I think I can duplicate stitch over a few of the worse crossed or oddly picked up stitches but that will be among the very end of what gets done to this epic.

To me, the reason for a Knit A Long is to learn new techniques and have a solid group of other knitters standing behind you to catch up as you fall over in a dead faint of exhaustion or to at least give you a good slap and say "get over it!".

Things I've learned so far on the SFC Knit a Long -
1. I like knitting Fair Isle even though it is size 2-3 and not size 5-6 needles. 2. I love the feel and colors of Jamieson and Smith 2 ply yarn. 3. Much easier two handed two color knitting then I used to do. 4. Spit splice and Russian join - why didn't I know these techniques already? 5. Corrugated ribbing - fun especially when the dark color is the purl.6. Provisional cast on - PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE and next time use a synthetic yarn in a hunter glow in the dark orange as the cast on base and not a medium blue wool. 7. If you are doing provisional cast on, DO NOT allow yourself to immediately do a two color pattern row - do one row in a single color first. This is what was causing me so much trouble with the Shirt Tail hem as I was trying to pick up stitches that had yarn carried behind them. It did NOT pull out easily or quickly. Finally figured out to put the stitches on the needle and then pull out two or three at a time, then go back and fix the carried thread. There are still spots that don't look quite right but I'll fix them at the end with duplicate stitch. 8. Best thing about the KAL is knowing that others aren't breezing along without any challenges and that, by sharing the problems and fixes, we can all learn from each other.

Now to decide if I want to loosely bind off the bottom of the hem, fold it under on the purl fold line and whip stitch it down or do what the pattern calls for and Kitchner Stitch the live stitches to the back. Really like the colors in the ribbing and the brick red solid color that gets folded under. I have not yet been able to stretch this piece out enough to see if the curved shirt tail looks anything like the photo/pattern. It is what it is!

Anne - in windy 30 degree Maine waiting for the temperature to drop like a rock

Monday, February 20, 2006

Two Knit-a-longs at the same time? Retirement is wonderful! and no the house work is not done any better than it used to be when I was working 50-60 hours a week. Brutally cold weekend so we didn't do a lot outside. Most of Sunday was spent in the sunroom where it will get to 70 degrees just from solar power or up in the craft room in front of a wood fireplace. Sometimes the guilt kicks in for not being out doing some type of volunteer event but then I think of all those years of work and decide to knit another row for right now

I'm quite pleased with the colors in the SFC Shirt Tail Hemmed Cardigan so far. I have now used all the colors at least once and am glad I worked in the brown rather than kept trying for greens. Color work is addictive but you do have to pay attention. The chart was blown up large, mounted to a piece of cardboard and strips of cardboard are moved every row to keep track of where I am. The strips are held on by big paperclips which Boots, the cat, loves to steal. Chart is large enough that it can stand up in my knitting bag and can be seen at a glance. Not sure I'll ever memorize that chart.

FLAK Aran is going well also. I can still memorize Aran patterns and this is a soothing knit. Probably substituting a large cable for the middle three smaller cables will end up being a mistake. I don't like all the purl around the cable and it does pull in in places. The cables really do line up front to back though it doesn't appear so in the photo. I'll be adding about an inch to the front as all my sweaters measure 9 1/2" in arm depth. I must like roomy Arans. Hopefully Janet will have the sleeves up by the time we leave for a long driving trip. Long drives always equals knitting time - except when you drop the cable needle.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

First repeat of the Baroque Cable on the back of the FLAK sweater. Yarn is Cascade 220 on size 5 needles. Neck opening looks a bit large but I think it is just the looseness of the Baroque at the beginning. I'll handle that when picking up neck ribbing stitches (I hope)! Sure looks different in a photo.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Vest news - Friend Shirley visited today and was wearing her Northwest Sunset Vest. The colors are so beautiful and the vest fits her perfectly. I tried on my Whirligig vest and we both agreed that the armholes are too big. The vest is designed for a man and the width at the top of the shoulders is too wide. We think the only way to fix it is to rip down the armhole ribbing, decrease some stitches at the start of the armhole ribbing and re knit a much narrower ribbing. I think I can rip down to the pick up row for the ribbing and make it work. I must have known this was coming since I didn't weave in the yarn at the end of binding off the armhole. At least the vest body fits and looks good. Bet it is not going to be fun to rip out yarn that has been washed and dried.

On the Shirt Tail Hemmed Cardigan front, I've swatched the colors from Ann Fietelson's design and then decided I want to change the colors. The colors when all the skeins are together are quite different from the color photo in the book. I'm not a real pinky person which includes purples. I've pulled colors and found that I can put together rusts/oranges/yellows and blues to look like a New England fall. I was trying to put in some greens where the purple perrie was but it didn't work as a continuation of the rusty main colors. Instead of the green, I've swatched now with a really neat brown tweed that has gold flecks in it along with a dark brown. I must have been happy with the colors since I'm now up to row 5 on the design. Will post a photo once the design starts to show. I do need to get a new bag of stitch markers since what I'm using are all the left over really big ones. Need smaller ones for these size 3mm needles.

New things learned - provisional cast on over a crochet needle and increasing for the shirt tail. Thankfully I practiced with about 20 stitches since the first two times I could not pull out the bottom row started with the crochet. It's a cool technique and one I will use for other work later. I'm truly tempted to knit up to above the shirt tail steeks an inch or two and then do the hemmed ribbing. I cannot imagine making that whole sweater and then having problems with the bottom rib. Rather rip out or abandon 3-4" than 30".

As a break from 2 ply and size 3mm color work, I'm also taking part in the FLAK (Follow the Leader Aran Knit Along) at What a fun technique to knit from the top down around saddle shoulders. Of course I could not leave the design alone and am changing 3 horseshoe cables for a big Baroque Cable out of one of Barbara Walker's stitch books. It's being made out of Cascade 220 in a royal blue on size 5 needles. Feels like rope compared to 2 ply weight. The Heilo Norwegian Reindeer sweater is put aside for right now since it doesn't have a steek and I'm going to have to figure out a way to cut into the pattern evenly. Wish I had known steeks before I started that sweater because I would have added them.

So much knitting, so little housework. Good thing hubby Joe likes to cook and is on the self feeding plan.

Anne - in 50 degree Maine weather and worried about the perennials coming up

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Oh my gosh the Whirligig Vest is done and drying!!!! Snowy day, comfortable couch, fireplace going and the finishing just went well. I'm not totally happy with the buttonholes but they will do. The buttons mother in law gave me are dark brown, almost black and will be sewn on like a diamond instead of square. This will mimic the diamond shapes in the sweater. Hopefully the cats won't find the drying sweater and play "rug-a-cat" and hide under it. The most amazing plus of all is that the vest fits comfortably. Miracles do occur.
Things I learned making this vest:Steeking is not that heart pounding the second time. Third might be even easier?I like Fair Isle and the instant gratification of seeing a color pattern emerge. I will make another. Spit splicing - why didn't I know this years ago? What a cool trick. Two color two handed knitting is so much easier on the poor right hand that has already had carpal tunnel surgery. Patience while picking up the edge of the steek for the armhole and button band ribbing - had to use a small dp needle to help pick them up. I must make a chart for the decreases when they are occuring at both neckline and armhole - and check off the chart as done.
Things I did't like about making this vest:The colors I chose are too dark and muddy. It's a bit brighter than the photos look but still not a vibrant vest. Corrugated ribbing bind off leaves little dots of the lighter color in the cast off edge. Solved this by knitting a single row of the dark before binding off. Buttonholes - need practice on this technique.
Here is what I used for this vest:Size 3mm Inox circular needlesAll Jamieson's 2 ply Shetland Spindrift in ball form except for the Twilight which was in skein6 3/4 balls of #598 Mulberry - deep purple2 balls of #155 Bramble - reddish purple tweed2 balls of 3180 Mist - the grayish blue1 1/4 skein of #75 Twilight - blue tweed
Thanks Rebekka for hosting this KAL. I'd always wanted to try Fair Isle and am already to start another!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Fighting myself to finish the button band on the Whirligig Vest. Armhole ribbing is done with one of the arms done twice. I don't really like the little specks in the bind off where the dark brown goes over the corrugated lighter color in the rib. Tried knitting one row of dark brown before I bound off but it looked too heavy. I think I can make out specks in the designer's vest photo - not that I have to do everything just like the pattern. Buttonband is picked up and started so it won't be long before it gets blocked.

Pulled the colors out today for Ann Feitelson's Shirt Tail Hemmed Cardigan. I lucked out and found all the colors but two in local yarn shops. I'm okay with substituting #55 a sort of brick reddish for #1403 Barn red which is a bit more purplish. I couldn't find #S684 Deep Cobalt but it is only used for very few stitches once every 24 rows. I'm going to substitute a medium dark blue since that is the one that seems to still spark but goes with the color run okay. However there is a much brighter blue #18 which might be a better spark color though it looks a lot like the deep purple. See the two photos and look at the blue color on the far left. The balled blue (photo on the left) is the spark, the skein blue (photo on the right) is the one I think works okay. What say you??

Also fighting self not to start an Aran sweater being done as a knit along at FLAK - Fair Isles are really growing on me but I do dearly love Arans. I did preview a couple of aran weight wools today to see what I liked but I'm going to keep slapping my hands - no no no.

Possibly a foot of snow coming in for the weekend. Firewood stored by the fireplace, chicken cooking, errands all run so you know what I'll be doing while the snow blows - knitting.

Monday, February 06, 2006

The steeks are cut!! The steeks are cut!! Meg's directions were superior and this went so much easier than the only other steek I had cut. Course those directions were Meg's also so maybe not having my heart in my mouth this time made it easier.

Once it was cut open it looked huge but it isn't really, worked out to just the size I wanted since for a change I didn't have gauge problems. J&S yarn on size 3mm works perfectly to 32 stitches to 4".

Now to take a deep breath and pick up the stitches for the ribbings. By going to four LYSs I've collected all the colors for the Shirt Tailed Hemmed cardigan. Well all except one color I'm not sure of but will ask on the SFC talk site. Do I dare try something that difficult? Gulp!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Progress on SFC Whirligig Vest continues. Met up with my friend Shirley today at our monthly book review club. We showed everyone our SFC vests. She is ready to steek and hope she will post a photo soon. I'm about half way up the front decreasing the V neck and past the armhole decreases. The vest just will not photograph well but photos are attached. We're headed off end of March to a Knitting Weekend sponsored by Unique One knit shop in Camden, Maine. Maybe we'll be wearing our vests by then?