30 July 2012

Boldly Going Where I Have Not Gone Before

We are past the "Raglan Shaping" portion of Husband's sweater.  I've knit that part two times.  Maybe two and a half?  Anyway, I'm done with it.  I had to turn the page in the book.  Page 131 has been my constant friend since... I don't know.  I first attached the sleeves to the body in January, and the heading "Join Sleeves to Body" is in the middle of the page.  Those sleeves have gotten attached at least twice, after four attempts at knitting them at all.  I've probably been staring at page 131 for a year.

Tonight, I turn to page 132.  It feels like a huge milestone.  The heading at the top of page 132 reads "Neck Shaping."  People, I am shaping the neck here.  This is a big deal.  There is a neck and a collar (with lining) to go, and then I am done with this dang thing.

Oh, have I mentioned the best part?  Husband isn't really sure he wants this sweater anymore.  Which is actually fine with me, because I kind of don't ever want to look at it ever again.

Hopefully I only have to knit the neck once.  And the collar.  And the collar lining.  Once.  We're talking new frontiers, folks.

Jury is out on whether or not I will bother to put the zipper in, which is the never-done-before skill I was hoping to learn.  That's why I was excited about making this sweater in the first place.  But I'm counting the sweater as "done" for Ravellenics purposes when the actual knitting is finished, so whatever.

Page 132!  Home stretch!*  Woooo!

*This is more knitting/sport-related punning. You're welcome.

29 July 2012

Solving Problems, One Underarm at a Time

This was the (most recent) problem with Husband's sweater.  Fortunately, it was just a matter of reserving underarm stitches on one sleeve -- on the left sleeve, I'd only held six stitches, but on the right sleeve, I'd held twelve.  Twelve was the correct number, so the left-side raglan was all wrong.  I frogged back to the place where I joined the sleeves to the body, put six more stitches on reserve for the left underarm, and then started knitting again.

It's going swimmingly.  Like Ryan Lochte.
Get what I did there?  It was an Olympics joke!  'Cause I'm knitting while watching the Olympics!  The Ravellenic Games will provide all sorts of opportunities for knitting/sports puns, I'm sure.  Stay tuned.

Seriously, I'm halfway through the raglan part again.  And I had to stop knitting in there to write a sermon.  I'm going to have no trouble finishing this sweater pretty quickly now.  And then I can move on to other things.  Awesome.

27 July 2012

Let the Games Begin!

Okay, friends.  The Olympics have started.  The Queen says they're open and everything.  I've picked up Husband's sweater and started frogging -- and I've discovered the problem.  Will post pictures tomorrow, but suffice it to say that if one wants to have the same number of sleeve stitches when joining identical sleeves to the body of a garment, it helps to set aside the same number of underarm stitches.

Yeah.  I'm that awesome.  Sigh.  A smidge more frogging to get all the way back to the sleeve-join, then all shall be well again.  Dare I say, now that I've figured out the problem, I think I'm actually going to enjoy knitting this sweater again?

Well, I don't want to jinx myself.

14 July 2012

Ravellenic Round-Up

I'm participating in the Ravellenic Games this year.  (For those of you, Mom, who don't know what that is: basically, you knit while watching the Olympics, and you set some goal to achieve by the time the Olympics is over.  Stuff you knit while not watching the Olympics doesn't count, I think.)  I've never done it before, but I figure it's a good way to motivate myself to tackle some WIPs that have been languishing for a while.  My plan is to tackle several of the sweaters that I've almost-finished and then found some excuse to abandon.

First-up will be Husband's sweater, which has given me no end of trouble and at this point I kind of just want to be done with it dangit!  I've got to frog the yoke, reattach the sleeves (counting correctly this time--this might involve math? or at least finding my calculation notes, which may or may not be in the actual project bag), reknit the yoke correctly, and knit the collar.  Getting the knitting done is all I'm worried about for the moment.  I will not pressure myself into sewing on a zipper during the actual event, as I've never done it before and will probably need to make several attempts before I get it right.

Then I will finish the Minimalist Cardigan, which I apparently started three years ago and stopped working on at least two years ago, due to the need for one more skein of yarn.  I acquired the necessary skein during or before February 2011, so I have no excuse, and should probably get on this one.  If this fall is anything like the last two falls, I will find myself walking from the car in to my church thinking "I really wish I were wearing that Minimalist Cardigan right now.  I should finish it so I can wear it."  Except this time I want to be thinking "I'm really glad I finished this Minimalist Cardigan.  It's perfect for today and makes my whole outfit (and life, really) feel complete."  Or something like that.

At some point in there, I'd also like to work on Henry, who has been patiently waiting for me to finish casting him off since about mid-2009.  Yes, I said finish casting off.  I started the cast-off (which is this complicated hand-sewn dance, not a regular two-knitting-needle cast-off) and ran out of yarn.  So I took apart the swatch I'd made to salvage the yarn from that, but it's badly in need of straightening out because it's so kinky -- even though I frogged the swatch probably 3 years ago.  I've just never gotten it wet and let it hang to dry.  So there sits Henry, hanging out of my "current knitting projects" basket next to the couch, and I feel a mild pang of guilt (very mild--I'm pretty inured to it now) every time I see him, which is about 10 times a day.  There is no excuse for this nonsense.  He's a very very nice cashmere scarf.  Someone I love would really like to wear him.

I've got a couple of other things I might work on as Ravellenic projects, but I don't want to be overly ambitious.  I'll also be traveling for a good chunk of the time that the Olympics are happening, so while there will be some significant airplane time (I'm flying from Boston to SFO and back, but knitting-while-on-a-plane-not-watching-the-Olympics might not count anyhow), I will be relatively limited in the space-and-weight-while-flying factor, as well as the doing-stuff-while-I'm-in-California factor.  There's a wedding in there, and I don't think I will earn any friendship points if I dash out early to go watch TV and knit.

Still, if I accomplish much on the two sweaters and get Henry done, I will then tackle the Labyrinth Rug and see if I can't finish that off, too, as it's tremendously close to the end and Husband was just commenting the other day on how he'd really like it, you know, not tangled-up in an awkward spot in the living room anymore.  My first post on it is from way back in 2008, and even then I felt like I'd been working on it for a long time.  Enough is enough.

12 July 2012

More Socks. Can You Believe It?

I'm knitting another pair of socks.

It's the Riot of Color (Rav link) pattern from Around the World...  and I guess it's okay... I'm not loving it as much as I liked the Herringbone Socks or the By the Fjords I made for StrungUp at Christmas.  But it's good mindless television-watching knitting while the weather's too warm to work on Fireside.

This photo doesn't do justice to the beautiful colors of this sock yarn.  The blue/purple one (it's more blue than purple in real life, I think) is Happy Feet.  The blue-green one is a gorgeous hand-dyed creation from Fleur de Fiber, a yarn that is only available at Windy Knitty in Chicago.  My college-alumni-group Secret Santa sent it to me, and it is goooooorgeous.  I would definitely buy this yarn for myself (although I wish it had some nylon in it for strength; I fear a hole in the heel because the Fleur de Fiber is 100% wool).  Part of the point of this pattern is to use two very-saturated yarns that are pretty close together hue-wise, and I'm quite happy with the result.  Like I said, the photo doesn't really capture the great colorplay happening here.

This is a sock with both a gusset and a short-row heel, weirdly enough.  I guess it works in concept, but... meh.  The coolest part about this pattern is, regrettably, the cast-on edge, with this cool twisty-trick happening at the top of the sock.

Anyway, I'm a little more than halfway through the first sock.  It's moving along far more slowly than the Herringbone Socks, which I completed in a whopping five days.  The chart-following, I suppose, takes longer than just memorizing an 8-stitch pattern.

These might be a gift.  They might be for me.  I haven't decided.  I'll probably make them to fit me, but since I've got a pretty average-sized foot, I can give them to someone else if the mood strikes me.  I do have a few folks in mind.

09 July 2012

Conversion? Or Experimentation?

Soooooo I made another pair of socks.

I wasn't really planning to do it -- I was feeling inspired to knit, and really wanted to work on my Fireside sweater, but we were having a heatwave.  And I actually tried to knit it for a while while it was 90-something (32+ for you Celsius-dwellers) in my living room, but I just couldn't handle the weight and the wool on my lap.  It just wasn't working for me.  I needed to make something lighter.  Something smaller.  Something... more sock-like.
Out came my Knitted Socks from Around the World, the only patterns that have ever succeeded in getting me interested in making socks.  I picked the Herringbone Sock pattern.  A classic.  The next morning (when the light was good) I picked yarn from the stash.  The green is Happy Feet, the blue is Malabrigo Sock.  I dug out my size 2 needles, only to discover that one was broken and one was missing -- sooo I had to make an emergency dash to Kaleidoscope that afternoon.  But then I was ready.  Ball wound, stitches cast-on... and the pair took me a whole five days to knit.  I was like a machine.  A sock-knitting machine.
They're really warm and comfy.  Maybe the weather will get cold again and I can wear them someday.

Seriously, y'all, I used to hate making socks.  I think it's the colorwork that's changed my mind.  Something's changed, anyway.  I might have to start using phrases like "it was so fun to make these!" or "I might like knitting socks after all!"

We'll see.  It might just be a temporary thing.  But it might be the real deal.

06 July 2012

Intro to Fireside

A couple of friends and I decided this spring to do a cabled sweater as a knit-along.  Not a big deal, nothing formal, just a "hey, let's each knit the same sweater pattern and see how the finished products come out different" experiment.  I'm not quite sure how we settled on the Fireside Sweater (Rav link), because I came late to this game, but I appreciated not having to participate in a lengthy deliberation process.  All I had to do was grab some Lamb's Pride Worsted from my stash and get to work.

Fireside is a gorgeous cabled concoction with a sumptuous collar.  Turns out, though, that the pattern's a bit of a mess.  It's just not very well-written (it's clearly-written, but not well-thought-out in a few places) and I'm very glad that I spent a good bit of time on Ravelry reading about the ways other knitters had modified the pattern.  For one thing, this is the designer's first pattern.  Or first sweater pattern, maybe.  Anyway, there's a hint of not-knowing-what-she's-doing to it.

This not-knowing-what-she's-doing is most clear in the way she has written the upsizing: the designer happens to fit a size XS, and she made the sweater for herself... but her solution to upsizing was to add extra inches of reverse-stockinette between cables and cable-panels.  So for those of us who are not size XS, the extra "empty" space simply makes the cabling look sparse -- so the bigger you are, the farther-apart the panels are... that is, the wider you are, the wider you look.  (And seriously?  I'm knitting a size medium.  I can't imagine how an XL sweater would look, but it seems like there'd be more reverse-stockinette than cables.)  This is particularly an issue for the back of the sweater, which has a giant swath of rev-st that's just supposed to get wider the wider you are.  Not flattering!  It looks like everyone who's bigger than an XS has modified the sweater somehow to deal with this issue.  Most of the good mods I've seen are either additions of cables in the places that called for wide swaths of reverse-stockinette, or an increase in the size of the original cable panels.  I'm doing the former, adding cables in the center back and on the sides.

I added this cable in the center back at the bottom.
There will be a complimentary one at the top, too, when I get that far.

I also decided to knit the sweater in one piece rather than in two front panels and a back.  I'm more likely to finish it that way.  We all know that.  So I added cables on the sides under the arms where a seam would have gone, partly to fill up the reverse-stockinette space, and partly to add some of the structure a seam would have provided.  I've got a little i-cord edging happening on the front panels, too.  It looks a little funny right now, but once I block the whole thing I think it'll work out.

So far I've got a body and two sleeves -- up to the point where I'd join them to knit a yoke and do it all in one piece, but I think I am going to sew the sleeves on as written.  I've got to knit in inch or so more of the body before attaching the sleeves and attempting to, but I wanted to get the sleeves done first so I could figure it all out, and I'm glad I did because it turns out I had to modify the sleeves even more than the body (thanks to the poorly-thought-out upsizing, if I'd knitted the sleeves as written they would have been suuuuuper wide)... and, well, I think these decisions are good fodder for a future post.  Stay tuned to find out what I decide.

03 July 2012

Banished to the WIP Pile

Husband's sweater has given me no end of trouble.  A quick reference guide for those not keeping track: I made husband pick a pattern and yarn.  It was a pattern made for somebody's tall skinny bike-messenger husband.  I had to make tons of mods in order to get gauge, and prepared my average-height average-build hasn't-ridden-a-bike-in-25-years Husband for potential fit concerns with this pattern.  I had no problems with knitting the body (well, no problems other than boredom), but had to knit the dang sleeves four times.

Finally, I was able to connect the sleeves to the body while I was at a continuing education thing in January.  I got about 10 inches into the yoke and ...well, that's when it happened.  It was about time to switch to the collar stitches so I was making sure things were squared away, and I made an important and unfortunate discovery.  I'd miscounted the stitches when I first attached the sleeves to the body, and one sleeve had 10 stitches more than the other.
I learned how to draw on pictures just so I could show you this 10-stitch discrepancy.
Y'all, this is so disheartening.  I really do want to make a sweater for Husband, I swear.  And I want it to be good when it's done.  I want him to want to wear it.  Every day.  I want it to be the best sweater he has, and I want him to beg me to make more for him.

I also want the Knitting Fairy to frog the yoke and re attach the sleeves with the right counting, because I just cannot do this on my own.  Husband's Sweater is officially on hold again.

02 July 2012

Back from the (Inadvertent) Hiatus

I didn't mean to take a hiatus from blogging.  No, seriously.  It's just that... well, my laptop died.  Or not exactly died, but was in a coma for a few months.  The hard drive decided it was incompatible with the wireless internet device (or maybe it was the other way around) and my Resident Computer Repairman (a.k.a. Husband) was living two states away and attending grad school.  He swapped out my hard drive and set me up with some funky Linux system on the new drive, but... well, all my photos were on my old drive.  And I couldn't put any photos on the new drive.  So I was basically stuck with a laptop that allowed me to go online and to write my sermon once a week, but since it was a temporary solution I couldn't do anything long-term.  Like put pictures on it.  Or upload them to my blog.  Sigh.

Husband finally realized how this barely-functional "temporary" solution was cramping my style (for, um, months) and spent a night fixing my old drive and saving all the data and getting me Windows and enabling me to use my computer again.  And so here I am!  Able to blog again!  Photos are not lost!  Some stuff on that drive was lost (some important stuff.  Really important.  Dangit.) but not the photos.  And I also have a place to put the photos I've taken in the computerless interim.  And now I can blog about them.

So here's what you have to look forward to over the next couple of weeks or so ('cause I'm gonna drag out this posting thing for as long as I can get away with it):

  • An update on Husband's sweater
  • An update on another sweater that I'm doing as a knit-along, but I might be the only person in the group who's still working on it, because the pattern is not well-written.
  • SOCKS.  Yes.  Me.  Knitting socks.
  • And MORE SOCKS.  That's right, you heard me.
  • My thoughts for my participation in the Ravelympics newly-named Ravellenic Games, even though I may have missed the deadline to sign up officially.  Honestly, I don't care about it enough to bother signing up formally and, like, paying attention to rules.  Also I think I'm traveling during the Olympics.
  • Hopefully by the time those five get posted, I'll have come up with something else to show for myself, too.
Now you have something to look forward to reading on here!  'Cause I know you've been on the edge of your seats for, like, months.  Me too.