30 November 2012

Fiddlehead Mittens Are Done!

Sooooo pretty.  And warm!  Seriously, these are the warmest mittens ever.  If you want warm hands, you want these mittens.  They’re essentially three layers of yarn.  And they’re alpaca.  And they’re matting together quite nicely and becoming basically windproof.  My hands have never been this warm.

Plus, I enjoyed knitting these so much, I immediately cast on for another pair.  And I want to make a matching hat, too.

It’s love, I tell you.  True love.

27 November 2012

Finished Fireside

So here it is, the Fireside Cardigan.  Done!  I’m thrilled with the end result.  It did grow a bit when I blocked it – the arms needed some coaxing not to be eleventy-zillion feet long when I put it on after it had dried – but the fit is still quite good in spite of the growth.  I’ve also lost some weight since I started the knitting back in January.  If I’d known I was going to do that, I’d maybe have knit the small instead of the medium.  But still.  I’m quite pleased with it.  I looooove the color, and I swear this one is even better than the original model that Cameron Diaz wore in The Holiday.  (Many thanks to Portcat for finding a still I could use!)

I wasn’t sure I would like the double-breasted look on me, but it turns out I love the cozy wrappy-ness of this sweater (would it be crazy to knit a cable-y belt??).  My one regret is that I only made five buttonholes.  I should have done seven so I could close it higher up the neck.  Maybe I’ll add a few loops instead.

It must be said that I modified the pattern quite heavily.

  • First, I knit the body in one piece instead of in three.
  • Then, I added cables on the sides where the side-seams would have been.  I just wasn’t interested in looking at that much reverse stockinette.
  • In the interest of avoiding giant panels of reverse stockinette, I also added cables in the center back, at both the bottom and the top.  So much prettier.
  • I knit a sort of fake i-cord thingy on the front edges – a slip-stitch selvedge, three stitches wide.  I think.
  • The above changes mean that I didn’t use the original stitch count the pattern wanted.  But I think I ended up with the required number of stitches after I split for the arm holes.
  • I may or may not have followed the pattern’s waist shaping instructions.  But, y’know, I made it to fit my body, not the author’s.
  • Same sleeve modification that everyone else did, so I didn’t get a too-short sleeve cap.
  • I kitchenered the shoulder seams and neck, rather than do the 3-needle bind-off.  Less bulky, more elegant.  (Pic to the right, above)
  • There was something else with the sleeves – I don’t remember what the pattern said to do, but I held twelve underarm stitches on the sleeves (and twelve on the body) and kitchenered them together.  Turns out, I kind of like kitchenering.  And I’m pretty good at it now!
  • I did five buttonholes, including one at the bottom.  Seriously, what is up with making sweaters that don’t close at the bottom?  I don’t always button the bottom button on my sweaters, but I want the option.  Anyway, my sweater has a button at the bottom – and like I said, I wish I’d added a couple more buttonholes higher up the chest so I could have seven buttons instead of five.
  • Oh, the rope cables that are supposed to stop cabling at the sleeves?  I kept cabling them, and left a selvedge stitch for seaming.  Also I kept the front rope cables (the ones that are supposed to disappear) going longer than the pattern says.  Why decrease on the cable itself when you can decrease around the cable instead?
I…think that’s it for mods.

I’m going to go be cozy in my new sweater now.  I think that might involve hot chocolate.

(This photo was taken pre-blocking, and held closed with yarn ties through the buttonholes.  This is the basement of Husband's school.  The outside of the building does not look institutional or basementy at all.  But...yeah, the basement sure does.)

13 November 2012

From the Archives, sort of

About a year ago, I made a lovely yellow Aran sweater for my friend Meowkat's imminently-arriving baby.  She did send me pictures of the sweater in action (better than that -- she brought him over to my house wearing the sweater once!) but I never got around to posting them.  Consider that an oversight, and consider it corrected.

The sleeves are crazy-long and she has them rolled up so they're more manageable.  But the body of the sweater fit him!

These pictures are actually from April or May.  He probably doesn't fit the sweater anymore.  Well, maybe the sleeves, but not the rest of it.

10 November 2012

Ohhhhh Fiddleheads!

I needed to take a break from sweater-knitting.  Sometimes it's just not practical to haul around an entire nearly-finished sweater on the off-chance you might have a couple of minutes to knit a row, you know?  And although I've got a purse-sock going, sometimes I just need a little variety.  That sock is not really doing it for me, I must admit.  But I had a hankering to knit something small and quick, on relatively small needles...

The Fiddlehead Mittens have actually been in my queue for a long time.  I've got two pairs in mind, even, with the yarn all laid out in special kit bags in my stash and everything.  When Hurricane Sandy was slated to hit the east coast on a Monday and there was nothing I wanted to do more than hole up and watch the Weather Channel, I decided it was time to start the blue pair.

Bam!  Outer shell of mitten #1 finished in a day!

Let me just say, I looooooove the i-cord cast-on.  I may cast everything on as an i-cord from now on.  That's a neat little trick to have in my bag... of tricks.

As of this writing, I have one full mitten complete (shell and lining), and the outer shell of the second one complete, and I've got about an inch of the second lining done.  By the time you read this, I'll probably be done and have some way-warm hands. Which would be good, because I still haven't turned the heat on in my house.

Yarn info:
Main color (cobalt blue): Frog Tree Alpaca sportweight.  About 2/3 of a skein for both mittens
Contrast Color #1 (dark green): Blue Sky Alpacas sportweight (about 1/3 of a skein)
CCs 2-5: Anonymous handspun llama yarn that I bought at Vermont Sheep and Wool about 3 years ago.  I bought them in little mini-skeins that said "about 30 yards" and had plenty left over when both mittens were done. So either the pattern's claim that I'd need "about 40 yards" of each contrast color was a gross overestimate, or the spinner's label on the mini-skeins was a gross underestimate.  I've got plenty left.
Lining (not shown, but it's green): Cascade Tweed Lana d'Oro.  This is a 100% superfine alpaca yarn.  Given that it's Cascade and a not-halo-y alpaca (confusing!), I'm surprised at how much I'm enjoying knitting with it.  So far I'm on lining #2 and am still on the first skein.

Will post finished product when they're done, of course.

08 November 2012

Fireside Chat

The Fireside Cardigan is really close to done.  Like, really close.  Body all knitted, shoulders seamed and everything.  See?  It's obviously not blocked or anything, but every day it's becoming a more and more wearable item of clothing.  Not the most flattering photograph, but it pretty much never looks flattering to close a double-breasted item of clothing with a single safety pin over three layers of pajamas and take a picture of yourself in the bathroom mirror.  At least I got smart and cleaned the mirror.  Eventually.

The sleeves are done up to the armpits.  Now I have to knit the sleeve caps and sew them to the body, and sew the collar piece down after grafting it together (I'm going to graft it, not seam it--I did this with the shoulders, too, and I think it looks so much better.  Who says you can't Kitchener cables?  Then add the buttons, and it's done!

When it's done, I'll get someone to take a decent picture of me wearing it.  It's going to be flattering, I swear.

Also when it's done, I'll type up my mods for all to see.  I did modify the pattern pretty heavily, I must say.  But I'm pleased with the results so far.  The other day I caught that scene in The Holiday that inspired this sweater, and I do think mine looks better than the Cameron Diaz version.  I just waded through about 50 pages of Google images looking for "Cameron Diaz sweater" "Cameron Diaz Holiday still" etc., and can't find a picture of it.  That is one elusive movie still, so you're just going to have to take my word for it.  My sweater looks better than hers.

05 November 2012

Olympic catch-up

So I did finish Husband's sweater for the Ravellenic Games.  The knitting part -- I still haven't done the zipper.  I have a sewing machine but have never even plugged it in, because that involves moving a giant bookshelf full of books... it's a process.  And I'm decidedly a process knitter, but maybe not so much a process zipper-sewer.

Anyway, I finished the sweater.  Even without a zipper, it looks pretty rad.  The sleeves are the right length and everything--which is good, because I reknit them about four times.

Without the zipper, the front pieces of the cardigan roll under themselves.  It actually does close properly, I promise.

I finished it and even managed to take the picture by all the proper deadlines for the Ravellenics.  I just didn't post them in the proper forum (fora--what's up with having to post in, like, three million places in order to get credit??) so it didn't actually help my team.  Sorry team.  But I did finish the sweater!  Hooray!  That's really all I was hoping for in this experience, anyway.

The collar lining is a bit of Manos, I think.  The main yarn is Cascade Rustic.  I did enjoy knitting with it.  But given all that was involved in knitting this particular sweater, I may not ever use Rustic again.  Or maybe I need to knit something else to redeem it.  Sigh.  As it is, I don't have this one hanging over my head anymore.

And given that Husband has now decided he doesn't really want it after all, I may or may not ever get around to moving the bookshelf so I can plug in the sewing machine so I can make sure it works and practice on non-knitwear stuff before I attempt sewing in the zipper.  We'll have to see.