Saturday, March 26, 2011


So, I am almost back in the habit of blogging regularly. It is at least back on my mind on a regular basis. I think I will get there.

I actually have much to talk about, but haven't been taking photos. When I tried to do it this afternoon my camera died. I only managed to get a few photos. So, I'll share everything else another time.

I finished the top down sweater a couple of weeks ago. I absolutely love it, though it did turn out a bit larger than I expected it to. The unspun Icelandic was wonderful to work with, and I will definitely use it again. This sweater is thick, and warm!

I will also definitely be using Barbara Walker's top down method for sweaters again. Being able to try the sweater on as you are making it really helps, and it was so much easier than I expected it to be.

I have put the blue ski sweater on hold for a bit. I didn't like the way the sleeves were coming out. So, I decided to stuff the whole thing in the closet, and take it out in a few weeks when I can have a fresh perspective.

I hadn't been crocheting lately, and one evening two weeks ago I was really longing to have a hook in my hand. So, I dug out a basket of scraps & odd balls, and a big bag of natural Irish wool my brother had picked up for me at a yard sale, and got to work on a scrap afghan.

There are 36 nine inch squares here. I intend to have a total of 48, to make the center of the blanket 54" x 72". I'll then add a striped border that (if I have enough yarn) will bring the dimensions to 66" x84".

I hope to be posting about the other things I have going on in the next week. If I can only remember to buy batteries...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I Think It Might Just Work

I think I may just be able to get back in the habit of blogging regularly. I had intended to post last week, but the flu got in the way. I am back this week, though.

Last week's post was going to be about projects I had completed in my long absence, but after two weeks I have so many other things to post about I will play catch up another time.

While I was sick I spent several days confined to my room. Most of that time was sleeping, but there were several stretches of several hours in which I couldn't sleep at all. During that time my joints hurt too much to knit, and my head and eyes hurt too much to read. I almost went completely crazy until I realized I could actually tolerate spinning with out an excess of discomfort. It had been quite some time since I had sat down at my wheel, and I really loved it! First I spun a bobbin very fine brown cashmere. Then I spun a bobbin of fine-ish, but slubby white yak. Then I dug out a bobbin of finely spun camel down from ages ago. I plied them all together into this beautiful worsted weight yarn. I have about 200 yards, with lots of camel and cashmere left over. I used all of the yak, but I am thinking of ordering more so I can spin up another couple hundred yards of this amazing stuff. I'm picturing a sweater made with half comercially spun, smooth yarn, and half with this.

After my last post I got several comments about how I knit a sweater on the fly with no planning/swatching/measuring. Well, this current WIP is the complete opposite.
Made with Classic Elite Skyy Tweed that I got on close out forever ago, this will eventuallly be a Scandinavian Ski Sweater. This is the entire body. When the sleeves are done sleev openings will be steeked out of the colour work portion, and the top with be joined at each side for the shoulders with live stitches left in the center to work a collar.

This project definitely required a great deal of planning. I am using Elizabeth Zimmerman's instructions for the sweater proportions/construction, and all of the patterns are from Luise Robert's 1000 Great Knitting Motifs.

The electronically sharpend, and back-lit image actually shows the colour-work in a bit more detail than the naked eye. Because the light blue has flecks of dark blue, and the dark blue has flecks of the light, the patterning is actually more subtle in reality. I really like it. You have to give it a good look to really make out what's there.

This will be my first time steeking a major project like this. Everyone seems to think I should be nervous, but I'm really kind of excited to do it. I'm sure I will be blogging more about it when the time comes.
After all the intense planning, and colour work of the ski sweater I really needed another casual, intuitive project. Actually, I had expected to do much more planning and swatching for this piece, but it just wanted to work itself into a sweater naturally.
I had bought some unspun icelandic, because I've just been dying to try it. This past weekend I was dragged to an evening of Bingo, and decided I needed some knitting on hand to keep me from going nuts. Since the ski sweater was not at a point that I knit with out giving it total attention I grabbed some of the icelandic, with the idea of doing some swatching.
I cast on 60 sitches, and worked 1X1 ribbing for two inches, then switches to stockinette. After a couple of rounds I realized I already had a perfect collar.
I had been wanting to try a pattern from Barbara G Walker's Knitting From The Top, and the perfect moment was born!
When I bought the wool I was thinking of another icelandic yoked sweater, but I quickly realized I liked the weight and thickness of the fabric just as it was, and didn't care to incorporate any stranding. So, I decided on this fading stripe pattern to give this sweater a little visual interest. In the photo the yoke is complete, and I have knitted down the body just a couple of inches.
I am having so much fun with knitting this sweater top down. The method really lends itself to knitting with out much planning. Once I knit the neck, I checked my gauge, and figured out how many stitches I would need to increase over the progression of the yoke. Once all of the yoke stitches were on my needles I tried it on to see how much longer I wanted it before splitting off the body, and arms.
Once I made the split I tried it on, decided I wanted more room in the under arm, ribbeb back a few rows to the full yoke, and knit again until I was satisfied. It will be great when I get to the waist and sleeves to be able to try it on, and be able to really see when it's the perfect length.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I'm Still Here!

I can't believe I only managed to get in two posts for all of 2010, and now it's two months into 2011, and I'm just getting to my first post.

I really do want to keep my blog alive, and have lots to post about. So, here I am, attempting to get back into the swing of things (again).

This is the most recently completed sweater that I have made for myself. I finished it about two weeks ago, but it was started way back in October. It was a completely unplanned project, that I think evolved very nicely.

Back in October my friend Maureen had asked me to attend an equestrian show with her. I agreed to go, but honestly did not have much interest. On the way to her house I realized I had forgotten my knitting, and didn't feel like I could sit through the show with out something to keep me occupied. So, I told her we had to leave a bit early to stop at the yarn shop.

The Hub Mills Store is only a few minutes away from her. So, we went there, and I found several mill-end cones of Classic Elite Montera. This is an aran weight 50% wool/ 50% llama single ply yarn. The label suggested a size 9 needle. So, I picked one up, and just cast on. No gauge swatch, not even any measurements for the sweater. (I lost 30 Lbs in 2010, and didn't know my new measurements.)

By the end of the horse show I had about 12" of the body done. Then it was time to decide what I was actually going to do with the tube I had been knitting. I had always wanted to incorporate some of Barbara G. Walker's Mosaic knitting patterns into a sweater, and decided with the two colours I had that this was the time.

If you are not familiar with Mosaic Knitting you should definitely check your local Library for the book. It's two colour knitting, but only one colour is used at a time. The pattern is created entirely by slipped stitches.

Shortly after I started the mosaic patterning in the sweater body I had to put this project to the side. It hibernated for a while, until I finally decided to get it finished a few weeks ago. Since most of my sweaters are made seamlessly, with the EPS, I still hadn't decided on the shoulder style.

I decided to use the Shirt Yoke Sweater. I really love the way it turned out. The back of the shoulders is really neat & clean looking. Much better than the normal back saddle for this style sweater.

Shockingly, with out a gauge swatch, or even knowing my size, this sweater ended up fitting beautifully as a second layer, and it is so warm I can wear it out in 10 degree weather with out a coat.

The next project I'm going to share today is a sweater I made for my sister. She had asked me for a warm sweater to wear in the spring. She wanted something to wear when it was too warm for her winter coat, but too cool for indoor clothing. I had decided to make it as a birthday present, and cast on only hours after finishing the mosaic sweater.

As usual, I cast on the body tube for a seamless sweater without a complete idea where I would go with it. This time I did have measurements, and gauge. When I was about 2 inches into knitting this sweater I received a call, "We had to change the family birthday party to this Saturday." It was Sunday. I had 1 week to complete the sweater!

Luckily I wasn't married to a specific design at that point. I had thoughts of a fancy Fair Isle yoke that were immediately chucked. Instead I decided to try a pattern I had been wanting to make for quite some time, Meg Swanson's Box the Compass.

Luckily, my sister is rather small, and the Cascade Ecological Wool I was using knits up quickly. The sweater was done on Friday. 6 days for an entire sweater is a record for me! I was thrilled to have done it, but I hope to never have to do it again.

The sweater fit perfectly, and was very happily received.

I'm now about 10 days into my newest sweater project. No pictures yet, but I hope to share a few more of my recent projects before I finish it.