Tempting the knitting gods.

We’ve all done it of course… switched needle sizes halfway through a project, thinking “it’ll be like extra shaping!” Decided to substitute an aran tweed in a pattern calling for sportweight silk. Said “Oh, I don’t need to swatch… I made a sweater with this yarn 3 years ago, gauge doesn’t change!”

In my case, I said “So yeah, I’ve made 3 Norah Gaughan designs before and they have all been cursed… but Manon will be different!” So I happily knit on, making triangles and oohing over the interesting peplum construction. Last night I finally finished the peplum and thought “Hmm… maybe I should try this on.”

“Shouldn’t these pieces just meet in the middle? It looks a little big. Oh well, nothing a good blocking can’t fix, right?”

*sigh*

Because of the way this is constructed there is not way to fix this without starting over.  I know I could pick up fewer stitches on the top, but it isn’t going to be enough to compensate for the six extra inches of peplum I’ve got going on.  I knew, of course, that my gauge in pattern is usually wildly different from my gauge in stockinette.  I’ve learned that lesson over an over, and yet somehow I thought that on this patttern they would match up perfectly.

So… froggity frog frog frog.  I’ll knit on Tuscany and think about what I want my next sweater project to be… hopefully it will be less ill-fated!

Summer IK

I have spent most of my week being completely fascinated by the construction of Manon.

I’ve completed the right peplum and one sleeve, and I’ve begun on the left peplum. I love the All Season cotton – I think I may have found a new summer favorite! People compare it a lot to cotton ease, but to me it’s softer and doesn’t cause the crazy uneven tension that I sometimes get from Cotton ease. I like the color too, which is a heathered gray/green. This design is brilliant because while you are knitting it you can’t imagine how it’s ever going to turn out in a sweater shape, and then it does!

I’ve also been knitting on Tuscany, although I don’t think I love that pattern quite as much as Manon. It does make a nice break from the cotton. I’m just not such a big fan of all those K3togethers.

This is 4 repeats in. The pattern calls for 11, but let me tell you right now I won’t be making it there – thank goodness my yarn is thicker than the yarn called for in the pattern! Also: never let it be said that I shy away from bright colors. This yarn is practically radioactive it’s so purple, but I adore it!

This was a great week for new patterns – Nectar came out, and I have already assigned yarns to Jasmine (4 ply cotton) Joy (denim, had to buy yarn for this!) and Dawn (handknit cotton.) In addition, we got the preview for the Summer Interweave Knits. I must say, I don’t like this issue nearly as much as the Spring issue, but since the spring issue was one of my favorites ever I suppose that’s to be expected. A bit too much color work for my taste, but ah well… it’s still miles ahead of many of the past summer issues (I did like last Summer’s quite a bit, but the year before was icky to me.) I did order yarn to make the Wallis cardigan (are you shocked? it looks exactly like something I would make!) I’m going to try making it from Ella Rae Bamboo silk, which I ordered just under the wire on the WEBS sale. Unfortunately, the color I ordered (a bright green) is out of stock, but they will send it when it comes in, and it’s not like I’m going to knit this next week anyway. I also really like the Gossamer Stars scarf (2nd photo) and plan to use my Ivory Lady Godiva for it – I was saving that yarn for Manon, but I have fallen out of love with that design, and like the idea of making the scarf just a tad bigger. My other favorite is the Wakame lace tunic, but I’m not sure at all what yarn to use for it, and in addition I’m not sure on the size – it’s shown with 5″ of ease and it looks nice, but I fear looking like I’ve been eaten by my sweater. I also like the hoodie, but I probably won’t knit it, and the skirt is nice (but again I won’t knit… the smallest size would be too big for me anyway.)

In betweens

I find spring and fall to be difficult seasons to knit for. I know that people say some sweaters are “transitional,” but really I find that I’m either hot or cold – I either want long sleeved or short, wool or cotton. It seems we went from 40 degrees here straight up to 80 with about a day of 60 in between. Even so, I don’t really want to knit sleeveless things yet, sow hen I was looking for my next project I ignored the nice camisoles and tanks waiting for me. I decided to knit another shawl, and at the same time knit a cardigan that might be called “transitional” by some people (although obviously not by me!)

This is the beginning of Manon from Norah Gaughan vol 1. This is the 3rd of her designs I have knit, and I’m hoping it will be the first I can wear. The pattern calls for Berroco Pure Merino, which is super expensive and also pretty heavy. I’m substituting Rowan All Seasons cotton in a discontinued shade (military) that I got for super cheap on ebay. It’s very nice to knit with, and the stitch definition is really wonderful for a cotton. I’ve been wanting to knit this sweater since I first saw it, but I was afraid to take the plunge. Yesterday I let Marc look at my queue and pick out a sweater for me to make, since I am so indecisive, and he picked this one. It was a good choice – the first triangle knit up quickly and was really fun!

This is my second new project, Tuscany from No Sheep for You. The yarn is Manos silk blend that I bought last week in Chicago. I adore the color, which I now realize almost exactly matches the Options needle cables!

Kim Hargreaves’ new book is for sale on her website, and of course I have ordered it. I’m pleased to see the designs from “Out of the Shadows” because I’ve really wanted to knit Joy and Glee. Many of the other projects are nice as well, especially Ripple, a sort of long sleeved version of Blithe. The first two below are knitted in Rowan Denim, which I have never used.  Is it nice to knit with?  I understand it won’t be the softest, I just don’t want it to hurt. Here are my favorites:

FO: Something Green

Pattern: Something Red by Wendy Bernard

Yarn: Blue Sky dyed cotton in Pickle, 4.5 skeins

Needles: US 5

Notes: I’m more pleased that I thought I would be! After finishing this sweater up I tried it on (with sock monkey pajamas) and thought “What was I thinking making a flared sweater?” After blocking, and with more sedated pants, I like it much better (don’t we all go through that period of hatred with large projects?) I knit the raglan depth to 8 inches, far less than the pattern called for, and I could have gone even shorter – the sleeves could be smaller in my opinion. I also knit the total sweater 1 inch shorter than the pattern called for, partially to compensate for the shorter raglan deepth. I used a smaller button than the pattern called for, but I may end up replacing it, as the button seems to pull a little. I did use different increases for the flare – a lifted increase rather than the make 1. It’s barely noticeable, and I would definitely recommend the sub. I also did my increases in the middle of the group of knits rather than on the edges, again hoping for a smoother result. I picked up a ton more stitches than the pattern called for – 3 for every 4 rows and 1 for every stitch around the back of the neck. As a result I’ve avoided the curling button band problem, but my neck does not perhaps stand up as much as it might.
One of the most surprising things to me is how much I liked the blue sky cotton. Last time I used it was nightmarish, but somehow this time my hands had no trouble at all, and I was able to knit for pretty long periods with it. It did smooth out a lot with blocking, but it isn’t perfect. I can live with it though!

Marc really likes this FO, and that pleases me; sometimes I think he is puzzled by some of the things that I knit. I do really like the color, and I can see this being a sweater that gets a lot of wear – it’s very comfortable and will go with both casual and dressier outfits. I would recommend this pattern, just be sure to pay attention to the raglan length and plan out your increases carefully!

Getting there

My Something green is going much more quickly than the last time I attempted it.

Just 2 more inches to go on the body and then I get to start the sleeves!  I used my lifted increase and I’m very pleased – you can see the increase in the purl sections, but it isn’t anywhere near as obvious as doing a m1 increase was.  The sweater is fitting very well – it’s on track to have about a 32″ bust including the button bands, and that’s just perfect for me!

I’m wondering if I should add some length to the sweater.  I tend to think no, since the swingy style would be unflattering if too long.  I probably think that because of my green gable, which I’m wearing today, and which isn’t the longest thing ever.  I love it anyway, fortunately I like the look of a long tank under a sweater!

I’m feeling a bit better today, thank goodness.  The swelling is going down, and I’ve been able to switch to ibuprofen instead of the vicodin the dentist gave me.  I hate the way that pain medicine makes me feel, and I wasn’t able to work this weekend – I only managed one mass yesterday, and that was really pushing things.  I do feel able to teach today, so it seems I am getting better.

Sarah Jane is sitting in my lap, making typing difficult.  I swear, I’ve never had a cat that needed to be so close to you all the time.  It’s adorable, of course, although I don’t think the other cats see it that way.
Thanks to everyone who added me as a friend on goodreads, as well as to those who agree with my introverted ways – I’ll respond individually, but isn’t it neat to see how many of us there are?

Reading and knitting, and 7 more things about me!

I was always shy. When I was growing up I would go to great lengths to avoid having to meet new people, and sometimes even to avoid talking to people I already knew. I’m still an introvert, although I doubt that it’s very obvious to people I meet anymore, and certainly no one I know well believes it. I find social situations exhausting, and I require a fair amount of time to myself to recharge. Knitting fills that time now, but it used to be reading. I was a voracious reader as a kid – the kind who could check 10 books out every week and read them all. Grown up life and other hobbies have cut way down on my amount of reading time, but lately I’ve been trying very hard to get back into things. I’ve probably read more books in the last month than in the whole previous year.

Are you all on Goodreads? Wouldn’t you like to be my friend (I’m Stitchywitch there too.) I really like having a place where I can notate everything new that I read, it appeals to the crazy listmaking part of my brain (seriously, nothing makes me happier than crossing something off a list.)

Since I’m still sick and looking like a chipmunk (although I am feeling a little better, I finally got to sleep at 4 last night) Marc was sweet enough to go to the downtown branch of the library and check these books out for me!  I just love the “No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” series, I’m sure that reading them will help me to feel better!  Now I just have to master the art of reading and knitting at the same time (those of you who do this, how does it work?  How do you keep your pages open?)

Finally, I was tagged again for the 7 Things meme, and I figure there are always plenty of random things about me, so I’ll make another list (mmm…. lists.)

1.  I was so happy last summer when I finally got to own my dream car… a Volvo.  Yes, you heard that, I always wanted a big boxy Volvo.  Marc already owned one when we met, and when the time came to get a car for me I knew what I wanted – we bought a used S60 and I love that car to death!

2.  My eyesight is really bad, and what makes it especially bad is that my left eye is 2 points worse than my right, making seeing out of a pair of glasses nearly impossible due to distortion (I do see fine with contacts though.)  I envy all the cute eyeglass styles I see now and actually own a pair that are not prescription so that I can fit in… but I feel like a fraud when I wear them!

3. My all time favorite TV sitcom is “The Bob Newhart show.” Not the 80s one, the one from the 70s set in Chicago.  I love their fabulous 70s decor, and I think Bob and his wife act just like Marc and I.  I was so sad when Suzanne Pleshette died recently.

4. Although I really dislike most contemporary christian music (I think it’s usually pretty bad musically) I have a secret love of gospel choirs.  I listen to them all the time in the car!

5. My hair is naturally blonde, although I have been dying it red for most of the past 8 years.  I did have a very brief experience with black hair, after an encounter with a box of black cherry (read: purple) dye.  I tried keeping it natural after that for awhile, but I just felt washed out.  I love being a redhead!

6.  I am not a vegetarian, but I prefer vegetables and will usually choose the vegetarian option.

7.  I cry more easily than anyone I know – I cry when I’m sad and when I’m happy, at books and movies, and when I even hear about someone else being sad.

Wow, that’s still a fun meme.  If you want to do it, consider yourself tagged!

Rows and rows

Last night I started feeling pressure and terrible stabbing pains in my jaw. I knew right away what it was, although I was hoping I was wrong. I wasn’t though, so… I have what is very likely an abscessed tooth. I’m on antibiotics now, and it will get fixed once the infection is gone, but for the moment I look like a very lopsided chipmunk. I’ve cleared my schedule for tomorrow (really, singing is not in the cards) but I can’t help Sunday, so I hope I feel better by then!

I didn’t have any health insurance for years, and Marc actually had to remind me today that I didn’t have to tough it out – and he even went with me, and then made my favorite soup for dinner (it was hard to eat, but it was so nice of him!)

Thank you to all who commented on my shawlette – I hope some of you considering the pattern give it a chance, it was so fun to knit!

Now that the shawlette is finished I’m concentrating on my “Something Green.” It seemed to take forever to get the sleeves separated, but here they are at last (my raglan length is a little over 8″ rather than the 10″ called for in the pattern.)

I really am enjoying the Blue Sky cotton this time, although I can admit that you can see me rowing out like crazy (rowing out is when either your knit or purl rows are noticeably looser.) There are times this would bother me, and I might be tempted to use combined knitting, but not for this cardigan. I think it will look fine in the casual style, and at any rate I’m about to switch into ribbing.

This isn’t, perhaps, the most exciting sweater ever. It’s entirely possible that I’m knitting it out of spite – the last time I tried this (nearly two years ago) it all went tragically wrong. First my gauge went crazy halfway through, so I started over. Then I experienced my one and only case of an Options needle cable breaking. This was before I could fix dropped stitches very well, so I had to frog back quite a lot. Then I found I was unhappy with the way the ribbing increases were working out, so I kept frogging back. Then I realized the yarn (Knitpicks Shine Worsted) was going to be really unsuitable for the sweater. I finally spent about 2 hours of a very long car trip, making the world’s largest ball of frogged yarn.

But I still wanted to sweater, so when I was looking for an excuse to give Blue Sky cotton another try I dusted off the ole PDF file.

I’m a little worried about the increases, but this time I am armed with a different sort of increase, and I suspect this yarn will be more forgiving than the Shine worsted, which seemed to highlight every single bump.

While looking through old photos, I actually found my previous attempt, only a little bit past where I am now.

It looks so different from my current attempt that it’s difficult to compare. It looks better in this photo, but in real life it was so much worse. Less rowing out, but a whole lot heavier, and too big to boot (I used to think I was a 34″ bust. That was clearly wishful thinking.) And the ribbing… ugh. This time I’m thinking of doing combined knitting for the ribbing, because the effect is so much neater.

I’m trying not to start anything new until this is more finished. I’ve still got shawls on the brain, and yarn to make 4 or 5 of them (or 6 or 7…) I also have lots of sweaters to make, and Coraline is technically on the needles, although I haven’t done much with it because I’m really afraid of running out of steam.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!