Archive | May, 2009

how to make stockinette interesting?

19 May

Throw in some crazy construction.

I’ve started the Empire Waist Cardigan by Classic elite, using the Elann Luna.  I’m still loving the yarn – even in stockinette it isn’t painful to knit!  The top of this sweater is knit sideways from sleeve to sleeve, and then stitches are picked up for the skirt.   It’s going quickly, although I am not looking forward to the bottom!  The pattern so far is very clear (this is my first Classic Elite pattern, though I like many of their other patterns lately, so it is not the last!)

I have been busy planning our vacation, coming up next week.  We’ll be gone for about a week and a half, with Marc finally getting to show me Wisconsin.  It should be super fun!  I love to travel, and something I hope to do in the future is take more weekend trips (I have Fridays off, and Marc has every other friday.)

New swatches and exciting news!

15 May

As of yesterday I have officially given notice at my job that I am leaving.  It’s exciting and scary all at the same time  – after all, I’m leaving a salaried position to start my own business!  I will be completely finished in mid July.  I feel as though a huge load has been lifted off my shoulders.  I’m someone who doesn’t like to quit things, but I think there’s something to be said for knowing when it’s time to move on, and knowing when a situation is not right.  My studio has been experiencing tremendous growth in the past few months, and I have every confidence that this is going to be the right move.  Thanks to everyone who offered advice and support while I was making this decision!

Moving on to knitting, I have swatched up the new yarns I got from Elann and the Webs sale.  I got some real winners this time, and only one I’m sort of “meh” over.

Elann Nilo in Blueberry

This yarn joins Berroco Naturlin in my list of “linen yarns that aren’t painful to knit with.”  It has a rounded construction that makes nice even stitches, but it isn’t overly dry and twiney.  It has a slight sheen that isn’t visible in this phot.  The color is gorgeous – a little more purple than it looks here, with the linen fibers a slightly different shade than the cotton fibers.  It swatched at 5.5 st/in for me on US 4 needles, and did not grow with washing.

Elann Luna in midnight

I’m also really pleased with this yarn.  It’s a little splitty, but not as bad as I expected (aren’t all rayon/cotton blends splitty?)  The yarn consists of a dark navy thread twisted around a lighter blue thread.  It knits up marled and slightly textured – this is not an extremely smooth yarn.  It’s very drapey and light.  I like that the marled color will hide my uneven stockinette, as the garment I’m making with this is entirely stockinette.  It knit up to 5.5 st/in on US 4 needles for me, with minimal growth when wet.  It could easily be knit tighter – I want the loose, drapey fabric, but I think going down a needle size or two would give you a more firm look to the fabric.

Elann Bamboo Fusion in Porcelain Teal

This is the only yarn I don’t love from this batch.  It’s much more splitty than you would  expect in the skein, and while drapey it is rather heavy.  It also grew when wet, going from 5.5 st/in to 5 st/in on US 5 needles.  I would not go down a needle size, as that would be uncomfortable, but it does look good at this gauge.  The color is rather pretty, but not my favorite.  It won’t work for what I bought it for, but I will probably find a use for it – it’s drapeyness brings to mind several ideas, and I do like that it is not entirely solid colored.

Classic Elite Sundance in Raj Red

Let me say first of all… if you like Cotton Ease you will really love this yarn.  It reminds me a great deal of CE.  It has a round construction and makes nice even stitches.  It’s also ridiculously cheap at WEBs right now.   It’s slightly stretchy and has a very dry hand.  I bought it to make the short sleeved turtleneck in the current Knit.1, since it was the required yarn and was so cheap.  I was hoping the color would be less orangey and more red, but I’ve decided I like this color too.  It is heavy, and it does stretch when wet.  I got 4.75st/in before blocking and 4.5 st after, not a huge difference, but enough that I will knit on smaller needles (going from US 6 to 5) to counteract the stretchiness.

Classic Elite Classic Silk

I have actually knit with this yarn before – I made Ms. Marigold out of a lovely pink shade.  I love this yarn, which feels like wearing terry cloth.  It has occasional bits of vegetable matter.  I get 4.75 st/in on US 6 needles with this yarn, but that’s problematic… the uneven texture of the yarn makes measuring gauge difficult.  I actually started Ms. Marigold twice because my gauge was so different in the larger garment.  I will have to be certain to check my sizing when I start my project!    This is a highly recommended yarn, though it takes some getting used to.  It’s also on sale at WEBs right now, which is why I went ahead and got some to make a cardigan with.

That’s all my swatches – now I just have to decide what to make first!  I’m debating between using the Nilo and the Luna to start out -  I loved them both, and both sweaters look like I would really enjoy them!

It’s raining today (again!)  I keep trying to get time to work on my garden, but everytime I try it seems as though we’re having a thunderstorm!  I really want to get it settled before we go out of town in a week and a half.  Last weekend we did get lots of the terrible plants the previous owners planted removed from the backyard – and found that we had a brick patio underneath them!  I’m going to redo the patio, as it’s in rough shape, but the bricks are good!  It looks barren right now, but barren is better than the overgrown wilderness I had before!

FO: Blithe

14 May

Pattern: Blithe by Kim Hargreaves, from Breeze

Yarn: Rowan 4-ply cotton in Aubergine,, a little over 4 balls

Needles: US 0

Notes: I wanted to make Blithe from the first moment I saw the pattern appear as a kit.  Alas, the lousy exchange rate and shipping tempered my enthusiasm.  So I when I saw it was being released in Breeze, there was no question what I was going to make first.

I think I knit with few alterations to the pattern.  I didn’t change needle sizes for the hemline or sleeves, and I’m glad I didn’t (since I was knitting on size 0s anyway, I figured it would make little difference.)  I knit the body to 15″, and I think that is the length called for in pattern, or close to it.  It could be longer, but it’s fine as is.  I did add one extra set of waist shaping pairs.

I found a few things confusing about the pattern.  First of all, I somehow knit too many buttonholes, and ended up only using every other one and calling it a design element.  And then one of the fronts has less stitches than the other, and yet just said “reverse shaping other side.”  I winged it, but I wasn’t happy about the way it was worded.   I knit the sleeves as written and they fit me fine, but they are small… be aware and knit more if needed.

But anyway… I love this sweater!  I think it’s so flattering and I love the pretty color!  My tension was pretty awful on the back, but oh well – I can’t see it when I’m wearing it!  I am so happy that I finally got to make my Blithe!

Resolution not to stash yarn = fail

9 May

I’m ok with my failure.  After I finished the Soap Bubble wrap, I looked for something else to start, and realized I was in serious need of at least a small stash of yarn for upcoming projects.  I found the yarn for blithe, so it was all good, but it makes me nervous not to know what’s up next for some reason!  Also, I wanted to try out some of Elann’s summer yarns.  I had previously tried Sonata (stringy but great for home projects,) Lara (great yarn, a little splitty,) Pegasus (too dry) and Callista (too stiff, smelled like hay.)  Since that time (about 2 years ago) they have added about a million new yarns.  Previously I had found their summer offerings to be on the stringy, stiff side of warm weather yarns, and while those yarns have their uses I prefer to use yarns that are at least a wee bit soft.  I don’t want too soft, because then it stretches and won’t hold its shape, and often sheds all over everything I own.  So I went through my queue on Ravelry and paired up three projects with Elann yarns.  They arived today – 2 days from a Canadian company!  I also ordered from WEBs at the same time (Classic Silk on the anniversary sale and some red Classic Elite Sundance on closeout) and will probably get those in about 2 weeks… they are so slow in comparison!  Anyway, here are the yarns!

Elann Nilo in Blueberry, to make Buttercup.   This pattern is adorable, and it’s available free!  I queued it up the second it appeared in my Ravelry friends activity page (the creator of most of my queue!)  The color on this yarn is way off in the photo.  It’s actually a medium dark blue-violet, more purple and darker than it looks here.  My camera would not take a proper photo.  Nilo is a blend of cotton, viscose and linen.  It feels soft and is pretty and shiny in the skein.  It only has the slightest smell of raw linen (which I now recognize is the smell I thought of as “Hay” in Elann Callista.)  I think it’s perfect for this cute top!

Elann Luna in midnight for the Empire Waist Cardigan by Pam Allen.  This is a style of cardigan I’m seeing everywhere in stores, and I wanted to make my own.  First of all, I would like to applaud Pam Allen for expanding the size range on Classic Elite patterns.  In the past, they all started way too big for me, but now they have a nice wide range.  I bought Classic Silk to make another sweater from the same book.  The pattern calls for Provence, a mercerized cotton which I’m sure is very nice, but even on sale at WEBs (for the anniversary sale) I think it’s too expensive for cotton.  I also prefer a blend, so I ordered luna, a blend of cotton and rayon.  It’s just what I wanted!  The yarn itself is marled – a black strand is wrapped around a navy strand, which I think will look great knit up.  It feels soft and drapey, but not too soft.  It may have a little fuzz potential, but I will have to knit it up to see.  This wasn’t even half the cost of the Provence, so I’m pleased!

Bamboo Fusion in Porcelain Teal.  I bought this to make Primrose Path from the Spring Twist Collective.  The pattern calls for a bamboo, but I used the exact same yarn for my Millefiore cardigan (same color even) and it sheds like crazy.  Bamboo fusion is a blend of cotton, bamboo, and acrylic.  It feels soft but not fuzzy and limp.  I love the color, which is more of a green/gray than it looks here.  Again it is slightly marled, but not enough to interfere with the lace pattern I hope. It’s listed as a worsted weight, but my experience with Elann is that their yarns run thin.  The gauge for primrose path is 21 st/4 in, and I should be able to get that.

This worked out to about $30 a sweater, including shipping, a figure that I am more than happy with.  I am really impressed with how Elann has stepped it up with their yarn offerings lately – the two sweaters I made with their bulky yarns last winter have held up wonderfully as well, and their color selection is pretty good.  I do compare them to knitpicks, and to be honest I love Elann so much more.  Unlike Knitpicks they don’t throw alpaca in every yarn either (my allergy has made me bitter) and I like that they have more dk weight choices (knitpicks has a lot of sport, but I don’t care for shine or for comfy all that much.)

Progress on Blithe… I’m inching my way up the front!

I need to find my last ball of yarn though – it must be in the house somewhere, right?

Inching closer

5 May

In more ways than one. I have  been working on Blithe a lot, and the back is nearly complete!


My tension could be more even, but it’s one of those things I don’t worry about – I knit with one smaller needle when possible, but this baby is knitting up on the smallest needles I own!  I like the pattern in general.  My only gripe is a common one with Kim Hargreaves patterns – the directions are written in a very “row by row” fashion, with no measurements given, which I dislike.  I added a waist decrease set, so I got confused over whether I was knitting to the correct length or not.  I finally figured it out from the armhole depth, but the schematic could definitely use some actual measurements to be useful.

I had a new student today, and hopefully several new students over the next few days.  I have been advertising, and it seems to be working, though of course with private teaching you have a fair amount who either don’t show up for the first lesson or flake out pretty quickly.  I figure I am halfway to my goal number or so.  Today was great – I got to get up, clean the house a little, and teach for 4 hours or so.  I do not find teaching stressful, and I generally like my students… and since I teach both voice and piano I don’t find that it gets repetitive.   When Marc came home he fixed dinner, something he’s going to be doing a fair bit.  He’s such a great cook – look what he made!

Then we walked up to the local coffeeshop, got some decaf to go, and took a really long way getting back, looking at the pretty houses in our neighborhood and being amazed at the number of cats around!  So it was a good day, and one I’m hoping to repeat in the future.  Happy cinco de mayo to everyone!

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