Wednesday, April 18, 2007

FO, FO, FO, FO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Ruffled Surplice from IK is done. (Photos added Saturday, April 21. Blogger is finally working again!)

This is actually an historic FO, (my computer keeps trying to turn FO into OF!) because not only did I finish something, but I finished it while the magazine publishing the pattern was still on the newsstands. I am a process knitter and work in slow mode. This is a new record for me. Hey, they could use me for a Comcast Slowski commercial.

Here is my review of the Ruffled Surplice

Title: Ruffled Surplice

Pattern: Interweave Knits, Spring 2007, pages 90 to 94

Designer: Mari Lynn Patrick

Yarn: Southwick Valley Yarns (from Webs booth at Stitches West) 52% Pima Cotton, 48% Bamboo (9 balls used—approximately 945 yards)

Color: 12 (medium pink) Lot 8161

Gauge: 4.5 stitches to the inch

Needles: US #5 Knitpicks Options Needles with 40” cord.

Size: Estimated 1 size smaller than smallest women’s size in pattern

1. Body sewn together and sleeves knit from armholes down. This require insertion of a gusset under the arms. Sleeves knit longer than pattern provided for at E’s request.
2. Sleeves altered so that instead of a horizontal band of stitching between bottom of sleeve and ruffle, non-textured stitch used like ribbing.
3. Increases for ruffles done by knit in front and back of stitch instead of yarn overs.
4. Tie on left side originates at left side seam instead (less to knit and I think it gives a neater appearance to the already fitted sweater. A long, heavy tie would tend to sag). Consequently, no belt loop necessary.

Blocking: Minimal steam blocking of side seams when body was sewn together.

What I liked: This was a relatively quick item to knit (still took me 2 months). The textured stitch was interesting in the bamboo cotton blend yarn. I like the fitted appearance and the integrated border.

What I didn’t like: The pattern was difficult to follow without writing out the rows because of increasing and decreasing on both sides at the same time to do the neck and shoulder shapings. Difficult to secure the slippery yarn.

Overall Impression: A nice knitting experience and a beautiful result.

Would I knit this again? Perhaps. I wouldn’t rule it out.

And, (drumroll, please), E LIKES the sweater and even told me “thank you” for knitting it. That’s a lot coming from a 14 year old! I even have a picture of her in it, SMILING (a teenager, smiling!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), but as I am not allowed to post a picture showing her face you'll have to trust me and use your imagnination.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

The "To the Cottage" Fiasco

I have pictures.

I’m not showing them.

The next FO, working back in time, is the “To the Cottage Pullover” from Sally Melville’s The Purl Stitch book.

It’s a lovely sweater, really. I made it for my husband. I knit it in a lovely denim-like blue shade of Cascade 220 and stayed right on gauge.

For years he teased me for knitting all this stuff, but never a sweater for him.

That’s not entirely true. When the very first issue of Interweave Knits came out, I fell in love with the Tingwall Jumper featured in that issue. I bought the yarn pack (only $40, can you believe it???), and bravely started on this steeked, fair isle sweater with a corrugated ribbing.

Having absolutely no idea what I was doing.

I was still somewhat of a beginning knitter. Lower case knitter, all the way.

Somehow, after several trials and errors, I managed the corrugated ribbing at the bottom of the sweater and made my merry way up the body. My gauge was way off. I think I ripped this back to that corrugated ribbing and restarted perhaps six times before I finally got on gauge.

I made many mistakes along the way.


It became known as the “Tinkwall” because I tinked and frogged it so many darn times.

And somewhere in there, I started graduate school. I worked two jobs during the day and went to graduate school at night. Sometimes, WG would ask, “when is my sweater going to be done?” Do I get points for not killing him???

Then, in the middle of graduate school, I got pregnant. Had a baby (my second!). Continued grad school, continued working two jobs.

Yet, somehow, I managed the steek, and completed the first sleeve. The corrugated ribbing cuff on the sleeve is horrible, and needs to be frogged. My husband, dear Wine Guy, has short arms, and I had to come up with my own decrease ratio to get the sleeves the right length without being too wide.

I didn’t write it down.

After grad school, I started the second sleeve. The steek was fine, but about midway through the sleeve, I realized I had NO idea how to do the decreases so it would match the first sleeve.

And so, it sits.


For me to get a lobotomy.

Then I might pick it up again, rip the lousy cuff, fudge the second sleeve, and finish the darn thing. But don’t hold your breath.

In the meantime, I knit the Cottage Pullover.

I am now a Knitter with a capital K.

I know how to get gauge and stay on it. I can follow a pattern and do complex things.

I got gauge, followed the pattern. Made a lovely placket on the Henley style pullover. Bought beautiful buttons and sewed them on. My original thought was to give it to WG for a Hanukkah 2006 present, but it wasn’t quite done. (I can easily work on things in front of him, because he doesn’t pay that much attention, and if he had, I’d have told him it was for me).

I finished it sometime in Mid-January of this year, I believe.

I gave it to him proudly.

He tried it on and said “it’s a little big in the neck”.

He was right. It was a very wide neck.

Huh? I know I was on gauge and followed the neckline directions EXPLICITLY! What the heck?

I kicked myself for making some dumb mistakes and tried to figure out how to fix it at this point, with almost no yarn left over and the seams all sewn.

Then I went back and looked at the pictures in the Purl Stitch book. When you look CLOSELY at the photos, you can see that the neck IS wide. The male model wears a collared shirt underneath, and there is a lot of space around the collar. The female model wears a scarf around her neck.

My Maggie Rhighetti alarm bells began to ring, waaaaaaaaay too late. In one of the early chapters of Knitting in Plain English, Maggie warns the reader against photos of garments where the details are obscured by the photography, a strategically placed scarf, or other devices that hide the poor shaping of the garment. I failed to notice the wide neck that was right there in front of me that whole time.


WG gamely wore the sweater a few times (around the house, never in public) and then put it away. I talked about taking it to the “Knit Doctor” when I attended Stitches West in February, but I never did, because I thought that any fix would be too hard, especially since my chances of getting the same dye lot of yarn were slim (the LYS where I bought the yarn has since closed).

I wanted to photograph it tonight to post to this blog, but when WG put the sweater away, he HUNG it in his closet, on a wire hanger. Guess what THAT did to the neckline????????????? Yes, it’s even worse. I’m only exaggerating a little when I say that it’s almost down to his navel. It's too embarassing to post the pictures of it now.

The sweater is loosely fit, oversized. It fits WG like it’s supposed to (except at the neck), but I can wear it too (although it’s not a loose fit at all on my very “fluffy” body). So maybe it will be MY knock around the house on cold mornings sweater instead of his.

Now, I need to come up with another sweater for WG.


Wednesday, April 4, 2007

All this and I knit, too!

Sorry for the time between posts. Monday began the Jewish holiday of Passover and time got away from me--therefore very little knitting with even less blogging.

The next few blogposts, working backwards in time, will show the world that while I am a certifiable gadgetholic and I have many WIP’s, I am also perfectly capable of (at least occasionally) finishing objects. That is, I am also a certified knitter, and thus worthy of my “knitting blog” stripes.

Today I will show you the “Famous” Strawberry Patch Cardigan that is actual proof that history repeats itself (but can turn out different in the end, anyway!).

Lion Brand Strawberry Patch Cardigan pattern (now available for free at the Lion Brand site) made in Woolease Blue Sprinkles.

First, I love blue, and especially the intense blues of lapis. I love Woolease blue sprinkles because it is my exact favorite shade—just like lapis, though it’s described as “royal blue”. But it has been discontinued, which makes me incredibly sad :o( Luckily, in its heyday, I bought many balls of Woolease Blue Sprinkles, including a few one pound balls. So even today there is enough there for another kids sweater, and an abandoned adult-sized NFO (never finished object) that can be frogged for more.

Don’t you think my finished Strawberry Patch Sweater in Blue Sprinkles looks so much nicer than the Lion Brand sweater in the also discontinued Ivory Sprinkles??? [Best way to see a picture on their site without subscribing to the Lion Brand site is to look for the Google image of ‘ “Strawberry Patch Cardigan” Lion Brand’] The blue really makes the strawberries pop. I also “embroidered” the leaves rather than the intarsia—I think it looks much better.

Anyway, eons ago, when dear E was in kindergarten, I made her this sweater. I was still a freshman knitter, so it wasn’t the best job in the world, but it was cute enough and it fit. I also HANDMADE strawberry buttons out of Fimo ® clay. The whole project took about 2 months, maybe more. E said she loved the sweater, and proudly wore it to school—once. Well, maybe twice. In the same week. And then, she lost it. We searched the lost and found at her school and her after school program multiple times, but the sweater was never heard from again. She wore it less time than it took me to make it. AAAGGGHHH!!! I swore I’d never knit for a kid again. And I kept my vow until recently.

Now JB is in kindergarten, and she needed a new sweater. How I wished that we still had the Strawberry Patch Cardigan for her to wear this spring when the mornings are chilly but the days turn warm. How cute she would look in it. When I was rearranging stash, I came upon one of those 1 lb balls of blue sprinkles, and I remembered again how soft and cozy the yarn is. How washable it is. How beautiful is the shade of blue. And how wonderful to make a sweater for the little one that will cost nothing more than the price of the buttons since I already had the yarn (which probably cost about $6 way back when) on hand. So I caved, broke my vow, and cast on for JB.

I did a pretty durn good job on this one, if I do say so myself. And it fits JB with a little growing room, as I intended. I even made the cap. Total time—about 2 ½ months (while also knitting WG’s “To the Cottage” pullover). Total time before the sweater was lost—about a week. AAAGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This time, (lucky for JB!), I found it in her school’s lost & found. She took a few days before she admitted to me that it was lost, and it was almost a goner by then because it had already been taken from the hanging rack of lost and abandoned objects to the giveaway bags before I even knew it was missing. I had to dig through THREE industrial-sized garbage bags full of smelly lost kid sweatshirts and gym socks to find it, too. Yuck!

I still let her wear it to school (she loves it and wears it often), but only with a new daily lecture on how it must come home the same day. The usual way her sweaters and coats get lost is that she gets warm jumping and running around on the playground and drops her garment on the ground, forgetting it when the bell rings. This morning’s lecture was “when the bell rings, it’s time to look around and FIND your sweater to make sure to bring it home”. We’ll see how that works. Stay tuned . . .