A Welcome

We have a new baby in Hubs’ extended family. His family is small and this is very big, very welcome news. This baby lives far too from us in a Texan climate I don’t understand which confused my usual sensibility to knit. Do Texan babies even need sweaters? No matter, she’s getting one anyways. Even if it is 84 degrees today (I checked). Perhaps it will be useful in chilly overly air-conditioned restaurants? IMG_8044.JPG

Pattern: February Baby Sweater by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Mod: Omitted the lace pattern
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted in Hummingbird

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Leave it to a knitter to pack a sweater, a summer outfit, and sunglasses in these same box as if they all belong together.

Everything New is Old Again

After putting Leaves of Grass in time out I picked up a swatch I’d made last fall for a sweater I just can’t make a decision on which got me to looking for my size 8 needle. I found it in my knitting basket along with a partially completed Lottie cardigan that was holding it hostage. I subscribe to the philosophy that if you’re going to make something for a new baby it’s best, if possible and reasonable, to also give a gift to the older sibling(s). I’d started this project more than a year ago as a big-sister companion gift for a new-baby sweater and left this, the larger, to languish when I decided two handknit gifts was possible but not altogether reasonable. OK, then, I thought. I guess I’ll go ahead and finish that up.

And I did! The knitting went along fine without incident, but… there always seems to be a but. Things are just not going my way lately in a death-by-a-thousand cuts sort of way. When I soaked this little sweater to wet block it it grew to gigantic proportions. With dismay I remembered that this had happened before with this pattern and Cascade 220. I threw it into the dryer which restored it to its original child-sized proportions, but fuzzed it up. It emerged looking hard worn without ever having been worn at all.

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Pattern: Lottie Cardigan
Size: 4T
Yarn: Cascade 200 Superwash

Not without it charm, but not gift-worthy. We don’t need another sweater that my child will deny and ignore, yet into her sweater drawer it goes to be denied and ignored. If it doesn’t have Minnie Mouse on it it doesn’t rate. Wait, do they make Minnie Mouse buttons? Of course they do! Silly me. But will that be enough? Worth a shot.

Fake Merry Til You Make Merry

My friend told me that I have the most holiday cheer of anybody he knows. It was meant as a compliment (or good-natured teasing), but it made me feel misunderstood. Once October hits I get very busy. This is intentional. I do the things and I buy the things and I make the things. But to me it doesn’t feel like cheer. It feels like desperation. Not desperation to make all the things or do all the things or have a perfect holiday. It’s a coping mechanism. I keep busy while I feel like I’m heading towards a cliff I can’t see. I worry that I’ll careen off that cliff and I have to do as many things as I can before that happens. My avoidance masquerades as excitement. I let myself get lost in the trappings so I don’t have time to think about the spirit.

The confusion this creates is understandable. Look, for example, at the Christmas outfit I made this year. I’ve already talked lots about my new Christmas sweater, but I haven’t mentioned my new skirt.

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Pattern: Everyday Skirt by Oliver + S
Size: Medium
Fabric: Moda, Berry Merry, Reindeer Games Cream
Mods: No pockets! I rather miss the, but didn’t want to spend the time or fabric.

If I was going to make a sweater-babe-style sweater I needed a skirt to go with it, after all.

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What I actually look like when not posing provocatively.

It’s more a costume than an outfit. You know how faking a smile will improve your mood? This is that in clothing form. But I’ll tell you a secret: there are moments when I wonder if my friend might be right. It may be that I do have a lot of holiday cheer. I tell myself that I’m faking it but maybe it’s that I’m finally letting that cheer assert itself a little. This year maybe there’s room for all the feelings the holiday brings.

Christmas Sweason

I finished my holiday sweater in time for Kristkindl Markt at church!

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Pattern: Julgran by Andi Satterlund
Size: It’s complicated (details below)
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash in Shire

I love the color. I sent screenshot of – no joke, I counted – 19 different shades of green Cascade 220 to Hubs and he helped me whittle down my choices. Why haven’t I knit more dark green sweaters, I wondered. Because I spent many a year looking for the perfect pea green is why, neglecting entirely these wonderful not pea green shades.

I don’t know whether the motif gets lost or if people are not accustomed to looking at my chest, but it was only the knitters who immediately spotted and delighted in the tree. Otherwise my sweater-centered conversations felt something like:

Me, gesticulating excitedly at chest area: Look!
Hapless victim, gazing inquisitively at bosom: ???
Hapless victim, visibly confused, clearly thinking: Um, there’s nothing worth looking at???
Me: THE CHRISTMAS TREE.
Hapless victim, relieved: Oh! How neat!

The technicalities:

  • I put this sweater on pause for a bit while I pondered the sleeve situation. Turns out the problem wasn’t my short-row-wrapping, but that purling across the sleeve cap to where the short rows started made it so that the front and back of the sleeve didn’t match because I was purling across one but not the other. I dropped the yarn after picking up the sleeve cap stitches, slipped stitches to where the short rows start, and picked up the yarn there and it worked a bit better.
  • That half-a-purl-row probably would have been invisible if I had knit the sleeves in stockinette stitch as recommended by the pattern. Knits hide better than purls.
  • My row gauge was larger (longer?) than recommended. Great! I needed to add length, anyways. How convenient.
  • I forgot about how that would impact the sleeve depth.
  • Which, in retrospect was a big part of why the sleeve cap was too roomy.
  • I ended up with a sweater in size medium circumference (yay!), large length (yay!), and extra large sleeve depth (boo).
  • I knit a size small sleeve to compensate. Didn’t fix the problem entirely, but it helped, and let’s not let perfection be the enemy of the good enough.
  • Since I had knit the sleeves in reverse stockinette to match the sweater body I thought the funnel collar would be off. I knit 10 rows of 1×1 rib instead.
  • I used tubular cast off everywhere. Joy!

More pics to come after a good wash and block.

Wrap and Return to the Turn

Hm, well, my holiday sweater has hit the skids a bit. I blithely knit on the first sleeve (I took the liberty to knit it in reverse stockinette to match the sweater body, the pattern calls for stockinette) last night without checking the wraps on my short rows until just before bed and lo:

I must have wrapped in the wrong direction on the back because they’re not beautifully invisible like they are on the front. Womp womp.

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A close up of the disappointment.

It’s just as well because I was afraid the sleeve would be too big for me and it is:

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Pooch, badly lit in early morning bathroom light.

This style sweater is a bit of a departure for me. Not being a sweater-babe-type person I cast on a size that wouldn’t have as much negative ease as recommended so I thought this might happen. Back to the sleeves drawing board!

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I love a tubular cast off.

This time with properly wrapped short rows and a maybe 4-8 fewer stitches picked up around. Not today, though, this sweater and I need a little break from one another.

Distractibly Distractive

I thought I was starting a primarily sewing blog, but the thing I can’t put town this week is Julgran:

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© Andi Satterlund

I clicked through and bought this pattern as soon as I saw Andi’s pattern release blog post. Not long after that I sent screenshots of 19 different shades of Cascade 220 to Hubs to help me whittle down the selection and then I picked what turned out to be the perfect green – Shire – from those 4. You know those studies that show that too much choice actually makes people more unsatisfied with their decisions? I’ve always known this to be true about myself. Have you ever shopped for a stroller? It’s maddening. I knew I would be unhappy with whatever I chose so I didn’t bother and we ended up with a hand-me-down that we literally strolled into the ground when the front wheel went irreparably flying off the thing 7 years later. The thing I loved best about that stroller was that I hadn’t picked it so I had no reason to ever be unhappy with its shortcomings or interpret them as me making a bad or wrong decision. It was just a stroller that was better for some things (like traversing NYC’s variable topography) and not so great for others (like fitting through the check out line at a NYC grocery store). There is no perfect stroller, but there is a lot of angst over not picking one that is.

Anyways. I love a good Christmas sweater! There may not be a perfect stroller, but damn if this isn’t pretty darn close to a perfect holiday pullover. I’m close to the ribbing. I tried it on this morning and lost a bunch of stitched (oops) so I’ll have to fix that up before hopefully finishing up the body tonight. Yay!

Old Growth

We were on a beach vacation in Delaware when I bought a sweater’s quantity of Shepherd’s Wool Worsted form Stonehedge Fiber Mill from A Little Bit Sheepish, an amazing multi-floor yarn store – I wish I could live there, or at least shop there regularly – in a quintessentially picturesque town. I bought a whole sweater’s worth in Chocolate Milk (that one got turned into a Peabody). The woman checking me out asked if I had ever used it before and assured me that it was fabulous. She was 100% correct. It. Does. Not. ITCH. At all. That yarn felt so good against my skin I bought some more and made myself a Daelyn Pullover.

I spontaneously picked up the three partial balls leftover from the Daelyn, decided it was surely enough for a toddler-sized sweater, and cast on Old Growth.

I knit sleeve #1. Lots of yarn!

I knit sleeve #2. Two is always a good number of sleeves. Doubt starts to creep in.

I started on the body. Hmm, only 1 partial ball left and still several inches of the body to go + yoke + button bands. Better suck it up and order another skein. So much for stash-busting. It doesn’t help that a sweater’s worth of Rosy Green Wool’s Big Merino Hug fell into my virtual shopping cart when I placed my order. I was saving money on shipping, naturally!

Against expectation that last partial ball was enough to get to the end of the sweater body with a whole single yard to spare. I broke into the new skein – shout out to good dye consistency between lots – for the button bands. So I guess I can make a matching hat? Yay? I sort of resent when trying to use up yarn creates more knitting.

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Pattern: Old Growth by Tin Can Knits
Size: 2T
Yarn: Stonehedge Fiber Mill, Shepherd’s Wool Worsted, Antique Rose