Saturday, June 7, 2014

FO: Grace v2.0 & Outfit Along!

Can I tell you something that super exciting? Well, exciting to me at least.

I finished my Southern Grace v2.0!

Ignoring the fact that I spent the time to make a 2nd cardigan exactly the same as the first, it feels like I brought an old friend back from the dead. I was going to take a side-by-side picture to show the felting on the first cardigan, but they looked pretty much the same (minus about 2 inches in length on the body). My Grace fit with negative ease, though, so the fact that the felted cardigan had NONE really made a difference.

As soon as I cannibalized the buttons off my first Grace and through away the useless body I cast on for Andi Satterlund's new cropped cardigan--Myrna.

Andi of Untangling Knots and Lauren of Lladybird are hosting an Outfit Along, which involves sewing a garment and knitting a garment that are meant to be worn together. The suggested knitting pattern is Myrna, a cropped short-sleeve cardigan with eyelet detail. I love Andi's patterns and have been wanting to make a cropped cardigan, so I jumped on this opportunity.

The dress portion of the Outfit Along is a little more daunting, though. I learned how to sew in 4th grade and have done it on and off (with a lot of customizing clothes in high school) since then. I haven't actually made a garment since my Alice in Wonderland costume in 2009, though. For some reason, I decided that Vogue's V1223 would be a great pattern to jump back into sewing with.

I was super excited to make such a fun dress and ordered some seriously colorful chiffon. I hemmed and hawed about what color cardigan would go best with the fabric and finally decided on Cascade Superwash 220 in Periwinkle.

I was a little nervous about working with chiffon for the first time so I ordered some extra fabric to practice hemming. I didn't expect it to be so hard to simply cut out the fabric, though! It's so light and stretchy and the whole experience had me frustrated. I'm nervous about starting this dress, so I may end up getting a new pattern and fabric to help ease me back into sewing.

If you haven't checked it out yet, this thread on Ravelry is where everyone is discussing their plans. It's amazing to see how everyone is interpreting the instructions. All of the participants who are adjusting their patterns really impress me--maybe I'll get to that level one day!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Stripes on Stripes on Stripes

You know how sometimes you get a picture of something in your head that you just have to make? And even when you keep running into problems you keep going because you know that it will be awesome when it's finished? Well...

When Knit Picks announced that Felici was being discontinued a few months ago, I panicked and purchased all of the remaining colors that I love. I didn't have any concrete plans for the skeins at the time, but I figured that striped sock yarn is a justifiable stash staple. After I saw all of the skeins added to my stash, though, I decided that I probably didn't need that many striped socks, and thus began my quest to find something else to make with some of the Felici.

My LINDEN mittens were the first project and ended up being a perfect way to use up a skein of Jingle. I don't wear hats (see my previous comments about having a big head), so those were out. My 2 skeins of Sweetheart were just begging to be made into something pretty for a sweet little girl, so I decided that I had a brilliant idea: I'd make a Sadie Baby Dress, a pattern that I've loved every time it came up on Ravelry, for my friend's daughter's 1st birthday in May. I looked through all of the project pages on Ravelry, and they were, of course, all adorable. The fact that all of the bodices were made in a solid or variegated yarn didn't register to me (ominous foreshadowing).

I knew that the seed stitch would look strange in self-striping yarn thanks to the purl stitches, so I dug through my stash for some white fingering weight yarn. I had some leftovers from some argyle socks but when I held it next to the Felici it seemed much more tightly spun. I knit the seed stitch band with one strand before deciding it was too holey, so I reknit it with the yarn held double. The fabric is dense, but works.

It was at this point that I start to consider the construction of the top of the dress. The bodice is knit in three pieces: a front piece and two back pieces that each have a button band. The seed stitch button bands would be knit using one strand of white to keep down the bulk, so I would have to switch yarns every row (is this technically considered intarsia?). Suddenly, it hit me: the top is knit in pieces. There would be no simple knitting around and around and letting the striped yarn work its magic. The stripes would have to be planned and matched up, and I would have to cut and weave in ends for each of the stripes on the top.

Now, let's talk about colors for a minute. To begin with, this is the picture that is on the Knit Picks website:

I see a deep raspberry color, a hot pink, a bubblegum pink, and a light pink. This is the assumption that I went on when I started knitting the top. I started chopping up a skein into the different colors and noticed that the light pink section seemed much bigger than the others, but for some reason I thought that was totally cool. Do I know that Felici colorways have 6 colors? Yes. Could I have check finished projects on Ravelry to see how other projects looked knit up? Yes. Did I? 
What do you think?

B is red/green colorblind and I will admit to having some fun testing him on colors. I used to be genuinely intrigued by the fact that he couldn't tell colors apart, but no longer. I can now relate to his frustration, because the section I thought was light pink is actually 2 very similar shades of light pink and a white that I think ended up having a lot of dye bleed onto it. Since I didn't notice this until the left back was finished and had the ends woven in, I just decided to make the top have stripes of 4 colors and the skirt include all 6. Whatever. It's a design feature.

Despite all of the issues that have come up, I have finished the bodice and am now on the much easier, knit-in-stockinette-until-it-looks-good skirt. I think it will end up being adorable, which was kind of the whole point.

Monday, April 21, 2014

New Pattern: Archer

I'm so, so excited to say that I've finally finished my first pattern! To be honest, it's just been waiting on pictures for about 2 weeks. It's been a labor of love and a huge learning experience, but I can't wait to start on some of my other pattern ideas.

Archer is a  fairly simple sock with an arrow motif running the length of it. The cuff is knit flat for 9 rows before being joined it the round, which creates a notch in the cuff for the arrow fletching. This notch makes the cuff much looser, so it's important to get a good snug fit on the leg so the sock will stay up.

The hot pink pedicure showing through is optional, though.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

WIPW: Southern Grace v2.0

I have to say, working on the yoke for my 2nd Grace cardigan has been such a nice break from the Whisper Wrap. There's been shaping, there have been lace panels, there's been's great.

The lace is a super simple netting, but I love how it looks in the finished cardigan. It's enough to keep the knitting interesting but isn't so much that the cardigan won't work with literally everything else in your wardrobe.

I've finished the yoke, which means I'll be putting the sleeve sections onto waste yarn and working the rest of the body in stockinette. You know, the part I didn't want to think about? This feels like it's working up so much quicker than the Whisper Wrap (thanks, fingering weight yarn!) so I'll probably try to power through some more of the body before switching back to the wrap. The pink color is so bright and springy that I'd love to have it finished in time to wear it before summer, but that might just be wishful thinking.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


So, this Whisper Wrap situation? Oh. My. God.

Casting on 481 stitches was not the most enjoyable experience of my life. I think I counted them about 10 times, despite the fact that I put stitch markers every 50 stitches. I knew that the stockinette would probably drive me crazy, as would the laceweight yarn and every row appearing to be making no progress, but dude. Seriously. I promise I've been working on this regularly, and this is as far as I've gotten.

I did the math on the wrap--the pattern is 186 rows long. That's 89,466 stitches. Even worse, I timed myself and found out each row takes at least 20 minutes (depending on my level of distraction/the surprising number of mistakes I've made knitting a mostly stockinette item). That means that, conservatively, it would take me 62 hours to knit this thing. I'm going to go ahead and round that up to an even 70.

Looking at this makes me sad, but I want the finished wrap so much! I know I'm going to get through it, but I'm not going to be as faithful to it as I had originally planned to be. I can't. I would just go absolutely stir crazy, and I love my boyfriend way too much to let him see me like that.

In that vein, I'm casting on for a new sweater! I got 4 balls of Knit Picks Stroll Sock Yarn in Dogwood Heather a couple of weeks ago to make myself a new Grace (the yarn was basically a refund, so I'm not chastising myself for adding to the stash). I loved my original cardigan so much and am just never that happy when I wear the felted "cropped" version, so I'm going to be boring and knit the exact same sweater for a second time. Coincidentally, Jane Richmond put a call out for test knitters yesterday to test some revised yoke instructions. It seemed like a good sign to me, so I signed up and cast on tonight. I'm blocking the fact that this is, again, a mostly stockinette item out of my head because of my current cast on excitement.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

March Madness

Although I'm right in the middle of the test knit and final review of my first pattern, my knitting and Internet time has been seriously affected by a very important event: March Madness. As a University of Kentucky fan I'm always crazy about basketball, but this year's tournament has been more intense. It's my first year out of school in which UK has been in the tournament (I still pretend that last year didn't happen), and I've actually entered a bracket into a pool with real money (instead of the homework coupons we used in elementary school), and I have to keep up on my basketball news so that I can defend my team against some of my coworkers.

In the small amount of knitting time I have found, I finished the pair of socks using the Stroll Sock Yarn that I received from the Knit Picks IDP. I'm really worried about how the pictures will turn out because the Sapphire Heather is such a deep blue. I've also come across quite a few issues during the test knit, which brings me to a (not so shocking) conclusion: designing is hard. I know that a lot of the issues are just beginner mistakes that I'll know to look out for next time, but I have swatched like crazy trying to figure out some of the issues brought up by my test knitters. Luckily, they are all sweet and wonderful and active and I haven't had anyone flake at all. 

My first pair of Archers was made using a slip 1, k2tog, psso centered double decrease on the arrowhead, which I really liked. When I was typing up the pattern, though, I used the double decrease on Knit Picks' standard list of abbreviations. I'm not really feeling the sharp line down the center of the arrowhead, so unfortunately I think I'll be ripping back to the end of the arrow shafts and fixing them. I'm aiming to rope my friend into modeling for pictures this weekend, so it looks like I'll be speed knitting some socks.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Mitten Progress!

I've been working on the sample pair of my Archer socks to send into Knit Picks with the pattern, and I even managed to set up my first test knitter thread a few days ago. It's a small accomplishment, but it's kind of blowing my mind that other people have voluntarily chosen to knit something that came out of my brain. Trippy. I'm trying to be monogamous and get through these socks, but I keep getting distracted by the LINDEN Mittens KAL!

I started the project after work n the 10th, so I didn't get a ton of work done. The mittens have a short ribbing section and a nice long stockinette cuff, which I got about 2/3 of the way through.

I love these daily progress pictures, but mittens and socks are about the only things they would be interesting for. I can't imagine taking daily shots of a sweater! On the second day of the KAL I finished up the cuff and started on the hand shaping. Jane's pattern has shaping on both the thumb gusset as well as the opposite side of the hand, which I hadn't seen before (you know, in my long and storied career of mitten knitting).

On Day 3 I buckled down and did some Serious Knitting. I finished the thumb gusset and the hand knitting, and once I started the mitten top shaping I thought, "Hmm, trying these on might be a good idea." Why do I always wait to try things on?? The mitten seemed a little big, which might just be a personal preference thing, but I don't think things through too much when it comes to knitting so I ripped it out. The entire mitten.

And then I restarted it! It's amazing to see how much more I knit on this day than on either of the other days. I decided to add a few more rows of ribbing so that the switch from ribbing to stockinette would line up with the first color change. I also started the thumb shaping a few rows earlier to line up with the green/white color change, and I eliminated the hand shaping on the opposite side. 

I did some Serious Knitting again on Day 4, when I finished up most of the 1st mitten. I want to piece together the leftovers to make the stripes on the thumb match the rest of the mitten, so I'm going to hold off on making the thumbs until I've knit the 2nd one.

The ball of leftover yarn was looking small to me before I cast on for the 2nd mitten, so I decided to be smart and weigh it before I got started. The first mitten came in at 19 grams without a thumb, and the ball of leftover yarn came in at 30 grams. I have NO CLUE how my mind manages to incorrectly estimate things to that level, but I'm glad it worked out favorably this time! There should be plenty of leftover yarn to make my thumb stripes match.

I'm loving these mittens so much. The self-striping yarn keeps the project interesting, and each color change feels like a mini accomplishment. I keep looking at the rest of my Felici stash and at other mitten patterns to pick out a new project to make, and then I remember that I live in San Diego. I'm not even sure why I'm making these mittens, other than the fact that I like them. Oh well. Gift basket?