Monthly Archives: January 2015


Stripes Gone Crazy (Part 2)

My knee works as a shoulder shaping model! Awesome!

For my first sweater I think it is going okay. I (thankfully) am not getting fed up or bored with it despite it being stockinette. A lot of that has to do with the fact that I am only half way through the neckline shaping so there are a lot of increases going on to break it up. I also am really enjoying seeing the shoulder shaping happen. Who knew knitting a structured fitted garment could be so rewarding!

The sweater hasn’t been entirely smooth going, though. This IS my first sweater and frankly my first item where following the pattern actually matters. I also feel a lot of pressure (self imposed) because damn, this is a lot of yarn and a lot of stitches and a lot of time invested so it sure as hell better not suck.

Issue #1: It is pretty gappy where I picked up the stitches for the shoulder/arm section. Maybe it looks the way it should but I’m not convinced. I’m still holding on to a vague hope that this won’t be noticeable or problematic once the sweater is done and being worn but I am a little concerned due to the fact that the shoulder area is a part that is inevitably super visible and looked at.

Issue #2: Similarly, along the right hand shoulder where I started doing the increases I ended up with some significant gappiness where the new yarn was brought in. I don’t think I kept the new yarn held snug enough because everything sort of spaced out. I did try to correct it by feeding the excess yarn along to the as yet not sewn in end, but it ended up looking even worse. I ended up crocheting up some of the slack to even things out and conceal it. It definitely looks better than it did, but it still looks odd I think.

Lesson of the day: It actually matters that you put your increases on the correct side of the marker!

StripesGoneCrazyIncreasesIssue #3: I screwed up on my shoulder increases and for the stupidest reason ever. The problem was that I got all cavalier and didn’t pay attention to exactly where the increases should go (before or after the marker), and I also ignored the left leaning vs. right leaning difference. I think I figured “What the heck! As long as I have the right number of stitches it will work out!” Um, no. For a few rows at the top of the shoulder the increases definitely don’t look right. I eventually sucked it up, moved the markers back to where they should have been if I had done the increases in the correct location and I started doing the left and right increases correctly. Lo and behold, things are looking WAY better, way smoother, no gappiness. I will call this lesson learned.

Issue #4: I have the odd row of way-off tension. It isn’t so visible from the right side, but it is painfully apparent when looking at it from the wrong side. I don’t think this is necessarily the end of the world, and I am really hoping that a long soak and proper blocking once done will even it out, but it does irritate me.

None of these are deal breakers or problems that would make me frog and start all over (though the effed up increases comes close…), and so I slog on. REALLY looking forward to getting to knitting my first stripe, but I have about 40 rows to go before I get to switch colours.

And finally, I am impressed with this Cascade Heritage Sock Yarn. I don’t know what I was expecting but it is frankly lovely yarn to knit with, and the knitted material is really soft and smooth. I mean, sure, I’d love to say it is entirely due to my superb knitting skills, but lets be honest… the yarn has a lot to do with it… Plus, it wasn’t stupid expensive. So it turns out the popularity of Cascade Heritage Sock Yarn is well deserved. And for the record, I have absolutely no affiliation with Cascade Yarns and I get nothing for saying I like this yarn so much. I just really like it.

 

Click here to see every post about my Stripes Gone Crazy sweater, or visit my Ravelry project page.


Juno Slippers (aka. Adventures in Felting)

Juno slippers! Named after the storm that closed work and gave me the free day to knit them!

SNOW DAY! I live in the east coast of Canada and currently the big storm Juno is sailing through. The entire province (eastern seaboard?) is shut down and for once even my office was closed for the day. Pretty much closed off to the entire world, I decided to try my hand at making felted slippers. The pattern I used was the free Felt Slippers For Adults by Nita Brainard. I had never done any sort of felting before and frankly I found it a bit insane or hard to believe. The size the pre-felted item had to be was comical and I really had trouble believing felting would change the size that much.

SO HUGE pre-felting! I still can't believe how much they shrank down.

SO HUGE pre-felting! I still can’t believe how much they shrank down.

However, after reading all sorts of tutorials on felting as well as going over some other felting patterns I decided to just trust it would work out.

The slippers themselves did not take long to knit, nor were they a complicated knit. I was able to get them done while my husband and I watched movies (Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner and Rainman, just in case you’re curious). They don’t take a huge amount of concentration, and frankly I wasn’t too worried about any mistakes. I mean, they are getting felted and that should hide most mistakes, right? Holy crap, though, were they ever huge pre-felting! Upon seeing them my husband oh so helpfully said, “You do realize you aren’t making these for Shaq, right?”. Hardy har har. But really, seeing them there, waiting to be felted, over 13 inches long (and I have size 7 feet)… doubts over what felting would be able to accomplish crept back in.

013

My felting setup

Enormous knit booties in hand, I sat down to begin the felting process. First of all, felting is a bit of a pain in the ass, or at least felting by hand is. I am sure I will do it again sometime, but I assure you I will be getting dishwashing gloves next time. My hands are all dry and ick feeling after all that time in the hot soapy water scrubbing away at the booties. The felting took a little longer to get going than I expected and took more physical effort than I expected as well. Worried I didn’t have the ability to felt them small enough by hand I threw them in our front loading clothes washer on the hottest cycle. This did help bring them down in size a bit but still not small enough, so I tossed them in to our dryer at the hottest setting. Again, some shrinkage (ha) but not quite small enough. I gave up at that point though. I mean, really, if they aren’t small enough after all that they are never going to be! I’m just going to line them with something fluffy (sheepskin if I can find it) and I am sure they will be perfect then. Hell, they are pretty awesome now in their too-big size!

I do think I will make them again sometime, but I will be making a smaller size, at least in terms of width. Fun project, though, and something fun to show for a snow day at home.

 

Project Notes:

  • I used just over half a ball of Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool in Oak Tweed. I don’t generally like tweed yarns, and I had wanted the natural colour but for whatever reason my local Michael’s was out of every colour was of Fisherman’s Wool except this tweed colour. Oh well.
  • As per the pattern I used size 13 US needles and held the yarn double.
  • In total this took me maybe 8 hours to do (including felting) which to me is not bad.
  • I made the ladies medium size, but if/when I make these again I will be making the narrow version of these. I have really wide feet too, so I have no clue what sort of lady’s foot would fit in these things!
  • While I LOVE these slippers they did end up being a bit big despite my efforts to felt them smaller. They are lovely but I do think I am going to have to line them with some thick something (sheep skin I hope, or in a pinch polar fleece) which should be just enough to make them perfect.

    nice thick even felt

    Behold the nice thick even felt I created!

  • I would add a few more rows at the top of the slipper before you turn the heel, just to have more of a lip/edge at the top of the slipper. I (luckily?) have enough extra at the back of the slipper that I was able to sort of shape it in to a back of the heel lip, but I think it would be better if they were deliberately knit that way.
  • I felted by hand for about half an hour just in hot water with Palmolive, followed by about 10 minutes of hot water/cold water shock felting followed by a run in our front facing clothes washer, followed by about 20 minutes in the dryer. I figured if they didn’t shrink down small enough after all that they were never going to, hence my plan to line them.
  • The end result of the felting in terms of the fabric it created is really nice. I see why so many people use Fisherman’s Wool for felted projects. It just seemed to work well and felt uniformly.

You can view my Ravelry project for these felted slippers HERE.

 

 

UPDATE 2015-01-28:

So apparently I should be able to felt these smaller. According to the knowledgeable people on the Ravelry forums that as long as you can still see some stitch definition (which I can, as the above picture shows) then you can still felt further. This is encouraging! I am fed up with trying to felt by hand so I’m going to toss them in the washer again tonight and see what happens. I just really hope they don’t shrink too much…


What is Knit-Worthy… Not very much!

I’m a selfish bastard. Or maybe I’m not, I’m not actually sure. Let me explain… There is an upcoming bonspiel for my office and I was asked if I could knit something as a prize. Now, I am sure you are thinking how I should be flattered that someone thought my knitting was worthy of being given out as a prize, and I am a bit flattered at that. HOWEVER! The way prizes work at our work events goes like this:  items are placed on a table and names are drawn at random to come and choose a prize from the table. The items are generally donations they get from companies around the city (ie. a t-shirt with a Toyota logo on it) or leftover items from previous programs from within our work (ie. branded lunch bags left over from when they were trying to encourage employees to bring a healthy lunch from home.) The prizes aren’t all like this, but most are. So just imagine spending a bunch of time knitting something only to have it be grouped on this table of corporate leftovers. Kinda sad, right?

 

This set took me about 10 hours to do. I am NOT giving it away if it won't be appreciated!

This set took me about 10 hours to do. Would I be willing to donate 10 hours of my time? No? Then no hat and mitts for you!

As I have said in the past, I have a real problem knitting for other people in part because I never think it is good enough to give away, but also because I worry it won’t be loved or appreciated enough to justify the time and effort I put in to making it. I did make my Knitted Sympathy hat but I knew it would be both used and very appreciated, so sometimes I do manage to successfully give away items I have knitted, but in general it is not something I am happy to do. I also think a lot of people gift people items they have made that are simply  not appreciated. This isn’t a knitting specific issue, I think this is true of a lot of DIY/crafty type hobbies or really just about anything people are passionate about. Weddings are horrible for this. People forget that just because it is super meaningful for them that it may not be as super meaningful to others. It isn’t out of malice or thoughtlessness. It is just… realistic. So while my knitting is super meaningful and important and special to me, there frankly aren’t very many people who will appreciate it as much as I’d like them to, if you know what I mean. For a lot of people it would have similar value to them if I bought them a nice hat vs. knit them one. They would maybe like a knitted hat made by me, but if they would like a store bought hat just as much I am going to save the effort and just get them a store bought one. That way everyone is happy.

 

The work I use for this is “Knit-worthy”. I have a sort of mental set of criteria that determine whether or not someone is “knit worthy”.

  1. Dotheyexpressedly want a knitted item?
    1. Was it a sincere request or was it a “knitters like to be asked to knit something so I will ask them to knit me something even though it isn’t of interest to me” request?
  2. Have they commented on/complimented knitted items (especially knitted items I have made) in the past? Were those compliments unsolicited?
  3. Do you think they will actually use the knitted item, or will it get stashed away and never used either because the receiver has no use for it or because the person is scared of using it and ruining it?
  4. Will they notice/care about any mistakes in the knitted item? Will they care if it is imperfect? Will *I* care if I give them something imperfect?
  5. Will they understand and appreciate how much time and effort went in to it?
  6. Multiply the time the item takes to knit by 10$. Would I be willing to buy a gift for them costing that much?

 

For me to feel okay about knitting something for someone else it needs to pass most if not all of these questions. My step-son passes them all with flying colours so I knit for him without hesitation (like his Creeper Hat). My best friend also passed these questions as well which is why I knit her the Ski Bonnet, so she gets stuff. However, my husband who is very good about commenting on and complimenting my knitting has been (thankfully) honest with me about not particularly wanting a knitted item so I haven’t made anything for him. A couple times I have knit things for people at times when it didn’t pass these five questions and I pretty much have regretted it, so now I am much more stringent on my knit-worthy evaluations.

 

So needless to say, I declined to knit an item for the prize table at the bonspiel. I suspect my co-worker was pretty surprised that I said no, and maybe he thinks I’m a jerk, but I have better things to do than knit something that won’t be loved and appreciated.


PATTERN: Squashy Cowl

It took me longer than I intended but my pattern for my Squashy Cowl is finally available!

Squishy, stretchy, warm, reversible, fast knit cowl using worsted weight yarn. 085This pattern is done in a basic 6×6 rib but with alternating rows of elongated knit and elongated purl stitches. The knit/purl columns remain constant, but it alternates between rows where the knit stitches are elongated with purl stitches normal, and rows where the purl stitches are elongated and knit are normal. This results in alternating blocks of puffy stitches combined with blocks of normal tighter stitches. The technique is easy to learn and easy to do and gives a huge amount of stretch to the item. When it isn’t stretched out it creates fluffy folds that make the item very warm. Knit flat and seaming the two sides together the ribs are horizontal and the stretch is vertical in the cowl, lending it to being worn as a cowl and hood pull up over the head. Knit on the round the ribs are vertical and the stretch is horizontal. This allows the cowl to be worn loosely around the neck, or stretched out and looped for extra warmth. Made wide enough and long enough this pattern could be easily adapted to work as a shoulder shrug/shoulder cosy.

 

Elongated Knit Stitch

ek – elongated knit stitch
ep – elongated purl stitch

This pattern relies upon an elongated stitch. To make an elongated knit stitch, you make a knit stitch as you would normally except for one difference: you make two wraps of the yarn instead of one. By making the extra wrap it mimics the effect if you had used a larger needle for that stitch, creating a much larger loop. Consider it like a yarn over (YO) WITHIN a stitch, rather than before or after a stitch like a normal yarn over. With a yarn over the stitch count is increased, but with an elongated stitch your stitch count never changes due to how the stitch is worked.

diagram of what each stitch type will look like and how they will appear in the cowl

Creating an Elongated stitch

Insert your working needle into the stitch knit wise, wrap the working yarn around the working needle twice, then pull the wrapped yarn through the stitch as you would in a normal knit stitch. This will result in two loops for that stitch instead of one. The extra wrap/loop is creating some slack in the yarn that will be released when you work it on the next row.

Working an Elongated stitch

How you work an enlongated stitch is key to achieving the effect. When you get to an elongated stitch you will see the yarn wrapped around the needle rather than just looped over like a normal stitch. Pick up the first loop with your working yarn, work it as the pattern indicates, but when you pull the yarn through the stitch you need to pull the extra loop off the needle as well. You are releasing the slack you created by doing the double wrap when you created the stitch, making that loop extra big.

It is important that it is worked as one to get the elongated loop.

  • Do NOT knit each loop separately. This would create extra stitches and you would not get the big elongated loop.
  • Do NOT knit the two loops together. This would keep the loop from being large and elongated.

 

The pattern is actually quite simple once you get a handle on the elongated stitch. You really just need to remember to release the elongated stitch each time you come to one. Now that I have explained the elongated stitch to death, on to the actual pattern!

 

Materials:

  • 300-400 yards of worsted weight yarn. (I used Berocco Vintage yarn)
  • Size 6 US (4mm) circular needles. (Straight needles can be used if you are making the knit flat vertical stretch version of the cowl.)

Option 1: Knit Flat/Vertical Stretch

Cast on 84 stitches using a stretchy cast on technique. This will be 8 repeats of the ribbed pattern. NOTE: If you want to make it wider/more narrow make sure your total number of stitches of a multiple of 6!

OPTIONAL SEAMLESS JOIN: For a concealed seam on the cowl cast on using a provisional cast on method. This will allow you to seam the two sides together using kitchener.

Row 1,3,5 : *(ek6, p6), repeating * 7 times

Row 2,4,6 : *(k6, ep6), repeating * 7 times

Row 7,9,11 : *(k6, ep6), repeating * 7 times

Row 8,10,12 : *(ek6, p6), repeating * 7 times

Repeat rows 1-12 until it reaches the desired length. In the pattern example 20 repeats were done.

Cast off using a stretchy cast off technique, then join the two sides together using the technique of your choice. For best results complete the seam in such a way that allows for some stretch.

 

OPTIONAL SEAMLESS JOIN: Instead of casting off pick up the stitches from the provisional cast on edge and connect the two sides of the cowl using kitchener stitch. In order to do this and have it be truly seamless you need to be able to do a kitchener stitch for both knit and purl stitches.

 

____________________________________________

 

Option 2: Knit on the round/Horizontal Stretch

Cast on 252 stitches on circular needles. Join on the round.

Row 1-6: *(ek6, p6), repeating * 21 times

Row 7-12 : *(k6, ep6), repeating * 21 times

Repeat rows 1-12 until cowl is desired length.

Cast off using stretchy cast of technique.


You can download a PDF version of this pattern by clicking HERE.


Stripes Gone Crazy Sweater (Part 1)

(photo from the pattern page)

Stripes Gone Crazy by aletier alfa

Well, I’m doing it. I’m going to make a sweater. I feel like being able to successfully knit a sweater that looks good and is wearable is important, at least in terms of my feeling like an capable knitter. Never one to take on reasonable challenges, I of course chose a more complicated pattern for my first sweater – Stripes Gone Crazy by atelier alfa (paid pattern). Gorgeous pattern if you ask me and well worth paying for, and I HATE paying for patterns. So much more interesting than just a basic striped sweater. The pattern is complicated but seems really well written and clearly laid out with lots of explanations and graphics explaining the different techniques used, which is fantastic.

Cascade Heritage Sock Yarn

Now, I do worry this wasn’t the best choice because it has certain echoes of my Sonar Shawl. Lots of stockinette and stripes of varying widths in fingering weight yarn… Sounds familiar, eh? I am really hoping that because these stripes are done using short rows  and there is a lot more interesting knitting going on that I won’t find it as tedious and miserable to finish. Please god, I hope this isn’t as bad as that shawl was. That said, I do love the end result of that shawl, so maybe even if it is awful to knit it will still be worth it.

After deciding on a pattern I ordered my yarn online. After consulting with others on Ravelry I decided to go with Cascade Heritage Sock yarn. I had originally thought of buying 4 different colours for the stripes to create a gradient or ombre effect, but my Post-Christmas yarn budget didn’t really allow for that. Instead I went with two colours – China Grey for the main colour, and Cerulean for the secondary colour. For the first time ever I ordered the yarn via Yarn.com. It took two weeks for my yarn to arrive (damn you, international shipping times!) but it arrived yesterday. First impressions of the yarn are very positive. Really nice texture, soft, the colours are nice. I wish the China Grey was a lighter grey but that isn’t a huge deal. My only real complaint is that the balling the yarn is a big fat pain in my ass. Why the hell haven’t I bought a swift and ball winder yet?! Why do I keep forcing myself to go through the torment of balling things by hand?! Such a pain in the ass and by far my least favourite part of knitting. I managed to ball 3 last night using my knees as a makeshift swift, and each ball taking me about 30 minutes to do. Ugh. But hey, each of them balled up really smoothly, no tangles or knots like I usually get when I ball hanks of yarn like this by hand. And now I have two grey and one blue balled and ready to go.

After taking my measurements I decided to cast on the XL size. I was absolutely convinced I was going to have to make the XXL size and then cross my fingers that even that would fit, but the XL size seems to be almost exactly my measurements. I clearly still haven’t updated my inner size after having lost all this weight (100lbs and counting! Yeah!). I’m hoping for a bit of negative ease so that it isn’t all droopy and baggy.

And so it begins. Looking forward to seeing some progress on this.

 

Click here to see every post about my Stripes Gone Crazy sweater, or visit my Ravelry project page.