Archive for May, 2008

Cast on: Summer Cardigan

Well, the hot and humid days of summertime are fast approaching.  And that means it’s time to reach for the sunblock, sandals, shorts, sunglasses and a nice long-sleeved sweater.  Huh??  Yes, thanks to relentlessly over-air-conditioned stores and restaurants, it’s necessary to have an informal wrap or cardigan handy throughout the summer.  A cardigan is a bit less versatile than a wrap, but I’m looking for an excuse to knit a sweater!

It’s not actually on the needles yet but I wanted to get a picture up while there’s still sunlight … I will be casting on this afternoon for a top-down seed stitch cardigan.  I’m using Laura Chau’s free pattern because it’s a very basic set of guidelines and this will accomodate 1) the fact that I haven’t done this before and 2) the fact that I’ve got lots of modifications in mind!

When I first started knitting I bought a skein of Patons Grace mercerized cotton yarn for practice swatches and just loved the way it showed the stitch patterns.  It drapes nicely too.  Later, I bought 12 skeins with the vague idea of making a sweater but I really didn’t have any specific pattern in mind.  The design challenge has been to find a pattern that’s suitable for the yarn and also suitable for my skill level!

I selected a mix of colors because I originally wanted to include a mosaic pattern. Unfortunately, the variegated yarn is too similar to the solid green for that so I’ve decided to do stripes.   In the pattern, the front edging of the cardigan is included right in the knitting instructions (extra stitches at the ends of the rows).  When I made my first swatch, I didn’t like the way this looked with stripes.  I experimented with several edging ideas (all new learning, yay!) and ultimately decided to pick up stitches for a small garter stitch border up the front of the sweater when I’m finished.

The instructions for planning a top-down sweater in Vogue Knitting were very helpful.  First, I needed to adjust the pattern for gauge.  This yarn is finer than worsted weight and I’m using US #5 needles.  After getting gauge over seed stitch, I modified the stitch counts in the pattern to the best of my understanding and then looked over the instructions in Vogue for a sanity-check.  The book advises that the back of the neck should have three times the number of stitches as are set aside for each sleeve so this helped me determine how to distribute my extra cast-on stitches.  I also wanted to do some neck-shaping and the book offers instructions for that as well.  Another excellent sanity-check: I dug up a beloved old cardigan that fits well and took some measurements.  Yes, the 36-38″ size option is the right choice.  And if I have the gauge right then the adjustments seem to be on target as well.

I’m having a summertime feeling … the one where you’re standing at the end of the diving board, a little excited but also a little hesitant … time to dive in!

 

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Back to Normal: Parallel Knitting

Thanks to the fact that I can’t drive, I haven’t delivered the baby blanket yet.  I have hubby slated to help me tomorrow since he has the day off … in the meantime, the hold on starting new projects has been removed and there are now THREE on the needles!

I was eager to start another pair of socks, so that was the first project to get going.  I have three hanks of KnitPicks Gloss  (Serengeti, Burgundy and Dusk) which were itching to become a pair of striped socks, so that’s what came out!  Actually, I secretly cast on a toe before the blanket was finished because I needed something small to work on while riding the train. I only got a couple of inches farther when I discovered a hideous dropped stitch that will require some frogging.  I think, since I was still on pain medication, it probably wasn’t the smartest idea to jump right in with 5 2.25mm DPNs!  Also, this was my first project with more than 2 colors at a time and I was experimenting with techniques for jogless stripes (referring to the info on TECHKnitter’s blog).  Kinda ambitious, I think!  Anyway, here’s what it looks like so far (color’s not so accurate due to the flash):

Another project that’s been lurking at the top of the queue for a long time was Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Jacket.  I had a variety of Patons Classic Merino colorways hanging around, so picked a few of those and gave it a go!  It’s an easy and fun pattern, but I ran low on one color before finishing.  I picked the larger size sweater and I guess I didn’t estimate correctly!   You can see that there’s only a bit left to do as soon as I score another skein of the Worn Denim colorway:

Moving right along!  I’ve begun work on my first adult-size sweater as well.  I don’t have any pictures at the moment.  I’ve made three swatches and am now settled on the pattern, the stitch pattern, the stripe pattern (yep, stripes are an ongoing theme here!) and the needle size.  I’m still working out how I plan to finish the edges.  Should be casting on any day now …

 

FO: Mosaic Baby Blanket

It will go into the mail to its recipient tomorrow, only a little time to spare before the deadline!

I had this project with me while in the hospital over the weekend and it got endless Ooohs and Aaahs from the nurses and doctors, which was very satisfying.  I hope it gives pleasure to the kid(s) who use it too.  Many thought it was a shawl and I think this stitch pattern would suit that use very well … but with different dimensions (a bit wider and only half as long).  This is a very easy technique, excellent for a first try at colorwork.  You only have two colors going at any time and you only knit with one color at a time.  There is NO carrying of the dormant color: you drop it at the beginning of a row, pick up the new color, knit out and back and then pick up the dormant color and repeat.  All the fancy stuff happens with slipped stitches!  Also, this is a garter stitch design, so there is not a single purl stitch in the entire blanket.  How easy is that?!

This close-up shows that the blanket is fundamentally just two-row stripes done in garter stitch (see the borders).  The pattern is 10 stitches wide and 28 rows long and consists of slipping stitches to carry the color across the rows where it isn’t being used.

This technique can be done using stockinette stitch too, but 1) I think the texture of garter stitch adds warmth to the blanket which is especially important since I didn’t use wool and 2) who wants to purl a 200+ stitch row?  The slipped stitches give their own texture (there would still be a zigzag effect if this had been done in one color).  Here’s a pic that show the texture:

I will write this pattern up when I get a chance and append to this post when it’s ready on my “Free Patterns” page!

 

 

Our Little Secret

This blanket cannot be left unattended.  I will remove any cat hairs, wash and block it before sending it off …so let’s just keep these little incidents to ourselves, OK?  (Grin!)


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