Archive for September, 2009

Chart Smart

One sleeve of Norblu is almost finished!

The accelerated increase ended at exactly the right length, so I’ve been able to work on the stranded decoration over a straight 72 stitches.  Since this is a 12-stitch pattern, that’s perfect!

I had a general idea of the color arrangement I wanted, but it’s often the case that I don’t like my ideas once I see them “in action”!  Before I got started, I decided to draw it out.  I had a vague memory of some online knitting chart paper and, sure enough,  this page from a Japanese site called Tata & Tatao allows you to enter your stitch and row gauge and then print out a sheet that’s close to the dimensions of your knitting.  While in Philly yesterday, I bought a set of colored markers ($2 at Five Below!) and I did some experimenting last night.  I think this was definitely worthwhile.  I felt comfortable going forward with the stranded work and I’m happy with the result.  It was nice to double-check the size of the pattern too.  I wanted 5″ (because that’s how much I have left to finish the sleeve) but if that looked too small, I could rip back a few rows and add some more striping or something.

The decorative pattern comes from Jessica Tromp’s wonderful site of Norwegian (and other) knitting charts.  I picked a fairly simple motif (cuz I’m new at it) and made it fancier with more colors.  OK, so that’s where I got the “Nor” in the sweater’s working name … what about “blu”?  When I finally settled on the yarn colors, I realized that what they have in common is “blue”.  There is no blue in the sweater, but each of the colors has blue as a component.  I think this sweater will look especially good with denim and navy blue!

Oh, lookie what I found a few minutes ago: Monkster Gets Stranded A free pattern for a Norwegian-style bottom-up raglan sweater for a Teddy Bear.  Is that the cutest thing, or what??  If you’re wanting to try the techniques before committing to a real Monster size, maybe this is the way to go!  I noticed that the next post describes hemming in detail too.  Hah, shoulda found this site a week ago!  It looks like a keeper …

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Norblu Huh?

It turns out that my Christmas yarn suppliers DID send all of the yarn I ordered!   When I opened the bag, the missing yarn was easier to spot.  I was very happy to see this and have mentally returned Knit Picks to their rightful status (excellent service).  With that, I got started right away on a sleeve/swatch.

For my ongoing learning, I decided to try a seamless raglan sweater from the bottom up this time.  One advantage already taken: the ability to start a sleeve with “best guess” cast-on and needles and use it as a swatch.  If it HAPPENS to be perfect, you can just sail onward!  It didn’t.  I had actually already done a small quick swatch to get a first guess on the needle size.  What I wanted from the sleeve was a) a bigger swatch to confirm the stitch and row gauge, b) an eyeball of the color combination and c) a sanity check against the model sweater.  Stitch and row gauge were fine, but the other stuff?  Not so much!

I was using Elizabeth Zimmerman’s percentage system (EPS) for a sweater with a 44 inch body and my gauge.  It’s described in both “Knitting Without Tears” and “Knitting Around”, although the raglan instructions (not needed until you get to the top of the sweater) are only included in the former.  I followed the recommendation of casting on 20% of the stitches for the sleeve on smaller needles for the ribbed cuff.  I did all of the increases and then compared the sleeve to the model sweater.  Eww! I believe these instructions will produce a fine sweater for someone who likes a form-fitting look.  Some guys do … but hubby does not!  So, back to the drawing board on the pattern.

I also decided I didn’t like the color combination.  It’s OK, but the lighter purple doesn’t contrast enough with the main color.  It looks kinda muddy.  Funny thing is: that yarn is left over from my Coin Cable Raglan.  It’s very nice on its own.  I looked at it closely (it’s a heather) and picked colors I “saw” in it to make my yarn choices for this sweater.  Just for your info, the original colorway is Knit Picks’ Wool of the Andes “Claret Heather”.  The colorways I chose are “Dove Heather”, “Black Cherry Heather” and the main color: “Blackberry”.   I was puzzling over the color quandary when I remembered a big lovely hank of Cascade Eco-Wool Plus in the “Spruce” colorway.  It’s a tad heavier, but will be fine in the small quantities I intend to use!  Oh yes, MUCH better!

I looked through my books and found “The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns” by Ann Budd.  She also has instructions for a bottom-up seamless raglan sweater and (yay!) it looks as if they’re written for a baggier look.  After studying this book yesterday morning, I made several design decisions.  First, I have eliminated the ribbed cuff.  If hubby likes the sweater loose, why bother?  The above picture shows a purl hem.  Same technique as for the picot edging on the Esther Socks, but a straight purl at the folding point instead of the eyelet stuff.  Second, I plan to increase the sleeves at a slightly quicker rate so I have more room to knit straight at the top.  I have plans to put some decoration there.

Third, I was worried all along about the collar because hubby has a big head.   This book has instructions for a v-neck, so what the heck!  And a shawl collar, so there.  I made a v-neck this past summer (just remembered) so that problem’s definitely solve. Finally, the book has instructions for whole-number gauges only.  That is, for 4 stitches to the inch and 5 stitches to the inch, but not 4 1/2 (my gauge).  I don’t care to swatch again because I’m happy with this fabric.  No prob.  The book includes instructions for handling this.  I wrote out the whole program and double-checked my written work with the final stitch-count after all of the raglan decreases.  The instructions don’t include any short rows at the neck for a better fit.  I may go back to EZ for that, we’ll see.  OK, time to get knitting!

Two Heels Lookin’ Good

I decided to use the Eye of Partridge stitch and a garter stitch selvedge for the heel of this sock.  The very first “real” sock I ever made had a heel like this and it was very attractive.  I never finished that pair of socks because there were size and yarn issues … so it’s nice to have a wearable pair with this design!  I think it looks nice with the lace too.

I’ve finished the gusset-munch on both socks, so all that’s left is the slide to the toes!  My current estimate is 1.5 more iterations of the decorative pattern. 

I got the yarn for Christmas knitting … well, they neglected to send two of the balls I ordered!  First time they’ve messed up.  I’ll call tomorrow.  I’m going to start on the sleeves with that project.  More on that later!

Almost Halfway

The Esther socks are almost at the halfway point. After trying the socks on to see how they fit, I’ve decided to do another half-iteration of the pattern before beginning the heels. Even with mistakes, they’re looking pretty nice!

I’m hesitating to continue the stranded arm-warmers. Although the one I’ve almost finished is really cute, it has serious tension problems. It’s terribly puckered and almost too tight to be wearable. I think I will chalk it up to experience (and a good one at that)!

In the meantime, I have ordered some yarn for a (SECRET: don’t tell!) sweater for Jim. After the Coin Cable Raglan and the stranded arm-warmers, I’m ready to make a circular sweater with a decorative band across the chest and sleeves as a Christmas present. Scheming is underway … there are faaaaaabulous sweaters that I don’t have the skill for at present (such as the Stone Circles sweater by Kaffe Fassett, mmm!) but I think a nice stranded band will go over well.

I’ve taken measurements from a store-bought sweater that hubby likes:

Let’s see how it goes!

Oh Esther

These socks are a challenge.  They require focus.  I’m pretty sure there are mistakes.  If you don’t look too hard, I won’t either!

Back to Parallel Mode

I’ve cast on for another pair of socks!  I have been lusting after the Esther socks by Stephanie van der Linden since I first laid eyes on them.  They were designed for the Socken-Kreativ-Liste, a German yahoo-KAL with 2000 members, but they’re available as a free download (in English) at Ravelry.  I”m using my second ball of Zwerger Garn Opal, the same yarn I used for the Tesselators.  This ball’s green.  So far, it’s been a much better experience than with the blue yarn … this ball was easily wound into separate sock balls without weeping or gnashing of teeth.

This pattern has a wonderful texture that’s brought about by heavy use of twisted stitches.  There are elements of lace and there’s a cable. The “wrong side” rows also require some attention (they’re not just a straight k-around).  There is also a picot cuff — a first for me!  It starts with a provisional cast-on.  This is where you crochet a bunch of chain stitches using spare yarn and then use that as a scaffold for knitting the first row; you pull the spare yarn out later to produce “live” stitches for knitting in the other direction.  In this case, the knitting was folded over and the “live” stitches were knit together with the active ones to make a hem with a decorative edge:

picot cuff before folding

picot cuff before folding

after folding

after folding

Here’s half of the decorative pattern; it’s lovely.


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