Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sleeves are evil

My first sweater attempt, a seamless Aran (ambitious, I know) got stalled at the sleeves. I had trouble getting the decrease rate right. After three attempts, I accepted defeat and just put it aside. I really like the cabling and want to finish it, but the reality of Texas weather eats away at my motivation.

So, I looked for yarn that would be more warm weather friendly and found a couple of bags of discontinued Jaeger Trinity at a great price on ebay. I decided to keep things simple this time around and cast-on for an EZ seamless sweater from Knitting without Tears. Right now I'm thinking it will be the saddle-shouldered construction, but the recipe lets you put off that decision.

I was able to get through the body rather quickly--stockinette in the round is good for that. So quickly in fact that I didn't even cast-on for the first sleeve, as a recommended traveling project, until I had finished. Well, I'm about six inches in, and I hate this sleeve. Trinity has pretty poor stitch definition and counting rows between increases is a pain. And I can't seem to find needles I like. First I used a 16" circular as recommended, but I simply cannot stretch 8" of non-wool knitting that far. I switched to metal dpns, but now I am getting laddering. ARGH!

So, what do I do? Cast-on for something else, of course.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

FO: Koohaas

The brooklyntweed inspired Koolhaas hat is finished.

I used one skein of Reynolds Whiskey in 'Light Olive' (#103) on Needlemaster circulars & Knitpicks dpns size US3 (3.25mm). This gave me a gauge of 7.5 stitches per inch. I started on June 4th and finished on June 12th. I didn't have a pattern to follow (which is becoming a trend), but I had Jared's photos for inspiration.

I could easily figure out the body of the hat which is a modified diamond pattern where the traveling line coming from the right is always on top and all knit stitches are twisted. Unfortunately, I didn't know weight details about the yarn so as to deduce the number of pattern repeats. I also couldn't find any pictures in Jared's flickr set of the top of the hat, so I just decided to be creative with it.
This is a great hat design, and I'm sure Jared has a good reason for delaying sharing it. Hopefully we will see it published somewhere soon. Until then, I will refrain from listing additional details and spoiling his fun. But I do recommend you try this one, either on your own or from the worth-the-wait instructions.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Breaking the rules

The pug sweater is on hold while I await inspiration on the finishing details. Meanwhile, I have been focusing on the Koolhaas hat. I've made some good progress, given that there are 144 stitches in each round.

Admittedly, I didn't like this project at first. I made several mistakes and the early rounds were a little tight. And twisting the knit stitches (to improve stitch definition) didn't help either. But as it has gone along and the pattern has become more recognizable, I am really becoming enamored with this little hat. Plus, I developed a trick to help in the cabling where the lines cross--one that kind of breaks some rules.

Normally, you would hold the traveling knit stitch and the middle purl stitch to the front on the cable needle. Then, knit from the left needle, purl off the back of the cable needle, and finally knit off the front of the cable needle. This was too much knitting acrobatics for me, especially with the twisted knit stitches. So, I have taken to picking up all three stitches on the cable needle, rotating 180 degrees clockwise, and knitting normally off the back of the needle. This picture shows the three stitches rotated just before being knitted.

This creates the cable cross and twists the stitches in one step. The downside is that it also twists the center purl stitch as well, but that stitch kind of gets buried anyway. This may be some standard technique that I just haven't come across before, but to me, it feels like I am breaking some rules. And to be honest, I kind of like that.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

How often is too often to go to the yarn store?

I have completed the applied I-cord trim on the pug sweater and added the button loops along the back. I am still debating whether I should add some sort of sleeve at the legholes and if I want to give it a collar or different trim at the neckline.

While I am in deep thought on that project, I decided to cast on for the Koolhaas hat. This bugger is off to a rough start. In my first attempt, I messed up the foundation stitch pattern and had to start again. Then , I somehow doubled back on a dpn causing enormous confusion until I figured out what I had done. The third try seems to be going more smoothly, but I keep changing between my Needlemaster circulars which have an awful join and my bamboo dpns which have very dull points. I may break down and buy a set of Addi Turbos, but I think I've been to the yarn store enough this week already. Here is my progress so far.

I also wanted to share the other yarn I picked up last week during the anniversary sale at The Shabby Sheep. The brand on the label is "Andes" but I can't find anything about it online. I had originally intended to use this to make the second pug sweater, but I think it is destined to be a scarf instead.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

I did not knit a vase cozy!

Okay, I kind of knitted a vase cozy.

Actually, this is a sweater for my pug, Kiwi.

While I like the Puppy Knits book I bought for pattern inspiration, I decided to branch out and design something myself. I wanted a cardigan type sweater that would close along her back. Kiwi previously had a fleece jacket with that sort of design and it was much easier to put on and take off of a squirmy pug.

Inspired by Avast by Jesse Loesberg, I decided to start with a cable base. After looking through several cable charts, I landed on the Besotted pattern (i.e., the XOXO pattern) posted on Hello Yarn.

I then picked up stitches and made the body in stockinette with 5x bobbles along one edge to make a closure. I made legholes by binding off a few stitches then knitting them back on a couple of inches later. Then, I made raglan style double decreases above the holes to shape for the neck.

So far, I have used 2 full balls of Berroco Keltic in 'Queen Anne' (#5864), but I need to get another ball to do an applied I-cord edging and to make the button loops. I should have this completed in the next day or so. As for how the sweater ended up on the vase, I was looking for an easy way to block the thing. I doubt Kiwi would tolerate being wrapped in wet wool all day.

And in the spirit of fair (pug) play, here is a photo of my other pug, Ozzie.

Friday, June 1, 2007


My LYS, The Shabby Sheep, is having an anniversary sale, and no one told me? Heads will roll!

Thank goodness for Seamus.

Update: I got there in time to take advantage of the sale. Yea! In fact, I got there as they were closing up, and those crazy ladies stayed open an extra 30 minutes so that I could look through just about everything they had. Love them!

I nabbed some Berroco Keltic in 'Queen Anne' (#5864) and some unknown Chilean wool which are earmarked to become sweaters for the pugs using a pattern from the Puppy Knits book I also picked up. I also Reynolds Whiskey in 'Light Olive' (#103) with which I plan to steal recreate brooklyn tweed's Koolhaas hat.

And Then There Were Two

Due to my neophyte quest to knit varied types of projects and because I had read that they make great travel projects, I decided to knit a sock. Well, two socks actually; can't have one foot freezing while the other is toasty.

I used one skein of Austermann Step recommended by my LYS because it has aloe vera and jojoba oil added to the yarn. I could definitely notice an affect on my hands after knitting for a while. I chose the basic black/grey/white colorway (#22) and had a lot left over. For needles, I used bamboo dpns in size US1.5 (2.5mm).

There are way too many sock patterns out there. It can get a little overwhelming for a newbie. I primarily used Amy Swenson's 'Universal toe-up sock formula' from for general pattern reference and for wrap & turn guidelines.

However, because I can never leave well enough alone, I made several modifications. First, I used Judy Becker's 'Magic cast-on for toe-up socks' also from I loved this cast-on because it allowed me to just knit away without any adjusting for provisional casting-on or sewing and gave a perfect, seamless toe. However, because I was using dpns instead of the suggested two circular method, the first few rounds were extremely cramped and not very fun.

When the time came to transition to the calf ribbing, I used the tip by TECHknitting. In my case, when going from stockinette to ribbing, you slip all knit stitches purlwise with the yarn in the back and purl as normal. This helps bridge the knit columns smoothly into the ribbing and makes a cleaner look. I used 2x2 ribbing, but the method should work for just about any kind of transition.

In finishing, I used Peggy's Stretchy bind-off method of adding increases in a K2, M1, P2, M1 pattern in the row before the bind-off row. These increases are then slipped instead of knitted while the other stitches are bound-off in pattern. This just adds a little more yarn for the cast-off making it a little more stretchy.

I also wanted to mention that I was able to take my knitting on the plane without any difficulty. Because I was using bamboo instead of metal needles, I felt more comfortable about getting them through security. I guess this isn't really surprising because I haven't heard of too many knitter being given grief by TSA or the airlines.