The magically adjustable sweater

keaton-6At long last, Keaton is finished. I began this adventure in September and finished all of my seaming last Thursday evening at knit night. I began by making the 38.5″ bust size, thinking I didn’t want as much ease as the pattern specified. keaton-5I blocked each piece to measurements before seaming, like a good little knittress. Then I knit the collar and seamed and seamed and seamed. When I tried it on Thursday night it was snug. Definitely more snug than I wanted. For a moment I was quite sad. I worked on this baby for almost four months in fingering weight woven stitch. Major time investment.

keaton-4I kept my cool and went home and gave it a good soak in some Eucalan and then took it back to the blocking board. This time I used my wires to be a little more aggressive and to get the waist shaping exactly how I wanted it. At the last minute I decided to block it for the next size up, giving myself that extra ease, because in the moment it seemed like the sweater could easily handle it. keatonAnd it did. keaton-2I didn’t do much with the collar in the way of blocking. I think when I wash it next I may fold it in half while it dries to try to make it stand up better. If I were to knit in this yarn again I’d probably go down a couple more needle sizes on the collar to achieve a slightly stiffer result. This is Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal in Winter Rose. I haven’t worked with Loft, which the pattern suggests. Loft is a 2-ply yarn while mine was a single ply. I could see that affecting the stiffness of the collar.keaton-3I tried the collar left unfolded (as shown in the fifth picture from the top), folded in half (top and other pictures), and folded in thirds to make it a bit more stiff (fourth picture down). When folded in half it flops a bit more than the sample. I still like it, but I do wish it was more like that one. I’m reconsidering knitting it.

The sleeves look good fully unfolded, with one fold, or with two. I like that I can pull them further over my wrists in the cold or they fold back well to stay out of my way if needed.

This pattern was well written with elegant little details. I added length to the sleeves and the body, by an inch or so, as I often do.

Though I may give that collar a second pass, I’m so glad this can be marked done and be off my mind. I have sweaters for both Zooey and Matt in the mental works that they will hopefully love.

A Review of American Spun: 20 Classic Projects Exploring Homegrown Yarn

The wonderful folks at One Peace Books sent me a copy of American Spun: 20 Classic Project Exploring Homegrown Yarn to review a little while ago, and I’ve finally had some time to peruse this copy. The book is written by Anna Sudo and it retails for $19.95. book review-2

Overall this book is very elegant. The aim is to highlight American yarn manufacturers, fifteen in all, with patterns created with those yarns in mind. I was especially curious to learn more about Brooklyn Tweed, Jill Draper Makes Stuff, Spincycle Yarns, and Pigeon Roof Studios. There is a short biography about each yarn manufacturer including what might inspire their process and yarn making. One of my favorite features of the book was the list of abbreviations available printed on the inside of the front cover. I haven’t seen that in a knitting book before, but it I can see myself flipping easily to it in the middle of a pattern, rather than flipping through pages that would take me away from my place in the pattern.

The pattern photographs have an element of the aspirational lifestyle feel with plenty of detailed shots of the beautiful projects. I loved many of these projects. Gannett is a lovely little pair of fingerless mitts that I could see myself making and loving with good tweedy texture. Though I’m not into head scarves very often, there is something very appealing about Colden. The cabling highlights the texture of the yarn very well and I’m especially fond of the way it looks with the tied end worn under the hair. Harriman is a hat with gorgeous embroidered details, but I don’t know if I would ever go to the trouble do actually do that kind of embroidery. Vallecito is a classic-looking men’s pullover with simple details that I could see many men wearing without objection, especially those that get fussy about details. Coeur d’Alene has fantasticly beautiful cabling details on the yoke of the pullover and I adore the color of the sample. Those five patterns were my favorite in the book.

There were several other patterns that were just a maybe for me, or were similar to things I’ve seen before and have disregarded. I won’t name names, but aside from those five listed above I would be unlikely to make any of the other patterns, unless I dived into a Ravelry wormhole of knitted examples and saw something really inspiring. I can’t see myself ever knitting Minnewaska with size 50 needles, though it is gorgeous and I know Matt has been lusting after some similar bulkier-than-you’ve-ever-seen-before blankets on Etsy that go for about $600-800, so I guess it’s nice to have a pattern for one on hand just in case. Also, I would have loved to see a sock pattern in the midst, rather than slipper socks. That being said, liking five patterns in a $20 book would probably be enough for me to buy it, and I think it’s definitely worth exploring. This is a book I would be more likely to buy for the information about the yarns as well. I love a knitting book that I can pick up and read too.

The whole vibe of the book made me want to be sitting by a fire with some wooden needles and something tweedy between my fingers. I’d give it a B+ overall. I love the theme and the content about the different yarns. I makes me more likely to seek out some of those yarns, by knowing more about them. I would likely make a few of the patterns, but as with most pattern books I own, this one might end up being something I flip through just because it’s lovely.

More stockinette socks? Surely not.

matt socksOh yeah. I cast on some good ol’ plain stockinette socks for Matt recently. It was around December 22nd because these accompanied me to a 10 AM showing of Star Wars on Christmas Eve as my movie theater knit. Matt had already seen Star Wars, but was ecstatic to go again and luckily the 10 AM show wasn’t one with a long line.

This yarn is some Schachenmayr Regia Strata Color in Kiwi that I received as a present a few months ago from Carina. I gave Matt the choice of several sock yarns and this is the one he chose. Good choice, I think.

There isn’t much to say about these socks so far. I start his with 16 stitches on each needle (32 per toe) to begin with and increase to 72 stitches. That seems to be the magic number for him in most sock yarns.

I have been consuming TONS of media in the forms of movies, TV, and books since being on holiday from work for a bit. It’s over, but while I was working on these and other projects I’ve been reading Purity by Jonathan Franzen (not finished–no spoilers please), The Magicians by Lev Grossman (Christmas present from Matt that I loved), and the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy to prep for the fourth book with that character that I’m patiently waiting to get from my library. As for movies, I watched The Martian and the new Star Wars, as well as Loopers and enjoyed them all.  In the world of television, I just devoured The Great British Baking Show season that is available on Netflix and couldn’t stop. What are you watching and reading these days?

A twice-knitted sweater

romane-6Charlotte got a sweater for Christmas. I ended up knitting 85 percent of it twice because I would have run out of yarn otherwise. It was a bit of an adventure. romaneThe pattern is called Romane or Roman. The yarn problem was not with the pattern, though I think they could have estimated a bit more yarn to be on the safe side. In the pattern there are options for making the sweater straight or with an A-line and they don’t specify whether the long sleeved yarn requirements are for the sweater knitted with or without A-line increases. Otherwise it’s a lovely little pattern. romane-3The yarn, on the other hand, fooled me well. I had some leftover Gaea Sport in Marina from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. When I originally purchased the yarn the yardage was listed as 740 yards on the website and ball band. When I was trying to figure out how many yards I had left I went to the Ravelry page for the yarn to get yardage information for my algebra and saw that 560 was the listed yardage. The page mentions that older skeins were incorrectly labeled.romane-2It’s a bit disappointing because I thought I had 407 yards (.55 of one ball) and it turns out I only had 310 yards. That would be barely making it, maybe for the long-sleeved 12 month size. It’s also unfortunate that I thought I was buying 740 yards and I wasn’t. If this purchase hadn’t been over two years ago I’d write them to try to remedy that.romane-5I risked it and went ahead. As I was knitting the sleeves it became apparent that I really and truly would be running out of yarn before finishing the sleeves or the button bands. I ripped everything back to the cabled yoke band and reknit on a size 8 needle, using the numbers for the 6 month size with my larger gauge. It worked with 3 yards of yarn to spare and knitting the sleeves and body to 8 inches each for some room for growth. romane-4The buttons are from Wood Buttons. I don’t remember the exact style, but they seemed to work well with this sweater. I will have to restock my collection of 1/2″ or smaller buttons soon since those are so handy for baby and toddler sweaters.

The older Zooey gets, the more I realize that when Charlotte gets to be her size many of those sweaters will look very worn from regular use and the inevitable stains that happen to many pieces of toddler attire. I don’t think I’ll mind making Charlotte plenty that are all her own.

We’re not above bribery over here

Zooey got some mittens for Christmas from me. She recently lost one of her sparkly rainbow mittens (which were getting a bit small anyway), so it seemed time to wiggle some yarn about and make a new pair. I used leftover Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Mediumweight in KMFBLA for the main color and some Colinette Jitterbug in Paint Box for the cuffs. mittens-3I made these top down, using this pattern roughly. Making mittens top down has the advantage of being the knitter being able to make them exactly as wide as wished, without a gauge swatch! If you make them both at once (or divide your yarn evenly by weighing it) it also lets you use up every bit of yarn if you’re worried about running low. I knew I was likely to run out of purple or get very close to that, so this was my strategy.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, but I was making my gusset decreases across the palm rather than just in the thumb area. They make more of an arch. I think my mistake might make for more flexible thumb movement and comfortable wear, but I doubt Z will give me the full review to confirm it. mittensSo where does the bribery come it? I had to promise Z three chocolate chips to get her to take a photo wearing the mittens. She likes them, but she takes umbrage at having her photograph taken on occasion, so this seemed the quickest way to come to a good compromise.mittens-2

If I’d had enough yarn I would have made a third mitten, so when one is inevitably lost there is a back up. Alas, I ran out of purple, so that venture will have to wait for the next set of mittens.

Five month socks

summer nights-2Sometimes socks take five months. In the case of these Regia Arne and Carlos Summer Night colorway socks, that was the case. I started them mid-July, but I promptly got distracted oh so many times by other more captivating projects. Sometimes I also get burned out on stockinette socks (gasp! never!). It’s true. It was the arrival of wool sock season that motivated me to finish these. summer nightsMy favorite bit is the red and white section with the teal bands on either side. I will happily add these to my winter sock rotation and hopefully finish their siblings soon.

Early Christmas

Sometimes I just can’t wait until Christmas to give a gift, especially a knit one. I managed to knit this Graham hat for Matt completely in secret, but about 10 minutes after I finished it yesterday I wrapped it and gave it to him. graham-2 The yarn is Blue Moon Fiber Arts Gaea Sport in Everyday Grey. This yarn is definitely not sport weight. Keep that in mind if you ever order it with a sport weight project in mind. I originally used it for this skirt and had to alter the pattern to make it work. It’s close to a heavy DK or light worsted weight, much like Cascade 220 Superwash. grahamThis time I knit the pattern as written, casting on 96 stitches as prescribed, and knitting for 7.5″ before making decreases. I added about an extra 1.5″ of slouch to the one I made for myself. I like the slouch in mine, but sometimes it just folds in half and looks a bit weird. graham-3Matt has absconded with mine a few times, so I decided he needed his own. He likes it and I’m happy that mine will remain for my use. Maybe I’ll even borrow his a few times…