My favorite kind of bee.

I love this cardigan. The pattern is Honeybee Cardigan by Laura Chau. I’ve been reading Laura’s blog for quite some time. This is the first pattern of hers I’ve put to yarn, though I have purchased and look forward to making this awesome cowl sometime in the future.

As I mentioned in a previous post I had some issues with the sizing. I think this is mostly about the yarn, the Ella Rae Lace Merino (color 136), and less about the pattern, but it might have been some of both. Ella Rae stretches and grows when blocked more than any other yarn I’ve used. It feels delightful to knit with, and comes in a lovely array of colors. You should beware drastic changes in color even in the same dye lot, and you may want to alternate rows with multiple balls of yarn to avoid stark color changes. I did not do this on this cardigan, though I reknit the sleeves a couple of times to get the colors to be close. I started out making them two at a time (who wouldn’t?) and ended up ripping one and using the same ball for both, pulling from the outside in both cases, because even the inside and outside of the ball had a pretty decent difference in color.

The pattern is well-written overall. I had a small issue understanding something in the shoulder area, but I wrote Laura and she got back to me swiftly with clarification. I made a very minor change to the left shoulder. One the front of the shoulder I purled an additional row to make the yarn end up in the middle of the shoulder and so that the total number of shoulder rows on the right and left sides would match. I realize this is complete gibberish if you’re not knitting the pattern, but if you are and you are persnickety about details like I am sometimes, you might appreciate knowing this. When you’re making the shoulders on one side of the front you’ll have an extra row on one side, and the opposite on the back. This isn’t something that I think I’ll ever notice on the pattern, but I did obsessively look at shoulders on Ravelry pages for awhile.

I made the 33 inch size, though my current bust is nowhere near that size. I’m tellin’ ya, this yarn really stretches. The lace pattern itself is pretty stretchy too. I did not purposely make the sleeves longer than the pattern calls for, but they grew to that during blocking, and I’m totally ok with that.

I’m pretty fond of this little bee.

Lazy Honeybee

I’ve been distracted by the growing colors of the Pinwheel Baby Blanket, so the Honeybee Cardigan has been lounging until today.

The lace is intuitive after one or two repeats, so this actually goes much faster that it would seem. I’m at the shoulder decreases. I put her down several times for less brainy projects, but I think I’m ready to get back to work.

I know this looks child-sized, but believe me, that lace stretches quite a bit. This is the second time I’ve knit this particular project. I started out with the 34.5 inch size, since the pattern recommends going below, rather than above, your chest measurement so the lace can shine. After I had knitted to the armpits and put it on yarn for a holder to start the sleeves, then started the sleeves. The sleeves seemed to be coming out to wide, so I decided to try on the chest piece. When I wrapped it around my chest, I realized it was going to be much too large when I added the button band. I was making gauge in the 34.5 size, yet it still seemed too big. After looking around on Ravelry, it seemed like I wasn’t the only one experiencing this. I ripped all, made the smallest size sleeves, and started the 33 inch size after I finished the sleeves.

I really didn’t mind. I’d much rather rip things out and make them right. I used this yarn (Ella Rae Lace Merino) for my Still Light Tunic and it GROWS, so erring on the slightly smaller side is for the best. I do try to learn…

The Pinwheel colors are captivating. I can’t wait until this is finished and I can post it. I’m about halfway through the 1200 yards I plan to use in just one week! I feel like a knitting goddess.

Be still, knitting heart.

NaKniSweMo 2011 is finished. I completed the Still Light Tunic, which is essentially a dress out of sock weight yarn. I am pleased. This yarn is a gorgeous delight to knit. I used Ella Rae Lace Merino in Mustard.

There was a moment of panic and stalling when I got to the second sleeve and realized I was running low on yarn. Several people on Ravelry have mentioned that the skeins were less than 100 grams when they weighed them. I did not think to weigh the skeins and plunged in confidently because I had at least 200 yards to spare when I started. When I was about three inches from the end of the second sleeve I realized I would run out. I cast on some socks to comfort myself in the meantime.

What would become of the precious pockets, last to be knit? I found some in mustard available at Loops in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is not that far from me. I frantically called them and asked them to check the dye lot. I was not that lucky, but Pat and Gina were very kind and sent me a skein that arrived the next day. Since I was already knitting from two skeins throughout the project to avoid pooling, there was not a drastic difference in the sleeves, but when I look at the pockets (knit from just that new ball), I can tell that dye lot is much more green.

One problem I had with the project was a small ridge that formed as I switched yarn from ball to ball. This is in the back and can be seen in the picture above. This did not go away in blocking as I had hoped, but maybe it will in subsequent washes. The Ella Rae also grew a bit more than I expected when I wet blocked it. I smooshed (technical term) it into the measurements as much as I could, but I might try to dry it just a wee bit next time I wash it. The yarn label says it may be washed on gentle, so I may risk a tiny bit of drying too.

Other than a couple of small flaws, I love this piece. I loved the challenge of the deadline of NaKniSweMo to encourage me to finish something in a timely manner. I think as I get more experienced with knitting I’m better able to tell what kind of projects I will love to wear. Though this is over a mile of stockinette to knit, I really enjoyed the soothing motion, the gorgeous yellow green sliding through my fingers, and the finished product.

It’s Fall, y’all.

On my way home from my Law & Public Policy class today there was a break in the recent downpour, so I decided to head back out and take a few pictures of the changing trees in my neighborhood.

We are lucky in Arkansas to have upper 50’s and 60’s (Fahrenheit) weather right now. It’s balmy, with an earthquake (yes, earthquake) here and there. We’ve had two earthquakes that we could actually feel in the last few days that originated in Oklahoma. It’s pretty freaky, but mild so far.

Here are some pictures from my neighborhood:

Oh, and for a NaKniSweMo update…

This color defies me when it comes to rendering it correctly on the screen. In real life it’s gorgeous and alternates between looking more gold sometimes and looking more green at others.

I’m almost through the first set of increases. It’s already day 8 of this challenge (yikes!) out of 30. I feel I should be further along, but alas, other life happens. Last weekend my hands were throbbing after a Sunday full of hours of knitting. I begged the fella for a hand massage, and like the good fella he is, he graciously obliged.

I’m still happy I chose the Still Light Tunic. I think she’s going to make me feel pretty when this is over, and maybe I’ll even finish in time to wear it to Thanksgiving events. I am nothing if not an optimist!

NaKniSweMo 2011!

Future Still Light Tunic

This year I am joining the ranks of the ambitious knitters that dare to knit a 50,000+ sweater in the month of November. I have chosen the Still Light Tunic by Veera Välimäki. I have been captivated by the Ella Rae Lace Merino shown above (color number 9) for over a year. I was toying with the idea of buying it last fall, but I didn’t have a project worthy of it yet. After continuing to drool over it for months, I decided to just buy it with the idea that I would knit a lightweight cardigan. Then I saw Still Light, and I knew they had to be paired.

Though this yarn is technically categorized as a lace, scores of knitters on Ravelry say it’s more like a fingering (which the pattern calls for), so I decided to just swatch and go with it. I have more than enough yardage. I decided to cast on provisionally so that I can have a sturdy seam at the top as advised by this post. I think the stockinette will be conducive to studying as the end of the semester looms near. Now, can I actually knit a tunic out of fingering weight in a month and not lose my mind?