Hello, Neighbor

Matt’s sleeves are finished and the sweater has been blocked. It’s now waiting in a nice little stack. While it was drying yesterday, I knew I had to cast something else on, because the two pairs of stockinette socks I have going might have bored me to death otherwise.

ImageAs I’ve mentioned before, I plan to turn the 17 balls of Pyrite Heather Cascade 220 I bought deeply discounted into matching family sweaters. I don’t care about us all wearing the same pattern. I just want us to have the same color. I thought about making an Antler Cardigan for Zooey, but since this is such an adult color already, I thought she should have something a little more playful. I decided to make a Neighborly.

neighborly-2

The sweater is suited for worsted weight, but it only comes in one size (3-5 yrs). The pattern calls for an 8, so I went down to a 5 to make the entire thing smaller without having to alter the numbers. It’s coming along nicely. My button band is on the wrong side because I chose to leave the neater looking edge at the top.

neighborly

I was especially inspired by this example on Ravelry. I’m replicating how she did the stripes, with some leftover Creative Focus Worsted in a cream color. I thought that might make the sweater seem more feminine and fun, despite the army-greenish color. I might also add some little cap sleeves instead of the ribbing around the arm called for in the pattern.

neighborly-3

Before blocking, the chest is about 20 inches around. This yarn blocks very nicely, so it will probably easily block to an inch or an inch and a half larger. I’m happy to be making another vest/tunic item for Z. She gets the most use out of this little dress/tunic  that I knitted before she was born because it’s good for layering and in-between weather. I think this Neighborly pullover will work well through fall and winter.

I’m not sick of the color yet…When this wee sweater is finished I’ll seam some sweater pieces and pick up the shawl collar. I’m planning on a Kenzo for myself in the same color, but I don’t know that I will cast that on right away. I might need to inject some other colors into my knitting repertoire for a bit.

Green sleeves

Why oh why does it seems like sleeves take forever? The back flew by, even with the couple of minor frogs I had to execute. If you’re not a knitter, a sentence reading “frogs I had to execute” could sound so sinister… For any laypeople or knitters assimilating new jargon, I mean that I had to rip out some of my knitting. “Frogging” is ripping out, “tinking” is un-knitting (and “tink” is “knit” backwards). I hardly ever tink unless it’s just one row, or lace. It’s just too slow.

dapper sleeves

Are you all sick of large swaths of stockinette yet?

Ok, back to the sleeves. They’re going, going. I added more stitches than I had originally factored in, because casting on 32 like I’d planned looked comically small. This means I will have to amend my sleeve cap shaping a bit, but I have faith it will all work out in the end.

I suppose I’m going to have to block and seam parts of this baby before I pick up and do the front band and the collar. Poor Matt will probably not get to wear this at all until next fall. I can’t wait to finish it, just to see how it looks on him and to make sure it’s actually going to fit him. On my previous post showing the fronts and the back-in-progress, I chuckled because several people mistook the fronts for sleeves or the whole thing for a baby sweater.

I’m really eager to block it, to prove to myself that the math is indeed going to work. If the fronts do end up too skinny, I can always add a little extra width to the button band to make up the difference.

As extra incentive, I’m going to cast on a Kenzo when I’m done!!! I think the gobs of amazing cables will keep my brain interested while I work with another 1200 yards of this same color. I will probably take my time with that baby, since she definitely won’t be worn until fall and Arkansas weather will soon grow too hot for me to want to work with worsted weight wool. I’m determined to have an Awkward Family Photo op with the matching colored family sweaters.

Poster child for mistakes?

Oh hahahah. I’ve done it again. I saw a little hole peeking at me when I was working on the large swath of stockinette on the back of Matt’s cardigan two nights ago. I dropped the offending YO, because I didn’t want that little hole glaring at me, or an extra stitch.

dapper yo

Soooooo… I’ll rip out a couple of inches. That was my work for the night as I caught up on Project Runway and Girls. No biggie. I know it seems like I’m making a gazillion mistakes on this thing (and maybe I am), but I don’t mind representing the realistic process. One of my friends was horrified about the thought of having to rip things out. She’s a beginning knitter. I think it just comes with the territory.

Always learning!

I’m still plugging away on Matt’s sweater. It served as a faithful companion for breaks during my week of comprehensive exams.

dapper

I’ve never designed a sweater before and part of this process is just being ok with ripping and reknitting. Maybe that’s just me, and other people can get it right from the start, but sometimes I find it hard to conceptualize how parts of the sweater will look without knitting it. I think once I hit that 10,000 hour mark and become an expert (according to Malcom Gladwell), I’ll be able to better visualize exactly what all the written instructions end up looking like in a 3-dimensional fashion. I know those front pieces look super skinny, but they are rolling in a lot right now before blocking.

I’ve also never even knitted a sweater for a man, so my understanding of appropriate-sized arm holes, etc. is limited. I was tempted to just use another pattern as a template and insert the design I wanted to use, but it seemed like a better learning exercise to start from scratch. Matt said that he wanted armholes with little ease. My initial measurements and attempt seemed to be too short, though I didn’t wet block it to be sure. I ended up ripping back a little and adding a couple of inches. I also changed the neckline decreases when it became they seemed to drastic at the beginning.

As noted in this post by Katie, I also totally understand why people charge six dollars (or more) for sweater patterns. There is a lot of time that goes into knitting an average sweater. When you add in the fact that you’re probably reknitting parts of it a couple of times, and have to figure out the math on a variety of sizes, it’s good to get a little compensation. I used to hate paying for knitting patterns and would try to make as many free ones as possible, but when I started designing I really began to appreciate the time an effort that goes into making patterns. And really, I throw down money on so much extraneous stuff (coffee, random sweet treats, eating out more than I should–ok, so mostly things I eat and drink) that buying a knitting pattern here and there is not such a big deal. Plus, sometimes for free patterns there might be less support when you come across an issue.

I am looking at other sweater patterns to see what kind of sizing the do for men’s sweaters, because if I write up this pattern I want to make sizes that work for a variety of people. There is also this handy guide from the Craft Yarn Council that I just found. Matt falls mostly into the medium size on this chart, and after looking it over, I feel pretty good that the sweater is going to measure up.

I have a few little projects for other people that I should also be working on…but I can’t resist this sweater! I want to see it come together. Out of 4 active projects, and 3 others that will be started soon, none of them are for me! I’m not disturbed by this, but I don’t think I’ve ever been this altruistic before!

Swatch, swatch, and then swatch.

Firstly, apologies if you read this blog on Google Reader, or some other reader feed. I was reorganizing my blog posts the other day, giving them categories, and titles to some that imported from waaaaaaaaaaay back when I used Blogger. I noticed in my Reader feed (yes, I subscribe to myself to make sure I know about weird things like this) and it showed that I had 32 new posts or something crazy. They’re not new posts, by any measure. They’re just really old ones that I titled.  They retained their old dates when I updated them, so I didn’t think anything weird was going on, but since I gave them titles I guess it categorized them as new.

I’d like to say that I will only knit from my newly reorganized and categorized stash this year, but chances are I will probably not stick to that completely. I’ll try to knit more out than I put in though.  I am putting some of the 3.3 miles of yarn to good use already. As soon as I cast off Delancey and slapped her on the blocking board last weekend I knew I wanted to make another sweater right away. We’ve been having some cold, snowy weather, and I should take advantage of my willingness to work with heavy wool while the weather inspires me to.

I’ve been wanting to make a sweater for Matt. I looked around Ravelry at men’s cardigans and I didn’t find any that came close enough to what I wanted. I do like this one, and I used it’s yardage requirements when I purchased yarn to estimate what I would need. I think the cables are a little boring though. I decided to play around with some different ideas. Here is what I came up with:

dapper swatch

 

On Sunday I did a whole bunch of math, using Knitwear Design Workshop as  guide. I feel pretty confident about my math. The book guides you through each piece fairly easily as long as you have all of the necessary measurements as well as your stitch and row gauge. There will be a little element of winging it when I get to the collar, because the book doesn’t have anything just like I want.

I was a good girl and wet-blocked my swatch. I decided I would be knitting in pieces so I could make some lovely set-in sleeves. I felt confident, and I casted on. I knitted faithfully on this Sunday night and Monday night, even though Delancey was dry by Monday and I could be weaving in her ends. I was like a woman possessed.

All day long on Tuesday I had a nagging feeling that I just hadn’t cast on enough stitches for my fronts. I’m making this sweater with just an inch or so of ease, per Matt’s request, but I think I overstretched my swatched when I blocked it and that thought kept bugging me. It might have been ok, but I just wasn’t content, so:

Froggy, froggy, froggy.

Froggy, froggy, froggy.

Meh. Though I love to do things two at a time, it’s a pain when both have to be frogged. I ripped them Tuesday night, cast on a higher number and I’m at it again. I’d rather provide a little more wiggle room and not worry about having to stretch this thing out like crazy when blocking to make it fit.

I think I will write up the pattern as I go. I don’t know if I will put it up immediately when it’s done. I’ve never tried to make multiple sizes of a sweater (or even designed my own sweater), so we’ll see what happens. I have comprehensive exams coming up in my doctoral program, and that seems a bit more pressing right now. Yet, I’ve never craved the soothing stress relief of the stitches more.