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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Trying something new - Steeking

One of the things I love about knitting is also what I love about dance and writing - there's always something new to learn. Neither of my last two projects have been a challenge in terms of new techniques, so I decided to stretch myself. Steeking - ie, knitting in the round, sewing a hem, and cutting *gulp* up the center to make a cardigan. I've been fascinated by the history, culture and yarns of Iceland for years. A visit is definitely on my list of things to do before I die. So when I found the website of designer Helen Magnusson,, and she had a sale on her patterns and yarn, I decided to go for it. I ordered the kit for the Bryjna cardigan and green/magenta yarn. It was very cool to get a package from Iceland and the yarn was to die for (and surprisingly cheap!).

I found the pattern easy to follow until I got to the short row shaping along the yoke. I've done short rows many times before but for some reason the instructions really threw me. I actually had to email the designer with questions - a first. She was very helpful and nice, and responded right away with additional instructions and a tutorial. I think a simple re-write of the short row section would help immensely.

As written, it says;

Work the back and shoulders longer to lower front neckline: work 8(8,10,10)10,12,12 short rows over the shoulder and back sts between front markers as follows: k to left front marker, turn, yo, p to right front marker, turn, yo, *k to 3 sts (2 sts and 1 yo) before gap, turn, yo, p to 3 sts before gap, turn, yo* 3(3,4,4)4,5,5 times.

So I knit ten of the first rows, then started the rows between asterixes. That didn't work, needless to say. Ripped it out, really thought about it, and realized I needed to knit two rows, then six of the rows between the asterix, to make a total of ten rows. Voila! Problem solved.

So I think simply re-writing the instructions to say;

Work the back and shoulders longer to lower front neckline: k to left front marker, turn, yo, p to right front marker, turn yo *k to 3 std (2 sts and 1 yo) before gap, turn, yo, p to 3 std before gap, turn, yo* 3 (3, etc) times for a total of 8 (8, 8, 10, etc) short rows.

Would have been much clearer. Hopefully my re-write spares someone else the pain of ripping out ten rows.

Once I had the short rows done, it was time to work on the flowers in the magenta. The pattern is beautiful, in my opinion, but there were some really long floats where I struggled to keep the yarn tension even, particularly across the center section. I think adding another cross shape at the bottom of the flowers, like at the top, would have helped with that.

I'd wanted extra room in the cardigan, so I knitted a medium even though my bust size fit a small. But when I tried it on before steeking it was tight enough to be worrisome.

So I decided to try steeking, then blocking it. It turned out to be a disaster. The neckline ended up too stretched out, the cardigan is still too small, and two attempts to re-block and fix it have failed. At the moment, I'm very discouraged. I'll keep you guys posted if I manage to fix it. Until then, this trying something new was an abject failure.

- D

Friday, March 13, 2015

When Your Ambitions Outpace your Knitting Skills

The first issue I bought of Interweave Knits was Spring 2009. I poured over the pages and analyzed each project, fascinated by the potential of what I could create. I finally decided to challenge myself with the Sprout Tee. I’ve always loved cables, but they also intimidated me. I’d only done one project with cables prior to the tee. I picked a tweed Patons yarn, which I ended up really liking. The stitch definition was lovely and my cables stood out in sharp relief.

However…I didn’t know how to finish it. I watched videos of mattress stitch online, and did my best, but the seams came out lumpy and exposed. The sleeves weren’t set in right, and had weird bumps from where I’d tried to gather up the excess knitting. Frustrated after my third attempt to get it right, I tossed the sweater in my UFO pile and hadn’t touched it since.

Until last weekend, when I decided it was time. I picked out the side seams and the sleeves seams and set to work. All told, it took me over two hours to fix the sweater. I wore it on Tuesday and received several compliments!

I still struggled with the sleeves – they’re supposed to be a little ‘poofy’ like a puff sleeve, but I think that it doesn’t quite work with this pattern and yarn. While I like the idea of the cables on the sleeves, it made sewing them into the armholes very difficult.

I'm glad that I took the time to fix the project, and I think it'll be a nice lightweight spring sweater. It was nice to take something off the UFO pile, I think I'm going to continue to tackle it over the next month and see what progress I can make. Happy knitting!

- D

Monday, March 2, 2015

Three's a Charm Tam - Interweave Knits Fall 2012

A few weeks ago, I went on a trip to Boston and was in need of a project for the plane. My current WIP was a shirt - too big for travel. So I stopped by The Yarnery on Grand Ave to pick up the yarn for a hat. Specifically, the Three's a Charm Tam from Interweave Knits 2012. The Yarnery didn't have the yarn that the pattern suggested, but the salesclerk recommended Berrocco Blackstone Tweed instead. It's a wool, mohair, angora blend. I picked a teal color. While the yarn itself was nice, and had a good feel, I don't know if I'd recommend using it for cables. The yarn had a tendency to split, and sometimes just pulled apart while I was knitting, likely due to the mohair and angora content. Since stitches have to be stretched behind and in front when working cables, this tendency was a bit frustrating sometimes. In addition to pulling apart, I also encountered a knot in one ball. The color, however, was gorgeous.

 The pattern consisted of three complicated cable repeats offset by triangles of trinity stitch. If you're new to working with cables, you should probably skip this pattern as it had not just the basic hold two stitches behind, knit two from the left needle, return the two stitches held behind to the needle and knit them, but also hold two in front and purl one, and two unusual cables that also reduced stitches in them (a new one for me).
 I enjoyed working the cables and the 'plain' rows of knits and purls in between. I did use a piece of scrap paper to keep track of the row on the trinity repeat and the cable row. It took me about a week to knit, but when I put it on my head it didn't quite 'flop' like I'd expected. It was kind of flat.
With fingers crossed, I decided I'd block the hat to see if it took a shape closer to that of the hat pictured in the magazine
After letting it dry, I tried it in again. Better, but still not as floppy as I'd have liked. I refuse to rip out an entire hat and knot in a larger size needle to see if that fixes the problem, so I guess I'm living with it. Here's a trinity stitch section.
And here's the cable.
I'm hoping it stretches out more like the photo in the magazine.