Swatchin', again

madelinetosh vintage in chicory, which I like better knitted up than in the skein. Uniform (rav link) by Carrie Bostick Hoge, aka Maddermade.com (planned options? shorter, no shaping, fitted sleeves and shaped collar, inset pockets).

 

Swatchy

Swatchy

love love love these interchangeable karbonz needles by knitter's pride by the by. (Hate the spelling, though.)

Rhinebeck, the aftermath

I finished the sweater, including the buttons, even allowing time to wash and block it!  I'm really pleased with how the sweater came out, especially after blocking.  

Why yes, I DID crop out as much of the mess on the bathroom floor as I could! Thank you for noticing!

And Rhinebeck was perfect sweater weather this year.  My cousin Betsy and her daughter Kristina drove up to meet me at my house and get coffee for fuel, and then I drove us all up the rest of the way.  It was a gorgeous day and perfect for shopping and fiber stuff!  

Rhinebeck! Kristina is not holding fiber, but MAPLE COTTON CANDY.  

First mission, get one of these kickass tote bags!

 I think this was the longest line we waited in all day (neither Betsy nor I have the patience to wait for hours for Miss Babs, gorgeous though the yarn is, or Jennie the Potter), and it was WORTH IT.  This bag is killer, nice heavy canvas, pocket inside and two outside and a ZIPPER!  (Yes, we did collectively "OOOH!" when we saw it zip).  Plus this year's logo is really effing cute.

Then I'd created a list on paper and on a notes app, with a wishlist for specific patterns and yardage/weights required for said patterns.  But my real wishlist was for trying out spinning wheels and coming home with one. 

Readers, I was not disappointed. Behold, the Hansen Minispinner that came home with me as an early birthday present:

Behold the mess in the hallway!

This thing is so damn light and portable! I carried it in said tote bag for most of the day, and I am telling you my purse was heavier (granted, my purse is really heavy with the shit I pack in it). I also looked at a few wheels, but I think that for where I am right now, this sucker is perfect.

I've already spun up and plied 8 oz of fiber from the Spunky Eclectic fiber club.  It's so fast! 

I have to say, I'm SO PLEASED that I learned to spin on a spindle first.  I feel like I have a greater understanding of the mechanics, of  drafting, of all the bits and pieces that go into spinning yarn.  But damn do I love this thing.

I also got a few batts of beautiful fiber from Loop, and some truly gorgeous squishy cormo worsted yarn by Sincere Sheep in soft grey and cream from Carolina Homespun's amazing booth. These are earmarked for Lee Meredith's Triyang shawl--as big as I can make that sucker. 

And while I was Rhinebecking, JBB took the boys to the zoo, and the biggest little wore his blue hoodie (I FINALLY finished and set in the zipper).  A fitting ending, as I bought that yarn for his hoodie last year at rhinebeck. I, of course, still have no decent pictures of it on him. Alas. 

All but buttons! And a bit on blocking

I finished the Rhinebeck Sans Serif last night!

DONE!

After once again doing two hours of tubular cast off on the button bands, and spending another hour and a half weaving in all the damn ends.

tubular cast off.  Gorgeous, such a great final finish.  So time consuming to execute.  

Blocked and awaiting closures... Which I EVEN HAVE IN HAND.  What what! I have shocked even myself. 

let's talk blocking for a minute shall we? Once you're done knitting something, you're really not done until it's been blocked. Blocking evens out all those little lumps and bumps and helps smooth out the unevenness of your work. Also some yarns tend to grow or shrink, so what comes off the needles isn't indicative of the final fabric. Blocking can help tame wayward edgings, tweak curling (though never completely eradicate it), and help all those places where you wove in ends visually disappear.

pre-sleeves and button bands, and pre blocking.  compare this to the blocked one above.   the final finished fabric on the blocked one is smoother and more even, lies flat (helped along by the button bands, but still)

I like wet blocking for most uses because it's the easiest and can be the most dramatic difference. It's basically just washing whatever you made. I soaked this sweater in warm water with a dash of Soak wool wash for 15 minutes, drained it, then pressed out the water. Because this is madelinetosh superwash yarn, I spun more of the water out in the spin cycle of my washer. Then I laid it out flat, shaped it, and left out to dry.

Because it's superwash (wool yarn that's been treated to be able to be machine dried without felting or shrinking), and superwash has a tendency to grow unless snapped back into shape with a dryer, when it's mostly dry, I'll probably give it a short whirl in the dryer.  I didn't want the bottom ribbing to pull in that much so I took this opportunity to make sure to gently tug it out a bit. I did want the neckline and the sleeve cuffs to nudge in, so I made sure to not pull those out at all.  

Wet blocking is awesome for shawls and lace because you generally want to pull the shit out of the shawl using pins to hold it in place to open up the lace pattern. 

I also sometimes steam block, where you use steam from a steamer or an iron to saturate the fabric with the steam and gently pull and pat into shape. The thing with steam blocking is that if you have a yarn that's acrylic or synthetic, you can "kill" the fabric with too much steam--this means that you lose all the elasticity and bounce permanently. It can be done on purpose of you want a scarf with a ton of drape, but no body or bounce, but it's generally not a great thing for garments.  If the edgings on the sweater look a little pulled out with the wet blocking, even after the dryer, I'll hit them with a shot of steam and see how they react. 

I block everything except mittens, socks, and most hats.  These things generally don't need blocking in my mind because they're formfitting and will essentially be blocked in wear.  Socks especially.  Lace or drapey hats, or anything that needs to be in a specific shape I block.  

beginner knitters always get frustrated because their stuff never looks as smooth and even as they feel it should. It doesn't look like the picture on Ravelry, or like that sweater that grandma made years ago.  Well, the pic on Ravelry was blocked, and those older knitted pieces look more even than everything else because they've been washed a zillion times and the stitches have all evened out. 

 

capping the sleeves

Titles are hard, man.  I've never been good at them.

Anyhoo. Let's delve a bit deeper into Sans Serif, and look at the magic of top down sleeve caps.  It's a fucking wonder of knitting and I love them so. 

I first encountered the basics of a top-down, set-in sleeve in knitwear in Barbara Walker's badass Knitting from the Top (affiliate link).  The idea is that instead of knitting the sleeve separately and sewing it into the armscye (or armhole), which is fiddly work and requires easing one curve of a slightly different shape and different length into another curve.  It's not the easiest thing to do if you don't have sewing experience, which I do, and even then, it's still not the easiest thing to do.

But knitting a sleeve into the armhole from the top down allows for a firm but flexible seam that won't pop with the movement of the arm, and uses knitting's unique properties beautifully.  

Essentially, you pick up stitches around the armsyce and then use short rows--where you work back and forth on a small amount of the stitches--to create the curve of the sleeve cap that goes over the shoulder and covers the top of the arm.  

Elizabeth Doherty took this and refined it--specifically the proportions of picking up stitches and the short rows--in her book Top Down: Reimagining Set in Sleeve Design.  

I'm very impressed not only with her written instructions on how to create a top down set in sleeve, but also on how to ADJUST and ALTER a top down set in sleeve.  It's very clear, and wonderfully written. 

picking up stitches along the armscye (armhole)

After marking the center of the underarm stitches and the shoulder seam with removable split ring markers (or yarn, when I lost one of the little buggers), I picked up stitches along the armhole, in the ratio directed by the pattern, and put in additional markers to note where the ratios changed (which handily notes where the short rows begin).

short rows beginning to form the wedge at the top of the sleeve cap

See that white marker? This is the first sleeve, and where I was smart enough to realize that leaving the markers in (instead of removing them as noted in the pattern) would be super handy to note where the short rows begin.  I got cocky and took them out on the second sleeve, messed the bugger up and had to rip it out and redo it. 

I love short rows--they make a little wedge of fabric that over this curved armscye turns the corner of your shoulder.  

Beginning the short rows--about 3 or 4 short rows worked. Note the wrapped stitch, 6 stitches in from the tip of the right hand needle 

inside the sleeve cap in progress, working back across the inside short rows.  That length of blue yarn is the marker I used to note where the short rows began on the picked up stitches

working back along the inside, with a nice shot of the yarn marker where I lost the split ring somewhere in the couch. 

nearly completed short rows.  leaving the wraps intact (instead of picking them up as you work across the final rows) leaves a tidy vertical line. 

The thing with short rows is that if you just go back and forth in your knitting, you wind up with holes.  So you need a method to close up those holes--wrapping the next stitch with the working yarn is the most common way to do it, but it's not always the most elegant. My recent discovery is German short rows, which are NOT wrapped, but a different technique.  If I'm doing short rows to shape a shoulder or otherwise shape my knitting, I go with this. 

BUT: Because this is a sleeve, wrapping is better.  It actually serves a decorative function and makes for a cleaner line--so long as you don't work the wraps when you come to them.  See the pic above? Nice and tidy. 

(also, I wonder what I was watching on tv?)

coming to the end of the first complete round, right at the junction of the underarm and the sleeve cap

And this is where I came to the end of the short row section, at the transition from the picked up stitches from the body, to the picked up stitches at the underarms.  At this point, I worked around a few more rounds, then set the stitches aside on a holder to work on the body.  

 

Rhinebeck sweaters, it's a thing

look, even sleeve caps are done!

Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool is like mecca for east coast knitters.  It's a big festival that features knitting, spinning, weaving, fleeces, animals, herding dogs and all kinds of fiber-related things. Tons of vendors and shopping and lots of folks wearing pretty pretty knitwear that they made!  And for circumstances unrelated to knitting (such as my inability to plan ahead consistently), last year was the first time I'd been able to go. 

Y'all, it was awesome.  I did some advance planning by going through my Ravelry queue and seeing what I wanted to make and what I was missing yarn for, and brought that list of yardage and weights with me.  And I still just bought random gorgeous things that I couldn't walk away from.  And learned to spin, thanks to my awesome partner in crime, my cousin Betsy!

So a #RhinebeckSweater (or, alternately, a #RhinebeckTrousseau).  It's a Thing that knitters attending Rhinebeck do: make a sweater (or in the case of the trousseau, a shawl or accessory) or other garment specifically for Rhinebeck.  Sometimes the goal is to show off the gorgeousness that you can produce or just have something special to make with a specific intent.  

Last year, I was a slacker when it came to timing, plus it was hot out for the end of October, so I grabbed a lace shawlette I'd made the previous year.  It was fine. 

This year, it's going to be Sans Serif.  Which feels like it's a little bit plain, for a Rhinebeck Sweater, but honestly, that's how I dress, and I'd like to wear what I make rather than not.  So I'm ok with that.  I think. 

 And I'm making good progress, which is SHOCKING to me! Look at those sleeve caps done! And the body nearly done!  I even have BUTTONS people.  I am prepared!

Which will probably mean I won't finish, but maybe?

 

let this be a lesson to me

Sans serif continues...

goddamnit.  Also, inadvertent shoe selfie!

So would it be weird to have a hem at the bottom of a sweater with  ribbed button bands? 

It would, right?  Crap, I need to rip back the last inch and half of the sans serif body and start the damn ribbing, don't I?

Until I busted out the measuring tape the other night, I thought I was way behind on the sans serif if I expected to be done by Rhinebeck.  I'd done the sleeve caps (that's a whole separate post that will be forthcoming) and then put the sleeves on hold to finish up the body, since I knew that would be my time suck of a challenge.  As much as I love stockinette, I get bored of the purl rows--if it were in the round and it was just lovely lovely knit for ages, I'd be happy as a clam.  But switching to purl? UGH whine!

So I powered through, but forgot to check the measurments on the sweater I'm attempting to replace--it's slightly cropped. Which means an underarm to hem length of 13"--FINISHED.  

Guess where I'm at with the sweater?  That's right. 13", with no finished edge.

If I were doing a hem, I'd just do a purl row, switch to smaller needles and knit the hem facing and be done with it.  But that's going to be weird with a ribbed band.  

Goddamnit. Ripping back. UGH. 

(note to future self: 3/4 sleeves! 11"! Don't forget!!)


knitting decisions

I realized this past weekend, when chatting with my awesome cousin who is also obsessed with yarn and fiber, that Rhinebeck is coming up, and I need to get my shit together with knitting already!

Last year was the first year I went to the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival and it was SO MUCH FUN.  It's where I learned to spin (taught by said cousin!), and it was a great chance to see a ton of small and large fiber and yarn vendors in one place.

I'm not much into the must-make-showpiece-for-Rhinebeck, which many knitters are, but the deadline does give me a boost to get my shit together when it comes to making a decision about a sweater I've been thinking about for ages.

Over a decade ago, I got the perfect sweater from, of all places, Target.  Grey (cotton, but don't so much care about that), 3/4 sleeve, slight swing cardigan with a three button closure near the slightly wide scoop neck. It's perfect. It looks great with dresses, with jeans, it's not black so I can wear it with black and not look like Wednesday Adams. It's also from Target, so it's a magical dream unicorn for surviving as long as it has. 

And I want to make a replacement.

Last winter, I decided to do just that, and ordered a few options of yarn--some worsted, some aran weight--knowing that I'd use it.  And today, I just wound up a bunch of skeins of Madelinetosh Vintage in Graphite.  But I'm still paralyzed by decision making.  Internet, opinions please?

I don't really feel like making a ton of modifications to a pattern, other than length, because that's just second nature.  So I'd like to defy my nature and pick something that's within the same gauge/yarn weight, and doesn't require too much fiddling for what I want.

Internet, tell me what to pick!

Sans Serif, by Elizabeth Doherty from Quince and Co's   Top Down: Reimagining Set In Sleeve Design

Sans Serif, by Elizabeth Doherty from Quince and Co's Top Down: Reimagining Set In Sleeve Design

I just bought the new book from Quince and Co by Elizabeth Doherty, Top Down: Reimagining Set in Sleeve Design,  which is appealing to me on so many levels. 1.) no seaming, which I hate. 2.) clever construction and short rows to shape sleeve caps, which I love.  And there's a possibly-perfect-cardigan there, Sans Serif (rav link).  Frontrunner?

Vine Yoke Cardigan  by Ysolda Teague, from Twist Collective Fall '09 issue

Vine Yoke Cardigan by Ysolda Teague, from Twist Collective Fall '09 issue

I originally thought I'd make the Vine Yoke Cardigan by Ysolda Teague (rav link), from the Twist Collective Fall '09 issue.  I've seen it done in person and it is LOVELY and wearable.  But I'm thinking I want to go a bit simpler for this?

Tea Leaves  by Melissa LaBarre for Madelinetosh

Tea Leaves by Melissa LaBarre for Madelinetosh

Tea Leaves by Melissa LaBarre (rav link) was another option.  I worry that the neckline might skew a bit wide, and while I could fix it, do I really want to deal with raising the neck a bit as well? Would it be fine? 

Ramona Cardigan  by Elizabeth Smith / The Brown Stitch

Ramona Cardigan by Elizabeth Smith / The Brown Stitch

Going for the MadTosh Vintage over the Aran weight meant that the highly appealing Ramona cardigan (rav link) might be shuttled by the wayside for now. I do love that ribbing. I think when I go to the heavier weight, this will be the winner. 

Charlotte light cardigan , by Carrie Bostick Hoge / Madder

Charlotte light cardigan, by Carrie Bostick Hoge / Madder

Charlotte light from Madder (rav link) with the A-line shaping is an option, though I'd need to adjust slightly for a different gauge and I'm thinking that neckline is a bit too high for me. 

Charlotte cardigan  by  Carrie Bostick Hoge / Madder

Charlotte cardigan by  Carrie Bostick Hoge / Madder

Perhaps the Charlotte cardi also from Madder (rav link), also A-line shaping, would work better?  I do love me some garter stitch and am super crazy fast with that. 

Cocoa Cardigan, from Winter 15  Interweave Knits Magazine

Cocoa Cardigan, from Winter 15 Interweave Knits Magazine

Going fancier with yoke, there's the Cocoa Cardigan (rav link), which is from the Winter 15 Interweave Knits magazine .  Too fancy? I'd drop the body shaping in the sweater to get a bit more A-line.

Uniform , by Carrie Bostick Hoge / Madder

Uniform, by Carrie Bostick Hoge / Madder

Or do I scrap the idea of a replacement cardigan totally, and go make Uniform (rav link) with a shawl collar and 3/4 sleeves? 

UGH INTERNET TELL ME WHAT TO DO

Bunny!

His name is George. and he will love him and squeeze him and call him george.

I finally made the littlest little's bunny, using Kate Gilbert's Bunny pattern (rav link, thanks for the suggestion Judy!).

It's super cute. His name is George, as all bunnies are named George in this family.  The little one likes him, and screamed "BUN BUN BUN!!" when he saw him so all is good.

Partially knit, missing an ear and a third dimension.

However, I do have a few quibbles about the pattern.

The first quibble has nothing to do with how the pattern is written: I just like to do everything in the round, because I am lazy and hate seaming.  But since this pattern was written for knitting flat and seaming, I knit it flat and seamed it. I don't think I'd knit it flat again, because to me, there's very little reason to do so.  And I mean, I TOTALLY GET why it's written flat.  It's way way way easier to write a pattern for a stuffed animal flat or in pieces, because they're weird and fiddly and it's hard to explain in words and whatnot.  But other than the arms, which I think I might tweak with short rows or something of that ilk, the rest can be pretty easily translated to in the round.

finished, seamed, but unstuffed. like a plushie skin.

The second quibble I have is that I suspect I found an error in the stitch counts for the size I made (Papa Bun), once you get to the head and ears section.  It threw me off as I was knitting it, because I was out and about, working along, got to the ears, realized that something was off, and had to rip out an ear to fix it.  Annoying, but fine.  It was an easy tweak for me to adjust to, but something that would completely throw off a less experienced knitter. 

And of course, because I was out and about, my first thought was "shit, I missed a row or two".  But nope.  I double checked and I didn't.  Then after the kiddos went to bed, I sat down with pencil and paper and charted out the increases/decreases row by row and sure enough, there it was again. So at least I'm not completely crazy.

I did email the designer with my notes, and hopefully it's an easy adjustment on her end with some errata or something. 

I was going to make a second one, and still might (in the round, natch), or I might just go rogue and do a totally different pattern. Maybe Henry's Bunny (rav link)?