secret sweaters

Not really secret secret, at least not now, because they are now in the hands of the recipients, but behold the last minute matching-but-not-matching-at-all fraternal sister sweaters...

So last week I realized that there were two little girls in my sphere who were sorely lacking in handknits.  And I had 4 skeins of Cascade 220 wool--a dark orangey pink and a lighter pink--that were just the right weight, yardage, and colors for two matching but not fully matching sweaters. Oh and I had under a week to make them because the little girls are not local, and I'd be seeing them around Thanksgiving. 

I'm awfully prone to this last minute OH SHIT LET ME MAKE SOMETHING gifting/crafting.  I very nearly decided last week to attempt to bust out a handmade felt advent calendar for the littlest little, but then after a few delirious hours of sketching 24 small Christmassy items, I finally gave up on it. 

But anyway. Because I am not crazy, I started with the baby version.  And because I am crazy, I decided to draft my own pattern.  So voila, the tiny sister of the duo, with a seven spoke yoke (in retrospect, a round yoke would have been better), and twisted 1x1 rib edging tipped in the contrasting color. 

please ignore the shadow of me taking the picture in the lower left corner. 

That was two nights work, if that.  God love baby sweaters in worsted weight yarn. And busting out the two sleeves at the same time on two circulars.   And so while that one sat on my heating vent drying after being washed, I started on her big sister.

This one is because I'm crazy.  I drafted my own pattern again, but this one was round yoke, colorwork (cribbed the chart for the yoke from the lovely Iðunn and tweaked the decreases a bit to suit the yoke depth)

And because it's colorwork, after the ribbing, I cast on a few stitches for a steek and worked in the round. For the non-knitters, steeking is where you knit the sweater in the round, then cut down the front and pick up bands afterwards.  All very easy to write.  A bit harder to man up for when you actually have scissors to fabric. 

pre cutting.  

I asked JBB to take a picture of me cutting, and instead he took a video. So now you can see me cutting the steek stitches from the inside of the sweater with the super sharp embroidery scissors while watching House Hunters on HGTV in my messy messy living room with super messy hair. 

I wound up tacking down the steek stitches/facing after picking up and working the buttonbands.  If it had been for a grown up, I probably would have just left them to felt into the body a bit, but since it's for a little kid, safer to tack that down.

tacked and just waiting on the buttons. 

All the numbers and other nerdy knitting details here, at Ravelry. 


Swatchin', again

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




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. 

Sans Serif



Swatchin'.  Size 8, size 7, and size 6.  Went with the 8.

Did I just pick it because of the name? Maybe. I do love a good sans serif font, though JBB has also been on the receiving end of my rants about bad sans serif fonts, or poorly utilized ones (a thin and thready knock out white sans serif used in an easy-to-read? COME ON PEOPLE).  But this sweater hits all my requirements, and reading through the pattern and book, it's extremely well written and clear.  Plus I swatched and got gauge DEAD ON--even row gauge which never ever happens.  

So armed with the thought of not modifying a pattern save for length and dropping the waist shaping to push it slightly A-line in shape, I started up.  And promptly decided to modify the sizing slightly.  This pattern is sized by shoulder width measurement, which is actually genius as that's the better way to fit a set-in-sleeve pattern, but also potentially annoying in that it might require additional modifications to sizing to best fit the bust and arm circumference.  The shoulder size that works for me would have a bust measurement with zero-to-negative ease.  This isn't always a concern, and sometimes would be desirable, but since I wanted this shape to be slightly A-line, and it's a worsted weight cardigan, and will be worn over other clothes, I wanted more ease. Zero ease could have been doable, but I didn't love the way the fabric of my swatch looked stretched slightly.  Which means adding a bit of space to the bust, without messing with the armhole shaping/length.

I'm an experienced knitter, and have some background in sewing (thanks to my mom the seamstress!), so this kind of adjustment is not necessarily a problem, but it would take a bit of time for me to sit down and figure it all out, and I'd probably have to break out the reference books (oh, no, I have to consult knitting books, whatever will I do.  Pfft. I love that shit). A less experienced knitter might be lost and wind up with something ill fitting . . .  if it weren't for the great instructions in the book.  Elizabeth Doherty walks you through all the ways to adapt and change the pattern for a slight bust adjustment, a major bust adjustment, tweaking the depth of the armhole, the circ of the arm at the bicep.  Really useful and good stuff!  My go-to top-down book has always been Barbara Walker's Knitting from the Top (affiliate link), but Top Down expands on Walker, and surpasses the fitting reference with her finessing of details.  (Not to take anything away from Barbara Walker who is a genius and a badass feminist scholar, knitting expert, and wrote the Little House Cookbook. I love her and want to be her.)

the back, in progress, with all my notes. 

I went through the entire pattern, on paper, and not only circled the numbers for the size I was making, but also added in additional notes based on the instructions for revising the fit, and tweaked the stitch count numbers for the rows as necessary.  This alone took about an hour, but it was time well worth spending.  An hour at the desk to rewrite and revise the directions is about 6 hours less time frustrated on the couch trying to figure out where you messed up and why. <-- Learned from experience on that one. 

So I added an inch to the bust measurement, and tweaked the armhole shaping to start a few rows earlier (on row 30, rather than row 34).  Then after working the back part of the bodice, when I started on the fronts, I realized that I wanted to raise the neck a bit as well, to better mimic the sweater I'm attempting to replace and perfect.  I ripped back a bit from where I was, then started the shaping 8 rows earlier (on row 22, instead of row 30).  

I've joined the underarms, and am at the body part.  I think once this ball of yarn is out, I might do the sleeve caps, while it's still a manageable thing to whip around. I still have to decide if I'm including the pockets--maybe?--and what buttons to use.  

I do love the top down approach, the first, tricky, part goes SO fast, and then it's just nice mindless stockinette for a while.  Love.

Once again, this pattern/book is SO WELL WRITTEN. Kudos to Elizabeth Doherty and the team at Quince and Co

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 /&nbsp;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 &nbsp;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? 



we have returned from vacation! Cape Cod is beautiful as always, and I wish yet again that we had more time up there, and that Massachusetts was magically an hour and a half from New Jersey instead of minimum five hours (when driving with only grown ups who can suck it up and not pee already . . . oh and blessed by the traffic gods) to seven or nine hours (when driving with small, awake, children who are not easily placated by the magical technology of DVD players in the car and just want to GO GO GO GO NOW NOW NOW  at the top of their tiny little lungs). And speaking of small squirmy children . . . 

The littlest little enjoyed his time at the Cape, and furthered his obsession with bunnies (and Paw Patrol. Ugh.). His attempts at hopping are hilarious, and really just turn out to be stomping, or stomping REALLY FAST. And he alternates between shooting "BUN!" and "JOR!" when he spys a rabbit, either in real life or as a picture. The JOR is short for George. You see, for whatever reason, my family has always called the many many bunnies hanging out by the house on the cape, "George". Don't ask, even we don't know. Sometimes he's looking for the mama bunny, so it's "BUN! Mama? BUN!" As one does. 

A few years ago we picked up a great close up photo of a George from a local Cape photographer, and hung it up in the house in the room where the kids sleep.  But now that we are back home, there's only the picture of a bunny on the littlest little's favorite cup and man is he bummed by that.  

And last night he requested a bunny of his very own, by trying to snuggle the cup and take it to bed. I asked him if he missed the Georges, and got a very enthusastic "YEAH."  I asked if he wanted to snuggle the bunny: "YEAH!"  I asked if he wanted me to make him a bunny of his very own to snuggle, and the kiddo practically bounced off my lap with a big "YEAH! BUN! YEAH!"

So bunny softie it shall be.  Keep in mind this kid already has a collection of about fifteen animals in his crib--most of them cast offs from the biggest little who really could care less about stuffed animals.  The little one though?  Carries his baby doll around snuggling her, and gathers up as many animals as he can hold like Navin Johnson with the thermos.  "All I need is baby Boo.  Baby Boo and this kitty.  Baby Boo and this kitty and this hedgehog.  And this Plex.  And this chair. . . " 

I've flipped through my knitting books, including the EXCELLENT Susan B. Anderson's Itty Bitty Toys (affiliate link), for bunny patterns.  I've made her Elefante (ravelry pattern link) for the biggest little a while back, to great success.  And she has a great pattern sense. 

I like her sock yarn bunny a lot, probably the larger version, but would probably make the arms a bit shorter. I also like Ysolda Teague's bunny--very cute face.  Bunnies are weird for softies, I feel like a bunch of them skew a bit too pointy and lean for my tastes--I think it's the shape of the snout.  I want something short, stubby, and cute--amigurumi-esque but also still recognizable as a bunny. But as I learned with Elefante and Grumpasaurus, placement of the eyes is crucial--too close and they look evil; too far apart or too big and they're too old school "cute."  The big cuddly bunny from Purl Soho is almost too stylized for me, but damn it's cute. This bunny in a blue dress (aka Miffy) is pretty cute, but I'd ditch the dress and go straight up nakey bunny.

And then we get into yarn choice and color.  Grey and white? Grey and pink? Brown?  My default yarn for this type of thing is a Cascade 220-esque (sturdy, worsted weight wool with good stitch definition and soft but pleasantly wooly), but maybe a furry/chenille type of thing would work well?  But would it drive me batshit?  (hint: YES IT WOULD)

Or do I go full on "creative" and avoid the realistic colors?  Stripeys? Tell me interwebs what to choose!




and mug the second

And here's the second mug, coming from the spring 2015 session of my pottery class.

This one is a much frostier green, but still has a bit of a sheen to it, and isn't pure matte.  This one also pools blue because SHOCKER I choose green and blue glaze combos. 

This is another runny but really pretty combo: standard pottery pale seaweed, topped with a dip of moss.  Moss is a semi-matte, almost like velvet, and pale seaweed is a pale frosty matte mint that can puddle bright blue and glossy.  Together the chemistry turns them into this combo, which I find lovely.  

please to note, you can also see where I whacked the mug off kilter where I attached the handle.  Oops.

Again, you can't quite see the blue puddle in the bottom, but trust, it's there. 

This is another mug where I purposefully created a glaze catch while trimming the foot, just to give the glaze runs a place to pool and collect and (hopefully) not run all the way down the foot and fuse the bugger to the shelf. 

Another mug

So the spring session of pottery has wrapped up, which means I now have a bunch of pieces back with me.  I've been working on mug forms, because handles are a pain in the ass and clay shrinkage is also a pain in the ass, and I will figure this out if it kills me.  

But I came out of these last few classes with two mugs that I'm very pleased with.  Today, mug the first, aka, a seaweed mug.

the seaweed mug.  shows the variations, but not quite nailing it on color. But, ooh, look at my filthy porch newel post!

This is the same glaze combo as yesterday's bowl, and the first of these older mugs--one dip chambray, one dip frosted moss.

inside the seaweed mug.  Can't quite see the true blue pool in the bottom.

I'm pretty happy with the size and form of this mug as well.  The handle sits nicely, and isn't too thin or too chunky for my taste.  The body is big enough to hold a giant cup of coffee, and I'm happy with the points of attachment on the handle, with the thumb rest doodad and the little roll at the bottom.

most accurate to color, and shows the pooling around the details and the glaze catch. Also, my lawn!

I'd done a glaze catch at the bottom while trimming the foot, and it's a damn good thing I did with this glaze.  Even though I thinned out the glaze on the bottom of the body after the second dip and wiping the foot clean of extra glaze, it still ran a ton, and puddled blue right at the catch.  Also note my thumbprint which the glaze ran clear over.  

Those lighter areas look at first like places where the glaze is thin or broke too much over the edge, but they're still pretty smooth to the touch.  It definitely broke hard on the edges of the handle though.