Tuesday, July 08, 2014

How many mods does it take to make me a cardigan?

A few weeks ago, Cathy at Webs posted this cardigan from Berroco on their Facebook feed. You know, that's exactly my kind of project!

I swatched a bunch of stash yarn. Berroco is now recommending Ultra Alpaca. While I love the Ultra Alpaca, I didn't swatch it. I found something in my stash before I got that far.

The Moda Dea Silk n Wool has been a favorite of mine (I've knitted two projects with it... and of course it's discontinued). I loved the Sangria colorway, and I thought it would make this cardigan. It swatched beautifully. As a matter of fact, I might like this yarn crocheted better than knitted!

Started with a sleeve and ran into my first issue: No shaping. The sleeves are the same width from cuff to bicep. I hate wide cuffs, so I decided to chain fewer stitches and increase to the width. Then I noticed that the sleeves weren't going to be wide enough for me to wear anything under them. So I made the sleeve width wider.

I also didn't like the combo of V and crew and decided to do a straight up V neck (more flattering for me).



All was good until I dug out the rest of the yarn: I only had 12 skeins* and the pattern told me I would need 15 based on their yarn requirements! PANIC! (sleeves were already done and I was in love with the pattern stitch in this yarn. I really didn't want to start over with a different yarn).

At this point I had the back done, the sleeves were to the sleeve cap and I felt that if I seamed with a different yarn and didn't do the bottom border, I might squeak by. So I optimistically went on ahead.

Finished the fronts and the sleeve cap shaping with globs of yarn left over. (I had 2 full skeins. Most of on other and about half of two other: almost 4 whole skeins left). Good to go!

Blocked it yesterday and started seaming it up today. Got half it of seamed up with the second sleeve in and slipped it on...

OH NO! I didn't look closely at the schematic! The shoulders are way too wide for me. These have fitted sleeves, and a 2" drop isn't good. I need to rip back and decrease at the armhole on the front and back.



Not today. I need a break. I feel that this pattern has been nothing but a rework. Other than the pattern stitch and the A-line shaping, I feel that I have had to change everything.

Next time? I'll do it top down and seamless... now where did I stash that Ultra Alpaca?

*in full disclosure: I did have this yarn listed at 12 skeins in my Ravelry stash. I would save myself a lot of heartache by using my info on Ravelry. This is the second time recently that the info was there, but I didn't check. Which is why my Ravensong is not done...

Monday, June 09, 2014

The Beauty of Grey

It's not a black and white world...and I'm digging the beauty of grey right now.

That's the pile of current WIP. Grey is the dominate feature on all of 'em. They might be wide in fiber choice: There's a 100% wool, a 100% acrylic, a 100% alpaca, a cotton/silk/wool blend and a cotton/acrylic blend (ya, when I say I'm equal opportunity yarn consumer... I ain't kidding).

Normally we can assume that these are for Matt. He's Mr. Neutrals and I lean towards the brights or... green (yes, I do loves me some greens!). However, these are evenly spread for each of us.

Grey is a lot like green tho'... there really are so many shades of grey that you can get so much variety.

Keep an eye out for more details: especially that seamless yoke/marled/striped one that is front and center. I'm in major love with that project right now.

(these projects also inspired me to put on Live's Mental Jewelry. My very favorite Live CD).

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Big Swatch

So I thought I would have a finished sweater to post about today, but it seems that it needs a bit of tweaking.

This sweater was just one of those things that I wanted to play with and I ended up with a full sweater.

My idea was to reverse the Knitting With Tears Cardigan by doing a raglan shaped pullover with a solid st. st. body and broken rib sleeves.

I used Ann Budd's recipe from her The Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters, but I tried to adjust a bit for Matt's anatomy (and I got half of it right).

I added a set of short rows to the back to adjust for his wide shoulders and I did some decreases in the body to adjust to his 7" chest to waist drop.






I could've made the sleeves wider for his biceps and he doesn't like how high the neckband sits (feels like it's choking).

Overall, I'm fairly happy with it, and I still haven't blocked it (the drawback of seamless sweaters for me. When I have to seam, I always block before I sew them up... ). I think the blocking will help a bit with the sleeves, but I think the neckband will just get ripped off and I'll do a simple rolled neck.



While I should be working on some of my lighter weight projects, this was actually such a fast and easy knit that I couldn't put it down. Need to get back to my Ravensong for Summer (not only a project for summer, but a project for ME!)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Finished!

I finished a fairly quick crochet cardigan for myself last night. 

There are things I like about it and things that are "okay".

My initial intention was to make up a quick and warm around the house cardigan. I confess I'm more of a knitting snob than I like to admit. I have tendency of not wanting to waste "good" yarn on crochet projects. I know part of it is yardage. Crochet projects usually take a lot more yarn than a knitted project.

I had swatched this project in all sorts of yarn. I think I even started in in an acrylic yarn that I love (my most worn around the house sweater is in TLC's Heather. So comfy and I can throw it in the washer AND dryer). Nothing was "right".

I also usually stick to really light yarns when I crochet projects to wear.

Bulky yarn + bulky stitches (like crochet) + bulky girl = not usually a flattering project.

So during this horrid winter, I decided I needed something warm and cozy (and that fits). I remembered this pattern. I had ordered the yarn for a knitted project, so I already had it (and I can order more for the knitted project, right?). Swatched it up and loved it.

The pattern stitch was easy. Huge hook, single ply wool/alpaca yarn in a pretty shade of blue. It went quickly. Then I hit the sleeves. Didn't like the sleeve cap shaping at all. So I spent some time doing a little trial and error and got a nicely fitted sleeve cap.

While working on it, there were times I thought it was going to be great. Then other times I felt it was going to be the type of project that gives crochet a bad name. Now that it's done, it fits the bill. Is it runway wonderful? uh, no. Is it perfect to snuggle up on a cold winter day? yep. and that's what I wanted. Let's do some stats!

Pattern: Pocket Cardigan from the book Plus Sized Crochet: fashions that fit and flatter

Yarn: Valley Yarns Berkshire in light blue

Problems with the pattern: I found the directions to be little on the light side. They are written for experienced crocheters. There is no schematic and the only sizing info is for the finished bust measurement. Not overly helpful. The sample does not fit the model, making it a poor reference for the whole "fit and flatter" thing. The yarn used in the book is equally vague. I had to do a lot of research to find it (ya, googling it by how it's listed only gets you to the distributor, the yarn is named Icelandic Wool and it's by Oasis yarns). It's also listed as a bulky weight yarn, but once I tracked it down, discovered that it is in fact a worsted weight (and no wonder I wasn't liking any of the earlier swatches). The Berkshire is an aran weight (knits at 16 sts to 4", the yarn used in the book sample knits at 20 sts to 4").

Changes to the pattern: I shortened the sleeves and the sleeve cap shaping for a more traditional fitted sleeve cap.

Overall impressions: this is not the best project I've ever made. However, it is exactly what I wanted/needed. It's very warm. It's soft and cozy. The color makes me happy. It was quick and fairly easy (I still hate seaming crochet projects. Knitting is soooo much easier). I will probably make it again, but in a very different, lighter weight yarn with lots of drape to make a little spring cardigan. I love the pattern stitch a lot. So we'll give it a B+...



Sunday, March 16, 2014

Respect The Niche Market!

So our local Barnes & Nobles hosted The Yarn Harlot yesterday. You would think by now that book stores would get the devotedness (is that a word?) of knitters. I mean all you have to do is look at her blog to see the volume of people that show up!

Since we knew that it would be fairly crowded (and to be honest, our B&N has not always been well prepared for us knitters. Our SnB has met there for years. They even started putting us on their schedule, yet there were many times we would show up and they had completely forgotten about us) we decided to show up about an hour and a half early. They were already out of chairs.

The Yarn Harlot lived up to her writing. She is a fabulous story teller and it was very enjoyable.

We waited in line for our book signing and knitters are a fairly laid back group. Standing in line we knit, we chat, we make new friends.

Here's Julie with Stephanie:





and here's me with Super Model Matt and Stephanie:




I had wanted Matt to wear his St. Patrick sweater (for obvious reasons. plus I love that sweater), but the wool/mohair heavy cables might just have killed him (it was a wee bit warm).

Normally, Julie and I head over to Pittsburgh for the Knit & Crochet show (which is this weekend), but we decided to take a break from it this year and do something in the fall (Stitches East perhaps? Maybe just a road trip up to Webs?). It was kismet! Even tho' I didn't get to buy yarn I don't need, it was an awesome knitting weekend!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Finish It or Frog It Friday

The white cotton blend cropped cardi is practically done. uh.. yay? It only needs buttons and you would think I would be very excited to have it finished.

I was until I tried it on. All I can say: UGH! I've made this pattern before and the alpaca version is one of my most favoritest sweaters evah. However, the little (okay, not so little) weight gain has made it unwearable right now.

So I figured when I was looking for a white cotton blend cardigan, this pattern would be perfect. I couldn't have been more wrong. While I did make the appropriate size, I'm not sure if the cotton blend vs. alpaca was a good choice. The Cotton Ease gave me fab stitch definition, but it of course does not have the same drape. I'm also not so sure that a cropped cardigan is really body appropriate anymore. I intended to wear it over a bright print dress, and it still may work for that, but as an everyday cardigan: it looks horrible on me.

So I'm not sure if I'm just going to go ahead and put some buttons on it and then try to adopt it out or if I should frog it. Since there's nothing wrong with it except how it looks on me, I'll probably find some buttons and put it up for adoption. So I guess I'll call it done.




Project Summery:

Pattern: Design 4 from Patons Canadian Living Booklet

Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton Ease

Problems with the pattern: none, third time I've made this pattern. Easy peasy.

Changes to the pattern: I lengthened the body a few inches (so there's also an extra button). I added some moss stitch in the center of the main cable.

Overall impressions: while there is nothing wrong specifically with the finished project, I can't wear it (when Matt gives you a head shake, you know it's bad: he's Mr. Positive). So more body issues than project issue. Disappointed, but definitely won't be making any more cropped projects. I'm not 25 with an hourglass figure anymore.



and now we remember why Matt ends up with more finished projects!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Seemed like a good idea at the time


Let's face it: it's been a harsh winter. Everyone is tired of the snow, the ice, the freezing temps (and losing power is never fun). We all cope the best we know how.

I decided to remind myself that spring will be here... eventually. Since it's my turn to have a finished project (I'm trying to alternate finished for Matt, then me) I went thru my WIP's and found this cute cropped cotton blend cardigan (a favorite pattern: third time I've knit it. I might be thinking of an other in wool).

When I stashed it away, I had the fronts done and the back better than half way done. The back is just moss stitch, and I got bored. Well, Olympics hockey and moss stitch actually work really well together and I got the back done fairly quickly.

As usual, the first sleeve wasn't too bad. I love the staghorn cable (it's easy and I don't need a cable needle). Now I have just a few more inches on the second sleeve. That means it's almost done. I mean I have less than 4" to knit. There are no front bands, so there's also not a lot of finishing. Yet I am slogging!

I'm tired of white. White snow. White fog. White ice. White yarn. I should've chosen a project that is wildly colored!!!

Normally I would say "next project will have a bright color!", but since I'm alternating between projects for me and Matt, he's up next. He's sorta anti-color. Certainly nothing bright. So it will have to wait for the next next project!

Meanwhile spring will eventually get here... and I will have a white cardigan ready for it!!!