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Archive for the ‘Knitting’ Category

Slow knitting

I’ve been knitting all evening. Two episodes of Bunheads. Two episodes of Mozart in the Jungle. All I have to show for it is this little ribbed cuff.

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Why does knitting go so slowly some days and so quickly on other days? I feel like I could have knitted the whole ribbed hem of a sweater in the time it has taken me to make this cuff.

* Whining over *

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Button hole tantrum over

Ok. It wasn’t that bad. I fixed the cardigan. And it wasn’t even all that hard.

This goes out to all those knitters who may have read my previous post and have been frightened away from button holes forever.

I had a tantrum. It’s not that bad. By it is a finicky process and you have to do it right. Gauge is really important.

1) I removed the button hole band on Friday night. Then I removed all of the sewn on buttons.

2) I left the button band itself attached to my cardigan because it was the right length. The pattern recommended that I knit it most of the way, then attach it while it was still on the needles so that I could more easily determine if I needed more or less length. Good tip.

3) I counted rows of my button band to find out how many rows I would need to knit for my button hole band. No more measuring with a measuring tape for me. I’m going to measure by the only yardstick that means anything in knitting. My actual gauge.

4) I then figured out my button placements based in the number of rows. Evenly spaced and everything. I sewed the buttons on.

5) I cast on the button hole band, counting my rows very carefully, spacing my button holes so they corresponded exactly to the placement of my buttons. This worked very well.

6) Before sewing up I actually buttoned the button hole band on over the button band to ensure that it would not stretch unpredictably. And it didn’t. Everything was perfect.

Victory. I declare victory.

I’m don’t know if this description is at all similar to what knitting teachers tell you to do. But it worked for me.

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It’s hard to conceal my ire. I was so proud of how this Reverb cardigan was turning out. The purple yarn was lovely. The pattern was easy to follow. I knew the cardigan would look super-hip on, and would go with most of my wardrobe. But the button band betrayed me.

I don’t have any experience with button bands. So far, I’ve managed to avoid knitting cardigans that require buttons. I pretended that I preferred the open look. But the truth is, I was afraid of the button band. And now I know I was right. Button bands are pure evil.

  • Button bands stretch unpredictably and throw off your measurements. 4 inches between button holes. Oops, looks like you have 5. 5 is ok right?
  • Button bands lull you into thinking five buttons will do…until you try on the cardigan and realize you really need seven.
  • Button bands keep you from appreciating your brand new very pretty cardigan because something is just slightly “off”.
  • Button bands are so hard to satisfy. Put the button too far to one side, and the whole thing stretches like a scallop. Which would be nice if that was something I wanted. An artistic statement, prehaps. But it’s NOT.
  • Button bands wait until you have the cardigan all blocked, with the ends woven in, to speak up and tell you something is wrong.
  • Button bands remind you that your stomach is not as flat and firm as your dress dummy’s stomach. They’re rude little buggers.

Stupid riggin’, friggin’ button band.

Here’s the cardigan. You can see the issues I’m talking about.

I guess it’s time to remove the button bands, reknit them, and do the finishing all over again.

But not now. Not today. Today I shake my fist at the universe.

Tomorrow I’ll take apart my cardigan.

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Strange Knit-mares

Does your knitting creep into your nightmares? I had a knit-mare a few nights ago.

In the dream, I had unraveled my new holiday party sweater and started knitting something else with the yarn: a plain, shapeless cardigan with no character or style. Such a depressing transition. And I don’t think it was even intended to be for me. My dream-self felt very sorrowful about this change, but also very virtuous. I was like a nun renouncing worldly things.

*Heavy dream sob.*

This morning I woke up and was surprised to find the sweater still on my shelf. I felt pleased, but also oddly disappointed. My virtuous knit-halo was gone.

Does your knitting invade your dreams?

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I said I wouldn’t overdo it this Christmas. You know, with the whole knitting thing. Last Christmas I made myself a little crazy and I swore I wasn’t going to do that to myself this year.

But somehow I can’t seem to stop myself from knitting hats. They’re so cute. They’re so quick. They’re like little woolly potato chips.  (Okay, that sounds pretty gross. Did anyone else just image an old sticky potato chip found in your cardigan pocket?)

It all started with my husband’s Christmas hat. He gets a new one every year.

Made from handspun yarn.

Made from handspun yarn.

 

I’m hoping this is going to be our “thing.” When he’s 80 he’s going to have a mountain of hats. He has this habit of not losing things. At some point, that may become a problem. Maybe senility will kick in and help us out with the hat problem.

  • Anyway, it started out with my husband’s Christmas hat.
  • Then I knitted a couple more because I had some scrap yarn in my stash that was just right for hats.
  • Then I decided to knit a hat for my niece. I knitted that hat like I was a jazz musician. Total improv cables. It turned out great.
  • Then I realized my new little nephew needed a hat too, so I cast one on. He may need multiple hats. Babies lose hats all the time, right?

This is a troubling hat trend.

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My New Holiday Party Sweater

I have a few knitted sweaters in my wardrobe that are thick and roomy, hardy and cozy: perfect to wear while raking leaves or running errands on a blustery morning. They’re nothing fancy, but they’re very useful and I get tons of wear out of them.

Then there are the special sweaters; the sweaters I wear only when I’m on my best behavior. Wearing these sweaters makes me stand a little taller. Wearing these sweaters makes me choose white wine over red at a party (the better to clean myself up if I spill). These sweaters are so special that they elevate the rest of the outfits they are worn with (even yoga pants look semi-dressy).

I speak of these special sweaters as a plural thing. They’re actually singular –I’ve only knitted one so far. But having finished that one, I know that someday I will knit more. The plural is aspirational.

The New Hotness 

Here’s my awesome new Briar Rose Tunic — the Caitlin Holiday 2015 Sweater ™.

 

The pattern is by Elisabeth F. Parker and was featured in one of the first Interweave Knits issues I ever purchased.

The yarn is Sun Valley Fibers MCN (merino, cashmere, nylon) worsted in the Sangria colorway. The color, skein to skein, was not completely consistent, so I alternated skeins throughout. This yarn so soft! I wear this sweater next to my skin and there is literally no prickle at all. None. I’m a big prickle wimp and I don’t notice a thing.

The first time I blocked this sweater, it came out way too long (almost a mini-dress!) and way too wide. To wear it, I’d need either: 1) a new set of fantastic wonder-orbs, or 2) to inject my shoulders with a Schwarzenegger gene complex. The yarn, when wet, seemed eager to stretch, and I was a complete dolt and let it have its head. Lesson learned. Measurements are there for a reason. After a couple of days in time-out, the wool submitted meekly to re-soaking and re-blocking.

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I was sorting my Ravelry projects page the other night and came to a startling realization: in the last few years I’ve knitted myself a LOT of sweaters. The hand-knit side of my winter wardrobe is getting pretty respectable. Without trying too hard, I could probably wear hand-knits every single day. This brings me to an important question: what should I do with my commercial sweaters?

I’m wearing my commercial woolens less and less often. I have a few favorites, and a few special-purpose items (like my Icebreaker winter running gear). But most of my mountain of winter woolens don’t get much wear anymore. Why wear the turtleneck you bought on sale at TJ Maxx when you can wear the similar, but much more special sweater you knitted while watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory.

Here’s the thing though: there’s a certain security in owning a set of sweaters I don’t care that much about. My hand knits are specialspecialspecial.  I wear them gently and wash them with care. My commercial sweaters…I don’t actively try to be destructive toward them…but if a cat snags a claw in them and make a hole, or if I get a molasses stain on the sleeve, it doesn’t matter so much. The only thing I have invested is money .

I’ve come to a critical, woolen juncture, just as many knitters have before me. There’s only so much storage space in my home for sweaters. If I want to go on knitting sweaters, I need to start getting rid of some. Stuff comes in, stuff goes out. Donate them, unravel them, whatever. They need to move along.

Am I ready to start jettisoning some of these commercial sweaters? Am I ready to depend on my knitting skills to outfit me for my real life?

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