Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mom's Birthday Vest

My mom, presumably, learned to knit in the 70's. She never taught me to knit, but when I showed interest in the craft and taught myself from Stitch N Bitch, she did hand me down some metal straight size 8 needles from my grandmother, some old crunchy orange acrylic yarn, and this book:

I used the needles, I tossed the yarn, and I held onto the book.
I held onto the book for a very long time, although I had looked through it and decided that all the patterns were too old-school. (The book was published in 1978 and includes patterns like "tweed poncho")
Now, more than ten years later I am finally knitting something out of that fateful book and- wouldn't you guess it- it's for Mom. My mom loves vests: we wears them all the time, and so I thought what better quick project for her birthday in April?

Did you ever think to yourself, Oh yeah I'm just going to knit this sweater really quickly.... and then are slowly reminded that there's no such thing as a quick sweater? Yeah I thought I could avoid that because this isn't a sweater: it doesn't have sleeves! Turns out all that garter stitch is really doing me in! I started it on March 21st and the cables were fine enough- even though I opted to use a smaller needle. But then the garter stitch began. Oh the monotony.
Halfway through the back I flipped lazily through the book while knitting and realized with horror that the reason it was seeming a little small was probably because .... the sizing was from 1978 and while my mom would be swimming in a size 8 TODAY, a size 8 from then was actually going to be snug- especially since I had opted to use a smaller needle to combat the fact that a size 8 was too big for her. Thanks, old patterns, for failing to include the bust size.
I kept going anyway, and just kinda hope it'll stretch enough to accomadate her.
The back is done, right front is nearing completion and once I get the front done I can seam up the top and try it on. My mom is much smaller than me, so if it fits me with a bit of stretching it will probably fit her fine.... probably... Can you tell I'm a bit worried about this?
Two more pictures, although ignore the exposure:

Initially I had thought it wouldn't be a problem if it was too small because I'd gladly re-knit the whole thing with love for Mom. But oh my goodness garter stitch. If it's too small I might just buy her a plant.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sweater Curse?

I just finished my swatch for the next sweater I will be working on.

I experimented with a few stitch patterns but ultimately decided on stockinette, as boring as that will be. My swatch is also a hat, and the color is truer in the next picture.
The sweater in question is Anything For Love, a men's top-down raglan sweater, and the yarn is a sport-weight acrylic yarn I found cheap at Big Lots called "Baby Soft". It is indeed very soft, and the price was definitely right: I bought 10 skeins for about $25 and plan on making two sweaters out of it: one for a 43" chest and one for a 24" chest! Then my two favorite boys can match. (PS for my own information the hat was knit with a size 4 needle on 100 stitches- it's a perfect fit on my noggin!!) Each skein contains 363 yards, so I hope I will even have some left over to make Archie another little dog sweater and all my boys can match!

So for all of you who have heard of the Sweater Curse?  The man I'm knitting this sweater for is not yet my husband, so you'll have to keep an eye on this blog to see if there's any truth to that sweater curse!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Holden #2

I made my first holden back in 2012. It was a lot of fun, and a beautiful piece that I wear a lot. Since then I've been hankering to make another one. I recently found out that the pattern-previously free- is now for sale for $6.00! True, the designer has added a few sizes to the pattern which is great, but luckily I still had my free copy floating around on my hard drive!
I cast on with some of Debbie Macomber's Petals Socks- an incredibly soft angora blend I purchased on a trip to Monterey last year. The yarn was.... a hot mess. It shed EVERYWHERE as I knit with it and continually got tangled in the skein. I pretty much had to fight with it the entire time. But still, the shawl came out beautifully and now it's blocking.

I moved recently so I didn't have my blocking pins or even a mat! Boo.
I just know this will be added to my wardrobe quite often on chilly days. It's so soft and such a beautiful shade of purple!
What was really great about knitting this was that I started it a few months ago, progressed to the lace portion and then tired of it for some reason. So I got the feeling of a completed object in just the amount of time it took to knit half of the lace! Maybe I should hunt though and finish up some more of those old lingering projects, huh?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Archie's Sweater

So..... a few days ago our family found ourselves on the way to get a puppy. This puppy was a long time coming, a lot of discussion, a lot of persuading. Me, personally? Not a big fan of puppies. I like dogs! I LOVE dogs, especially when they're somebody else's dogs. But puppies? Puppies chew, puppies bite, puppies pee and poop on the floor, puppies can't walk on a leash, puppies whine and cry, AND they're a big expense! So, yes the persuading was on the part of the kids and man begging me the mama to please take on another charge.
Puppy we got.
Now before you go, "He's so cute! He's so cute!" Take a look at this next picture.
That's Archie.
 Get it? Archi-wawa?

Now as a little chihuahua mix the little guy is gonna need a sweater. Am I right?? I flipped open my old Stitch N Bitch book and started working on Dog-O-Matic.
This pup's so small that it was difficult to find another pattern that would work! A few hours later and I had my doggie sweater, turtleneck and all. I wish I'd gotten a picture but to sum it up it didn't fit at all.
I had to undo the turtle neck, rip out a few rows at the top and undo the seams for the front to re-position it. Then I had to snip a stitch at the bottom of the front and work downwards for an additional two inches before re-sewing the whole thing.
After the first re-do, it looked much like this:
All in all I thought it was OK. The length of the front was great, but I wasn't a big fan of the back length at the bottom. For one thing, I thought that was far too much ribbing. Secondly, I didn't like the way it jarred out in a squared off abrupt end. I wanted a kind of a curved edging. Also, I thought perhaps he needs some sleeves, at least to cover up his armpits a little better. So the sweater went off the dog and back on the needles.
I snipped a stitch down at the bottom and worked downward decreasing 6 stitches in one row: one at the beginning, one per reverse stockinette stitch panel and one at the end. A row or two later I decreased the 6 middle stitches down to 3, and then did a smaller rib section. It came out a little short, and looked like this:
The curve wasn't exactly the effect I was going for and I actually ended up shortening it way too much. But the ends were all weaved in and I figured he was going to grow out of it anyways and the 100% acrylic was getting on my nerves and I was starting to hate the project. So I picked up the "sleeve" stitches and worked a few rows in k1p1 for his little arms. In doing so I realized the sleeves would have been a lot better in crochet, and hey why don't I just do a little crochet edging along the bottom and the unfinished side?
So I did.
There's that curve I was looking for!
It's still a little short, but it was a fun project all together and I think with this prototype I can do a much better version, in perhaps sock weight yarn so it doesn't overwhelm him.
My model got sleepy and you know, I'm tired too.