Saturday, January 26, 2008

I did it!!!!

I did it! I sewed and cut and put all the pieces together blending a variety of techniques, and above is the finished product. I actually finished the knitting itself on Friday night, Jan 18th and took Saturday to sew and cut and piece together. Then I had to work on Sunday and couldn't wait to get home so I could toss it into the sink, spin out the excess and block it to dry so I could wear it Monday night when I went to the other job.
The nice thing is that I was going to call youngest daughter on my drive home so she could take pics, but I didn't have to. When I walked in the door, she immediately asked me if this was my newly steeked sweater and went for her camera. I can't blame her for the delay this week. She was great. She took the pics and uploaded them to the computer as soon as she got home from school on Tuesday. I was the one who dropped the ball on this one.
I've been a bit sick with a cold. A bit of stuffiness in the head, but I've got the voice of a 12-year-old boy who's in the throes of his voice changing. We're on day 9 now and getting better, but it's still a bit froggy. Anyway, I spent non-working hours this week in bed.
But back to the sweater!!! I've learned a LOT! Mostly, I will never be scared to steek again. Yup, I made a big fuss over not a lot. But I think I'll take a few more precautions on the new sweater I've started. I only gave myself one extra stitch for steeking on my own sweater. Not that this is a big deal. I know how to sew and sewing down the edges before cutting wasn't a big deal. But I'm dying to try Meg Swanson's crocheted steek on the new sweater and I need a minimum of 3 steeking sts for that.
Also, remember my question about the weaving in and out of the ends and how I was going to cut that one side in the steek? Well, on the new sweater, I'm not as worried about making those ends as long. After all, they only have to hold until I steek, so what's the big deal? I not only cut the side that had the weaving in and out, but also the other side that had no weaving whatsoever, so I tossed that question out of my mind entirely. I was going to cut the side with no weaving, so why was I worried about the side that had the extra yarn woven in? Yea, I know. A duh moment...
Second, remember all the calculations I was sweating over on this sweater? For the most part, they all worked perfectly. The sleeves themselves are a bit tight on my forearms. Not enough to keep my from wearing my sweater (I wore it to last night's hockey game and I was nice and warm!!!), but enough that I'll increase right after the cuff next time. I didn't add any immediate increases on my sweater, so I don't need a lot of additional, but I will add a few to loosen that up. In fact, I've already changed that calculation on my brother's sweater. (Pics in next post to show what I've done and how I'm recalculating that one.)
Second learning curve is that the sweater is a bit shorter than I'd like. Yup, I can compensate for that through blocking. Not a problem. But I'll recalculate length better on this new (and all future) sweaters. Add 10% or 20% to be lost in initial wash and the fact that I really hate pulling and yanking on wet sweaters. I like to wash and simply toss it down to dry without having to worry about what shape to give it. Luckily, this sweater (again) isn't too short so I won't wear it. It's just a bit shorter than I'd initially wanted, but add another 3 or 4 inches to length next time.
OTOH, I do believe that if I'd gone with the original dimensions suggested on the Pbilosopher's Wool pattern, I'd have ended up with a sweater that was big enough to tuck one of my kids inside it with me. So I'm glad I recalculated in the long run.
And the nice part is that I have enough leftover yellow yarn from my own PW kit that I can add single rows of yellow into my brother's sweater. I'm making him the Timber-Framed, also in the Fire colorway. His kit wasn't offered with the "Fire with Yellow" and I really like the zing of adding a bit of yellow to the fire. So what I'm doing is playing with the background color changes in his sweater. The timbers themselves are black. It's the background that changes every so often. I have 5 colors to work with so I'm doing bands of 6 rows, 5 rows, 4 rows, etc right down to 1 row and that's where I'm adding single rows of the leftover yellow from my kit. After I reach the yellow band, I repeat the colors in reverse (2 rows, 3 rows, 4 rows, etc). I keep the colors the same that I did in descending order, but once I reach back to the 6 rows, I change up the color sequence. So it goes: 6-5-4-3-2-1--2-3-4-5-6-5-etc. The only color that will remain constant is the single row will always be yellow. The others will vary so I can use the colors at the same rate. So the colors I use in band 2 and 3 rows will become 4, 5 or 6 in the next.
I surely hope that's all making sense.... LOL!
Anyway, it looked kinda weird at first, but the more I get into the sleeve, it's really coming together and looking nice. I liked the suggestion of using dice to determine how many rows of color I used, but I also don't want to be TOO random in what I'm doing. So I could either vary the colors or I could vary the number of rows. I'm choosing to vary the colors so I have a static number of rows to the overall pattern.... Er, not that anyone is going to look at Tom's sweater and see what I did or even notice that there's a rhyme and a reason to how everything comes together. But I like some sense of symmetry or it'll drive me nuts. It's my way of making things much harder than they have to be....
Deadline for this new sweater is Feb 25th. That's Tom's birthday and this is going to be a big one. He turns 50 this year and I need his gift to be something special. He tends to take things like a new decade very hard. I can guarantee that this one will bother him. Hence, a sweater made by his baby sister. I'm just hoping I can get it done in time. I've determined that at least 4 hours every day at work will give me a minimum of 20 hours a week. I have another 4 weeks to finish this thing and get it to him. I figure, if I'm really cruising on the sweater and enjoying the process, I'll work more than 4 hours, but if I make sure to get at least the 4 hours 5 days a week, I should make good progress.
Other projects OTN are socks in Happy Feet. Gorgeous, gorgeous yarn. I almost gave up because I'd tried about 3 or 4 different patterns, trying to do justice to this colorway. I forget the colorway. Don't ask. I'm too lazy to go look for the ballband. It's got olive green and navy and burgundy and a fantastic peach. Anyway, I almost gave up after frogging for the 3rd or 4th time. Regardless of what pattern I did, none of them looked right. So I finally just did 10 rows of ribbing and the rest of the sock is straight stockinette. Bingo! This is a yarn that needs to shine without any frills. So this is also in my bag at work for those times when I've had enough sweater and need some "mindless" knitting for a change.
Also OTN.... er, not technically, though, because the first is completed, is another pair of socks for the DH. I'm doing another pair of the Woodman's Thick Socks in Knit Picks' Shamrock, which is a heavy worsted weight yarn, but I'm putting reverse st st under his foot. He likes the socks I gave him for Christmas, but the purl nubs under the ball of his foot annoy and actually begin to hurt after a while. So the second pair look weird because the purl nubs are on the outside and under the foot, but they'll be much more comfortable to wear. First sock is done and the fit is good if he'd stop trying to stuff his toes outside the front.
After years and years of tube socks, he tends to pull the sock really tight against his toe so he can yank it up his calf and practically to his knee. He's trying to do this with his handknit socks and I keep telling him to stop. The sock should fit comfortably and not squish his toes. He's just not used to it yet. The funny thing is that he always wears holes in the toes of his socks and can't figure out why I don't. Er... honey? Because I don't try to squish my toes to the point where they'd be outside the sock....
I have faith that I can retrain him.
Let me see... anything else? I did up a quick pair of mittens for my Mom. She has a really nice brown Aran sweater coat and I got some of the KP Shamrock in a rust color. So I knitted her a pair of mittens that compliment her coat. Considering winter finally decided to appear here in the Northeast, I figured she'd like them. She does.
I think that's it for now. I have TONS of laundry to get through today before tonight's hockey game. We got WHOMPED by Niagara last night so tonight should be... er, interesting. I hope we have different referees. When the penalty judge is skating ahead of the players down the ice, that doesn't bode well for anyone. And, not for nothing, but one call was beyond abyssmal. A Niagara player had Marshall by the shoulders, holding him, and after the whistle was called (because their goalie put his shoulders under the net and knocked it loose deliberately so the ref would wave off the goal), the guy throws Marshall to the ice. Yes, Marshall gets up and the two start a scuffle. But the ref calls two penalites on Marshall and not the Niagara player!!! Scuse me?!?!
Just bad calls. Bad reffing. So I expect tonight to be a grudge match that isn't gonna be pretty.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Ready to Steek...

Yup, you read that right. I'm ready to steek my sweater. I went back to work on Thursday, which means I now have eight hours a day of practically uninterrupted knitting. I was just past the beginning of the place where I figured the sleeve holes would be when I went back. Thursday passed and Friday was yesterday and I'm ready to steek. I've got everything knitted up to the shoulders.

I added one purl stitch at the side seam for the sleeve steeks (this is what PW tells you to do) and then measured carefully about three times for how wide that needs to be. Measured again because I wanted to repeat the first pattern band at the top of the shoulders and it all worked out beautifully. I did add two more rows of plain black knit at the top of the sleeves (hey, I can always roll back the cuff on my sleeve if it's too long) and CO the sleeves with a purl st (a la Meg Swanson on her Cardigan Details DVD).

I divided the top of the body into three sections, putting each section onto a lifeline. This way, I can grab each side section after cutting the steek and knit those together (I think I'll join those a la MS also with a 3-needle bind off). The actual steek stitch on each side is on a pin marker, ready for scissors. And the middle third of the top is ready for the neck band. I have those on lifelines for now, but the back will blend right into the neckband and the front has been pinned so I can also cut that away once I sew the steek seam and pick up the stitches to complete the neckband. I'm going to use another EZ & MS suggestion and tack down the neckband using "live" stitches to keep the stretchiness rather than cast off the stitches before tacking down.

I do have to attend a women's basketball game this afternoon, so I better get to work if I want to get this done today. I really want to check the sweater for size, etc before I CO for my brother's sweater. Course, if push comes to shove, I can try it on with all the lifelines intact. I really want to get the yarn for his sweater all balled up and ready to go because I have to work tomorrow and would kill myself if I had to face a whole day without something on my needles.

Er.... not that this is a problem. I have a hat on the needles (Midwinter Warmers from KnitPicks) and two pairs of socks also on the needles. But, but, but.... I don't want to work on those.... (she says in her best whiny voice)... I want to work on sweaters!


Wish me best of luck as I head for the finish line. Rather than being all discombombulated and worried and tearing my hair out, I'm actually excited to do this. Watching the DVDs of Meg Swanson and Elizabeth Zimmerman and reading their books has given me confidence from their nonchalance that I'd never achieve on my own. If this works as beautifully as they indicate, I have a strange feeling that I'm about to take up residence in SweaterLand.

I only have two feet and I already have a dozen or more pairs of socks. But I don't have any sweaters (er... yet! /g/) that I've made myself. I have a lot of sweater knitting to catch up to my feet. Just think! I could match my sweaters to the colors in my socks. Would that be a hoot or what? I doubt that will happen, but I'm finding that I absolutely adore knitting colorwork and what better way to utilize 8 hours a day than treating myself to some interesting patterns and colors and being able to wear the finished product?

The part of knitting sweaters that I always hated was the shaping around the sleeves and shoulders and the putting together. Steeking will solve that. I'll no longer hate any part of a sweater and the putting together should go together so fast that it'll take no time at all. And I have fairly wide shoulders for my frame, so a dropped shoulder actually looks great on me. Many problems solved if I can get my @ss in gear.

Shower, sewing machine, finishing touches. Yup, I'm ready, excited and anxious.

Stay tuned. If daughter doesn't take pics of the finished product, she'll cease to breathe...


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Ravelry, etc.

I got my invite and I'm now over on Ravelry. My name is -- here's a real surprise -- bonneewolf. And I've gotten sucked into the discussions on the message boards over there. Emailing and looking for projects so I'm not spending enough time doing my own projects or updating over here.

Okay, so let's start with projects. Where am I and how far along? Yeah, yeah, pics would help. I am overdue for some pics on the various projects I have planned. But the important thing is that I got my Color Your Own kit from Mom for Christmas. I started it shortly before Christmas (so I had something to work on that day... er, not that I did because we sat around and chatted for hours... ) Anyway, the sleeves are done and I'm almost at the halfway point on the pattern graph of the body. I guess that's about halfway (or a bit more) on the whole sweater. Good progress for someone who doesn't knit as much when she's off from work compared to the hours I've got when I am at work.

Geez.... I surely hope the boss never sees my blog. /wry g/

I have three technical days left before I go back. New students are moving in for orientation over the weekend, so I go back on Thursday. Part of me looks forward to it because I get a lot more knitting done. Part of me hates it because I spend 40 hrs a week sitting in a little aluminum and glass box. But the part of me that looks forward to it is bigger than the part of me that hates it, so I guess that's a good thing... /g/

I also have the Timber Framed kit for my brother's sweater here. It's waiting for me to finish the Color Your Own so I have an idea of what I'm doing. I'll never be comfortable until I get that first steek under my belt, so I'm anticipating and dreading at the same time.

Course, something dawned on me this week. I'm doing all the color changes at one of the side seams. Great for the sleeves since there won't be any steeking involved. But the sweater will involve cutting open the holes to insert the sleeves. This means I'll be cutting right through my color changes. Hmm.... maybe I should write an email to Ann and/or Eugene to ask about this. Should I move my color changes to another part of the sweater? Should I not worry about it and simply keep going? I mean, I weave in the new color before it begins and then weave out the old before I cut it. Now those woven pieces will be meaningless since I'll be cutting them effectively right at the beginning and end of the row. (Does that make sense or did I just type in babble? /g/)

Now, I have other good knitterly stuff. I have a huge order from KnitPicks due sometime this week. Lots of yarn and some EZ DVDs. We're talking over $150 worth of goodness. But I have to make some minor adjustments to the socks I made for Hubby. He likes them, but I need to make some minor fitting stuff for them to be a bit more comfortable. (He doesn't like the purl nubs under his feet, so reverse st st under the foot. And a bit of shaping so they don't sag over his ankles. Minor stuff.) The point is that he likes them!! Woo hoo! I also have some sport wt yarn coming so I can make another pair with smaller needles. (Yup, that negates that purl nub under the foot problem, but I'll work him down slowly.) More of the same heavy worsted wt yarn for more mittens. More needles for Magic Loop... Lots of goodies in this shipment.

And, now, where was it?!? They have a sale on Noro yarns. 20% off until, I think, the end of the month. I got a couple skeins for socks and they had a delicious silk lace wt for like $8 for 1100 yds. I've been looking at the box shawl design from Cheryle Oberle's Folk Shawls and I think I could make that one with like 3 skeins. So I ordered.

Yeah, my credit card companies are in love with me. I didn't use them before Christmas, but I've been liberal in the after holiday sale madness... /sigh/

Oh, and I found a terrific buy! Stopped at The Yarn Barn over in Amity and found Happy Feet in the most wonderful colorway for $6 a skein. Kewl! I'm so used to paying double that price for wonderful yarn and now I can get a pair of socks for about $12. Is that kewl or what? Biggest problem was finding the right pattern. I tried Jaywalker. Nope. Wasn't working for me. Tried the Garden Trellis that came out so gorgeous in the Stone Barn Fibers colorway Ice Cream Sundae. Nope. Looked like cat yak. I finally decided to rib the top and simply not bother with any pattern whatsoever. So this is my mindless knitting when I want to get away from the sweater.

I figure, if I get to work on my sweater, I should have the Color Your Own done by the end of the month. Get to work on my brother's and, if I knit my little fingers off, I might actually have it done by his birthday on Feb 25th. I'm not counting on it, but that's my goal.

Then I can finally start my Dale of Norway Albertville '92 Olympic design. I'm going to try that one in KnitPicks' Palette yarns and can do the sweater for about $35 or $40. Yup, I like that pricetag. I doubt I'll finish it before warm weather starts, but I should have a good beginning and be able to pick it back up in the fall and wear it before it gets downright cold. Course, having that done before the end of Sept when the Durham Fair occurs (and I can submit it in the knitting contest) would be fantastic, but we'll see about that. I have 8 months to figure it out... /g/

Other news? I never talk about my health because I've always been very lucky. If you happen to listen to the Lime n Violet podcast, let's just say that I know where the alien baby went. My doc has determined that I'm perimenopausal (think: semi-homicial) and I have a fibriod that isn't shrinking like it's supposed to. We might have to c-section that baby outa there. I'll know more when I go back during the spring break in March. Right now, I'm just uncomfortable and dreaming of new ways to hide the bodies of those I have to sacrifice for the greater good of humanity... LOL!

Now, I have to get to work. Yesterday, I did cleaning. Geez, what was I thinking!?!?!? Washed every dirty dish and utensil in the house. Emptied and washed out the litter box. Laundry. Even washed the outside of my trash can. Yikes! I must've found some crack someplace because I abhor cleaning and organizing and whatever. I've been bribing my kids for years. And, yes, I've figured that once the girls move out, I'll have free money that I can pay someone to do it for me then. But something came over me.... Oh, that's right. Alien baby. Don't let my husband read this or he'll tell me we're not only going to keep it, we're adopting so it can stay...