Category Archives: WIP

my sister’s sweater

When my mom let me pick out the licorice twist yarn to make a sweater, she let my sister pick out yarn too. My sister picked turquoise and my mom never even started a sweater for her after the debacle with my sweater. She didn’t even wind all the yarn into balls which was fortunate because some of it still had labels.

2 skeins were in tight balls so I decided to unwind the balls into skeins and wash the whole lot – I don’t want my sister’s sweater to be oddly misshapen when the yarn relaxes to its natural state 😉 The bonus is that I might have gotten some of the lanolin and vegetable matter out of the yarn – it looked softer after the bath.

First, I filled my sink with warm water and a couple squeezes of dish soap – I didn’t want to bother rinsing lots of soap out but I also wanted it clean.

Second, I waited for it to soak while patiently eating ice cream.

Third, I realized the water was turquoise so I drained the water and added a ‘glug’ of vinegar (handily I have a gallon under my kitchen sink) and some more warm water being careful to add the water in the corner of the sink opposite to where I was cradling the precious yarn. (Don’t want any fulling/felting!). I let it soak some more.

Fourth, I rinsed the yarn a few times, careful to keep the water warmish.

Fifth, I squeezed the excess water from the skeins by hand, then rolled in a towel. I actually twisted my skeins up to get more water out – this is a bulky worsted weight yarn, it is strong enough for a bit of abuse.

Sixth, I hung the skeins to dry on my drying rack in the bathtub. Wonder when it will be dry since we turned the heat off in that bathroom and it’s normally 5 degrees colder than the rest of our house (which is about 60 at night).

So pretty! Now is there any hope of me finishing this by Christmas? I also have 35 grams (of 50) of a laceweight scarf, simple mittens, and a sockweight scarf. Every year I’m freaking out at Christmas and give at least one present on the needles. This year I started early – my mom’s getting a scarf I finished last February. Problem is, I seem to have taken on more complicated projects since I started so early. I’ve been making the laceweight scarf since September.

Anyone else bit of more than can be comfortably chewed regarding holiday gifts? I hope it’s not just me 😉

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pretties

Last weekend was a whirlwind of activities – I’m actually pretty surprised that it is nearly this weekend. I watched my parents dog, maia, for the entire week while they were visiting my grandparents. We picked her out before my brother was born and she had 4 litters of puppies when I was younger – she’s 16 or so now and has outlived her life expectancy a couple times. She had to stay in the bathroom while I was at work but it must not have been so bad because she choose to take her naps in there even when I was home. She got my brother’s lion king comforter as a hand-me-down.

My parents got home Saturday and the dog went back to their house while Mr. T and I went to Buffalo for his Aunt and Uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary. We left the camera home but the food was delicious, the fire station hall was magnificent, and I found the chocolate favors last night so we ate them all up. I still had a chocolate craving tonight so I got into the semi-sweet bakers chocolate – I knew there was a reason I kept that around.

Sunday morning I got up early to watch part of the Rochester marathon – my friend was running and I wanted to cheer her on. Then I picked my jet lagged mother up and headed down to Hemlock Lake for the Fingerlakes fiber festival. I worked on the giant sock at the Rochester knitting guild table for a while and then we went shopping. I didn’t get any pictures of the sock (too busy knitting ;-)) but here is a link to Helen’s sock entry.

I managed to mostly restrain myself even though there was so much beautiful yarn everywhere. I got some buttons for my and eventually my sister’s shrugs:

They are handmade by Diane Edwards and she also hand-dyes yarn. My mom was a bit worried about the glass but Diane said that if they ever break, I can send it back to her and she’ll replace it. I think it will be the perfect fastener for my licorice twist shrug.

I didn’t intend to buy any random skeins of yarn – I was hunting for a fair isle hat starter kit but didn’t see one anywhere. I was drooling over sock yarn but kept reminding myself of the 4 skeins I had at home. I also made a rule that mom and I would walk around everywhere first without buying anything – if we wanted something badly enough we could remember which vendor had it and return. We ended up returning to Steam Valley Fiber Farm – I had pet one of their silk/merino hand dyed skeins for a full 10 minutes already. It was a worsted weight single ply with the look of raw silk and I kept coming back to the same colorway. It is a blend of purples with some turquoise thrown in for contrast – this might be why I love the colors so much. I’m squishing it right now and it almost feels like suede.

It’s sitting next to my computer begging for a worthy project. I want to do something with cables because they are one of my current obsessions but I don’t want to obscure the beautiful variegated colors.

This coming weekend promises to be almost as crazy – we’re winetouring on Keuka Lake with Mr. T’s family for his sister’s birthday celebration all day Saturday. I bet I can knit in the car 🙂 Sunday we’re heading to Ithaca for the first cyclocross race of the season – I hope I don’t fall off my bike too many times – it’s embarrassing.

vintage licorice twist shrug

A few days ago, I showed the vintage yarn my mom helped me choose when I was five. I have since found my sister’s equivalent yarn with some of the tags attached! The yarn is made by Briggs and Little Woolen Mills and is a 2 ply, no 2/8. I’m not entirely sure what the last bit means but each skein is 113 grams and I have the bits and pieces of 4 of them.

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At least, there were once 4 skeins and I think I have all the pieces. My mom actually started the sweater when I was eight (3 years after we got the yarn and pattern) but she forgot a buttonhole partway up the 2nd front, couldn’t face ripping it, and put it away. It was very away since I suddenly grew. I tried to make a generic pullover in high school, worked on it for a few months, and gave it up. It’s just as well since I was making a pattern with serious positive ease and never would have had enough yarn for a vest let alone a sweater with sleeves.

I’ve been looking for the right project for this yarn since I started knitting again. First I thought a hat since I make a lot of hats but it’s very thick and very scratchy yarn so I nixed that idea and kept thinking. Then I thought I could make a felted bag but I’ve never felted nor fulled anything and this yarn was always meant for a garment. Finally, I was inspired by all the shrugs and boleros I saw online including the beautiful Briar Rose by Ysolda and I figured it would be enough yarn for a shrug.

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I didn’t use any of the available patterns because my gauge was slightly looser (I really hated this yarn when I tried to use smaller needles) on size 10 (6 mm) needles and I wanted something that met in the middle like a cardigan. I used Barbara G. Walker’s Knitting from the Top to learn about raglan construction – the best part was finding out there is a ratio of sleeve stitches to back stitches. It makes perfect sense that when knitting from the neck down, each arm/shoulder section will have 1/3 the number of stitches as the back or front but I’m not sure I would have figured that out on my own. Let’s just say it helped immensely to have a good reference book when I wanted to pull my hair out doing math. I have an engineering degree but between making measurements of my body and never having quite all the numbers I needed and not knowing exactly how I could shape the garment for the fit I wanted, it was enough to make me wish for some easy integrals. Maybe I should have taken more geometry! I don’t believe I ever learned about 3-D geometry, just flat things which might be why I had a hard time converting measurements of my body into garment measurements. I’ve finished the sleeves including the edging in Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted which I picked up thinking I was certainly going to run out of yarn (now I might make it…especially since I already bought extra).

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I did a really simple cable pattern on the cuffs to spice it up a bit and because cables show up really well in the Lamb’s Pride. It was a K4, P2 ribbing, then in the K4 section, I crossed 2 stitches in the front every 4th round. I love how it looks and I even managed to calculate the correct number of stitches for the Lamb’s Pride since it knits up to a slightly looser gauge.

I wanted to finish it by this weekend but I’m going away and it’s way too hot in Blacksburg VA to bring it with me so I might have to start some socks or a lace scarf to work on there.

cabled sweater – part 2

Swatching has commenced on my cabled Jaeger Trinity sweater. The cotton/silk blend is super soft but a little bit irregular – it took a few rows to get even stitches and I might even go down a needle size to get gauge and improve the fabric – I’m a bit worried about the finished sweater stretching out of shape. Are there any tricks to knitting well-fitting garments from plant fibers? I think plant fiber tricks would work well with the cotton/silk blend also.

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I do love the cables – I’ve been using the ‘sans cable needle’ method I learned from Grumperina’s tutorial. I found a picture of the first cabling I ever did – I was in college, my entire dorm was making garter stitch scarves, and I picked out the most complicated cable I could find in my sister’s Reader’s Digest book and commenced knitting my ‘scarf’. Like with many things I’d started knitting, I quickly realized the edges were going to roll, I didn’t have enough yarn to finish, and I was bored especially since I was making it just to counteract the vast quantities of garter stitch in my dorm. So I folded it up into a bag, crocheted it all together, and never got around to lining it – the fabric is so floppy I’d really like the security of a zipper.

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The color is truer in the left picture of the entire bag but I wanted to show the cable detail as well. I remember manipulating those stitches with a slippery dpn I called ‘cable needle’. Those were the days before I bought knitting needles and vast quantities of yarn – I would just raid my mother’s single ziplock bag of knitting supplies and pick from the 1 or 2 available 14″ straight needles and her 1 set of dpns. I think she must have bought the needles around the same time she bought yarn to make me a sweater – I’m just finally using that yarn now to make the ‘vintage licorice twist shrug’. I was going to make a sweater but as you might imagine, I’m a bit larger now than when I was five and there just isn’t that much yarn since it’s a heavy worsted weight.

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new jaeger trinity sweater

I think it’s happening again, I think I’m falling in love with a sweater pattern. I’m not sure how making a sweater for myself will integrate with my holiday knitting plans but maybe I’ll knit quickly. Making my first sweater took 12 months and I was monogamous with knitting projects then. That sweater was really my re-entry into knitting and reminded me how hooked I was on fiber arts. After the sweater I made some socks and hats and scarves because the thought of taking another year to make a single item seemed wasteful. I think I knit more quickly now 🙂

It started when I looked through my slim pile of knitting magazines and found the Jaeger handknit booklet (JB15) with designs by Martin Storey that I used to make my first sweater. Then I read that Jaeger yarns were being discontinued and were therefore 1) probably on sale and 2) not going to be around later. I thought that for my second sweater, it might be nice to use the pattern recommended yarn and gauge. I found the perfect sweater – it’s a pullover so gaping at the button band won’t be a problem, and it has beautifully intricate cables that are probably a bit advanced for me but I look forward to the challenge – I’m going to try and skip the cable needle on this one.

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I just adore the celtic knot appearance of the cables next to the simple stockinette of the rest of the sweater.

I eventually found yarn on sale online and bought an entire 10 x 50gram pack which should be enough for my pullover and a tank – too bad I’m not making a cardigan twinset 😉 I’ve seen a few complaints about the Jaeger Trinity yarn stretching out with wear and not shrinking back to it’s original shape. It’s 40% silk, 35% cotton, and 25% polyamide. I think I might make a large gauge swatch – maybe to practice the cable pattern and wash it a few times before measuring. My guess is that I should make the sweater with slight negative ease (5-10%?) so that when it stretches it isn’t too large.

I bought the ‘water’ colorway – it’s a pale grey with a slight hint of blue. I think the cables will show up nicely. I didn’t want to make a white cable sweater because when I wear white, it’s a magnet for tomato and chocolate stains. The pattern is called “Salt Lake” and I think I might modify it to knit in the round. I don’t mind seaming but I don’t know why I’d make two separate pieces for the back and front when I could make it seamless on my 26″ circular needles and try it on as I go. Then I won’t have as much finishing work either! I could even make the sleeves on double points or 16″ circulars although I think I only have 6″ double points in the correct size and that might be more of a challenge than avoiding a seam is worth.

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The yarn almost feels like a suede to me but my fingers are rough from mountain biking and gardening and dishes. Has anyone knit with this Jaeger Trinity before – how does it hold up?