Indecisive

OK, so. I need help deciding because… well… I’m indecisive.

Buttons.

This sweater has 3 button holes, but it turns out that I only have 2 of the buttons I had intended to use (these adorable little vintage stick-buttons from the button collection I inherited from my Grandma a few years ago). Bummer.

So, now I’ve got three other sets that could work:

Blue ceramic buttons I made years ago when I worked for a ceramics artist who let me put my own projects in the kiln when I fired the tiles we were actually paid to make:

Plain creamy sage(ish) green buttons that I’m pretty sure my grandma cut off of a blouse in the 90s.

These slightly shimmery caramel-colored buttons from (I can only assume) 1976.

Or, should I just go with the original stick buttons, and just pretend that I didn’t make 3 button holes? It’s not like it’ll ever be all the way buttoned-up anyway.

I think I’m currently leaning toward the caramel ones, but will they make my kid look like an extra from Laverne & Shirley?

Help me decide!

And a biiigggg stretch

I just love blocking. Of course it’s magical on lace and fancy cable projects, but it’s just as satisfying on simple projects. I’m always amazed how much even the simplest (for example) bulky stockinette sweater benefits from a good block.

Observe:

Looks fine, right? Nothing too rough about it. But give it a solid block (or even a half-effort one, like I did this time… because my pins were upstairs and I didn’t feel like getting them) and it transforms! Also, it’s still slightly damp, because even though I started it blocking several days ago, it is a very solid sweater, and is taking a million years to dry.

But look at the ruler- it’s grown a good 2″ across the chest (maybe more), and the drape and feel of the fabric has absolutely changed. The stitches are so much more even and the collar looks so much better. It’s gone from stand-up-on-its-own-stiff to smooth-and-velvety. Honestly, I’m kind of jealous of this sweater. I wish it was in my size!

What’s the best blocking transformation you’ve done?

And a little too short

Another day, another game of chicken (just about) won.

This lil’ sweater ended up pretty cute, I have to admit.  It also ended up a little shorter than is maybe ideal, but… eh.  I finished the arms, like I talked about last week and had only a smidgen of yarn left.  The plan had been to use whatever was leftover after the arms were worked to add a little length and a ribbed waistband to the body of the sweater.  But, since I had so little left (only a few rows worth, really), I ripped back a bit and started the ribbing with the ripped-back yarn.

I’m just hoping the swatch didn’t lie to me.  Right now, the sweater is really, really thick- like “it would stand up on its own” thick.  The swatch had a similar texture when I knitted it up, but after I blocked it out pretty strongly, it’s now nice and soft and kind of flowy.  Fingers crossed, the sweater ends up the same way.

Because right now, I’m not sure it’s even big enough for the kid.  And it certainly won’t be big enough for him next winter.

Regardless, I’ll block it and add some buttons.  (I think I have some little wooden stick-buttons that would be cute.) 

But honestly, all this fuss is over nothing, since getting him in anything heavier than a t-shirt is almost impossible these days.  Of course the knitter’s kid runs hot.  Of course he refuses a coat on all but the chilliest, wettest days.  He was literally playing outside in a diaper and rainboots yesterday.  It was 50 degrees.  Sigh.

What have you (almost) finished lately?

Smaller and Smaller

I’ve been complaining about my dwindling stash for a while now, but I’m still making it work. Sure, I don’t really have enough of my usual favorite yarns to make full sweaters or afghans or shawls (my go-to projects), but I do have weird remnants of odd weights of yarn.

For example, I found 2.5 balls of yarn at the back of a drawer the other day. It’s chocolate brown, super-bulky, extra soft (and clearly ready to pill if you look at it wrong). I think it’s Knit Picks’ Biggo, but I could be wrong- the tags were lost years ago and I can’t remember what I bought it for. It’s not really enough for even a scarf, much less a full-on sweater or a blanket (which would have been my project of choice if I had more of it).

I estimated the yardage, based on the yarn weight and the ounces I had and figured I should have just enough for the smallest kids’ size in my favorite Top-Down Sweater book. I cast on and got to work on a raglan with a Henley collar (one of my favorite boy-styles, and so easy to do- you just start making a cardigan, then cast on a couple extra stitches at the front and start working in the round).

It’s looking good so far- I’ve made it most of the way through the body, and even went to the trouble of finishing the neck. I’ve only got one more skein of yarn, so I think I’m going to make the sleeves next, so that I’m sure I have enough to finish them off properly, before finishing the body. My theory, anyway, is that a body can be an inch or two short without looking too wild, but sleeves have to be long enough. (Is that my baggage from being a very long-limbed teenager who had a whole wardrobe of accidental highwaters and inadvertent 3/4-length shirts? Perhaps.)

I know, I know, another yarn-chicken semi-improvised sweater. Will I learn?

No.

No, I will not.

Fingers crossed that I’ve got enough yarn for this bad boy.

Also, fingers crossed that it ends up fitting the kid. It’s looking a little small right now, but it should block up pretty big, if I trust the swatch. I suppose if it doesn’t work for the kid, I can always save it for next year (or the year later) when the baby gets big enough… I knew there was a practical reason to have a second kid- more opportunity for my knits to get worn!

How’s your stash holding up?

All done*

*For the most part, anyway.

And, I’m pleased to say, my sweater turned out pretty great!

I was worried it was going to be too short, but it ended up a surprisingly flattering hip length! And, I had plenty of yarn! I had about an egg-sized ball of the handspun and a half a skein of the blue when all was said and done.

I finished the body with a whole skein of blue left over, then picked up a whole mess of stitches for the button band. (Pro tip- when picking up a button band, you pick up 2 stitches in every 3 rows as you go up the sides, then pick up 1 stitch in every stitch across the neck. Then, check to make sure the two sides are more-or-less equal and if you have the right number of stitches for the ribbing you’re doing. If one side has too many stitches, instead of ripping out and re-picking up the stitches, just work the appropriate number of decreases on that side in the next row as you establish the ribbing. And, if you need to change the number of stitches to make the ribbing come out evenly, do the same thing, but at the back of the neck. So much easier than ripping out, and no one will ever know!)

I threw in some button holes after a couple rows, and finished off the button band in pattern. OK, it turned out I threw in too many button holes (in my defense, I wasn’t paying attention), so I used a little matching thread to sew up the extra one.

Then I blocked it and added on some buttons that I happened to have that were the right size and more or less the right color (or so I thought).

Once they were on and the sun came out (I added them late at night, and it turns out I couldn’t really see them), I realized they were definitely not the right buttons. But they’re the ones I have in my stash, and they’re functional, so they’re staying on for now. The moment I get to go to a yarn shop again, I’ll get something cute (and probably silver) for this sweater.

But for now, I’m really pleased with how this has turned out!

What have you guys finished lately?

Inspiration: All Creatures Great and Small

So, I’ve decided I need a new aesthetic. I’m no longer going to dress as a 21st century 30-something mom. Nope. No more t-shirts or leggings or hoodies for me.

I’m now officially dressing as a country vetrinarian from the 1930s.

It’s all tweed and knit vests and crisp white shirts from now on.

Why yes, I have been watching the new All Creatures Great and Small on PBS. (And yes, I know I’m several months late to the party).

And if you haven’t watched it yet, what are you doing?! It’s a delight. It’s like a warm cup of tea poured by Mrs. Hall in the surgery kitchen. Which is exactly what I want these days. (My usual media diet of old Star Trek and true crime documentaries hasn’t been great lately).

Anyway, now that I’ve decided to totally overhaul my wardrobe to accommodate my new dream, we should probably talk vests.

Because, y’all, there are some very good vests.

Take this amazing Fair Isle number. I mean, I’m not a huge fan of stranded knitting generally, but I could get behind making up something like this. It’s gorgeous, it’s super fancy, and still manages to be understated. Plus, how much fun would it be to pick out all those colors?

Machrihanish by Kate Davies Designs

Or I could go the absolute opposite direction, and go super simple with super-wide ribbing. Classy. Classic. Cozy.

His Vest by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas

But, I think this is my favorite of all the vests. (And I think it’s James Herriot’s favorite, too, since he wears it all the time.) It just looks so soft and comfy, and you know me and cables. Cables+me=BFFs.

Delius by Bristol Ivy

Well, I’m off to watch the Christmas Special (which is very timely… ha!) and go online shopping for tweed and button-downs.

What are you currently watching?

Back on Track

It was touch and go there for a minute, but I have made up with my striped sweater. I’ll be honest, I really considered frogging the whole dang thing after the sleeve debacle.

But I’m glad I rejiggered my math and reworked the sleeve. Because it’s turning out super cute, and the fit is so much better. (I’d show you a picture, but I’m still in my PJs. My “daytime PJs,” to be fair, but still.)

Now the only question is: How long is this sweater going to end up?

I’ve finished the sleeves and I’m working my way down the body. I’ve got three skeins of the blue left and a ball of the handspun that’s about the size of a lemon (and who knows how many yards that is?). I figure if I save one skein of the blue , that should be enough for the button band. And most of the second skein will probably be used for the waist ribbing.

So that leaves one skein of blue and an indeterminate amount of handspun. I was hoping I could leave the bottom of the sweater stripe-free, but I think I might need to add some to make sure it doesn’t end up an awkward length.

This whole project feels like playing yarn chicken. At least it’s looking cute.

Cross your fingers for me!

And Something Completely Different

Well. I’ve put my striped sweater in a time-out for now. Not that it did anything wrong exactly. I’m just grumpy about the whole math/sleeve situation.

I’m also grumpy about the stuffed animal situation.

“What stuffed animal situation?” you ask.

To which I answer, “You must not have a kid living in your house.”

Because my kid (my kids!) have So. Many. Stuffed. Animals.

They don’t even really play with them. (To be fair, one kid is just a little lump who still hasn’t figured out how to use his hands yet, but still.)

There is a big basket of stuffed animals in the living room, two bins of them in Kid 1’s room (in addition to the half-dozen or so that live in his bed), and another bin in Kid 2’s room.

So, in my frustration, I decided to make the biggest basket ever. (Is this a smart decision? No.)

I found a big roll of quarter-inch rope in the shed and a decent amount of leftover Wool of the Andes in my stash and pulled out a crochet hook.

And with a little futzing and a lot of improvising, I’ve got (most) of the bottom of a basket. (Basically, I’m doing a simple (ch1, sc1) around, catching the rope in each single-crochet stitch, and increasing as needed to keep the stitch density more or less even as the rope spirals out. Eventually, I’ll stop increasing, when I start the walls of the basket.)

Unfortunately, it’s growing super-slowly. And if I want this basket to be big enough to contain the horde of stuffies that my kid has been collecting, well… I’ve got a long way to go.

It looks pretty good so far, though!

… Maybe Too Improvised

So you know last week when I was so full of myself about my improvised sweater? When I was all “I love this sweater! I love figuring things out as I go! Measuring? Math? Who needs ’em? There’s no way this is going to go wrong!”

Well. As they say, pride cometh before the fall.

And boy howdy how I’ve fallen.

I had the yoke done, I’d split for body and sleeves, and had made it a full skein of yarn into my body. Then, I put the body on pause while I made the sleeves. That way, I’d be sure to make the sleeves long enough, and I’d know exactly how much yarn I have for the body. Smart. Or, at least a good plan.

Before I tell you what happened next, let me say that in my defense, I actually did a swatch. However, my swatch came to about 4.5 sts/in. My beloved Ann Budd book has the math done for 4 sts/in and 5 sts/in. So, instead of picking different needles or actually doing my own math, I’d just chose a larger size, and decided to follow the 4 sts/in pattern. Not a great plan, not terrible.

But, I forgot that her sleeves are a little slimmer than I like to begin with.

And I forgot that they’re also a little short.

And I forgot to try on my sweater as I went.

Once I had the first sleeve knit down to the cuff, I finally tried the sweater on. Y’all. It was bad. My arm looked like an over-stuffed hotdog that had been cooked so much it was about burst.

It was so bad, I immediately ripped it out. Which (while not a great move for a blogger, since I don’t have a picture of just how awful the sleeve was) is a move I stand by.

Anyway. Now I’m back to basically where I was last week. And after all that, I think the yoke and body will be fine, though the silhouette will probably be a bit more fitted than I had envisioned. But I’m definitely going to have to do some math for my sleeves. Sigh…

When’s the last time you had to re-do a significant part of a project?

Improvised Sweater

You guys, I kinda love how this project is going!

After the swatch went so well last week, I couldn’t wait to start knitting my new sweater. Did I want to plan? No. Did I want to do math? No. Did I want to follow another person’s pattern? No.

I just wanted to start knitting!

So, I pulled out my trusty Ann Budd top-down sweater bible and set to work on a raglan sweater (my favorite) in 2×2 stripes of blue and handspun. After a few rows, I decided, “Yeah- it’ll be a V-neck.” I never make v-necks for myself, so why not give it a shot!

Then, when I got to the bottom of the V, I had to decide between cardigan and pullover. I literally hadn’t thought that far ahead. Which is wild. You guys know me, I’m always such a planner, especially when it comes to my knitting.

I sat for a few minutes, and thought about what I had in my sweater pile. I have a bunch of pullovers, but I really don’t know the last cardigan I made for myself that’s really wearable. The cardigans that come to mind are cute and all, but not terribly wearable day-to-day. They’re more of the “decorative” variety than the practical. And you know I’m all about practical garments these days.

So, I’m off to the races. I’m doing a v-neck cardigan!

My current goal is to be as efficient with my yarn usage as possible. I’ll continue in stripes until I’m just about out of the handspun, then do the rest of the body/arms in the solid blue. Hopefully, that’ll let me make the best of every last inch of my yarn.

Fingers crossed that it all goes to plan! (Even if there really isn’t one.)