Tag Archives: grandmother

Finished!

And just in time, too!

Phew!  I made it just in the nick of time!  Grandma’s sweater is done!  And it’s awesome!  (And that’s a lot of exclamation points!)

I finished the sweater with exactly 52 inches of blue yarn left.  It was a nail-biter, let me tell you.  (I’m all about reducing waste, but this was ridiculous.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut all’s well that ends well, right?  The sweater has turned out beautifully!  The Biggo yarn I used blocked up wonderfully.  And, I’m so glad I made the change from dark gray to light.  It turned out so much better than it would have otherwise.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI even found the perfect buttons!  They’re bright pink, to match the snowflakes, and just a tiny bit sparkly (the photos don’t do them justice).  I drove all over Seattle looking for them, and, when I found them, I thoroughly freaked out the clerk who helped me find them by doing a little happy dance.  It was exciting, what can I say?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow I just have to wait and see if it fits!  Cross your fingers for me!

A Swatch Dilemma

I’ve been knitting away, and have swatched up my Biggo yarn for my Grandma’s Christmas Sweater.  And, well…

I am not pleased.

I give you Figure 1 (Gray Snowflakes with Pink Border):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEw!  No!  The contrast between the blue and gray is way to low.  All that work, and you can barely see the snowflake pattern.  (It looks even worse in real life…. ugh!)

I give you Figure 2 (Pink Snowflakes with Gray Border):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABetter, but not great.  I think the gray is just too low-contrast.

So, I have three options:

1.  Just deal with it.  Knit up the sweater as shown in Figure 2, and let it go.

2.  Forget about trying to use both gray and pink, and just make the sweater out of pink and blue yarn.

3.  Order more gray yarn from Knit Picks in a lighter shade.

I will sit here and sulk for a while, then, I suppose I’ll make a decision.  (At least I did the swatch first… That would have been so frustrating if I’d already started working on the sweater?  Ugh.)

Grandma, Don’t Read This Post!

I’m 99.9% sure that my grandma doesn’t have the internet any more.  I believe she got rid of it a couple months ago.

That being said, if I’m wrong: Grandma, stop reading!   Christmas spoilers are ahead!  You have been warned.

OK, it should just be us now.

Remember last January when I made a sweater for my grandfather?  Well, this summer Grandpa asked me to make a sweater for my Grandmother, too.  He asked for something similar, but blue, and well, I can’t say no to a request like that.

I’ve decided to knit up a Norwegian-inspired sweater for Grandma this year.  I’m thinking a top-down, yoked sweater (because I love making top-down, yoked sweaters).  I’ll include a Norwegian star/snowflake pattern across the shoulders.  And, because that’s basically all she wears, it’ll be a cardigan.

Something like this, but simpler, and with buttons:

IMG_3358ny_medium2[1]The next step was to pick out yarn.  I am a big fan of Knit Picks (as a naturally frugal person), so I decided to give their Biggo yarn a try.  I have worked with it before, and it is lovely, soft, super thick, warm, and washable.  (Since there’s only three months until Christmas, having a big gauge is especially important.)  Mom and I talked about colors, and we settled on Sapphire Heather (main color), Dogwood Heather, and Cobblestone Heather.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI think these colors look lovely next to each other.  Unfortunately, there isn’t as much contrast between the Cobblestone and the Sapphire as I would have liked.   But, sometimes colors look different in the skein and knitted up, so I’ll need to work up a swatch to see how the colors play together when they’re knit up, just in case I need to get a different gray color.

I’m itching to get started knitting up this sweater.  I can’t wait to see how it goes.  (But unfortunately, I have to wind up all the skeins into balls, first, or I will spend the next three months fighting with big tangles of yarn.  Woe is me.

Whoops! A Counterpane Follow-up

Do you remember Grandma Anna’s Counterpane?  I spent hours reverse-engineering one of my great-grandmother’s bedspreads from a little snapshot my Mom sent me.  I even posted a pattern.

It turns out, I didn’t have to.  (Insert sad noise here.)

I received a package from a great-aunt a few weeks ago (one that also included a few of my great-grandmother’s crochet hooks).  In the package was also a couple of my grandmother’s old craft magazines.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis booklet, the Learn How Book, was published in 1952 by Coats & Clark.  It has a few simple projects and extremely thorough instructions on crochet, knitting, embroidery and (very usefully) tatting.  (The projects are actually pretty and practical, especially considering the publication date.  There’s even a sweater that I would totally make for myself, if I wore a girdle.)

But, right at the end of the crochet section, something popped out at me and literally made me do a double take.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s the counterpane!  The counterpane!  I couldn’t believe it!  Not more than a month after spending all that time working out the pattern from a tiny, blurry, cell-phone picture, and the pattern lands in my lap!  I couldn’t believe it!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt even used the word “cluster” for the bunches of stitches, just like I did.  Weird, right?  (Sure, the big clusters were called popcorn stitches in this pattern, but hey.  Close enough.)

I scanned through the pattern, and it looks like we both did mostly the same things, which is amazing.  Although, it’s a little hard to read the pattern in the booklet… look at that block of text!

The biggest difference I saw, though, was that they used a much, much finer gauge on their bedspread than I did.  I used a size H crochet hook, which is about 5 mm in diameter.  The booklet calls for a size 7 steel crochet hook, which is super tiny!  It’s actually less than 2 mm in diameter.  That means that instead of the blocks being about 10 inches across, like mine turned out, the original counterpane squares were only 5 inches by 5 inches!  That means, if you’re following the original pattern, you’ll need 260 squares just to make a twin-bed-sized blanket.  Talk about dedication!

I’m glad I got to see the original pattern, and I love seeing my great-grandmother’s old-fashioned handwriting in the margins of some of the patterns.  But one thing is for sure, I definitely won’t be making this bedspread at the original gauge.  That’s just crazy!

And This Is How I Did It

Wednesday, I talked about a sweater I made for my grandfather, based off one that his mother made for him decades ago.

I thought it might be interesting to talk about how I combined a couple patterns, added my own details to create this customized sweater, and went from an idea to a finished product.

I started with the description my Grandfather gave me, “A brown and blue sweater with deer on it.”  From there I guessed that he meant an old-school ski sweater with some sort of color work pattern on the front and back.

235792[1]I looked at patterns for ski sweaters, and none of them were quite right.  They were either too fancy (too many colors or too fussy-looking), or more formal than I knew my grandfather would like to wear (he is a hunting, fishing, outdoors-y type).

Instead, I decided to start with a very simple pattern that I had used before, and modify it to my liking.  I picked the Weasley Sweater by Alison Hansel.  It’s a simple and easy drop-shoulder sweater that comes in a million sizes from infant to grown-up.  I’ve knit a couple sweaters from the pattern before, and they have all turned out really well.  (And the pattern is available for free!)1116161018_78043aab2b_z[1]

The only thing that I don’t care for with the Weasley Sweater is the rolled hem and collar.  Instead, I knit a k2p2 rib for the bottom, and a k2p2 crew collar.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd, instead of working the whole shebang in plain brown, I added a stripe of blue just above the cuffs and hem.  Adding a little bit of color work at cuffs and hem is a very “ski sweater” thing to do, and a stripe is the simplest color work you can do.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy next problem was the deer motif that I had to put on the chest.  I looked at a lot of patterns, and finally decided to use the deer motif from the His & Hers Reindeer Jackets from Patons.  I originally planned to work the deer using the intarsia technique, but then I decided that I wasn’t insane.  (Intarsia and I don’t get along very well.)

Deer_Sweater_-_front_medium[1]Instead, I knit up the whole sweater in plain brown (except for the blue stripes at cuffs, hem, and the edges of the chest panel), and used the duplicate stitch to add the deer after once the knitting was done.  It took approximately 100 years to finish the deer (not really), but I think it was worth it.  Because the whole chest panel is knit plain, the sweater is stronger than it would have been if I had worked the deer in intarsia (and I think it looks better, too).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, with a couple different patterns, some planning, a little futzing, and inspiration from the ghost of my great-grandmother, I think I managed to make exactly the sweater that my grandpa was looking for.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Inter-generational Knitting

Over Christmas, I got to visit my grandparents in The Great White North (aka, Wisconsin).  In between blizzards, I chatted with my grandfather, and we started talking about his mother (my grandmother).  She was an amazing woman and an extremely accomplished knitter.  She was actually buried with her blue ribbon that she won at the Wisconsin State Fair. Pretty impressive, right?

In the process of our conversation, my grandfather mentioned that his mother made him a sweater when he was younger.  He had loved it, but it had somehow gotten lost over the last 50+ years.  She had designed it especially for him, in brown and blue, and had put deer on the front and back, since he is an avid deer hunter.

The conversation stuck with me (since I am apparently very sentimental), and the more I thought about it, the more I thought it was sad that the sweater had been lost.  It kept bugging me until I decided that I had to try and recreate the lost sweater.

I don’t have a photograph of the original sweater, but I knew that it was a sweater made for my grandpa in the fifties (or so).  I imagined it would have been a sort of traditional Norwegian ski sweater, the kind that you see on vintage postcards from Colorado.   And, I knew that it was blue and brown.

So I just guessed the rest of the way and came up with this:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’m sure it’s not an exact replica, but I think it turned out pretty well.   My grandpa loves it, and that’s what matters.  I hope I did my great-grandmother proud.