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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Perfect Fit!

CustomFit has many different design choices.

I chose to use the custom sweater wizard.  First I knit two generous swatches with my yarn, Malabrigo Rios (Worsted: 100% Merino, 210 yards).  When I say generous, I mean 40 stitches and 40 rows. Since my yarn was a superwash, I washed by swatch and let it dry.  Then I decided with swatch was the fabric (feel/look) I wanted for my sweater.

My design choices were: Cardigan, mid-hip length, long sleeves, deep v-neck, 2" twisted k1, p1 ribbing, and average fit.  There are 3 fit categories to choose from: close, average, relaxed. We plugged my measurements, swatch details, and design choices and out came a terrific pattern.  The directions were completely clear.

I'm no fan of finishing a sweater.  However, this sweater was a breeze to finish.  Since the number of rows to knit were exactly the same in each piece, there was no cajoling it into submission to make it line up.
I am thrilled with how my sweater fits.  You know how everyone has their own personal fit issue?  Mine is narrow shoulders and a biggish bust.  If I fit the shoulders, the bust is tight.  If I fit the bust, I get shoulder wings.  The shoulder on this sweater fits me better than commercial clothing!

I've actually cast on for my next CustomFit sweater.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Into the Way Back Machine

When I packed up my winter woolies for the warmer months, I was completely awed by the number of accessories I have knit.  Even if I discount the ones I no longer fancy, there are still an inordinate number.

This realization had a big impact on me.  I've spent the past few months knitting sweaters.

Raiun was knit with Cephalopod Bugga (Sport: 70% Merino, 20% Cashmere, 10% Nylon, 400 yards) - I used 2.5 skeins. This was my first experience knitting a sweater with a fine gauge yarn.  I realy like the result, it's such a nice weight to wear. 

Click here to read my project notes on Ravelry if you're interested in knitting Raiun. The pattern is very well written and I am very happy with the result.

I finished the long awaited (but not promised) sweater for Thing #1, literally at the 11th hour so she could wear it to a Bar Mitzvah.  I didn't realize until we were in the parking lot of the Temple that I missed weaving in a few ends.  Such is life.

It fit well and she was happy with it, that's all that matters.  This was a personal design and since I did not take good enough notes to recreate it,  it is a one of a kind ~ just like Thing #1.

This is a CustomFit sweater design.  "CustomFit is a custom sweater pattern generator. It takes your body measurements, your gauge, and creates a new sweater pattern that fits you perfectly - no modifications required"; it was created by Amy Herzog. We signed on at Westport Yarns to offer the CustomFit program.  I'll go into more detail in a later post.  Suffice to say it is awesome!

Michelle got me interested in knitting Davis. Our plan was to knit it together.  We swatched and found that we didn't like how the fabric looked at the gauge listed in the pattern.  Instead we swatched until we liked the feel of the fabric and then adjusted which size pattern we knit based on our gauge. I knit a bigger size at 19 sts/4” to achieve the smallest actual size. I’ve bought a couple of extra skeins to account for the change in gauge. It worked out perfectly.  The other modification I made was a smaller rolled neck.  The yarn is Elsbeth Lavold Hempathy (DK: 41% Cotton, 34% Hemp, 25% Rayon, 153 yards).

Lastly, I knit my Stella Dolman Top in Cobasi Plus (Worsted:  55% Cotton, 21% Nylon, 16% Bamboo, 8% Silk, 177 yards).  I wanted to have a casual version.  This yarn was very interesting to knit with.  It totally holds it's shape.

 This blend of fibers and yarn weight was the perfect sweater while on vacation this weekend. 

What's next?  Baby and holiday gifts are in the queue.

Monday, July 14, 2014

At Loose Ends

Friday, July 11.

I don't know what I want to knit next.  I'm almost done with two sweaters. They just need finishing, sewing/weaving in ends.  Not surprisingly, I've been procrastinating finishing. 

My Stella Dolman top needs to be sewn/ends woven in. 

I've finished knitting Davis, but I'm not sure if I'm happy with the neck. The pattern called for picking up stitches and binding off.  Instead I knit a roll neck. Only problem is, it's not rolling in the back.

I finished my first Customfit sweater and absolutely loved the experience.  More on that another day.

Now I'm betwixt and between.  I started Open Waters, which is fine.  What a pleasure to be on #8 needles. I'm also using stash yarn from at least 5 years ago, Ellyn Cooper's Grand Crinkle (Worsted: 100% Rayon, 100 yards). This is a (mostly) mindless poncho pattern.

I just picked up Not Just Plain Jane's Super Crescent Renaissance Shawl pattern.

Store samples that need knitting.

Design ideas that need work.

There are three babies on the way (friends becoming Grandmothers).

Holidays need to be considered.


Monday, July 14

After overwhelming myself with my knitting "to do" list, I settled in to finish the two sweaters that were done. 

Here is the key to doing the tedious finishing work, phone a friend and pickup your sewing needle.  Time flies when your catching up and before I knew it, I was done sewing. 

In answer to my concerns about Davis, I tacked down the roll neck. The yarn is Elsbeth Lavold Hempathy (DK: 41% Cotton, 34% Hemp, 25% Rayon, 153 yards). I did a little modifying with the pattern.  I didn’t like how the fabric looked at 15 sts/4” stated gauge - it was very sloppy looking.  I’m knitting a bigger size at 19 sts/4” to achieve the smallest actual size. I’ve bought a couple of extra skeins to account for the change in gauge. It worked like a charm, I'm happy to say. 

I used a #8 needle on my knit row and #7 needle on my purl row.  I've learned that my purl stitches are looser and create random acts of sloppy big looking stitches.  This seems to mitigate that.  I've been doing this a lot lately with good results.  Interchangeable needles make this quite easy, #8 on one end and #7 on the other. When I knit in the round (to the armholes and the sleeves, I used #8's.

 My friend Cynthia taught me how to knit fair isle and I brought my #28 Mobius Cowl to show her my progress. Having brought that out of hibernation, I knit another motif. (No comment on the closed eyes, we are focusing in the knitting, remember.)

All that and I still didn't answer what's next. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Frog, Fix or Finish

I learned to weave two years ago.  I've woven four scarves and a cover for a throw pillow.  Beth brought the book, Kismet, into the shop and I loved how they combined knitting and crochet with weaving. I chose Wine & Roses,  an infinity scarf. I enjoy mixed media project.  

I had two skeins of Ella Rae Lace Merino Chunky (Bulky:100% Merino, 121 yards) and one skein of Jill Draper Makes Stuff Hudson (Worsted: 100% Merino, 250 yards).  The chunky yarn isn't really chunky and was close enough (for me) to the Hudson. 
The first new thing I had to do was weave in allllll the warp threads.  Not fun.  That's why it went into hibernation.  I knew I wanted to finish this so I forced myself to weave in the ends one morning.
 Tucker had other plans.  He was feeling needy because his Momma (Thing #2) was dog sitting a puppy at our house. He rarely tries to sit on my lap and never for very long; he has a very short attention span.  Would you believe he sat on my lap for an hour!

I kind of liked the puppy cuddles so I went with it.  I did get a little bored though and took a few "selfies" with him.

When he finally got fidgety himself, I got back down to business.

Once I finished weaving in the warp threads, the directions called for picking up stitches and knitting in moss stitch for 15".  I crocheted across the bottom to make a nicer pick up edge.  Then being that I am a selective reader, I did seed stitch instead of moss stitch.  By the time I realized, I wasn't going back.  Seed Stitch vs. Moss Stitch in a scarf - not a deal breaker.

Life being what it is, I did find six random acts of ribbing 3" down that I did have to fix though. I used the fixastitch knitting tool to work the seed stitch up. I did a yarnover bind off to create button loops.

With the yarn I have left over, I'd like to knit the Lucy Hat. Hopefully I have enough, because I think the hat/scarf combo would be awesome.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Wednesday Stitch and Chat

Lois hadn't knit in a while so I helped her find her place on her Holy Cowl.  The yarn is Road to China (Aran: 65% Alpaca, 15% Silk, 10% Camel, 10% Cashmere, 69 yards). 

 Michelle found this pattern, Seaside Stripes Blanket

Not surprisingly, she wants to modify it to be smaller (it's what we do).  She knit enough rows for me to get a rough idea of her row gauge.  Then I set about doing the math to make the pattern work for 30" x 36" baby blanket.

6 rows = 1"
36" - 3" (border) = 33"
33" x 6 = 198 rows

From there we worked the stripe pattern to fit with the rows she had left. It took a little jiggery-pokery with the math, but we got there.

Since I'm writing this post a few days after Stitch and Chat, I can share her progress. As you can see, she added a contrast color.

The Westport Yarns Stash Amnesty program has been a great motivator. Michelle sorted through her yarns and found more than a few with ample yardage to knit a vest or shell.  We sorted through the yardage and weights to come up with a plan.

Mary started a block for her Outer Block Blanket.  She was concerned that the size of the block was too big.  It was actually right on gauge.  It's just a super bulky yarn/blanket.

Mary knit a couple of rows past the armhole of the left front of her Kersti Baby Cardigan; knit with Koigu Kersti Merino Crepe (DK: 100% Merino, 114 yards). We ripped back the couple of rows.

While looking for stash to donate to Westport Yarns, Mary found three projects that have been hibernating in long-term parking for years.  One is the Sasha Linen Skirt.  This has many layers of different lace patterns with sport weight linen yarn on small needles.  It went back into long-term parking again. The second is Summer Flies.

The third project was going to be a sweater coat.  Mary has lost so much weight that to continue to make this coat as is would be ridiculous.  However, we had the brilliant idea that she could knit a rectangular poncho and thus keep knitting till the length measured 56" or she ran out of yarn.  The yarn is Ironstone Island Cotton (Super Bulky: 69% Cotton, 31% Rayon, 150 yards).

Most of Elizabeth's yarn is in storage while her house is being rebuilt (Hurricane Sandy) and hopes we will do the Stash Amnesty again next year.  I'm pretty sure we will.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


As I share the joy of having dogs, I'll share some of the sadness too.  Yesterday we had to put down Boris, our Yellow Lab.  It was a very sad day and will bring tears to our eyes for quite a while. His health was rapidly declining and we wanted him to pass with dignity. 

Boris came into our life as an "oops" dog.  We had gone to a pick up a Golden Retriever (Winkie).  Joe and Thing #2 fell in love with Boris and his perpetually confused look (his brows were always furrowed).  

My husband wrote the tribute below; I couldn't have said it better.

Sadly it's time to say goodbye to a good friend Boris. Boris lived his life as a "dog's dog"...


with a youthful spirit, a playful heart,

 and was the loyalist of friends never wanting more than a belly rub, his head scratched, a stick to chew on and 2 bowls of food every day... although he wasn't "dog friendly", he was people friendly... and everyone loved him...

He was an icon on our front lawn, where drivers would slow to "say hi", walkers would bring treats...and even the UPS and FedEx guys would slow down to toss him a biscuit, even if they didn't have a package to deliver.

He loved to chase snowballs (even after they disappreared into the snow) and swim in the pool, barking at the water being splashed...as he would always keep a watchful eye on the kids when they swam making sure they got to the steps.... but his favorite game was "find the stick" (no matter how small it was, or where I threw it in the yard)... he wouldn't stop until he found the exact twig I threw...and he would bring it back - every time!... 

He would turn 12 on Friday, unfortunately he's not going to make it... it's just not right or fair to extend his "existence" as it is not... a dog that was so full of life should not spend his final days alone in his crate.... we are sorry to see him go... but a dog with his dignity deserves to go out with it... so yesterday at 5pm, we said our final goodbye... and sent him to hang out with Rexx, Rocky and is buddy Winkie... all of which should be chiseled into the Mount Rushmore of Dogs!

For those of you wondering... I am fine, and accept that this is part of the responsiblity of the friendship (not ownership) with our canine friend... we are here to make their lives more fulfilled... as they are for ours. When the time comes, we have to be there for them, as they have been for us...

Bye, Boris.  We loved you and we will miss you.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Frog, Fix or Finish

Thing #2 has been on me for years (exactly how many is a source of constant discussion) to knit her a black lace sweater.  She claims I promised her.  I know I would NEVER promise a black lace sweater.  However, she put on the guilt about never getting a sweater.  It's been a long time coming.

I finally found the pictures that spawned the idea in the first place.

Thing #2 was shopping with her BFF and texted me these pictures.  For the record, my computer shows November 2011.  She claims it's been more like 4 or 5 years. 


Given that she felt that I promised, I settled on Cascade Ultra Pima (DK: 100% cotton, 220 yards) and swatched. I tried out Sweater Wizard to generate a pattern for her.  (Jury is out on Sweater Wizard). By Hanukkah, I had all the pieces done.  I gave it to her in pieces for Hanukkah, I needed to check sleeve length.

Feeling that I'd gotten the ball rolling and it was winter, I set the sweater aside.  There it sat in a Hanukkah gift bag for the past 5 months.  I finally shook off the dust and measured the sleeve length against her arm.

I knit it a little longer, than happily bound off and blocked it.  I was feeling very happy with myself. Both in blocking and sewing, I noticed that the sleeve width was much narrower than the sweater. 

I just kept sewing away, gathering it in - not listening to the little voice that said "Something is just not right." (You get points if you know what book this came from.)

Still feeling quite happy with myself, I laid the sweater prominently so she would see it right away.  She did.  However when she tried it on, the sleeves were WAY too tight.  You're not surprised are you? Ready for the major knitting faux pas?  This is a doozy.  I forgot to knit the sleeve cap.  DUH!

I had to frog it, and begin again.  Just the sleeves that is.  I am determined to finish this.  I'm working them at the same time to insure they are even.  Cross your fingers.