FO: Varsity Kermit Sweater!!!

Way, way back in 2011 I sketched out the plan for this sweater and finally today, on Kermit the Frog’s 65th birthday, it is finally finished. Yaaayyyyy!!!

Pattern: Self-Designed Seamless V-Neck Cardigan, using the Incredible Custom-Fit Raglan Sweater Worksheet by Pamela Costello (Project page on Ravelry)
Size: Made to custom measurements
Yarn: Red Heart Sport Solid, DK weight, 100% acrylic, in Limeade and Paddy Green

Started: October 26, 2011
Finished: May 9, 2020

The idea for this sweater had been percolating for much longer, at least as far back as 2007 when I bought this yarn for a different cardigan and laughed that the color was so bright it looked like Kermit the Frog. It should be noted here that I absolutely love Kermit the Frog. As I type this I have a Kermit mouse pad, Kermit is the screen background on my phone, I have a Kermit keychain, more than a few Kermit t-shirts, dolls, water bottles, and so on. He is one of my favorite characters of all-time and never fails to make me smile.

One day riding the ferry home from school, I was thinking about this sweater quantity of bright green yarn and saw a high school student wearing a varsity jacket. I started thinking about the history of varsity sweaters, Googled a bit about the meaning of the stripes, and by the time I reached Staten Island I had sketched out a little V-neck cardigan to declare my varsity-level Kermit love.

I found an iron-on Kermit patch and ordered it right away, then worked out the measurements from the custom-fit raglan worksheet linked above. I found a nicely coordinating darker green for the ribbing and stripes, and I decided that even though varsity sweaters customarily had stripes on only one sleeve, I would indulge myself in a bit of symmetry so both sleeves would match. Knitting the sweater was straightforward and fast, but then I hit a roadblock with the patch. As the yarn was 100% acrylic (chosen for economy, my super sensitive skin, and easy care) I was leery about ironing the patch on, as it would melt the acrylic along with the adhesive.

I sat with this problem for close to a decade, then finally came up with an incredibly obvious solution. I first ironed the patch onto a piece of quilting cotton, then made a sort of sandwich of this layer, the sweater, and a second piece of cotton for a backing.

I trimmed the fabric close to the patch and pinned it where I wanted it above my heart on the sweater.

I turned the edges under and appliquéd the fabric as close to the patch as I could get it, pulling the edges in and slightly under the patch as I worked my way around.

It came out quite clean, and I’m delighted with how securely and neatly it sits on the sweater without pulling or causing it to sag.

I hemmed the inner piece of cotton and tacked it at the corners, to catch all the thread ends and knots and to further stabilize the patch. I had a good laugh, as my brother joined me during this part and recognized the Kermit collar points and silhouette from this back side, asking, “Are you sewing a Kermit onto that sweater??”

It feels lovely to be so understood.

The buttons are a cheery red plastic value pack that I found on eBay back in 2012. I like the contrast and extra little zip they give. At the time I was preoccupied with button bands gapping, so I made these nice and wide, then placed the buttons so closely together that it is nigh on impossible for them to gap at all. Having all these big, bright goofy buttons works with the aesthetic, and I am even more charmed than I expected to be by the whole effect.

Overall I’m thrilled with this project and so glad I took my time in making the decisions I did to get exactly the silly idea I had in my head to become a reality. One of the things I love most about knitting is that you can make anything you imagine, in any size or color you like, with whatever details you want, and you will end up with a one-of-a-kind handmade creation. I am also delighted with the success in making a sweater custom to my measurements so that the sleeves have the right roominess I was looking for, the V-neck hits in just the right spot on my bust, and everything is the right length and fit for a truly comfortable, just-my-size, just-my-style, and just-my-level-of-ridiculous cardigan.

Or as Kermit would put it…

Previous Entries with this Project:
Varsity Kermit Sweater

FO: Scrolls Socks

Amazingly, I finished another pair of socks this month! And it only took me ten years or so to get here…



The last time we talked about these socks was back in July 2008 (yikes), when I had cast them on for a lace socks challenge. I made a silly mistake in the pattern that would have meant I had to rip back three or four rows to fix it, and I was still a new enough knitter that such a task was entirely too daunting, so I did what any sensible person would do: put them in the bottom of my knitting basket for 10 years and pretended they didn’t exist.



Pattern: Scrolls Socks by Charlene Schurch, from her book More Sensational Knitted Socks. (Project page on Ravelry)
Size: Women’s size 9.5 (US)
Yarn: Knit Picks Essential (now called Stroll), fingering weight, 75% superwash Merino wool / 25% nylon in Coral
Needles: Size 1 (2.25 mm) DPNs (from the Susan Bates 7″ sock set)
Modifications: None, as the pattern creates custom socks

Started: July 14, 2008 (no, that’s not a typo)
Finished: August 19, 2018



Every August, the Sock Knitters Anonymous group on Ravelry has a community KAL to finish in-progress WIPs, and I finally worked up the motivation to pick these socks back up again. Gosh, they just danced off the needles this time.



I was glad to revisit Charlene Schurch’s brilliant book, which I had initially purchased primarily for this pattern. This time I read the note about how despite being a fairly open 8-stitch repeat, scroll lace knit in the round has a tendency to be less stretchy than one might expect because of the way the pattern falls on a bias. Therefore, I followed the recommendation to increase from 64 stitches on the foot to 72 on the leg, resulting in a perfectly-fitting sock.



It was around the time when I started these socks that I discovered my favorite elements in sock-knitting, starting toe-up with a figure-8 cast-on and working a short-row heel.



As with my Catnip Socks, I worked several rows in stockinette stitch (half a repeat) on the back needles after turning the heel. I used these rows to absorb the 8 stitches I increased for the leg, and I think it all worked out quite nicely.



The scroll lace pattern is so intuitive I had it memorized by the first repeat, and it was great fun to work. I love when lace is so high-impact from such simple combinations of yarn-overs and decreases. It makes me feel terribly clever as a knitter. The saturated coral-orange color and lovely feel of the yarn made this project a pleasure through and through.



If I had known what a joy it would be to make these socks, I probably wouldn’t have waited ten years to finish them! But I’m delighted to get to wear them now and looking forward to the next pair.

 

Previous Entries with this Project:
2008 Knits in Review
Keeping Busy

 

FO: Catnip Socks

Toward the end of July, I cast on a new pair of socks on a whim, thinking it would be fun to participate in a Sockdown knitalong in a beloved Ravelry group for the first time in… oh, ten years or so… and this weekend I finished my Catnip Socks!



Pattern: Catnip Socks by Wendy D. Johnson. (Project page on Ravelry)
Size: Women’s size 9.5 (US)
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal, fingering weight, 75% superwash Merino wool / 25% nylon in color #26755 Cucumber
Needles: Size 0 (2.0 mm) DPNs (Knit Picks 6″ nickel-plated)
Modifications: Changed to a short-row heel with additional stockinette rows before beginning lace of leg; worked pattern over 70 stitches

Started: July 26, 2018
Finished: August 10, 2018



I’m just delighted with the way these socks came out. Something about the soft cool color, delicate lace, and fine gauge thanks to size 0 needles makes these basically perfect.


I was attracted to this pattern for the toe-up lace, which flowed neatly and was easy to memorize. I started with a figure-8 cast-on over 8 stitches and increased to 70 so the pattern would be continuous around the leg.



I worked my favorite short-row heel by decreasing to 13 stitches (11 on each side), then I continued in stockinette for 1 pattern repeat (8 rows) to give a bit more depth to the heel before beginning the lace for the leg.



I was somewhat irrationally nervous I would run out of yarn, despite the super generous 462-yard put-up. I had no reason to worry, as I still had quite a bit of yarn left after working my typical length legs and plenty of ribbing.



I truly enjoyed working with this yarn, which was soft but strong and so subtly variegated that the color shifts were nearly imperceptible at times, building to a beautiful semisolid. I’m glad I have other colorways of this yarn in my stash, as I can’t wait to work with it again.



Everything about this project was a dream, and it reminded me of why I love lace, sock-knitting, and lace sock-knitting so very much. Not suprisingly, I’ve already got another pair of lace socks on the needles.

Previous Entries with this Project:
Summer Knitting

 

Educational Mistakes

At a job I once had, my boss would sometimes spend a huge amount of money and time on a vendor or a project that (usually foreseeably) didn’t work out, then shrug it off, “Well that was an expensive lesson.”

One might think I’d have learned sweater hubris by now, that I’d take the time to check gauge or try it on to check fit early on in the process…



And one would be wrong.

At first glance, this might appear to be a finished sweater (apart from the unfinished grafting under the arms) and technically, it fits. I waited until I had finished the neckline and cast off to try it on for the first time, expecting a roomy, almost boxy feel, and instead it is quite fitted, to the point of being body-hugging. At certain angles with careful layering and maybe if I were a little happier with my figure at present, it could work, but I wanted a cozy, smooshy, decadently textured and cabled sweater, not something clingy and short that can only be worn with Spandex underneath.




The little holes from careless neckline pick-ups block out, right??

My gauge, once I finally checked it, was way off, something like 5 stitches/inch instead of 3.8, which makes perfect sense, as this sweater is about 25% smaller than I expected it would be. I briefly tried to convince myself it would stretch a lot in blocking and end up at the expected dimensions, which it might, but since I have more than 5 balls of yarn leftover and this wasn’t exactly a quick project, there is no reason to compromise.




No, raglan decrease gaps don’t bother me at alllll…..

The closer I scrutinized it, the more flaws I started to find as well. I wasn’t happy with the gaps introduced by careless pick-ups for the neckline, but I was willing to sew them shut by weaving in some reinforcing threads. Ditto for the gaps made by raglan decreases along the shoulders, which probably wouldn’t have been so visible if the shoulders weren’t stretched as much. And weird decreases on the sleeves are just par for the course, right?




I mean, no one ever looks at sleeves, do they?? Sigh…

I know I would not be happy with this sweater as it is. I am a better knitter than this, and I care about these details too much to let them slide. The time I spent pretending I didn’t care or that, “It’ll all block out!” was “expensive” in knitting terms, but very valuable lessons. This sweater taught me how to make a seamless yoked sweater in pattern (way easier than I thought it would be). I also learned how important it is to track rows in moss stitch, after the first large frogging-and-restarting.

And now I’ve learned, for real, to actually check my gauge and not just follow the pattern blindly, hoping it’ll all work out. As this was knit with size 6 and 8 needles, I expect 8/10 will do the trick, so long as the pattern holds up. I also plan to make some adjustments with things I didn’t like, such as making a better plan for incorporating sleeve increases in moss stitch, inserting a filler stitch to absorb the raglan decreases on the sleeves, and learning how to pick up neckline stitches more neatly so I don’t end up with gaps.

This project has been like a security blanket for when I needed comfort or an escape from reality, and I mean it when I say it’s been a true pleasure to knit, so I don’t mind starting over to get something wearable with the right finishing details. Let’s hope I’ve actually learned my lessons this time.

Two New Cast-Ons

When I first started knitting, documenting every stage of the project and its progress was almost as important to me as the actual stitches. As life grew more complex, I became complacent about knit-blogging (perhaps you’ve noticed) and considered it quite a feat if I got the cursory details slapped up on Ravelry, let alone took a photo. I’d like for that tendency to change, and I’m giving myself permission to enjoy this part of the process again too.



During a lengthy stay at my parents’ house this winter, I was buying new yarn for a pair of socks I’m knitting for my brother when I had an irresistible hankering to knit a sweater. Drawn in by the allure of free shipping and a Valentine’s Day sale that made this yarn shockingly affordable, I found a pattern for the Olwen Sweater, a beautiful seamless cabled pullover with a lovely yoked raglan-sleeve construction. In a cushy worsted-weight yarn, with this delectable purply-magenta color, it has been an absolute delight.

When I got back to my apartment in April, I found a few places where I’d flubbed the pattern (I started it when I had a fever, after all), so I ripped back to the ribbing, and it’s been smooth sailing since. I’m now past yoking the sleeves to the body, which was way easier than I’ve always imagined it would be, and I’m cruising toward the finish just in time for what promises to be a sweltering hot summer. Fortunately, this sweater is in a style, color, and quality I foresee myself enjoying for many years to come, so it will keep.



As I was returning to the shore this Memorial Day weekend, it seemed impractical to try to squeeze a nearly-finished wool sweater into the already overstuffed backpack I was bringing, so I tried to think of a good traveling project. I landed on a new cast-on for Kieran Foley’s Seascape Stole, a gorgeous undulating pattern that’s been tempting me since it was published in the summer 2008 Knitty, and for which I’ve had this yarn earmarked since June of 2009 (yikes – that feels like it just happened).

As I am working it on a 16-inch circular needle and only using one page of the chart from the 2015 revised version, this project currently fits in a small sandwich bag, making it ultra portable and quite a pleasure to knit on the go.

I hope to share a lot more this summer, as I am coming back to the surface in many areas of my life.