Knitty Surprises

Finally, the Knitty Surprise link is up, and I’m stoked about the Leaf cropped cardigan from Stefanie Japel:

If I were to knit that, I’d probably change the leaf tie to something shorter and plainer (I know, completely undermining the concept), but what a cute shape.

I also was way amused by the Victoria parasol.

Simply charming.

So Much Better

Despite all the other things in my life that I really ought to be doing, I couldn’t get over the disappointment of that stinking baby sweater. I was walking around possessed with frustration. I debated giving up knitting entirely and selling my stash on e-bay, as well as setting a small controlled fire in my bathtub.

I regained my sanity, however, and made a few more rounds on the internet, where I came up with the perfect solution:

So much more my speed.

This is a top down seamless raglan sweater designed by Carole Barenys, from Knitting on the Net. Omitting the purl ridges, it is exactly what I wanted.

Arbitrarily, I decided that Caron Simply Soft isn’t really worsted weight. I still didn’t do a gauge swatch (truly, I never will learn), but I used size 5 straights for the ribbing and a size 6 circular for the stockinette. I think it suits the yarn far better than any other combination I’ve tried. These are larger sizes than the pattern calls for, but the pattern makes a 6-month size sweater, so I’m okay with mine being larger.

The sweater seems to grow proportionately, so I don’t have to worry that it will get wonky the way it might if I did it to measurements. And if it turns out to be greatly over-sized, well, it will just fit the baby longer.

I’m enjoying knitting this so much more, and the knowledge that I won’t have to grapple with awful seaming is making me downright tranquil. I have to think that in some way the positive energy I am now putting into it will make it to baby Gabriel. I also get to pick out sweet little buttons, which I’ve never done before. It’s perhaps strange how exciting that detail has become.

At this point, I’ve done 32 rounds. I’m meant to continue increasing until there are 42 stitches on the sleeves. I did a little math to see what I may anticipate, and it goes something like this:

42 stitches desired – 8 initial stitches = 34 stitches to increase
34 increased stitches / 2 increases per round = 17 increase rounds
17 increase rounds * 4 rows per increase section = 68 increasing rows
68 increasing rows + 8 rows of ribbing = 76 rows to complete increases

If I am correct in this, then I am about 40% done with the increasing section. Not bad.

Now I just have to deal with finding time to knit while squeezing in the rest of my schoolwork and massive end-of-semester franticness.

Good thing Iggy is nearby, cuddling a sweater for inspiration.

Finishing, ugh

When my boyfriend saw me photographing my shrug yesterday, he gently reminded me that Baby Gabriel was born quite some time ago, to the point where his father is almost done with his paternity leave.

I thought it would not be so bad to finish the sweater of the Cabled Baby Set, but it turns out I am genuinely awful at finishing. Like really, embarrassingly terrible.

Enjoy some more disastrous seams, from the inside.

I thought I was so clever the first time I picked up the stitches for the neckline on the sweater. I used DPNs so that I could knit it all in the round and not have to worry about another bulky seam (having done a number on the preceding shoulder seam). I kept saying to myself “it’s just like socks…”

I did all my ribbing, omitted a turning row, and cast off, only to find that it did not stretch at all. I had cast off way too tightly and I couldn’t get the neck to stay folded down no matter what I did. It’s a pity, because I thought it didn’t really look so bad done in this way, but the baby’s head definitely wouldn’t fit through it comfortably.

Humbled, and more than a bit annoyed, I hastily ripped it all out before figuring out that I could have just tinked back the cast-off row. I followed the instructions this time, knitting it flat, which did go a lot faster. I put the turning row back in, and I knit nice and loosely. I searched around online and came up with the seemingly obvious solution to cast off using a larger needle. I was knitting on size 6’s and actually cast off loosely on a size 10, in pattern, but I still thought it might have been a little stretchier.

The picked-up stitches looked a little nicer this time too.

I then started on what would become literally hours of attempted seaming, and man, it’s a mess. No matter how many videos or tutorials I went through on mattress stitch, I just couldn’t get it right. As I tried to set the sleeve in, I realized that it ends nearly two inches higher than it’s supposed to on the body, which will be incredibly uncomfortable for the baby unless he goes around with his arms raised.

The seam itself is rather alarmingly tight as well, and I’m beginning to suspect some kind of massive gauge issue. No matter how much I stretch the other arm, I can’t get it to come 4 inches down on the body, let alone 3.

So it is official. I hate this project, and I think it looks awful. I dread taking out all the seaming on this arm or knitting a new arm or something to make it less tight, and to be perfectly honest, I already started searching for something seamless that I could knit to complete this set instead.

My boyfriend said it’s too bad because the body and neck look okay. He joked that I could make a turtlenecked vest or muscle tee out of it instead. The baby does live in Brooklyn and his parents are pretty stylish, so he could perhaps pull it off… but I know this is ridiculous.

Also, doesn’t it look like a hot water bottle cover?

If I don’t abandon it entirely, I will have a lot of fussing to do with this sweater, and I’m really not looking forward to it. Bleh.

Shrug On

After your suggestions and the lovely new patterns (thank you!), I have significantly lengthened my list of future shrug projects. In the meantime, however, I’ve gone with the Cropped Raglan Sweater from Lion Brand.

Pattern: Cropped Raglan Sweater, Lion Brand free pattern #70111, size Large
Yarn: Lion Brand Pound of Love 100% acrylic, 4-ply worsted, color 099, Antique White, dye lot 34787
Needles: Susan Bates size 7 straights, KnitPicks Options size 8 circulars
Modifications: none planned
Started: April 23, 2007

I may try to make another before I leave (probably the Fiery Bolero), but in the meantime I think this pattern is the one I’m most likely to successfully complete, and it fits all of my requirements. It’s also simple enough that I can knit and read, which is essential in these final crazy busy weeks of the semester.

I’m a few inches in already, at 9 of the 28 initial raglan repeats, and I really like it. I think that it will be really versatile, as it will probably be large enough to wear pinned shut as well as open.

I’m using very soft off-white acrylic (I’ll explain why I usually use synthetics in a future post), and I absolutely love the way it feels against my skin.

It’s almost surprising how much I enjoy the eyelets on the raglan seams.

I am hopeful that this will turn out really nice, and I am excited thinking about wearing it in Italy!

Indecisive Shrugs

Yesterday I wore a rather uncomfortable and ill-fitting store-bought sweater over a sun dress and it became apparent that I could really use a nice shrug. I’m going to be spending this summer in Venice, and my professor has informed me that women are required to cover their shoulders when going into churches, which is where a lot of the art we’ll be seeing resides, so something really versatile would be great.

That said, I’m having a heck of a time finding just the right shrug. I think part of why I’m struggling is that I already know the yarn I want to use, and I’m trying to avoid buying new needles… but few shrug patterns tend to call for worsted weight or the needles I have.

One contender is this Cropped Raglan Sweater from Lion Brand, though it seems perhaps a bit less fitted than I’d like.

I was also looking at some of the shrugs in the Summer 2005 issue of Interweave Knits, particularly the Fiery Bolero, which is exactly what I want, though I’d have to adapt it for the yarn change.

I’m undecided on the Viennese Shrug, which is for worsted weight, but maybe not my favorite lace pattern ever. I really wish they had a photo of the back.

They also had a set of Staff Shrugs (opens PDF), but they don’t feel quite right for what I want.

I went through every single shrug or bolero pattern in the Knitting Pattern Central database (perhaps I haven’t mentioned – I can get obsessive sometimes), and nothing really called out to me.

This Silk Capelet Shrug is cute, but calls for tiny yarn and needles.

Lastly, I’m rather fond of this Wanda cropped sweater (especially because my grandmother’s name is Wanda), though here the needles are too large, and I wonder if so much detail would feel heavy.

Argh, I feel like I’m being so picky! I wish I knew enough to design my own shrug, but as it is I’m not even comfortable figuring out how to modify an existing one. Ironically, I had started knitting an Esprit Raglan Shrug last summer, but I got so sick of the fiddly tiny elastic yarn that I put it aside and never got back to it.

So I’ll have to think on this a little more…