So, the red yoke, failed box-the-compass pullover got off the time-out chair at last. I frogged the few rounds of patterned knitting one last time and went back to the old, can't fail standard: stripes. I gathered a few wools of light-worsted to heavy-worsted weight and striped following a Fibonacci sequence: 3 rounds in color A, 5 rounds in color B, 3 rounds in color C, 2 rounds in color D, 3 rounds in color A.
The traditional 3 rounds of decreases for the yoke left me with a collar that looked still too wide, so I added roughly 12 decreases scattered on the first round of ribbing for the collar. The collar was knitted to a height of about 4", then folded inside, and I tacked the live stitches to the inside of the collar pick-up round for extra warmth.
All in all I am giving this one a B+ for effort. It isn't what I had envisioned. Even my Plan B, the striped yoke, is a bit of a disappointment. That heathery pink which looked nice in the corrugated ribbing on the body looks a bit too fleshy when striped so close to the red. And that periwinkle wool/silk blend I used for the collar would really show off better in a grey or black sweater. But the knitted fabric is tight and warm.
This was the last of the two bags of Jo Sharp wool I had snapped up at the Webs booth back at Stitches West, 2007 edition. It took me three years to figure out that they were meant for kids' sweaters, this one and that one . I have about 2 skeins left, just enough for a pair of mittens. This gorgeous red is near impossible to photograph; here is the most accurate photograph I have managed so far.
And here's the full view of my B+, best-I-could-manage-this-time-around pullover.
On our next episode: the infinity scarf.
A preview: three skeins of Koigu were used to the very last inch; 500 stitches were cast off yesterday. The resulting giant loop of half-linen stitch got treated to a warm bath and a rigorous pinning session on the blocking board. Will this keep it from rolling madly once it is dry? Will it register that I started and ended it with 2 rounds of garter stitch to keep such misbehavior at bay? Stay tuned.
Mine was spent cooking and feasting,
watching tiny sweaters multiply,
and picking a Beatles videoclip to share in keeping with this blog's tradition of marking every December 25th with a cameo by the Beatles. My first selection was scooped by Mason Dixon Kay but, hey, there is always more Fab Footage to unearth in the YouTube Winter Wonderland.
Happy Holidays to all!
It is a very good thing I am not knitting with a Christmas deadline this year, because there has been a lot of froggin' going on around here in the past week. I haven't kept tabs of actual time spent unknitting, rewinding yarn, placing hundreds of live stitches back on the needle, etc, because a tally would be utterly depressing.
It all started with my attempt to knit the Box the Compass pullover I mentioned in my last post. I studied Meg Swansen's directions, which call for creating phoney seams not only at the "seams" of the body but also at the dead center of the front and back and on top of each sleeve. This way, the slight relief created by the phoney seams will allow double decreases to merge more naturally with the rest of the stitches as one is shaping the yoke of the sweater.
OK, that's easy. I know how to make a phoney seam, so it follows that I can make 8 of them. (I forgot to mention that they are also needed at the "seam" between body and sleeves, creating a more raglan-type line than in typical yoke sweaters).
That was step one. Step two was to knit the yoke in stripes in contrasting colors, with sets of double decreases every 3 round at these strategic points. And so I did. And I hated what I saw. The double decreases looked ugly to me. So I frogged and started again, this time following Meg Swansen's favorite method for double decreases. For a good couple of inches, I pretended to myself that this was a huge improvement. But -- not really, not the way I made them, and not in light-colored worsted-weight yarn. It was entirely my fault, and I couldn't see a way to fix things to my satisfaction.
So, dear reader, I gave up. I threw in the towel and frogged the stripes. Then I considered all those many phoney seams. And yes, I un-knit every single one of them by laddering them down, then back up (probably not a verb by Scrabble standards, but it is exactly how I had to proceed). That took several boring sessions, made tolerable by the hours of Colbert Reports and Daily Shows saved up on the DVR.
I went back to plan B: your basic, safe, reliable yoke pullover. After the first round of decreases, I found a tiny color pattern I wanted to use and knitted it in a nice green. Then I decided that green on a red sweater was way too Christmassy for me. So I frogged the green and replaced it with hot pink. Better.
I don't have any in progress photo to display, as I still have my doubts about what is on the needles right now. I started another motif in a lighter pink, which was all wrong in the vicinity of the hot pink, so more frogging ensued. Then I made a mistake which I only spotted two rounds too late. Last night, I spent the better part of a movie on DVD knitting 5 rounds, then frogging 4. Clearly this has been a painful and difficult birth. Let's hope an actual OK sweater emerges from all this trauma.
On days when I haven't felt up to dealing with this semi-fiasco, I have been making slow progress on this:
My second attempt at an infinity scarf. The yarn is Koigu KPPPM, in the perfect colorway for my daughter Celeste. I had admired a number of scarves knitted in half-linen stitch, a perfect way to deal with the small color repeats in Koigu yarn. So I cast on 500 stitches and joined them. Half-linen stitch in the round goes fast, or it would if I had a "normal" number of stitches on the needle, since every other round is knitted.
I love this project even though I am 90% certain that I am going to run out of yarn (I only have three skeins) before I get to a really good width. I bought this colorway during last year's trip to New York, and I then managed to displace the tags for all three skeins, so I can't even find the right reference number which would help me to order another skein.
To end on a brighter note: yesterday afternoon I made this:
It took less than an hour and made me inexplicably happy. Which is not surprising since the designer, Cheryl Niamath, calls this pattern, "Cheers!" This tiny raglan was knitted on two #2 circulars, but you could go all the way up to a worsted-weight yarn and still end up with something adorable and fairly tiny. So... Cheers, everyone!
So, I cast on and knitted my version of an Infinity scarf/Eternity scarf/long cowl, whatever. I thought my daughters would like this more contemporary variation and I happened to have some Encore yarn left over from my last Log Cabin blanket that I thought would do fine.
Well. Knitting and purling 300 stitches in the round took very little time. Midway through, I started to have doubts. By the time I bound off, I was certain that this project was all wrong. The yarn is too bulky to drape nicely when it hangs on a neck. One really needs a drapey yarn for this project: a fine fiber or maybe a viscose blend, something that is going to allow for graceful folds instead of the unappealing piece of knitting I ended up with. So, back to the drawing-board on that one. I am still tempted by the infinity scarf, however; this time I am thinking half-linen stitch done in the round, perhaps alternating solid and variegated skeins of Koigu. This may not be done for Christmas, but a New Year deadline would be OK too.
Since I last blogged, I started on a new sweater for afghans For Afghans. For a long time, I have been attracted by a twist on the classic yoke pullover designed by Meg Swansen and called Box the Compass. Instead of decreasing massively every couple of inches at the yoke, this pattern calls for a few strategically paired decreases done at more frequent intervals, which should result in some attractive "seam lines" darting from the collar and in a yoke which looks less round and more angular than you would expect. The most attractive version I have seen is here .
Typical of all Meg Swansen patterns, the instructions are pretty sketchy and one is meant to figure out one's own numbers based on EPS, or Elizabeth Zimmermann's Percentage System. I cheated and used my indispensable Sweater Wizard software, which churned out instructions for a size 8 (child) yoke pullover.
I am using the same scarlet red Jo Sharp wool I used for this sweater earlier in 2010 for most of the body. I haven't quite figured out the yoke stripes yet: pink of course, purple probably, maybe some green as well, maybe some earthy brown.
This photo is much more true to the color of the wool. I love the look of corrugated ribbing; the execution, not so much. Every round felt like it took forever, but it brings a more fanciful note to a child's sweater. I find that corrugated ribbing pulls in a lot, at least the way I knit it, so I cast on as many stitches for the ribbing as I needed for the body later on. I also started with corrugated ribbing at the sleeves, but the lack of elasticity there really bothered me. So I settled for casting on with the contrast color and then knitting a regular 1/1 ribbing in red.
This was pretty smooth and swift sailing; now, I need to say goodbye to my standard computer-generated instuctions and read the tea leaves of Meg Swansen pattern notes. It really should be easy once I figure the pretty simple math chore of separating my stitches into quarters, at the risk of having to fudge a tiny bit. I can't believe how much of a knitting sissy I have become: sometimes, I feel that the more I know, the more I know what could go wrong, too, and the more risk-averse I become.
The antidote to risk: a knitting Sure Thing. Instead of figuring my yoke math earlier this week, I thought about my old and beloved Noro scarf, and decided to make a new one.
This thing is practically knitting itself. No wonder over 8,000 Ravelers have figured this out already. I am casting on a new one the moment this one is finished, so there.