Friday, January 29, 2010

Things I Have (Not) Learned.

To save time, take time to check the gauge before starting.

How often do we see that at the top of a pattern and just ignore it? "I'm using the recommended yarn" "I always knit to gauge" "It'll fit someone". I KNOW checking gauge is important, and it really does make life easier (all the ponchos I made--started with one gauge swatch and a calculator and all 4 turned out exactly the size planned).
But yet, sometimes, even I ignore the warning. With 7 girls, ages 11 to 1, between the two sides of my family, there's bound to be someone that an item will fit.
I wanted to use up a skein and a half (potentially two dye lots) of Bernat Sweet Stripes. I also had a skein of white. I needed to be able to work the 1/2 skein into the design, instead of just adding it on to the end. In Knitwords No. 42 (Autumn 2007) there is a pattern called "Dude!" for a shawl collared sweater on the LK150. The pattern gauge is 22st and 28 rows to 4" on T5, and the yarn gauge is 22st/4". Good to go, right?
I was planning on giving it to Meg, and knowing that she's tall, I added some length in the body. That made me goof up later, so I had to fix the top portion of the front. I didn't add any length in the sleeves because, well, I ran out of the striped yarn and switched to just white at the tops of the sleeves. I had planned ahead, and made the bottom ribbing in white; the sleeve ribbings and collar are done at the end.

One other thing I did. This is a self striping yarn, of fairly equal thickness. Once I split for the neck, I played with the yarns to get approximately the same size stripes, otherwise, they would have been more than twice the thickness they had been on the body.So, you'd think that all was well. Umm. Not quite. I ended up getting only 20sts/4" so my sweater is wider than planned. Not a problem, right, cause I added extra length? Well. My row gauge ended up being 30 rows/4" so those extra rows got eaten up by the smaller gauge and it came out to barely the length for the original size. So, now it's a little boxy compared to it's length.

None of the kids in the family are short and boxy. That's reserved for the adults, LOL.

Edit: Meg found this sweater and wore it outside today (November 4, 2010). I could CLEARLY see that the upper sleeves and collar are a different shade of white. This annoys me so much with Bernat/Patons yarns. You get a verigated or striping yarn, and they don't have a solid colour that actually matches the colours in the other yarn. I think the white was called "Bernat Co-ordinates"....but it doesn't match! I find this to be a really big issue with their Decor, Canadiana, and Handicrafter yarns too.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Christmas is Over

We had our last Christmas gathering this weekend, and even though I knew it was coming in January, it still snuck up on me. I had no idea of what I wanted to make for my younger niece, as I had already made her a poncho. I emailed her mother, and they discussed it, and the little miss decided she wanted clothes for her two "Floppy Puppies" that go everywhere with her. These are not 'standard' stuffed animals (WebKinz, or Build-a-Bear, etc). I've never designed Floppy Puppy (or any stuffed animal) clothes. More discussion ensued, and the idea of sleeping bags was raised. Now, I knew I could do that! I had been making the Double Thickness Slippers and figured I could use the same ideas to make a lined sleeping bag.

But what colours do male Boxer Floppy Puppies like? I was overwhelmed. However, these dogs travel to the 'cottage' so I thought a camouflage and safety orange would be good. I already had a huge ball of Red Heart Comfort in safety orange, so I bought two other huge balls. One in a sage, and one in a sort of camo print. The first one I made was camo on the outside, and sage on the inside.

For some reason, when I worked through my pattern idea, I did it opposite of the slippers--I made the outside first, then the liner.This is not a great picture, LOL, but you can see the camo effect. Apparently I should have made a double bag. One thing I didn't like though, was that the inside colour extended too high and could be seen when the bag was laying flat. I fixed that with the orange one.

I also realized, when I grafted the first one together, at the base of the pillow, that that didn't close off the bottom of the pillow and I had to sew the two layers together to prevent the stuffing from travelling down into the bag. On the second one, I stitched the pillow closed after stuffing, then grafted the body stitches together. It was a VERY quick project, even though I was not 100% sure the design was going to work! She loves them, and I think I might need to make more (not sure the two Floppy Puppies like sharing, plus, the girl in me wants to make a cuter one for the girl in her!).

As well, I made ANOTHER pink poncho! This was number 4. After the first one, the cone measured 7 1/4" across; now it measures 6 5/8" across. I have one more to make, then maybe ones for my own girls, LOL. I made this one a little different because it was for the oldest girl (11). It's one long piece, with the cast on edge sewn to the lower side of the other end, so that it can be worn with a straight edge in the front and a point at the back, or with the point in the front like a poncho.
I also was running low on time, so I did a worm edge on the machine, instead of crocheting a frou-frou ruffle. I did use the same tuck st pattern. I had thought of changing it, or the yarn, but I already have all the measurements for this pattern/yarn combo, so why change it now?

The colour here is wrong, but it shows the right side (which is actually the purl side and usually the 'wrong' side), and the wrong side (the smoother knit side).

This shows how the front can be straight across and it makes the neck drapey, or you can flip it and have the point at the front and get a V-neck.
One bit of caution though---I tried it on, and the wide swath of one colour going across my entire front and arms made me look very wide. Perhaps a dark colour would be more slimming, but it's sort of like the "Fuzzy Poop" jacket I made--there's no visual interest to break you up so your eye sees the outline and assumes everything inside it is one big blob. Not that an 11 year old needs to worry about that though!!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Better 1, 2, or the Same?

I don't like going to the eye doctor. I'm not good at idle chit chat and an eye exam feels exam. It's a test. And what if I don't know the answers? If they can make glasses for babies, why not do the same for me? You know how they ask "Which is better: 1, 2; or the same?". Argh.

It also applies to winter hats.

I took that brown ribbed hat I just made, and found a complementary bulky yarn in my bins. I picked up sts around the cast on edge and ribbed up for a ways. A few times. It's not something that a gauge swatch would work for.
Then I tested it. I put it on for a few minutes; took a picture.
It's like trying on a bra at the store. You carefully position the girls, put your shirt back on to make sure nothing bulges, reach up, bend over, etc, and declare it perfect. The next day you eagerly put it on and head out. Only to find some deadly bra flaw that the 5 minute changeroom tango didn't reveal.
Despite trying about 4 times, the new ribbed cuff was too tight, and after a few minutes of real world walking, it would cause an elastic band effect, making the hat creep up my head. Which created an old man toque effect.
Being a resourceful soul, I would not be defeated. On a educated whim, I folded the cuff to the inside. Mmmm. Cozy. No feeling of hat about to go sproing. Snug, but not headache inducing. When the wind whips up I could pull down the inner cuff a little and still have a double layer over the ears. It looks only slightly strange--you can sort of notice that the lower portion of the hat is thicker, but you don't know why. Hat mysteries. I'm full of wonder. LOL!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Years ago (?) when Pomatomus socks became all the rage, I knew I wanted to knit a Cookie A. sock pattern. I didn't make those ones, or Monkeys, probably due to their popularity or my lack of 'good' sock yarn (ie: yarn that matched the gauge close enough). But when I went to the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitters Fair in September 2008, I bought a bunch of wonderful yarns from The Sweet Sheep. I'm pretty sure that's when I bought three Cookie A. patterns too.

I finally got around to making a pair. The first pattern I chose was Mingus (which I can NOT say without thinking of something that rhymes with 'ingus'). I started these September when I was having my tooth problems. The dental assistant (a young blond gal; the only type of gal my dentist employs, except for his mother) thought it was quite cute that I knitted (WTF?) but thought brown for socks that are worth about $65 was a poor choice. I wanted socks to go with my brown linen pants, and my olive green pants, but I'm not sure wool socks with linen pants seem right.

The pattern was slow going, but I got through and finished January 5. I did them two at a time, which makes each row seem slow, but then WOW! a pair of socks is done! LOL. I had a few issues, mainly just not paying attention. One issue with the pattern--there is no row gauge given. I could stretch the sock out to 'make' stitch gauge, but they are a little shorter than I'd like, and a little tighter than I'd like in the leg. If they were a touch shorter, it'd be fine, but I really wanted them taller actually. My calf is rather shapely, and well defined. I knew I was kinda cheating on the gauge, but I didn't know just where they'd reach to on my leg. I didn't go up a needle size cause those ones were in use, and I was getting gauge.
The yarn might have been in the boo-boo bin (and only $10!!!!!), but I'm not sure at all what the boo boo was! They are superwash merino/nylon, and I have quite a bit left. I suppose I could cut off the ribbing and knit it upwards a little looser and longer, but I'm not sure; it might seem a little odd to change the gauge.

Sorry I don't have a good picture of the design. I do have sock stretchers, but they are too big for my socks.

I wonder what the dental gal would say if she knew I paid full price for some handpainted brown laceweight yarn? LOL!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Lots to say...

Lots to catch up on, but mmm...what to write first? Most recent, or most not-recent?

Okay, more on my hat addiction.
I was a confirmed non-hat wearer until the winter of 1995. I had a student teaching placement, and frugal me walked a long way (2 miles one way) instead of taking a second bus. Part of my walk took me through the largest mall in the area, and I bought a black velvet 'bucket' hat. Actually, now that I think of it, the previous summer I had bought a straw hat that I really loved. But prior to this black velvet hat, I can't recall me having a winter hat! Earmuffs, yes.
I had been knitting for a little over a year (learned as a child, didn't really pick it up again until some friendly competition between housemates), but hadn't made a hat. Some terrible mittens... This hat turned me into a winter hat person. Ever since, I have been trying to create the perfect hat. It's so hard to balance trendy and practicality! Do I want to look like a (warm) dork, or a (cold) style maven? However, the decision is usually made for me--I look like a dork no matter what hat I try. The best hats on me tend to have a brim to balance out my tiny head, but that style doesn't happen much in knitted winter hats. I could knit and felt a bucket hat (chicknits) but that won't really keep my ears warm. I've knit earflap hats and they're not bad, but on an adult, they're way up there on the dork scale. However, years ago I decided to embrace my inner dork since I knew it was a losing battle anyway, LOL!.
This winter the floppy, slouchy hat is all the rage. You saw my first attempt (the Swedish Chef hat). I decided to use this lovely soft, flopsy, Sirdar Eternity yarn to try a different pattern. I don't feel like going to Ravelry, but I think it's "Star Crossed Beret" or something. However, my version, for some reason, is no where near slouchy like the pictures. But the textured look is new in my hat stock. Not that it's easily visible wiht this yarn, LOL. It's cute, not terrifically warm due to the lofty/nubbly texture of the yarn, and sits a little funny on my head due to my hair.Then, the winter issue of came out. And, dontcha know, there's a slouchy hat. It called for a 50-50 wool/cotton blend. Well, I knew that wasn't suitable for a winter hat for here. I bought some LionBrand Wool Ease Thick n Quick. It seemed to be about the same gauge, but instead of casting on 48st, I ended up casting on 54 sts on the third try. It felt warm, but then I noticed that unlike Wool Ease (worsted), Thick n Quick is only 10% wool. Which makes it lousy for mittens. I finished the hat quickly once I got the right number of sts, but I knew, deep down, that it was NOT the right hat. I forgot to switch to larger needles until row 4 of the pattern, then halfway through the crown I decided to go from 8mm to 9mm, and it still wasn't very floppy. But I wasn't ripping it out till I finished, and tried it on, and had a good laugh.
Trying to salvage any hopes at a trendy look didn't really work. What's the point of a winter hat that doesn't cover your forehead or ears?!

But I liked the yarn, especially how the brown had flecks of burgundy in it so it didn't look too dull and would look good with my burgundy coat. I went back to 8mm and 48st and cast on using 'alternate cable cast on' to give a nice edge and did a 1x1 ribbed hat. Even though I ripped back the crown and redid the decreases, it was still done in a day. It could have been a bit looser as it likes to crawl up my head. I can cover my ears pretty much, and then have a little cuff at the front. I might stitch that up as it tends to flip down over my glasses. I thought the ribbing would make it nice and dense feeling, but the wind still gets through, and the acrylic makes me sweat and itch. And it took just a bit too much to get two hats from one skein. But two balls should get 3 hats. Or, maybe I should put a big dorky pompom on top?