Monday, November 27, 2017

All day, every day

Friends, I apologize for gushing.  This sweater is just...squeal!  Ahhhh!  This sweater!  I am just so in love with it.  I have hardly taken it off since it dried from blocking.  
There isn't any pattern because I had some gorgeous yarn and an idea, so I just went ahead and did it.  This happened the way it usually does, whenever I start with the yarn; using my Fashionary Panels (indispensable, honestly) I drew a silhouette, and then measured my back neck and raglan lengths, and knit that.  I tried to write this one down, but somewhere around the armpits I forgot to keep taking notes, and then it was mostly too late.  Starting with the yarn.  This is just occurring to me right now; if I have a yarn I want to use, I almost always just make up something to fit me.  Somehow it works better for me that way, and I am more likely to get what I want.  Trying to find a pattern to match what I've got in my hand is hard for me.  If there's a pattern I want to make, finding a yarn to match it is easier.  Why would this even be true?  I don't know, but it seems to be true for me.  Maybe having the yarn in my hand starts up the creative process?  Certainly the way a yarn feels matters a lot to what kind of thing should be made from it.  Right, the yarn!  This is the (deep, contented sigh) very luxurious "Tynd" by Woolfolk, in colors 18 (a warm, pinkish gray) and 19 (a raw umberish/chocolately brown).  This is not a commercial for Woolfolk, but let me just tell you the truth here:  this yarn is the very softest yarn in the world.  I do not exaggerate.  It is softer than cashmere.  It feels like a kitten.  Working on this sweater was like cuddling a warm, sleepy kitten.  I could hardly knit this sweater slowly enough, because it (is all stockinette) was a tremendous pleasure to have on the needles, but I also could hardly wait to finish it so I could put it on.  And now that I have it on, I will wear it all day, every day.  If you see me anywhere, ever, this is what I'll be wearing.  I must tell you, it has already become pretty fuzzy, and there is the expected amount of pilling in the high friction areas--this is soft yarn (did I mention it was soft?  SO SOFT!) and soft yarn will pill.  I'm not worried about it. 

Monday, November 20, 2017


I just want to make all the things right now.  There are so many things, and I am dying to start about forty-two new knitting projects.  This little papier mache sailboat (free pattern, from the wonderful Ann Wood) has kept me busy this morning, and I only had to stop because it needs a mast and I can't find a skewer.  The skewers were a casualty of the big clear-out I did over the summer, and now I'm either going to buy more skewers (probably a hundred of them, when I only need one) or improvise with a knitting needle or something else.  A stick from the yard would be my usual solution to needing a stick, but this happened:
I can't.  Look, it's still trying to be golden out there!  Or it would be, if the sun knew we were here.  New York, you are so hard to love right now.  This dark weather just gets to me.  A thousand pounds of snow just slid off the roof and crashed onto the ground.  Why do people love this?  Honestly?  Don't say sweaters and soup, I do those things all year.  I just don't get it.  I have lots of opinions about this.  I know people love snow, and I'm happy for them, but I really struggle in this cold, dark time of year.  Anyway, if you love a snowy day, come on over; I'll put the kettle on. 
Probably in response to the encroaching cold, I made a pair of legwarmers!  My legs are cold!  My feet are cold, too, and I need to be knitting socks, but that is less colorful and uses up far fewer scraps.  These really scratched the itch to make granny squares--come on, you know the one I'm talking about.  I have no use at all for any more granny square blankets, but that doesn't keep me from wanting to make granny squares, and all those little leftover balls of pretty colors just cry out to me.  There is something so wonderful about the humble, scrappy, granny square.  These are made with 18 5-round grannies (9 per leg) and joined-as-you-go, and then trimmed top and bottom with a few more colorful rows, just to jazz them up a little, because they aren't quite jazzy enough already.  
I think with a pair of thick socks underneath (note to self: get busy!) these gauntlets will be very cheerful.  I think I'd quite like to have them on inside my winter boots, cuddling my chilly shins and peeking out the top, all cheeky and bright.  Cozy. 

Monday, November 13, 2017


I made this sweater last winter.  It's a combination of the known-to-fit-me Lisbon pullover by Misa Erder and the lovely (and free!) yoke design from Rydraud, by Steinunn Birna Gudjonsdottir.  I used Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, in the gorgeous and golden colorway "Hayloft", which was harvested from my lovely, but too large (and thus unraveled) "Levenwick".  Yarn, good.  Pattern, good.  Gauge?  Not good.  I have developed a bad habit:  I have this idea that all my knitting will be 5 sts/inch.  I don't know why I think this, because it is hardly ever the case, and I fully know that gauge matters, and I swatch and I wash and block my swatches, but still, this belief persists.  Anyway, the Shelter, as knit by me in this particular case, did not make a fabric that was 5 sts/inch, and I made this a year ago, so I can't remember how much I measured or swatched or which needles I used, but I'll bet I went into it all confident that I had successfully used this pattern before, and that (due to the Levenwick, and also the almost finished but also unraveled Timber I knit 85% of before deciding it wasn't working) I knew the yarn pretty well, and so just figured, you know, 5 sts/inch.  So I tinkered with the Rydraud chart a little to make it fit the numbers of the Lisbon pattern, and then probably just went ahead and knit it without even checking any measurements.  Which is obviously a mistake.  And the yoke was really deep, which meant the armpits were way too low and there was a ton of extra fabric across the chest, which billowed unpleasantly and made me feel sloppy.  I talked myself into it at first--aw, hey, it's slouchy!  It's comfy!  Roomy!  Weekend wear! Boyfriend Style!--but every time I put it on, it just bugged me.  Slouchy, sloppy, boyfriendy, weekend-sized sweaters are great, but all that bigness has to be intentional, and I have to feel good wearing it.  And I wasn't.  I almost got rid of it.  But the color is so good, and the yarn (Shelter!  Brooklyn Tweed!) is so good. And that yoke design, oh my goodness.  I just love it so much.  Why didn't it fit?  Argh!  It seemed so close to being right.  I tried reblocking it, hoping that I could adjust things that way, and the body and sleeves became even more perfect than before, but the yoke was still too deep.  There were just too many inches in it.  Too many rows.  Now, in case you're not familiar with round yoke construction, the way these sweaters work is this:  You start at the hem and knit the body, headed upwards.  When you reach the armpits, you set that aside, and make two sleeves, the same way, headed upwards.  Then you put all three pieces on a long circular needle and start knitting the yoke, which for the first (approximately) 50% of the depth, is just knit straight up.  Just a big tall tube, with no shaping.  At the 50% mark, decreases start happening, every couple inches, or wherever it fits into the colorwork design, until A) you have the right number of stitches for the neck, and B) the yoke [the distance from your armpits to your collar] is the right depth.  So, B is where I went wrong, and this sweater, beautiful in almost every way, sat on the shelf.  Then, a few weeks ago, I read Laura Nelkin say somewhere that her personal yoke depth was fairly shallow, and that when she knits a round yoke design, she leaves out a few rounds.  Well, whaaaat?  Suddenly, I thought of this sweater, sitting at the bottom of a pile on the closet shelf, unworn, but as yet undonated, but on the bubble, and wondered if I could fix it.  I love/hated this sweater, but it was so close to good.  So close!  I decided to see whether taking out a few rounds would save it, and unless you want to rip out the neck and all the color work and re-do it (argh, I didn't want to do that) the only way is to cut.  
This would have been a lot scarier a year ago, when this was a fresh project and I still had so much hope for it, but I had tried and tried to wear this sweater and just couldn't. It was fix it, or get rid of it.  So taking the scissors, I snipped one stitch right at the front, underneath the colorwork (which I thought might help hide any messiness that might ensue later) and unpicked an entire row, one stitch at a time.  Once the whole yoke was off, I had live stitches again, on the body and on the yoke, and I unraveled about six rounds from the body, and then put both pieces back on the needles--one needle for the body stitches and one needle for the yoke stitches.  Then I told Doc not to talk to me, and that he should pretend I was not in the house, and that he should under no circumstances speak any numbers out loud, and I began grafting the two pieces back together, using Kitchener stitch.  Now, I'm a sock knitter too, and kitchenering is solid in my toolbox, but I have to count "1,2,3,4..." the whole time, and if I get interrupted, either by a knot in the yarn, a friendly comment from someone else in the room, getting startled by the doorbell--anything, really--it is all over and it is a mess and I can't figure out how to fix it.  So Doc left the room and put on his headphones and made himself silent and invisible, and I counted to four for an hour.  
When you graft some knitting, you are basically sewing in a new row, using a tapestry needle and weaving the yarn in and out through the top and bottom rows of loops in the same way it would go in a knitted row, and when done well, it can be invisible.  It should just look like any other knitted row.  However, I can't do this very well.  My grafted row was a little bit gnarly-looking, and it would never in a million years have been possible (for me) in a less wooly yarn, but Shelter is wooly and pretty forgiving.  I wove in the ends and put it in the sink for a block, and then waited a couple days while it dried, to see if the gnarly row would straighten out, and if the newly shortened yoke would be the right depth.  I want this sweater to fit me!  
Aw, yeah!  All the hooray!  There's a little bit of a visible scar, but the yoke is the right depth for me now.  It fits.  Doing this was so worth it, because this sweater is saved, and so are all the round yoke sweaters in my future.  There is always so much to learn, isn't there?