Saturday, November 22, 2014

Knitting: Twin Leaf Baby Blanket, Day Two

On the second day of knitting this blanket, I finished 14 of the 38 repeats. This is such a beautiful pattern and quite fun to knit, too. I may end up making at least one more of these.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Knitting: Twin Leaf Blanket

Every now and then I get the urge to knit a blanket. I have all the blankets I need at my house (most people I know do), so I knit a baby blanket for charity.

When I came across the Twin Leaf Baby Blanket pattern, it was too beautiful not to knit. So I started it yesterday and made this much progress over the course of about half the day:

Yes, I know this is larger than my margins, but it's much easier to see the stitch detail at this size, so I'm keeping it large. :)

It's knit with sportweight yarn on size 4 needles, so it's not going to be super-fast to knit. But that's okay. With something this beautiful, I enjoy watching it take shape as I knit. I'm more of a process knitter anyway - I enjoy the process of knitting even more than the finished product (usually).

It's a beautiful pattern, and it's free - when you sign up for a newsletter. If you're interested, you can find out more at its Ravelry page here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Knitting: Brambles Beret

I finished the sweater I was designing, but I need to sew the buttons on before I can model it for the blog. So I thought I'd show you a beret I knit for charity in the meantime.

This is a free pattern called Brambles Beret by Amanda Muscha. It's very pretty! It may look difficult, but it really isn't.

I knit this in the small size without any extra repeats, and it’s a perfect fit for my 9-year-old daughter. If I were to make it for myself (or another small adult who wears their hair up), I’d try it with an extra repeat (as suggested on the pattern page when using acrylics).

Monday, October 27, 2014

Designing My Sweater: Days 4 and 5

Reducing the sleeve stitches was exactly what this sweater needed. I was able to complete the entire sleeve with the same amount of yarn that I had previously used for just the sleeve cap and one inch of the sleeve.

I only have to finish the last sleeve cuff and then add buttons. I still have to go through my buttons to see if I have some or if I need to buy some.

My notes on the sleeves:

I wanted to transition the sleeves down to 9” circumference, so I needed to decrease to 44 stitches over 7” in length. (This works out to 42 rows.) So I decreased 2 stitches every 7th row, 6 times. I worked an additional 7 rows, and that put it right at my elbow so that I could start ribbing.
Because I like nice, tight ribbing, I switched to 2’s and decreased an additional 4 sts (every 10th st) on the first row of ribbing. I worked 2" of ribbing before binding off with a stretchy bind-off.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Designing My Sweater: Day 3

You probably can't tell from the picture, but this sleeve is enormous.

I didn't make as much progress today, simply because I ripped the sleeve out at least five times trying to get it "just right".

Two things went wonderfully right, though:

1. The button band turned out perfectly.
2. The two skeins are not as different as they appeared in the lighting I saw them in earlier, so the sleeves will look just fine knit from the second skein.

My notes on the button band:

I picked up 262 stitches (3 for every 4 rows around) with smaller needles. This gave me 44 stitches before the v-neck on each side, and I placed markers to separate these. I'll be working buttonholes onto these stitches and increases directly after them on even rows.

To account for the v-neck, I increased one stitch after the first stitch marker and one stitch before the second stitch marker on every even row. Row 2 is a "make 1 knit", Row 4 is a "make 1 purl", Row 6 is a "make 1 knit" (right beside the previous "make 1 knit"), Row 8 is a "make 1 purl" (right beside the previous "make 1 purl").

I worked the buttonholes on Row 5. I wanted 4 buttonholes, and I worked a bind-off buttonhole over 4 stitches so that I can use the BIG buttons that I want. Each end buttonhole is 2 stitches away from each end (I'll increase to 4 stitches on the bottom if I do this again), so that meant I had 8 stitches between each buttonhole.

I bound off the button bands (regular, non-stretchy) on Row 10 without increasing any at the bottom of the “v”.

My notes on the sleeves:

Originally, I picked up 3 sts for every 4 rows around the armhole and got 84 sts. I tried several methods to make that work (and ripped them all out after the sleeve cap was finished), but that was entirely too many stitches.

So I'm going to go back and pick up every other stitch. That should work a lot better. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Designing My Sweater: Day 2

It's looking good so far!

I got a lot done today. I tend to have a one-track mind when I'm working on something I've never done before. I think it's because I don't want to forget what I'm doing and how to do it. At any rate, I'm ready to knit on the button bands next. I might have done the sleeves next, but I realized a little late that my two balls of this yarn are different dye lots. I really have to use the same yarn for the button bands, since they're so visible and right smack in the middle of the sweater.

These skeins were given to me and in the same bag, so I assumed they were the same dye lot. This one had no ball band, but it's obviously a different dye lot than my other skein. Now I wish I had started with the full skein! Oh well, I'm hoping it won't be so obvious if I have to work the sleeves in the second skein.

Here are my design notes from today:

I switched to the larger needles (size 4) and increased 6 stitches on each front section and 12 stitches on the back section by increasing every 6 stitches, working in stockinette stitch.

I began the v-neck shaping when the sweater measured 7” from cast-on. I’m decreasing 28 stitches (on each front) over 70 rows, so that equals out to 4 stitches (on each front) every 10 rows. [NOTE that this figure does not take armhole shaping into account, so it didn't work like I thought it would. I actually quit decreasing at Row 60 and probably should have quit a little sooner or, better yet, spaced the decreases out a bit more.]

I split for the armholes at 10” from the cast-on edge. When I joined the yarn to the back and other front, I was ready for a wrong-side row (row 21 of v-neck decreases).

Since I’m working this seamlessly, I only bound off 4 stitches for the armhole and then decreased at the armhole edge 8 times (continuing the v-neck shaping at the same time) before armhole shaping was complete.

I quit the v-neck shaping at Row 60 and just knit straight stockinette stitch until Row 70. There were 11 stitchess left, and I “graded” the shoulder with short rows (using w&t): leaving off 3 sts on the first row and 2 on the next rows until I had 2 sts left. Then I purled back through all of the sts one last time, picking up the wraps as I went. I put these live sts on waste yarn to graft later.

I repeated this for the second front, reversing the shaping.

I did decreases on the back section as the pattern states. I did a total of 8 paired decreases for the armholes after the initial bind-offs. At Row 70, I started shaping the shoulders (and quite knitting the center stitches) and then grafted them to the matching fronts.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Knitting a Sweater for Me: Making It Up As I Go Along

One of the reasons I wanted to learn to knit was to be able to make more clothing for myself. I could already sew pretty much anything I wanted, so learning to knit was like completing my skill set for clothing.

I've been knitting for a few years now and consider myself an accomplished knitter. I can knit just about anything I put my mind to, even if I don't particularly enjoy some things (like seaming). So the next step is to see if I can create a sweater that I want but can't find commercially (or in knitting patterns).

This sweater is my inspiration piece, although my version will be different in several ways:

I love the fit of this sweater. It fits me perfectly in size, shape, and proportions (which is always difficult to find when you're as petite as I am). I've searched online for this sweater in white, but to no avail. So I'm taking my favorite elements from it and creating my own.

It's helpful to have a guide of some sort, so I searched Ravelry for sweaters that looked remotely like what I had in mind. I came up with the Ione Cropped Cardigan by Spotlight Australia (a free pattern). I used it for the initial cast-on numbers and will use it for the armhole shaping and the number of sleeve stitches when I get to that point. Other than that, I'm changing the rest (including using a different yarn weight).

One thing that was very important to me was to use a finer yarn than I usually use for sweaters. Worsted-weight yarns knit up quickly, so they're my go-to yarn for sweaters. But I'm small and petite, and sometimes I get "swallowed alive" by the thickness of worsted-weight sweaters. I'm using Bernat Baby Sport for this sweater because I have it on hand (given to me). The Ravelry yarn page says it's DK-weight, but mine is squarely in the sport-weight category. Maybe this is an older batch.

On my first day of knitting, I accomplished all 6" of the bottom ribbing:

Ribbing and stockinette stitch aren't the most exciting things to knit, but I really love the simple look of them. So I listened to a Knit Picks podcast and part of an audio book I downloaded from my local library while I was knitting this.

Before I start the stockinette section, I'm going to put in a lifeline in case I make a mistake in the shaping sections and need to rip back. Lifelines are a knitter's best friend when you're making up a pattern as you go along.

I'll try my best to share my progress as I go along.