Friday, January 23, 2015 1 comments

Knitting: Layer Cake Loop Cowl for ME!

I've knit myself a few decorative-style cowls recently in an effort to keep my neck warmer this winter. Usually I would reserve cowls like this for wearing with my coat, but they do wonders to keep me warmer when I wear them with my regular clothes, so I picked some nice colors that would go with my wardrobe.

This pattern (a freebie) is called Layer Cake Loop, and it's one of my all-time favorites. The first picture is how it looks un-looped. You could wear it like this or pull it down to cover the tops of your arms, almost like a cape. Mine fits perfectly either way.

If your neck is especially cold, you can double it. (This is mostly how I've been wearing it.)

I used Michaels' brand of yarn called Impeccable. When they had it on sale recently for $1.74/skein, I picked up a bunch of it. I really like the yarn and appreciate that it comes in some nice, vibrant colors. Not every yarn line does.

Stay tuned for more cowl pictures in the future!
Wednesday, January 21, 2015 2 comments

Knitting: Penny Candy Pullover Sweater for ME!

The next sweater I made for myself is this lovely Penny Candy Winter pullover. It's also a paid pattern ($6.00), but lovely enough to be well worth the price.

The lace detailing was what "sold" me on this sweater. I love lace!

The sleeves really are even on the sweater. It's just sitting on the hanger crooked.

When I first finished and tried it on, I wasn't overly thrilled with the results. This is not the fault of the pattern, but actually the yarn I used. (More on that in a moment.) But the more I look at the pictures of it on me, the more I think I actually do like it. I just doesn't feel like a great fit, mostly because of the yarn.

So, about the yarn ... It's Michaels' brand alternative to Simply Soft (theirs is called Soft & Shiny). The only way it compares to Simply Soft is by how it looks in the skein. And after you've worked with it, even the look of the skein wouldn't fool you anymore. This yarn is so slippery that I (a tight knitter) was knitting loosely on needles that would usually have been too tight. I also went down a full pattern size, and it still came out with plenty of room. (Yes, I did a gauge swatch. This should not have happened, so I'm chalking it up to my problems working with the yarn.)

The yarn is very loosely plied and very splitty. This might be one of the things that makes it soft. It really is super-soft, so it might be nice for baby items. But I have a feeling it's going to be like Hobby Lobby's Simply Soft alternative and end up with all the yarn ends coming to the outside of the sweater every time I wear it, no matter how well I weave them in.

Needless to say, I'm returning the rest of this yarn that I bought on sale. I'm going to replace it with Simply Soft for the next few sweaters I have planned.

I really like the overall design of the sweater and the pattern, so I'll be making it again with a different yarn. One other thing I'll change next time - I'll make the lace in a lighter color. Black is my best color next to my face, but it completely hides the lovely lace pattern.

If you'd like to check out my more extensive notes on this project, you can view my notes on Ravelry here.
Monday, January 19, 2015 1 comments

Knitting: Cabeladabra Sweater for ME!

I've been knitting more than I've been blogging lately, so I have several projects to share with you in the next few days. I figured I'd start with my favorite hand-knit sweater to date - the Cabeladabra Sweater.

First of all, this is not a free pattern. It's $7.00. That may sound steep if you're not a knitter, but the pattern is very well-written and worth every penny. Yes, that really means a lot coming from thrifty little me. :)

I fell in love with this sweater as soon as I saw it, but I have to admit that I thought twice about it because it's so skin-tight on everyone else in their project pictures. I try not to wear my clothes that tight due to modesty issues and the fact that I'm small enough that they don't usually make clothing two sizes too small for me. But that's the great thing about knitting your own sweaters - you can make them to whatever size (and with whatever ease) you need or want to.

Interestingly enough, I thought I would have to go with a size larger than I usually wear. Not so. What you see was knit in my regular size and with near-perfect gauge. If you're especially curvy it may be different for you, but this turned out perfectly for me.

The safety pin marks the point in the pattern where you would usually "break" for the neckline cables (only another repeat further). In this picture, I stopped at the point where I actually "broke" for the neckline cables.

I did have to make a few adjustments for my unusually-short-waisted body. I needed to take a full 3" off the bottom of the sweater so it didn't end mid-hip, which is the worst possible place on me. I was originally going to take it off the bottom of the cabling pattern (just starting several rows into the pattern), but I forgot to do that in my enthusiasm to start the sweater.

So I had to figure out how to do it later. This was a bit of a problem because you have to end at a certain spot for the neckline cables to twist off correctly. This would usually be Row 14. Happily, Row 26 had the same exact instructions, so I was able to do it there instead. (My notes on Ravelry have more extensive details about how I did this.)

You can get a better idea of how well this worked in this picture, where I had finished the neckline.

You may notice that there is waist shaping on this sweater. For the longest time, I avoided waist shaping for the same reasons that I don't wear my clothing skin-tight. But then I realized that it didn't have to be immodest if you just decreased enough to fit your body without being too tight. I doubt anyone would look at the finished sweater on me and think, "She decreased at the waist." Done properly, you don't even notice it. It just makes it fit better without being baggy.

Here it is, all finished and ready to be blocked. I debated whether to steam-block it or just throw it in the washing machine. Since it's 100% acrylic, either method would work. Since it came out to the perfect size and just needed blocking to even out a few stitches, I opted to put it in the washer and dryer. (I put the dryer on low and only dried it 20 minutes. It was just the right amount of heat and time.) It worked perfectly!

If you'd like to see more of my knitting notes on this sweater, you can view my project page on Ravelry here.

And in case you're wondering about the yarn, I used Michaels' brand Impeccable. I got it on sale for $1.74 a skein and figured I'd see how it turned out. I really like it! I have no complaints about it and will probably stock up when it goes on sale again.
Tuesday, January 6, 2015 1 comments

Knitting: FINALLY! A Beret for Me!

Yes, I finally managed to find (and knit) a winter hat that I like on myself. Sorry the pictures aren't the best, but they're as good as I could do with the lighting that I had to work with.

Since I liked the look of the last Nine Dwindling Cables hat from the front, I modified it to reduce the slouch by roughly 3" less.

I also worked it in black this time, since I really need the contrast by my face so that I don't look like death. :)

I'm going to line it with a satin sleep cap so that it doesn't frizz my hair when I wear it.

I can't tell you how happy I am to finally have a winter hat that doesn't make me look goofy. I spent my childhood in dorky-looking hats simply because my mother wouldn't let me out of the house without one on. (I make my own kids wear a hat, too, so I completely understand!) From the time I had a say in what I wore, I simply haven't worn a winter hat. It's been 37 years coming, but it's finally here.

If you'd like to see my rather brief project notes on Ravelry, you can find them here.