Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Soon with button bands

Not a great picture but I didn't want to wait for daylight. Today I knit a bottom for the sweater and one button band and then I ripped them out. I took time to take the picture between knitting and ripping.

I decided that I wanted the dark collar to go all the way to the end rather than being interupted by the button bands. I also decided that I wasn't completely crazy about the ribbing I was using for the button bands. Garter stitch seemed like a better fit. Since the bottom of the sweater is also garter stitch I decided to rip it out too and have a nice continuous band of garter stitch with mitered corners.

So now I'm working on reknitting the bottom and button bands. Once that is done I'll rip out the current collar and reknit it so that it meets. Then I will have a finished sweater. Hurray.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Now with sleeves

Well the yoke sweater now has sleeves. It took me a few tries to get the sleeve length and shape right which means I now have a couple of extra ends to tuck in when it is finished. I like them as they are now, though.

I decided to do the cuffs using a size smaller needle and discovered that I do have 5.5 mm DPNs after all, but I don't have 5 mm DPNs. Grr. So I knit the cuffs using the 5.5 mm DPNs and slightly fewer stitches. As a result I knit the stockinette portion of the sleeves flat and the garter portion in the round. In other words I unintentionally made sure I was always purling every second row.

Now I'm planning to pick up stitches for the button bands and the bottom of the sweater. I'm still debating whether I should knit these in 2x2 ribbing or garter. There is also a little voice telling me I should skip the button bands and put a zipper in instead. I'll sleep on it and decide how to finish this sweater in the morning.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A slightly strange sweater

I think I'm finally working on a knitting project whose progress deserves to be blogged about. In fact I've meant to blog about it since I cast on on Thursday but knitting kept getting in the way. Luckily I ran out of yarn and had to search my stash which gave me a good reason to set the knitting down, take some photos and write this blog post.

First a bit of background. When I dyed the Falklands handspun blue I was planning to knit it up into a sweater for Ken. To that end I knit up a striped swatch using the Falklands and some aran weight blue tweedy wool I had left over from knitting my Juno sweater (which still needs to be properly blogged). I liked the swatch but wasn't completely crazy about the stripes. The two yarns worked really well together, though, and it was a great way to use the thicker skein of Falklands.
Bumming around Ravelry I discovered these two sweaters (Ravelry links) and fell in love. I decided to knit myself a yoke sweater with the Faulklands for the yoke and cuffs and the navy tweed for the rest.

I had one problem however; the yarns knit up best on a 5.5 mm needle and although I had two pairs of straight needles in this size I lacked circulars and dpns. I didn't want to buy more needles so I decided to stick with straights. I wanted to knit this sweater from the top down so that I could adjust edgings and cuffs and over all length based on how much yarn I had left. I therefore decided to knit a top down sweater with side seams and underarm seams.

On Thursday I cast on for the yoke which I was knitting all in one piece. I started by following Barbara Walker's top down instructions. I wasn't sure whether to change the rate of increase (4 stitches every row) since I was knitting garter stitch rather than stockinette. I knit and ripped several times while adjusting the increases and the number of stitches cast on. By the end of Thursday's knit night I had decided on using the same rate of increases and following the Walker pattern had produced this:
On Friday I ripped all of my work out and started again without the extra neckline shaping. I increased 8 stitches every wrong side row and soon had the yoke portion completed. Part way through the yoke I had too many stitches to fit comfortably on one needle. Since I had two pairs of straight needles, I put half of the stitches on one needle, half on the other and then knit them using a third. It was just like knitting on DPNs while working flat rather than in the round.
Since the yarn is thick, the pattern simple and the needles big this project is just flying along. The fronts and back are basically done and I'm just working on the sleeves. If all goes well (and I don't have to go searching through my stash again for more of the leftover yarn) I think this sweater will be done in a couple of days.
Back to knitting for me.

Monday, March 16, 2009

More handspun

It's Monday again which means it's time for my weekly blog update. One of these days I'll get on a more frequent schedule but until I do Monday is blog day. This last week I did some spinning and finished a pair of socks but I'll stick to the spinning for this post.

My most recent creation is the result of having a few bits of BFL top lying around which had been dyed in various shades of green. I used these bits of fiber to soak up excess dye from some of my earlier experiments with darker greens. Some of the top was a saturated yellow-green and some was a much less saturated blue green. I split these into strips and alternated them as I spun. I then plied the resulting single to itself to get a nice sport/dk weight yarn.

Before I spun it up I was thinking that I would probably over dye the yarn but once I saw how it was coming out I decided to leave it as is. I really love this little skein and I can't wait to knit it up into something. Spring is coming, though, and I no longer feel the need to knit mitts or winter hats. I only have about 170 yards and I'm not sure what to do. I'm thinking I might do something with stripes. Suggestions?

Prior to knitting up my BFL leftovers I was working on a couple of pounds of Falklands. Well it started out as a couple of pounds of white Falklands wool form Hello Yarn. Some of it got spun up as a two ply which I have been making into the wintergreen mittens (the subject of a future post, I promise). The remainder I used getting the hang of spinning on my old Quebec Production wheel (also due a proper blog post). I spun the singles on the production wheel and turned them into a three ply yarn on the Lendrum (with some cursing). A couple of weeks ago I finished up the last of it.

Since it was spun over the course of several months with long breaks in between, the final skein doesn't quite match the previous ones. It is better plied but it is also thicker and stiffer; the last skein is an aran weight and the others are dk/worsted. I'm currently trying to decide if I knit it up alternating skeins or knit separate projects.

I'm getting ahead of myself. After I finished all of the spinning I decided to try dying it (the cat thought it should be left as is for her comfort).
I got the big stock pot and tossed it in with some blue dye and vinegar. Thanks to temperature gradients I didn't get an even colour, but I'm still happy with the results. The final, thicker skein is 350 yards and the others are 126, 260 and 442 yards respectively. The two large skeins are much too large for my ball winder to handle so I've balled them up by hand. I took this picture after the 350 yard skein was balled but before I did the 442 yard one.All of this Falklands yarn has a beautiful sheen. I would jump on the chance to knit more Falklands. It drafts beautifully and produces a really beautiful worsted spun yarn.

Now I just need to decide what to knit.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Handspun and Garter stitch

I guess it is time for my weekly update. I have a lot of spinning and knitting to show off from last week and I think I'll split it up into a few posts. Today I want to show off a couple of baby gifts that got mailed off to their new home this afternoon.

The octagonal baby blanket finally got its stars. I used this knitted stars pattern, only worked in the round. The actual colour of the blanket is somewhere between how it appears in these two photos.

I also knit up a Baby Surprise Jacket. A trip to the library got me the pattern and I had the yarn already spun up and waiting. It is the pink and green merino that I had originally intended as part of a handspun swap. It wasn't up to snuff as a skein but it knit up really beautifully. It is so soft and springy. I was really worried that I would run out of yarn since I only had about 250 yards. As it turned out I had just enough. There was only about a yard left over after I had cast off.
The jacket took about a day to knit and I would gladly knit another. It really is a very charming pattern.

Monday, March 2, 2009


I thought I'd write up a quick post before I fell too far behind on my blog again. I've been doing some spinning recently but I don't have any pictures at the moment. I spun up some baby alpaca that has been sitting around for quite awhile. It is lovely and shiny but I was surprised by how much dirt came out when I set the twist. I'm used to very clean roving/top but I guess alpaca doesn't need washed like wool does so that step is sometimes skipped. Next time I use preprepared alpaca I'll be sure to wash a bit before I spin.

I also spun some of the dark BFL that I dyed red. I haven't figured out the yardage yet and I'm not sure what it will become. I also discovered a partial bobbin with undyed dark BFL singles on it so I plied it up.

I think I just convinced myself that I should do a yarn photo shoot in the next couple of days.

I do have a picture of my most recently finished pair of socks. They are a simple ribbed design using some yarn that has been in my stash a couple of years. I used to have the label but I don't think it came with me when I last moved. All that I remember is that is is hand dyed and that I bought it at a booth at the Kitchener Waterloo Knitter's sale. These socks are for someone else but I've already cast on a pair of socks for myself using the yarn leftovers. I seem to be on a bit of a leftover sock yarn knitting jag. Pictures to follow.