There was that big sports thing this weekend . . . y’know, football? Championship? Kind of exciting, because it was held at the MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands, right here in my lovely state of New Jersey. Plus, even though we’re not real sports fans, DH was born and raised in Colorado so he’s for the Denver Broncos on principle – poor guy, that was a disappointment, but hey, at least there was a connection. Did I mention pro sports aren’t a priority for us? Instead, there was skiing. And a visit to the excellent sale at my LYS, Down Cellar. And lots of time working on my OWL project for the Harry Potter Knit & Crochet House Cup on Ravelry, which is like knitting, with wizards. It’s more plaid! A sweater this time, with a nod to the purples of 2014. You might notice the vertical plaids aren’t in there, yet. Sure hope all those sporty people can get home the day after the game. Fortunately, my Superb Owl will continue along at . . .
At my house, we have a word we like to use when someone is lazily, casually moving towards an objective: Slaunter. As in, “I saw you slauntering around by the coffee shop this morning,” or “Could you please pick up the pace from a slaunter to a stride; we’re late.” It’s meant to suggest relaxed and unconcerned action; maybe a little bit indolent, but typically in a good way. Weekend mornings are perfect for slauntering; we’re achieving things, but in a relaxed and non-stressful way. Slaunter is a little bit saunter, mixed in with a dose of slouch. It’s imperfect, comfortable and forgiving. The concept of slauntering is all over my next bit of knitwear, from a mistake-rib beginning, to an easy, relaxed result. I’m loving the concept so much that I’m exploring some accessories, like a split-brim hat: (Some color, huh? That’s tosh dk in Iris; I popped into the LYS near my daughter’s orthodontist the other day just to pass some time, and they had three cubbies’ worth of colors and bases. Can . . .
Those are two words a knitter doesn’t ever want to hear – ripping lace. And yet I was not only hearing it, but doing it. This is the summer of lace for me, specifically lace sweaters; the last of which is almost ready for release. But getting there involved a nerve-wracking interlude of ripping back the lace pattern. I kept trying on this tee shirt (with the shoulders pinned together, since they were to be finished later), and thinking, hmmm, it’s not long enough, just another 8 row repeat before the ribbing. Somehow I got off track; it was originally meant to be cropped and boxy, over a wide ribbed hem, but then with the short sleeves I thought that would be too square shaped. Then I thought about those generic length end-at-the-bottom-of-the-pants-waistband tops which are kind of boring, so I just kept adding on and adding on. And you know when you suspect you’ve done something that’s not really working out, but you think, oh, it’ll be fine, and keep going? Yeah, me too. . . .
It’s been so colorless and cold for so long in the mid-Atlantic; it was great to get away to the beach in south Florida. I’m a grey lover, but even I am tired of being surrounded by dry grasses and bare branches for 5 months. I’ve been embracing color lately – more about that in future posts – and I definitely see some cerulean, aqua and verdigris in my future. Maybe in combination with dolphin grey and sand beige. And lest all these lovely blues and greens proved too much for me, I brought along as my WIP the large version of my upcoming Cauldron shawl, knit in these brownish tones of Redwood Bark Silky Merino. Kind of coordinates nicely!
My first cardi using the Contiguous method is finished, and I love some things about it, while I need to revise a few others. I love: 1) the single, gently-ruffled cuff and front edge – just swishy enough; 2) the length – longish but not dragging, and because it’s open front, the fronts dip and drape nicely; 3) the yarn – Rowan RYC Cashsoft 4-ply – with merino/microfiber and cashmere, knit at a loose gauge; and 4) the way Contiguous lets you make a more refined dressmaker look, with the sleeve fit and easy construction of a raglan. But there’s the thing; my fit in the upper body area needs some tweaking, since this sweater method grows a little bit differently than a raglan or a set-in sleeve. The shoulder is quite sloped due to the rapid increases, and the back neck is high. A very square-shouldered person might find a problem with that slope, but I think that making a point to knit the shoulder increases loosely, and block diligently, resulted in a good . . .
My contiguous sweater is moving right along, unfortunately to the point where it appears highly likely I will run short on yarn. I’ve already reduced the front ruffle to a single layer, mostly because two layers was bulky, and one will match the one sleeve cuff ruffle. As you can see, the amount of yarn remaining is small (and frogged from the swatch), and meant to make 3-4 more 600-ish stitch rows. Not looking hopeful. The cuff ruffle really came out nicely, so I’m committed to duplicating that on the front edge. Off to stalk other people’s Ravelry stash for RYC Cashsoft 4-ply in Weather.
The Contiguous cardigan continues, although beset by various little problems. Of course it’s been knit flat, back and forth to the underarm and for the body. And of course I KNOW that my flat gauge is typically larger than my gauge in the round.. Well this sweater proved to be typical; after knitting what should have been almost to the cuff on the first sleeve, with my carefully calculated rate of decrease, I tried it on and found that it was about 3″ too short. No good fix available, except to rip and redo. I decided first to do the other sleeve, using a larger needle and consciously looser tension – no pulling tight in a stranglehold around the Magic Loop! No excessive worrying about ladders! It came out much better, and true to desired gauge; see the difference: Â Â Â I was fairly immobilized on the couch with three separate balls of yarn attached, but happily managed to eliminate one by finishing the left cuff. It’s going to need a steam to stop . . .
I’ve always liked different construction methods, for garments, accessories, or whatever. It’s interesting to find better ways to make things, and sometimes the better way differs depending upon what’s being made. In terms of sweaters, I favor seamless construction whenever possible, to avoid excessive casting on, binding off and picking up. It’s not that I mind seaming, and sometimes I can see the advantage of the structure gained in a seamed piece; I chose to keep the seams when I knit my Plummi, because it was such a long, heavy sweatercoat. I also think nothing can beat a picked-up button band, where you can control the tension of the band versus the body, despite the anguish of getting the right number and interval of stitches. But in general, I like seamless construction from the top down, so you can try it on as you go and make adjustments along the way. Recently, the innovative SusieM developed a new seamless top down construction method she christened Contiguous, and she shared it on Ravelry in the Contiguous . . .
My son’s third grade art teacher approached me to ask if I’d be interested in helping with a knitting unit later in the year. Of course I said yes; it’s great to see fiber arts being given some play in the elementary arts curriculum. Her idea is to take the kids to see shearing and spinning, learn about how yarn is made, then teach them basic knitting and have them each make something. I consulted with some knitterly, teacherly friends, who suggested making our own needles out of dowels with decorative fimo clay ends, and knitting a little animal. I read several instructions, and my first prototype is the GlitterBunny, so named because she is knit from Wool-Ease Chunky shot with a glitter strand. It’s hard to avoid bling, sometimes. Anyway, this is probably the first time in I dont know when that I’ve knit a square on straight metal needles (my dowel needles desperately need sanding before I can let them touch yarn). She needs some tweaking, and some eyes, but . . .
My Elysium pattern has been very successful, and it’s easy to understand why; garter stitch, sideways knit, no finishing . . . what’s not to love? For a long time I’ve been considering writing a fingering-weight version, and the moment has come. Rhadamanthys will be a slightly updated version in Tosh Merino Light sock yarn. Here’s the sample shown in my favorite color, Composition Book Grey: