What I’m Knitting
While waiting for yarn to arrive for a few secret commissioned designs, I put my time to good use. First, I worked up a couple new swatches for submissions to a yarn company. This pic is a good illustration of gauge at work—size 15 needles with super-bulky compared to size 5 with sport:
And since my yarn still hadn’t arrived when I was finished with those, I started the next square in my cable/lace baby blanket! It doesn’t look like much (or even like a square) yet, but it’ll show its true colors when I block it:
I didn’t get much cooking time in this week, but I did make up some tasty veggie fajitas. The refried beans are canned, but the guacamole, sautéed veggies, and Mexican rice are all homemade. (That’s dairy-free sour cream and cheese—looks pretty real, doesn’t it?)
What I’m Reading
I’m nearly done with book #2 in the Thrawn trilogy—I love this series so much!
What I’m Knitting
I finished the cable/lace hat from last week, but it needs a good blocking before it’s fit to see. So instead, I’ll show you the design swatches I’ve been working on! Here was my original swatch concept (this is for a dolman-sleeved Aran pullover):
I liked this swatch, but the more I looked at it, the more I realized I didn’t love it. The central motif is too small and a bit too plain for my liking (this is the cable on the left, which will be in the center of the pullover with the V cables arranged on either side). I also decided I wasn’t a huge fan of this yarn for this design—it’s on the thin side for a worsted weight, and the swatch had more drape than I wanted even with a needle size that gave a good fabric.
So I went stash digging… and made a decision. Remember this in-progress cardigan?
My Ravelry project page tells me I started it two years ago almost to the day—just a few days before I found out I was pregnant and went down the rabbit hole of baby knits! I tried to pick the cardigan up again, but I’m just not feeling it. Plus, I’m (ahem) a larger bust size now than I was, so it isn’t even going to fit me well when it’s finished.
Luckily, this yarn (Stonehedge Shepherd’s Worsted) turns out to be PERFECT for the new design I have in mind. It’s soft, tweedy, and has the body that the first yarn I tried was lacking.
After three swatches with this yarn and different cable patterns, I think I finally have a winner!
So now I just need to knit a few more inches of swatch, block it, and take some measurements. Then it’s designing time!
Oh, and since I’m lazy, I’m just knitting the swatch right off the sleeve:
What I’m Cooking
I knocked out two recipes from my personal cookbook challenge this week. First up, potato-spinach curry. It was pretty good, but my husband and I both agreed that we really missed the richness that some fat would have brought to this one. With some coconut milk in the sauce, I think it would have been awesome.
And then a less-guilty taco salad, which was delicious! The recipe used “guacamame” made with half avocado, half edamame to cut fat and calories. It tasted fine, and I liked that it also upped the protein content. The recipe said to layer the ingredients prettily and top with cilantro… but sometimes you just gotta throw everything together.
What I’m Reading
To my husband’s chagrin, I’m still working on The Shepherd’s Crown. A couple of early mornings with the little guy means I’ve been too tired to read before bed. But I should finish it within the next few days!
Earlier posts in this series: Design Process Part 1: Inspiration
Now that I have a pretty good idea of the general look and construction I want for the sweater, it’s time to think about the details. First up, I do a rough sketch of the design.
I also included the targeted measurements for my size. Before, I would need to look up standard guidelines for this bust size, but I’ve knit enough size M fitted sweaters now that I know most of these measurements off the top of my head. A few of them are specifically tailored to my preferences–I like a little bit of positive ease on the upper arm, for example, but I tend to like an inch or two of negative ease at the bust. I also tend to like slightly longer sweaters (probably because a large bust tends to make shorter sweaters ride up at the bottom!).
Next up, choosing yarn! Fun!
It was pretty easy in this case. I have this gorgeousness in my stash:
This is Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL Sport in the “Manly, yes, but I like it too!” colorway (great name, eh?). I purchased two giant skeins (about 1300 yds) at Rhinebeck last October. After checking Ravelry, this looks like plenty to knit this type of sweater in a 36″ bust size. The great thing about top-down, too, is I know I have the option of knitting shorter sleeves or a shorter body if it looks like I’m running low on yarn.
Swatch time! As I mentioned in this post, the recommended size on the label for this yarn is incorrect. After a quick check on the yarn’s Ravelry page, I started with US #4 (3.5 mm), and I liked the fabric I got after I wet-blocked the swatch:
My measured gauge after blocking is 6 sts/8.5 rows to the inch. A little thinner than I usually prefer (I’m generally a DK and up girl), but the yarn’s soft and nice to knit with. Due to some kind of distracting life stuff going on right now, a stockinette, finer gauge sweater is just what the doctor ordered!
If I were knitting a bottom-up sweater, this is the point where I’d usually do some quick, rough calculations and then dive right into the knitting.
BUT… this is going to be a top-down sweater. So that means I have to do a whole bunch of math before I know how many stitches to cast on.
Some designers prefer to grade the pattern for all the sizes before they start knitting the sample in their size. I confess, I’m not one of those. I work out the numbers for my size, tweaking them as I go, and then grade the pattern for the rest of the sizes when I’m finished with the prototype.
Next up: casting on! Woohoo!
Bonus picture: one of the kitties “helping” me photograph the swatch.
I have an FO I can show you for Friday! Second week in a row!
Although that photo doesn’t show scale very well, it’s little, trust me.
Pattern: Tiny Holiday Sweater Ornament, free from the KnitPicks website. I didn’t use my own pattern! Gasp!
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Sport in Moorland, leftovers from my Put Together sample.
Notes: I didn’t enjoy this knit, unfortunately. Part of it is my fault–I didn’t have enough fingering weight yarn around, so I decided to knit it with sport weight on size 2’s. This meant the stitches were very tight and it was hard to work the front and back cables without a cable needle (my preferred method).
The pattern itself was too fiddly for my taste. Also, I would estimate it took me about 6-8 hrs of knitting. That’s as long as I would spend on a worsted-weight hat or mitten: too long for an ornament, in my opinion. I’m planning to make a few more little sweaters for gifts, but I’m going to find a nice DK or worsted pattern for the rest.
At least it came out cute! It’s hard to make anything out of Madelintosh that doesn’t look fabulous, really. Look at the depth of color:
And in other news, I’m planning to knit yet another pattern of someone else’s, this time for my adorable 2.5 year old niece! I have a few skeins of Malabrigo Arroyo in a lovely grayish-purple that have been sitting around waiting to become something, so I swatched it up yesterday:
Isn’t that gorgeous?
I’m drooling over little girl patterns on Ravelry, trying to pick out the perfect one. It’s such a novelty to be able to pick and choose without having to write my own, haha!
My current favorites are (Rav links):
Sweet Peasy: This is really cute and looks quick and simple. My gauge is a little smaller than required, so I’d have to go up to the next size and hope for the best, though.
Saffron: RIDICULOUSLY cute. I’m a little worried it’s too girly for my niece’s stylish mama, though… and I know from experience that ruffles are painful.
Sweet Poppy: Love this one… but I’m a little worried I’d run out of yarn. Also, the sweater has to be mailed all the way across the country, and I’m thinking the drapey fronts probably wouldn’t fare so well. It might need re-blocking at the other end!
Do you have a go-to toddler sweater knit in sport or DK weight yarn?
I’m already thinking hard about how to use my beautiful Tosh Merino Light from the last post…
…and after some sketching and swatching, I think I have a winner!
I went back and forth on the “interesting rib” I wanted to do… and finally decided on this nice mock-cable rib:
I love mock cables. They’re easy to do, require no cable needle, and look just as pretty as “real” cables.
So now that all that’s decided… I’m waiting until September 22nd to cast on. Sigh. I want to participate in a knit-along with the members of the Madelinetosh Lovers group on Ravelry, and that’s the official start date.
Until then, I have a sweater pattern to finalize and some winter accessory swatching to do. That sounds like fun too, don’t get me wrong… but I can’t wait to get my hands on the Tosh!
I’ve been knitting my brains out for the past few weeks… but unfortunately I can’t show you any of it. Three commissioned designs, three patterns to submit to Knitty, more swatches than I can keep track of.
The green sweater (which I’m planning to self-publish) is finished, but it needs blocking and buttons. I have a strict don’t-show-before-it’s-blocked policy, so that one’s gonna have to wait too.
I’ve also been rediscovering my addiction to 90’s sci-fi TV shows. Am I the only one who thinks shows used to be much more fun 15-20 years ago?
No knitting FOs to show off today (the green sweater’s coming along, but it still needs another sleeve). I have something else that’s almost as good, though–the husband made me a collapsible lightbox!
I had been using one that he made a while back which worked (all the yarn photos I’ve posted here were taken in it), but suffered from one fatal flaw: it was really too small for my purposes.
I ended up with a lot of shots like this that needed to be cropped down (swatch is of my Kari Baby Blanket):
Also, shots of white yarn tended to get washed out pretty severely (swatch of my Bevin Pullover):
We had trouble storing the box in our little apartment, too. We ended up having to devote a whole shelf to it in our linen closet. So when hubby offered to make me a bigger, collapsible lightbox, I jumped at the chance.
Not only does the new one use a clever placement of Velcro tabs to fold down so it can be stored at the back of a closet, but it has removable, different-colored backdrops!
Now I can get shots of white yarn that look like this:
Much better, no? And I have SO much more room to take shots. It’s awesome.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the old and the new lightboxes:
I took lots of pictures as hubby was making the box, so I’ll be posting a photo tutorial here in the next few days for anyone who’s interested in making their own. Stay tuned!
Another Stash Enrichment eXpedition! I was up in Monterey for a writer’s workshop this weekend and had some time to kill before it started… so I stopped into one of my favorite yarn shops, A Twisted Stitch. I wasn’t going to buy anything… but somehow these migrated into my hand:
That’s Alice Starmore’s phenomenal Aran Knitting (new and expanded edition) and two skeins of Arroyo, Malabrigo’s new sport-weight yarn, in Plomo.
I’m loving the book–the first section is a comprehensive history of the Aran islands and the sweaters that made them famous. I had many misconceptions about this style of knitting, but Ms. Starmore has set me straight! The next section is cable motifs, many of which are new to me. I got three design ideas just flipping through the book in the store, so I figured I’d better buy it, heh. The last section is gorgeous patterns, which I can admire even if I’ll never knit any of them.
At the earliest opportunity, I tried out one of the cable motifs in the Arroyo–isn’t it beautiful?
I’m thinking opera-length gloves, if I can manage to squeak a pair out of two skeins….