Monday, February 21, 2011


Whenever I have a day or two off from work, I always assume I'm going to get a nice chunk of knitting done. The thing is, I didn't have that many big WIPs this weekend-- I finished my dress, so now I just have my linen scarf, commissioned baby sweater, baby blanket for baby not due till summer, nothing I'm really that excited about. So I didn't do as much knitting as I wanted. I got the sweater done-- almost completely done, still need to sew on some buttons-- just lost steam-- and weave in ends. But I did it very unenthusiastically because it's not for anyone I know and not made with nice yarn. But I am getting paid for it, so I should be happy. BLEUGH.

I don't know why it's sideways. Whatever.

And I decided I want to put some more stuff on my Etsy page, because it's really not that impressive. And I've made a bunch of those blackberry cozies lately and they're cute and fast and easy, so I thought I'd just make a bunch and pop em on. But no, I had to go get creative. UGH! I experimented with this kind of asymmetric random cable thing and... bleh. Just looks kind of messy, and stretches weirdly over the iPod I tried it on.

That's the front.

That's the back. Upside down.

Sigh, and then I had the idea of making ones with personalized initials which I thought would be cool, but I wanted to use intarsia so I decided to knit it flat and seam it instead of knitting in the round and stranding. And I really didn't swatch too accurately so the sizing was WAAAAY off and it's just tiny and stretches and the concept is good, but I need to get fingering yarn in many different colors if I really want to explore that idea.

And I'm supposed to be on a yarn diet. Though I just sold some yarn through Ravelry, so maybe I should use my PayPal money and order some more Knit Picks... augh! I have a problem. However, I wouldn't want to use Palette, it's too hairy. I need something more like a sock  yarn. Maybe I'll surf on over to the site and see what they have. Ayyyyiyiyi, I have a PROBLEM!!!

Anyway, I'm pretty disappointed with my knitting achievements this weekend, and now I have four days of work in a row. But again, it's not like I'm working on anything THAT exciting, so my apathy is understandable. I really need to step it up on the linen scarf. I made some good progress this week by working a few rows here and there, so I'll try to keep it up.

Thursday, February 17, 2011



Oh my gosh... what a journey. From the horrifyingly huge first attempt to a sexy wearable dress. It's been a long road... okay, not that long, really. I started the first one on January 29th, ripped it out and started the new one on February 6th, and finished it today, the 17th. So it was a pretty short road as it turns out... but emotionally, a twisty one.

To recount:

I was nervous about starting the dress in the first place-- I had a lot of doubts about sizing, yarn, etc. But I decided to force ahead with the standard small/medium size as written. I worked on it for a few days, until I reached about 20" of length-- essentially the waist shaping. I began to have serious concerns about running out of yarn, because I was already on the 6th ball when I reached the waist (and I only had 8). I tried it on. It was enormous-- just enormous; there was no way to salvage it whatsoever.

So I ripped it out, winding the yarn into a huge ball, and cast on again, this time removing FOUR pattern repeats, or 96 stitches. The dress was fitting great as I worked up the body. And it CONTINUED to fit. That's where I left you at the last post. Since then, I have finished the rest-- armholes, shoulders, and crochet edging. And that's another tale.

OK, so. A lot of Ravelers have mentioned that if they altered the pattern at all, like by removing repeats, the armhole instructions were very vague and hard to follow. I solved this problem by pretty much ignoring them. It worked well on the back, although I was a little worried that when I bound off for the middle back (leaving the shoulders), it would end up looking weird, because the pattern calls to bind off 32 stitches, and I only bound off 18. Keep in mind, when you divide for the front and back, you're basically splitting the stitches, putting half of the repeats on hold and knitting the rest for the back. The pattern is assuming you have six repeats on each side. I only had four, and the armhole decreasing meant that by the time I was ready to bind off the center back, I only had two full repeats, plus a few stitches on either side of the markers. This was a problem, because all of the shoulder and armhole shaping assumed and therefore required the presence of those extra middle repeats.

I had to bind off, though. So what I did was take half of each of the two 18-st repeats and I bound those off. In other words, I worked the first 9 sts of the first repeat, bound off 9, dropped the marker which indicated the start of the next repeat, bound off the first 9 sts of the second repeat, and then for the shoulders, I had half of a repeat for each one, plus those leftover stitches on the side. This was where everything got hazy, because the instructions were explicitly specific for the exact amount of stitches you were SUPPOSED to have at this point, and it was fairly impossible to extrapolate instructions for my random numbers. So I just kind of fudged it. I have to say that this didn't work out great for me. The two back shoulders actually came out fine. I kept track of exactly what I did-- decreasing at the armhole edge, then increasing for the cap sleeve, all while working the remnants of the pattern repeats-- so I could repeat it (mostly) on the other sleeve, so the back right and left sleeves = AOK (by my standards).

That's the back there. Then I picked up the stitches which were on hold (on the blue yarn pictured above) to work the front. The front was another story. It was more difficult because I had less stitches to work with for the shoulders, since I had to BO edge stitches to make the nice sloped neckline. So I ended up with really skinny little straps which then kind of bulged out into weird totally improvised "cap" sleeves. I have to admit they do look weird, and not totally awesome, but I don't think anyone else would notice, and I am by NO means a fussy knitter, so I'm absolutely not going to rip back and re-do them.

But that's not the end of the story. I did all the armhole and shoulder shaping last night in a fit of knitting frenzy. BUT-- I only finished one of the front shoulders. I was too tired to do the other one. I had written down what I'd done so I figured, hey, whatevs I'll do it tomorrow. However, I was excited enough to try on one sleeve by binding off one shoulder together (3-needle bind off). So I did and put it on, but the sleeve looked a little weird-- kind of backwards:

You can't see THAT well from this picture, but in effect, the cap part of the cap sleeve was pointing inwards, towards my neck, not outwards over my shoulder. I took it off and examined it:

For a few minutes I thought I was actually losing my mind, because you can clearly see above from the first picture that the cap sleeves WERE originally pointed in the right, outward direction, and now suddenly the cap sleeves were pointing inwards. I started at it uncomprehendingly. It was much later than I usually stay up, and I had been glued to the knitting for hours, and things just weren't making sense.

Smarter, more awake people might have already realized what I had done, but it took me a good few minutes to figure out that I had seamed together the two back shoulders, instead of one back and one front. You can see that the "armhole" is very strangely small. That's because it's the neckhole. Once I realized this, and also realized I wasn't crazy, I undid the binding off and safety-pinned the two correct shoulders together and tried it on again. Oddly I'd actually liked the way it had looked before a little better, but I wasn't going to do anything drastic until I had finished both shoulders and looked at it as a whole. So before I went to bed, when I posted last night's cryptic sentence, this was what I had:

I was extremely pleased with how it was shaping up as a whole, so I went to sleep a happy camper. Next morning before work I bound off the two shoulders together, so when I came home I was ready to finish the left front shoulder. Yeah... that wasn't great. I hadn't kept track of where I was in my little homemade pattern, and it didn't really make sense to me like it had the night before. I should have done it then when I had just done the other one, but it was too late. So I just wildly improvised some more and it also came out skinny and a little weird looking. But whatever-- I didn't care-- I was done!!!! I bound off the left shoulder and yanked it on again with all the loose ends hanging free:

Instant love!!!! 

It even gives me a tushie!

I single-crocheted around the neckhole and armholes. I thought I would try filling in the weird sleeves a bit with crochet, but it looked even weirder so I just chain stitched it around once each side, which really neatened up the rough edges. I love it love it love it love it love it, despite the weird sleeves. I weaved in all the ends and tried it on one last time, and got someone other than the self-timer to take a picture:

I am pleased.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I should be asleep right now

I have knit the sexiest dress ever. Way too tired to elaborate. Pictures and accompanying story tomorrow.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dressing up

Oohh, I am doing very well with my dress....

Halfway done with the waist shaping-- at about 29"! Way past where I was before I ripped it out, and I have a TON of yarn left. I'm probably about halfway through the enormous ball that I rolled from the ripped project. I think I'm on the fifth skein. Far from running out, I might actually have yarn left over when I'm done! Removing four repeats, though drastic, was DEFINITELY the right decision. If I had only removed two (like several other Ravelers), it would still be loose on me... and I like things fitted. Especially knitted ones. I find that stuff that's loose makes me look lumpy. Snug-fitting = way more flattering. Though I think for this dress I may have to do some crunches, because you know that little pouch of fat under your belly button, well this dress does not forgive.

At any rate, it's going very very fast-- I knit a lot today and I got so far. I could probably even finish this in a few days. And it fits! I keep trying it on every time I do a decrease round, and even at the 12-st repeats, it STILL fits with a tiny bit of give-- and keep in mind that's only 96 stitches around! I am a VERY loose knitter, apparently. After I finish the waist shaping, it's up to the bust shaping and then sleeves, and from what I've read on Ravelry, it seems like the instructions for the sleeves are really confusing and unclear, so with my improvised changes, I'm a little worried. But whatever, it'll work out somehow. And now I REALLY have to go to sleep, because, sadly, my day off is over :( and it's back to the daily grind tomorrow.

Friday, February 11, 2011

one more blackberry cozy

....For my best friend's sister Nicole.

I used some sock yarn and changed it up a bit: instead of making a buttonhole and sewing a button to the case, I sewed the button to the flap for aesthetics and sewed on a snap underneath for easy opening and closing. I started last night and finished today-- quick and easy:

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Those who ignore history....

...Are doomed to repeat it. And the unfair thing is, I DID swatch this time!! For naught. I just reached the waist shaping and decided to try on the dress.

It might as well be an ad for Jenny Craig. That's the NARROWEST point of the dress, and it's ridiculously huge! Here it is laid out once I took it off the needle:

At the cast on, there were 288 stitches; at the waist, there were half that-- 144. Can you even tell?! What a disaster!!

What I must take away from this: I knit very loosely. I need to ALWAYS go down a needle size (or two) if I want to avoid HUGE gauge mishap!!! To be honest, I wasn't overly devastated about ripping this, for a few reasons-- one, I want it, and I want it to fit well, so I'd rather rip it out and start again than give up. Two, how things were going I would have definitely run out of yarn-- now that I will be removing several repeats, I'll definitely have enough. Three, it only took me about a week to knit all of that, so it'll hopefully be even faster when I have less stitches. And four, as a knitter, you simply have to accept these things and move on. Sadly, it is part of our reality. Though it ALWAYS seems to happen to me! Remember my buttoned--collar sweater, that I had to completely destroy and restart? But the thing is, now it is the best-fitting thing I have EVER knit and I love it to pieces.

Anyway, I have decided to remove four repeats, so that is 96 stitches. I am casting on 192. Sigh. Hope it works this time.

Friday, February 4, 2011

yet ANOTHER new project, and progress

I started another new project today! Got some great news last night, turns out a good friend of mine is going to have a behbeh. Yay!! Someone else to knit for!!! And a great opportunity to use my brand-new cotton yarn! Huzzah! So I got really excited and jumped in.

But before I could knit, I had to wind, right? Well, I was tired of wrapping my yarn around chairs and knees and bedposts to try to wind. So I decided to get creative and improvise my own "swift":

 How To Make Your Own Swift Thing

Lazy Susan
5 or 6 chopsticks, preferably the kind with square bottoms (like the kind that come attached and you have to snap them apart)

Securely tape evenly-spaced chopsticks to the sides of the lazy susan like so:

Important--- Make sure the chopsticks are as upright as possible. If they lean, the yarn creeps up to the top of the chopstick and might slide off. This takes a bunch of tape.

So it worked, in the end!! I only wound two skeins into balls for now, but I left the chopsticks taped to the lazy susan for future use. Unless they fall off, of course.

So now that my yarn was all ready to go, I swatched!

The pattern calls for two strands of yarn to be held together throughout. I didn't like that idea. Takes too much yarn, would mess with the variegation, and it's annoying to use two balls at once. So I decided to alter the pattern a bit. I swatched with size 9 needles and it came out beautifully, as you can see above! The pattern is very cute, easy and pleasingly geometric, plus, completely reversible. So I modified the pattern by calculating the number of repeats needed to reach the 34" width of the blanket. That would be 8 repeats of 20 stitches each, at my gauge of 20 sts = 4". So I cast on 166 stitches (extra 3 for 3-st. garter borders) on my size 9 circulars. Wrong! Looked terrible-- the gauge was so loose and it looked waaay too long. Basically it was really messy and ugly so I took it off the needles and stretched it out for curiosity:

 It was like 41". Yeah no. So I cast on again with size 8's. Here it is, with half a repeat done:

I think it's good-- the gauge might still be a liiiittle looser than I'd like, but it's very pretty and soft and the colorway is fantastic for an unknown gender! Totally boy AND girl friendly, I think. But it'll probably take me a while. No rush, we don't need it till summer.

Other stuff-- here's my lace dress, already at 16":

I must admit that I am loving it-- Love the fire-engine red color, love the pattern, love how FAST it's going, most of all! The truth test will come when we reach waist and bust shaping, which might not be too far off. I was worried I wouldn't have enough yarn, and I'm still a teensy bit worried, but three balls got me to 16", and the dress will get narrower soon-- so I might actually have enough.

Three WIP's! Whee!