Monday, March 14, 2011

Umm... Fail?

About a week ago I cast on for a ruched tank top I found in the Spring issue of Interweave Knits. The "Gathered Front Tank" to be exact:

I wasn't like head over heels in love with it, but I thought it was cute and figured why not. So I made the front. Interesting construction. It is worked flat growing outwards in a semicircle with increases for the ruches, and then short rows to square out the corners. Here it is pinned nicely down:

Looks cute right?

But today I decided to make sure the back wasn't too big, so I pinned the few inches of it that I had to the front and tried it on and I found that it was really, really unflattering. And just weird looking. It had this POUCH in the stomach. A literal pouch.



 Am I knitting a maternity shirt? No. I don't think so.

The only way to fix it would be to start all over again with lots of carefully calculated decreases down the center. Something I'm really not that interested in doing.

Like... dude. I'm just kind of dazed. Like... what? How did this happen? Is there any way to fix this that doesn't involve basically rewriting the pattern and reknitting the whole thing? I guess I could steek and cut the whole pouch out (I've never steeked before), but I really don't have much yarn, so that would be a serious waste since I have no intention of buying more.

Then I had a look at the pictures in the magazine and you know what? The sample has a pouch too!!!! It's artfully photographed so you can't really see it well, but it's SO there. The problem is the pattern.

So yeah. I will not be going forward with that project. And I guess I will just have to frog the whole thing. I feel like leaving it for a day or so before I rip. The yarn is really nice though. Smooth and soft. I don't know what I'll use it for now.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Swirly Twirly Leg Warmers

Swirly Twirly Leg Warmers
by Abra Forman

It may be March, but there’s still a nip in the air. Keep warm with a pair of swirly-twirly leg warmers which incorporate a funky yet simple stranded colorwork pattern. An alternative chart is given for a pair of leg warmers with swirls in opposite directions. It’s a fluid and exciting twist on the classic stripe pattern except without all the ends to weave in! A good project for anyone new to Fair Isle.

Skills Needed
Knit, purl, make 1, knit 2 together, stranded knitting

Finished Measurements
Note: Pattern is written for 2 sizes, small/medium and medium/large.
14.5” (15.5”) in length, 5” (6.5”) in width (measuring only one side).

Any worsted-weight yarn in 2 complementary (or contrasting, your choice) colors. I used Red Heart Soft Yarn Solids in red and orange. Designate one color as Main Color (MC), which you will use for the ribbing, and one color as Contrasting Color (CC). You will need approximately 150 yards of each color.
2 pairs US size 7 circular needles, any length.
2 pairs US size 8 circular needles, any length.
Tapestry needle.
Optional: stitch marker.

This pattern uses the two-circular method, but you can also use dpns or Magic Loop if you prefer.

4.5 sts/6 rows = 1” in stockinette stranded patt.


Begin with smaller needles.

Using MC, CO 44 (56) sts on two circular needles. Work K2, p2 rib for 3”.

Switch to larger needle.

Increase row: *K10 (13), k into st below (m1), repeat from * three times, knit to end-- 48 (60) sts.

Work spiral, placing marker at beg of round if desired.

Follow color pattern as set.

NOTE: There will be 8 (10) “swirls” of 6 stitches each, but the first “swirl” of each round will always be 7 stitches in order to perpetuate the swirl pattern. The tension of the fabric will depend on how often you “catch” the floats (unused yarn carried along the back of working yarn). If you choose not to catch them at all, the fabric will be looser. If you catch them once or twice along each float, the fabric will be tighter.

Leg warmers shown inside-out. For left leg warmer, floats were not caught; right leg warmer, floats were caught behind the 4th st of every swirl.

Work until piece measures 12” (13”) from beg.

Switch to smaller needle. Using only MC, continue to ribbing:

Decrease row: *K10 (13), k2tog. Repeat from * three times, knit to end—44 (56) sts.
Switch to smaller needle.

Work K2, p2 rib for 3”. Use stretchy bind off found here.

 Alternative Left Leg

For an interesting symmetrical effect, mirror the color pattern of right leg by reversing the color chart, working from chart below.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

New pattern coming soon...

Today was devoted to writing and testing a new pattern for stranded colorwork leg warmers.

Sneak Peek.......

 This was a write-as-you-go type of operation, so there were a few missteps. My first attempt was so small I couldn't get it over my foot, so I abandoned it and tried again. I enthusiastically cast on and worked 3" of ribbing before realizing that I had not done the proper calculations and had ended up with two red swirls next to each other, so that took some last minute re-figuring. I've been at this all evening, for several hours now, and my eyes want to look anywhere but at a piece of knitting. I tried really hard to make the floats very loose, but there is still some puckering. I'm not sure if I should "catch" the floats or not. They look neater uncaught, but they can also get stuck on a toe. And I'm wondering if catching the carried-along strands with the working yarn would help or hurt the puckering. Probably help. So when I make the other one I'll try that. This was a very rough prototype, and I had some ideas as I went along, so the second one will probably be a lot neater and nicer. 

Anyhoo, I plan to knit up the second half of the pair tomorrow (ish, if I'm not still burnt out), polish the pattern and post it on here sometime over the weekend. Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Purty Lace!!

So I started this shrug on Monday, and now it's Saturday and I'm finished! Blocked, stocked and barrel.... Errm... yeah.

I LOVE IT! I think I say that about most of the stuff I make. Which is good. You should love things you work on for hours and hours. But this is like, a different level of knitting love. For a few reasons.

1. It has some tricky lace charts, and I don't usually do a lot of lace. What I mean to say is, I don't do lace.
2. It's really cute and flattering, no making me look chunky, no stretching across the chestular area. Because there is none.
3. It's SO wearable and handy!!!!

My other stuff, it's all very cute stuff that I wear occasionally. I just wore my Winter Wonderland skirt last weekend, actually, and my teal cowl neck on Wednesday. But this is something that I can wear ALL the time, not now when I never go anywhere special, but when I'm in Israel and I am dressing up for Shabbat, or if I have an occasion to look nice, this will come in serious handy. You always need cute little things to throw over your tank tops and so on. And this is so freaking CUTE!!

But enough talking-- here's some pictures to illustrate what I mean.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the foldy ribbed band, the fitted sleeves, the sweet neckline, the back, EVERYTHING!! Love everything about it!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't even believe I made it, that's how pretty and finished and awesome it is. Yeah!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

lacey fun times and new proj

The other day in Border's I found an interesting knitting magazine with some cool patterns I wanted to try. There's a "tee" which is really summery and cute, an interesting vest, a gorgeous lace shrug and some cool sweaters. I took it home and now I am already knee-deep in my lace shrug!

Took me a few days to get started. Sunday night I spent an hour or so wondering which yarn to use. I can't buy any more yarn right now-- I can't. Well, I shouldn't if can avoid it, and I do have a pretty nice stash so there was no real need for me to buy more. But my Silky Wool, which is supposedly DK, seems so light weight-- more like fingering really-- and my gauge was waaaay off! But I decided to take a leap of faith and do it anyway. The yarn in the magazine sample is so pretty and it's smoother than this. The silky wool is kind of nubbly. But it's very light, so it will be great for spring/summer, and you know what, I had no excuse not to use it.

The pattern calls for casting four stitches onto dpns, joining in the round and working four repeats of the lace pattern ON DPNS!!! As if. I halfheartedly tried it on Sunday night, but it didn't work so I just put it away and thought maybe I wouldn't even bother. But then last night I picked it up and went right to work and it went so smoothly. I cast onto two circular needles, then moved to dpn's, then when it got big enough, to a circular needle.

 Right at the beginning.

The lace pattern went very quickly and pretty smoothly until the time of night caught up to me. I really need to learn that after my brain starts getting fuzzy I need to STOP knitting, because at around 11 last night I spaced out and hit a little bump in the pattern and spent the next hour trying to fix it. Eventually I had to give up and go to sleep. Today I fixed part of it but not the whole thing, so there's a little section of the lace that looks kind of messy, but it isn't really noticeable.

The structure of the shrug is cool. You knit out from the center back in this square lace pattern, with four lace triangles, and then from that large square, you knit out the two sides for the sleeves, which are seamed. Then you join the top and bottom sides for the ribbed band. Here's a visual to describe what I mean:

So this is the back. The stitches on the sides of the squares will be knit out into extra-long sleeves (which are so pretty and feminine), which also incorporate a lace motif, and then the top and bottom become the ribbed band.

Closeup of one of the lace repeats. By the time I got to the last fourth of the chart, the repeats were getting long and I was having trouble following it. Once I took my eyes off the chart to look at my knitting I'd lose my place. It was driving me crazy so I came up with a smart solution: I recorded myself reading out the stitches, and then I just listened to it and knit so I didn't have to look away from my knitting! How brilliant am I. I just read out the pattern in a measured pace: "Knit.... yarn over.... ssk..... knit..... knit..... knit..... knit two together...." I learned I had to pause for an extra second or two to get the ssk done, that takes a little longer, but once I figured out the right pacing it was the perfect solution. I did a recording for each row, then listened to them four times over, once for each pattern repeat in a round.

It was actually an excellent idea. Like, a great idea. And if I ever do another complicated lace pattern like this again I will definitely record myself reaching the charts aloud again. With the smaller repeats it wasn't so much of a problem, but when it got up to forty stitches in a repeat, it was sooo easy to lose my spot. I've never loved lace so much but this is very pretty, and like I said, it didn't even give me a lot of major issues which is freaking miraculous-- I ALWAYS end up mysteriously losing or gaining stitches in lace. Ugh. Anyway, this is such a quick knit! Now the sleeves, then the band, and done. And it's something I can be especially proud of-- something intricate and finicky. Usually I like to knit fairly simple stuff. Stockinette, cables, etc. Even the "lace" dress was barely lace-- it was just feather and fan which is pretty much the easiest thing.

Speaking of my dress! I found the PERFECT slip at Macy's-- literally PERFECT. The only thing is the straps are a leeetle thick so I will have to sew them in a little, but other than that, omg perfect! It was the first one I tried on. It was slightly miraculous. I thought it would be very difficult to find something that would fit just right under the dress. It basically is exactly what you want in a slip-- it doesn't look like you're wearing anything, yet you're totally modest!!!

See what I mean?? I'm going to wear it to my Bon Voyage party in May.

I've done some other little knitting things the past few days-- made a few iPod cases for Etsy, and I also did this silly little thing...

Tee-hee... Can you tell what it is?


I can't take full credit for this idea. My friend Theresa put a truffle in a little piece of knitting I had and it looked so cute that the idea for a "truffle cozy" popped into my head and wouldn't leave. At the time it seemed like the best idea in the world. I would call them "Truffle Friends" (or "Frendz") and embroider little faces on them. I was so thrilled about this idea that I came home and actually MADE one. And it's... like... kind of hilarious. Everyone to whom I told my idea was at first like "Oh... um... ha ha..." but when I actually showed them the finished project they all cracked up and said "Hahahaha it's so cute!!!"

So I might make a bunch... for Etsy... haha... I know it's so ridiculous. But there's a lot of ridiculous, unnecessary stuff out there. I mean we have to get creative with our knitting, or we'll get bored, right?

I was thinking, packs of five, "Truffle Frendz", keep your chocolate safe! And each Truffle Friend would come with a truffle, of course. Hahahaha. So silly. But come on, it's so amusing.

Also finished baby sweater commissioned by my aunt:

Took way too long. Should have used a heavier weight yarn, but I had this stuff in my stash so I figured why buy.

And making a bit of progress on the baby blanket for my friend:

It takes a little concentration but I like the pattern a lot. It's like little pinwheels. It's also soft and summery (baby will be born in July) and unisex (I like to think)! Who says boys can't wear pink.