Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring Break Sweater

Clever marketing is such a beautiful thing. It works. It persists and follows you. And so it was that every single time I walked into Stitches n Scones the winter of 07-08 - BaBUMPHFF - there was this gorgeous sweater on a mannequin right in my face as I opened the door. I don't even like pink - at all. Well, one day on my way there, I just knew that if the sweater was still there, I would have to make an impulse purchase. Ironically, they didn't have the exact colors in stock and I had to wait a few days to get the yarn. Half of my spring break, no less. Oh the "wasted" knitting time. However... well yes... read on...

This project had many lessons in store for me.

Body, no border

I taught myself how to do a basic cable (YIPPEE!), but was too lazy to buy a cabling needle. Trust me on this one: buy a cabling needle. Instead, a size 3 knitting needle held the cable stitches for me. This caused great undue tension on my left index finger. I knit continental style, so there is already extra tension on that finger. Add to that my extreme obsession with seeing the cable pattern unfold before my eyes, the mesmerizing rib knitting, and all the free time of a spring break, and I developed extreme tendonitis in my left index finger. And had to stop knitting for at least two weeks. And wear a finger brace to keep me from moving the finger unnecessarily. It was torture, especially since I was not even close to finishing this sweater. All is well that ends well and I was busily knitting away again by early May.

Body back, no border

I learned some actual techniques as well, thanks to local knitters meeting at the LYS. Being a mostly self-taught knitter, picking up stitches usually meant putting the loop on the edge of the knitting on a needle. OOPS, not so much! And I wondered why there were always holes at the pick-up line... Now I know how to do it right. There are still examples of the old technique at the sleeves.

Finishing off the sweater was also a major dilemma as I could not figure out a sewn bind-off to save my life. I finally swallowed my pride and thanks to a private knitting lesson with Lin at my LYS, I was able to forge ahead. The best instructions were found the ancient Readers' Digest Knitting book and Lin drilled me until I got the tension right. Thanks! The finish is so smooth.

Besides some of the obstacles and set-backs, I loved every minute of working on this sweater. The rib knitting had a very soothing effect. I never dreaded knitting a row of all purls because there were manageable amounts of purl every few stitches. The wool was so soft and gorgeous to touch and work with. I recommend this sweater to anyone.

The Details:
Pattern: Gedifra Fall 2007, Pattern #1034
Size: Medium
Wool: Gedifra Volata Tweed in 9057 Pink and 9021 Brown
Needles: Size 6 & 8 metal circulars
Start date: April 3, 2008
Finish date: September 28, 2008

Modifications -
First off, less seaming is better than more, so I knit the two front sections and the back in one huge row. I divided the sections when it was time to make sleeves. Then I picked up stitches for the sleeves right off the body, leaving me with only shoulder seams! I tried to kitchener stitch those together, but it doesn't really work in rib, so I went back to my normal seaming method.
I also knit two stitches together every other knit rib on the end of the sleeve before the bind-off row. This prevented flaring at the end that just didn't seem to go with the knitting. Finally, the pattern did not mention this, but the picture looked like the sleeve bind-off was in purl, which think looks great.

To top it all off, my husband got me this awesome pin to close it. Check out Romi Designs to get yours: My music students also enjoy the G-clef theme.

I don't know which I like better, knitting the sweater, or wearing it. I do know that it made last year's spring break very fun and this year's spring break a little warmer... Because of course, it's snowing right now! (Perfect knitting weather!)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Katelyn Sweater & Emma Jacket

[Edit: I decided to rename this post for easy Emma Jacket finding, for those of you linking here from Christina's blog.]

For my birthday in 2006, I received a very uncharacteristic, but highly cherished, gift from my husband: a rather large sum of money on a gift card to a local yarn store. For months I couldn't decide what I wanted to buy and made at least a half dozen trips to see what might inspire me. Sometime early 2007, there was a clearance sale, and that's when I spotted eight balls of Katia Tundra in colorway "greens." It was magically soft and the colors were very appealing to me. It was also going to be the first project that I wanted to knit for myself, and it would be a sweater. I thought it would be a cardigan, but when I couldn't find a pattern that I liked, I decided to knit a somewhat generic pattern with the help of this pattern: I used a store-brought sweater to help me size it just right. I was a little skeptical if the collar would stay firm and not expand on me and then went for a turtle neck look, which I really like. I also didn't want the additional work of the stitching, and I think it turned out perfect.

This is a gratuitous shot of my dog Loki, helping me model the sweater.

The details:
Size: Small
Yarn: Katia Tundra in colorway "greens"
Needles: Size 6 & 8 metal circulars
Start date: February, 2007
Finish date: June 1, 2007

Recently, I've been in "stash bust" mode and was looking for a smaller project to finish using up this yarn. I ran across the "Emma Jacket," the product of local designer, Christina Wall.

Check her patterns out at This was my first opportunity to try a top-down sweater, and it was so addicting and a quick project. I love trying the sweater on during the knitting process. I made only a few modifications. I knit one less sleeve increase than recommended for the size. I was afraid that I would run out of yarn. Around 5 yards of yarn remained at the end of the project. That was perfect planning! The sleeve length turned out to be exactly as long as the sweater body, a look which appealed to me. I also used size 8 circular needles for the sleeves, because I was knitting way too tight on size 7 DPNs. Finally, I knit an extra two rows before dividing the sleeves, to reduce the possibility of too little room under the arms.

The Details:
Pattern: Emma Jacket, cropped version
Size: 34
Yarn: Katia Tundra in colorway "greens"
Needles: Size 7 Clover bamboo 36" circulars, Size 8 Clover 16" circulars, Size 5 Clover bamboo circulars
Start Date: March 2, 2009
Finish Date: March 18, 2009

Finally, a blocked update on the previous post. The little sweater that troubled me so much really turned out not so badly after all. It's all ready to be gifted to a lucky new someone. :o)