Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Questionable Chromatic

For months, I've been thinking about knitting a sweater or top. Our lives have been so crazy with our upcoming move that I haven’t been up for spending either the money or the time on choosing and buying yarn for such a project. As I was looking through my stash recently, I realized that a shopping trip might not be necessary.

Last autumn, I ordered eight skeins of Cascade Yarns Cascade 220® Fingering to make a pair of stranded colorwork mitts. The pattern called for six colors, and I added black and gray to the order in case I changed my mind about the background.

Eight Skeins of Yarn Delivered in a Padded Envelope
As the yarn originally arrived, snugly packed in a padded envelope.

I used up about half of the blue in knitting the background of the mitts, but very little of the other colors. I didn’t end up using the black or gray at all. All together, I had enough yarn left in my stash to make an adult sweater.

I spent some time searching through Ravelry to find a pattern that would work with multiple colors. I was thinking stripes rather than stranded colorwork for two reasons:
  • Stranded colorwork uses more yarn due to the yarn that gets carried over behind the stitches. I wasn’t sure if I had enough yarn to allow for that.
  • The yarn carried behind the stitches would also create a warmer sweater. That’s not ideal because we’re moving to a warmer climate.

As I searched, the pattern that I kept returning to was Chromatic by Tin Can Knits. The stitch pattern is made for stripes while the shifting rows add a little extra visual interest. It’s lacy and open without being overly revealing; I could wear it to work with a camisole underneath. And I’m discovering that the pattern is easy to follow and knits up quickly.

Colorful Balls of Yarn Ready to Knit into a Sweater

Based on my measurements and yarn gauge, I making a size ML with needles one size up from what the pattern calls for: US-6 (4 mm) and US-4 (3.5 mm). I’m alternating the black and gray for the Master Color, and the rest of the colors for the Contrasting Color. I’ve decided not to use the white yarn; it stands out too much against the deeper colors.

Close-Up of Colorful Striped Knit Sweater Top

To be honest, I’ve been questioning the colors a bit. Starting at the neckline with yellow and black put bumblebee images in my mind that set the project off on the wrong foot. In addition, the shifting stripes are very pronounced prior to blocking and that gives it a checkerboard look.

Colorful Striped Lace Knit Sweater in Progress

However, I’m going to keep going. I feel confident that once all of the colors come together and the sweater is blocked, the overall look will work. Time will tell if I should have gone shopping instead.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

One Yarn, Five Projects (and Counting)

Many years ago, I bought a pattern for a swing coat and enough Jamieson’s Chunky Shetland to knit it. I wore it a bit but ultimately didn’t like the cut. It was too boxy and the collar wouldn’t stay put.

I frogged the coat and knit the yarn into a boat neck pullover. I was relatively new to garment knitting at that time; I could adjust the sizing for the body of the sweater but didn’t know how to rework the armholes and sleeves. As a result, the body of the sweater fit as intended, but the armholes and sleeves were disproportionately large.

I frogged the pullover and tried a turtleneck sweater. This pattern was worked seamlessly from the top down and the proportions didn’t appear to need any adjustments. Despite the fact that I was pregnant at the time and couldn’t try on the sweater or predict what my post-pregnancy size would be, the fit of the sweater was perfect. I still wear it.

The original swing coat required a lot more yarn than the final sweater, so I had quite a bit of leftover yarn. Most of that yarn had been knit, soaked, frogged, and reknit more than once; I thought that I had a good handle on how it reacted to a soak.

In 2012, I used most of the leftovers to knit the Bryn Mawr Skirt pattern by Nancy Eiseman. It fit wonderfully — until I soaked it. Then it grew. And grew.

Thankfully, this yarn felts readily. I felted the skirt until I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing it if it were any shorter. I hand-sewed some elastic into the still-oversized waistband and had something wearable. I think I may have worn the skirt twice in the five years since then.

Blue Knit Wool Skirt with Cable Detail

I was looking at the skirt the other day, and thought it was about the right shape and size for a tote bag. With some of the excess yarn from my stash, I knit a set of straps two at a time on the same set of needles in a simple K1 P1 ribbing that matches the waistband on the skirt.

Blue Knit Wool Straps for Tote Bag Before Felting

I soaked the straps and felted them in the dryer with a load of jeans. When the felted straps looked similar to the skirt, I used the cable details as markers for where to attach the straps. I closed the bottom edges of the skirt and used the moss stitch band at the base of the skirt as a guide for folding the corners up into gussets. The tote bag was soaked one more time and returned to the dryer for another round of felting.

Blue Felted Tote Bag Made from Knit Cabled Skirt and Straps

I’m happy with the result. The bag is roomy, durable, and a step up from casual. After we finish our move and I have access to my sewing machine again, I’ll add a lining with a few pockets.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering: I still have enough Jamieson’s Chunky Shetland in my stash for another small project.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Gold Sparkles and Silver Linings

Some days don’t go as planned. I’ve had quite a few of those days recently as our moving date gets closer. It feels like we’re continually taking two steps forward and one step back — which, I acknowledge, is better than one step forward and two steps back. Progress is being made; slow progress, but progress all the same.

I think I may have mentioned before that socks are possibly my favorite knitting project, and I come back to them often. Somehow just the act of casting on a pair of socks calms my nerves. Contrarily, I’ve been under so much stress in recent months that I haven’t had the concentration to work on socks. A couple of weeks ago, I decided it was time to take charge and stop that nonsense.

Partially Knit Sock and Skein of Yarn

I pulled a skein of Plymouth Yarn Stiletto from my stash. The colorway is 700, which is a bright self-striping combination of reds, greens, and blues with a hint of gold sparkle running throughout. After knitting a swatch to check my gauge, I decided on the pattern Wedge by Cookie A. I thought the wider stripes would play well with the wedge shapes.

Striped Sock Knitting in Progress

The pattern is fairly straightforward. As noted in many of the comments on Ravelry, I had to shift the beginning of the round before starting the toe. Another comment I saw is that this pattern uses a lot of yarn, and I have to agree. I knit Version 2, which has a shorter leg, in size Large. The pattern calls for 360 yards regardless of version or size. A skein of Stiletto has approximately 384 yards; I matched the pattern’s gauge and finished the socks with a mere 18 inches of leftover yarn. It doesn’t seem like an excessive deviation from the pattern but it’s enough that if I had knit Version 1 and/or size Extra Large, I would have run out of yarn.
Extra Yarn and Wearing Striped Knit Socks
Yes, that little bit of green is all that was left of the skein.

While the multiples of nine made the short row pattern easier to remember, I think that if I were to make these socks again I would stagger the short rows a bit for smoother transitions. Wedge would be a fun sock to make in an off-white yarn for mummy feet on Halloween.

Pair of Completed Striped Knit Socks

I was on track to finish the socks yesterday and have my blog post ready to go this morning when I encountered a step back. Without going into too much detail, I spent far too many hours yesterday cleaning up after animals that aren't ours and painting over damage caused by children who aren't ours. My husband tried to convince me that the painting would be a suitable story for this blog, but I declined. I suppose the silver lining — or should I say gold sparkle — of the timing for that step back is that I was able to soothe my nerves afterward by knitting the final rows of the second sock.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

One Year!

This week marks my one-year blogiversary! The Art of Making Blog started as a class assignment with a five-post requirement. I managed to choose a topic that I truly enjoy and about which I have something new to say — for the most part — every week.

It’s a fun challenge not only to write the blog posts each week, but also to continue making new projects at a pace that keeps the blog interesting. Photographing the projects can create a different set of demands between the timing of when the projects are ready, having helpers available, and capturing good sunlight.

Over the past year, the blog has had more than 7,800 page views. OK, a sizable number of those are probably from me double- and triple-checking page layouts as well as reopening pages to share links. Even so, I know I have some regular readers out there and I thank you!

The top five posts include three posts about knitting cloths and two about knitting hats:

Projects from Top Five Blog Posts in Year One

With the exception of the post about the Baa-ble Hat, the top posts have been some of my most recent posts. The Baa-ble Hat is a popular pattern that understandably attracts knitters. It's difficult to say at this point whether the popularity of the other posts is due to the subject matter or a growing awareness of the blog's existence.

If you came for the subject matter, the good news is that I expect this year will bring more quick and easy projects along the lines of the cloths and hats. Having many of my supplies packed while we wait for our house to sell limits what I can do, and the general increase in activity as we prepare to move limits my time to make projects. Soon — I hope — my time will be dedicated to unpacking and settling in to a new part of the country.

If you’d rather see some more involved projects, please be patient! I have ideas brewing and their time will come after we adjust to our new normal.

What types of projects would you like to see more of on this blog?

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Yarn/Pattern Pairing

Sometimes I go searching for a project, and other times a project finds me.

While I was in a chain craft store buying cotton for dishcloths and washcloths, another yarn caught my eye. It was Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick Stripes in colorway 602 Crimson. My husband is a lifelong fan of University of Alabama football, otherwise known as the Crimson Tide. This yarn was all but made for him.

With one skein in hand and a vague plan for a hat, a Ravelry search brought me to the free Big Chunky Comfy Hat pattern by Erica Kempf Broughton. I like the simplicity coupled with the one little detail that takes it up a notch from a plain hat.

The yarn, however, had other ideas. Can you see the stitch detail at the top of the brim?

Crimson and White Knit Hat

How about now? The two-color sections of yarn make the pattern difficult to see and, unfortunately, a two-color section and the one detailed row of stitches both happen to fall in exactly the same place. I could have frogged the hat and shifted the yarn to make sure the detail fell on a solid stretch of yarn, but I think the two-color sections would have ended up competing with the detail.

Detail on Crimson and White Knit Hat

I frogged the hat and switched to a basic K2 P2 ribbing. I based sizing decisions on the initial pattern, and I’m much happier with the result. So is our eight-year-old, who quickly claimed the hat.

Crimson and White Knit Hat with Pompom

I’ll keep the Big Chunky Comfy Hat pattern in mind the next time I have a more subtly-colored super bulky yarn. And I want to add that when Lion Brand named the yarn “Thick & Quick,” they weren’t exaggerating. I wet blocked the first hat before I decided to start over; after two full days of drying it was still damp — and we live in a dry climate. I knit each version of the hat on US-11 (8 mm) needles in about two hours.

We now have three of these one-size-fits-all hats, two of which have pompoms, from two skeins of yarn. Bring on football season and Roll Tide!