Monday, December 29, 2008

Just call me Lance Armstrong

Harriet continued apace until I hit my now-traditional stumbling block: I ran out of yarn. As you can see, she's currently sleeveless, and has no button band, although she's coming together nicely and I'm hard at work on the contrast collar in the meantime.

But of the--let's see--nine sweaters I've knit in the last year or so, ALL NINE OF THEM have required either another trip to the LYS, or a prowl through the "will trade or sell" stashes on Ravelry, or an emergency order from some online stockist who had the last of the dye lot. In a few instances, this has not been a surprise; for example, sometimes I'll buy a single skein just to swatch with, like the results, and then be off and running on a new design that very night which requires a return trip to the shop the next day to buy up the rest of their stock in that color.

Occasionally these shortages are due to superstition, or wishful shopping: I buy the smallest amount I think might conceivably be usable, usually to keep myself under some magic number of dollars-spent-per-visit. Most of the time, though, it's a simple matter of me chronically underestimating how much yarn I will need, and zipping through my supply much faster than I thought I would. Me and Lance Armstrong: extra-fast, but perennially short one ball.

With Harriet, I got tripped up by the all-over cable pattern, I think. That really eats up the yardage. On the other hand, it makes for a lovely, springy, dense and stretchy fabric, which in turn obviates the need for shaping in the pattern, and is therefore totally worth it. I'd have finished this dang sweater tomorrow if I hadn't run out of yarn. Making a virtue of necessity, though, I've ALMOST made up my mind to order enough extra to make a matching skirt. That ought to take, like, three more balls, right? Maybe four?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


The latest work-in-progress: Harriet, a top-down cardigan with allover cables and (eventually) a contrast collar. Inspired, variously, by a mushroom-brown dress off the sale rack at Anthropologie that I kind of liked, but not enough to buy; a twinset worn by some fictional 1920s women's-college dean in a BBC mystery-novel adaptation; and eight vintage jet-glass buttons that my friend Lynn gave me on their original card. They're almost too fantastic to take off the card, really, but I'm gonna.

Stay tuned, because I think my Xmas gift from the ol' ball and chain might be knitting-related, too...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Quit calling me...

Anyone who knows how much I travel (and therefore how many hours I spend sitting on airplanes and in airports) will not be surprised to see yet another new sweater finished this week. This one was cranked out on the way to, from, and around Edinburgh, Scotland, where I was attending a conference last week. This one's called Shirley, since she's built on the same chassis as Laverne, but with some key variations that give her her own personality altogether.

Shirley features elbow-length sleeves, lace trim at the hem and cuffs in an easy-to-memorize pattern, and a scoop neckline with a vintage-inspired tie collar. The pattern is now available for download through my Ravelry store:

Shirley's worked in Rowan Kidsilk Haze, which I can't seem to stop using lately, even though it means I will have to put this cloud-soft garment away for 90% of the year (or else be known as "that weird girl who always smells like sweaty wool"--which, for all I know, I might be already). KSH is pricey but totally worth it for the fantastic texture, loft, and warmth of the knitted fabric. And you only need a few balls for a sweater, so it's not THAT obscene an indulgence. Have I finished justifying this yet? I think so. Let's move on, shall we?

I can't talk about having been in Edinburgh without mentioning K1 Yarns, where I spent a very pleasant afternoon (and, um, a fair number of GBP) knitting, chatting with shopgal Sarah, and watching Scottish knitters and Edinburgh tourists come and go. A highly recommended stop for the knitter abroad in the UK--they have an outpost in Glasgow, too, although that city was all about the used bookshops and cheesemongers for me.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Adelaide is complete!

I finally sewed the buttons on this Saturday at my knitting circle. One of my knittahs, Stephi, was kind enough to take some pictures for me (which turned out way better, of course, than any pictures I have taken, because she actually knows what she's doing with the camera). Thanks, Stephi!

Adelaide is a long jacket-style, shawl-collar sweater with bracelet-length sleeves and pockets with contrast trim that matches the collar and hem edging. It's knitted in what I think is a pretty innovative way: from the outside of the border inward, and then up from the bottom hem in one piece, with practically no seaming. The collar stitches are caught in as you knit up the body. I still need to tweak the pattern a bit and size it up for M-2X, but it's ready to go in size S if anyone wants to take a crack at it; just email me or ping me in Ravelry and I can send you the pattern.

After I get back I'll be boxing this up to send to Thee Accidental Dater...hoping it brings her warmth, if not reliable non-crazy companionship, during the cold East Coast winter.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Laverne 2

Having given away the first Laverne to my adorable sweater model, colleague and friend Lorrie D., I decided I wanted one for myself. So I made a white-on-white version, which you can see here. This one uses the modification provided in the pattern for longer short sleeves (the original Laverne has cap sleeves) and it also uses the same color for the body and ribbed trim.

I wore it this week and discovered two things: 1) Mohair REALLY keeps you warm, and 2) Fuzzy sweaters totally make your boobs look bigger. I guess that second one counts as more of a RE-discovery, though. Here's to ya, Jane Russell!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Adelaide will have buttons. And pockets!

Just so you all (that's right, I'm talking to all four of you who are reading this) know, Adelaide will be one of those sweaters that you can actually carry stuff around in. She'll have a couple of pockets in the front. Won't that be nice? It confounds me that I can leave the house fully dressed--sometimes wearing as many as four or five separate garments--and still have no place to put my car keys. My husband does not have this problem. Men's clothing tends to have pockets; women's clothing tends not to have pockets. Sucky!

I also found some very nice buttons for this sweater on Monday at Silk Road. Sometimes the buttons come first with a sweater; I have a stash of buttons scrounged from various junk shops and antique malls that I paw through as part of my design process. Other times, though, I get all the way to the end of the knitting process with no buttons, and then have to go hunting for something I like. That can be hard, either because I've just gone ahead and made buttonholes of an arbitrary size that whatever buttons I do get will need to fit through--or I've rashly worked up the garment without buttonholes, in which case I have to figure out whether to use snaps or a zipper or some other closure, and just use the buttons for show.

Buttons are definitely on my top-100 list of Inanimate Things I Like a Lot, though. And "finding just the right button for something I'm knitting (or may be knitting soon)" is definitely in the top 50 of Feelings I Like to Feel--lower than "mixing the perfect ratio of gin and tonic" and "coasting downhill on my bicycle on a sunny day" but just a bit higher than "decisively stapling the corner of a finished term paper."

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Next up: Adelaide

Now on the needles: Adelaide, which will be a shawl-collared jacket in muted shades of pink and green. After the ultrafine mohair of Laverne, the chunky Araucania wool is a big switch. I experimented with a swatch of slipped-stitch color work for the body of the sweater, but the verdict from The Ladies this morning was that I should stick with plain stockinette and save the color changes for the garter stitch border. (Thanks, Ladies! Good advice, as always.) I'm just about ready to start working the short rows for the collar and the buttonholes nowl; first I have to double-check to see which side the buttons are supposed to go on--I can never remember that.

Special thanks to Jene for the sardine bowl...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Introducing: Laverne

Laverne's a sassy young lady--she's got contrast trim, a scooped neckline, and a bright corsage applique that says "I'm not afraid to cause a little stir in the stacks."

As shown here in size Medium, Laverne uses three balls of Crystal Palace Kid Merino and less than one ball of Rowan Kidsilk Haze (plus a few scraps of sock yarn, 10-20 yds each, for the flowers). Size range is XS-3X (30-54" bust), and variations for 3/4 length sleeves and short row bust shaping to fit fuller figures are included.

Pattern is worked from the top down in stockinette on circular needles, so there's practically no seaming or finishing after the knitting's done. If you're a quick knitter, you can crank Laverne out in less than a week.

Buy this pattern on Ravelry or directly from this site! Just $5.00 for the PDF download...