Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Every once in a while a project goes awry.  It happens less and less as you get better at knowing your body, pairing the right yarn with a pattern, and being able to tweak patterns so they'll fit you as good as possible, but let me assure you it does still happen.  Case in point: this recent finished object:  The Orange Sweater that Hates Me.

Let me start by saying this: I know that this project isn't an epic fail along the lines of being unwearable or too ugly to be seen in.  It's fine and I wouldn't get arrested for indecency if I dared to wear it in public.  But the finished sweater isn't what I was going for, and that's the problem with this project.

Copyright: Aleciaplum
It all began almost a year ago, February 2013.  I cast on to make the pattern "Ease".  The pattern is written with two options for the neck, and I opted to go for the more open neckline.  

What I found was that when I made the neckline this open with the amount of ease contained in this design, I couldn't keep the sweater on my shoulders.  

So I frogged it, did a little tweaking (subtracted a few stitches from the back and front cast-ons to make the neckline slightly narrower) and reknit the entire sweater a second time.

This time, I have no idea what went wrong.  Once blocked, the sweater was a giant monstrosity even though I was using the same needle size as I did on my first attempt.  Apparently my gauge was WAY relaxed on the second time through.

So I thought, "Surely, I can get this right on the third try."  I decided the neckline would not only have a few less stitches in the initial row, but I would add a ribbed band to make it even more likely it would stay on my shoulders.  And now that I had an entire sweater to use as a swatch, I was sure I had my gauge measured correctly.

So I knit the entire sweater a third time.  And it's….fine.  But it's no longer the sweater I wanted to make, and I just don't see myself wearing this one.  The neckline, which was one of the main things that attracted me to the Ease pattern, no longer resembles the pattern in any way.

I'll probably let this project hang out in my closet for a few months just to see if I have the occasion to wear it, and if it doesn't get any love by spring, it's back to the drawing board for my Dream in Color Classy yarn.  

Just to be clear, I don't think the Ease pattern is a bad one.  It would be far easier to modify the pattern if a schematic had been included, but the pattern itself is clearly written.  I wish I could put my finger on exactly what went wrong here.  My yarn was very comparable to the yarn recommended in the pattern, so I don't think it was a bad yarn/pattern pairing.  If anything, my yarn is slightly thinner than the ones recommended, but the sweater's fabric, knit at the gauge the pattern suggests, is too dense for my taste.

I would say I'm pretty "medium" as far as my size and bone structure - I was even right in the middle of one of the bust sizes (this pattern gives sizes as 32-34", 36-38", etc), so I really have no explanation as to why the original neckline wouldn't work for me.

Now that I look at the original photo from the pattern page again, I'm tempted to tear this sweater out and go for it a fourth time.  I just need to figure out how to balance the neckline not being too big with having a little positive ease in the sweater.  A look through the project pages tells me that this dilemma has been experienced by quite a few other knitters on this pattern.  If you do attempt this pattern, I found helpful notes (which I, of course, didn't look for until I had knit this project three times!) on how to make the open neckline work better here and here.  

I originally wrote this post about a month ago.  Since then, I've taken this sweater off the shelf and put it on twice, but immediately decided to wear something else.  So I think it's safe to say this one isn't going to make it into my actual wardrobe.

Wah.  Sweater fail.

Monday, February 17, 2014


Today was about the four zillionth snowy day of the 2013-2014 winter.   [Scientific fact.  Google it.] The weather forecast says we're going to have a high temp around 40 degrees tomorrow, but I'm not going to get my hopes up until it actually happens!  Between the "too cold" days (our school district cancelled a few days because it was below zero in the morning when kids would be going to school...but then decided the freezing temps were here to stay so they stopped canceling), and the blizzard days, it's always roulette when I wake up.  Will the kids have school today?  Who knows...better check the cancellation website!

When I woke up this morning, I saw white-out conditions out my bedroom window.  The snow gave way to rain a couple hours later, then it morphed back to snow.  Somewhere in the middle of the afternoon, we saw a flash of lightning and a good, healthy roll of thunder.  While it was snowing.  Until about a year ago, I didn't even know that "thundersnow" was a thing.  It only feels slightly end-of-times-ish.

I was going to release my "end-of-winter" pattern tomorrow, but with the snow today, I just couldn't resist getting it out a day early.  This is my last stab at winter gear for this year....a slouchy color work hat called "Snowy".
 Never done color work before?  This might be a great introduction to color work for you!  Most of the pattern is written, but the color work is presented in chart form.  The repeat is only 6 stitches, so it's very easy to read.

The pattern also includes a box full of "Tips for Color Work" in case you're a newbie.  Experienced color-workers will find this pattern a cinch.

The tosh dk yarn I used for the sample was a dream.  This folks at madelinetosh really know how to make fantastic yarn.  If I could only take 3 brands of yarn with me on a desert island, tosh yarn would definitely be one of my choices!

This hat is slouchy, modern, and warm.  The sample hat took me about 2 days to make and 3 of my testers finished theirs in less than a week.  Start one tonight and you'll have it ready for gifting by Friday!

The Snowy pattern is available on Ravelry and in my Etsy Shop.

A big thank you goes out to my test knitters: Elin, Bridy, Sally & Jonel.  I appreciate all your work & feedback on this test knit and am happy you all created such lovely hats!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Handspun Cowl

Many moons ago, a friend gave me the treasure of a skein of handspun yarn.  She was spinning it at one of our knit nights and I was gushing over the way the batt looked like it was glowing and magical.  When she handed me the finished skein a week or two later, I thought she was just showing it to me.  I was beyond excited when she told me she wanted me to have it!

But then I had a dilemma.  What project could I make that was possibly worthy of this precious skein?  Plus, it had enough color variation that I didn't want to do something that had an overwhelming texture to it - that would compete with the yarn and just be too much.  But I was determined that this skein wouldn't turn into something "too precious" - one that just sits in the stash until the end of time because the "right" project never seems to appear for it.

So I decided to write something specifically for this special skein.  Here's what I came up with - a Handspun Cowl: 

I wore it to my LYS one day and was asked if I had made the "Jeweled Cowl".  "Nope," I told her.  "This was just something I thought of myself."

But since I was considering putting it out as a pattern, when I came home I looked up the Jeweled Cowl on Ravelry.

Copyright: knittimo

Yup, that's pretty close!

I took a look at the pattern, and although we do the mesh slightly differently, it gives the same effect.  And since the pattern for the Jeweled Cowl has already been published and the pattern looks well-written, there's really no reason for me to spend time basically duplicating her design.  So please go and support Sachiko Uemura, and make your own Jeweled Cowl if you have your own precious skein.  Her pattern calls for lace-weight, and mine was done in thick-thin sport-ish, but it's easy to modify your cast on number if you want to use a thicker yarn and not have a wildly longer cowl.

It looks like winter is here to stay, so maybe another cowl is just the thing to take away the chill!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Ravellenic Games Cast-On!

Are you in?  Projects ready?  Cast-on is at 10am (Central Standard Time Zone) today!  I've been training hard all week - winding yarn cakes, swatching, blocking, measuring, swatching again, writing a pattern for the baby dress project, working on my WIP…. I'm heading to my favorite yarn shop to cast-on this morning in the company of my team mates.  I'm planning to bring 2 of my 3 planned projects, because the third is already getting a little on the large size for "travel knitting".  

Here's what I've ended up with:
This natural-colored yarn is going to become a baby/toddler dress.  It will be a sample for a pattern I'll release in March or April.  

How delightfully sheep is that yarn?

This happy rainbow is going to become a pair of striped socks.  I'm not up for boycotting the Olympics or the Ravelry version just because Russia has some major human rights opinions that I happen to disagree with.  But, I can't just let it go by without mentioning it, because I happen to think that everyone deserves a chance to be happy, no matter who they love.  So, I added in this rainbow sock project as not so much as protest as a declaration.  Maybe less worrying about gay folks, Russia, and more worrying about making your water drinkable and removing the open wiring from your hotel shower stalls.  

My last project will be entered in the "WIP Dancing" event (that's "work-in-progress" for any knitting muggles reading the blog).  It's the sweater I've already started for my very patient husband.  Top-down raglan with a wide-rib pattern.  I got to try what I have finished so far on him last night and it looks perfect!  Another 4-5 days and this one will hit the finish line!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Cobblestone Cowl & Hat Set

Time for another release!  If you have a couple skeins of worsted or dk-weight yarn waiting in your stash for a nice-relaxing winter knit, this might be just the thing you're looking for!

The cowl came about because I had two skeins of Dream in Color Classy yarn waiting in my stash.  I imagined a squishy, textured cowl that could be worn doubled-over for warmth, or long as an infinity scarf.  The brick pattern on the cowl inspired the name.  

Once I was finished with the cowl, I thought I might have enough yarn to make a matching hat.  I was right, but just barely….I had to use the tail I trimmed off for sewing on the buttons.  Not one inch of this yarn was wasted!  If you need to make a size L hat (mine was the M), if your row gauge doesn't match the pattern gauge, or if you want a wider cowl, I'd recommend buying a third skein of yarn.  If you are working from 2 skeins from your stash and want to make both the hat & the cowl, I'd recommend doing the hat first, since the cowl is easy to modify for less yarn.  A couple rows left out isn't going to bother anyone. 

Here in the midwest we've had a crazy winter.  Snowstorm after snowstorm has kept us shoveling our driveways and wondering if the kids will have school.  I'm glad to have knitting as a hobby, as it allows me to see the bright side of freezing weather - perfect for getting to wear all my cozy woolies!

You can find the Cobblestone Hat here and the Cobblestone Cowl here.  Until the end of this week (midnight CST on Saturday, February 8th), I'm running a coupon code through Ravelry only (so sorry, but the other sites I sell patterns on just aren't set up for coupon codes).  If you buy both the cowl and hat patterns you will get one free.  The code is: COBBLESTONESET

If you purchased one of the Cobblestone patterns this week before you saw this offer, send me your Ravelry name and I will "gift" the other pattern" to your Ravelry library. 

Happy knitting!