Honeycomb Slip Stitch

Last year, The Knitting Guild of Greater Buffalo brought in designer, Heather Lodinsky, to teach a skill on one of her designs.  The pattern was her two-tone slip stitch cable pullover and the skill was using slip stitches in cable work.  In my experience in knitting, I had not encountered slip stitches to be used for the design of a garment, only to be done along the edges of knitted pieces.  So, I was quick to take on the pullover with the Guild and it led me to do a self-investigation of slip stitches, in general.

ON SLIP STITCH STUDY

One way to choose a pattern is to have specific learning intentions in mind.  With this ‘study’, I purposely looked for patterns that used slipped stitches and and used those slipped stitches in  the design process.  This kind of focus not only informs, but also helps to narrow the field of potentials.  My curiosity is now satisfied and this is what I’ve found:

  • Slip stitches can be used as a variation to the basic cable technique.  More [HERE] about this project.

  • Slip stitches can be used to create an overall linen or tweed look in the fabric .  There is more [HERE] on this.

  • Slip stitches can create a unique broken-line look in striping.   More [HERE].

Continue reading “Honeycomb Slip Stitch”

Vest [Best] Dress[ed]

For a project that pretty much flew off the needles, it is interesting that I have so much to say about it.   I have lots to say not due to any pattern issue or yarn dissatisfaction, but rather the changes I made in how I constructed it.  From long tail cast on to sewing on the seam binding along the back neck, I feel these changes led to its success and will lead to the garment’s longevity.

I will begin with the pattern.  Found in an unlikely source for me, the vogue knitting online store,   I’ve always thought these a collection of older issue VK patterns so figured I had already seen all of them.  I virtually stumbled across this and was surprised it was not familiar to me.   I also found a bunch more I really liked and have queued so I now know that these collections of [free] or otherwise select patterns on various knitting websites may offer new possibilities and are not necessarily from publications.  I love everything about this garment:  its deep hem rib that shapes the piece, the deep v neckline, its concept, the pockets, its versatility, oh, I could go on.  There is nothing I do not like except its construction.  I even used the yarn  of the pattern and chose a very similar color palate substituting only the antique for grape and keeping the candy apple red color.

On the yarn.  The yarn utilized in the pattern is a bulky Lion Brand fiber called Homespun of acrylic/polyester.  I love the boucle look of this yarn and knew if I was going to knit this, this would be the only yarn I would consider.  The fiber looks almost like rickrack and gives the surface of the knitted fabric a soft, curly look.   Fabulous, however I was soon to find out that it was difficult to work with.

Continue reading “Vest [Best] Dress[ed]”

Granny Square or Flower Child

I think I have more questions than answers after finishing this project.  This will create lingering in my mind.  The topic is crochet.   This is definitely the most challenging project I have made in crochet as it involved gauge, fit, shaping, and color changing within a row, none of which I am sure I did correctly and none of which I’ve ever done, before.  Also, technique in sewing the crochet pieces together.  What I knew however is that this pattern would be a great way to use up some remnant stash with its offering of color possibilities.  I have plenty of remnants from past projects of small bits of color however I knew I did not have enough of one color for the main body.    Purchasing only three skeins and using those scraps,  I thought this a great way to stretch yardage.  I did go with the yarn used in the pattern for this main color (MC), a silver grey filatura-di-crosa- zarina-chine.

Organizing stash by weight serves me well when choosing from remnants.  I just pull the container holding the weight I need/want.  Housing same weight yarn  in wide mouthed containers with remnants from each project wrapped separately in plastic bags and inclusive of their very important yarn bands  lets you see your choice quickly and efficiently and reminds you of the content and recommended gauge of that particular fiber.  To me, organizing is a huge time saver and allows my brain to remember the colors I have in particular weights.   These containers go from fingering on top, sport weight, worsted/aran, to bulky weight scraps at the bottom.

I had a really hard time getting the gauge for this and had to go down quite a few hook sizes to get even close to what the pattern required.   Here is the first rainbow I created which ended up being way too large.

We all know it is vitally important to achieve gauge for fit purposes.  In this case, gauge also had to be achieved for those multitude of pieces that would have to fit together, much like a jigsaw puzzle.

Continue reading “Granny Square or Flower Child”

Linen Tunic ~ Photos Help, Again

It was a hot summer.  Record-breaking in fact, in our neck of the woods.  Knitting is at a minimum for me during the summer due to  heat, not to mention the warmth of the summer sun  is a constant force of beckoning.   Who doesn’t want to be outside during short summer months?  On the other hand, the knitter in me is always looking to move forward with the stash and there is the cool of the  evenings.

I thought linen; lightweight and stays in the theme of summer.  I’ll pull the linen from the stash to work up.  I’ve had this bundle for a number of years, had never knitted with linen before and wanted to  give it a try.  I had purchased it for a darling top that caught my attention with it’s open stitch weave and detached cowl.  It is amazing to me how an experienced knitter can always find new things to take on.  Between the new yarns, new-fangled stitches, and that never-ending flow of patterns, there is ALWAYS opportunity for taking on something new.

Continue reading “Linen Tunic ~ Photos Help, Again”

A DC Opportunity Leads to a Knitter’s Reflective Moment

As Grandmother, I was recently invited to the DC area to babysit grandchildren while very intent parents set up house for their temporary move.  (no photos because I never knew how to take care of young ones and be a photographer at the same time)

As Mother, I found myself adding a day to that DC trip to hang out with my daughter before the gig of babysitting and before she was to leave on her trip.  We didn’t have any real plan, maybe some sightseeing, a dinner in the evening with friends, and lots of chatting and laughing about this and that.

sitting on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial
No worries. This girl knows how to relax; here along the Potomac River.
her DC place
If you look carefully, you can see a cable and maybe, the window cleaner’s foot.
view from deck

As Knitter, I became reflective.  Leisure is as leisure does, after a day of sightseeing, we were setting up our bedding.  Scurrying about for blankets here, sheets there, and rummaging through her ‘stuff’, we came across a gift I had made for her years, ago!

There is something about running across one of your projects.  Especially if you forgot about it and especially if you made it for someone else.  There is the moment you try to recall the making of it, where did the pattern come from, what was the motivation behind it?  What worked, what didn’t work, and why didn’t that effort remain in your memory?  It’s kind of like visiting life after your death.  What tangibles of your personal touch remain on Earth?  What can be identified as evidence of your passion and what you thought so important?  What artifact(s) did you leave behind?  Why did they remain?  Did it/they change anyone or anything?

Excited to revisit that drawstring bag, pattern from Vogue Knitting Crochet 1994 and when my daughter was otherwise occupied in her ever-so-busy life, I stepped back into that era when I crocheted that bag and gave it the photo shoot it deserved.  Here it is in all its whimsy as I happened upon it, hanging in her collection of ‘catch-all’.

Of course, there is always the other’s point of view.  I can’t help but wonder what she thinks every time she looks upon this now tattered, certainly stretched, but otherwise heartfelt hand made item that was gifted to her those many years ago.

How lucky am I to have the kids in the same location (well, at least for one year.)

Summer Scarf

Every so often you hear from a friend from the past.  This was the case the day I received a lovely message from a colleague who had retired a few years before me suggesting a get together.  She thought of me in particular as, like all of us seniors who are trying to keep our bodies and minds moving, she wanted to learn something new.  She must have remembered that I crocheted as her suggestion was that we meet, chat of course, and I teach her how to crochet.  Perfect, I thought.

My friend had a specific pattern in mind, (Lion Brand’s [free] crochet pattern, crochet lace scarf) so I asked her for it to prepare for the lessons.  I, myself have not crocheted in years.  I do feel pretty confident with basic skills of crochet but it’s another thing to teach another.  I wanted to be more prepared in the specific skills required for this.  So, I grabbed yarn from my leftover stash, an off-white worsted weight wool from Galway and set out to practice.  I must say I thought the process fun, fast, and pretty.  So, I kept going.

When I was finished and tried on the scarf, it was way too elastic for me.  True I hadn’t woven in the ends, yet but I was not liking the pulling.   The pattern called for a bulky weight yarn, I had used worsted weight.  Maybe, that was the cause.  So, to solve the issue, I researched crochet finishings, chose a pretty picot edge and crocheted it around the entire scarf (all four sides) giving it the body I like in a garment and the secure feeling that it would keep its shape.  I purposely chose this edging as a compliment to the delicate nature of the pattern stitch.

(Look at the difference between the picot edging on the left versus the unfinished look of the right side.)

Here I am in the gardens in front of our house on a cool summer morning with my finished scarf.  Not only do I have this new accessory in my wardrobe but it will remind me of a friendship renewed.

Two Tone Cable Pullover ~ The Pattern

 

The Knitting Guild of Greater Buffalo is not only a friendly organization where one meets people who are passionate about knitting but the Guild is also very serious in its purpose and programming.  The two ladies deemed program chairs leave no stone unturned in providing ideas for programs and seeing those ideas to fruition.  It was in this way I became aware of Buffalo native and knitwear designer Heather Lodinsky and her two-tone cable method as this was the program topic at one of our monthly meetings.

 

I am someone who likes to get the most out of anything I join so when I realized this technique was the highlight of a monthly meeting and not knowing how this technique was done, I jumped on the bandwagon a few weeks before to see what the pattern and the technique were all about.  I knew a bit about Heather, knew she was a teacher at a then local yarn shop but not having the time to fraternize with anyone local about knitting during my employment years, she was someone I was familiar with only by name.

And, so I began. Heather’s pattern is thorough with written instruction as well as a schematic of the cable technique.  This is when I learned slip stitches in design work.  I have, in the past, slipped stitches for selvage, maybe even borders, but in all my years of knitting, had not come across slip stitches used for designing the garment.

As a knitter of many years, I have learned the quicker you recognize the rhythm and learn the technique of your stitch, the faster your knitting becomes and more importantly, you gain the ability of learning how to ‘fix-it’ along the way.  It is habit for me to ‘study’ for comprehension the stitch and its rhythm, NOT just follow what the pattern says or its rote contents.  By the way, the more you understand what you are doing, the less you need to write down.  The rhythm, in this case, is a 4-row repeat.

Row 1 ~ with white (color A) / work all stitches following the cable pattern
Row 2 ~ with white / (work all stitches) p the “white purl” stitches, k the “blue purl” stitches
Row 3 ~ with blue (Color B) k all the purl stitches / slip wyb all the knit stitches
Row 4 ~ k all the “blue stitches”/slip wyf the white stitches

I’ll make it even simpler.  2 rows, A and work all stitches.
2 rows B and you slip some stitches as indicated, above.
Do not cut yarn.  There is a rhythm and it is fun!

Studying a pattern for comprehension allows you to see mistakes.  Now, I believe there is a mistake in this pattern, in both cable sections. I contacted Heather about it but she said the editing team had worked it out.  Now, I am not sure what that means so below are my observations.

Diamond Cable Pattern:
Substitute 2/1RC for 1/2 RC on rows: 5,9,21, and 25

Center Cable Pattern:
same problem
Substitute 2/1 RC for 1/2 RC on rows: 5,9,25, and 29

Then, I would include 1/2 RC in the section of the pattern called Special Stitches.

Throughout the knitting of this garment, I followed my observations, above.  And, if you are wondering if there is a difference between the directions of the pattern versus the directions, above the answer is yes, there is a difference however, minor.

You will see many changes I made to my sweater as opposed to what you see in the pattern.  The next post will be on what I did and why.

Ripping Out and Resolving Renaissance

Call me obsessed.  Call me intense.  Call me stubborn.  This sweater, Renaissance designed by Teva Durham was NOT photographing to its fullest potential and it was driving me mad until I realized . . . oh, dear . . . it’s the SWEATER!!   My thinking . . . What was it?  The body fit perfectly, the neckline moved about in a ruffly kind of way as intended and certainly appropriate for its name sake.  The sleeves . . . dramatic, as seen in the pattern.  Wait.  The sleeves.  The sleeves.  Something about the sleeves.  Yes, they are long but that is the style of the pattern.  Oh, wait . . . what about their width?  That could be it.  If I made them narrower. . .   If I make the sleeves narrower, the cap to fit more snug at the top, that might give the sweater an overall better look.  Wait.  The sleeves. Maybe, just a little shorter.  For comfort sake.  Wait!  How ’bout three-quarter length keeping the essence of the pattern?  I notice I get excited, probably because I have a plan to resolve what seems to be ailing me about this garment.
Plan:

  • rip out sleeves
  • rewind yarn for reuse
  • re-design for three-quarter length which will involve changing the shaping
  • keep bell shape hem and slits as that matches the neckline
  • try on and call upon a second opinion

When I think about ripping out, I just think backwards the steps I took to knit the garment.  I want to reuse the yarn so I very carefully un-weave the ends of yarn around the armholes.  I use a blunt darning needle so as not to split the yarn.

I begin pulling where I ended up knitting the piece.  Pull.  Pull into a big, sad heap.

I do all the pulling first so that I do not wind the ball of yarn too tight.

I do not want to stretch the yarn.  After it is a big heap, I wind the yarn very gently around my hand.

 I continue until I have both sleeves pulled and wound into balls.

I let the yarn relax and go off to work on other projects.  My goal is to rid the yarn of its memory.  When I come back in a few days or so, I wind the yarn so that when I am knitting, I am pulling the yarn from the center and the yarn isn’t rolling all over the place (you never need a yarn bowl).  You can see how much straighter the yarn is.

I take a deep breath, call upon my patience, study my design notes, and knit the sleeves, again.  I sew them back into the armhole. Yes.  They are now about 1.5 inches tighter and 5 inches shorter.  I choose to not re-attach the buttons.

I show hubby the new look and he wants to see the original picture that came with the pattern and he wants to see the photos we took TWICE before.  I charm him into another photo shoot and I ask to go back to our original spot, the beautiful reeds of similar hue.  It is a beautiful day, the lighting is on our side, we are relaxed and I am feeling confident the sweater has been improved upon.

Say what you might . . . obsessed, driven, mad . . . I prefer to call it determined to get a project to fit right and look smart.

POST SCRIPT:  The story of ‘Renaissance’ is a series of events beginning with post 1 here, followed by this, ending here with a very happy girl, above.

Sweet Boyfriend Sweater and its Unlikely Source for Inspiration

A retirement gift, a plaque from the District where I worked, beckons me.  It is as if it can talk and recall; that plaque with the Varsity letter.  I hear students’ voices, excited anticipation in the air, their endless desire for learning.  It speaks my tongue and reminds me about lesson planning into wee hours.  It sounds with the hustle bustle of school life:  hallways all abuzz, meetings with teachers and/or parents, the frustrations voiced and the sharing of successes of each day.  One glance at this wall plaque of mounted school letter and personalized engraved plate, now hanging on a wall in my yarn room, does all of that every time I look at it.

The letter is also tactile, soft, and fun.  So, whether it is because the letter is fabric and I am attracted to any and all forms of fiber or because I genuinely miss the school District that I served for most of my career, its presence looms and calls for me to do something creative with it.

As I have spent this last year sorting and re-sorting yarn according to color, fiber content, and weight I came to realize I had these school colors in my super bulky weight collection.  Seeing a surging amount of knitwear walking the runways and making appearances all over the fashion scene in bulky and super bulky weights, I thought, how perfect!  Checking the typical amounts I would need for a standard-sized sweater, I realized I did not have enough of the ‘pluto’.  That is the name of the blue you see in the sweater.  That is when I turned to the black realizing it too was of the same weight and held possibilities of adding it into the color scheme.  I had plenty of gold.  I peeled the Varsity letter off the mounting not knowing whether I would actually sew the letter onto the garment but it clearly was my inspiration and was unknowingly paving the way in my thinking.

Each of these yarns has a bit of a story.  The black Big Wool by Rowan as well as the Big Sky Alpacas Bulky in Pluto were slated for other projects.  The timeliness in knitting those projects has sadly passed and the yarns were looking for a new purpose.  The Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick is remnants from my cape project.

I couldn’t believe how perfect these colors were for this idea.  Now, all I needed was a pattern that was sporty, fashion-forward, and utilized super bulky weight yarns.  These photos helped me in my thinking.

When I think of super bulky and school Varsity letters, I come to the idea of ‘boyfriend’ sweater.  Oversized, bulky, possibly sweatshirt-like in styling, likely a pullover however I could see a cardigan of similar styling, as well.  Using Ravelry’s pattern database and the ability to drill down with criteria of ‘boyfriend’ sweater, ‘letter’ sweater, and the like I came to Kia Ora by Martin Storey.  Perfect, I thought as it had the elements of style I had in mind as well as added features of a high/low hemline and cuffed sleeves.

Super bulky yarn knits up very quickly which is a good thing because you knit this yarn with needles that are very large in diameter.  They seem and feel like tree trunks which are difficult on the hands and almost painful to knit with for extended periods of time.  Martin’s pattern is straight forward and easy to follow.  The colorful stripes are two rows of slip stitches carrying the yarn on the outside to form the stitch you see.

I did have a bit of a redo due to a careless mistake of conversion.  I miscalculated centimeters/ inches equivalents causing the armholes to be too large.  I had to rip out quite a bit but being in bulky yarn, it went quickly and my embarrassment was short lived.

IMG_0166 I think it is fairly obvious why we chose this particular dock.  But, this was also where our very first on-location photo shoot site was adding to the nostalgia of the project.   below ~ circa 2011.

I love my Sweet (Home) boyfriend sweater!  Love live the garment and love live those fond memories it represents!

P.S.  The Varsity letter did not make it onto the sweater, as you can see, however it is safely glued back onto the plaque and the plaque back up on the wall.  Somehow now when I look at it, there is a sense of calming satisfaction.

Blue Skies Trench

First and foremost in choosing a project, that project must be wearable in my lifestyle and go with the existing pieces I have in my wardrobe.  Of course, I am always looking at new trends in fashion, as I would like to think that even in retirement, I can continue on this quest of always looking fashion-forward.  But, what I have realized is that not all the pieces I intended on knitting are appropriate to wear in retirement and that I need to tweak my intentions for better purpose once knitted.   In an effort to get my yarn and pattern stash aligned to my lifestyle of retirement, I’ve had to do some reconsidering of patterns and re-shifting of yarns.  This has encouraged me to catalog remnants into their respective weights.  The more I play with my yarn, the more ideas I am getting and the more possibilities I seem to muster.   While this is exciting and certainly mindful of utilizing all of the materials I have here at home, I continuously need to remind myself to have patience and that I will eventually be able to act on many of these ideas.

This process has me researching in places I didn’t even know patterns existed.  Such places as VogueKnitting.com > free pattern tab or LionBrand.com > free  patterns.   Maybe, most yarn companies with websites have free pattern availability.  A function on Ravelry that has become most helpful is the pattern tab and its settings on the left-hand margin with specific criteria, being able to drill down to what you are looking for thus making pattern research more expedient.  Also, the function on Ravelry called queue has never been as helpful to me as it is right now as I can keep my pattern ideas listed there so as not to forget.   Well, one thing led to another and pretty much this is how I found ‘Trench Coat’ by Wilma Peers, a pattern from Vogue Knitting’s online pattern store.  Not a free pattern, but on sale.  I literally paid pennies.

I am drawn to the unexpected when knitting.  Or the juxtaposition of opposites which oftentimes leads to the unexpected.  For example a cardigan that can be flipped upside down or right side up or glamorous yarn knitted into a hoodie, or pleats in super bulky weight yarn.    When I think of a trench coat, I think of rain or wind and in a twill type of fabric.  So, the fact that this pattern was suggesting knitting a Trench Coat was highly interesting to me.  Hmm. . . I thought.  A trench coat for blue skies!  Complete with lapels and pocket flaps and what appeared to be a beautiful contrast edging, I had to go for it.

Then I noticed the suggested yarn.  Acrylic.  100% acrylic.  Oh, boy my mind began racing with all the thoughts of what could go wrong with this project in this yarn.  On the other hand, being so inexpensive I thought I would give it a try and when all fails, simply start over with yarn I knew more about.

So, I began and learned the half linen stitch.  This half linen stitch, formed with slip stitches and yarn carried on the outside of the work, creates a woven looking fabric.  Being of bulky weight (by title only as the yarn itself is as light as a feather), knitting the pieces really just motored along.  No button holes, no pockets (what you see are just flaps added on at the end),  this was really a breeze  to knit.  5 pattern pieces (back, 2 fronts, 2 sleeves, and the collar which is picked up from the neck and knitted) and it was time for my favorite part of any project, the finishing touches.   Bands were fairly easy to knit up the front however I had to readjust the number of stitches I picked up (way less than what was called).  And, for some unknown reason, the side seams were not cooperating as I felt they should.  A minor bit of blocking helped that matter and truthfully I was surprised acrylic even responded to blocking.  The collar edging as well as the flap edging was downright fun to do.  One has to pick up the stitches neatly as when the lapel is wide open flips to the front with the raw edge to the outside.

Well, I kept waiting for epic fail of this project.  I got to the end and to my surprise, I have what I think, is a beautiful, trendy trench that can easily be worn with today’s shapes underneath.