Plaid!

This is coming along nicely. The pattern produced some interesting challenges. Intarsia in the round is not a challenge but getting the width of the horizontal red to match the width of the vertical red was. I tried Latvian braid but it was excessively fussy for the desired result. The answer proved to be a sizer larger crochet hook and surface crochet worked in the desired location. The second challenge was getting good corners where the red changed directions.

I’m having to cut the background color’s yarn at the start of each square. It’s not onerous and the result is very good. I’ve been working in ends as I go.

My hat!

Leftover sunset shrug yarn . . . but this time for me!

This is really simple helix. I’ve got a jog where the color changes but I’m thinking the mailbox isn’t going to care when I show up wearing it.

The Fail, the second act

Picking the stripeSo as not to repeat my first fail, testing will be required.

I need a bold and visible stripe for my plaid, not Silken¬† used in my first attempt, a really lovely color but just not right for this.¬† I tested a bunch of possibles and chose Rose. It’s bright, clear, stands out nicely against the Midnight background and will stand out on the variegated¬† squares.

Next I have to pick the yarn to use for the squares. I want each square to be variegated, unique and to stand out from the base. It can’t have a color in it that’s going to blend into my Midnight base like the purple in Khaki Girl.

Two of the auditioned yarns don’t have enough variegation/contrast to make them viable candidates. Left to right: Brilliant Blues, Cotton Candy, Soothe, Orchid Smash (out), Hot Spot (out), Frosty Morning and the Rose for the stripes. I’ve got a TINY bit of On Parade (discontinued, picture me crying) that might make a square (fingers crossed).

So, time for a little test knit . . . it’s lovely . . . and again a complete fail. Ugh. I was loving this . . . up until my plaid block ran into my vneck ribbing. Yeah, not loving that so much.

So, the next challenge is plaid placement. In my original scheme I had exactly one stitch to work with. Planning that tightly doesn’t make me happy. Have a gross math fail (plaid running into ribbing) also doesn’t make me happy.

Making the blocks smaller isn’t going to make me happy. The red stripe is already borderline overwhelming the variegated color blocks. I could move the start of the plaid down which doesn’t please me. If I could do anything I’d make the blocks two stitches wider as a better balance to the boldness of the Rose stripe. Alternatively, I could be less square! There’s a lovely thought.

So this is the new plan. I didn’t draw in the stripes but rest assured they will be there. If I can make the blocks 2 stitches wider at the same time, I think I’m golden. I’m going to lay out the new colorwork on the existing project and see where my lines, squares and rectangles hit. If the layout works I’m off to the races!

 

Modern minimalist plaid

Plaid!

I’ve done a lot of sweaters with something diagonal. Apparently I like that. Who knew? Yeah yeah, I’m rolling eyes at me too.

I had a thought . . . and it’s turning into something I think will be lovely and not boring to knit. I did the drawing and it pondered over enough times for it to get smudged with something. That’s always a good sign, interest captured. If I note down an idea and it’s pristine a week later, that’s a bad sign. It’s too boring to warrant much effort.

I have six balls of Bamboo Pop Midnight. It’s a lovely rich dark blue, definitely a “me” color. Finding a project for it has been the issue. I think this just might be the one.

The swatch

So, test knit! A couple frogs later and this is what I’ve got. I tried just knitting the horizontal stripe but that was a big fail. I tried conventional Latvian Braid and it gave the right effect but was just too fussy. The answer is the Latvian Braid effect worked with a crochet hook after the row has been knit. I tried using a hook the same size as my needles and it caused a tiny bit of puckering in the work. I moved up one size and it seems to be as close to perfect as I think I can get.

So I’m off working on the sweater. The first attempt at Plaid! is a fail. So, the question is . . . switch the stripes to black? And the question is . . . don’t include any variegateds with a color similar to the base of the sweater? And the question is . . . start the first square above the fading saddle line?

So . . . frogging back. How far is key.

 

Happy Birdie

Bamboo Pop in Happy Birdie and Turquoise

I ran into a sale of Bamboo Pop and got some colors I wouldn’t normally work with to use as accents. I am firmly of the motto there is no such thing as too many colors and I adore Bamboo Pop. Win win! You never know when odd colors are going to develop into interesting projects.

A while back I made a top down seamless tank for myself with no picked up stitches and I love the fit. Mindy tried it on and wanted it (NOT her colors) so over the last couple weeks I did a repeat of my tank pattern for Mindy in colors that highlight her particular beauty.

I didn’t have quite enough yarn in the necessary colors for the length Mindy likes so I added the dregs of Clover from Amanda’s latest tank and Hot Pink from something I was working on for me, both colors that are in the Happy Birdie variegated.

Variegated helix knit with three solids, Turquoise, Clover and Hot Pink.

I’m really pleased with how it came out. I worked the top in Turquoise, started helix knitting adding the Happy Birdie. When the Turquoise ran out I switched to the little bit of clover I had left. When the Clover was done I switched to Hot Pink. I really wish I’d had enough to finish out the tank in Hot Pink. I was out and Mindy was fine with Turquoise. ‘Nough said. I think it gives the tank a layered look which isn’t a bad thing.

FROG!

Nope. Just nope.

I’m working on a tank top for Mindy and trying new stuff . . . love knit-from-the-hip . . . and things were not working out and intended. I got to Point C and my stitch count was WAY off. Not just a little bit but HUGELY off. Apparently, something was VERY wrong. Plus the shape wasn’t making me happy. Can you spell F R O G? Yeah, it is no more.

I love the colors, I love the basic idea . . . but the number have to work or the effort is pointless.

Working project

I’ve got a lot of different projects in the air. I’m making a cowl necked sweater for MIndy with slip pockets, a summer tunic for me (years long project), a summer tank for the young lady who cleans my house, a gradient sweater (still not sure where this one’s going) and a new project, a long sleeved duster using Louisa Harding’s Girandola (discontinued yarn).

The duster I’m envisioning is a complete “knit from the hip” effort on US7 needles. I’m making the collar and decorative facings/hems in Bamboo Pop Denim, a yarn I normally knit on US4. Denim is a colorway that almost exactly matches the blue in the Louisa Harding. The Bamboo Pop yarn knits up into is a bit heavier/thicker but a test knit resulted in a relatively compatible gauge with the Girandola on the selected needle size. The resulting fabric is very relaxed and flowy, perfect for a long duster.

I have the collar well started. I looked at the size and though it would be just too big . . . but a test fit shows it’s very close to, if not perfectly right on for fit.

This will be an interesting project.

Clean edge on garter/seed/anything

One of the techniques I had to master for the caston/back neck of my condi-something sweater was a clean edge on garter. I knit 10-12 rows of garter, pick up and work half the edge stitches I need for the front edge finish, turn and pick up the other half melding the two sets of stitches onto one needle. Yeah, yeah, this is a total “show me”. I’ll get there. This produces a beautifully flat transition from back to front without bumps or the appearance of a seam. TRULY flat. And which stitches you pick up changes the appearance. Want a bit of a ridge or a line of stitches? You can do it! So, on to what I learned.

To make this work I needed a clean edge on my garter caston/back neck. After much inspection/testing, I’ve finally got it! Woot! The trick is to hold the yarn on the purl side of the stitch being slipped. Yup, it’s that simple! No learning to do this or that. Work the last stitch, turn your work and slip the stitch while holding the yarn on the purl side of the slipped stitch. Do this and you’re golden! I don’t like to remount stitches so I make sure to build for the mount I want. Play with it a bit and see what works for you.

Shorter is betterer!

Short darning needle
Shorter is better!

I don’t like leaving long tails when I’m knitting. I’m only going to work in an inch, maybe and inch and a quarter and all the rest of that yarn is tossed. Ugh. I just hate the waste . . . and the fact the longer ends are always in the way is an unnecessary irritant. I like leaving an end that’s about 3″ long, maybe a bit less.

This of course, causes problems when it comes to working the ends in. I can use a crochet hook and that works great but it’s a bit tedious, I can rethread the needle after each stitch or I can work with a really short needle! So . . . really short needle needed to be tested but I’m NOT cutting off the needle I inherited from my mother. Not, just not.

The inevitable happened and I put my darning needle away in a really safe place (rolls eyes at self). After spending some time using a crochet hook to work in ends I bought a tube of cheap Chinese made darning needles in a variety of sizes to fill in until my inheritance resurfaced. It appeared within two days of getting the new supply. I bet you guessed that part.

Given the short ends I like working with, this new supply gave me the opportunity to try a really short needle for working in ends. Cheap Chinese made . . . no loss if it didn’t work, right?

Picking one of the medium sized needles, I snipped most of the shaft off, chucked the foreshortened needle into our cordless drill and rubbed the spinning needle tip on sandpaper until I had the right shape. Then I used progressively finer sandpaper until it was smooth. The whole process took about five minutes. Next was the test, working in ends and it’s perfect! I can thread my yarn and do my weaving end and snip off less than an inch (I leave a 1/2″ long tail on the garment). I have no long dangly ends to deal with, no unnecessarily wasted yarn, color me happy!

To store the needle I put a gourd pin through the eye and hang it on a hook so it doesn’t get lost. If I can lose a regular one I’m absolutely certain this shorter version would vanish forever only this time I have backups!

Day dress fail

Day dress fail
Fit is awesome, skirt fabric isn’t.
I made a robe out of fleece. I didn’t like the fit of the top (pretty standard for me), the fact that it had sleeves, pulled on the back of my neck . . . the usual. So I knit a yoke and it fits great! Uh, except the fabric has some sort of synthetic in it. If I sweat at all I break out in a rash. Ugh. Fail. I’ll pull the yoke and put it on something else.

Bastardized Sheltered

Sleeve
Underarm “seam” using Russian Bindoff

I’m working on a . . . heck, I don’t even know what to call it . . . for my sister (the near one, not the far one). I saw a something I thought would be an interesting base (Sheltered), a kind of poncho thing with a hood. Rather than knit it up in pieces and sew it together (you KNOW I hate that) I thought I’d knit it top down and make the changes I wanted made. So that’s what I’m working on. It’s turning out to be a very interesting project. The big sloppy fit is intentional, I just need Mindy to test fit it to see if it’s going to work. My icord end grafting is getting better!

More sunsets

Sunset shrugI got wild and spent $180 on hand dyed bamboo cotton yarn. It came and the colors were truly glorious . . . and the weight was WAY too heavy for me to wear, a dk weight closer to worsted than to sport. Picture me crying. So, I knit a shrug and sent it to my sister. She loves the idea, loves the colors but has trouble with the fit. <sigh>

This project has the distinction of being the most frogged completed project. I’ve made things and gotten right to the end and frogged them (one big frog). Not this project. OMGosh. Frog, knit, frog, knit, frog, knit. I was so glad to get done! It came out fabulous but . . . OMGosh.

I’m going to remake this in Bamboo Pop. Without the cardi bit. I don’t know why I thought doing this as a cardigan/shrug was going to work for me. I *hate* flappy clothing. The idea though . . . that was pretty stupendous. Definitely worthy.

Still just guessing

I’m still playing with the “just guessing” design. I like it a lot and there’s lots to play with.

Just Guessing take two
The mosaic is a bit along the lines of one of the scarves Stephen West designed, something about bricks.

This is my latest effort along those lines. I frogged it a couple times to get the mosaic and armhole/sleeve increases to play nicely together.

The yarn is Bamboo Pop (my favorite for sweaters) in Royal (the solid), Orchid Smash for the wide divider stripe, black and On Parade (discontinued . . . I’m crying over this one) for the mosaic.

I’ve finished playing with my conti-something shoulder. I know, I know, famous last words. This summer I’m going to try to produce a series of videos on how I build the sweater top down to the armholes, all the math, all the sneaky bits, what makes it fit so well . . . all that stuff. We’ll see how I do.

 

Beth’s day dress, the funny story

I’ve been making day dresses to wear around the house, loose, sleeveless knitted tops with commercially knitted jersey skirts. On cool mornings I can add a sweater and I’m comfy. To get the skirt for these dresses I’ve been diving into a bin of clothing I couldn’t part with . . . dresses I loved but no longer wear because the tops don’t fit quite right or have sleeves or the wrong cut neck opening or not big enough through the bust . . . ugh. So I cut the top off the dress, add a knitted yoke paired the skirt with a top that’s comfortable. Win win!

Beth's Day Dress
Beth’s colors!

I had a crepe dress with glorious colors, pink, orange and blue on a light cream background, really pretty. So I made a day dress and it came out perfect . . . except the skirt was a bit tight over my bottom. Being crepe, I knew that wasn’t going to work. My sister’s a size smaller and she loves flowers and blue and it was a perfect match.

I gave two piles of stuff to Wadly, venerable spouse, one to mail off to Beth and one to drop at the local charity shop. Can you see where this is going? Yup, you guessed it. Beth’s day dress is now someone’s lovely comfortable find. Wadly felt very badly but I’m a huge believer in what will be will be. I still need to make Beth a day dress. I’ll get there. Eventually.

Amanda’s sweater and tank

I haven’t been posting when I should be posting . . . apologies. That doesn’t mean I’m suddenly going to change my ways, just that I acknowledge the lack.

I’ve done a lot of knitting since I posted last and learned lots of new things . . . which is always a good thing.

Amanda's sweater
She finally has a sweater with long enough sleeves!

This is Amanda’s sweater. It was originally intended for someone else but she moved to the other side of the country so fitting wasn’t an option. The sweater is knit in superwash wool using Poem, Glazz, Paintbox and probably one other. Wool of the Andes? Yeah, maybe that.

The helix knitting was a lot of fun. The Truly jogless stripes technique worked brilliantly. This Helix knitting technique is a fabulous thing and works brilliantly. Paired with the jogless stripe technique for starting and finishing a helix section and it’s even better! The location of changes is truly invisible if you’re mindful of your tension. The easy way to keep it invisible is to knit to within two stitches of the change, bring your working yarn to the front, slip the two stitches and knit off with the new yarn. That keeps the tension right and because the changes are staggered by two stitches it’s truly invisible.

Amanda's trap tank
Look! No seams!

I also made Amanda a tank top. It hasn’t been blocked yet in the picture so doesn’t hang properly but I have a photo! Woot! She loves it, it’s her colors and it fits her perfectly. That’s the best tri-fecta!

This tank uses Perfect and Easy Icord Caston to create the neck edge and straps. I’ve used this method many times and it’s always perfect.

I used Kitchener to close the icord into a single loop. I’m not a Kitchener expert. The way Carol Brunette describes it works best for me and that’s the tutorial I used. Even then it took three or four tries to get an acceptable join on the first icord caston (yoke for a day dress for my sister). Good quality yarn and perseverence saved the day!

 

Bamboo Pop Just Guessing

Alternating solid with variegated insert and mosaic.

I adore Bamboo Pop!

I love this sweater! It’s SO simple, for all the apparent drama! It’s knit in stockinette, four rows of solid, four rows of matching variegated, four more rows of the same solid followed by mosaic in two rows of solid, two rows of contrast, two rows of the same solid. Take those two sets and repeat two more times! Truly, it was that simple! The sequence will work on any base, raglan, pieced, whatever.

I knit this sweater in all Bamboo Pop. The light blue on the yoke is Ocean, the dark blue is Ink with a matching variegated in Blueberry Swirl. The green is Clover with a matching variegated in Jungle Life. The purple is Royal with a matching variegated in Orchid Smash. The mosaic stripes are black and (top) Winter Blue, (middle) Coral, (bottom), Darling Pink.

The body is a helix knit of Graphite and Hot Spot.

This is top down conti-something, the base I use for my sweaters. If you’ve got a base you like, try it!

In the works . . . not yet on needles

I’ve got two sweaters in the planning.

The first is a wool sweater for our mail lady. I started it as a vee neck and it wasn’t coming out to gauge. I’m going to frog it back and restart. Instead of a vee neck I’m going to do something different. I saw this sweater on one of my Facebook groups and I think it would be perfect for the yarn and the recipient and I can do it in conti-rag.

The second sweater is a scrappy one I find really appealing. I will use up the Bamboo Pop I have left over from a number of other projects. There are a number of people on the list who are interested in this sweater. I’ll see how much I can share to help their projects.

Epiphany

I had an epiphany this morning. Here’s where it started.

I had an excess of chicken. I cooked the last of it yesterday, frying two pieces for Wadly snacks and baking two pieces with leeks, halved russet potatoes and butter (really good stuff). Normally I break up the potatoes, pour the chicken/butter/leek juice over the potatoes, dice up the chicken to go on top and it’s an awesome meal, simple, filling and flavorful.

But at this point in the “what’s for dinner” cycle I’m running a little low on groceries. It turns out I’m out of potatoes. I didn’t realize that until I thought about using some of the fried chicken to make chicken pot pie for dinner . . . which can’t happen without potatoes. So . . . time to improvise.

That’s when the epiphany hit. I do the same thing with knitting as I do with cooking! I look at what I’ve got to work with and improvise. So tonight’s chicken pot pie will be sauteed carrots, frozen corn, leeks and the chicken and potatoes I baked with all the associated juices. I’ll dice the chicken and potatoes and add some bone broth for additional liquid. It will be awesome served with home make biscuits, a simple, fast and delicious result.

Here’s the “step back and punt” half as it relates to knitting.

I bought two balls of Sublime Evie Prints in blue for socks. When it arrived I realized it was totally unsuited for that and let it set while my brain worked out how to use it.

I’ve always thought there should be an adult version of those cute little girl dresses where the top is knitted to an empire waist and a cloth skirt is added. One of those for running around at home would be perfect on cold February days. So now I’m playing with a knitted yoke for a navy sweatshirt fabric skirt. I bought the sweatshirt fabric on EBay to make a run-around-the-house full length sweatshirt. If I knit a yoke, extend the sleeves and create the skirt I bet I can get two or possibly three out of the fabric I bought. Because of the way my conti-something base fits, the softness of the yarn and the coziness of the sweater shirt fabric, this could be a really good thing!

My first attempt didn’t go so well. The neck was smaller than I wanted and I ran out of yarn before I got anywhere near having the real estate I needed to match my plan. Digging through my meager stash I came across a navy bamboo cotton of the same weight to use for neck edge and sleeves. At this point I am most of the way through what looks like a varsity (sleeves and trim one color, body another) themed yoke. I don’t think I’m going to make it to anything resembling an empire waist. I may get to the bottom of the armscye which would be great. I can work with that. Stay tuned. I’ll post pictures soon.

Moving on . . .

I finished my Bamboo Pop Cables today and I love it. I learned new things, did new stuff and the result is lovely. I’m wearing it. I’ll get Wadly to take pics when he’s up (he’s running late today).

So, I’ve been working on plans for my next sweater. I have lots of Bamboo Pop left over from various projects. This lot includes Blueberry Swirl, Orchid Smash, On Parade, Brilliant Blues, Graphite, a small amount of Nightshade and a microscopic amount of Ink Blue. I want to meld all those into a sweater (waste not, want not) so today I’m looking at color blocking.

Using this search string in Pinterest brought up some really interesting results. Enjoy!

Next sweater in Graphite Bamboo Pop

There was a terrific sale on Bamboo Pop a couple months ago. I bought enough yarn for three sweaters plus balls of variegated accent yarn. I love this yarn for a number of reasons. It has terrific drape, it’s lovely to work up, it comes in 40 colors and it comes in balls that are twice the size, almost 300 yards of yarn. The regular price is somewhere in the $8.50 range. When it’s on sale it’s a huge steal. So . . . yeah, three sweaters worth plus. I’ve got Ink Blue on the needles. Once the cable threads connect I’ll take a pic and post it. I’m only ~25 rows out from that event. And while I’m knitting I’m thinking about the next sweater in Graphite.

Testing Latvian Braid

I had an “aha” moment for the Graphite Bamboo Pop. Latvian braid has been enticing me for a while. I’m still testing . . . and pondering but this might be just the thing. Here’s my current sampler. It’s going to get bigger as I try different things.

The bottom two tests are the same thing, just different colors. Nope, this method is both overly complicated and messy.

The top right is doubled yarn. It’s too heavy, though it may have been alright if I had matched the colors in the strands . . . uh . . . maybe.

The top left is really really nice, smooth, clean, even . . . but a slightly heavier yarn might be that perfect middle ground. I’ll keep adding yarn to my test to see what I like best. I’m pulling scraps out of my stash and trying them. I may want to do random weights and colors, each row one accent yarn. I’m liking how it’s working up. I’ll have to find the happy middle for spacing of accent stitches, background stitches and rows.

This will be an awesome way to use up short pieces of yarn. I have a bunch of those. I think most of us do.

Done being bored

Lion Brand Ombre Life gradient paired with bamboo 4-ply.

Wadly (venerable spouse) noticed I wasn’t spending much time knitting. This is why. It’s boring. I’m not doing a single thing interesting. It’s stockinette in the round which, by its very definition, is boring. The end result will be nice but for now . . . yeah, pretty darned boring. There’s nothing here to catch my interest. I’ll put it away until the new audiobook on my pre-purchase list comes out. I *will* finish it as it’s a sweater I’ll want to wear . . . I just need to power through the week of boring, boring, boring. A new audiobook by one of my favorite authors should do the trick. Shattered Bonds comes out on the 29th.

Gradient in the works

NOT working . . .

I bought a couple cakes of Lion Brand Ombre Life. It did not go well. While this yarn is a lovely color, it’s made up of four strands of what is basically heavy cotton/acrylic thread. The changes in color are achieved by knotting two colors together with the joins staggered over the four strands to achieve the overall color change. Not a big thing unless . . . yup, you guessed it, multiple breaks in one or more strands. Ugh. If it had been a single break it would have been okay. Multiples? Yeah, not so much. So, I asked for replacement. I was working on something else when it came so I set it aside.

Bamboo/cotton/acrylic.

I started the gradient sweater this morning. So far so good! I’ve got the first shoulder done and I’m ready to start the second. I’m pairing the ombre with a 4-ply bamboo navy that matches the dark bits of the gradient. Because of the way the gradient is not spun (yup, a flat ribbon of four strands of heavy thread) I’m having to knit carefully. Missing a strand in the stitch is a thing with this one. This should be a fun knit.