Saturday, April 18, 2009

On the needles

I'm currently working on Mirabella Cardigan from Interweave Knits Spring 2008. This is a very simple style with some nice details that make it special. This yarn is Debbie Bliss Stella, in a very hot pink. It did not look that hot a pink under the convention hall lights at Stitches West 2009, where I bought this on sale. I figure the hot pink will be a nice contrast to the lady-like style of the cardigan. This is a fairly quick knit at 4 stitches/inch.

Next up is Paloma, from French Girl Knits (ravelry link). The yarn is Jaeger Trinity, a silk/cotton/polyamide blend. The top half of this sweater is rather slow going -- it's got lots of k2togtbl stitches, and my yarn is fine, textured, and sticky. The stickiness should be really good at preventing the finished sweater from stretching due to the semi-lacy pattern because all those YO holes will be held in place nicely. The stitch pattern got easier once I got past the first couple of inches. I do have a few errors that I patched up as best as I could because I just did not want to rip back because ripping back is almost impossible with this yarn. I'm hoping the errors will be lost in the pattern when the sweater is done.

I'm actually making mine with a narrower neckline -- I cast on only 90 stitches, then gradually increased to 100, then 125 rows. The pattern calls for casting on 122 stitches and increasing to 125 right after the eyelet round. I have a few more garter stitch rows at the top. One of the reasons I want a narrower neckline is that I don't want to use a ribbon in the finished sweater. The wide neckline would probably require the ribbon to keep it from stretching when worn.

Finally, I leave you with a photo of one of my favorite spring-flowering plants from the garden. I really like the profusion of very pale pink flowers.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Fresh off the needles

My latest Finished Object (FO) is the Ariosa Wrap Cardi from Classic Elite. The yarn is Malabrigo worsted, in dusty rose. (I finally looked at the label and saw the color name instead of thinking of it as "dirty bubble gum pink").
I'm very happy with this cardigan. The lace rib pattern is not overly lacy, and its holes as well as the short sleeves keep it from being too warm to wear in spring. I'm not sure what Large Dog thinks of it -- he's looking at me oddly.

My biggest customization was with the shawl collar. Mine is 3" wide (as opposed to 5") in the front, and 5" wide on the back. I love shawl collars but I'm always trying to figure out the perfect percentage increase of stitches so that the collar lays nice and flat on the shoulders and back without any strain. I did the first set of short rows as in the pattern, then added 6 more short rows before binding off. I started with the 4x4 rib and increased gradually to a 5x6 rib for the upper shawl section. This increase of 3 stitches for every 8 seems to do the trick -- the collar sits nicely. For my boxy cardigan, I went from a 2x2 rib to 2x3 rib and the 25% increase was not quite enough.

I made other minor tweaks here and there. My middle rib section starts a little higher and is a little wider. My sleeves are a smidgen longer. I also changed the pattern to use SSK instead of K2tog on row 3.

I can see why knitters love the Malabrigo worsted. It's just so soothing to knit with and the resulting garment is really soft and comfy to wear.