Friday, December 28, 2012

FO: Lace Doily Cocoon Vest

This is the Lace Doily Cocoon Vest, knitted using Bergère de France Ecoton. I normally would not have ever found this pattern because I don't browse through the Tahki Yarns pattern books. My LYS had a knitted sample on display and allowed me to try it on and I liked how it looked. I didn't use the suggested yarn, and I think my yarn is a slightly finer gauge. This is probably a spring and summer type of garment, but I wanted to knit it anyway. It sort of has this 1970s hippie chick vibe which I like.

The pattern was a bit of a pain because I think it had some stitch count errors. Also, the lace pattern is directional so it wasn't easy to make it more or less symmetrical. It is knitted from right to left, and I did not see any instructions on how to terminate the lace pattern on the left side so I had to improvise. It's knit in a rectangle, as seen in the WIP photo. I added a row of single crochet on the underarm edge to bring it in and firm it up. I'm pretty happy with the end result though. I'll have to wait for warmer weather to see how it wears during the course of a day.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

It wasn't me

I've done a little bit of yarn bombing myself, as seen here, but I had absolutely nothing to do with this one. It's pretty darn cute.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

FO: Orbs Cowl

This is the Orbs Cowl from Knitscene Accessories 2012. My yarn is Debbie Bliss Glen. It's a bigger gauge yarn than what the pattern calls for, so I made one less horizontal repeat of the stitch pattern and I made only 4.5 vertical repeats instead of the six called for in the pattern. It was a quick knit, and it's very warm and fun to wear.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Furniture roulette

A series of events occurred over the last few days that involved used furniture.
  1. I found this great curio cabinet at the Los Altos ACS Discovery Shop. (That place has the greatest stuff.) See image above.
  2. I moved the cabinet up to SF to be used as a small liquor cabinet. It took the space formerly occupied by a very out-dated 1970's TV stand. The stand got hauled out to the street corner for free-cycling. It was picked up less than 48 hours later.
  3. While walking the dog at night, we saw this black chest of drawers set out for free-cycling. I drove over and picked it up and we hauled it up into the spare room. See image below. It's actually an inexpensive piece with flimsy construction, but it's good enough for my purposes. It also had some bits of paint chipped off but a black Magic Marker took care of that.
  4. The flimsy chest replaced a small plastic (lavender!) chest of drawers, which got hauled down to the garage.
  5. The plastic unit actually replaced something in the garage, which was a sturdy but very ugly small wooden chest of drawers. (Yes, it was uglier than the lavender plastic). No photos provided for either of those units. The sturdy but ugly chest was hauled out to the same street corner for free-cycling. It was also picked up less than 48 hours later.
  6. To complete this frenzy of furniture movement, I took an antique rocking chair (see last image) from SF to the Discovery shop as a donation.
So, here are the end results:

-- My furniture count: -1
Woo-hoo! At this point in my life, any decrease in the amount of furniture is good.

-- The number of pieces that have found or will find new homes: 5!

I'm being so green, I could just die.

Friday, November 30, 2012

WIP

I have not shown any WIP photos in a while. Most of the time, they are pretty boring. I decided to show this one because it's actually interesting looking. This is the lace doily cocoon vest. My yarn is Bergère de France Ecoton, which is a cotton/acrylic blend. It's knit side to side as one flat piece, and it does sort of look like a doily. I like the long stitches which shape the sleeve cap with a slightly ruffled look. An I-cord is threaded through the top eyelets to draw in the neckline. It's a pretty quick knit and I'm just at the halfway point. The pattern has errors in stitch counts but once I got a bit of it knitted, it was easy to figure it out without relying on the pattern to the letter. I see now that there is an errata available.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Windsor Cardi, button bands, and knit one below

I just finished the Windsor Cardi from Knitscene Summer 2011 and I'm extremely happy with it. I love its quasi vintage look with its quasi steampunk buttons. The yarn is Valley Yarns Northfield, which is one of my favorite DK weight yarns.
I made 3/4 length sleeves and I knit them flat and tapered them. The pattern calls for straight sleeves, relying on the lace and ribbing to contract at the lower section for shaping, but I think that would result in sleeves that are just too loose at the forearms, and I like fitted sleeves. I used needles one size smaller in the midsection to give the body a tiny bit of shaping, but I don't know that it mattered much.

I've been on the search for the holy grail of button bands for quite a while. I like button bands to be sturdy in order to prevent button band "gaposis" in fitted cardigans. Here are some of the things I've tried:

  • Knitting a separate double knit band and sewing it on -- It can be almost too thick and it's a pain to sew it on, even though I don't mind sweater seams.
  • Sewing a ribbon backing on the underside -- It's way too much work and I don't like the look and the band does not stretch.
  • Using a linen stitch -- This is okay, but I don't love the stitch pattern on a button band.
  • Using a needle size of a much finer gauge -- This is my favorite method for worsted weight yarns because you can achieve a pretty dense fabric that way.
  • Using an attached I-cord and leaving gaps for the button holes -- I love this method, but it does not look good on all sweater styles. Sometimes you just need a ribbed band.
For this sweater, I tried a swatch with a very small needle size, but with the DK yarn, it's just not thick enough. So, I decided to try using the knit-one-below technique. I made the 2x2 ribbing with K1b and P1b stitches. The stitches are slightly wider and shorter, but you get a fabric that is squishy and is about 50% thicker. I'm pretty happy with this method. My front button bands don't have very much of that strained pulled look that I hate. I used the same technique for the neck band. I ended up do the neckband first and the front bands go the full length.

I buried my button holes in the purl stitches. I've also been on the quest for the perfect sturdy button holes. These are almost there. They look pretty good and are extremely sturdy. Here's a close-up of the button bands. You can see that the ribbing has more separation between the knit stitches and the purl stitches look slightly different. The thickness is not obvious from the photo though. Another thing I like about this band is that knit stitches at the bottom do not scrunch up and curl under like they do with the normal ribbing.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Stretchy bind-off

For the last three of my finished sweaters, I talked about using my new favorite stretchy bind-off wherein I do the knit stitches as Kf&b, pass the first stitch over the second, then pass the last bound-off stitch over that one. I thought I would ramble on a bit more about this bind-off and show some photos of swatches.

I'm mainly a sweater knitter, and a lot of sweaters use the K2 P2 ribbing to finish necklines, armholes, sleeve openings, and front bands. I like the K2 P2 ribbing, but I was always trying to get the perfect tension while binding off. Usually I end up using a needle size that is 2 sizes larger but that's not always the best tension because it depends upon the actual needle sizes. Also, I don't really like the look of looser stitches on the bind-off.

I tried the popular Jenny's super stretchy bind-off, but I don't like the big bump caused by the yarnover, and I found it too stretchy for ribbed necklines and such, since they don't need to stretch as much as socks do. Here's a swatch of the bind-off for just knit stitches, and you can see the bumps at the top.

I knew that I needed to add more yarn to the bind-off row to give it stretchiness, so I decided to just try doing a Kf&b, because that almost doubles the yarn length. It does have a thicker look on that last bind-off row, but it's not that bad, and it stretches about the same as Jenny's bind-off if I do it on every stitch.

So then I decided to try it with every other stitch, and I found that the stretchiness is just about right. The stitches with the Kf&b don't look that different from the stitches with a K only. I used a cable cast-on for the swatch, and this stretches about the same as the cast-on.

So, for K2 P2, I do Kf&b for just the knit stitches when binding off, and I've found that it always gives me just the right amount of stretch. It does not look that different from a normal bind-off in ribbing.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Thursday, October 18, 2012

FO: Creature Comforts Cardi

I just love this cardigan. It's the Creature Comforts Cardi, and the yarn is Fibranatura Mermaid. It sort of feels like wearing a Snuggie backwards. The Other Half says it looks very après-ski. I made my sleeves about 12 inches in circumference, and the sweater is just under 30 inches long. The center panel takes a little concentration but other than that, it's really good mindless knitting. You just knit a rectangle and sew up a couple of seams to form the sleeve holes.

I bound off the ribbing using my own variation of a stretchy bind-off. For the knit stitches, I Kf&b, passed the first stitch over the second, then passed the last bound off stitch over that one. The purl stitches were bound off as usual.

It's one of those garments that looks more interesting in the back. I have more of this yarn in a rust color. I might make another one with some other kind of back panel pattern.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

FO: A copycat sweater

This sweater has a stitch pattern that is a copy of something I saw in a local boutique window. The original sweater had some elbow length sleeves and was looser and more cropped. It hasn't been on display for quite a while, but I think I got the stitch pattern right. In fact, I gave it more definition by knitting and purling through the back loop for one of the stitches. My yarn is Araucania Ulmo, which is 100% cotton. The yarn is a bit splitty, so I felt like I was slogging through it towards the end. I'm happy with end result though.

Here's a close-up of the stitch pattern. It causes quite a bit of biasing, so it would probably not be good knitted in the round. Breaking it up with the garter stitch sections also helped cut down on the biasing.

The stitch pattern is a multiple of three, and I put one selvedge stitch at each end. Here it is:

RS: p2tog, yo, k1 tbl
WS: p1 tbl, p1, k1

For the k2 p2 ribbing on the armholes and neckline, I did the same semi-stretchy bind off as I did on my last sweater. For each knit stitch in the bind-off, I did a kf&b, passed the first stitch over the 2nd, then passed the last bound-off stitch over that. I used the same needle size and I find that it gives just the right amount of stretchiness.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

More Hello Kitty stuff

Hello Kitty stuff is everywhere, I tell you. I was at JoAnn today and picked up this Hello Kitty Ducktape. I have no need for this.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

FO: One-seam shrug and a stretchier bind-off

This is the One-seam shrug from the Spring 2012 knit.wear issue. I wanted to knit this the minute I saw it in the magazine because of its unusual construction. It is knit as a rectangle and the horizontal back seam is made by a 3-needle bind-off. One short seam is sewn down the center back. (It was hard for me to visualize this until I saw one of the other finished ones on ravelry) I liked the pattern, but I didn't want to use a bulky yarn and I didn't want such an open weave, so I changed the stitch pattern and used Malabrigo worsted for a finer gauge. I used one of my favorite simple stitch patterns: K2, yo, K2tog on every row, with one K selvedge at each end. I love the result. Mine came out slightly smaller than the smallest size, but it's still quite roomy. It's very cozy but not too warm and the collar stays folded over and covers the back of the neck very well.
I want to share my method for doing stretchier bind-offs on this shrug. There are actually two methods, but they are variations on the same theme. I wanted a stretchier bind-off for the arm holes, which are bound off as knit stitches. For every other stitch, I did a knit through the front and back of the stitch. I would then slip the first stitch over the second one, then slip the stitch from the previous bind-off over that stitch. This sort of increases the the stitch count by 50% on the bind-off row only. I used the same needle size and tension for the bind-off. The horizontal back seam is done with a 3-needle bind-off, which normally results in a tight tension. It's one of the reasons I love it for shoulder seams because it allows the seam to remain firm and not stretch as I wear the sweater. In this case I wanted a stretchy seam because it sits across my back. I ended up doing the Kf&b on every stitch of the bind-off. It's more fiddly to do because of the 3-needle thing. I put the stitch from the front needle onto the back needle, then knit the two stitches together in the front and back and do the same slipping of stitches as I described above. The back is perfectly stretchy.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hello Kitty

This weekend, it seemed to me like the world is awash with Hello Kitty merchandise. I wandered into a Vans shoe store and could not resist buying myself this pair of slip-ons. I'm not a big Hello Kitty fan, but the shoes were just too cute to resist.
The next day, I went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and stumbled upon this large collection of Hello Kitty goods. I believe these are marketed as items for outfitting your dorm room. I did not buy anything, but I have to admit that the mini-fridge is cute.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

FO: Strafford Tee

This is the Strafford Tee from Knitscene Summer 2012. I used the recommended yarn, Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy, and I really love this yarn. I used it for this top some time ago and that top still gets a lot of wear.
I converted the pattern to knitting in flat pieces, and gave it a standard waist shaping instead of an A-line shape. I made the front lace portion with one less vertical repeat than the back lace section. It's a simple pattern, although the lace took a little bit of concentration in the beginning. It seemed to take me a long time to knit it, but I think I've just been busy.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Klein Bottle Hat

I think I should knit one of these hats. They sort of look like some kind of digestive organ, but they are cute.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A few New Mexico yarn shops

I recently took a vacation to New Mexico, visiting Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos. I had to visit a few yarn shops, of course. In Santa Fe, I checked out a couple of shops. This first one, called Moxie, is a large home accessories, apparel, and gift shop. I wandered in just to look around and stumbled upon a very large yarn section. It was near closing time so I did not browse very long, but they do have quite a selection of name brand and local yarns.

The next shop is Tutto A Mano, which is a very cute little store. They have their own line of hand dyed yarns, but what I liked best was their wall of buttons. Buttons are easy to pack, so of course I had to buy a few.

In Taos, I checked out a shop called, oddly enough, "The Yarn Shop". This is a small shop, and I was greeted by friendly people and 2 small dogs. They have a lot of locally spun and dyed yarn. I avoided buying anything because it would have been too pricey to buy enough yarn to make a sweater. The shop is a part of the John Dunn Shops complex, which has a lot of unique small shops, including a very nice fabric store.

The last fiber place I visited was the Española Valley Fiber Arts Center. This is a non-profit organization that promotes fiber arts in New Mexico and it serves a large regional area. They have a large space, with many weaving looms in the back rooms. They also have retail section that features a lot of local yarns. So, of course I had to buy a little souvenir yarn. I bought two skeins of New Mexico Merino worsted weight yarn from tattersall mills.

I brought only one project for the trip, and I made quite a bit of progress on the back side. It is the Strafford Tee pattern, and I divided it up into front and back for flat knitting.

I leave you with two classic tourist photos of New Mexico -- the plaza in Santa Fe, and the Taos Pueblo.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

FO: pullover with top front ruching

This is a basic pullover made from an improvised pattern. The yarn is Rowan Purelife Revive, which is a nice silk/cotton/rayon blend made from recycled fibers. I've always liked these pullovers with ruching around the yoke, One pattern is the Ruched Yoke Tee from Interweave Knits, and another pattern is Molly Ringwald.. However, I don't really like having the gathered stitches all around the yoke. They tend to make the top of the sweater fit too loosely, and all that yarn makes it a bit bulky. Also, for some reason, I never liked the purl stitches used to separate the gathered sections. For some reason, that just gave the sweaters too much of a "home made" look, and I don't even know why I think that. I always wanted to put the gathered area just on the front section, but I couldn't think of what to do for the separation rows until a knitting friend told me about the lateral braid stitch, which has Estonian origins. After that, I was good to go! I really like how the horizontal stitches provide such a sharp dividing line between the gatherings. I did the stitch without doing the increase at the start.

The rest of the sweater is just your basic raglan top-down pullover. I added some short rows to raise the back neckline a bit, and the neckline is finished with a row of single crochet followed by a row of reverse single crochet.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sewing FOs: more dresses

I've been busying sewing spring and summer dresses. This first one is V8724 and it's the second time I've used the pattern. I liked the first one enough to make another one. This one is also in a cotton interlock knit. I really like these knits because they feel as comfy as wearing sleepwear. These dresses wear like long t-shirts with some shaping. For this second dress, I used bias tape on the neckline and arm openings instead of cutting out facings. I also lengthened the front top section by about 1/2 inch. I'm very happy that I now own something like the bright orange and pink things I see in the stores.

The second dress is McCall's M6554, a pattern from the Fashion Star series. I don't love the show, but I like it enough to watch it. The fabric is an embroidered linen blend that I got last year an JoAnn's. I didn't want to use a tie, so I added some white piping. I sewed the pleat center for the first few inches because I didn't want so much flaring right at my stomach. I also widened the straps by about 1/2 inch towards the arms. The pattern fits well, but it is cut almost too high on the armholes -- it feels like the armholes are too confining.

On the matter of clothing, I'm challenging myself to see if I can refrain from buying any new clothes for six months or so, starting from April. I can knit and sew new clothing, and I can buy used items from consignment, thrift, and used clothing shops -- I just can't buy new stuff. I don't include shoes and accessories in this challenge -- I can only go so far!