Finis

Abria is finished and will begin its journey to its recipient tomorrow.

Try as I might, I just couldn’t get a good picture of this sweater.

Abria draped on the back of my couch

Abria draped on the back of my couch

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Abria lying flat on my couch

In real life, it is absolutely gorgeous. The design by Bonne Marie Burns of Chic Knits is brilliant and a lot of fun to knit.

The yarn I used, Classic Elite Firefly, is perfect for this sweater. It knits up into a soft, drapy, lightweight sweater that has just a bit of sheen. I didn’t make a single modification. Not. One.

Happy FO Friday!

Abria

Happy WIP Wednesday, everyone! I have progress to report today.

I’ve been working for a few hours every night on the Abria Cardigan. During the hockey game on Monday night–game 3 of the Stanley Cup final, which the Kings won to take a 3-0 lead over the Rangers in the series–I finished the first sleeve and got started on the second sleeve. And last night (Tuesday) I worked on the second sleeve while streaming a movie on my computer. I have exactly 26 rows left to knit before the final binding off.

The second sleeve is well on its way via Magic Loop.

The second sleeve is well on its way via Magic Loop.

Unless the knitting gods decided to take vengeance on me, I will get the rest of the sleeve done tonight during the hockey game, and thats a good thing because tonight could very well be the last hockey game of the season. Who knows whether the Rangers will be able to muster enough gumption to take a game from the Kings. They have been playing hard, but have little to show for it.

Anyway, after the second sleeve is young off, all that will be left to do is weave in ends and block the sweater. I love sweaters that are knitted in one piece. 🙂 Bonne Marie Burns of Chic Knits, who designed Abria, is currently working on a long version of the cardigan, and as soon as the pattern is available, I will be knitting one for me. Yep, I love this pattern that much.

 

And Now Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Here’s some knitting for this wonderful WIP Wednesday. A little while back, I received a message in my e-mail from Chic Knits announcing a new pattern by Bonne Marie Burns called Abria. Bonne Marie is one of my very favorite designers. She designed the incredibly gorgeous Cassidy sweater that I knitted last year.

Anyway, when I opened the e-mail from Chic Knits, I took one look at Abria…

A picture of the first page of my working copy of the pattern

A picture of the first page of my working copy of the pattern

and thought, Oh! That is a beautiful little sweater. Wouldn’t it look lovely on my soon-to-be-DIL? So, I sent her a link to the pattern, and I sent her a link to the yarn. I asked her if she would like a sweater in this pattern and if so, which color? Her answer was a resounding YES!, and she chose a gorgeous color that will look fabulous on her.

Here’s what I have to show you so far.

This picture is pretty close to the actually color of the yarn.

This picture is pretty close to the actually color of the yarn.

The yarn is Classic Elite Firefly in the color Thistle. It’s a lovely slightly reddish light purple. The sheen is mostly an artifact of the flash when I took the picture; in real live, the yarn doesn’t have quite that much sheen. It is 75% vicose (think Rayon) and 25% linen.

This yarn is surprisingly lovely to knit with. It is softer off the ball than pure linen yarn, and it knits a little closer to it’s blocked gauge than pure linen. When it’s washed, it gets even softer, and the viscose has a beautiful sheen, and the drape is soft. This will be a great three-seasons sweater, a light-weight, little cardigan that can be thrown on over a sundress, tank top, or T-shirt to dress up an outfit or to take the chill off a cool summer evening or crisp spring or autumn morning.

I love the design of this sweater. It is knit in one piece–Let’s hear it for no seaming!– and has lots of shaping to keep it looking tailored and some lace to add a feminine touch. The shaping is done mostly with the standard k2tog and ssk, and some of the shaping becomes a visible design feature. There are also some well-placed short rows that add a little length to the fronts. It is a clever design that is very easy to knit, although I would definitely not recommend it for a novice knitter.

Front view of my Abria. The color isn't even close in this picture.

Front view of my Abria. The color isn’t even close in this picture.

A view of the back of my Abria. The color is a little closer to reality, but not quite there.

A view of the back of my Abria. The color is a little closer to reality, but not quite there.

I have 19 more rows to knit on the body, then four rows of hem ribbing and the body will be done. The sleeves should go pretty quickly because they are not-quite three-quarter sleeves.But, of course, sleeves always take longer than you think, am I right?

I should have this sweater done before the next Stanley Cup champion is crowned. Who will it be? The Kings or the Rangers? Your guess is as good as mine, but if I were a betting person, my money would be on the Kings. Henrik Lundqvist is an extraordinary goal tender, and the Rangers are sizzling hot right now, so I definitely wouldn’t rule them out. But the Kings had to win a game seven in every round, so I think they just have the determination and grit it takes to win.

 

What’s On My Needles

The Winter Olympic Games are fast approaching, which means the Ravellenic Games will soon begin, which means that I need to finish up all the projects I currently have on my needles, excluding those projects that are in long-term hibernation. Sorry, Stonington Shawl and St. Moritz sweater. You must remain in deep sleep for a while longer because I fell out of love with you. I’m sorry if that hurts your feelings, but we knitters can be a fickle lot.

Anyway, once the Ravellenic Games begin, I need to be able to concentrate on my Ravellenic project. I mean, there may be prizes involved. PRIZES!!

So, just what IS on my needles? Well, I’ve been working on a Downtown Cowl (free Ravelry download) using my very own handspun yarn

Vintage Roses Downtown Cowl in the midst of casting off

The knitting is done, but the casting off is still in progress. I’m using EZ’s sewn cast off, which is super easy to do, but because there are about a million stitches to cast off, it is taking forever. I cannot stand to cast off more than a couple dozen stitches at a time, then I have to set the cowl aside for a while. It’s like eating an elephant–you do it one bite at a time. 🙂

This pattern is very easy and makes great hockey knitting. I enjoyed every part of knitting it except casting off. If I had it to do over again, I would use the traditional cast off where you knit a stitch and pass the previous stitch over it, but I thought the stretchier edge of the sewn cast off would be better. Well, it’s only better if it actually gets done, and even then, it’s only marginally better. Live and learn. I’m so used to using the sewn cast off on socks where there are only 72 stitches to cast off that I just didn’t think about how tedious it would be to cast off 350 stitches that way. One. Bite. At. A. Time.

Speaking of cowls and handspun, I cast on another infinity scarf using the Graham-finity pattern by Carol Quilici, another free Ravelry download.

My Fancy Pants Infinity scarf is under way.

The yarn is spun from fiber I “won” during the Tour de Fleece last July. It’s a 50/50 Merino/Silk from Woolgatherings’ Fancy Pants fiber club, and I had a blast spinning it. I think this pattern is perfect for the color changes, texture, and barber-poling of this handspun. The yarn is so soft and silky, it will feel heavenly around the wearer’s neck.

I started Fancy Pants on my Denise Interchangeable needles, and after knitting six or seven rounds, I managed to break the cable by snapping the plastic part that locks into the needle off the part that is inside the cable. I am hard on interchangeable needles, I guess. Anyway, I don’t have any fixed circulars in the size I need (5 mm), so I got out the Boye interchangeables. They are working quite nicely. The yarn moves over the join smoothly and easily, but I really don’t enjoy the stiff cable. I guess it’s time to buy some more circular needles in some larger sizes. I’ve given up on interchangeables. They just don’t like me. 😦

But as much as interchangeable needles and I don’t get along, DPNs are my bestest friends. I have started a lovely pair of fingerless mitts, yet another free Ravelry download, using stash yarn that is left over from a sweater I knitted many years ago.

My Lush Fingerless Mitts are not very far along.

I don’t think this yarn is even available any more. It’s Emerald Aran wool from the Blarney Woollen Mills in Blarney, Co. Cork, Ireland. I bought it on-line as a kit that contained the wool, a pattern for 3 different Aran sweaters, and knitting needles. I knitted one of the sweaters, this beautiful Aran lumber (which folks in the US would call a cardigan) with raglan sleeves,

I knitted the lovely Aran sweater on the right years ago.

I knitted the lovely Aran sweater on the right years ago.

for my older sister in the smallest size, so I had quite a bit of the wool left, 5 or 6 50g-balls at least. I can knit lots of fingerless mitts with the yarn left over from this sweater. 🙂

The cable and lace pattern used for the Lush mitts is very simple and easy to memorize. It took me about three seconds to know the pattern by heart. I haven’t assigned these mitts a recipient yet. They might be keepers. They will tell me where they belong when they are finished. Yes, my knitting speaks to me. 🙂

Presents!

The holidays were wonderful this year. The weekend before Christmas we made a trip to Pittsburgh to visit James and Emily (and housemates Kelly and Alma the cat) and to exchange gifts. We had dinner at Emily’s mom’s place (yum!) and the next morning we had brunch at Zenith on the Southside (yum!) and then headed back home. It was a lovely time. And there were presents!

I gave James his Tea with Jam and Bread sweater

James’s sweater waiting to be blocked

and a pair of fingerless mitts in Brown Sheep Nature Spun wool in Bulldog Blue.

Simple K3 P1 mitts for James, modeled by yours truly.

James was very happy with his new sweater. It wasn’t a surprise. He had approved the yarn last summer and tried the sweater-in-progress on over Thanksgiving. But he was very happy with how it turned out, especially with how well it fit. I added three double sets of short rows to the back, one at the shoulders, one at the bottom of the armholes, and one above the bottom ribbing to add length to the back. The short rows at the shoulders gave a slightly rounded shape that fit across his upper back very nicely. And the other two sets of short rows made the back about an inch-and-a-half longer than the front so the sweater won’t ride up in the back when he wears it.

I also knitted the body longer than I usually do. I checked on-line to see how long commercial sweaters in “tall” sizes are from the top of the shoulder to the bottom of the sweater and used that as a guide. It’s 31 inches for an XL. 🙂

James also seemed very happy with the fingerless mitts. He expressed an interest in giving them a try when he was here over Thanksgiving, so I knitted him a pair in very dark blue using a simple ribbing that makes them stretchy. I cast on four more stitches than I would were I knitting these for myself, and I knitted the cuffs just a little longer than I would for myself to accommodate his larger hands. When he tried them on, they fit, um, like a glove. 🙂

Emily also got a pair of fingerless mitts, knitted from Cascade 220 Heather in a lovely soft blue.

Emily’s mitt with fold-over cuffs on both the wrists and fingers for extra warmth

I was working on these mitts over Thanksgiving, and Emily really liked them, so they mysteriously found their way into her gift bag.

While James and Emily were showing off their fingerless mitts, their housemate Kelly was admiring them. So naturally, I asked him if he would like a pair. He said yes, so I told him to stop by when he was in town for the holidays and I would have a pair ready for him.

Kelly’s mitts in Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Mist

They are identical to the ones I knitted for James except they are in a different color and yarn. He picked them up the Friday after Christmas and seemed pleased with them. Although I knitted them using the same stitch count and needles that I used for James’s mitts, these mitts are just a wee bit smaller because of the different yarn. But they are very stretchy, so it’s not really a problem. Fingerless mitts are very forgiving like that. 🙂

Oh, and let’s not forget the best present of all. I actually made a pair of fingerless mitts for myself.

The Pittsburgh Penguins gnome keeping watch over my mitts

Mine, all mine!

All I can say is, Fingerless mitts, where have you been all my life?

 

 

 

Another Finished Object Friday

It’s FO Friday again, and I have finally finished knitting the dark red top-down raglan for my son that is based on Heidi Kirrmaier’s pattern Tea With Jam and Bread, which is available on Ravelry.

Although Heidi’s design includes broad stripes, I knitted my version of the sweater in one solid color. I bought the pattern because it comes in a large variety of sizes from children’s to men’s XXL  and because it uses short rows to raise the back of the neck. Having this pattern saves me from doing a lot of math to figure out how many stitches, how many inches, how many decreases, etc. I like not having to do the math myself. The math isn’t difficult, it’s just, well, math. There’s a reason I was a Latin major in college, not a math major. 🙂

Anyway, I loved knitting the neck with the short rows–and the technique Heidi recommends that uses yarn overs instead of wraps is easy to do and virtually invisible–but I’m not thrilled with how the back of the neck curls.

The curl should disappear when the sweater is blocked.

The curl should disappear when the sweater is blocked.

But I am pretty confident that curl will disappear once the sweater is washed (it’s soaking as I type) and blocked.

The only modifications I made to the pattern, aside from not knitting stripes and not adding pockets, is to add a few short rows to the upper, middle, and lower back of the sweater to lengthen the back a bit and give my son a better fit, and to knit the body of the sweater a couple of inches longer overall to accommodate my son’s long torso. His sweaters tend to ride up a bit in the back, and the extra length from the short rows should eliminate that problem.

The completed sweater before blocking

The completed sweater before blocking

The yarn is Regal from Briggs and Little in New Brunswick, Canada. It’s a 2-ply wool that comes in 4-oz/113g put-ups of 272 yds/248m. The color is #73 Red, and it is a very dark red that is slightly on the rusty end of the red spectrum. It’s quite lovely, but then, I’ve never met a red I didn’t love.

The yarn itself is a bit rustic, not being either tightly spun or tightly plied, but it’s quite sturdy nonetheless. There was a lot of VM (vegetable matter for you muggles) in the yarn that I ended up removing with tweezers as I knit. This was a minor PITA, but I really don’t mind because all the VM means that the wool was not highly processed with chemicals that dissolve plant matter. This yarn is a heavy worsted weight bordering on Aran weight, but it’s pretty lofty, so the sweater ought to be quite warm, especially in proportion to its weight.

Now that the sweater is done, I can get to work on knitting a bunch of fingerless mitts. I have a lot of odds and ends of worsted weight wool to use up, and I know lots of people who could use a pair or two of hand-knitted mitts. So many patterns, so little time. 🙂

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Hello, Cassidy!

Howdy, strangers. Long time, no post. I’ve been a bit distracted taking care of some medical stuff (all is well), so I haven’t posted anything for a while, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy knitting and spinning. I’ll try to get caught up before the year is over, but for now, let’s just do the happy dance for a finished object, Emily’s Electric Blue Cassidy.

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