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

DSC04499

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. 🙂

☃☃☃☃☃☃☃☃☃☃☃☃☃☃☃☃☃☃☃☃☃

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

Cassidy Continues

There have been moments when I just wanted to chuck Cassidy into the wheelie bin. She started out smoothly enough, but then there was that whole sleeve debacle in which I knitted three sleeves and ripped back and reknit one of them a couple of times. Then, after finishing the sleeves and having two of the three be the same size, I sewed them into the sweater and sewed up the side seams.

At that point I realized that, although I had measured carefully (or so I thought) while knitting the sleeves, the sleeves must have had a mind of their own because they were in fact about 2.5 inches too long.

My original plan was to simply snip of the bottom of the cuff, pick out the stitches, and finish with a sewn cast-off. But after a little thought, I nixed this idea because the ribbing on the cuff matches the ribbing on the bottom of the sweater, and I didn’t want to screw up the look because the design of Cassidy is pretty much perfect from a design standpoint.

So I bit the bullet and removed the sleeves from the armhole. Then I undid about 3/4s of the sleeve seaming, ripped back the sleeve cap and a couple of inches of the sleeve, then redid the sleeve decreases. Then I sewed the sleeves back in. Of course, I also had to undo about 3/4s of the side seems, too, so that I could easily sew the sleeve cap into the armhole. It was a lot of work, but it kept the design intact, and the end result is that the sleeves are now the perfect length. I know this because I was able to try the sweater on Emily last Thursday.

Since then, I have finished the hood, which was an adventure unto itself, completed the left button band, determined the button placement, and started the right button band.

Electric Blue Cassidy nearing completion

Electric Blue Cassidy nearing completion

The hood gave me fits. It’s mostly a straightforward  knit, but one part is tricky. Hoods are formed by knitting a rectangle, then folding it along one long edge and sewing it together. The other long edge is attached to the body of the hoodie.

On this sweater, the center cable panel is continued from the back of the sweater up the middle of the hood, so when you have knitted the hood to a certain length, you bind off all the plain knit stitches on each side of the hood and continue knitting just the center panel. When the center panel is long enough, you bind it off and then sew the plain-knitted edges to either side of the center panel. The trick is getting the center panel the proper length so that when you sew the sides to the center panel, the hood doesn’t pucker.

I ended up doing a lot of knitting, sewing, picking out seams, knitting some more, sewing some more, picking some more, cussing a lot, threatening Cassidy with the wheelie bin, cussing some more, threatening Cassidy with replacing the hood with a crew neck, and finally finding a good ratio between the bound of stitches of the sides of the hood and the rows of center panel. The seam is neat on both the public side and private side, and there is no puckering whatsoever. Once again, there was a lot of aggravation and frustration, but it was worth it to get the final results.

Fortunately, the left button band went a lot more smoothly than the hood. The “polka pickup” (pick up 3 stitches, skip one, just like dancing a polka) worked really well. I ended up with too many stitches, but I just evenly decreased down to the correct number of stitches on the first row of the button band. There’s no puckering and no holes along the picked-up edge.

I repeated the process for the right button band and will knit it the same as the left only with the addition of the button holes.  I love the fact that Bonne Marie Burns knows how to place buttonholes on a knitted sweater. Hint: they do not go in the middle of the button band, but rather toward the sweater body. On an inch-and-a-half wide button band, the buttonholes go half-an-inch from the body edge of the button band. When the sweater is buttoned, the buttons will be in the middle of the button band and the two button bands will line up outside edge (on top) to inside edge (on the bottom). If the buttonholes are placed in the middle of the button band, the outside edge of the band on top will fall short of the inside edge of the band on the bottom and the button bands gap, pull out of shape, and look terrible.

Emily’s Electric Blue Cassidy will be finished in a few days, and I will be very happy to mark this project as finished on Ravelry. It’s not because I haven’t enjoyed knitting this sweater. I have. The design is brilliant, the directions are clear, there are no errors in the pattern, and the cables and shaping are fun and keep the project interesting. My only complaint with the design is that it is knitted in pieces, then seamed. I don’t like seaming and avoid it as much as possible. When I knit this sweater again (and I will probably knit one for myself someday, but as a cardigan, not a hoodie), I will knit it in one piece up to the armholes and knit the sleeves in the round. Then the only sewing I will have to do is setting in the sleeves and maybe the shoulder seams (unless I do a 3-needle bind-off, which is what I did for Emily’s Cassidy). Oh, yeah, and sewing on the buttons. 🙂

The other thing I would do differently is use a different yarn. I am knitting Cassidy with stash yarn, Québécoise from Schoolhouse Press. I’ve really grown to hate this yarn as I have knitted with it. It is very rough, although it does soften a bit when washed, and is suitable only for outer wear, for sure. I would not want this stuff against my skin. And it doesn’t hold up very well to being ripped out and reknitted, and when I was seaming the sweater, the yarn wore out from the abrasion and broke. I learned quickly to keep an eye on the length of yarn in my tapestry needle and to replace it when it started looking tatty. I’m really afraid this sweater is going to fuzz, pill, and otherwise look awful after only a few wearings. If Emily finds this sweater eminently wearable, I might have to knit her another one in a better quality yarn.

That’s it for today. I do have some other projects OTN and OTW, and I even have a FO, but I think this entry is borderline too long already, so I’ll shut my yap.

Please visit Tami’s WIP Wednesday to see what creative activities other folks are up to.

Cassidy

I know it’s been a while since I last blogged. The DH and I have been busy painting the family room, getting new carpet installed (which you can see in the picture, although the color isn’t even close to accurate), and trying to get the family room put back together. It’s been a slow go because I’m kind of lazy. In between moving stuff, painting, and moving stuff back, I’ve been doing some spinning and knitting, but on this WIP Wednesday, I’m focusing on Emily’s Cassidy hoodie.

DSC03546_2

Cassidy is starting to look like a sweater!

As you can see, it is going together nicely. The shoulders were seamed using a three-needle bind-off, and I’m pleased with the how the shoulder shaping turned out. I did short rows instead of binding off stitches to shape the shoulders, and it looks great.

I also managed to get one sleeve is sewn in, and then I seamed the sleeve and side seams. I’m using mattress stitch to seam the sweater, and it is like magic. The seaming is done from the public side of the sweater and disappears automagically, leaving an invisible seam. Mattress stitch is easy to do, but that doesn’t make it fun.

I do not enjoy seaming sweaters (or anything else). But I shall persevere and get the seaming done so that I can start knitting the hood and button band. I love the knitting part. 🙂

Cassidy is a well-designed sweater. Bonne Marie Burns knows just where to place the shaping, and she chose cables that are easy to do but look complex, and the pattern is well-written and free of mistakes. The only concern I have at the moment is that the sleeves are going to be too long. That won’t be the end of the world. If the sleeves are too long, I can remedy that pretty easily by cutting off a few rows at the cast-on edge, unworking a row, and then finishing with a sewn cast-off. No one will ever know.

There was a time when the thought of taking scissors to my knitting would have horrified me, but no more. I am Knitter, hear me roar! I’m totally fearless when it comes to cutting off naughty ribbing and teaching it to behave properly. 🙂

Be sure to visit Tami’s WIP Wednesday to see more wonderful hand-crafted projects.

Works In Progress on a WIP Wednesday

Thanks to lots of playoff hockey, I’ve been getting a lot of knitting done. My most recent cast-on, Hitchhiker, is progressing rapidly even as the rows get longer. It’s totally autopilot knitting, but with a potato chip element. I cannot knit just one row. 🙂

We're making progress!

We’re making progress!

This 2-ply handspun is lovely to knit with. I love the effect of the color changes. Dana of Unwind Yarn Company is a brilliant dyer.

On the sweater front, Cassidy now has a back and two fronts,

She's starting to look like a sweater.

She’s starting to look like a sweater.

and the first sleeve is underway. If I were a monogamous knitter, Cassidy would probably be finished already. But I simply cannot bring myself to stick to one project at a time, and there’s no rush to finish Cassidy because she’s definitely a winter sweater, and winter is still a long way off here in the Northern Hemisphere.

On the spinning front, I’m spinning some lovely red Falkland wool on a drop spindle.

Unwind Yarn Company Falkland in O-Neg on one of my Goldings

Unwind Yarn Company Falkland in O-Neg on one of my Goldings

My progress is slow, but I try to spin on it at least a little every day.

I spend a lot more time spinning on my wheel, so my progress there is a lot faster. I’m currently working on some lovely “swirl” BFL, a blend of black and white BFL that is then dyed to create colors that spin up into a beautifully heathered yarn. I love the way this particular colorway spins up.

Sunset Fibers BFL on the Ladybug

Sunset Fibers BFL on the Ladybug

I divided the roving into thirds and plan to spin 3 bobbins of singles, then make a 3-ply yarn. I’m kind of in love with 3-ply handspun. 🙂

Be sure to check out other works in progress on Tami’s WIP Wednesday.