a last minute gift

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Pattern: Grandmother’s Favourite
Yarn: Jo Sharp SoHo Summer, colour #225 “Uber”
Needles: 4mm Addi Naturas and 2 4mm Addi Bamboo DPNs with stoppers

Thursday evening, just as I was finishing the seaming of the Phildar Hooded Jacket, we received an invitation to a friend’s 35th on Saturday night. Having managed to secure a baby sitter I cast on for this wash cloth during Isabelle and Ella’s nap on Friday, knit some more in the car on the way home after picking up Jesse from work and completed it during some TV knitting that night and one last hour yesterday afternoon.

It was fun knitting something so quick and easy. I learned yarn over, practiced the slipped stitch garter selvage and all up I am happy with the result. As you can see it needs a little blocking as the increasing half has tighter edges than the decreasing half, I would try to loosen the increase edges in the future but I imagine it would block out. Unfortunately I was unable to block this one as I finished it only hours before handing it over. It was only as we were in the car on the way to dinner that I realised I could have steam blocked it with the iron, never mind it is only a dish cloth!

My only real problem with this project was excruciating cramp in my right pinky and ring finger from using 4.5mm 40cm circs. The actual needles are shorter than the width of my palm and I was clearly doing something strange with those fingers to compensate for having nothing to hold onto. About halfway though the washcloth I gave up on the circs and tried this instead:

Yep, that’s DPNs with makeshift stoppers - ugly, but so much easier to work with. Isabelle was very impressed when she saw them and wanted them for herself.

the arms are too long!

Friday, October 29, 2004

My red Phildar hooded jacket doesn’t fit Purple Teddy*, the arms are too long. Just as well it wasn’t intended for Purple Teddy! However, the intended recipient won’t be making an appearance for at least another few weeks (or so we fervently hope) and will take some time after that to grow into this garment so Purple Teddy is the only model we have at the moment.

You will notice there are no buttons. The jacket is now as done as it is going to get until I know the babe’s gender, at which point I will purchase appropriate buttons and contrast yarn to do some edge trim. I had been considering some edge trim on and off since I first chose the red yarn but had decided against it as I was worried about complicating such a simple pattern. That was until I started the Wednesday night knitting class. The three things the teacher had to say about this jacket were “nice shoulder seams” (she may even have gone so far as to call them “lovely”, I can’t remember for sure), “I suppose it’s neat enough” (in reference to the neckline and with a strong inference that it was barely adequate) and “I will need to teach you how to cast on and cast off a contrast colour in one row so that you can fix those edge stitches”.

Apparently garter stitch really needs a slip one knitwise selvage, of this I was unaware and just went ahead with Debbie Stoller/Maggie Righetti’s advice to pull hard on the second stitch to get neat edges. Just as well I was open to the idea of edge trim!

As for the slip one knitwise garter selvage advice, turns out she was right, it does look much nicer:

That’s my latest project you are looking at, I would show you more but it’s a gift for someone who might conceivably be reading this blog so you will have to wait.

Speaking of gifts I went to my local yarn store yesterday because I heard at knitting class that they had a sale starting. I managed to restrain myself and bought only six balls of yarn. I do have to confess that Isabelle preventing me from looking at anything for more than 10 seconds may have assisted this display of restraint. I would show you the yarn I did buy, but it is intended for Chrsitmas gift/s so telling you (or showing you) more would be, well, telling… I can show you the bag, because I am a tease that way.

*Just in case you are wondering about the capitalisation of Purple Teddy - that is in fact his name. Toys get very straight forward names round here, like “Purple Teddy”, “Big Dolly”, “Little Dolly”, “Bunny’ and “Dog”.

is this how garter stitch seams are supposed to look?

Thursday, October 28, 2004

All of my books seem to agree that you sew up under an underbump on the left and under an overbump on the right. All of them show how to do this, none of them show what it looks like finished. It doesn’t seem invisible to me. Pheraps my stitches were too loose? Too tight?

I feel some googling coming on.

knitting class

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Yesterday I enrolled in a knitting class. The first class was last night, actually it was the second class as I missed the first, but it was MY first class and off I went very excited. This was my first ever evening outing on my own since Isabelle was born. Actually, there was one night a few months ago when I baby sat for Amber and Richard, but really, wasn’t that their outing?

Isabelle and I had discussed the possibility that she might like to go to bed with just Jesse there to help her sleep as a special treat. Clearly she agreed with your assessment that this might be a special treat for me but not so much for her. After all I was the one pushing the idea that going to sleep without me would be “a treat”. In the end we agreed that I would go to my class while she did dinner, bath, jammies and stories with Jesse and I would come home in time for the ritual teeth brushing and bedtime. I only had to leave the class 15 minutes in order to achieve this and I figured an hour and forty five minutes of knitting class was better than no class at all.

I decided to go to this class partly so I could stop hassling poor Alison every time I have a question I can’t find an answer for in a book and partly because of a baby blanket. Around the time I started knitting again some friends of ours had a beautiful baby girl and every time we see her she is wrapped in an a stunning purple hand knit blanket. It will be a long time before I can knit anything quite that lovely but I didn’t let that stop me asking who knit it and whether it might be possible to find out where the pattern came from. It turns out the blanket it question was knit by a dear friend of theirs during knitting class to a pattern devised for the occasion by the instructor. Said friend has been going to these classes for seven years and I figured any class which is worth going to for that long and results in such a lovely custom designed FO had to be worth checking out.

There is no question that the teacher knows her stuff, the instructions she gave me were helpful and what I overheard of her discussions with the other students sounded good too. But (did you hear the but coming?) I am not sure how well I am going to mesh with her personality wise and to be honest I left the class with a bitter taste in my mouth. This was in part due to the very odd (rude?) farewell from the teacher, partly due to Jesse calling me 10 minutes before I was planning to leave wondering why I wasn’t home yet (don’t men ever listen to the things we tell them?) and partly due to my wondering whether the 10 minutes of personal attention I got during the class was worth the fee. In the end I think the fact that I had to enroll (and pay) for the entire 8 week course in order to find out if I like it was a good thing. After last night I might not have gone back if I had only paid for the one class but truth be told that would probably have been an overly hasty decision and I am going to really make the most of the classes I have paid for and see what I think in six weeks time.

What would have mad the class better? If the teacher had asked how long I had been knitting and a few other basic questions when I arrived (she did ask my name), if she had looked me in the eye and smiled when I said goodbye. Also, seaming the Phildar baby hoody was what I was up to last night, so that is what I was working on, but really I think having something actually on the needles to sit and knit would have made for a more productive and less solitary class (I had to sit off on my own to get a decent light on my work). I hope next week will be better and I think it is not unrealistic to think it will be.

one step forward three steps back

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Last night I finished off the right front of the Phildar baby hoody and attached it to the back shoulder with a three needle cast off. Then I ripped back the left shoulder and re-knit it to try to get the cast offs matching. I did this maybe three times before getting a result I was happy with (or so I thought at the time). I finished the night with both shoulders attached to the back. I sat back and surveyed my work and I decided that I better rip both sides out and start again.

Why? Well the left front neckline cast off was now matching the right front but after repeatedly ripping back to the row where I was picking up the short row wraps I had mucked the wraps up and it just wasn’t neat. As for the right side the front was fine but as I inspected my shoulder seams I found a problem with the right back neckline so that had to go too. After shaping the left back shoulder I had rejoined the yarn on the right and exactly reproduced what I had done on the left, all well and good - except that I should have been purling not knitting so I had an extra wide ditch between the garter stitch bumps where I joined the new yarn (sorry forgot to take a photo).

Tonight I sat down ripped both sides out and fixed their respective issues. As an added bonus I was able to follow Alison’s excellent advice to bind off the left neckline purlwise for a better match with the right side. This was a much simpler and neater approach that the one I had concocted on my own.

After all that fiddling round with the last few rows of both shoulders here it is at last, ready and waiting for a seaming party tomorrow night.

I can’t wait to get this over with and get on with the Booga bag!

on fronts and finishing

Monday, October 25, 2004

It is time to confess that my main motivation for using short rows on the front necklines was the difficulty I had seaming the stepped cast off on the hood, it was just impossible to make it look as nice as I wanted. So I guess it was about wanting it to look better that motivated me - as in look better after sewing on the hood. I had read everything that all the books I own had to say about short rows. Everyone was full of praise for short rowing and gave fairly clear instructions as to the execution of short rows. If only one of them had thought to explain how to substitute short rows for the cast offs called for in a pattern. Lucky for me, I know how to google and I found this explanation which confirmed that my guess was correct (it’s about halfway down the thread, posted by “of troy”). Other ideas from this thread that were of particular use were the tips to start the short rowing the row before the cast offs start and the reminder to use markers for each wrap so you can find them again to pick up later.

So with two knitting books propped up on my cook book stand, (placed oh so conveniently on the handy little coffee table that came with our new sofa - did I mention my joy over the new sofa?), I curled up on afore mentioned sofa and made my short rows.

I worked one side at a time and it all went without a hitch. I even started getting comfortable knitting with a fist full of markers on my needles, something that has so far eluded me. The only real problem I encountered along the way was what to do on the extra pair of rows called for between the last two cast offs. I couldn’t figure out how to do a wrap for this row (was I supposed to wrap around the same stitch as the previous row?) so I left it unwrapped and then on the long row where I was picking up the wraps I picked up a stitch at the start of this row to prevent a hole and it seems to have worked nicely.

I found that I needed an extra couple of rows on the shoulders after finishing the neck shaping in order to reach the required hieght and I wasn’t sure how to keep going with multiple rows of the same length (see above) so I did my long row as soon as the neckline shaping was done, cast off the neckline stitches on the way back and then kept going with only the shoulder stitches left on the needles. I was so happy with the result I couldn’t wait to do the other side and give you last nights picture. Unfortunately I was so tired when I took the pictures I didn’t think to take a wide shot too, so here it is:

Once both sides were done I did find that I have a small problem - the cast offs don’t match. As you can see in the close up from yesterday the left side (as you are looking at the photo) has the cast off rolled towards the front while the right side has it rolled to the back. This also means that the left side cast off chain seems very close up to the body of the knitting where as the right side has a ditch between the body of the knitting and the visible edge of the cast off chains. I don’t like that they don’t match and I am not sure which one is considered “correct” either. Any advice here would be extremely welcome.

And finally a small revelation about the hood. I feel very foolish for not realising sooner but here goes anyway. Until last night I thought that the hood was to be attached with the seam running from crown to forehead and I was feeling quite puzzled as to how the hood shown in the pattern had such a perfectly invisible seam. My belief that the seam was going to be sitting there, center front, for all the world to see really did add to my dissatisfaction with my seaming. I am not sure what prompted my little revelation, but something did and whatever it was I am grateful. The seam is intended to go from crown to the back of the neck, the cast on edge is intended to frame the face. I am so happy I realised this before sewing the thing on!

necklines with short rows

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Details tomorrow as it is very very late and I am very very tired - but oh so happy to have taught myself short rows, it really does look so much better than stepped cast offs.

button holes

Saturday, October 23, 2004

No photos tonight sorry but I have made progress! Last night I made my first ever button holes and then shaped the armholes for the fronts. I did a very basic, cast off two stitches and then cast them back on again button hole and it worked fine. The stitches around the holes were a bit loose but it looked much better after a bit redistribution of the slack with a crochet hook. As for the armholes I did one side as per the back by casting off the first four stitches of a row but for the second side I used the method for casting off without yarn shown in “Knitting in Plain English” so that I could cast off on the same row as the first side and not have to break the yarn. Now that I think about it the back must have had the stitches cast off across two rows so this was probably unnecessary, well it was fun anyway.

Photos tomorrow, hopefully of completed fronts.

In other news Jesse and I checked out a new yarn store today. We made a special visit as they had 30% off all their yarns as they are moving up the street. Just a pity their prices were 30% odd higher than my LYS before the sale so there were no bargains to be had. Their collection was also not nearly as interesting as the LYS. Won’t be going there again.

hoody fronts

Thursday, October 21, 2004

I cast on the fronts for the Phildar Hooded Jacket yesterday while at an indoor play cafe with Isabelle and so far I am making good progress. I need to start a new ball on one side and I am pretty sure that I will only need one ball of yarn to finish both fronts. I didn’t wan to end up with two half used balls so today while at a shopping center playground (there has been a lot of rain this week and we are running out of indoor options for play) I unwound the first half of the fifth ball, cut it off and rewound it from the cut end so that both halves were wound in the same direction as this yarn does have a bit of a nap. My wobbly hand wound ball is in the top left corner with the remaining half below it.

button shopping good, buttons not so much..

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Yesterday we went button shopping for the Phildar Hooded Jacket, the Jacket with Moss Stitch Bands and the Jo Sharp Silk Road DK Tweed, which I am thinking will be a top down all in one piece cardi for Isabelle. Isabelle LOVED the button shop, and so did I, there was so much for her to look at but she couldn’t really cause any damage to anything. She was happy and distracted for ages so I got to have a pretty good look around, reasonably stress free.

Unfortunately I didn’t find any buttons I liked for ANY of those projects. My mother has had some femo buttons sitting around in her cupboards since I was a little kid that I asked her about for the baby hoody. She got them out when we were last in Adelaide and they were just as perfect as I had remembered. Sadly there were only three of them (I need four) and I think I am going to have trouble finding anything else I like as much. As for the two cardi’s for Isabelle I was so dis-heartened by the button situation for those projects I left the shop seriously questioning my ability to choose yarn.

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