Friday, February 23, 2018

Sweater Planning and January Start-Itis

It seems to happen to me every year after Christmas - after spending the previous few months making almost exclusively gifts for other people, I'm pretty stoked about getting to make whatever the heck I want, lol, which leads to me wanting to make all the things! This year was no exception, but my recent move back to my house complicated what I was able to commit to. I started out this year wanting to join the Seamless Set-In Sleeve Knit Along with Andi Satterlund, and I had a sweater planned for that, but the deadline was Valentine's Day so I wasn't sure I could get a sweater done in time. I always love Andi's KALs, but I'm glad I just accepted it wasn't going to happen and moved on.
I made my Little Giraffe just because I wanted to, then I started making the Ducks in a Row from Itty-Bitty Toys (seen above) just because I could. In desperation of needing something to knit at night after I moved, I even picked up one of my only remaining wips  - the Lady Russell Shawl (seen below). When I picked this shawl up, I had not started the lace chart yet but I couldn't really tell where I was on the pattern either. I was so frustrated with trying to figure it out that I just ripped out the whole thing and started over. It wasn't a big deal since it was the very beginning. I cast on again, got through the first section of the lace chart ... and realized I forgot to purl on the wrong side rows. Yeah. So I frogged it all out once again. Thankfully I had the hang of things after that and I managed to do several chart repeats before I changed projects. This project is super soft - I'm using lace weight cashmere yarn I reclaimed from a thrift store sweater. Delicious!
I buckled down and really started to narrow down some sweater options by about mid-January. I have quite the queue on Ravelry, some I admittedly don't have a desire to make right now, but many are lovely pieces I would like to wear. Now that I have made so many sweaters for myself (and live in such a warm place, thus not getting to wear my sweaters much), I wanted to be really particular about this project. I wanted it to be a bit complicated so it would take a decent amount of time (thus preventing me from making a zillion sweaters in quick succession) as well as practical. A worsted weight cropped wool sweater, while I think they look super cute, just won't get much wear. It's just too hot here plus the cropped length limits what it would look nice with. So if it was going to be wool, it would need to be a long sleeve "outerwear" type sweater, or a fingering weight pretty sweater at least waist length. After compiling a list of designs I liked that fit the bill, I started comparing the yarn requirements to what I had in my stash (because it was definitely going to be a stash sweater). After lots of thought, I was left with 2 main choices. Spoiler alert! I will be making both of these sweaters eventually, but one is already in the works.
First choice was the Recoleta cardigan by Joji Locatelli. This pattern is gorgeous with a wide lace collar and fancy lace back. This sweater is made in worsted weight, but it is definitely a sweater I could put on over most anything if I got chilly inside or out, also it has so much lace I feel it wouldn't  be too too warm. I also had already purchased yarn specifically for this project in November of 2015 (holy cow, lol). I snagged 6 skeins of Cascade Venezia Worsted in Van Dyke Brown from Craftsy - I think they weren't doing well with this color, so I got it for less than half price. This yarn is dreamy! It's 70% merino wool and 30% silk, giving it the smoothest feel as it knits. It also has a subtle shine from the silk, plus that dark brown is such a versatile neutral color.
Second choice was the Endearment cardigan by Hanna Maciejewska. I love the lace and cable combo on the fronts plus I love the little notches in the hem and sleeve cuffs. The lace actually looks like it is slanting side to side, but it is all an illusion caused by the knitting pattern. Very cool. Originally I didn't not know what I would make this sweater with, but after this whole examination project I freed up a yarn that was purchased for a different sweater after I swatched and didn't like the look. This is Araucania Huasco (sometimes called Botany Lace) in the Carmine colorway. I'm not one to go for variegated yarn, but I like the color combo of this one and the yarn itself is delicious - 100% merino wool and oh so smooth. This was another great deal that I snagged from Webs back in 2014 (whoa!), but I just never felt like any of my projects were the right one when I thought about this yarn. When I knitted a swatch, I was a bit concerned that this gave a "girly camo" effect, which I am not a fan of (ugh, the late 90s and bright colored camo - so bad). So I needed a pattern that wasn't mostly stockinette (at least not on the front). Enter the Endearment :) I deliberately swatched the lace chart to see how the yarn would look and it seems like the perfect combination. The lace and cables distract from the camo feel just enough, so even having a stockinette back and sleeves doesn't feel so over the top to me.
I spent a few hours one weekend swatching for these two sweaters only to have both swatches come out WAY too tight. Now I know I tend to knit tighter on a small object like a swatch, making my sweaters too big if I go up too much in needle size, but even after severe blocking they were both too small. I would need to knit the swatches again - ugh - more hours of work when I just wanted to get to making a sweater. One night I just made a quick decision to start the Recoleta simply because it would be quicker to redo the swatch, lol, and I have not looked back. Since this sweater is in larger yarn, I know it won't take too long to knit up, so the Endearment is still all together and waiting. I like having a fingering weight sweater on the needles - they are great projects to pick up between other makes. So I'm sure I will start that one sometime soon as well. In the meantime I am liking the challenge of multiple lace charts on the Recoleta. It can be a bit annoying to shuffle all the pages (the charts are large and somewhat small printed), but I remembered I had a metal magnet board designed for cross stitch chart reading. It's tedious to cover each completed row with a sticky note (on all of the charts for a given row), but the sticky notes combined with the magnet board have really helped. Once I got past the initial set up, things became much simpler to follow.
 This is where I'm at on the back - it's actually much farther along than I thought until I put it on my dress form for these pictures, lol. I just stared the waist decreases, so it's moving right along.
And this is the front view - it's a bit bunched up here because my needle is not as wide as my dress form, but it's the same lace pattern from the back on either side in a nice wide band.  It's looking very pretty and I'm enjoying knitting this pattern.

Even though I now have a toy, a sweater, another sweater lined up, and half a lace shawl already going, I still find myself wanting to start more projects! See - Start-itis! It's an illness, folks. In spite of not really getting to wear them all that much, I've been wanting to make another pair of socks. I have a new favorite pattern everyday, but I find myself wanting to blatantly copy these:
Photo borrowed from Shilao on Ravelry
Aren't these lovely? The really exciting thing is that I already have almost all of these yarns in my stash! Shilao (Ravelry name) used Knit Picks Felici in Jamboree (the purple and pink stripe) as well as Salt Water Taffy (the peach and lavender) for the main design with Cascade Heritage in Dark Plum for the heel, toe, and cuff. I already have Jamboree and Dark Plum, which I think will look lovely together even without the peach and light purple tones of the Salt Water Taffy. These were made with the Jaywalker pattern, a free one by Grumperina that I have always wanted to make. It's kind of the perfect combination :) So it's very likely that these will be cast on soon as well.

Does anyone else get this way at certain times of the year? I tend to get this way annually and I can't be the only one. Who knows how long it will take to actually finish all these items, but I'm enjoying the process on each one for now. Yay for knitting!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

FO: Yellow Stripe Boat Neck

This shirt has been on my list to make since the fall. I was having a yellow moment where I really wanted to add more to my wardrobe - I blame current trends and seeing cute things at Target since it's the only store with clothes I go into anymore, lol. I actually bought a skirt from Target because I liked the "Aztec Gold" color do much. Around that same time I found an amazing pair of mustard yellow Clark's flats on Amazon for $36 - a total steal. So I was getting a few pieces, but I needed more to be able to incorporate (*cough* and justify purchasing *cough*) my awesome shoes. I've sworn off most yellows for so long that I did not have anything in my stash. I find that yellow is a color that has to be just right for your skin tone to not look ill on most people. I can't do butter yellow at all, but lemon and mustard are ok. When I came across this yellow stripe shirt in the Target clearance rack (which is kind a light mustard - maybe "Aztec gold?" lol), I liked the color but it was WAY too big and they only had this one size left. Since the original was a size 4X, I knew it had enough fabric to recut into whatever I wanted :) So I bought it with good intentions, but it sat until after Christmas.
Here's a full outfit shot - look at those shoes! Aren't they awesome? Shoes like that deserve to have a shirt made for them. Wanting to wear these shoes more is what made me immediately grab this project after finishing Christmas gifts. So just after moving back to my house, I sewed this up in one evening. I used my hacked Renfrew pattern with a boat neckline (my favorite) and cut the pieces out of the much larger pieces.
I made sure to stripe match where possible - I'm pretty proud of my matched side seams. CHeck out that action!
I also matched at the armhole notches, but it turns out that they were a bit low to be able to really see the matching :/ Next time I will pick a spot higher up the armhole. They do look nice at the two stripes I was able to match though (seen above).
And the obligatory back view. I should also mention that the only area that I did not redo is the sleeve hem. After cutting the original shirt, I wanted to keep as much length as possible, so I just sewed the sleeves up using the original cover stitched hem. No one will ever know that but me though.
I took a close up picture later so you can see the colors better - the yellow stripe is split up by a white strip and a pale pink stripe. Also I did my preferred method of an enclosed neck band for this shirt. Since the fabric has 4 way stretch, I cut the neckband on the cross grain and I really like my little pop of vertical stripes. No one besides me will see that, but it makes me happy.
I do get a slight bit of wrinkling along the neckband, which I've had on my other versions as well, and only on this project did it occur to me why that happens. The boat neckline should just be a 1 to 1 ration on the neckband. I made this about 4 inches shorter than the neckline opening (which I always do on scoop necks and the like), but it seems to pull the neckline tighter than that area needs, thus the wrinkles. I'm not sure if this is across the board or just from my hollow upper chest, but it's definitely something for me to change on the next version. It's not keeping me from enjoying this version though.
So that's my yellow shirt :) Making this perfectly coincides with The Sewcialists theme of Stripes too, which is nice as I never manage to make things for those group challenges. I've worn this shirt at least once a week since finishing it, so it is a clear winner in my wardrobe. Yay for yellow!

Fabric: Size 4X boat neck t-shirt from Target - $4.50
Pattern: Renfrew by Sewaholic Patterns with hacked neckline
Notions: thread - free
Time: 2 hours
Total Cost: $4.50

Friday, February 16, 2018

FO: Little Giraffe

So after making Christmas gifts for about 2 months straight, I wanted to make something frivolous for no reason, lol. 
It's hard to get more frivolous than a random toy you don't need (plus you don't have children), isn't it? I loved the Little Giraffe pattern by Susan B. Anderson back when she released it in Making magazine last year, so when she released it for sale as an individual pattern I snapped it up. She was advertising kits that included the pattern along with come of her new yarn line to make it up in, and the color combinations were lovely, but I already had two of the exact colors she used in a different yet equivalent yarn - perfect! My giraffe is made using Cascade 220 Superwash, so it is still a superwash wool toy - making it a little extra special to me since I always use acrylic. As soon as I finished my Christmas gifts, I cast this on.
The pattern is completely seamless, so it has you start with the garter stitch bum - isn't it cute? Then you move up to the point of the legs, make the legs, then resume knitting them into the body. I've made some of Susan's seamless toys before, and it can be a bit fiddly, but they come out so neat and smooth in the end it's definitely worth it. You also don't end up needing to keep track of a bunch of little pieces as you go either, which is nice.
Next you start the color work, which was what I was most excited to do. I've done only a little color work before and those pieces always turned out too tight across the floats, so I wanted a small project to practice on now that I know a bit more about what to do. It's not perfect by any means, but I'm pretty happy with how this color work lays. After about halfway up the body, I added a white nylon stocking with poly pellets in it to give him some weight. I definitely recommend adding the pellets because I don't think he would really sit right without them - he wants to lean forward a lot as it is, so without that extra stability I think he would always tip over. I also always put the pellets in nylons and tie it closed because I'm paranoid about them coming out and a baby eating them. I want these toys to last and be safe. So you knit the body, then stop to make the arms, then knit the arms into the body and close it up.
My one complaint about the color work is that the pattern changes in the middle of the tummy. Suddenly two of the circles are right on top of each other and every time I see it it looks like a mistake, but this is the way the pattern is written and how everyone else's look too, so I know it wasn't a mistake. If I made this again, I would adjust that just for my own sanity, lol. It's cute just the same though.
Next you make the head from back to front. I love that the color work continues there - such a cute touch. You stop again to make ears and horns, then knit them on as you go. The final touch is to embroider the now and eyelids (he has eyelids! - look at them!). I love the eyelids and think they look great with his slouchy body shape.
It took me a few weeks before I could embroider the nose since I had to dig out black yarn and I was moving at the time. Technically the pattern only has a nose, but I thought he looked a bit overly sad so I added a little smile :)
Isn't he so cute? He is in an honored spot on my étagère so I see him everyday in my sewing room. I really love how classic Susan's toy designs are, and I plan on keeping this for when I have kids. I've now made 2 giraffes designed by her, lol. And I'm no huge giraffe lover, I just thought they were adorable designs and had to make them. I also love the hug-able size of this guy - I know it's hard to tell from the photos, but he's about 10" tall. This is definitely an heirloom toy, and I'm so glad I made him up.

Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash in Aran and Smoke Blue (leftover from this and this)
Pattern: Little Giraffe by Susan B. Anderson
Notions: fiber fill, poly pellets, white knee high nylon stocking

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Christmas FO: Gray Slouchy Beanie

We have officially reached my final Christmas make! Let the trumpets sound! lol So if you're tired of seeing things that still say "Christmas", then fear not!

Earlier this year, my husband mentioned how he wanted a hat just like the one I made Marisa in January. He wanted a slouchy beanie and in charcoal gray. No problem :)
Knowing he wanted this hat, I grabbed a skein of Cloudborn Wool Worsted Twist in the Slate Heather over the summer when Craftsy had their crazy sale. So this yarn cost $3.00 and I still have some left, lol. This is the Slouch Moss Beanie pattern by Phanessa Fong, which is a free pattern online. Having made it twice now, I can vouch it's a good one :) Pretty simple.
Justin wanted it nice and slouchy, so I just kept knitting until he liked the length. This hat was one of my first Christmas project I started back on November 26th - it was even the project I worked on while I waited in the Avatar ride line at Animal Kingdom, lol - but it was my very last project to be finished since I would just work on it here and there when I was out since it was a very portable project. I thought I had it to a good length, then I tried it on him Christmas Eve and discovered he wanted another inch. SO I kept knitting. We watched It's A Wonderful Life and I knitted, but I managed to finish it before midnight that night.
He seems to really like this hat :) He wore it all day on Christmas even though it wasn't cold at all, but now that it is cold it's the hat he wears anytime he goes out. I take that as a good sign! Other than the moss stitch being tedious to knit English style, this couldn't have been an easier project.
So that was Justin's Christmas hat this year :) I love the texture, he loves the color and slouch - definitely a good one all round.

Thank you so much for enduring my Christmas makes. I like to document them all here just so I have a record of what I made more for myself than anything else. But now we will return to the regularly scheduled blogging of things for myself, lol.

Yarn: 0.66 skeins Cloudborn Wool Worsted Twist in Slate Heather
Pattern: Slouchy Moss Beanie by Phanessa Fong
Time: A few hours collectively, but over a month