Marvelous Mattress Stitch

Last week I learned how to Mattress Stitch and now I’m in love with seaming. Other than my very first knit sweater (Ravelry link) I haven’t really knit (or completed) any projects that needed seaming. Until now.

I’ve been working on a Girl Friday and am nearing completion. After finishing the first sleeve I decided I should start putting the sweater together. A quick internet search for mattress stitch, a quick glance at the instructions and I was off seaming up the sweater back and one of the fronts. I was so stoked by the resulting seam that I stayed up late just to finish my perfect seam.

There’s something about seaming with Mattress Stitch that is just SO satisfying. Looping through all those rows of knitting and then pulling tight to line them all up perfectly. And inside the result are these nice little selvedge stitch ridges compactly lined up. Maybe it’s that seaming appeals to the perfectionist in me.

Later while working on the second side seam I read ahead in the sweater pattern and realised that the side seams are the last thing that gets done so I stopped it half done. Here’s the sweater as of Sunday morning:

I have since finished the second sleeve and am now halfway through the neck & buttonband.

I was so stoked about seaming that I pulled out my good old Cabled Eyelet Ribbed Cardigan which hasn’t seen active service since August ’08. After finishing the body and one sleeve, blocking the pieces it looked like the sleeve was too long. I planned to seam the shoulders and put in the sleeve to make sure but never got around to it. But with all the seaming fever I picked it up and got right to it. I seamed the shoulders, tried it on and put the sleeve on my arm. It was way too long. After consulting my notes, I measured where the underarm was actually supposed to be and ripped back to that point. Here’s where the sweater’s at now:

Not much more to go. So after Girl Friday’s done, I’m going to continue on and finish this cardigan too. It’s going to be like 2 cardigans for the price of one. I’m super excited. Especially with all the seaming ahead of me. Yay seams!

Summer reruns

Remember me?

Somehow while I wasn’t really paying attention, this lovely fabulous rather old project seems to have knit itself somewhere along the past year.

These days it looks a lot more like this:

I recently picked up this sweater again and suddenly found that a little bit of neck shaping in the back was all that was left to do on the body. Somewhere in the middle of a 45 hour work week, an amazing Radiohead concert and other evening activities, I managed to wet block to body and found that my dry gauge from the initial planning on this project turned out to be dead on. Who knew?

I’ve been working on the sleeves. I had been working both at once with one ball each, but found the colour shifts to be too dramatic. Since I worked the rest of the sweater juggling two balls up the side, it would be silly to then have two different coloured sleeves. So I’ll work them one at a time and continue to juggle.

Here’s the progress thus far:

Trust me, these will be done soon…as long as our lovely Gotham summer continues.

Knitting Nowhere

Why does it feel like I’m knitting and knitting with no results? Oh yes. Maybe it’s because I have 5 very active projects at the moment. That’s right. 5 projects. I’ve been working on the Ravenclaw toe-up knee highs and Adult Surprise Jacket at knit nites. But then I couldn’t help but start up on the Cable Eyelet Cardigan and one day a sudden urge for Fair Isle resurrected the hibernating mitten.

Now the Cardigan is using up all my knitting attention span and happens to also be the smallest gauge item that I’m knitting at the moment. So I really feel like all the knitting is getting me nowhere.

And now I have a sore forearm. It’s not from knitting, it’s from work. But still the knitting isn’t helping. Not knitting is making me quite restless. Yargh.

Surprisingly Addictive

I have started to work on my first sweater built without a pattern. I am kind of hesitant to call it an original design at the moment as I lifted the stitch pattern idea from a Gap sweater I own. I know, I know, how does a knitter still buy sweaters from the Gap? Well in my defence it was two years ago and later that day I was flying to London for a year with unknown ideas of having time to knit myself a sweater for the winter. As it turns out I did very little knitting that year and that Gap sweater is now a favourite.

Particularly because of the alternating mini cables and raised eyelet sections. On the Gap sweater, it gives an overall effect of being a fancy version of waffle type long underwear top. But I thought it would be a good way to showcase the 10 balls worth of hand painted VIP I have hanging around. I dyed it myself so am somewhat determined to actually make something with it.

I’m working on 2.5 mm needles and after working 3 inches of ribbing on straights, I finally decided to save my forearms and buy a circular. Despite the mind boggling gauge of 38 sts/ 4 in and that I’m working the fronts and back in one piece (376 sts in a row), I find this project to be quite addictive to work on. I’m alternating between two balls every right side row to fight pooling and skein colour variations which only seems to make it more entertaining to keep knitting more and more and more.

Check out the lovely effect of the finished piece. I thought that maybe there’s too much of the little bitty cable, but it’s growing on me quite a lot as it’s growing.

My curiosity got the better of me with the Secret Knitting CD and I started them with some very nice Fleece Artist Sea Wool. They are quite curiously worked flat for some reason, but I’ll stick with it and maybe there’s a compelling reason for it. Too bad these aren’t quite as addictive as my cardigan. Maybe part of the addictive qualities of the cardigan is that I really don’t know what it’s going to be like when finished. I’m pretty stoked to see the finished product. Should be pretty sweet.

I’m sure I’ll finish the sweater before these socks.

Cartoon socks, swatching for the cardi and bitten by a spindle

I’ve had quite the knitting week. A knitting afternoon downtown last sunday, and two knit nites (in NDG and the Plateau). I decided to go to all of them to check out who goes to which ones and scope out the vibes of each one. I have to say that the ones downtown and in the Plateau are more preferred. Mostly because they are closer to where I live and partly because the atmosphere is a little more relaxed and knitterly. While there is still good conversation, people are pretty much there to knit. And they bring interesting projects. On thursday, there was a sweater, a furry scarf concoction, a shrug, a throw or two, some socks (Jaywalkers I believe) and some spindling.

I was totally bitten by the spinning bug. Watching how easy, quick and effective it was to use a hand spindle, I’m totally into the idea of spinning my own yarn. It first came to mind on a weekend trip to Toronto where I fell in love with a little baggie of luscious something or other fibre for really cheap. I can see how it could be the knitter’s drug. I’ve seen so many nice handspuns in the lands of the internets, but am not sure I want to sacrifice the floor space to a full on wheel. I’m glad to see that the spindle is just as effective in creating a nice yarn. It’s the kind of space saving device I can commit to.

My project for the week was the toe up Ravenclaw socks I’m making for my roommate from London. She’s finishing up her Master’s in International Relations at King’s College London and will be happy to have some cozy socks for the upcoming winter. Central heating can be rather spotty in London. Plus I wanted the excuse to try some toe up socks. There are so many people who rave all about them and I wanted to see what the fuss was about. I like the results, but not convinced it’s better than the usual top down methods. I do feel like I’m knitting in a cartoon when I’m working on them though. The fully formed socks springing from the needles as if by magic, instantly ready to be worn, even if I’m not quite at cartoon speed. It takes more than 15 seconds per sock.

I’ve given myself the challenge of working these socks continental as well. Why? Because it’s a 4 x 2 rib for the entire sock and let’s face it, ribbing SUCKS when you do the English style throwing. My ribbing tends to be somewhat loosey goosey as well. One sock is finished and by the end I was more efficient working the pattern Continental rather than English. It seemed like it was slower going, but the economy of movements gave me more resulting fabric for less hand flourishes.

Because one project is never enough and my mind has been thinking about it for a while, I’ve also started swatching for my lace rib cardigan using my hand-dyed Lana Gatto VIP. I’ve figured out the basis of the pattern and need to work out the details of gauge and stitch counts. I’ve been reverse engineering the stitch pattern from a Gap sweater I bought a couple of years ago and ran into some of my classic over thinking when writing it down for myself. There has been much ripping out and starting over with the changing and rechanging of needle size. Finally I’ve settled on 2.75mm and have started to work on the final swatch for calculations. This is the first sweater that I’m building basically from scratch. I’m quite excited about it.

Oh and on friday I found two lovely little treats from my Secret Pal in my mailbox. Some lovely little earrings and a voucher for some free movies at Blockbuster, each with a nice little note attached. Thanks K2P2!