Sweater Saga Ends in Steam

Someone asked me in the comments some time ago about what my steaming method was. I don’t own a real steamer, so use my iron to steam. Molly Ann of Ariadne first showed me this method of steam blocking and for Jane of the short attention span, this has become my new favourite blocking method.

I took a bunch of pictures while steaming stuff and here we go. When re-working the Pink Lopi Raglan (one of the many many times), I steam blocked the yarn before re-starting knitting (one of the times). Mr. Peabody and I thought the crimp leftover from having knit the yarn was affecting the gauge of the knitted sweater.

Here’s the yarn after the sweater was frogged. Crimped was in style in the 80s and it should stay there:

I used a ball winder to make little yarn cakes when I ripped out the sweater. Then I took those cakes and wound them into big loops using a couple of chairs (officially skeins, but I wasn’t going to be re-twisting them for storage).

Once in big loops, I used my iron (set on the wool setting and steam set to MAX), I steamed steamed steamed the yarn straight again. Barely allowing the iron to touch the yarn, I hit the steam button and let the steam work it’s magic through the yarn. One end of the loop around my ironing board and the other in my non-ironing hand, I steam away like this:

Afterwards I had something like this:

Practically brand new yarn! Ready to be knit again without monkeying with my gauge.

Alternative methods of straightening out your kinky kinky yarn would be to hang it next to your shower for a few days. May work faster/better with a weight of some sort on the bottom of the big loop.

Or getting the yarn wet and hanging to dry. If you go for the wet, be sure NOT to agitate it AT ALL and to use ROOM temperature water. Felting=bad. Leave the skein in water to thoroughly wet then hang to dry where you don’t mind it dripping a lot. I usually use a hanger off of a shower curtain ring in my bathtub.

Today I finally got around to steam blocking the Pink Lopi Raglan. To prevent from damaging the sweater, I one of those cloth dishrag things soaked in water to provide the steam. Tea towels work well too and give more coverage. I use a cloth dishrag because I don’t use them for much else and the cleanliness of my tea towels can be questionable. In my kitchen, the rags are a safer bet. Keep in mind that ironing wet fabric can put scald marks onto the fabric so don’t use something precious to you for the purpose of steam blocking.

Lay the wet (but not sopping) cloth on top of your garment to be blocked. Set your iron to the appropriate setting (here I’m blocking wool, so I use the wool setting):

Once your iron is heated up, got to town ironing the CLOTH and not the sweater. The water in the cloth is vapourised by the heat of the iron and the steam settles works it’s way into the wool causing it to take a new shape.

After ironing the water out of the cloth a bit, I set down the iron, move the cloth out of the way and tug the sweater vertically and horizontally to even out the stitches. For this sweater, I don’t need any more width, so really tugged vertically more than anything.

The cloth will dry out after a few passes with the iron, so I use that spray button on my iron to rewet it. It’s probably the only time I’ve ever used that button.

I worked my way around the sweater, turning it over to steam both sides of the sweater to make sure everything’s nice settled down.

Before blocking the knitted fabric looked like this:

After steam blocking, the fabric is much smoother, and has better drape:

For those of you that actually have real steamers, check out Crazy Aunt Purl‘s Block ’til you drop! tutorial.

Here is the (FINALLY) finished sweater. You can see the only detail on this basic raglan, a purl stitch in between the raglan decreases.

Pattern: Sweater no. 4 from Lopi no. 20
Modifications: Lots of adaptations for gauge (Létt Lopi instead of double stranding Alfoss Lopi)
Materials: Istex Létt-Lopi
Start Date: November 30, 2007
Finished By: April 20, 2008 (took so long due to initial, unfounded angst upon immediate completion)

By no means a perfect sweater, but not horrible either. I’m happy enough with the final product.

But I do wish I had properly blocked the gauge swatch so I may have avoided the ‘perfect’ sleeves growing well beyond a reasonable length.

I may work up the gumption to fix this while working in those final ends. At least now I don’t feel like a complete sweater failure.

In other news, I am still spinning like a mad-woman. I’ve even tried a wheel. The cuttlefish socks are still in progress, the Noro Surprise Jacket is being reborn and the Sideways pullover is frogged for good.

Mid-Term Review

Lovely hand made schematic card by Sharon.

It’s been a while since University and (I think) we’re kind of in Reading Week right? That seems like it could be true. Thanks for all the Yarn/Birth Day wishes! It’s going to be a great year. I can already tell. 25 is SO 2007. Anyways. Knitting. That’s what I write about here.

When last we left off, I was test knitting some items for Mona. That’s all done (and before the deadline too). And really it was a pleasant experience. No sarcasm needed. Honestly, I enjoyed it! Well believe me or not, it was good times. Working on a couple of not-so complicated projects with good patterns (though I did spot an error in one, yay me) with none of that pesky angst de sweater that I’ve been experiencing lately. It does continue to plague. The test knitting was like a like holiday from my troublesome projects and I got to knit without consequence.

Yes, I did manage to get gauge on the first try which I totally take to be a total fluke. To be honest, I never really pay attention to the gauge in patterns except as a guide for yarn substitutions. This is obviously where I get into trouble with the making of sweaters. It’s nice to know that I got gauge. Plus I got to knit with some nice yarns. One of which I have been wanting to use and had no possible way of justifying the purchase of (ie. a pattern in mind).

The only downside was all the ‘You’re knitting with Acrylic?!?!??!??’ I had to deal with. Yes. Acrylic. It’s like for money. People still buy it. Deal already. The worst offender was of course Mr. Peabody. He’s such a yarn snob. Sylvain and him (he and Sylvain?) kept going EEEIGH EEEIGH EEEIGH when I was working with it.

In conclusion: test knitting = all the fun of knitting – any possible angst trying to customise for the ‘perfect fit’ + time for mental review of current projects (yes, I’m weird. Can only think about knitting while I’m knitting. Hence the knit, angst, rip, repeat that you hear so much about)
ergo I would be quite happy to test knit again.

Did someone mention sweater angst? Why yes, there is in fact a Pink Lopi Raglan kicking around that hasn’t been dealt with for a whiles. It’s ‘done’ again. But there’s some funny business with the neck going on. Not too sure if short row magic will fix that or if some actual waist shaping is needed. Yes, that would mean reknitting the body for like the 4th time. But we like to get these things right here chez crazé. At the moment I’m working up the mental energy to steam block and see if indeed a reworking of the entire body is needed (at which point I will probably require beer).

The Suspense Will Kill us All

Sorry about giving you all heart attacks. I’ve got one of those photographic memories where the film has to go into the lab for processing. If I can’t picture myself doing something, chances are most excellent that I didn’t do it. Thing was that I wasn’t paying terribly close attention when leaving Ariadne (conversations + tired ÷ Thursday = distracted + forgetful Jane) and the last thing I remember with the tote was putting it down to put on my boots/coat/blue messenger bag. That’s exactly where the tote (with sweater) were left.

I was convinced that I had it with me during conversations at Lionel-Groulx and figured I put the tote down at some point on the Metro and it just got left. If it doesn’t stay attached to me in some way, there’s a very good chance things will be left behind. I’ll be one of those horrible parents with the kids on leashes but it would be more for me than them.

I kept walking around my apartment saying to myself, maybe it’s in the kitchen next to the front door. Maybe it’s under the desk. Maybe I left it on the ground outside while searching the messenger for my keys. Etc.

I did actually get to the point of looking up where the lost & found is for the Metro (customer services at Berri-UQAM) and just about posted an ad to Craigslist about it. Then decided that as my last memory of the tote was at Ariadne, that I’d check with them first. Friday after work I’d either stop off at the store if they did have it, or stop off at Berri-UQAM and root through the lost & found if they didn’t.

But all was well. I was smart in my forgetfulness and left it at Ariadne. I thought you guys deserved the whole story to make up for freaking you all out.

Yes, it’s not quiiiiiite done just yet. The epic sweater aka Guðrún aka Itchy Pink Raglan formerly known as the Pink Burlap Potato Sack or the Perfect Sweater is still going.

I’m working on the neck at the moment so the end is quite near. Hopefully this neck will be in the right spot and I won’t have to do it again. But there is a real need for blocking with this baby. There’s some, uh, interesting tension changes right at the point that I joined the body and sleeves in the round and, uh, there’s kind of this line in a kind of unfortunate place….yeah.

If this draft of the neck goes well and it dries in time, I may be wearing this lovely handknit item aka my second ever completed sweater to the next knit event (or next several).

And the Cuttlefish Socks are already on the go. I have to have something to look forward to during the work day.

Have you seen this sweater?

Last seen the evening of February 7th at Ariadne Knits, this almost completed Pink Lopi Raglan is itchy to the touch and goes by the name Guðrún. She is being housed from the cold of a Montreal winter in a black canvas tote acquired on a trip to LA’s fine establishment Amoeba Hollywood. Guðrún is sharing accommodations with long time friend Nixon, the digital watch and was last seen wearing 4 state of the art stitch markers and a 4.0 mm hairband.

If you have seen the wearabouts of our beloved Guðrún, please contact us immediately. She’s only 5 years old, has a horrible sense of direction and doesn’t speak French.

(Yes, I’m a spaz who has worked on this sweater for an entire month and may have been flighty enough to have left it on the Metro. This wouldn’t be the first time. There’s probably still a roll of Junior High drawings riding around the streets of Edmonton in a bus. If it’s not attached, it’s not guaranteed to make it home).

UPDATE: Call off the German Sheppards and Bloodhounds, no need to alert the FBI or STM officials. The sweater has been located. I was smart enough to forget the tote bag with said sweater at Ariadne. Note to self: maybe should leave at an early hour or make sure to pack projects in something that attaches itself like another limb. It’s a good thing I’m only responsible for my own well being.

Update on our Sweater’s Progress

Back due to popular demand (or my lack of being able to explain things clearly verbally), a schematic of our hero’s progress on the Pink Sweater of Doooooooom!

So not quite back to where I was before ripping out the last time, but definitely passed the sleeve join.

Knitting progress was slightly sporadic last night due to good conversation, great hot chocolate, a busy scientific baby with table to entertain him and a door that wouldn’t quite shut on its own. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s right, it was Knit Nite on Monkland with guest star Sean of Knit & Purl Mama fame! It was fun to catch up with the gals of NDG and see what everyone is working on.

Tonight I shall continue to hamper my progress on the Pink Lopi Raglan to go hang with the Ariadne chicks and who knows, Mr. Peabody may even get his act together and finally cast on for something. That boy is too concerned with working on something impressive. Dude, SOCKS are impressive. Actually SWATCHing is impressive. Not needing to reknit a sweater 5 times is impressive.

Jane and the Straight Jacket Sleeve

Since last we left off, our villain, the Itchy Pink Potato Sack, had been ripped out entirely and begun once more this time with fewer stitches (202 cast on, increase to 225 and switch to 4.0 mm circular immediately after ribbing instead of 250 even over ribbing & body). The needles of fury were operating at top speed to ensure that as little time as possible would be lost to this sudden return to the beginning. By Sunday night, the sleeves and body were joined in the round. Our knitting hero Jane was a little skeptical in regards to the body length, but decided to press on with the raglan shaping and try on when possible to avoid wasted efforts.

Last night, our knitting hero was able to get far enough (see schematic above) in the raglan shaping to try on the sweater. While the evil villain Itchy Pink Potato Sack seems to have been banished for good, a new miscreant has made himself known. That’s right. It’s the slightly mischievous Straight Jacket Sleeve! Fear not dear reader, the Crazy of Jane will save the day!

Let us recall that our knitting hero likes to use multiple strands of yarn to mark her various sleeve increases as she manages the magical feat of two sleeves at once! This crazy obsessive method for tracking the sleeves progress means that our hero was quickly able to re-establish order in our sweater knitting world.

Yes, there was some backtracking (see above schematic), but never fear! This sweater is nearing completion and it’s future is quite bright! Will that pesky miscreant Straight Jacket Sleeve be vanquished for good? Will Jane have to face another ill-meaning design feature? Tune in next time for the next installment of The Sweater Chronicles: Pink Lopi Raglan.

Uh, how about that in regular speak?
Right. So I reknit the whole body of the sweater according to the New Gauge (I’m getting fast at that continental shiz) and on Sunday joined with the sleeves and started the Raglan shaping. I thought the body was going to be too short but continued knitting anyways. At a point where I could try on the entire sweater, I did, and realised that the body was good. It was the sleeves that were WAY too long. So I ripped back to where I joined sleeves to the body in the round, went back a couple of increases (easily done thanks to my crazy row counting yarn scraps) and am now ready to join in the round (again) and redo the raglan shaping.

Revenge of the Sweater Angst

It feels rather undeserved at the moment but Robyn gave me that ‘Made my Day Award.’ Now before Norway chimes in to argue with me, let me clarify. It feels undeserved because there’s sweater angst. But I suppose even if I can’t knit the Perfect sweater, I don’t seem to have any problems writing about it. And this isn’t a knitting award, so I’ll graciously accept. Thanks so much Robyn! You’ve made MY day that little bit better. Now onto the post:

I’m cursed. I jinxed it. I should be sent back to remedial knitting. Elizabeth Zimmermann should revoke my right to knit & purl. The sweater angst is still going strong. Not even a day since boasting that the sweater was perfect, I discovered that I was horribly wrong. Sigh.

Yes, you read correctly. The perfect sweater is not perfect. The body? It’s now too big. I’m the Goldilocks of knitting. First too small, then too big, hopefully this next time will be juuuuuuuust right.

So what happened between Wednesday and today? Weeeeeeeeeell. See, the Universe hates me. Whenever I think I’m a grown up and have things figured out, like being able to walk and chew gum, the Universe likes to remind me that I am in fact myself: uncoordinated, drop things and make big noises, rip things in embarrassing places, slip and fall hilariously on the ice, spill lunch on my boob, shoot fluids out of my nose or just generally miss my mouth. It’s usually very Buster Keaton and hilarious for everyone else. Then I go back to concentrating when going down/up stairs and ALWAYS looking before crossing the street. Let’s just say I generally stay away from pantyhose…yeah…tights work better with my temperment.

I tempted the gods with my hubris of declaring that I had achieved the perfect sweater and they decided to throw me some gauge fun. And I, thinking still with the hubrisness, didn’t think I needed to really check the gauge. With most of the knitting being in social situations/at the food court at work, I didn’t really measure. Instead I just kept knitting.

The sleeves were easy to check. At any time I could (and did) stick my arms in to see how they were fitting. But I was unable to do that with the sweater body. Maybe I should have listened to Mr. Peabody and his recommendation to use two circulars (one on each half of the sweater) so that I could easily lay it out to measure. Instead I knit and knit and knit until I had 2 more inches in length than I actually needed. THEN I put it on some spare yarn and tried it on. Too big. I’ve knit myself a pink potato sack out a good replacement for burlap.

So we sat down and analysed my potato sack and figured out the New Gauge with the new needles. This time I decided to measure over 10 inches and then average down to get a per inch number. It’s what I learned from science. The larger the sample size, the more accurate the average, the more accurate the resulting calculations. From this we figured out that I had 25 too many stitches.

And because the itchy pink potato sack was right there, we also did a more pragmatic approach. I put it on and then Mr. Peabody pinned off the extra fabric and then counted how many extra stitches were at the boobs and waist. The median of the two was 25 stitches. So the math is good.

This time is going to be different. This time I’m going to measure more (or at all). This time I’m going to be Smart Knitter. This time I’m not knitting the perfect sweater, I’m knitting a regular sweater. It’s not a race. I have to remember that.

Now I’ve got to give out some awards of my own. It’s so hard for me to pick just 10 as I subscribe to 50 odd blogs (yes, Boring Job Inc. is really THAT boring) and this award has made the rounds. But award I must do, so award I shall. Oh and I think there’s a probably a no-tag-backs clause in there too eh? ‘Cause Robyn would likely be in there for making SP11 so fabulous.

In no particular order, here’s my awardees in the category of ‘Made My Day’:

Brainylady— for fun theoretical conversations of the viability of knitted wrestling masks and wigs as potential winter attire.
Whistlepea— for making sweaters look so quick, easy & painless.
Jenna of Knits & Pieces— Random friending on Ravelry always makes my day (and is always followed by internet stalking).
Pinneguri— for always insisting I take a compliment dammit! and knitting amazing mittens.
Gretch0r— for hanging with the Pie and having mad interior design skillz (come redesign my apartment!).
Katie of Dyeing to Knit— for translating my vague personal preferences into a fabulous pair of thrummed mittens that rock my socks off every time I even look at them.
Cosmicpluto— for living my dream of knitting/designing/working in a yarn store. She also makes sweaters look so quick and easy.
The Ariadne Girls— for letting me use their microwave, hang out on the couch and talk loudly about various silliness, posting hilarious old school knitwear (and poking fun at times gone by) and general awesomeness.
Nicole Gastonguay— for creating the cutest creatures imaginable.
Missmalice— for living the dream life in Londinium and appreciating a bag of Swedish Berries.

Now I’m going to go see if Starbucks has finally got in some Earl Grey tea. Finger’s crossed.

The Progress of a Perfect Sweater

Pattern: Sweater no. 4 from Lopi no. 20
Modifications: Lots of adaptations for gauge (Létt Lopi instead of double stranding Alfoss Lopi). I think the patterns mostly inspiration with all the figuring that I’m doing.
Materials: Istex Létt-Lopi (PINK!) 9438
(Re)Start Date: November 30, 2007

I am actually pleased as punch with how this sweater is coming along! Monogamy DOES work! Sweater Angst is (hopefully) banished for good! Exclamation Points Abound!

K. So what happened? Why is this actually working this time? Weeeeeeeeell. I did the boring right thing and was realistic about my current body shape as opposed to knitting for my mental ‘how-I-REALLY-see-myself’ body shape. Super boring and realistic and lame but it’s working……so…..yeah. The measurements are all based on a sweater I wear all the time (Cotton Navy Blue thing) just like Mrs. (Ms. ?) Zimmermann suggests and there’s a reason people go gaga for her (it’s because she’s right).

Other thing that happened to make this sweater better? Gauge! I was on the bad crack/taking crazy pills (or something) and decided that 3.5 mm would be a good idea AAAAANNNNNNDDDDD then thought that I should also knit really really REALLY tightly (uh, life and anticipation MAY have been a factor there….) and ended up 5 inches narrower than I was aiming for.

Now what’s the deal? Well I ripped it back to the ribbing (cause gauge was good there, even with the 3.5 mm and rolling with the Continental skillz) and on suggestion of Mr. Peabody (my brother, the local yarn expert) was super-crazy-nerdy-yarn-girl and wound it back into skeins AND THEN steamed those skeins with my iron.

Why with the steamy steamy? Well according to Mr. Peabody (super-nerdy-former-yarn-store-employee) reknitting with already-been-knit once yarn (the kind with all those Krazy Kinks) affects gauge (in a bad way). Soooooooo he recommends winding it back into skeins and then said skeins all loosey goosey in big loops next to the shower for a few days so it can relax. I mean who wouldn’t benefit from some good sauna time really? But as I’m being Monogamist Knitter (Sharon’s my hero) I don’t have the attention span for such things. I mean what am I going to do, actually WATCH CSI?

So I steamed it with my iron. I secured one end of the skein around the pointy-er end of my ironing board, held the other end in my left hand and steamed away until it was well straightened. I, uh, may have been a TAD overzealous with the iron and the yarn MAY be felted in some places (mental note: steam on actual wool or lower setting). But it got the job done. Straight (!!!) yarn then to be immediately wound into the pretty cakes and then immediately reconnected to the ribbing via spit/felted joins. In case you were wondering, I did in fact also iron the meter (or so) of yarn that was left attached to the knitting (I say if you’re going to be crazy-nerdy-yarn-girl, be crazy ALL the way!).

And what’s with those little bits of other yarn in the sleeves? Well, that’s my own Patented Personal Row Counting System™ (not actually patented or likely an original invention, but it’s more entertaining this way)! Insead of using the pen with the papers or other row counting devices, I weave in little bits of yarn to mark the point where I should be counting from. Like the beginning of a pattern repeat or here, so I can count how many rows to the next sleeve increase.

Why not use the pen and papers or the specially-built devices? Well that’s because I have an interesting memory. Have used the specifically-built devices and then forget (sometimes during the row) wether or not I’ve ticked of the row or not. The pen and papers? Requires stopping the knitting and I’m all about the rhythm baby! With knitting the body in the round, I have to yell at myself to stop knitting cause there’s no end of the row to naturally pause at. Yes, there’s the end of the round with a little stitch marker, but if I stopped there, the marker would fall off (bad) so I continue the knitting and then the rhythm starts and all of a sudden I’ve knit another round.

What’s that mysterious line in the back of your otherwise lovely white background? That would be where the extra leaf has been added into my white vintage Ikea kitchen table. Inherited from my parents, that table has seen much family dinner action (as old as Mr. Peabody) and has the war wounds to prove it. The entire underneath of is all coloured with markers by two young future creative types.

So that’s the progress on the Itchy Pink Lopi Raglan. And though it’s itchy in the skein, it softens when knit up and then again when blocked into place. Don’t believe me? Then next time you see me ask to see my Neopolitan Squirrely Mitts. They’re knit with the Icelandic sheep wool (different company. same animal) and are SUPER soft now.

Us super-crazy-nerdy-yarn-girls and super-nerdy-former-yarn-store-employees (aka Mr. Peabody aka my brother) luv luv LUV the Lopi. If you think we were coocoo for coacoa puffs about the Briggs & Little, just wait ’till you see us in a store with the whole Lopi rainbow. There’s drool & fondling & total loss of control.

Refound Project Monogamy

Last night’s knit night chez* Ariadne was tons of fun. Sharon (who has every intention of having a blog one of these days but is just too darn busy at the moment to even add photos to Ravelry) brought up an interesting topic that I feel like writing about (hopefully she won’t mind that I stole her life): Knitting Monogamist or Polygamist?

Recently returned from visiting home (New Zealand) for the first time in several years, Sharon has suddenly found herself with a stash. She (until this point) is the type of knitter we all aspire to be. Monogamist, focussed and stash-free. She works on one project at a time and her ‘stash’ is really just any leftovers from past projects. She’s not one of those (read: me) who buys yarn just because of over fondling/drool on the yarn and so must be purchased (or be thrown out of the store) or because she has a project in mind and is thinking ahead when the current project shall one day be done. Nope. She doesn’t even seem to cast on for multiple projects at once. She’s not a Polygamist Knitter (like me).

But all of a sudden she has a stash. Sharon bought/brought a bunch yarn from home to work with. Now by ‘regular’ Polygamist standards, it’s really not terribly bad. Sounds like a pair of mitts, a few hats, a scarf and possibly enough for a sweater. Really not much at all. For the Monogamist knitter however, I could see how this could be a problem. Her basic Project Fidelity is being called into question by the tempting presence of so many potential projects. How can she commit to one project when there are so many options?

Maybe her Monogamy was conditional. She’s been able to focus so much on what she’s currently working on because there’s no other projects around to flirt with her attention….drag her away with the promise of a perfect cast on, interesting yet challenging pattern repeats, the gentle caress of a new fibre and feel of an unfamiliar pair of needles to create a fabric with that ‘je ne sais quoi’ drape to it. And the new knitting project has none of the problems of the old knitting project. No problems with gauge, confusing pattern lingo or errata, or even just general misbehaviour. No, the promise of the new knitting project is always that fresh start. The clean slate. The exotic lingerie (uh, High Fidelity will explain that reference). Instead she’s hired out her very capable hands to various local knitwear designers while she regains her focus.

Sharon’s knitting focus and fidelity dilemma brought up and interesting personal investigation for me. Before leaving on holiday and my hiatus, I was really having lots of project fidelity issues because of all the yarn sitting around my apartment staring at me. The Siren song of the new project was just too much to resist when I would hit a rough patch with whatever current sweater I was working on. One little fight and I would be out the door and casting on for something new.

The time apart from my knitting has really done me good. I have had a chance to reflect on what’s been going wrong with our relationships and what I need to do in order to fix things. Not just break up completely and start anew, in most cases we’ve sought out therapy and are starting to work things out. Not to say that there haven’t been some break-ups, but for the most part, we’re working things out.

And since being back in a knitting relationship, I have begun to be a Monogamist as well. The stash is still around, but I have learned that the promise of a fresh start is very cold and eventually will lead me into more trouble with my relationship with my current Project. It’s important to keep alive the initial passion of the project and not be swayed by the sweet caress of new yarn, no matter what the colourway…

* I’ve begun to call them Spinster Knitting Club meetings to my regular non-knitting friends (and my brother). To be perfectly PC, I don’t consider those who go, or the lovely Ariadne girls that host it to be Spinsters. In fact quite the opposite. Most have boyfriends, husbands and/or babies.

To be clear, I’m the Spinster (by old school corset & petticoat definitions, by current one I’m just a ‘Feminist’ which is far less entertaining) and knitting (with others) is my Spinster behaviour. Gots to get out of the house sometimes. BTW, we should reclaim Spinster to be non-derogatory like we did with ho.

Though I should probably actually learn how to spin in order to add legitimacy to my claim to be a ‘spinster.’

** Daily posting is brought to you by Boring Job Inc.

*** And the Pink Lopi Raglan has been ripped to ribbing, the yarn wound into skeins and steamed with the iron to remove all the curls and is in progress again, this time on 4.0 mm needles. I measured it this morning and it is becoming the perfect body! If it wasn’t still stooopid winter I’d have shown you pics of all my crazy ‘hardcore’ yarn treatment.

37 Reasons that I’m NOT a Master Knitter

I knew someone who I would call a Knitting Artist or Master Knitter, Virginia van Santen. Her earliest memory was when she was 2, sitting on the back of her mother’s bike, knitting. She worked in the same yarn store as my brother in Edmonton and knew everything about knitting. She died her own yarns specifically for projects (and to sell) to be able to expand her palette of colours. My brother and I would always go to her to ask her about problems, new techniques, fibres whenever we came across them. Really she was a living knitting expert. She could rattle off the proper recipe for socks, sweaters, mitts off from memory like nobody’s business.

The coolest things that she would make would be these fabulous knitted boxes/bowls. Stranded with her own dyed yarns and knit in the round, she would start at the inside bottom work her way up, turn for the top edge and knit all the way back down to the bottom again. Some even had matching sculptural lids. She never used patterns, would make up her own regardless of stranded colourwork or knitted lace. Virginia was a Master Knitter.

And though I’m able to knit lace, and make a mean stranded colourwork mitten, I’m no Virginia.

But the main reason that I wouldn’t call myself a Master Knitter or associate ‘Artist’ with my skills as a knitter is because I have yet to make a sweater that fits just how I like. The first sweater I ever made, I don’t even wear. The next two are in time outs (as some may have noticed on the right side) and the third, well, let’s just say the body’s going to be going back to ribbing.

That’s why I took NO knitting with me on holiday. Nothing. Not one skein of yarn or pair of double points entered into my luggage the ENTIRE trip. But that’s not to say I didn’t have knitting on the brain. I was spending the quality time away from the knitting to figure out what to do to fix the sweater angst I’ve been having. This may be the first time you’re hearing of it, but let me tell you, there’s been angst. And it’s been tightening my gauge for months.

Let’s take a look at the gallery of misbehaving sweaters:

1. Illfittin’ Sweater, 2. Too Short Sleeves, 3. Pregancy Pouch, 4. Adds two extra inches

This sweater is made out of beautiful Rowan tweedy goodness and cost a pretty penny. I figured if I was going to take the time to make a sweater, I might as well use something I liked. And at the time I had very few expenses and a well paying University job. But I should have been more discriminating when choosing a pattern.

The sweater has been adapted to be narrower, longer, and to get rid of the drop sleeves and STILL could use more improvements. The gauge is too loose. The front pocket should have 2-3 rows less than the sweater behind so that it doesn’t pooch open and add more to the bellular area. There’s at least 2 more inches that could come out of the side. I may have been sporting a little more poundage at the time I knit this, but this was never a fitted garment. The sweater could use 2 inches more length and 1.5 inches longer on the sleeves. Oh and that white stripe? It’s a slightly smaller gauge. And when I don’t wear a cream t-shirt underneath, you can see (or read) what’s underneath.

Plus this mo-fo is WAAAAAAARM. Really it’s an outer layer Spring/Fallish sort of sweater, not the deal with the winter thermostat wars at work weight that I was going for. That’s what you get with worsted weight 100% wool I guess.

Next, whatever happened to the Noro Surprise Jacket?

1. Bodice Neckline, 2. The Back, 3. The Front, 4. But the sleeves are good

Well I’ll tell you. In the second (or is it the third?) reknitting of this sweater, I over compensated in the creating a better fitting sleeve and rather than start all over again (again), I decided to be smarter and knit in some short rowish darts or ‘speed stripes’ as I termed them. What I didn’t consider was how these speed stripes would change the neckline from a simple square necked cardigan to a Renaissance Festival ready bodice necklined sweater (not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s simply not my style). But the sleeves are perfection right down to the colour transitions that the yarn gave me.

So frustrated with the having finished this sweater for the second (or is it the third?) time, I put the misbehaving knit into a time out. Theoretically all it needs is some buttons & blocking, but some careful consideration of how to get this knit to behave have left it in a time out for a while now. I am the sort of crazy that would completely rip it out for a third (or is it fourth?) time and start all over again, but then I’m pretty sure something else would go wrong. Or maybe I just wouldn’t like how the colour on the sleeves worked out.

Instead, I think taking it back to wear the 4 inches of neckline stitches are put on holders and knit a few inches more. Then reducing the neck by 1 or 2 inches would probably work much better with the amount of extra neck that’s added by the ‘speed stripes.’ At least that’s what I’m thinking. But I’m still not quite ready to launch into the shenanigans quite yet. So Time Out is where it shall remain for the moment.

How about the progress on the Sideways Pullover?

Also recently placed in a time out, this sweater has some problems as you can see. I was worried how it was going to turn out, so stole Sharon’s strategy of seaming while knitting to see how this was going to fit and was not happy with what I saw. The sleeve is too long. The body of the sweater is too short. The bottom ribbing is picked up and knit down from where it currently ends and I’d have to knit about 4 inches to get it to a length that I like and that’s NOT the look I was going for. Oh AND the sweater body is too narrow. I’d like a little more ease please.

You can see that when blocked flat (which was in my plans) the brioche expands enough to add the length the sweater is lacking (yay for blocking!) but I’ve knit the sweater at a tight enough gauge that I don’t think it will want to stay blocked out, or block as much as I’d like (boo for tight gauge!). So looks like a restart is needed.

But that’s not where we’re going to be stopping with this examination.

The length of the sleeve and general sleeve appearance could be fixed with a simple stitched down hem with a lovely contrasting colour in a lighter weight yarn (Briggs & Little Sport anyone?) and I think I’ll begin with a provisional cast on to allow for just that.

In terms of adding more length, I could follow the pattern more closely and add some more rows before & after the neck part. Instead, I think I’m going to go for more of a boat neck/cowly sort of thing and knit the neck itself longer. If I were to continue in this gauge I would rip back on the front & backs to just before casting off the neck and add an inch or two. But as I’m pretty sure about going for a looser gauge, I think I’ll make the neck a little taller too. I think a little more cowl won’t drive me crazy.

But what’s the status on the Pink Lopi Raglan?

Well the body’s all knit up. But measuring the width I’ve realised it’s not wide enough and no amount of magic blocking can fix that. I’m not even sure I could physically get it on my body and am certain that I’m not comfortable putting what that would look like onto the internets. All you need to know is that it’s too narrow, the gauge is way too tight and the ribbing flips up even just as I’m knitting.

Instead I give you two perfect sleeves!

The power of a little bit of smart knitting, I spent time measuring how wide I REALLY wanted it to be at the wrist and how much ease I REALLY wanted around the biggest part of my arm. I plugged those measurements into the gauge to figure out the initial cast on and the target number of stitches. Then I took the length of the sleeve to the underarm and figured out how frequently I would have to increase to get to the target amount of stitches in the right number of rows. This probably isn’t going to mean much to some of you, I just wanted you to know how hard (or not hard) it was.

The big change I made from knitting the sweater body to the sleeves (and probably why they are so perfect) is that I went up by 0.5 mm in needle size after the ribbing. No flipping and perfect gauge make these sleeves perfection. Even trying to wrangle an octopus can’t get me down on these sleeves. I’m so high on the now completed perfect sleeves that I’m about ready to re-tackle the sweater body and maybe even start on the Time Out pile.

Some of you may be asking ‘But what about the Cable Eyelet Ribbed Cardigan? Is it also been misbehaving and in a time out?’
Nope, it’s coming along just fine. Like a great book, I’m in no rush to finish it. Instead I pick it up here and there and savour every stitch. Every yarn over, knit 2 together, and purl is so delightful that I don’t mind making it last. With the gauge of yarn that I’m using it’s not hard to do.