April 17, 2018

Spring Break 2018

Once again, it is Spring Break.  We were lucky enough to be invited on a Grand Canyon adventure with my daughter and her three children.  We spent a night in Kanab, UT, a little western town in the heart of "Red Rock Country".  We even had an Easter Egg Hunt in the limited landscaping of the parking lot of our hotel.  Oh well . . . we had to make due.  We then traveled over the Glen Canyon Gorge and on to the magnificent Grand Canyon.



The remainder of the week was spent at the "Bison Ranch" in Overgaard, Arizona.  The resort had great swimming pools, a fishing pond and horseback riding.  It is in a tiny logging town, with not much else to do, so we had a very relaxing time.  It was a fun time!  Overgaard's claim to fame, is the only documented alien abduction.  We spent some of our time researching this incident, which occurred in the 1970's.  To learn more, go to Fire in the Sky.
While I was relaxing, of course I was knitting.  This is the back of my Sprossling, by Anne Hanson.  During our time at the Bison Ranch, I knit this piece up to arm decreases.  I didn't like the way the body shaping looked, so I ripped it all out and knit it again.  It took some time, but I'm much happier with the outcome.  I've decided it is always worth taking the time to make things look right.  I'm now knitting on the front pieces (both on the needles together).  This time I'll know how to decrease and increase in pattern.


When we returned, I finished up my version of "Mousy Tail Clone".  The original was knit by Jankee, but there was no pattern for it.  However, she made detailed notes on her project page in Ravelry, so with the use of a "Custom Fit" pattern, I was able to create my own.  It was knit of Wollemeise DK, in the color: RH - O Negative.

I'm so happy with the outcome, and the fit is perfect.  The only trouble I had, was knitting the buttonband.  I chose to use US1 needles and knit the entire band in one continual picked-up piece.  I guess my age is catching up with me, because knitting it was really hard on my hands, arms and shoulders.  There was a lot of muscling the stitches around the needle, so I had to knit it with a lot of breaks.  However, it was worth the trouble, as the buttonband came out perfect.  I learned this technique from Jankee, and I'll never do it any other way.

I may be setting my "Sprossling" aside soon, as my Sister is about to get her first Grand-daughter, and I've got some knitting to do for her, I'll keep you posted . . . . . . . . Happy Knitting!

March 29, 2018

Important Finishing Techniques

As I mentioned in previous posts, my sweaters continue to improve.  These improvements are mostly because I have improved my finishing techniques.


Although I have vastly improved the buttonbands and neckband on this cardigan I knit in 2016, I haven't really mastered the "selfy".  My intent was to show you how this sweater looks on ME.  The new buttonbands don't stretch out, causing the front of the cardigan to hang funny.  It used to be difficult to wear, because I was forever trying to get it to hang properly on my body.  Now I love wearing it!  This makes the time and expense well worth it.

The finishing skill employed here, was using a much small needle for the bands, than called for in the pattern.  This cardigan was knit on US6 needles, and the buttonband is knit on US2 needles.  This creates a more stable fabric for making stable buttonholes and attaching buttons.  You'll note that I used a sewn bindoff on the button side.  This is a stretchy bindoff that lays really flat.  To learn this technique, go to:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-Fy4GkpjPg.  The rolled edge employed a standard bindoff.
I like the new button choice too, and the buttonholes match them perfectly, without any strange holes or pulling when they are buttoned.  In addition, using the small, clear buttons on the back, makes the buttons much more secure, and keeps them from drooping when the cardigan is buttoned.  To learn this fabulous, one row buttonhole, go to:  multi-stitch buttonhole.
My "Mousy Tail Clone", copied from Jankee, is nearing completion.  You can see the body shaping I've used on this sweater to assure it will fit me perfectly.  I used a Custom Fit Pattern in getting all the numbers necessary and shaping instructions to get this custom fit, just for me.
Can you see the side seams?  The only thing that gives it away, is the curve that adapts to the curves of my body.  I didn't used to think that using the "Mattress Stitch" was necessary to create a great seam.  I was wrong!  Now that I take the time to seam with the "Mattress Stitch, my seams lie flat and they don't pull apart.  To learn the "mattress stitch" technique, go to:  Seaming with the Mattress Stitch.
Lastly, I thought I would talk a little about my blocking technique.  I always soak my sweater pieces in cool water, roll them in a fluffy towel taking care not to stretch the pieces, and squeeze out as much excess water as possible.  DO NOT TWIST KNIT PIECES.  Then lay the pieces out flat on a blocking board and carefully manipulate the pieces to the measurements on your pattern schematic.  Pin where necessary to hold in-place until the pieces dry.  Do not stretch and pin any ribbing, as you'll want this stretch to spring back with each wearing.  I love these Blocking Combs, they prevent points in your knitting.  You may not be able to tell from this photo, but I have stacked two sleeves here, to dry together.  This assures both sleeves will be the same exact size when they dry.  I do the same with the back and front pieces. My arms may not match exactly, but my sleeves always will.  You have to use optical illusion whenever possible, haha.

I'll have pictures of this finished sweater in my next blog post.  I'm currently working on the buttonband and adding the buttons, as discussed previously.

I'm busy planning my next sweater projects.  Here they are:

First, I'll be knitting "Sprossling" by Anne Hanson.  I'll be knitting with Wollemeise Twin.  It is a great yarn of 20% nylon and 80% wool in a fingering weight.  I'm planning this as a summer sweater to wear over summer sundresses and tank tops.

Second, I'll be knitting "Cabled Cardi" by Norah Gaughan.  I'll be knitting with Wollemeise DK.  I just love this yarn and can't seem to move on from it.  

You can see that I have my swatches all knit up and ready for generating my Custom Fit Patterns for each.  I'll be knitting Sprossling as written, but Cabled Cardi will have long sleeves and a slightly longer a-line fit.  I'm hoping these changes will be more flattering to my shape.

I hope these little tips and tricks, that I've learned recently, will help you too.  Being open to change is the best possible way to improve.  Thank you to those knitters who have gone before me, and figured out the best possible methods for knitting perfectly beautiful sweaters.  If you are a member of Knit Night Group, take a good look at these techniques and let me know if I can help you with future projects.  To the rest of you . . . . . . . Happy Knitting.

March 20, 2018

Change?

One thing is always constant, and that is change.  It may seem like a contradictory statement, but it is a definite truth.
This is a recent picture of my formal living room.  A few things have changed over the years, but for the most part, everything has been the same for the past 30+ years.  It takes me some time to decide just how I want a room decorated, adding a piece here or there, as I find the things I really love.  I'm not much for following the trends, as I prefer timeless pieces, that I plan to keep for many, many years.  

The floral couch was a hand-me-down from my parents, and they found it in a chicken coup when they were first married (back in the 1950's).  It has been re-upholstered several times, even twice by me, but I still love it and plan to keep it for many more years.  Curious, that it was stuffed with horse hair and originally had 3 cushions, rather than the current 2.  The tables were an early marriage purchase that I had to save and save for, and even though my daughter took a hammer to them, when she was 2 years old, I continue to polish and care for them.  The coffee table does have a new top, which I had custom built a few years ago. I have replaced 2 chairs, but only because they completely fell apart. I replaced them with matching antique chairs, found in a re-sale shop.  The wood floors and the purple loveseat are a recent edition, but the only new additions in the past 10 years.

I'm afraid I'm not the same when it comes to knitting.  My knitting abilities are continually improving, and I learn little tricks and hints from other expert knitters.  The downside to this improvement, is the fact that I start to hate wearing my older sweaters, as I produce better ones.  The new sweaters have improved technique, and fit and drape better than the old ones.  Good yarn is far too expensive for me to allow sweaters to just lay around,  waiting for moths to get to them.  I've been known to completely rip a sweater apart, and to re-knit the yarn into a completely different design.
You may recognize this sweater, completed back in 2016.  It is a custom fit version of Effervescence Cardigan[to see all the details, view in a previous post].  I've worn it a lot in the past few years, but have come to hate the buttons.  Even after sewing the buttonholes to make them smaller, the buttons will never stay buttoned.  And, the front buttonband fans out during wearing, causing the front of the cardigan to hang oddly on my body.


Recently, I have learned so much about buttonbands and buttonholes.  This new knowledge has made this sweater completely irritating to wear. So, I cut off the button and neck bands, and re-knit them, using my newly learned techniques.  Complete with new buttons, I love wearing this sweater now.  It was well worth the time and effort to make it wearable again.  

I guess change is not always an irritation, especially when it is your skill that is improving.  I learned these new techniques from Jankee.  You can learn them too, by reading all of her project comments on ravelry.com.  This is a great knitting resource, when you want to learn, without the expense and time of a knitting class.

Sweaters do not have to be completely scrapped and re-knit.  Sometimes, just some simple adjustments can turn a "sweater dud" into a "sweater love".

Keep your knitting skills progressing, by learning from other's mistakes.  Check out all of the projects on ravelry, especially the projects already completed on the project you are about to start.  This can save you countless hours in overcoming errors in the pattern design.  Happy Knitting . . . . .

March 05, 2018

Herringweave Complete

I started my Herringweave, by Anne Hanson, back in November.  I can generally knit an adult  size sweater in about a month.  This one was the exception.  The intricate herringbone pattern made it difficult to get into a smooth, knitting rhythm.  Needless to say, here it is . . . 4 months later, and I am just now finishing it up. 

This was my problem a few weeks ago, I had added back too many stitches on this buttonhole, causing it to flair out.  It was not a good look.  I had created a sewn bindoff (a first for me), so it took hours and hours to unpick it.  In addition, it completely ruined the length of yarn, which I was short on anyway.  But . . . it was well worth the effort.
You can see here, that I didn't have enough yarn to complete the buttonbands, so I had to rip out my swatch to complete them.  Thank Heavens, I had a swatch, the buttonbands still were no as wide as I preferred, but sometimes you have to take what you get.


The much improved buttonholes with the sweater unbuttoned and completely buttoned up.  The sweater was knit of Wollemeise DK, in the color Grundfink.  This is my "desert island" yarn, and it is hard for me to chose anything else.  It is so smooth to knit with, the colors are so vibrant, and it wears like iron.  There is very little pilling that happens with this yarn.


As on all sweaters I knit, I learned some great new things on this sweater (which always makes it hard for me to go back wear my old ones).  As always, I did a thorough search on Herringweaves knit by others on Ravelry.  This is such a great resource.  I looked for problems others may have had with the pattern, the yarns they had chosen, and any suggestions they might have for future knitters.  This helped me to know how the pattern would knit up in my beloved Wollemeise.  I also looked at the button sizes used by others, and any modifications they might have made.  Since I was also working from a Custom Fit Pattern, I knew it would fit, but I wanted to get the best possible look.

As I was planning my next project, I came across a finished sweater in the Custom Fit Groups, knit by Jankee.  In her comments, she gave specifics on how she achieves the perfect buttonband.  I used all of her recommendations for this sweater, on how to knit the buttonband, how to place the buttonholes, the best possible size of buttons, and how to properly sew a shank button using a Lucifer, and placing a small button on the wrong side.
Wow, what a difference these things made.  I'll never knit a buttonband any other way.  It really reduces gapping when a sweater is buttoned all the way up.  She also recommended using a sewn bindoff, for its stretchiness and the nice clean edge it provides.  It is time-consuming, but well worth the time (even when you have to unpick it).  I highly recommend her method.

I've nearly finished the fronts of my next project, which is basically a copy of Mousy Tail Clone, by Jankee.  There is not a pattern for this sweater, but using a Custom Fit Pattern, you really don't need one.  All of her suggestions have made it easy sailing on this one.
Since my last post, I've spent some time with my Mother and Sisters, celebrating a milestone Birthday for my Mom.  It was a great evening spent with a great view of the Salt Lake Valley.  These are some of the most valued people in my life.  They are the ones I whine to, cry with, ask for advice, and best of all . . . laugh with.  I hope you all have people like this in your life.  All though it helps to calm and center us, knitting is not always the only solution.  HAPPY KNITTING . . . . . .

February 21, 2018

January -- Blahhhh

January is not always the best month for me . . . and now that February is on it's way out, I can talk about it.  Here in SLC, January is when we experience the worst "air quality".  In fact, we are often ranked as having the worst "air quality" in the country during this time.  We live in a bowl, surrounded by mountains.  The mountains are beautiful, but at this time of year you cannot even see them.  The cold air in the bottom of the bowl and the warm air above, traps all of the pollution down where we live and breath.  As if January weren't drab enough . . . 

My Herringweave sweater continues, and like January, it has some issues.

I'd like to think every sweater I knit, gets better and better . . . and that is generally the case, as I learn new tips and tricks to make them more and more perfect.  However, although I've learned some great new tricks for buttonholes and button bands, I need to be more careful about the number of stitches I add back in for the buttonholes.  You can easily see that I've added too many on this buttonhole, causing it to flair out.  Another new trick I've learned is a sewn bindoff, which is the technique I have used here.  This sewn bindoff is super stretchy, and still lays really flat.  A great trick, except it takes hours and hours to sew.  This would not be a problem, if I didn't need to tear it all out to fix the buttonhole!

In addition, I ran out of yarn before I could add the buttonband.  I had to rip out my swatch (thank heavens I had one), and soak the yarn for reknitting.  Therefore, my buttonband is not near as wide as I would prefer.
The lighting in this picture makes the yarn color look completely different, but you can see that I've got all of the pieces sewn together, and after setting it aside for a week, or so, I'm ready to start ripping back.  Wish me luck. . . .
As long as I'm whining, I thought I'd show you how my new dishes arrived, via UPS.  I've been wanting to purchase these everyday dishes for a while now, and I finally took the plunge.  I ordered two sets of 4 place settings of these stoneware dishes.  I loved the natural pottery look to them, and thought they would be great for everyday use.  All arrived fine, with the exception of this salad plate.  I couldn't bring myself to pack the entire set back up and try to ship it back to the manufacturer, so I simply called Target.  Here is one bright spot . . . Target sent me a $10 gift card so I could go to my local store and replace the single, $4.00 plate.  Target is the BEST!
January and February also brought the 80th birthdays of my parents, so we hosted a big party for my Dad, and a non-party/Valentines Dinner for my Mom.  I purchased this cute banner from a dear friend, who has the cutest, hand-sewn items in her etsy shop:  The Brass Button Shop.  You should check it out, she makes very high-quality items out of the cutest fabrics.
I also added two greenery wreaths to my french doors.  I attached them to the metal doors using magnetic hooks.  The perfect solution.  Since we removed the curtains, I have loved the light that comes into the room, but that end of the room always looked so plain.  I think the wreaths are the perfect addition.  Sorry you have to look at my covered patio furniture out on the deck.
My Husband's friend made this long, wooden tray for us, so during my disappointment period on the Herringweave, I knit up some stuffed hearts for Valentine's Day.  Look closely, they actually are hearts in several Valentine colors.
I also started my new project.  I'm not sure what I'll call this sweater, as I'm trying to copy a sweater knit by "Jankee".  I just love her designs, and she teaches me so much.  She didn't produce a pattern for this sweater, but she added lots of tips on her Ravelry page.  I have the back finished, and I'm hoping the final product will look like a version of this:
Winter seems to be in it's final stages here, so I'm hoping Spring is just around the corner.  We've started a bit of ground prep for our Summer garden, and I've grudgingly started a bit of Spring cleaning.  Our pantry has been a huge mess for several years now.  Hopefully, getting this room cleaned out, will motivate me to move on to a few other messy rooms in our house.  One thing is for sure, I'll always be knitting.  Happy Knitting . . .

January 11, 2018

Time to Knit Herringweave

You may remember from a previous post, that I am currently knitting "Herringweave", by Anne Hanson.
I started back in mid-October.  Generally cardigans I knit for myself takes about 30 days to complete.  This one is taking a bit longer.  I work full-time and have all the general responsibilities of a Wife/Mother/Grandmother, so none of that has changed my knitting time.  This pattern is just bit more complicated.  There is no easy knitting rhythm to settle in to.  When knitting on the right-sides, every stitch taken must be carefully watched, to prevent mistakes. I love Anne Hanson's patterns.  They are always have a unique stitch pattern, and that is what I love about this design, so I think is will be worth it.

I've finally got the front and back on the blocking boards, and the perfect buttons selected.  When I left for a little trip to Texas, during the Christmas break, I was sure that sleeves would easily be finished during nearly a full week endless knitting.  That was not the case.  I'm still knitting away, but haven't even reached the underarm decreases yet.  




This little cabin on the lake is where we stayed for a much needed rest.  It was quiet and beautiful, and you can see my knitting sitting on the chair.  We spent 7 restful days at a ranch near San Antonio, while my husband, daughter and son-in-law did some hunting.  Even though I didn't reach my knitting goal, I had a wonderful time.  The Ranch Owners are fabulous people, and made us feel so welcome, with lots of comfort food and some historical home tours.



We even managed to make a little day trip to visit my nephews, who just moved there, and to the Magnolia Market Silos in Waco.  Both were so fun to see.

The holidays are always so full of fun and family, but now that January is here, it is time for some New Year planning.
Here is my upcoming knitting project.  This is Rohrspatz & Wollmeise DK, in the color: "O RH Negative."  I thought it really funny that the color was actually a bloodtype.  The yarn does look like blood.
My plan is to make a "Custom Fit" version of this sweater, which belongs to Jana Jankeena.  She hasn't written a pattern for this design, but she has given some direction on her Ravelry page about how she did it.  I'm really excited to give it a try.  I have knit one of her patterns before, and it was amazing.  She combines both hand and machine knitting in her sweaters.
January also brings my husband's birthday, and he likes to celebrate with a night on the town with our adult children and teenage grandchildren.  This is our annual group selfie, which is always taken on an escalator.  This works really well, until we all pile-up at the bottom.
It was really cold that night in SLC, and my two oldest daughters both chose to wear their matching coats and hats.  Who do you think knit those hats?

I hope 2018 brings you great success in your knitting projects and the rest of your lives.  Happy Knitting!!