January 16, 2015

A New Year and a Basketful of New Projects

The Holidays came and went this year, without any Christmas Knitting. This is very unusual for me, but as you all know, I had committed to spending all of 2014 knitting exclusively for myself. It was a great year, and I learned so much! I learned many new knitting skills, but the most important of all, was learning how to knit to fit my own body. As you saw in my last post, I knit 7.75 sweaters for myself last year, and with the exception of 1, they all fit beautifully.

This sweater was my favorite, and I have to restrain myself from wearing it more than once a week. I've never had this problem before, as I was rarely happy with final fit of the sweaters I knit for myself. Thus I didn't knit for myself much. I must thank Amy Herzog and Custom Fit for the fitting knowledge I have gained over the past year.
This was Sweater #8 "Bloomsbury".  Knit of a beautiful silk yarn, "KnitPicks Diadem in Amethyst".  I decided to knit this sweater on US2 needles, so it has taken some time (nearly 3 months) to finish just the body portion of the sweater.  As I started the first sleeve, it quickly became apparent that I would be running out of yarn.  I quickly contacted Knitpicks, only to find that Diadem DK Tonal had been discontinued.  "Yikes"!  What would I do now?  I went on a mad search of stashes on Ravelry, and luckily was able to find a skien, in my exact dye lot, in the stash of "Mythwrangler".  She was so gracious, and offered to send me the much-needed skien, if I would simply make a donation to my favorite charity.  THANK YOU MYTHWRANGLER!  The donation has been made, the skein has been delivered, and I am back to knitting on my Bloomsbury.  Phew . . . what a relief.

This is the best purchase I made as a gift this year.  Meet Hayden and Madame Giggles.  It is always grand when your gifts are accepted with laughter and kisses.  Hayden drags her along, everywhere she goes.

Along with expecting two new grandbabies in the Spring, the new year has brought a basketful of new knitting projects.  I'll be knitting "Charlie's Cardigan" by Amy Herzog, out of my very own "Salt Grass Alpaca" yarn in the colorway, Waffles Twist.

This swatch will give you an idea of what the yarn looks like.  This is the first sweater I have knit out of my very own yarn.  Waffles passed on last year, so this will be the only batch of yarn that looks exactly like this.  It is so soft, and twisted with fleece from Spud, it has great color variation.
These mittens and headband are the product of our Knitting Guild Yarn Exchange.  We selected yarn in a brown paper bag, from another Knitting Guild Member.  We had several months to knit it into the creation of our choice.  In February, we will be returning the finished product to the yarn's original owner.  We do not know who brought what yarn, so it should be a fun surprise to get our own yarn back, all knit into something beautiful.  I blindly chose 2 skiens of the same type yarn, but in 2 different colors.  It was challenging to decide how to best blend the 2.  I hope the recipient is happy with my choices.
This the sample I'll be presenting to my "Knit Night" Group in February.  It is a fun hat, knit up of bulky yarn.  It was quick to knit and I love the way it fits.  I think I'll get a lot of wear out of this!
I've also purchased yarn to knit up two of these darling little rompers.  The pattern is "Small Things Romper".  I'll be knitting one in pink and one in blue.  I've never been able to knit for twins before, and I am so excited!
Our "Knit Night" Group continues their "Lady Kina" KAL.  This is the latest finished project to add to our collection.  Jill knit this shortened version of "Lady Kina" for her daughter.  What a great adaptation, making it the perfect sweater for a young girl.  Everyone else continues to work on their's, and I can't wait to see their progress.

Well, I had best quit typing and get back to knitting.  Happy New Year Knitting!

December 12, 2014

2014 - The Year of Knitting for Me - Wrap Up

It is December, and I'm wrapping up my "Year of Knitting for Me". I haven't quite finished my final sweater (Bloomsbury), so I'll have to post completion pictures of it in a future post. It is slow going, with lace weight yarn and US2 needles, but it is turning out beautifully.

I have devoted the year to learning how to knit perfect fitting sweaters, just for me. It has nearly been a complete success, with only 1 sweater that doesn't fit perfectly. I have used a Custom Fit pattern, and thank you Amy Herzog, for producing the perfect software for generating a custom fit pattern everytime.  You can find all of the particulars about these sweaters on my Ravelty Projects Page.  My Ravelry name is "lutley".

So . . . here they are:

#1 -- A 3/4 sleeve, open front cardigan, with lacework from "Peabody, by Leila Raabe.  This was my first "Custom Fit" sweater, and I love it and wear it all of the time. 
#2 -- Afterlight, by Amy Herzog.  This one was knit of my favorite yarn this year, Lorna's Laces - Soulmate.  I did have to alternate skeins to prevent the colors from pooling, and that was a bit of a pain, but I am very happy with finished look.  Expecially since I cut off the bottom ribbing, and added a few inches to the length.  This was a learning experience too, and one that was well worth the effort.
#3 -- "Little Wave" by Gudrun Johnston.  I selected a "close fit" for my Custom Fit pattern on this sweater, which was a big mistake.  The buttons gap on me, and the yarn is a bit itchy, so I don't like to wear it.  I think I'll gift it to my daughter, but only if she promises to take extra care with it.  I loved the pattern, and all of the special techniques I had never knit before, like the saddle shoulders, and the i-chord bind-off on the pockets.  The pattern was beautifully written and it was fun to knit. 
#4 -- "Surface" by Norah Gaughan.  It was so fun to knit the "blister" pattern on this sweater.  I love the fit, but I wish I had chosen a finer gauge yarn for this one, and perhaps a darker color.  Oh well . . . knit & learn.  I'll just have to knit this one again some time.

#5 -- "The Laura Leaves Tank" by Lori Utley.  I had knit this many times before, as it is my own design, but I had never knit it for me.  I incorporated Custom Fit shaping this time, for the perfect fit.  I blocked it out a little longer, after these pictures were taken, and I like it much better now.
#6 -- "Lady Kina", by Muriela.  I veered a little off track on this one.  It was our Fall KAL for my Knit Night Group.  When I knit the sample (the blue one) I misread the sizing on the pattern, and made too small a size.  So I knit another sample (the orange one), which was a perfect fit.  I know . . . that is not me wearing these samples, but at least I perfected my technique for the sample I actually knit for me (the brown one).  I was an expert with the pattern by this point, and was able to incorporate a lacy leaf pattern.  I love this sweater, and I wear it all of the time.  If I had stayed on-track, these would have counted as sweaters #6, #7 & #8, but technically, they weren't all for me, so I'm not counting them that way.

#7 -- "Leaving" by Anne Hanson.  This one is my favorite!  The pattern was beautifully written, and the yarn (Lisa Souza Baby Alpaca Silk) was so nice to knit with and is so comfortable to wear.  This was the sweater where I felt I reached perfection.  I hope all the sweaters in my future will make me as happy as this one does.
#8 -- "Bloomsbury" by Sventlana Volkova.  I am knitting this one at a much smaller gauge than the pattern calls for, and I am trying to incorporate Cutom Fit shaping into a top-down, raglan sleeve design.  Custom Fit patterns are alway written for bottom-up sweaters, with set-in sleeves, and sideseams.  I hope it all works out, as I had to do all of my own calculations for changing the gauge and incorporating the raglan sleeves.  It has been taking some time, as I have been working on it since the week before Halloween.  It is slow going, but the yarn is producing such a soft fabric.  I hope to have it finished before the end of 2014.
These were my distractions this year.  Two Summer sweaters, that weren't completed before the season changed to Fall and I moved on to a Fall Festival Sweater KAL.  Some fun little give-aways for my Knit Night Group, and a sample "Poor Baby Sweater", by Lori Utley,  which I knit for a Knit Night KAL, and later gave-away to a reader of this Blog.

It has been a great year of knitting, although there were a few moments when others asked me to knit for them, and I had to say "NO".  I have learned a great deal in knitting from other's patterns.  I thinks this experience will help me immensely in my future of knitwear designing and pattern writing.  I hope to finish up those Summer Sweaters, when the warm weather arrives again. 
I'll be starting out 2015, knitting frantically for the twins, my daughter is expecting in April/May, and perhaps a few little sweaters for their older sisters, pictured here.  A boy and a girl, which will allow for doubles of everything, in feminine and masculine colors.  It is amazing how I track time in my life, to what I am knitting.  I hope your life is floating along and that your knitting is moving along as smoothly as mine.  Merry Christmas and a Happy Knitting New Year!

December 04, 2014

. . . in-between the Holidays

Thanksgiving was a fun, relaxing time with family. The food was great, the whether was great, and time spent with family is always great! We traveled to Idaho Falls to celebrate, our daughter made everything especially great. Now it is time to move on to Christmas. That crazy/busy time of year, when you fear you might lose your mind.
Our Tree and outside lights are all up, and we are ready to start singing Carols and baking cookies.  The shopping is nearly finished and it's time to bring out the wrapping paper for a few marathon sessions of taping and ribboning. 
 Here I am, wearing my "Leaving" cardigan.  This is, by far, the best sweater I have ever knit for myself.  I'm tempted to wear it twice a week.  I wasn't really sure that using a Custom Fit pattern would make such a difference, but definitely has.  I love, love, love this sweater!
My "Bloomsbury" is coming along.  It seems to be taking forever and this picture is terrible.  The color is off, and the lacework just looks like knots, but I think it will all turn into a beautiful sweater in the end.  Knit of lace weight yarn on US2 needles, it is a very fine gauge.  It is so soft and dreamy, and I hope to be wearing it for Christmas.  I'll just keep plugging away. 

I'm not knitting any Christmas gifts this year . . . it is so liberating.  I seem to be turning into a knitting Scrouge.  I've come to learn that only knitters can appreciate a hand-knit gift.  Everyone I talk too doesn't believe that yarn for a basic sweater can cost between $100 and 200 . . . and then there are the hours and hours of knitting and measuring and fitting and ripping.  It is a knitter's lesson, when they pull one of their handknit gifts out of their daughter's dryer.  Call it selfish, but after a year of knitting only for me, I'm starting to really like the concept. 
Marlene and Joan have finished their "Lady Kina" sweaters.  Marlene looks just darling in her's and I'm sure she is wearing it often, just like I do. 

Joan gifted her sweater to my daughter (her grand-daughter), who is expecting twins.  It looks so cute with that little baby bump peaking out.  I'm sure it will continue to work great as that bump turns into a full-scale mound. 
Kathy is making great progress on her "Lady Kina" and will be wearing it soon.

And Jennifer is knitting socks, both for her and her expected little daughter.

Tonight our "Knit Night" group will be meeting at a local restaurant for dinner and our annual Christmas gathering.  Like always, it should be loads of fun and laughter.  I hope the season is bringing all of you great happiness.  Happy Knitting!

November 04, 2014

Knitting and Wearing

To me . . . the absolutely hardest part of knitting, is trying the finished object on. I always finish up a sweater, put it on my (body-double) dressform, take pictures of it, and spend a few weeks gathering the courage to try it on. Even though my dressform it the same general size I am, she does have better hourglass preportions. If the sweater fits her, I know it will fit me . . . BUT . . . it doesn't always look the same.
I've finished my 2014 F2F Sweater #7. It is "Leaving", by Anne Hanson, knit in Lisa Souza Baby Alpaca Silk (Cranalicious).  I'm currently in this very stage (finish, put on dressform, photograph, try to get courage to try on).
The sweater came out just as beautiful as I had hoped, and I'm always afraid it won't look as beautiful on me.  I'm trying so hard this year, to be more accepting of my body, but it doesn't seem to be getting any easier.  I've dedicated an entire year to knitting just for me, in the hopes that I could overcome this problem.  I've using Custom Fit Patterns from Amy Herzog to get the perfect fit, and her advise is to be accepting of yourself, regardless of how many extra pounds you may have.  Since you have knit the sweater to accommodate your exact measurements, you should be proud to wear it and photograph yourself in it. It usually takes me about 2 weeks, so I should have pictures of me wearing this sweater in my next post. 
  Remember this sweater?  My "Lady Kina" 2014 Sweater #7.  This is my Knit Night Group KAL this Fall, and mine was finished back in September.  Well . . . since this sweater was bumped from my dressform, to accommodate my latest FO, I finally decided it was time for pictures on ME. 
Here it is.  The next great stuggle is always getting pictures that I can stand to show here.  My husband is always so patient, but my frustration always leads to a big fight.   
I tell him to take lots of pictures, as we can always delete the bad ones, but it always takes him so long to push the button, that I am usually pulling a disgusted face and all of the pictures are a disaster.   
Neither of us has much experience with photography, so we are learning together.  Always discussing what works best, as far as lighting and location.  And then, there is always to issue of my most flattering angles. 
 Often, others simply cut their head out of the picture, if they don't like their expression, but my body isn't good enough to stand on it's own.

And then there is always the issue of the background.  This picture might have worked, if that garden stake bird didn't appear to have landed on my shoulder.
 And here is one of those "take it already, would you" faces. 
And it is always nice when half of the plant you are standing by is caught on your backside.  I guess you can't win them all!  I'm hoping that showing these, less than perfect, pictures will help me to stop being so concerned about looking just perfect.   
Anyway . . . I have started my 2014 F2F Sweater #8.  It is "Bloomsbury".  The pattern is by Svetlana Volkova, and I'm knitting it of KnitPicks Diadem (Amethyst).  It is a fine gauge yarn.  I've changed the gauge and the needle size, from what is recommended by the pattern.  Swatching and using a Custom Fit Pattern, have helped me to do this.  However, This pattern is written from the top-down, with raglan sleeves.  All Custom Fit Pattern are written in pieces, bottom up, with set-in sleeves, so I've had to do a little math and re-writing of the pattern to get this to work out.  The Custom Fit Pattern will provide all of the shaping to assure it fits me the best possible.

This is Aidasofie's project on Ravelry.  I fell in love with her version, and it was my inspiration in selecting a yarn and a gauge for this sweater.  I hope mine will look half as good as her's.

This is the swatch I used to generate my Custom Fit Pattern.  I just love the color variation in this yarn, and you can't believe how soft and drapey it is.  I believe #8 will be the final sweater for the year, and I hope to have it finished by December 31.  Since it is knit on size US 2 needles, it will likely take me that long.

However, I love this yarn so much, that I have purchased another sweaters quantity to knit "Miette" by Andi Satterland.  I've chosen the color Ruby.  I'm hoping to have this on the needles before Christmas, but we'll see. 

Our "Lady Kina" Knit Night KAL continues, and I'm hoping to have some finished pictures to share soon.  Everyone has chosen such varied colors and types of yarn.  I can't wait to see all their FOs.  Happy Knitting!