Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Change a Pullover into a Cardigan: Part Two

I'm back! Pardon the delay, but I had to go button shopping. Where were we? Oh, yes, we were cutting up a pullover so it could become a cardigan. Let's carry on.
I've got good light today because we have lots of sunshine, but still these pictures are a little unclear because of the fuzzy yarn. I know you'll not only excuse the fuzzy yarn, but also love it.
I thought I would show you how the cut edges are not falling apart, just to reassure you...

...before we hide them all by turning back the crochet edge to the wrong side and whip stitching it down.

All done! And notice that I folded down the collar and whip stitched it as well. This pullover had a roll-neck edge and didn't look especially neat after whacking its center front in half, so I decided to tidy it up a bit. I considered several things: picking up stitches along the top of each button and buttonhole band and along the back of the neck for a ribbed collar, turning it into a V-neck by either sewing a line and cutting some more and then picking up for a shawl collar, turning it into a deeper crew neckline by said sewing and cutting, and picking up stitches for a shirt collar. I decided to leave the neckline simple, and I'm so glad I did!
Here's a closeup of the inside back of the neck.

Once I had the front edges and the collar tacked down, it was quite easy work to pick up stitches for the bands. I usually like to put in holes on both sides and then close the button band side when I sew on the buttons. That way I'm sure they'll match.

I worked the bands in the same 3/2 rib as on the body and cuffs, adding an eyelet buttonhole (my favorite) to every other k3 section.

The smaller weight, smooth wool yarn I chose to work the crochet reinforcements worked well for attaching the buttons as well. You can hardly see all the sewing on the wrong side.

I closed each hole as I took the yarn through the first "X" of attaching the buttons, and before another pass, I wound a shank between button and fabric to make the buttons stand up from the band a little for easier fastening. 

This project is complete. I love it!

I am so glad I took scissors to this once pullover. I know I'll wear it more often now. As a matter of fact, I'm wearing it right now and I don't know when I'll take it off. I might even wear it to bed.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Change a Pullover into a Cardigan: Part One

Last week I saw a link to Susan B. Anderson's video about turning a pullover into a cardigan by steeking, and I could not get over how clever this is! 
I just had to try it, since I recently found out that you won't die from cutting your knitting when I knit the Bauhaus sweater.

This pullover was my first real top-down experiment, and while I love the yarn I used--a squishy farm yarn, Marr Haven 2-ply Aran weight Mule Spun--the construction of the sweater was not entirely comfy.
While we pardon the silly "staring at the sky" pose, notice how high the front of the neck sits. I definitely did not allow enough front drop on that neckline, and the sweater has never felt quite right as a result.

Thanks to Susan B, now I know just what to do.

First, as she suggests, I basted a line up the center to keep my place. 
As you can see more clearly from the wrong side, I used a regular smooth wool in a highly contrasting color.

On my first attempt, I used the same yarn to reinforce the edges, but it started to curl. I decided to find a smaller weight wool yarn in my stash and use a smaller crochet hook. 

I inserted the hook into the bound off edge stitch just below the line of ribbing stitches marked for the crochet reinforcement. Then I began by pulling up a loop and working a chain stitch through that loop. Then I inserted the hook into both sides of the first knit stitch, grabbed the yarn, and drew it through the stitch. Then I worked a single crochet stitch and worked the same in every knit stitch on up the body of the sweater, taking care to stay in a straight line. It helped to fold the fabric as I went to allow the line of knit stitches to be highly visible so I would stay on track.

And see how the back of the line of single crochet leaves a very clear line of stitches on the right side of the fabric so I can prepare for picking up stitches for the button and buttonhole bands.

I started at the neck for the corresponding second line of reinforced stitches at the same point out from the basted line, and worked them the same way.

Notice that because of the k3/p2 rib on the sweater, I placed the crochet reinforcement one stitch farther to each side than usual. I wanted to have a neat line of knit stitches all the way from the bottom edge to the top.

Then it was time to pull out that pink line, find the center, and cut!

Hurray! It looks great already. Thought I'd spare the weak-kneed the sight of the actual scissors this time. See how the crochet reinforcements naturally force the edge to turn in toward the wrong side so neatly?
Also, this yarn is so woolly and grabby that the cut edges are thus far behaving quite nicely and not going anywhere.

Now I'm going to go and work the button and buttonhole bands. 
I'll be back tomorrow to tell you about that.

See you then!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Madrona Fiber Arts Festival 2013

We are so fortunate to have the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival right here in town every year. I try to at least pop in to the market every year, and sometimes even take a class or two or go to the banquet. This year, I made a quick trip down on Friday to pick up our banquet tickets while things were relatively quiet and I ended up meeting Sivia Harding. She's a nice lady!

Then it was back down on Saturday afternoon with daughter Natalie and her Jesse for another perusal through the market--we went the full round at least three times!
Here's an Instagram/Picture Frames edited photo of several sneaky shots I snapped of the Madrona Market floor. If you see anyone you know, let them know I included them here. I'm sure they'll be so thrilled. The point is that it was crazy on Saturday. Wall-to-wall wool sniffers!

We saw some lovely wovens in the Just Our Yarns booth, where I picked up a couple of the newer ChiaoGoo red lace circulars, now without the little bend in the shaft. Can't wait to try them! I was also so glad Saturday to bump into my good friend Stormy and to see her son Gryphon and their new little Ember. Last time I saw Stormy was at Knit Fit and she had Tempest (little Ember was still inside hiding out), so now I've had an update on all her offspring! Funny how I always happen upon the best people at fiber gatherings.

Afterward, Natalie and Jesse treated me to a cupcake. Mine in front (and Nat's in back) are strawberry lemonade, and Jesse had a salted caramel on chocolate. Yes, we took Starbucks coffee in to Hello Cupcake and weren't scolded. That's nice.

Saturday evening Fred and I went to the banquet to hear Clara Parkes speak, not knowing which of her adventures she would bless us with. I thought she might talk about her Great White Bale experiment or about how much she loves cashmere or about her wonderful books. Well, she kind of touched on all of that, but the best part about it was getting a sneak peek at her next book. It's different, folks...in a good way. I don't think there's a single knitting pattern in it. She even read us a chapter!
It was a sweet evening.
I went back on Sunday to see some more of Clara, give her a present, and to meet friends Andrea and Kristin for lunch. I couldn't resist going back to the market one more time to grab up some Black Water Abbey yarn and see Marilyn and Jennifer womanning the booth. Seriously, going to the BWA booth is the thing I look the most forward to every year at Madrona. When I got this yumminess home, it made my entire yarn room smell fantastically sheepy. I have plans for this and will reveal them very soon.

This year Madrona inspired me so much that I have been waking every morning with new ideas.
If you've never been to Madrona, come on up here next year. It's almost always around Valentine's Day, so we can all show yarn how much we love it.
Hope to see you there next year! 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

My Fair Isle Education: Color Choice

I promised you lace, but as you might imagine, I can't show you those lace projects until the patterns are ready to release. In the meantime, let's talk about Fair Isle! Obviously, it's one of my favorite subjects right now.

To continue my Fair Isle come-uppance, I have finally set about trying to learn how to choose colors for greatest effect when working the sometimes complicated patterns. I began with a simple pattern so as to focus on the colors. 
I have had the middle three colors of Rowan Felted Tweed you see here for a few months, but just recently added the light grey and the taupe. From top to bottom, these are #143, #158, #133, #154, and #177. I found all this loveliness at Fibers, Etc. here in town. I have had some trouble securing Shetland wool from my LYS's, as I mentioned in an earlier post, so this was as close as I could find.

This go 'round I charted out some versions of my Grethryn color pattern, using guidance from MJM. Bear in mind that I used all five colors in both the following hats.

In the background you can see humble little Grethryn with her two natural colors of Ravenwood Cashmere. I love her for her stark contrast, but wanted to try other colors. As you can see in the foreground hat, which bears little resemblance to the original, the color placements (especially the blue and green used together in the same round) do not allow the pattern to shine...or to even be detected. However, I like this hat for its subtlety and so does my husband, who came home yesterday evening and showed much interest in claiming it as his own. 

So this morning I started another version that I charted out last thing yesterday when I realized the first one wasn't hitting the mark. This is much better! Keeping the green and blue away from one another and using more of the rust and the light grey added more contrast, allowing the pattern to be the star. This version also has the characteristic horizontal bands of Fair Isle. I want to make a whole sweater like this one!

I'll be making a couple more of these in different versions. With five 191-yard skeins, I should be able to end up with at least four or five of them. 

Like I need more hats....

Friday, February 01, 2013

FO Friday: My Fair Isle Sweater Is Done!

I did it!
This post is over-the-top BLUE and long, so get ready.

I am so glad I pushed on through this week and finished this project, even though it necessitated some neglect of the spousal unit. You know, lots of head-down, half-listening "mm-hmm" and "yes, hon" and sometimes silence for responses. Now I can go back to paying attention to my surroundings and such. This was the kind of project that called for complete Zen, in-the-moment concentration...and I still messed it up!

Yep, as I told you last post, I shifted the color pattern when the steeks started. I also picked up the wrong number of stitches around the neck and made it work anyway. I also worked the steeks wrong, I know I did. They got all fiddly after I cut and picked up stitches. I was afraid I would lose some of them, so I double reinforced and sewed a line just outside the fabric on the sewing machine. These sleeves and collar are NOT going to fall off!

And then there's one of my favorite fiddly bits--figuring out the yarn consumption. I guess I've gotten so used to obsessing over this whole subject by writing patterns myself. I am always so terrified of putting horribly wrong yarn amounts in my patterns that I usually spend too much time crunching yard/ounce ratios and working the percentages over and over. Why, you might be asking, did I spend any time figuring this out for a sweater that I knit from someone else's pattern? Because I ran out of yarn!! Not all the colors, mind you, just one of the main ones. 

I ran out of the one color that I had, again stubbornly, used instead of the yarn called for in the pattern. I had some Dale Hauk (comparable to Heilo) in a nice medium blue that I had decided would work just fine and would save me the cost of buying four more skeins of yarn. For some reason, I must have knit very loosely with that one color or something, because I used more of the blue than I did of the color that was supposedly the main color--the grey heather. I actually only used three of the five prescribed skeins of the grey. One partial reason for that is that I shortened the sleeves. Since this is for me and not a monkey-armed man, I took out two inches by leaving out the last blue and grey band and some of the cuff rib rounds. But still! Two skeins left of the grey and minus none of the blue? Ah, the eternal mysteries of knitting.

Anyway, the important thing is that after I realized I was not going to have enough of the blue to finish (long about the second sleeve) I looked for some online (none of my LYS's have this yarn) and found that what I was using was (gasp) discontinued! The horror! Not only that, but a search on Ravelry yielded--get this--one possible skein for sale! One! I sent a message to the seller and tried to wait. While waiting, I thought I would do something crazy like search my stash one more time. Maybe I had inadvertently stuck another of the precious blue skeins behind something else. Maybe it had gotten absorbed into some other pile. Mind you, I just reorganized my entire stash, so I knew what I had and where it was. That's when a little ah-ha moment came to me and I remembered a little group of yarn I rescued from my local craft store a few years ago. It was a lovely, rough, blue 100% Australian wool I had snagged for $1 a skein. Did I dare to see if it matched? I think I hemmed and hawed a little at that point, because I knew this might be my almost last chance. And then it was Hey! Let's see if a miracle can be squeezed out of this!

And it could. 
The yarn in back is my humble buck-a-ball find and the little bow remnant in front is the Dale Hauk. Amazing, huh? We need to be humble and grateful in these rare moments. We should pause....

Back to the story.
After the mishap with the color pattern on the body, I wasn't taking any chances. I charted the whole sleeve into three different sections so I could keep up with the decreases and color changes at the same time.

On the body I remembered to weave in the new color a few stitches before the seam and weave out the old color after the seam to avoid so much end-weaving at finishing time. Most of the ends you see will not need weaving in, thank goodness!

I wasn't always so wise, however, and there are still ends to weave in. This picture shows the steek facings before I ran a seam line on the machine and trimmed them. They were really bulky and half falling loose. I'm glad I did that step. Also, on the first sleeve, I had a mind warp and totally tied knots at the seam every single time I changed colors. I am a wonder to myself. Sometimes I just stand back and drop my jaw...at myself.

I can't explain any of it. All I know is I love this sweater just as much as my first puppy and I wish I had time to make another one right now. I guess I like yarny torture.

Thank you for enduring my story, the jumpy-aroundness of it, and just my general obsessiveness with this whole project. I know, knitting friends, you understand my plight, but are also glad that now I can move on.