Saturday, March 17, 2007

Dollar and a Half Sweater

I have many projects waiting to be started. I have many hanks and skanks and skeins of yarn waiting to become projects. But I've been scared off from making sweaters because my last few attempts have failed.

Then I saw the recent issue of Interweave Knits and I fell for the dollar and a half cardigan.

Sure it looked complicated. But at the same time it looked pretty simple. Twelve rows of reverse stockinettte, 12 rows of lace. Repeat. Sure it involves decreasing for the sleeves. And sure, some of this happens in the lace sections. And, oh right, there'a a cable thrown in there, too. But what the hell. I'm a trooper. I can get over my fear-of-making-sweaters and jump right in.

And jump I did. I even joined the Dollar and a Half KAL (which, for those not totally up on knitter's lingo, stands for Knit-a-Long -- a group of people who knit the same project and share their successes and sometime failures.) Gotta love knitters. One thing they're never short on is acronyms: KAL, LYS, WIP, UFO*...

Here's my first post to the KAL:

After driving myself crazy and swatching about 4 different yarns for this sweater, I finally decided on Solitaire in charcoal by GGH.

I had about 14 skeins of it in the drawer purchased for an entirely different project. Let's just say that project never happened...

I still love the sweater pattern planned for said yarn, but it's only written for a small and medium and I'm scared of the maths it will take to adjust the pattern. So I avoided it for more than a year, wondering if this nice yarn would ever become something other than balls taking up space in a drawer.

Enter Dollar and a Half Cardigan and Solitaire has found a home.

Chance Kitty approves of the sweater's start

It took a few swatches of lace practice to get it right, but once I remembered that it's a multiple of three PLUS one -- all worked out well. Al's tutorial for row 7 was extremely helpful, as well.

Close up of lace

I'm this far along on the back. I got a little nervous after the first few rows because I was getting the Michelin Man effect, so I blocked it to make sure it would look OK. That's why the bottom is flatter than the rest. (That's if you can see that in this crappy photo... )

Almost up to sleeve shaping...Scary

I have to say, getting the correct gauge in lace was a bit beyond my knitting abilities. It's measuring to the width I want, so hopefully it won't be too big or too small. (Not that I've even done that before.)

After completing the first section each of stockinette and lace, I didn't like that the stockinette section was wider than the lace. So I've altered the pattern a bit: in the the first row of reverse stockinette (a purl row) I decrease a total of 3 stitches. In the first row of the lace section (the knit row), I add the 3 stitches back in. I'm hoping this won't bite me in the ass later, but the edges are more even this way.

Being home sick with the cold from hell for the last week has really moved this project along. And I totally agree with Chef Messy. By the time I get to the end of the stockinette section, I'm so ready for something a little more exciting. Then, by the time I get to the end of the lace section, I'm so sick of counting I can't wait for the simplicity of purl a row, knit a row.

Wish me luck. I'm about to start decreasing for the sleeves...

*Now you can be hip to the lingo of the knitter: Local Yarn Store, Work in Progress, Unfinished Object.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Never Say Never

I never wanted to knit socks. Those tiny needles. All those tiny needles. And that skinny, skinny yarn. Why would anyone want to torture themselves knitting socks? Considering that they'll be hidden inside a pair of shoes or boots, or worse yet, worn around the house in your PJs.

I was totally Anti Sock.

But then, my sister who is a flight attendent, often picks up discarded books from passengers. To kill time at 30,000 feet, she reads. (She should really knit -- imagine how many things she could finish on those long flights??)

Anyway, when I last saw my sister, she had just finished reading "A Good Yarn" by Debbie Macomber. In a nutshell the book is about a few divorced woman and a depressed, overweight teenager who bond over a sock class at their local knitting store. (Need I say more about not wanting to ever knit socks?)

Sister: "I just read this book about knitted socks. Do you ever knit socks?"

Me: "No. Never. I hate the thought of knitting socks."

Sister: "But why? They sound like they'd be so soft and comfortable. This book I just read made them sound great. And they knit them on something called 2 sets of circulars."

Me: "Never. It's torture. Knitting on 2 sets of circulars is horrible. Sock knitting would put me in the looney bin in no time."

Fast forward a few weeks to me in my LYS.

Me: "My sister read this crazy book and now wants me to knit her a pair of socks."

Helen (owner of LYS): "You want to knit something for someone else? Are you feeling well?"

Me: "Yeah. Well. You know I'm not from the knitters-of-stuff-for-other-people crowd, but she is my sister."

Helen: "Well...yeah. And knitting socks is really fun. You'll become addicted (not like you need another yarn addiction.) And I have a class starting this Thursday night for 3 weeks."

So I signed up and learned how to knit myself a pair of socks. We used DPNs vs. 2 sets of circulars. Which is fine for me because I've used the 2 circulars to knit sleeves once and really didn't enjoy it. (Translation: I cursed a LOT.)



Heels together now

Yes, I stand like a duck

Here's what I learned from knitting socks:
  • Those little needles are annoying. I sort of got used to them, but let's face it -- straight needle knitting is far easier.
  • Knitting on a plane with double points is rather dangerous. The guy behind me was sick of looking for my lost needle. I think that's why dpn comes in sets of 5.
  • I hated the fact that I did my first pair in stockenette. But it was quickest and we had to finish a large portion of the sock before each class and I was afraid anything else would have taken too long. It doesn't make for the most attractive sock, but I'm not about to rip these out and start over.
  • Size 5 needles for socks make them just too damn fat.
  • My husband keeps calling my socks "boots" because of how wide they are.
  • He can not understand why anyone in their right mind would knit socks when they are available at Nordstrom for $4.
  • I prefer the look of short row heel to the heel flap.
  • The toe shaping on this particular pattern was a little too "pointy" but I assume there are other options out there.
  • I know I took this class to make a pair of socks for my sister, but I couldn't give her the first pair I made. There are just too many things I want to change for her pair.
  • I've finally learned that K2Tog slants to the right and SSK slants to the left.
Clearly, Helen was right. Knitting socks is somewhat addicting. Mostly because they are a challenge and I like a challenge. I even bought this book to learn other sock variations:

I've now got the yarn and needles for my sister's socks. Let's hope I finish them before the local looney bin comes a knockin'.