crafts · knitting


Sometimes something will happen in my knitting world that just completely stumps me.  Exhibits A and B:


What you see above are two swatches for the Nantucket jacket in the yarn I bought (still trying to make it work!)  The pattern calls for 4.5st/in.  Both swatches above read 5st/in, even though they were knit with different size needles.  The one on the left is size 7 needles, and on the right is size 8.  On size 9s I get the same, so I didn’t bother with the picture.  How is this possible?

Then I swatched in pattern on 3 different sized needles.  I couldn’t get an accurate st/in count (how are you supposed to do that on non-repeating patterns?) but I can tell you that all 3 swatches are basically the same width, meaning that apparently  I am cursed with this yarn.  I won’t make a larger size because of the difference in the way the little seed stitch triangles look.  I’m still going back and forth about buying the recommended yarn.  Even with the WEBs discount it would still cost me $84.  I’m a fast knitter, so I have a pretty firm policy where a sweater is not allowed to cost me more than $40 to knit.  So what I need is another yarn that gets 4.5st/in on size 9 needles.

Ok… on to my second yarn problem of the day.  Well, it’s not really a problem today, but I am wondering….  I bought this yarn on closeout from Littleknits.  It’s GGH Sir Galli, 100% silk, a full bag for under $40.

It’s a really pretty tweedy yarn.  The only problem?  The silk smell.  Now, I’ve never noticed a problem with this before, as I am noticeably lacking in the sense of smell department.  I thought, if it bothers me… so I went and stuck it under Marc’s nose.  He had to leave the room.  So yeah… stinky silk.   I’m just terrified to knit anything with this, because I don’t want to walk around smelling that all day.  I have, in fact, isolated this yarn into its own container so that it will have no chance of contaminating my other yarns.  I’ve read online about washing the silk in water with shampoo and baking soda.  Has anyone tried this and had it work?  I will admit to getting even more grossed out when I read about why silk smells.  Worm spit… eww…

And here is my progress on Ms. Marigold.  It actually would have been more, were it not for the several hours I spent desperately swatching for the Nantucket jacket.  I’ve decreased by 8 stitches (and tried it on) and now I’m to the increase section.  Looks to fit well so far!

crafts · knitting · Life

Busy weekend

I had a crazy busy weekend, including: a recital by my students, a wedding, 3 church services, 1 more service I had to attend, 2 dinners with friends, and an Oscar party.  I don’t really enjoy being that busy, so in spite of the fact that it was mostly fun, I’ll be glad to have some downtime now.

Ms. Marigold and I are friends again now.  I’m past the point I was on the first one, and instead of measuring 35″ in the bust it’s measuring somewhere around 29″ and it fits… so yay for that.  I am doing some waist decreases now, and I’m hoping it turns out well!  I’m wanting to wear this over a little lacy short sleeved shirt, perhaps one with puffy sleeves.  I saw a perfect one at Target yesterday, but alas they did not have my size.  I also need desperately to buy some new tank tops, as all mine have gotten rather shorter over time, but I just hate spending money on clothes, no matter how much I need them.

I ripped my barely started Nantucket Jacket because I didn’t like the fabric I was getting after achieving gauge with Cascade 220.  I swear, I’m having the most trouble finding a yarn for this jacket.  But I still want to make it!  The pattern is just interesting enough to me (you hear me, cable down raglan?)  Interesting enough to me means that I can keep track of it while watching tv.  I’ve just about decided to break down and buy the recommended yarn.  Now that I’ve actually made it through a portion of the pattern I can see how much I like it, so… even if I think it’s overpriced I may go for it.  The question is, what color?

I really like the color used in the model.   I generally tend to stay away from colors that may mimic my hair color though.  I’ve been picturing a nice heathered brown, and they do have one.  The Berroco pure merino heathers are more than the regular yarns, which I think is silly.  But they have a green  I swear that I’m trying not to make everything green, but it’s hard!  I know it’s my best color, and I’m so attracted to anything green that it’s crazy!  And then there’s the dark brown in the regular merino, which I think looks rather plain.  

Plus I now have 2 extra sets of brown yarn (thank God Fitted Knits calls for so much cascade and I can use it up!) so I’m leaning to the green or the orange.  Here’s the nantucket jacket, in case anyone has forgotten.  I’d love opinions!

crafts · knitting

Ms. Marigold: take 2 and Fitted Knits!

I ripped Ms. Marigold and went down to size 4 needles.  I’m now getting exactly 5st/inch (and I’ve been obsessively checking my gauge too!)  I’m now just to the point of making the armholes.  I don’t know if you can tell from the picture, but it’s much smaller.  I will not get paranoid about it being too small now.  Since I apparently think I’m bigger than I am, that probably means it will fit.  Those of you who have made Ms. Marigold… did you do any waist decreases?  I know I’ll definitely add increases for my lower waist, but I’m wondering if it will need any other shaping?

I must be a loose knitter…

In other news, I recieved Fitted Knits by Stefanie Japel in the mail today.  I decided to order it before the other books I’m looking at, because it seemed to have the largest number of designs I would actually make.  I must say that I’m very pleased with the book.  There are a few garments made in oddly bulky yarns or with purl ridges in unflattering places, but overall I’m impressed.  I think the author has a very distinctive style, which I much prefer to generic looking garments.  I took pictures of some of my favorites (because I know that really helped me when I was thinking about buying the book!)

This vest may be my favorite item.  I’m possibly a little obsessed with vests right now, and I adore the unique features (the u neck and the stitch pattern.)

I like this little cardigan, and not just because of the color.  The ties are leaf shaped at the end, so cute!

This is a classic v-neck pullover, but I think the deep ribbing makes it really unique.  I can see myself wearing it!

Love this shrug, mostly because of the turned up neck in the back.  I think it’s a contender for my wedding shrug (all in one color of course!)

Sorry this picture isn’t the greatest.  There are better ones online.  I didn’t like this one online, but it’s really cute in the book.  I love puff sleeves.  I don’t, however, love the shirt they’ve photographed it with  – the collar is distracting.  This would be much cuter with something simpler.

This sweater is very similar to the above.  I would leave the cables off either the sleeves or the body, it’s too busy for me.  I love the shape though, and the angora yarn.

There are a few more designs I like, with some reservations.  I don’t know how good wrap sweaters look on me, and I’m not sure anyone needs extra lines around their waist.  And the t-shirt would have to be sized down, as a size 34 will not have negative ease on me.

Another great thing about this book is the yarn it uses.  It almost exclusively calls for less expensive yarns – Cascade 220, Cascade pima tencel and silk (2 of my favorites!) and even Knitpicks (the red cardi above is knit in merino style.)  I think I even saw some Lion Brand.  This leads me to feel that I can sometimes use the recommended yarns without going broke.  For instance, the cute vest calls for 3 skeins (or so) of Cascade 220 quattro (the marled looking one.)   Merino style is what – $3 a ball?  Although I would probably not use wool for a short sleeved sweater… still that’s a great deal.

I love this book, which is sort of surprising since I’ve never cared for her designs that much before.  These designs are pretty much all simpler than the Cable Down Raglan (which I love, but which I have given up on… I will recycle the pretty yarn into one of the sweaters from this book.) There are some sweaters (which I didn’t photograph) that are bulky with too much extra stuff for my taste, but this book has over 20 sweater designs.  Thank god, I’m so tired of getting books that give me like 5 sweaters and 15 patterns for scarves which I will never use (although I do understand all the work making this many sweater patterns.)  There is also a dress, which I think is cute but not for me, and a suit, which I’m not really feeling… although just the jacket might be cute.

crafts · knitting

Fighting words

Ms. Marigold and I are in a fight.  Why?

I swatched, I swear!  And I got 5 stitches to the inch.  How did I lose an entire stitch?  It’s not because of knitting in the round, because this section was knitted flat.  I’ve decided to blame it on the yarn, which is relatively stretchy.  5 stitches on size 6 needles (so it says)?  I think not!  These are size 5s and I’m not even close!  I’m just glad that I’ve finally started listening to the little voice in my head which says “hmm, that looks big!”

Right now the sweater measures 35″ or a bit more around the bust (right after joining in the round.)   I want negative ease here, and I don’t have it.  I count 136 stitches after joining in the round.  To figure out the size that would be if the gauge were right, I should take that amount and divide by 5, right?  That gives me 27.2, while dividing by  4 gives me 34… slightly smaller than I measure, but the bottom is probably stretched a bit.  That’s the way to figure it, right?  Eh… Marc’s the one with the fancy math degrees.  I’m a musician.  I would wake him up and ask him, but I doubt most people would appreciate a late night alarm by an anxious knitter.

So, to sum up… whoa, that’s a teeny size small if I’m right.  That’s the sort of info that people would like to have before starting a pattern, right?  It’s in line with the sizing numbers I saw for Green Gable on the KAL though, so I don’t really doubt the numbers.

I really like this yarn, which has a nice natural texture.  Having said that, it does look kind of odd in spots.  It almost appears to have ladders in places, which is impossible since it’s not knit in the round.  It’s also clear to me now that 4st/”is too loose, because it appears a little floppy.  If I can’t get gauge or I don’t like the resulting fabric from size 4s, I’ll just use something else for Ms. Marigold (cotton fleece maybe?)

It’s all in the process, right? Off I go to rip and swatch…

crafts · knitting · Life · travel

Happy Ash Wednesday!

I hope everyone had a lovely fat Tuesday!  We had a dinner and then went to Meijer (exciting I know!)

Today is Ash Wednesday, which  means the most  crowded church service of the year (because there’s only one, unlike big holidays) and me playing the song “Ashes” about 900 times.  Plus I have to teach.

Ms. Marigold is coming along.  Marc and I are watching the whole Buffyverse saga together, since he’d never seen them, and we’ve just gotten to the exciting part of Angel Season 4.  We watched 3 episodes last night, which is just unheard of!  I knit on Ms. Marigold.  One more inch and I can join into the round!

Having just knit another sweater with a deep neck (Sahara) I have to say that I much prefer the way that this pattern has you work the armholes.  Sahara had you work them both at once, using 2 different balls of yarn.  I hated that, because the yarn was constantly getting tangled, and I kept getting confused on where to turn around.  In fact, this is why I put down the Fad Classic vest almost immediately after starting.  It makes more sense to me to work them separately and just keep track of how many rows you do.  I think I’ll try that on the vest.  This is why I don’t knit 2 sleeves at once either, or 2 socks.  It makes me batty keeping up with the yarn.

I’ve been so focused on work/life/wedding planning that I’ve just realized that in 2 and a half weeks we will be in Disneyworld!  Marc has a work conference for a few days, and I do not turn down a chance to go for free (well, for cheap… we still have to buy my park ticket.)  I’m usually an obsessed planner about vacations, but I guess I’ve been busy.  Time to get cracking!

crafts · knitting

A new knit!

Some mornings the only thing that keeps me going is coffee in my happy polar bear mug.

Isn’t he awesome?  He’s wearing a scarf!  Marc got him for me for Christmas, and everytime I see him it makes me happy.

Last night I knit another (1) row on the cable down ragland, which took me (no joke) 30 minutes.  I think I am done.  I love top down sweaters and all, but I honestly believe that heavily cabled or lacy garments are easier for me to deal with in pieces.  I started the Nantucket Jacket a bit ago (no photos yet) and it’s fine because it involves seaming.  It isn’t so overwhelming, you know?

I played around with making a Fad Classic vest from Knit and Tonic (I bought the pattern forever ago,) but then I decided that if I wanted a  crochet vest I’d probably just crochet one.  It’s going to be much faster that the lace.  I left it on the needles though, because I might change my mind.  It is, after all, green.

So I started something else, which I do have photos of.

That’s Ms. Marigold in Classic Elite’s Classic Silk.  I’m definitely feeling the yarn love here.  It’s got that nice crunchy silk feel, with enough synthetic (nylon I think)to give the yarn stretch.  Plus I just love the textured look.  It reminds me of silky wool.  Doesn’t the color feel like spring?  Apparently our two weeks of winter are over now, because it’s like 60 degrees out there.  I complain, but I actually like the weather here.  We get a winter, of varying badness but never too bad or too long, and we don’t get the full humidity of the deep south.  Perfect for me!

Does anyone else agonize over what size to make before starting any project?  I usually fall in between the two smallest sizes, so I’m never sure whether to go up or down.  I’ve had a lot of success going down, but in this case I went up.  The pattern seems to lack final sizes in inches, but I’m guessing from some blog entries that it runs small… and I want to be able to layer without feeling like a sausage.  We’ll see!

More and more spring designs are starting to come out.  Mostly I’ve been pretty “meh” about things so far, but here are two that I love:


The design on the left is from Rowan’s Kasbah collection, and on the right is a new Blue Sky Alpaca design (same designer who made the fitted tank.)  As you can see, my wardrobe is conflicted.  Am I bohemian or… a librarian.  Probably more librarian, but I like to lie to myself.  I really want to make that Rowan top though.  There are a few other cute designs in the collection, but this is the one that says “must make now!”  RYC’s new books are out now, and while I usually like them I’m pretty “meh” this time.  I don’t like anything in the new Rowan mag either, although this may be because I can never figure out what anything actually looks like there.

And I know they aren’t new, but I’m still drooling over some Kim Hargreaves kits.  I really wish they were sold as just patterns.

No, I am not yet over the bolero or cropped things in general.  I can’t seem to help myself!  But isn’t the collar here lovely?

crafts · knitting

I’m a weird knitter

 The title says it all. Yesterday (Saturday) I cast on for the Cable Down Raglan.  After a few false starts (what? you want me to cast 108 stitches onto DPNs? I think not!) I think I’ve finally got the gist of the pattern, and I’m exactly halfway through the first pattern repeat.

(this is less knitting than it looks like here, maybe 2-3 inches)

The problem?  I am not having fun. I just find making cables and reading charts to be really tedious.  I don’t mind a cable row every few rows.  That can be fun and make for interesting texture.  The problem comes when I’m having to make bunches of cables every row, and when the chart has a key that I cannot memorize (because they all look similar, and even when looking at them I want to switch them around… and color-coding isn’t helping)  Really, just ask the half-finished Shedir hat that languishes in the windowseat. I seem to be unable to learn this about myself, as I keep attempting cabled projects, getting bored, and quitting.

Another interesting thing about this pattern is the tightness of the guage.  Knitting worsted weight yarn on size 6 needles produces a very dense fabric, which makes nice cables (in theory,) but which I’m not necessarily in love with.  Here’s a closeup of one of the cables.

Sorry it’s all crappy looking, but my cables always look like that.  I think it’s because I don’t like them, so I’m always in a big hurry when they appear.  I know how to cable without a cable needle, but that doesn’t really seem to help my speed any on this project.  And I don’t know why the yarn looks pink here, it’s definitely purple.

So why am I a weird knitter?  Because I love stockinette.  Adore it.  I also love ribbing and textured patterns (I was all about the basketweave pattern in the Jess jacket.)  I like lace so long as it isn’t crazy, because lace has a symmetry that I find soothing.  I love crocheted features.  I don’t even mind seaming that much.  But cables… bah.  They make me crazy.  And charts. I think this is an instance of where my background in counted cross-stitch works against me.  The charts don’t work the same way, and this makes me nuts!

So I don’t know about this sweater.   I’m not going to go frog it immediately or anything, but I’m going to wait and see if I still want to work on it.  I stand very firm in my belief that knitting is supposed to be fun, and I refuse to knit anything I don’t enjoy.  Projects can be given up without guilt!  Of course, I may change my mind, because I’m fickle like that.

Of course, I don’t know what else I’ll knit right now, but I suppose I’ll find something… my list it is long.  For instance, I bought this pattern awhile ago.

It’s from Knitting Pure and simple.  I like the seed stitch border, and I ain’t gonna lie… I am really disappointed that it doesn’t say what yarn this is.  I suspect it may be one of the Rowan DK tweeds.  I don’t actually have an appropriate yarn for this, although I have been looking!

And I’m considering buying Lace Style just for this shrug.

I’m really trying to find something I can make for my wedding, to wear over my shoulders in church (no, it isn’t a rule, I just like the idea of the shrug.) I like rectangle shawls, but I don’t really want to have to fuss with anything.

finished objects · knitting

Blue Sky Cropped Cardigan

I’m kind of embarrassed to post this.  I swear, I do things other than sit around and knit (although admittedly I do that a lot!)  The cropped cardigan is finished.

My best attempt at copying the model photo

Pattern: Cropped Cardigan by Blue Sky Alpacas, size XS

Yarn: Frog Tree Alpaca Sport #12(charcoal), doubled

Needles: US 10.5 and 9

Notes: I think this would be a great beginner sweater.  Since it’s knit with doubled yarn on big needles, and since it has neither long sleeves nor a full length, it’s the fastest knit sweater I’ve ever made by far.  I swear, I wasn’t even trying to finish this thing!  It just sort of happened.   I followed the pattern exactly as written except for the needle sizes.  I was really nervous about making an alpaca sweater.  My verdict?  Not itchy.  It was slightly itchy, although not horribly so, before I washed and conditioned it, but now there’s no real itch factor.  I am not someone who is sensitive to such things anyway, so YMMV.  Apparently I don’t have a sensitive nose either, because while Marc could smell the “wet alpaca” smell during blocking, all I smelled was hair conditioner.  I wore it around for awhile to see if it would overheat me, but then I remembered – I’m the pianist at church who spends every homily in the bathroom trying to thaw out her fingers.  I have issues with the cold, so I’m not sure I can be overheated.  I loved knitting with the alpaca so much – it felt like butter sliding through my fingers.  I’m definitely going to be making another alpaca sweater soon!

The edges rolled before blocking, but they settled in pretty nicely.  I also like it with a pin.


This is a nice wardrobe basic for me.  I actually don’t have any other sweaters this color – I don’t buy black because of the cats, and I think this is a nice compromise.

Does anyone else have cats that go crazy over alpaca?  My cats are totally obsessed with it.  They want to smell it, and roll around in it, and I even think they would eat it given the chance.

crafts · finished objects · knitting · yarn


I promised pictures of Sahara today, and I deliver – even if it is snowing like mad!


This one says “The neighbors just came out, and they clearly think we’ve gone mad.”

Ok, the stats

Pattern: Sahara, from Stitch diva

Size: Small

Yarn: Cascade Pima Silk

Needles: US Sizes 6 and 4

Notes: This one blocked out a bit nicer than I thought.  The yarn is really gorgeous, and I would definitely use it again.  I love the color.  The hem in the front wants to pull up a bit because of the neckline, so I’m still considering redoing the hemline on smaller needles.. . although probably I’m going to leave it alone.  I think the neckline is definitely the best feature.  I really wish I could wear it without a tank underneath, but I don’t like seeing my bra through the lace (even a flesh toned bra) so I don’t think that will work.  I’m not that big on layering, I always feel lumpy.

My only real modification was the sleeves, which I made elbow length to cover up the too big armholes.  I think I like them better that length anyway.

I’m going to call this sweater a success overall – it’s cute, and did I mention I love the color?  I think I’ll wear it to work tonight and see if anyone accuses me of making it myself.  Hee.

Moving on, the cropped cardigan will be done in the next day or two.  This is a really simple pattern, but so far I love the results (I’ve just finished the body.)  After that I’m going to make the Cable down raglan from the new Interweave.  I got my yarn today!

That’s the recommended yarn.  I love the color, which is a little more gray than it looks here.  I think I’m going to make the 31″ size.  The modeled size is 34, and I think it’s a little bit big for the model.  I hope that works out for me.  The yarn I bought is really lovely and soft, and I can see how the cables will look nice in it – the twist seems to be tighter than most merinos.  And it’s superwash, although I will not be machine washing any of my handknits ever.

I’m going to go back to my cardigan now!

crafts · Crochet · knitting

Upcoming books…

I don’t usually get too excited about knitting books.  I have quite a few in my collection, but I find that I’m more likely to actually make something from an online pattern or a magazine.  But this book… I need it!

That’s right… it’s Mr. Funky’s Super Crochet Wonderful! What is that creature on the left – is it a hampster?  A mouse?  A gerbil?  Well, whatever it is, it’s wearing a purse, and I need to make one.

Of course, I was at Amazon repeatedly adding to my cart, and then removing, Stephanie Japel’s Fitted Knits.

When I first heard this book was coming out, I was not at all excited.  Other than the Simple Knitted Bodice (which I won’t be making because I fear the sizing issues,) her designs haven’t really appealed to me that much.   Too many bobbles etc thrown in there… I’m more of a simple girl.  But then I saw pictures of the projects, and now I must own it.  There’s a vest pattern I adore, and several really cute cardigan sweaters (the cardigan owns me!)  Plus, everything top down?  I’m all about that.

I’m interested in “No Sheep for you” and “Lace style” as well, but Amazon doesn’t have them in stock yet.    I think I’ll need to see them in person to decide if I “need them,” and besides, the library will no doubt get some copies, as they seem to buy tons of all the Interweave press books and magazines.