cats · crafts · finished objects · knitting

FO: Flutter sleeve cardigan

Pattern: Flutter Sleeve cardigan by Pam Allen, Interweave Knits Sping  2008

Yarn: O wool Balance in Lapis

Needles: US 5, 4, 2

Notes: This sweater turned out so much better than I expected! I liked the sweater in the magazine, but I didn’t think it looked too great in the Knitting Daily Gallery. Even so, I had the perfect yarn, and exactly two perfect buttons, so I gave it a go. The smallest size in the magazine is a 36, which would have been large on me, so I removed around 18 stitches in order to make a size 32. It wasn’t too hard to make the adjustment. I knit fewer rows in the ribbing section, because my row gauge was larger than the pattern – I ended up with 20 rows instead of 24.

The pattern was clear and easy to follow. It did have rather a lot of finishing, which I don’t love, so keep that in mind – for instance, the button bands are knit separately and seamed onto the fronts, and you have to knit two little tabs and sew them on for the cuffs. The buttonholes are the only problem – the holes the pattern calls for wind up rather loose and stretchy, as you may be able to see in my photos. I don’t really care about that – I may sew them up a little bit, or I may not. I’m fine with it as is, but if I could do it again I would use a different buttonhole.

Unlike the sweater in the magazine, mine does not have a ton of extra fabric under the arms – there is a little, but not in a bad way. I think that’s because I chose to have negative ease – about one inch. Postive ease, due to the way the sweater is constructed, is going to probably give a lot of extra stuff under the arms.

I love this sweater for my body type – I am short waisted but have a long torso. For the record, the ribbing is hitting near my natural waist – only the top part is on my rib cage. I love empire waists because they are very flattering on me, but if I were longer waisted I would probably choose to make the ribbing happen closer to my waist.

The yarn was nice, but it wasn’t my favorite ever. It contained a lot of vegetable matter, and was a little harsh/dry to knit with. I could not really feel the wool content, to me it was like a slightly tweedy cotton. It was impossible to sew with (kept breaking) so half the sweater is seamed with a different yarn. I love the tweedy appearance, but I would most likely not use it again.

In the grand tradition of having cats appear in my FO posts, I would like to present the newest member of our kitty family, Sarah Jane.

She was found hiding near the expressway by a friend, nearly starved to death without any claws (even in the back.) She weighed only 6 pounds when we took her to the vet. She was clearly someone’s pet – in addition to the lack of claws she’s the sweetest kitty ever – her favorite place to sleep is curled up on top of my chest. We could not find her owner after an effort, and she is not microchipped, so now I suppose she’s ours! The vet says she’s somewhere between 2 and 7, it may become more clear when she gains some weight and her fur starts to look nicer – we gave her a bath, but starvation and living outside are not nice to kitties.

Bonus points if you guess where we got her name!

books · cats · crafts · Crochet · knitting · patterns

Everyday Crochet: Book Review

I’ve had several kind people email me to ask me about how Leon is doing, so I thought I would give an update.

He turns out to have crystals in his urine (poor kitty!)  We’ve had to switch him to special food, and he promptly went on a hunger strike for 3 days.  I can’t say I blame him… the name “urinary so” does not exactly seem appetizing.  In fact, the only way he was willing to eat for awhile was if I actually fed him the new food.  But he’s better now, if not exactly happy, and we’ve bought him one of those kitty water fountains to encourage him to drink lots of water.   I’m just glad we got him to the vet before the condition got really serious.  If you have a cat (especially a male) be aware of this condition – I wasn’t, because I’ve always had female cats before.

Thank you to everyone who asked after him – I’m sure he appreciates it when I tell him people are worried!

I was really happy to get my copy of the new IK yesterday afternoon.  I’ve already posted my thoughts on most of the designs, but I do have a few surprising dislikes and likes.  I don’t really care for the cover sweater – I think it’s all that reverse stockinette, plus it is similar to several other sweaters in the issue I like better.  I surprisingly like the Aleita shell, and I’m trying to think up a good yarn substitute.  The hexacomb cardigan is even prettier larger, as is the printed silk cardigan – I must find a sub yarn for that one, I simply love it!  I love the flutter sleeved cardigan as well, although I do have a dilemma… do I go with the smallest size (36) or try to make a smaller one?  I think I will wait to see it modeled in the Knitting Daily galleries (don’t you love those?) so I can see if it will fit me.  It is a pretty forgiving style.

I liked the camisole enough to assign it yarn.  I know the lace panel is impractical, but I love the style, and I won’t wear it without a tank underneath anyway.  All in all it may be one of my favorite Interweave issues ever!

I’m still knitting on my sweaters, and getting nervous about running out of yarn for the lush cardigan – but that’s ok if I do, I can always find something to order from WEBs, right?  For instance, I’ve been amassing  Mission Falls wool for an afghan for awhile.  Here’s what I have so far:

I’m still not sure if I want to do the block a month CAL yet or not… I like the idea, but will I like the finished product?

Today I am wearing my “Not so shrunken” cardigan made of Silky Wool.  Everytime I wear it I get to wondering why I don’t use this yarn more, since I think it’s so lovely to wear.  I now have 3 sweaters worth of the stuff, but I do have plans!  Tangled yoke cardigan, the feather and fan sweater from the new Classic Elite “Make it modern” book, and… something.  Maybe a shawl.

Ok, enough of the pretty, and onto my book review!

Everyday Crochet by Doris Chan

I didn’t really get Doris Chan’s last book, Amazing Crochet Lace, so I approached this one with some trepidation, fearing more giant doilies (I like doilies, but I like them in their proper size.)  This book was a real surprise to me – it’s full of lovely wearable designs, without an exploded doily in sight!  In the forward to the book, Doris Chan explains how the garments are constructed – top down – and talks a bit about how to tailor them to your body type.   She also explains why all the designs in the book use some variation of the shell stitch, something which in my opinion is the limitation of the book.  She comes across as very enthusiastic and encouraging in the introduction, and I was anxious to get along to the designs.

There are (IMO) very few missteps in the book.  Nearly all the designs are tastefully done, made of smooth yarn (not a fun fur in sight!) and are well fitted to the models.  Many of the designs share the same beginning steps, and she then explains how to vary the designs to get different sweaters.  It’s very approachable for the crocheter looking to branch out into wearables for the first time.

The yarns used vary from expensive (Tahki  new tweed) to cheap (Simply soft shadows) but in general probably fall more on the pricey end.  This, for me, is really nice, because it breaks the stereotype that crochet must be made of acrylic yarns.  She even talks about the properties of different types of yarns, and I am intrigued (for instance) by the thought of using a bamboo yarn to crochet – think of the nice drape!

The book is divided into several sections – pullovers, cardigans, vests, jackets, and belts.  All except the last section are excellent.  The pullover section contains 2 nice tanks, variations of one another, and a few pullover sweaters, including one (Jewel) which I have seen a really pretty version of on ravelry.

The cardigans are my favorites, which is unfortunate because it is here that the sizing breaks down.  Most items in the book have a finished small size of around 33″, which is fine, but the cardigans are several inches larger.  I can probably get around this by using a thinner yarn, but it is disappointing.  Fortunately, the ones I like are somewhat versatile in fit.  They all employ either ties or a type of button hook that the book shows you how to make.  I love Mei Mei (the cover sweater above) as well as the two cardigans below.

These sweaters are from the vest section, and are (imo) just lovely, especially the one with the cowl neck (this is the simply soft shadows sweater… how lovely, I would totally wear that!)  I actually have 2 balls of that yarn, in that exact color, although I don’t know that I really want a simply soft tunic.

Was anyone else as big a fan of the Mary Tyler Moore show as I was?  I still love watching it, and I always wished I was a Rhoda, although truthfully I’m probably a Mary.  This may explain why I am so attracted to the vests below:

I don’t say that in a derogatory way… Rhoda would have totally rocked that vest to the right, and she would have been fierce, yes?  I, however, as a Mary… not so much.  I could probably handle the scaled down version to the left.

I’m giving this book a firm recommendation.  The sizing isn’t the greatest at the smaller end, but it isn’t terrible.  Most of the garments are pretty and wearable.  There are a lot of shells, but she varies the treatment enough that it doesn’t get repetitive.  If you’re a crocheter looking for pretty, wearable sweaters, this is worth a purchase.

I’m planning several sweaters, starting with the first cardigan I showed (the one with the ties) out of Valley Yarns Southwick (I really want to try crochet with bamboo!)

cats · crafts · knitting · Life · wedding · yarn

I’m calm… no, really

I keep telling people that I am not freaking out, but I’m not sure that they really believe me.  After all, my wedding is on Friday after all!  Everything is going pretty smoothly, although my relationship with the caterer seems to be quickly souring.

First, the on topic knitty stuff, then onto wedding!

I bought some Garnstudio Eskimo on the cheap, because I want to make this cardigan.   This yarn smells straight up like sheep, which to be honest kind of freaks me out (am I the only knitter who doesn’t like this?  People are always saying how much they love natural smelling yarn, but I am not such a fan.)  The cat, however, is totally fascinated by the stuff.  I’m not sure… maybe I will wash it? (And to answer the questions about this, I use my swift to get the yarn into hanks (is this the right word?), tie it in a few places so it won’t tangle, and then soak it in woolwash and hang to dry.)

WIP update!  I have finished all the pieces of my Nantucket jacket.  I need to block the pieces above, and then I can get to seaming.  This may or may not happen before the wedding, depending on what else I have to do.  It certainly can’t happen until I get my table cleared off!  The entrelac scarf continues, and I still just adore making it.  The photo above is slightly above one ball of SWS.  I bought 4, which looks like it will make a nice long scarf.

Wedding checklist: I have come up with a simple centerpiece (we got all the tiles, vases etc from friends who got married last year.)

Yes, those are coffee beans in here.  I left that one lit for hours, so that I could make sure it wouldn’t burn or smell.  It doesn’t.

Our escort cards and seating chart are done:

One of my best friends who is a fellow Catholic music person is both playing the music and made the worship aids.  He worked very hard on them, and they are so nice!  I think it will make the mass much easier on my (mostly) non Catholic family.  He’s also handling rehearsals with the musicians (we are having violin, flute and a cantor, and one of my best students is singing Ave Maria.)

I have made a little card that lists directions to the reception (unfortunately it requires highway travel) and lists the members of the bridal party.   Of course, the most important part is the little bride and groom robots I placed there!

I know, computer picture is not good, but I need to still print these off.  That quote is from star trek!  Let’s see if anyone notices who Leonard McCoy is.

Other than that… it’s all pretty good!  We can drop off most of our things at the reception venue tomorrow, and they will set them up.  I still need to get a few gifts for people who have helped us with the wedding, and Marc needs to finish up his favors.  I thought today was Wednesday all morning, so I was really happy to realize it was only Tuesday!  I think we should be ready in plenty of time (knock on wood!)

The most important part?  Leon is so happy when we get presents in the mail!

cats · crafts · knitting · yarn

Deciding is hard…

The worst part about finishing a project for me is that I have to decide on the next.  I have so many that I want to make, it’s really hard for me to commit.  In the past two days I’ve worked on my Boteh Scarf (nearly finished, but crochet hurts me sometimes) and done some swatching.  I actually cast on for the Summertime Tunic in the current Interweave Knits, but I’m not sure that the style would suit me, and that is an awful lot of stockinette for something that may not suit.

I swatched for Orangina in the blue cotton I bought yesterday, and I am very happy with the results.  I plan on leaving 2 pattern repeats out to make the sweater smaller.

I’ve also decided which yarn I will use to make the Bedjacket from Knitting Lingerie Style.  This is cotton fleece in Peridot.

It’s actually a bit lighter than it looks there.  And yes, I have a cotton fleece problem.  Now I have to decide which size to make.  The two smallest are 30″ and 34.5″ and that’s a big gap. I’ll have to think about it some.  I don’t mind starting this before the KAL begins, because I’m also planning on making the lace top in some discontinued Debbie Bliss cotton DK.

I think Dionne is so sweet when she lies on the radiators.  I don’t think she enjoys being snuck up on with a camera when she’s stalking Peacocks.  They keep Peacocks in the cemetary at the end of the street, and they are always escaping, much to Dionne’s delight.

cats · crafts · knitting · yarn

I never learn…

I am always being seduced by tweedy yarns.  I adore the texture and the little flecks of color, and I have all these images in my head of delightful structured jackets.  What I completely forget,  of course, is how much I loathe knitting with tweeds (Rowan felted tweed is the exception to this rule.)  I hate the dry feeling, and the way they stick to even the slickest of needles.  I hate how hard it is to get even looking stitches.  And I hate how careful of my wrists I have to be.  And so… my summer tweed sweater is going into hiding for a bit now.

I’ve knitted half of the back twice now (I had some chart problems) and I cannot bear another stitch.  Ugh.  I still love the pattern, I’m just trying to think of some decent subs.  I suppose I’ll have to try knitting a bigger size at a smaller gauge… That is the black hole of my knitting by the way… it’s where all the projects I get tired of go when I can’t bear to rip them yet.

On a happier subject, I have finished nearly half of the bottom panel of Lorelei.  I love it!

Friday is my day off, and with Marc out of town it has been a lazy day for Leon and I.

He looks so happy when he’s asleep!

cats · crafts · finished objects · knitting

FO: Drops Design Bolero

Pattern: Free from Drops design here, size S

Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton Ease in Almond, 3 skeins

Needles: Size 7 and 8 US

Notes: The pattern was very clear and easy to follow.  I did not have any trouble with the English version.  My only regret is possibly the yarn choice.  I like Cotton Ease, and this pattern knitted to the recommended tension on the ball, but I can’t help but think that this yarn would do better knitted on smaller needles.  It has a distressing tendency towards unevenness in places, which I can only blame on the tension being too loose.  I am not happy with one of my shoulder seams, but this is because I changed methods of shaping halfway through – the 2nd method (slipping stitches) was better.  I can live with them.  I do wonder if something other than mattress stitch might be nice for armholes, as I feel there is a quite bulky seam.  I usually seam with the selvedge stitch, but in this case I went 1/2 stitch farther in for a nicer line.  I don’t think I would do that again.  The moss stitch has completely caused the buttonholes to disappear, but I’m happy with my solution of a pin.  I also like this sweater without any fastening.

I wore this sweater to church tonight and received compliments from people who weren’t aware that I make my own clothes, so I am feeling better about it than I was at first.  I think I will wear it often, and it isn’t bad for a week’s effort (I love short sweaters!)

And now, a gratuitous cute cat photo.  Dionne lying on the bed this afternoon.  I think she looks so pretty against those colors!

cats · crafts · knitting

Sunday blues…

Leon says “Hi,” and he hopes that your Sunday is going better than his.

It’s hard being a cat.

Marc’s sister (my future SIL!) and her husband stayed with us last night, as they were in town for a wedding.  It was good times.  I find it amazing that I’m marrying the one man I’ve dated whose family I actually like.  It’s kind of nice, I have to tell you.

Last night I sat up in bed and knit on Fad Classic for a bit.  I’m almost to the point where you join the front and back (yay!) and I’m really hoping that it’s going to turn out ok.  Here’s the terrible photo.

It’s actually smaller than it looks there.  The only problem that I’m having is that the pattern seems to feel I should be on row 1 of the pattern, but I’m on row 3.  I need to get to row 1 before joining, so I think I’ll add an extra 2 rows.  Oh well, it’s pretty teeny looking anyway.

I have to go back to church now, because we’re having a mission for Lent and I have to play.  I’m really glad this came up, because I’ll be missing all my services this next weekend, while we’re in Florida.  Off I go!

cats · knitting · Life · yarn


After my crappy crappy day yesterday (did I mention my sad attempt to find the new IW knits?) Something came in the mail to make me feel better.

Blue sky organic cotton in Thistle.  I’m going to make their Fitted Tank pattern once the weather starts to warm up. (Yes, I’m using the recommended yarn, isn’t that crazy?)

Of course, this yarn is the backordered part of my last WEBS order (the one that UPS won’t deliver) and was shipped a week after the other yarn.  I swear, I need to start some sort of USPS fan club.  My postman never lets me down!

I spend a lot of time taking photos on either the dining table or a nearby radiator.  Today I realized that I always look down and see the exact same thing.

Poor Leon.  He wants in on the action.
Today is apparently “fix things” day around here.  The dining room looks like this; we’re rehanging this door, which won’t shut properly.

(ignore the dust bunnies please, and look at Leon’s tail above… constant vigilance is required so that they don’t rise up and kill us in our sleep)

cats · crafts · finished objects · knitting


Wicked is finally finished, and I couldn’t be more pleased!

Leon wanted to help me model.

But he takes up too much room.  Ok, here are the stats!

Pattern: Wicked, from Zephyr Style.

Size: XS

Yarn: Debbie Bliss merino aran#503, 8 balls

Needles: Size 7s for the body and 8s for the lower ribbing.

Mods and Notes: This was a really fast knit, but it took forever for me to finish it to my standards.  I think the original pattern is really too short in the body.  I don’t like wearing shirts under my sweaters,  so I ripped it out after finishing and added an inch.  I also changed from my first bind off of a K3P1 rib to the crossover rib, since it’s more stretchy.  I did the lower ribbing on size 8 needles, to ensure that it wasn’t tight (my first try was kind of snug) and it turned out perfectly!  I’ll remember this tip when knitting the other two zephyr patterns on my list (Glee and Ms. Marigold) since I had the same issues with my Rusted Root sweater.  I think the next size up would have been too big all over.  I left off the pocket, and I’m glad I did considering my fit issues.  Overall I’m pleasantly surprised – a few days ago I was ready to give up, but now I have a lovely sweater to wear in the last month of winter.

Some more gratuitous sweater shots

And Leon (yes, again… I’m in full on crazy cat lady mode today) sleeping under the sweater.