Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Autumn That Cannot Make Up Her Mind

It is really warm around here, in the high 70's and we're 2 days away from October. Last week there was a hint of Autumn, and everyone felt it. Then the next day it was back to Indian summer again. The Autumn doesn't seem to be able to make up her mind.

I could hardly make up my mind either with this gradient yarn I'd dyed and spun. At first, I thought I'd just make it a large cowl with a light color yarn from stash and see how it goes. I found Quince & Co.'s Chickadee in color petal that was exactly what I had in mind. Aimlessly I began to knit.  I found a motif in one of my all time favorite knitting book - The Complete Book of Traditional Scandinavian Knitting.

Then the cowl got taller, and I started seeing it as part of a sweater.  As luck would have it, I knitted the cowl exactly the same size as a sweater for me, hmmm... unconscious coincedence??

I thought, "How about making it into the lower part of a pullover and I can just knit the yoke and sleeves in solid color?"

You know those kids that like to daydream in class when teachers just drone on and on.  Well, I was that kid.  Daydreaming was my specialty.  Even a teacher once commented it, and definitely not as complement.  So my mind started to wander as I knitted and stared at the motif.  A week into the knitting, I decided I wanted an all-over motif pullover. But with only 305 yards of sports/DK weight, there was no way I could do it.  Not even a shrug.

No matter, I figured if I could dye up the first 4 oz of fiber, I could dye up more to match.  Well, match they weren't. The second 4 oz of Corriedale came out too saturated and darker.  No big deal.  I went on and spun that plus the third 4 oz that was shades of burgundy to brown-burgundy for the yoke section. To spin for sleeves, I splited the fiber into halves length-wise and spun each half separately for each sleeve. Same as the original fiber, I spun it longdraw and n-ply.  The third 4 oz was spun without splitting, but alas it came out much thicker.  Oh well, that seemed to be the story of this sweater, nothing goes according to the non-plan.

While spinning the newly dyed fiber, I placed an order for more Chickadee for the sweater.

After knitting the lower body with original yarn and finished the sleeves, I realized I wanted a cardigan, not a pullover. Now the most predictable thing with this sweater was things would keep on changing. I joined the sleeves with the beginning of round placed at the center of front.

I proceeded to make raglan shaping for the yoke/sleeves. While knitting, the idea of curved lower front edges came to me. That and a plain color stand up collar, in Chickadee and perhaps with texture.

When I first started the knitting I began with garter borders at the bottom, which wasn't gonna work with the curved edge. So I put a life line through the first row and cut the bottom edge. It all went without incident.

The steeking was fun. Because I didn't have extra stitches for steeking, I had to make sure I was sewing straight and cutting straight. For the curve corner, I used a big plate to trace out the bottom edge, and then edited it to get  more open curves. The disappearing marker sure came in handy.

Deciding between garter border, seed stitch border, and I-Cord edging, I went with I-Cord for a sleeker look. Initially I did 3 stitches I-cord, but realized it was not good proportion to the cardigan after 10 inches of it. So I ripped back redid it with 5 stitches I-Cord. Much better.

On the morning that I was to do the collar, I woke up with the idea of adding a simple pattern with the 30 yards leftover yarn instead of plain color.  Flipping through my knitting books, I settled on the Woven Polka Dot from A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns. It was the first time I ever used this stitch and I loved it, both knitting the stitch and how it looked with rest of the sweater.

I bought 4 toggle buttons that were to be used for the closure, thinking for sure that was what I wanted for the front closure.

With the I-Cord edging and the collars in place, I blocked the sweater and laid it dry by the window.  Because it had been so warm and sunny, it only took a day to dry. I tried on the sweater and realized the toggles would make it look too "craftsy," yikes. On the other hand, a zipper would finish it with a cleaner look, not to mention more wearable for me. Off to the the fabric store I went, but of course they didn't have the right zipper. They never do. The only fabric store in town is more a quilting shop. I ended up driving over the hill back to Joann's for the 16" zipper. This time I bought 3 different kind just in case the first one wasn't gonna work.  Ha, I finally learned how to deal with my constant changing mind.

Not too skillful at sewing, I took my time to think about how to attach it neatly and prepared myself to be patient. First I pinned the zippers to the right places, and fidgeted around a few times after trying on. Before sewing I used the disappearing marker to randomly mark the back of zipper and on corresponding side on the wrong side of sweater next to it. This truly ensure I was sewing zipper at the right spot since the two fronts needed to match up with the motifs.  I handsewn the zipper with Chicadee yarn. It came out better than I expected.

With all the twist and turns on the making of this sweater, one thing I do know for sure is I really, really like it. It's probably a bit too colorful for my regular wardrobe, but I can deal with that. Now I just have to wait 'till Autumn gets here to really wear it.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Firefighting In Action

There is a forest fire very close to our house.  Helicopters have been flying over our house non-stop for nearly 2 hours now (sometimes directly over the house,) scooping water from the lake.  I believe there are at least 4 of them flying, perhaps more. It looks like it's probably less than 2 miles away from our house, judging from the report of local paper I read. It is probably very close if not on my jogging route that I was just on this morning.

Good thing the firefighters/forest service seem to be on top of it.  After the big fire few years ago that burned down hundred of homes here in Tahoe, we're all very jittery when we see fire. Of course, I always see cigarette butts on the trails behind our house...

Here are some shots I took from my balcony.  Hoping there will be no evacuation notice.

The TV news is also reporting a bigger fire down in the Carson valley....

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Contours Wristwarmers

First time I volunteered to test knit something.  It was not out of virtuous motive, I was totally lusting after the pattern when I first saw it.

Chris, aka Doodle on Ravelry made these beautiful Wristwarmers few weeks ago, and I really wanted a pair for myself.  After drooling over it for a while, last week I began post stalking her on Ravelry to see if she'd need testers. Sure enough, she posted the casting call this week for Contour Wristwarmers. I jumped on the chance even though I'd never test knitted before, and never wanted to until now. She was very sweet to let me do it.

I always knew when I make them it's going to be darker red to brighten up the wintry days. Initially I had Elann Baby Cashmere in mind, but decided to go with The Plucky Knitters Primo instead, glad I did.  The color is really gorgeous to show off the beautiful cables.

I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed knitting these and how clearly written the pattern was. I felt like a useless tester for not seeing any problem with the pattern. The cables were so addictive that I stayed up late at night to knit them.

Now I want more pairs of different colors to go with different clothes!