My first FO for the NaKniSweMoDo KAL is completed.
This was a very nice project, and the Tess Silk & Merino worked well for it. Although I was disappointed to discover subtle changes in the dying as I knit, I was able to balance out the variations so that they look ok for the sweater as a whole. The sweater took nearly 5 of my 6 skeins. (Someone special will end up with a lovely cowl, eventually.)
I used KnitPicks Options interchangeable needles in size 4 US for the body and 2 US for the garter edging.
I also modified the original pattern, Cable-wise Cashmere from A Knitter's Stash, by adding side shaping and knitting the body in the round to the armholes and then flat after that. I also added short-row shaping to the shoulders. I knitted the sleeves in the round until the caps, and then flat after that.
I love the way the sweater fits:
The sleeve length is perfect, perhaps helped by the cables at the forearms that make it "stick" to my arm, and I like the body shape. I'll be using this as a model for my next two sweaters, which will be self-designed.
Ed has managed to improve his picture-taking with my new camera. Now I have to learn to smile with a little more radiance (and get that dorky look off my face).
Certain words amuse me.Because I spend much of my day trying to make academic prose
understandable to beginning students, I’m attuned to jargon.When possible, I try to use everyday
words instead, and in the realm of the book I’m working on, I can make convincing
arguments to replace such offensive expressions as “bottomlinewise”, “distributional
effect”, and “adolescent transitional status”.I don’t do as well in real life, although I wish I could
expunge grotesque terms that creep into popular speech.If I ever became dictator that
would be my first pronouncement—anyone who used “bottomlinewise”or any other word on the official
do-not-use list would be subject to capital punishment.Back in about 1971 when I lost my job,
I began to freelance.On a
subsequent job interview, my soon-to-be colleague asked me how I got the work,
and I said that I simply called everyone I knew and asked for assignments.It was only decades later that I
discovered this was “networking”—a word I never use.I frequently did two or more things at once, and only in
recent decades learned that this was “multitasking”.
I decided to start Sweater #2 before finishing Sweater
#1.This is not startitis, but
prudent use of my time (and definitely not multitasking). And I am not succumbing to second-sleeve syndrome (say that fast a few times). The Tess Silk & Wool takes about
two days to dry, and even though I have a way to go to finish Sleeve #2
I will be left with knitless nights if I don’t have
something to work on while it is blocking.So I started my original sweater design in the Aurora 8 yarn
that I recently acquired.
doesn’t look like much yet, but I thought it was impressive that I got this far
on the bottom ribbing one night’s knitting, in addition to planning out the
body with the help of my very large swatch.Well, things will require
some effort after I reach the armholes, but I know what it will look like until
I get there.
I am using the measurements and shape from Sweater #1 as a
guide, but I’m letting the pattern stitch do the shaping for me.The plain ribbing will extend about 5
inches below the waist, and then I’ll start the knot cables.This pattern pulls in a lot, and it
will give me a fitted bodice without any fuss.
There was another important second in our household this
weekend.My son has decided to
play competitive Scrabble, and he went to his first contest—coming in
second!Not bad for his first try.I always thought I was a pretty good
wordsmith, and I taught him all I knew when he was just a teen. Now I’m downgraded to a “living room player”, which is how the
competitive players view those of us who simply play a good, modestly friendly
game.Much to Will’s dismay,
I stubbornly stick to playing words I know and can use in a sentence, and not
those arcane words in the Scrabble Dictionary.He should know better than to think otherwise.
I made major strides toward completing Sweater #1 yesterday
and today (when I should have been working).I didn’t feel up to the challenge of the neck edge on
Wednesday and Thursday, and so I began the sleeves.But I could see a bottleneck ahead because I need the
blocked body to verify my sleeve length.I’m not falling for the mistake I made with Liv—blocking the sleeves and
then finding out they are too long.I
need to measure my gauge again on something big, and the blocked sweater body
fills the bill.
So tired or not, it was time to finish the front neck edge.I also ripped out the back neck edge, which was done, so I could make it higher.I changed the pattern so that there would be neck and shoulder shaping—there is none in the original—but my first guess on where the back should end wasn’t quite right.And then I used a three-needle bind-off to attach the shoulders.By 11:30 on Friday, my sweater looked like this.
And it looked great when I tried it on.
The neck edge is supposed to have two rows of purl, as a
kind of reverse garter stitch, mirroring the bottom edge.But the bottom edge is fluted because
of the pattern, and I didn’t want the neck edge to ripple.
The neck edging must be tighter.
The neck edge is supposed to be knit on smaller needles, and I
had been using U.S. 2s for the bottom edges of the body and sleeves.But
when I started to pick up the neck edge in size 2, I ran into problems.First, I picked up the stitches on a
32-inch circular needle, only to realize that it would be too big for the
task.KnitPicks doesn’t have a 16”
Harmony circular in size 2, so I looked for one I owned and started using
it.The cable was awful (the Harmony circular cables have spoiled me), and the
neck edge didn’t look right.Because
the cable was so inflexible, I began to knit too loosely.So I tried a third time with U.S. 1s on
Harmony DPNs, doing the bind-off in size 3’s to be sure it didn’t pull.This was a bit fiddly because I needed
all six of the KnitPicks needles for the neck, but it worked like a charm:
This, by the way, is the closest I’ve managed to come to the
rich ruby color of the yarn.
Complicating things even further was Addi.She decided to explore this morning,
and while I had stitches falling off my DPNs, she began to crawl on my legs, examine the underside of my wooden kitchen table, and poke around in my layer cake pans.
And I used to think it was
a pain to knit with cats around.
The cable error in NaKniSweMoDo Sweater #1 was costly.I’m one repeat away from the armholes
exactly where I was last week at this time.Finishing by January 31 is looking
elusive, but if I play my cards right, Sweater #2 will act as the faster next runner
in a relay and get me back on track.
I also lost time this week because I spent an evening
balancing my checkbook and attending to the delightful task of paying my
quarterly taxes, among other bills.Chores like these suck up a surprising amount of time, but I have to
monitor my expenses carefully in quarterly tax months because they’re so
challenging to get through.I
still have local taxes due at the end of the month, but I was feeling pretty
good since I had the funds to pay for everything.This hasn’t always been the case—and I truly sympathize with
those who are having financial problems now.Our household had similar setbacks in the 1991 recession—and
at this time in that year I had just $40 in the bank.Be assured that you will get through it all, and you may be
stronger at the end of your ordeal.
But on Wednesday night, I wasn’t ready to knit until almost
10 PM.At that point, I didn’t have
the alertness to frog carefully, put the 200+ stitches back on the needle, and begin
reknitting.So I watched CSI New
York instead.This is my least
favorite CSI show, and I was annoyed that I had nothing else to knit.So last night I solved the prospect of
another knitless night and my lost time—I swatched for Sweater #2.
There are many stitch patterns that I’ve liked over the
years but never used.Sweaters #2 and #3 will be self-designed, and that will give me a chance
to work with at least one.The pattern I chose comes from Barbara Abbey’s book:
This is out of print, but available used at reasonable
prices.Even though it looks
old-fashioned, it is a great resource and has an excellent, but small stitch
dictionary at the end.I’ve never
seen this pattern anywhere else (although I’m sure it exists in dictionaries I
I was enchanted with the Aurora 8 yarn, which I swatched in
plain stockinette as well as in the pattern stitch.Although it is a cable pattern, it is really little more
than fancy 2x2 ribbing.I’ll probably
build off the shape of Sweater #1 and let the bottom knot fall at my waist,
just as the first cable in the red sweater does.I’m not sure about shaping because the cable knot will
pull in more than the plain ribbing alone.As soon as I’m done writing this, the swatches will go for a soak and
then a blocking.And then I’ll
work out the sweater shaping details.
For now, there is plenty to do on Sweater #1, and if I can
complete the front and back this week, I just may come close to a January
The last two nights on Sweater #1 haven’t been very
productive, and tonight won’t be either.I’m using up the cushion of “extra” time I had for my first sweater to
correct a very dumb mistake.This
is where I curse myself and vow I’ll never knit anything easy again.On more complex patterns I have to pay
attention.Simple knitting lulls
me into a state of complacency.If
I’m going to screw up, I feel better about it if the knitting were difficult.
As I proceeded to knit the sweater in the round, I reflected
that it was the first sweater that I didn’t knit as flat pieces.I was so pleased that the front and
back would be done at the same time that my pride got the better of me.I had carefully marked the beginning of
a round and the side “seam” so I’d know where I was.I also know that when cabling in the round, there is no purl
side, but just a round of plain knit on the rows that would be purl when knitting flat—I managed this
quite successfully in cabled socks.But as I got engrossed in the audiobook of World Without End, I had a
sneaking hunch that I began to cable too early.But then I looked at my work and saw that everything was
On Monday, I noticed that everything was not fine.The newest cable was too close to the
one below it.I just had enough
time before I went to bed to frog about eight rows.And yesterday I knit them back, only to end up with the very
same problem.It is most obvious
on the right, where the two birch needles show that there are fewer rows in
the top cable than the bottom.
I think the mistake is somewhere in the cable below, where
the black needle is.I shortened a
round either by forgetting the row of plain knit stitches or beginning a cable twist when I was only halfway around and not at the start.So tonight I need to frog again and drop down more
rows.I suppose there is some way
to correct this without undoing all the knitting, but that never works for
me.I try it, end up with a mess,
and then frog anyway.So it might
take two nights to get where I thought I was on Sunday.
In the meantime I have been thinking ahead. I have two batches of Jo Sharp's Alpaca Georgette (it is alpaca, merino, and silk). The ecru yarn was intended for Alice Starmore's Elizabeth I, but after reading about it on Ravelry and scrutinizing the instructions, I'm having second thoughts. The sleeves are too wide to make this practical for me: I'd just drag them in my dinner or across something dirty, negating the beauty of the sweater shape. I also like a neckline that does not reveal my bra straps, since I'm just an old-fashioned gal. So I thought I'd see how the other batch looks when swatched. It is blue-gray (in Jo Sharp's parlance, color pearl), and I'm thinking of a sweater like Morrigan from No Sheep for You.
This would be a spring project because the yarn is light enough to knit when it is warm. I'd really like to design something on my own for this yarn, but this sweater pattern is tempting.
The sweater knitting has proceeded without a hitch, and I’ll
be dividing for the front and back tonight or tomorrow.I’m quite sure that I can finish Sweater #1 by January 31,
and I’m gaining confidence that I might just get to all 12.
I have noticed some inconsistencies in the yarn color, which
I know is to be expected in hand-dyed yarn.And I know that I’m staring at the knitting with my extremely
myopic eyes that can see things normal people need a magnifying glass to see,
but there are differences that show up in the sweater.You can pick out where I’ve switched
The six skeins of Tess Designer Yarns’ Merino-Silk were tied
together as a dye lot when I bought them, and I did expect more uniform
color.I do not plan to frog and or
make any changes, but if I realized this from the start, I might have switched
balls to spread out the color change.Perhaps one other skein will be similar, and so it will look
I took the tube off the needles and tried it on to check the
fit, and it is fine.It would be
even finer if I took off the 2 pounds I gained during Thanksgiving that seem to
want to be a permanent part of my abdomen.
It also will be time this week to think about the sleeves,
although I don’t expect to begin knitting them until next week.One thing I do know is that they will
not look like this, unless I decide to wear the sweater at a Star Trek
This lovely design will set you back $935 at Fendi.Perhaps having that kind of money to
spend on a sweater makes your mind soft.Much as I adore the New York Times, I often find its fashion reporting
to border on the truly bizarre.But before I steel myself to read the grim news, I always look at the
lighter bits for amusement, and today was no exception.There, amid the reports of Mideast
conflict, huge job losses, and financial system mayhem, was an article on
fashion trends, where this sweater and two others were featured, and an ad for
a $2100 handbag.
It makes me feel as if spending $130 for sweater yarn is downright prudent.
People who don’t knit would think it is ridiculous to
consider knitting as a risky enterprise, but unless you’re knitting a scarf or
a project where size doesn’t matter, the way something turns out is always a
bit of a crap shoot. To come even
close to my goal of 12 sweaters, I don’t have the luxury of ripping and redoing
much.And so for the first of my
sweaters, the Cable-wise Cashmere from Knitter’s Stash, I tried to plan as much
in advance as I could.I hope all
this will work, but there are no guarantees.
Notice that the sweater in the picture is not modeled on a
human, and so it really isn’t terribly clear how the designers wanted the
sweater to look when it is worn.Ravelry helped—14 knitters have attempted this project and several have
modeled it.The best picture is of
a tall, willowy recipient who looks great wearing the sweater with no shirt
underneath.I am not tall and
willowy, and I would prefer to wear a light T-neck underneath.Most of the Ravelry knitters liked the
pattern, but one commented that she felt the shoulders looked like military
epaulettes, which she could not predict from the un-modeled picture.One reason I selected the patterns is
that I thought the shoulder cables would provide some stability for the soft
yarn (silk and merino) I’m using. According to my swatch, the cable width is only 4 inches, and that seems acceptable for a shoulder seam. A few knitters had trouble getting the neck edge to be tight, and
perhaps if I pay attention to the size of the neck edge, pick up fewer
stitches than are recommended, and use size 1 US needles, I’ll get a neck that doesn’t allow the shoulder
seams to drop below my natural shoulder (and hence not look like
The sweater I own that has the shape I’d most like to
emulate is Liv.It is slightly
shaped at the side seams, and I used it for measurements.I still wanted the sweater to look
somewhat like a tunic, and so I planned for about 1-2 inches of ease.The original pattern is completely
rectangular, and there appears to be no difference between the front and
back.I want the back neck edge to
be higher than the front neck edge.Another curious thing about the pattern is that the picture shows 5
cable repeats on the sleeves, but the instructions ask for 8 (what gives
So I did all that I can do.I swatched with great care, and I drafted the changes that
will give the sweater some shaping.
This may not look like much, but it is far better than my
pathetic pencil sketches. I hadn’t used Word’s drawing feature since I got my
new version of it, and I thought the cute blue default lines looked
attractive.I’m following along
with these adjustments, hoping for the best, and I’m up to the waist.
I’ve also been thinking about the sleeves.It might be nice to knit them without a
seam also, just so the yarn doesn’t pull up along a seam line.I’m using the KnitPicks Harmony
interchangeable set, and there is no 16-inch cable.I’d have to knit a seamless sleeve on dpns, or switch to
another brand of needle that might not give me the same gauge.I’ll leave that decision for later.
But so far everything looks about as good as it can, but I
can only speculate on what it will look like when I wear it.
I’ve been eager to start the NaKniSweMoDo KAL for several
weeks now, but I tend to be a purist about most things and didn’t want to begin
the first sweater until the official start date of January 1.I’ve been more rigid about the rules
than the KAL moderators, who are allowing UFOs to count—and some participants
did start early, considering their partial sweater to be a UFO.But if I’m going to see if I can knit
12 sweaters in 2009, I want only 365 days to do so.I’ve also set some other conditions for myself.First, I’m not willing to compromise on
the complexity of the sweater, even if it means that I don’t finish it in a
month.Second, I’m not willing to
compromise on fit.If the sweater
would benefit from frogging, then I’ll rip away.These conditions may make finishing 12 sweaters next to impossible,
but it would be quite a thrill to still manage 12 that are pleasing in every
way.So, ready or not, I’m going
to forge ahead with Sweater #1, adapted from the Cable-Wise Cashmere in Knitter’s Stash.I’m using one of my many batches of red yarn.
This is the beautiful crimson Silk and Merino from Tess
Designer Yarns that I bought last year at Stitches East.And just swatching it has been a treat:
I spent the last days of December swatching, but I figure
that is “legal” because I didn’t do any actual knitting on the sweater itself.The yarn, which is more cherry red than
it photographs, is more beautiful knit than it was on the skein, and it has the
look and feel of velour.I’m
knitting it densely on size 4 US needles (KnitPicks harmony, circulars).And I do get gauge!Here is last night’s progress:
I know that Knitter’s Stash is a little old—the copyright
date is 2001—and I thought I might give the sweater a slightly more modern look
by fitting it at the sides, rather like Liv. (Nothing rash, mind you,
Robin.I’m not yet into negative
territory on this one.) I also thought I would make it shorter than the picture.And I plan to knit in the round to the
armholes, and then back and forth on the rest of the front and back.I’m doing this because I think it will
make a smoother line at the sides and allow me to make decorative decreases and
increases for the shaping, not necessarily to avoid seaming—seaming doesn’t
bother me nearly as much as trying to weave in the ends invisibly.This is a design decision.
I charted the cable, which is really so simple that I don’t
need to check it.This is what it
looks like for circular knitting.When I knit flat above the armholes, the even rows will be all purl, and
the center stitch will be knit.
This is not a particularly difficult sweater, and that was
part of my decision in picking this pattern.I thought that if I managed this sweater in January, I’d get
some confidence that I really could knit 11 more in 2009.