February 26, 2007

Finished: Saddle Shoulder Aran Cardigan

The Specs:

-Pattern: Saddle-Shoulder Aran Cardigan, from Wool Gathering #63, by Meg Swanson.
-Yarn: Briggs and Little Regal (referred to as "Canadian Regal" on the SHP website).
-Skeins: A bit over six skeins in Forest Brown.
-Needles: size 8 circs and dpns for most of it, some ribbing on 5s and 6s.
-Buttons: La Mode style 29446.
-Start to finish: August 8, 2006 – February 20, 2007.
-For: Thunk. A belated birthday gift.

Thunk, on location in academia.

Where to start? I’m feeling positively verbose.

The Pattern: for those of you not familiar with the Wool Gathering series (originally written by Elizabeth Zimmerman; later taken over by Meg Swanson) the pattern is more of a detailed guideline for you to make your own version of the sweater (you choose yarn, gauge, stitch patterns, and so on). All the information you need is included, but you need to bring your brain and a calculator to the table. Maybe some graph paper too. It took me roughly a week to do the preplanning and swatching so it’s not an insta-start sort of pattern.

The Yarn:I used Briggs and Little Regal which is the yarn Meg used for the original sweaters. It’s a nice affordable workhorse-type yarn but it’s definitely a bit rustic. While I don’t mind picking bits of v.m. out of my yarn (in fact, I rather like the idea that they don’t process the heck out of it) I did find the yarn to be a little crunchy. It softened up some when I blocked it, but it still falls outside the category of “soft.” That said, I didn’t use a fancy wool-wash…I just gave it a quick dunk with a little of Thunk’s conditioner in the water.

No problem though…Thunk’s fine with the way it feels (we are talking about the guy who wears a scarf that he knitted himself out of Reynolds Lopi). However, if I had known how much time I was going to spend on this sweater, I probably would have splurged and gotten something a bit more upscale.

SSAC_3.jpg SSAC_4.jpg
backtastickness; frontastickness. (click for big)

Knitting in the Round Weirdness: I consider myself to be a fairly experienced knitter. I’ve knitted a goodish number of projects in the round and aran patterns are nothing new to me. However, this sweater unveiled a rather unsettling quirk in my knitting when I combined the two. My “filler” purl stitches on the right side of a motif are much tighter than the ones on the left side, causing all of my cables to migrate a bit to the right. Look closely, it’s there. I noticed this pretty early on but no amount of manipulation on my part made much of a difference. Blocking didn’t do much either.

For whatever reason this doesn’t bother me too much. For one thing, Thunk doesn’t care. That and it’s not something you notice immediately. I know that if I ever wanted to knit a sweater with similar construction I could eliminate the problem by knitting back and forth instead of knitting it in the round. This would also mean I could leave out the steeks, which would suit me just fine.

Steeking: The pattern includes instructions for a crocheted steek so that’s the one I used. I did refer to Eunny’s steeking article (in one of the latest Interweaves…can’t recall which issue) for a little more clarification. I got through the crocheting and the cutting with no problem but freaked out a bit once I’d actually finished the operation. Because seriously people…how DOES it stay together? Not to mention Ugly Ragged Edges. Yuck.

I calmed down some once I got the collar and button bands knitted on. I did some reading around and discovered that you can just tack down the edges with a running stitch which hides the ugly sticky-outy ends quite nicely (much simpler than my first plan which involved a large quantity of brown grosgrain ribbon). Strangely enough, once I got those ends hidden I stopped worrying about how it all stays together. So I’m ok now.

The only real issue I have with the steeking thing was the smaller second steek you cast on for after setting aside stitches for the neck. It’s such a dinky little thing that I really wish that I’d just eliminated it by knitting back and forth through that section instead of casting on new steek stitches and continuing in the round. Because really unless you have a steek fetish…not necessary. It’s less than ten rounds. I also harbor malicious feelings towards the second steek because (who knows why) my tension got sloppy and when I picked up those stitches for the collar I ended up with some gaping holes. Nothing some creative crocheting couldn’t fix, but still…not fun.

SSAC_5.jpg SSAC_6.jpg

Neck Issues: If there’s one thing I know it’s that one should Always Bind Off Neck Stitches. It keeps things nice and firm and Non-Stretchy. However, the instructions tell you to hold them on waste yarn until you need them for the collar. So I blithely ignored the little voices in my head and didn’t bind them off resulting in (you guessed it) a Big Neck. And, as we all know, the menfolk have a harder time getting away with the big neck look.

Since I’d already knitted on the entire button-band/collar combo, I just grabbed another crochet hook and crocheted one very firm row around the inside of the collar where the cast off round would have been. It took two tries (first time wasn’t firm enough) but now? Normal-sized neck. Hooray!

All that said...I loved knitting this sweater. There’s hardly any finishing (I even skipped the grafting in favor of a three-needle bind-off for the underarms) and if you splice in each new skein there are hardly any ends to weave in. I really like some of the smaller details that Meg threw in like the mitered collar and the twisted rib on the underside of the arms. Did I mention that EZ’s one row buttonhole is brilliant? It is.

Final Verdict: Thunk loves it. I love it. Feel the love.

Bonus Shot: Adam and Eve dig the sweater too.

February 14, 2007

More of the same

Doing the freaky steeky

And, of course, more ice:




February 13, 2007

Slippery when slippery

You know what happens when you have an ice storm?

ready for steekage

You stay home from work and knit!

And then you go take some pictures of ice.




February 11, 2007

Two weeks

I'm back! Where have I been? Aran Cardi Land. It's not sunny, but it sure is warm.

I labored for two weeks thinking that if I just spent every free minute knitting, I could get the darn thing done by Thunk's birthday. Well, the eighth of February has come and gone and I'm still sitting here with a very toasty pile of knitting in my lap. So the burning question far have I gotten?


Those are shoulder decreases. We're on the home stretch, folks. I merely have to finish up those decreases, do a bit of neck shaping, learn how to steek, commit said steekage, knit on some button bands, and find and sew on some suitably stunning buttons. Easy peasy.

Ok fine...maybe we're talking another couple of weeks. This would be a good time to point out that last year Thunk got his birthday sweater on February 25. See? It's traditional lateness.

Hello! I am one Long Sleeve.

Anyway, I'm going to go knit some more now. Byeeeeeeeeeeee!

January 29, 2007

State of the Aran

It's been a while since we've seen the Saddle Shoulder Aran Cardigan, hasn't it? Here's where we left off in October. Main section of body completed; ready for armage.

In the spirit of finishing up those UFOs, and perhaps influenced by the fact that Thunk's birthday is on February 8, I've jumped back in the saddle again (pun absolutely intended).

Sunday, 4:30 pm.

This shot of the arm-in-progress was taken late yesterday afternoon when I noticed the light was starting to fade, but I spent a few hours on it last night as well. I'm almost ready to start arm number two, but first I have to figure out where I should stop. There's a small and slightly cryptic note in the pattern telling me to stop knitting when I've reached a point at which my sleeve cables match up with where I stopped knitting on the body cables, fudging if necessary. Ergh. Now I see why it's helpful to pick cable patterns that have the same number of row repeats.

the underbelly

I'm taking the underarm increases into a twisted rib pattern. Sort of looks like I'm knitting a fish, doesn't it?

October 2, 2006

Armpits ahoy!

Hi there! Knitting continues. This weekend I finally reached armpit level on Thunk's Aran Cardi.

sexy Thunk cardi for scale

The body has kept me entertained with all that cabling but I feel like I've been plugging away on it FOREVER. I've never been so glad to start knitting sleeves in my life. After knitting one great hulking gigantastic tube for the last month and a half, I feel like a speed demon zipping through my first cuff. Whee!

In other news:

-Thanks for all the lovely comments on the bunny slippers! I had no idea they'd be such a hit. I expect you all to go out and make some now. Send me pictures.

-I noticed that the Vogue Knitting Holiday 06 preview is up. Holy knittables, Batman! More cables for me! How I love that lavender shawl-collared cabled cardi.

-I picked up the Heirloom Bag again this weekend…time to get those languishers out of the Current Projects list!

September 5, 2006

Hello, I’m back!

I extended my break to take in the Labor Day weekend and now I’m feeling pretty dang refreshed. I relaxed, saw lots of people, and gained some perspective on, you know, life. I did knit a little too…


Knitting on the Aran Cardi continues. I held it up to Thunk’s torso yesterday evening and it appears that I’m about 1/3 of the way through the body. I’m having a nice time with this one so far. It’s a very relaxing knit…the cables are easy to memorize and hey, no body shaping!

Aside from a little more knitting on the Pomatomus socks, and some sisterly birthday knitting on the mysterious white project (which I did NOT finish in time for the birthday deadline, and STILL haven’t finished, because I am a bad sister) I didn’t really accomplish much in the crafty realm. I did figure out a few other things though:

1) I love my new brother-in-law. I have the best family ever. You should all be very jealous of me.


2) Vacation is lovely, even when it rains and there are biting flies.


3) I’ve had an epiphany about the whole Christmas knitting thing. This year, I’m not going to knit something for everyone I know. I’m not joking. I know I said it last year, but I really mean it this time. More to come on this topic.

4) It seems that the combination of autumn-like weather and having the carpet shampooed can trigger an insane cleaning, organizing, trashing and donating binge. Curious about how that worked out?

Continue reading "Hello, I’m back!" »

August 16, 2006

August 17

Is it just me, or is August 17 the coolest date on the whole calendar? I'll admit; I'm a bit biased. But month ever, and's so nice and pointy. I'm just saying.

Some progress. I average 15 minutes a round...

Anyway, aside from it being my birthday and all, one year ago today marks the day when my most darling Thunkster surprised me with this blog*, for which I am most awfully, awfully grateful. I'd toyed with the idea of eventually maybe sort of someday possibly having a knitting blog, but I'd never seriously considered it. I probably still wouldn't have gotten around to it if it weren’t for the spousal vote of confidence and the extra shove in the direction of knitblogland. So thanks, Thunk!

On to the gifts, right? Some of you may recall the dpn case I made a while back. If you would like your very own (or if you're not a dpn person, another style of needle roll), leave me a comment and I'll draw a name next Wednesday (that would be the 23rd). Double entries for those of you who correctly guess my age. Don't worry, I won't be offended if you get it wrong.**

Soon my morning glories will take over the world!

*you will note that this isn't actually my one year bloggiversary as it took me a couple of months to actually start posting...
**hints to help narrow things down a bit: I graduated from something in 1997 and I've been married since 2000.

August 15, 2006

The results are in...

Well, Beau won by a nose but the Aran Cardi wasn’t far behind. Alas, poor Finn just doesn’t have what it takes to win the hearts of the knitting masses. So what did I start?


The Aran Cardi. I know…deviating from the vote…but when I started working on it on Tuesday evening it was in the lead. Cross my heart.

For those of you who were cheering on Beau (and the Beau model), never fear…I’ll be starting that one soon enough. Just to clear one thing up: I was being purposefully vague in the last entry, but Beau is destined for Somebody Who Isn’t Thunk (we’ll call him SWIT for short). So that you won’t have to wait until after Christmas for the action shot, Thunk has kindly offered to model it (wearing a hat) when I eventually complete it. Maybe we’ll rustle up a tree and some rustic trousers as well.


Finn lovers: don’t give up hope; your time will come.

August 8, 2006

Thinking ahead

This last week hasn't seen much knitting...I've only just turned the heel on the first Pomatomi. Mostly I've been staring into the UFO basket and dreaming about the new projects I want to start. I did make some stitch markers though!

For my friend Janis, whose birthday was in July (better late than never, eh?).

But back to new projects. Right now I've got patterns and yarn for the following:

Beau, from Rowan Vintage Knits (Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Aran in Muffin):
Beau.jpg YTA_muffin.jpg
Why I should knit this: This is Christmas knitting...I could get it out of the way FIVE months early! Plus, it would be a pretty straightforward knit (good for lazy summer knitting).

Finn, from Rowan 36 (Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Aran in Tusk):
Finn.jpg YTA_Tusk.jpg
Why I should knit this: This one is also a good simple knit. It's a candidate for Thunk's X-mas sweater.

Saddle-Shoulder Aran Cardigan, from Wool Gathering 63 (Canadian Regal in medium brown):
SSAC.jpg can_reg.jpg
Why I should knit this: the oh-so-clever construction is v. tempting and it would require some thought and skill to knit. Plus, I'd have to learn how to steek (eek!). This would obviously be the most challenging of the lot. Also a candidate for Thunk's X-mas sweater.

I like them all…they’d all knock a knit off the Christmas list...the question is, which one would you like to see me knit?

July 12, 2006

Progress Report

Heh. It's been a week since I last posted. Anybody else feel like their summer is passing at warp speed? Here's what I've been up to:


Yeah I know...weird name. But if you can get past that, they're pretty awesome. Every winter at work I just about lose my fingers to frostbite but I’m always way too busy with the xmos knitting to knit myself any F-less Gs. So when I saw the pattern in the new Knitty I jumped on it. I'm all about doing things early this year. If that isn't enough to impress you, I'm using the required yarn (rowan felted tweed) which I already had in my stash thanks to the generosity of the v. wunnerful Angela.


I have the pattern mostly memorized, I've made my peace with the KSH, and I’m one-third of the way finished already...all is right with the world.

New Yarn! (Installment 1):

I’ve been pretty good about not accumulating too much new yarn this year, but I’ve been slipping lately. The first of it is eight skeins of Briggs and Young Regal, from Schoolhouse Press, for the Saddle Shoulder Aran Cardi pattern I bought last spring to make for the Thunkster. This was going to be his Christmas sweater, but then I just bought some more yarn today for a completely different “Christmas sweater". Not sure how that will work out. Let's just say I'm not having any trouble finding cute manpatterns lately.

That's it for now. I'm going to go eat toast now.

April 9, 2006

Fleece Fair Report

I had a v. excellent time with Wendie at the Fleece Fair yesterday. There’s really nothing better than spending hours meandering through booths of knitting and spinning stuffus. I pretty much just took pictures of animals. (So did Wendie…she's your gal if you like the cute baby bunny and lamb shots).

sheep.jpg alpaca.jpg

We cruised all the booths a couple of times and then fortified ourselves with fair food before making final purchases. I managed to be fairly restrained, and only bought things that I can't normally find around here. Aside from some needles and a pound of white merino roving, I got some Romney lamb's wool in a lovely chocolaty color:


The owners of the booth had wound all of their rovings into beautifully spherical eight ounce balls. I'm such a sucker for presentation.

The least expensive thing I bought:


A copy of Wool Gathering #63, the Saddle-Shoulder Aran Cardigan. This fetching design has the much-coveted spousal approval necessary to become the next Thunk Sweater. Besides, I've wanted to knit an Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern for ages, and this fits the bill almost perfectly (almost, because the pattern is by Meg Swanson, not EZ). Close enough, I say. I'm going to finish a few other projects that are hanging around before starting this one though.

I'm off to go work on the Apricot Jacket, but I'll leave you with a shot of Cold Sheep: