December 5, 2010

A Christmas Mystery

So the Christmas knitting is chugging along over here at Chez Knitalot. The largest item on my to-knit list is this big old whack of reverse stockinette:

more reverse-stockinette than you can shake a stick at

What is it, you ask? Well, that's a good question.

Years ago, when I was a new knitter (back when you had to plumb the depths of the internets for new and exciting patterns because there was no such thing as Ravelry) I happened upon this pattern. No idea how I found it. It seems to be a rather obscure typed-up version of an old Bernat pattern buried deep inside a rather obscure website. The only photo provided is the one I've included below, and it's hardly a high quality glossy. At any rate, I fell in love with the grainy vagueness which is the Men's Irish Collar Neck Pullover and, even if the name is not a winner, I vowed to someday knit it.

{cue shaft of sunlight and voices of angels}

Years pass and now we fast-forward to a few weeks ago when I decided that I was going to knit a nice Christmas pullover for the Wee Nephewling (who is now three and not nearly as wee as he used to be).

I don't know if you've ever looked around for a nice lightweight (dk-weight or finer) little boy's pullover that also happens to be awesome. Turns out that they are ridiculously thin on the ground (in fact, the only one that really springs to mind is Twisted Tree). After a bit of frustration I remembered the good old Men's Irish Collar Neck Pullover and decided that it was the Answer To All My Problems. It took me a while to find it back (it doesn't seem to be on Ravelry*) and, for obvious reason, I couldn't remember the name. But find it I did (thanks to an old bookmark folder on my work computer called "wannaknit men") and it was just as lovely in its vagueness as I'd remembered.

Seriously. That's a lot of reverse stockinette, peeps.

So now I find myself faced with the challenge of shrinking down an adult-sized sweater, which has no diagrams and only one rather useless photo. Fun stuff! First I got the desired finished sweater dimensions off of Rae** (mother to the Wee Nephewling), did a bunch of math, and calculated that I could knit size medium to the correct dimensions if I could achieve a gauge of 25 sts to 4" (approximately sport-weight). Then I ordered way more yarn than I'll probably need (10 balls of Knitpicks Stroll Sport in Williamsburg blue) and figured out I can get gauge on US2/3mm needles (which, unfortunately, limits me to one particularly fetching pair of aluminum straights. But that works with the whole retro thing, right?). Then I cast on for the back, started following directions blindly, did a bit of guesswork, and waited for things to unfold like a Christmas Miracle. Or maybe one of those Mystery patterns.

a strapping young sweater.

My first surprise? This interesting armhole construction: you bind off stitches for a couple of rows and then, after you start on the cable straps, you gradually add stitches back in so that it gets wider toward the shoulders. I have to say this is a new one for me. The cable was a pleasant surprise though. I was expecting something more standard issue (since you can't actually see the cables clearly in the photo) but this one is quite fetching.

That's enough for now I think. I hope your holiday knitting is going well!...stay tuned for more adventures in Child-sized Men's Irish Collar Neck Pullover knitting!

*nevermind. I found it.

**who is doing fabric giveaways right now, so if that's your type of thing you may want to scurry on over and enter!

July 9, 2007

Finished: Demi


The Specs:

-Pattern: Demi, from Rowan Vintage Knits.
-Size Knitted: the smallest one.
-Yarn: Rowan Magpie Tweed Aran (discontinued).
-Skeins: 6 skeins (540g, really) of shade 778.
-Needles: size 8 bamboo, (sizes 6 and 7 when called for).
-Buttons: La Mode style 43254.
-Start to finish: November 9, 2005 – July 5, 2007.
-For: Me!


The Pattern: I love this pattern. I love these cables with all the pretty twisted stitches. I love the bobbles. Love, love, love. The charts were a little tricky in the beginning (there's a lot going on there) but once the pattern was established and I could see what was going on it was smooth sailing.


The Fit: The only real issue I have with this pattern is with the fit of the sleeves. May I present Exhibit A:the pattern photo. As you can see, this pattern was meant to be a bit on the roomy side. Schlumpy-comfy with wideish sleeves and all that.

I made the size suggested for persons of my bustitude (3 to 4 inches ease). My body gauge was spot-on. I knitted, I blocked to measurements, I seamed the thing up and lo and behold...I have a sweater with very snug sleeves. Originally it was a sweater with very snug sleeves and a boxy unflattering body, but thanks to the miracle which is a blocking board, a whole whack of pins and a steam iron, I stretched and steamed the whole thing a few inches longer and now the body is a lot more fitted. This isn’t a bad thing…just different than I was expecting.

The way I see it, there are a few options: a) my biceps are magnificent, b) my gauge was off when I knitted the sleeves, c) the pattern could use a little tweaking, or d) all of the above. Hard to know since the sleeve schematic doesn’t include width measurements.


Mods: Being a tallish person, I knitted a couple extra inches in the sleeves. Another half inch wouldn’t have hurt, but whatever.

Why did it take you so long to knit this? I don’t know.

How’s the Magpie working out? ? It’s a little itchy, actually. I think the solution is to buy a nice wool wash, but I hate the idea of ordering one since I’m Really Picky about smells. Are there any good neutral smelling ones out there?


Why do you look so cranky? You should see the other photos. In my defense I’ll argue that getting into the zone and channeling my inner model was situationally appropriate. Because seriously people, when it’s 90 degrees out and you’re frolicking in the shallows of a public stream wearing a wool sweater…I think that looking committed to the project at hand is imperative.


Final Verdict: Love it! I’m particularly pleased with the buttons.

Hello. We look like cherry lifesavers.

July 6, 2007

Anatomy of a fuzzy purple post

Part I: Salutation and a Lame Excuse

Ahoy there, knitterly people! I know things on the blog have been about as exciting as watching ice cream melt on the sidewalk, so you guys all get ten points for hanging around. The knitting has been chugging along at a leisurely summerish pace (slowly, and without deadlines) and, well, you know how it goes.

Part II: Attempt at Distraction and Pacification with Pretty Yarn

Find here a picture of my lovely new angora to ease the shock of reentry:

Souvenir yarn from Paris, courtesy of the Parents du Thunk.

Part III: The Knitting Bit

Ok, down to business. The Modified Hanami is progressing nicely...I'm nearing the end of the first half. Here's what things look like currently:

Hello there. I am warm and fuzzy.

A slight aside: it suddenly occurs to me that this is the second year running that I find myself knitting a shawl out of kid mohair in July. Could it be a subconscious rebellion against over-air conditioned workplaces, or perhaps just a coincidence?

Part IV: Tardy Finishing Disguised with Positive Spin

I bought buttons and sewed them onto Demi yesterday! Stay tuned for FO shots. Finally.

May 29, 2007

Almost there...

Two Demi sleeves, blocked and ready for action! All that's left is to knit up that little shoulder-flap-thingee that has the button holes in it (I'm sure it has a name, but it eludes me at the moment). Then we're on to Finishingland!

Hello. It's dark in here.

Something about the shapes and colors in this photo remind me of this fossil fuels stamp. Maybe I should try cabled trilobites next time?

May 16, 2007


For any of you out there who doubted me when I said I was going to finish up those stubborn lingering FOs, lookie here!

Oi! Demi sleeves!

It's slow going here in Sleevetown, but I'm plugging away. As usual, I'm working both at the same time so that they come out the same size. I keep reminding myself that if I was only working on one sleeve I'd be twice as far, but somehow this never makes it any easier. I just want to be done!

Though that in itself poses a problem since I have no idea how I'm going to manage a FO photo-session without passing out from sweater-stroke at this time of year. I would totally do it in a cave if it weren't for that pesky lack-of-natural-light problem. Come to think of it, all the cold-in-warm-weather locations I can think of are a bit short on natural light. Your average basement...the ice rink...a meat packing plant...

Good thing I have a bit of knitting to accomplish before I have to decide.

accidental color-combo inspiration from the violas

April 25, 2007

UFO Roundup

There has been regrouping. There has been knitting.

Need a refresher on what’s on the needles over here at Chez UFO? Me too.

brittanies, jump rings, and alpaca cloud

Starting back with the oldest and most languishy of the lot, we have the Flowerbasket Shawl, started sometime in the spring of 2005. Those of you who have been hanging around for a while might realize that I’ve only blogged about this project once (back in January of 2006) when I hauled it out in all its neglected glory to motivate myself to get a move on. As you can probably guess, no moves were made…until last weekend.

I’m currently cruising along with less than two repeats to go before the edging. Somewhere in the past two years lace knitting has got a whole heckofalot easier for me. Time to finish this one up!

Demi: most of a front, all of a back

Ah yes, the lovely Demi. I started her in November of 2005 and the front and back have slowly materialized over time. Problem is that I keep getting distracted by other projects and shunting her off to the sidelines. No more! The goal for Demi is to get her knitted before the weather gets too hot so she’ll be ready to keep me warm when autumn hits. My other secret goal is to get her knitted before Jared and Ashley finish theirs (don’t tell).

jaywalker_current.jpg plain_old_socks.jpg

I started the Jaywalkers in late December and I’m only up to the gusset on sock number one. Seems I just lost momentum.

Plain Old Socks:
No problem here! This is my current portable and brainless project.

So that’s the lot. Only four projects total (and two pairs of socks hardly count, if you ask me). The biggest problem is those two ancient hangers-on up at the top. Time to pull a yaiAnn and get them all outa here!

p.s. If you’re wondering where that green baby sweater is…it’s FINISHED! FO report soon.

January 19, 2007

Friday pm

It's Friday afternoon, I have the rest of the day off and the sun is shining! Time for a progress shot on Demi.


That there would be one completed back and a decent start on a front. Apparently a year-long break was just what I needed to clear my head. Now everything seems to be flowing pretty easily and the cabling is pretty intuitive.

Not much else to report, so I thought I'd show off a couple of the handmade gifts I received recently...

side view

This would be the world's cutest pincushion, made my friend Deb. It's perfectly constructed out of wool felt and she weighted it so it's got a little bit of heft to it. I just want to carry it around with me everywhere I go.

side view

My pop made us this bowl for Christmas. I think it's cherry (though I'm not absolutely sure about that one...correct me if I'm wrong Dad). It's made out of a log that I helped my dad lug into the car back in the days when I was a young thing living at home. I think someone down the road had cut down a tree and he'd talked them into letting him have a chunk.

Isn't it pretty? If you look at the side view you can see a bit of the bookshelf Pop made for our wedding gift too.

Time for a snack now I think. Have a lovely weekend!

September 12, 2006

Revisited: Blaze

The one topic that I feel could use more blog-time is how people feel about their knits after they've worn them for a while. Since all I currently have to show you is a few more inches of the Aran Cardi, I thought now would be a good time to mix it up a bit and throw in some reviews of past projects (oh fine, this is just a cheap ploy to keep y'all occupied while I work through a particularly unproductive period).

Pic taken right after the sweater was completed.

I thought I’d start with Blaze since it’s one of my favorites and I don’t feel like I’ve seen very many people make this one. Here are some specs, since this one was finished pre-blog:

Pattern: Blaze, from Knitty, by Jenna Adorno.
Size knitted: 34/36
Yarn: I subbed 9 balls of KnitPicks Andean Treasure in the color ‘Lagoon’ for the Cascade Indulgence the pattern calls for.
Finished: July 2005
Level of pattern followage: Total. I think the only thing I changed was to bind off with a smaller needle and add the crocheted flower.

How often does it get worn? Fairly frequently…about as much as any other cute and well-fitting sweater in my closet.

How has it held up? This sweater has had one winter of use and it still looks really good. I thought about taking another picture of it now, but there really isn’t much point…the yarn hasn’t pilled or gotten funky-looking and it still has the same snug fit (note: I never blocked it and I haven’t needed to wash it yet so I can’t comment on if it’ll grow when wet). The only thing that looks a little wonky are the stitches around the underarm grafts, but I always have that problem with bottom-up sweaters on circs.

How has the yarn worked out? Fine…like I just said, no pilling. The alpaca does have a little itch to it, so I need to wear it with a ¾ sleeved shirt underneath to keep it away from my skin.

What do I like? I love the color and the fit of the sweater is very flattering…it may be a figure hugging design, but the cables break things up a bit and keep it from looking slutly.

What would I change? I would definitely put full-length sleeves on this one. The sweater is thick enough that I can’t wear it until the weather is chilly, but by then my arms need a little something as well.

Should you make this sweater? Yes. If you live somewhere where it gets cold and you like cabling a lot, this sweater is for you.

Final Verdict: I give this one 9 out of 10.

So has anybody else made this one? How did it work out for you?

July 5, 2006

Finished: Picovoli


The Specs:
-Pattern: Picovoli, by Grumperina, from Magknits.
-Yarn: Knitpicks Shine
-Skeins: Nearly 5 balls in Grass.
-Needles: size 4 circs
-Start to finish: June 20 - July 4
-For: Me (I told you this would be the summer of knitting for me...)

Notes: I knitted the second smallest size. The only mods were to add an extra half inch in the waist and another inch at the bottom. It could really use another half inch or so, but whatever...cotton gets longer with time, right? Just call me Elli of the long torso.

The only thing that bugs me is that the top picots are a little floppy. I think it's because I was knitting a bit looser on those first few rows. In fact, I'm sure of it. And I knew it right after I'd done it, but I didn't rip back. So it's all my fault, really.

The Pattern: Lovely and easy to follow (but then you know that because you've all made one already, right)? The only thing I can add is that the picots are not that bad. In fact, I really enjoyed sewing them's so much easier than seaming but still feeds your inner finisher so that you come out feeling all accomplished and stuff. Of course maybe y'all skipped the picots because you didn't care for them, in which case that's your problem.

left arm optional

Final Verdict: Love it! Two thumbs up from Thunky as well.

June 21, 2006

My voli has picots, does yours?

Picovoli knitting has commenced. Believe it or not, I'm almost to the sleeve cap bits (but it doesn't really take all that long to get there, does it?).


Once I got a few rows in I (perhaps unwisely) knitted my provisional cast-on stitches together with the live stitches to save me the trouble of going back and sewing them down later. It seems to have worked like a charm...the only tricky bit was remembering to compensate for the extra stitches created by the raglan increases. I'm still waiting to get to the point in the pattern where I find out that I wasn't supposed to do that, but it hasn't happened yet. La, la, la...waiting for the hammer to, la...

Been wondering what to do with all those little girly necklace charms you've got lying around? Stitch markers!

I've also been getting some knitting in on River but it looks a lot like it does here, so I'll just let you use your imagination.

That's all I've got. Over and out peeps.

June 11, 2006

New Projects

Don't you think it's high time we had a couple of new projects around here? Me too.

Kricket's River:

I started this one on Monday and am slowly chugging along on it. I've already had to rip back twice because of stupid mistakes so it's pretty obvious that I'm going to have to learn to respect the River and take my time. The nuptials aren't until August 25, so I'm not in a rush, I’m just not used to having to pay such close attention to every. single. stitch. The pattern is easy enough; it's the fuzzy wuzzy yarn that’s tripping me up. Kidsilk Haze knitters of the world, I salute you.

[Krick, if you’re reading this…every stitch is sheer joy. It’s the most wonderful knit ever.]


Picovoli has been on my to-knit list for a while and it looks like it's time has finally come since I need an easy project for travel knitting. That swatch there is a bit pointless, as I changed needle sizes so many times over so few rows that you really can't tell much from it at all. Regardless, I'm going to go ahead and guess that size fives are where it's at since I don't have time to reswatch.

Anyway, I'm off to a work-related conferencey thing in Columbus, Ohio and will be internetless until Thursday. I'm already horribly behind on all things blog-related, so I apologize if I haven't responded/commented/said hi's going to be a little while longer before I can get to it. Keep the blog warm for me!

January 9, 2006

More Demi and some Swatches

I haven't forgotten about Demi, see? I'm into the armhole shaping.


Things are cruising along slowly but surely...I'm still pretty chained to the chart so I really only work on her at home. My only concern is that she might be knitting up a bit on the narrow side, but I'm trusting that a good blocking* will straighten things out.

By tomorrow I should have some finished Octo-Socks to show you. Aside from that, things have been a bit slow on the knitting front. I'm still regrouping from Christmas (read: doing all the stuff I put off so that I could knit presents). I also spent a good chunk of this weekend shopping and making plans for redoing the living room which, if you remember my knitting spot shot, is currently a bit dismal. This is what I've got so far:


-The background fabric is one of the set of curtains I found this weekend at Urban Outfitters.
-The pictures (still frameless) are the Owl Notecards by Susie Ghahremani from her shop at
-The fabric swatches are for this couch (green for the sofa, hounds tooth for the throw pillows). We're also still trying to figure out if we should get the matching chair or if we should find a different one.

I think that should brighten things up a bit! Now I just have to be patient, as it will take 6 weeks for the sofa to arrive. I guess I'll just have to knit to pass the time...

*in case you're curious, I decided to return the blocking board. The store we ordered it from is being very nice about it so far.

November 18, 2005

How big are your bobbles?


I managed to sneak in a couple (short) evenings with Demi this week, and all I have to show for it is one repeat. The key to this project is to Follow The Chart. I don't particularly like charts (which is why you aren't going to see much in the way of lace knitting on this blog) so I wasn't paying very close attention when I set up the cables. Needless to say I completely mucked things up. So there was a bit of ripping. Now that I know what to expect, the Chart and I have settled into a relationship based on mutual respect. Things look promising.

There was some discussion among knitalongers about bobble size. I have opted for the abbreviated version (3 stitches rather than the 5 stitches called for in the pattern). I'm backed up by Thunk's expert opinion here. He declared that, as a man, he prefers small bobbles. A penny for scale:

Abe Lincoln likes them too.

Weekend plans? To blast through as much Christmas knitting as humanly possible. And to (perhaps) photograph some of it during daylight hours. Also, we're thinking of going up to Indy to check out the Lord of the Rings exhibit. Has anyone seen this yet?

Have a great weekend!

November 10, 2005


Last night, feeling the knitalong spirit, I cast on for Demi. Well, I cast on twice. The first time I cast on for the 36" bust (medium) thinking "hmm...I'm would normally make the 32" but I'm a little under gauge so I should go with the 34" just to be safe...and it looks nice with a little bit of ease on the waify model there so I think I'll try the 36 inch." I knit about four rows before noticing something looked a bit odd (as in oddly huge) so I finally bothered to look at the sizing diagram and wouldn't you know that the smallest size (32" bust) actually measures 36"? So I'm making that one. Yes indeed. You'd think by now I would have learned how to read a pattern.

This is as far as I got on the back before bed. I'm just about to start the cables:
All those twisted stitches! Ai-yai!

In other news: progress continues on Thunk's Christmas sweater (can I rename it? I just can't bring myself to type "hidden agenda sweater"). I'm finished with the back and about a third of the way into the front. Lots and lots of k2p2 ribbing. It's a wee bit mind numbing, actually.

I also cast on for Mum's Christmas Laurent but I already have issues with the slip-stitch edging. The Rowan people want me to knit it on size 3 needles but on size 4s it's coming out way tighter than it should (it's actually a little too tight on size 8s as well). If anybody knows someone who has knit this one, send them my way. Otherwise the edging will be knitted on size 9s (bizarre, I know. This all just seems a little too wrong).

October 24, 2005



So I finished this a couple weeks back. It's the Hourglass Sweater from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. I passed on the v. expensive Noro Cash Iroha silk/lambswool/cashmere and made it out of very economical Knit Picks Andean Silk Twist instead. The arms are a wee bit shorter than I'd like and the neck is a tad too big but I think it's a keeper.