Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Back in Control

Originally, I was composing a post in my head about how I was so busy knitting I was ignoring (somewhat) important things like counting and keeping track of rows, but my actions last night and today have left me much more composed. Exhibit A: Ian's cardigan. The sleeve is largely back on track and going well, though I was struggling with the short circular needle. It turns out 12 inches or less for a cable is hard for me, especially when it come to P2tog. Anyway, having picked up plenty of stitches at the armhole and waited at least 20 rows before starting the decrease, the plan was to decrease every five rows. Unfortunately for me, I wasn't holding my train of thought for five rows, and, though I can usually identify a decrease in plain stockinette, I have a little trouble with seed stitch. Solution: I switched to five circular needle, much more comfortable anyway, and, the silver one is the decrease one, that is, when it gets to the start of the row, it's time to decrease, then it works its way around, coming back every fifth row.

Fast project B: Coco's Easter sweater. I'm very loosely adapting a pattern from The Complete Knitter's Guide, with a totally different gauge, but the same basic shape and ruffled bottom (not fun). I did swatch, to figure out which lace I liked, but after thinking about starting top-down, I decide to go bottom up and work straight until the armholes. I must have cap sleeves, because I think drop-shoulder would be sloppy, but I haven't done any calculations yet. What I have done, which makes me feel much better, is write down in my notebook all I've done so far, along with some of Coco's measurements, and plotted the neckline. So I can work for a while longer before I have to do any more math.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Can't . . . Stop . . . Knitting

Though you wouldn't know it from checking here, the past month has been extremely productive. One sock for me, two pairs of baby booties, including:

a baby hat plus a hat intended for a baby that I put on hold when I realized the circumference was 18.5", which is generous for an average adult. Of course, I started from the top down and had no measuring tape along, but it will either go to Washington or to Afghans for Afghans. In the meantime, baby William should have a warm head thanks to this:

My crowning achievement, though, was having a Valentines Day surprise for Ian, and having it be a good surprise. Ever since I made Ian a sweater with Wool-Ease Thick and Quick on size 13 needles on the sly, my daughter has been a little obsessed with the element of surprise. Now, Ian knows I'm making him the Aran cardigan from Opinionated Knitter. We picked the yarn together, he's tried it on at various stages, I've worked (and not worked) on it in front of him. He and I also know that he needs it for summer, when the office air conditioner is turned down to ridiculously low temperatures, so it's not my top knitting priority. On the other hand, finishing the body and preparing the steeks, lent it a certain air of excitement and urgency, so all of a sudden the kids and I thought maybe it could be finished as a surprise for Valentines Day. Now, Elizabeth Zimmerman's instructions are to make the sleeves from the cuff up, in the round, then sew them into the cut armhole steeks. I figured, Why bother, when I can pick up the stitches around the armhole steek and knit the sleeves down--less sewing! Unfortunately, when I read about picking up stitches for the neck and button band, I only registered on the 2 sts every 3 rows rule, not the fact that the button band is garter stitch, so, when I picked up for the armholes, I used the same 2:3 ratio instead of the usual 3:4 ratio on should use when picking up along the side. Well, the button band looked fantastic, and sleeve 1 was going pretty quickly, and I kept trying the sweater on, but Ian was out of the loop. We are pretty much the same size, except, being male, and in pretty good shape, his arms are a little more muscular and hence bulkier. Roughly two weeks before Valentine's, though, I lost my nerve, thinking what heartbreak would ensue if I gave him a finished sweater with binding arms. I had him try the thing on, and, of course, the arms were a bit too tight (because of the ratio).

The project was abandoned again until Washington could find time to unravel the whole sleeve, and Ian was assured of no surprise knitting gift . . . or so he thought. Very surreptitiously, hiding behind pillows and in bedside drawers, lurked a pair of black socks, his first ever handmade.

I hope you all had wonderful Valentines Days too.