Thursday, July 26, 2007

Still in Vogue?

The 25th Anniversary issue of Vogue Knitting arrived today.
One of the features was a retrospective "top 10 hits". And a blast from MY past, is this sweater, by DKNY, from 1990. I adapted the original pattern to make this vest.
Given that I made it back in 1990, I don't remember what yarn I used, or any other technical details, except that it's a cotton/linen blend. This was back in the day when I believed I could knit anything, if I just followed the instructions. And then I adapted the instructions to make something that seemed more wearable to me than a long-sleeved summer sweater. Here it is on my daughter: Even though she's younger and slimmer than I am, you can still see the fit issues I have with this vest. It's over-sized. The neck is too big. The shoulders drop too much. And somehow things on the front edging didn't work out quite as evenly as they should have.

Other than the last, front edging issue, I realized today that the original sweater (and now the anniversary adaptation) has all the same problems. It's a beautiful piece of knitting, and I wear it once or twice a year. But it's really not a "wearable" piece of knitting. That would be my quibble with most of the sweaters from past issues they featured. Gorgeous stuff, but much of it over-sized or oddly shaped -- not very comfortable or flattering to us ordinary mortals.

By the way, I still secretly believe I CAN knit anything on set my heart on. I'll close with a closeup of lace:

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Now the old one will turn up . . .

I finished my son's costume. He's going to a camp that features a medieval feast as part of the evening entertainment. The first year he went to this camp, I made him a tunic & pants to wear -- but where they are, we cannot remember. Both his "garb" and the costume I made my daughter in 5th grade -- are missing. Her costume featured a tunic, for when she starred as Romeo in the class play, and a skirt, which converted the tunic to a dress, when she was ready to go back to being a girl.

Have YOU SEEN this Costume? Or this one?

So, here's the new incarnation, made in "school colors" just in case he wants to be even MORE interestingly dressed than usual for football games this fall. I used these instructions, which are rather Elizabeth Zimmerman-ish in their modularity and scope for the imagination.Being secretly superstitious, I'm betting tomorrow someone will call to return the old costumes, a person who's taken good care of them (and who can't help my poor memory). Unless I have to wait till my daughter needs another one as well?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

So Now What?

That's always the question when I finish a project. Once I had put away the pattern & needles I used on the pink sweater, what next? Do I start something new (there's some really nice Alpaca Silk wanting to be mittens for me) or do I finish something I've set aside previously?

Well, for now, I've decided to get back to Am Kamin (see the link in the sidebar for more information). When I last worked on this, I'd just about run out of chart. Also, I'd done the math to recalculate the raglan decreases, since I'd added some width to this sweater, and my row gauge seems to be more compact than the gauge in the pattern. The other relevant fact is that knitting this sweater hadn't been much fun lately.
I'm not saying I don't LOVE this sweater. Even my unfinished back is one of the most beautiful pieces of knitting I've ever seen. There's something about those rows of twisted, traveling stitches, like a sort of knitted drill team, marching across in formation, that pleases me immensely. But I was really tired of how fiddly the work of it was.

So, what to do next? On the Crossed in Translation KAL site, there seemed to be lots of people who'd carefully charted out the whole sweater. (The Japanese pattern doesn't do that -- there are great charts, but they let the knitter extrapolate.) So, I looked into some knitting symbol fonts, so I could do the same (maybe on an excel spreadsheet). I found two pretty good ones, here and here. But looking closer, I realized neither had the "fish" symbols the original pattern used so much. So I'd have to improvise. And somehow, late on Saturday night, that seemed a bigger obstacle than I wanted to tackle.

Then I happened to re-read Theresa's post from when she finished the sweater. Theresa (newly married Theresa, but that's another great story) didn't make charts. She just knit from the pattern. Granted, Theresa is younger than I am, and has a brain freshly exercised from med school. Mine on the other hand, feels mildly damaged by chemo. Still, I was inspired. Why not make Am Kamin my own personal Brain Age and learn to knit it, rather than be a slave to its charts?

So, that's what I'm doing. It's tough. The traveling stitches need manipulating on both sides of the knitting (usually cables crosses are performed on front-side rows). And practically every pattern has a different number of rows in each repeat. But I'm learning -- though I don't think I'll ever be able to toss the charts completely. And, I'm finding some pleasure knitting this sweater again. Will I keep at it till it's finished? Only time will tell.

But in the meantime, I'm also busy here. It's a project with a deadline -- I need to finish by Friday, and I'll have pictures then, I hope.

Friday, July 13, 2007

And we have a winner! . . .

Or two. Here's my daughter, picking from a basket containing your names (your odds were good, by the way).
And here are the winners -- the first name picked was Linda -- who is also my sister. And though I love her dearly, and am glad to have her as my winner, at the same time, it seems a little lame to offer a prize and then give it to your own family. So, not only will Linda be getting a little something in the mail, so will Tiennie. Congratulations! And thank you ALL, for sharing your successes, for saying nice things about my new sweater, and most of all, for reading my blog.

Tiennie, could you e-mail me your address? The rest of you might want to hop on over to tiennie knits, where she's celebrating her blogiversary and 100th post, all at once. More prizes!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Post #101 Prizes? Pride?

It's not too late to help me celebrate the 100th post to my blog. One lucky commenter will win a small surprise. The winner will be chosen randomly from commenters. I'm extending the deadline through Thursday night at midnight because, well, it's my blog. And I'm rather late with this post.

I suggested in my last post that you share some project of yours from the last 18 months that you're particularly proud of. I'm impressed - from blogless Marilyn, who also happens to be my dear sister, and her project (a work in progress really), surviving a senior year with a kid who's set to flourish at Gonzaga next year -- to some great knitting projects from Tiennie and Octopus Knits.
As for me, I'm probably proudest of the Endpaper Mitts & matching hat that I made my father-in-law for Christmas. I did a fine job on the knitting. But what is most satisfying about this knitting is that they were such a successful gift. My father-in-law spends lots of time sitting still, due to health problems. He's often cold. He wears the hat & mitts often, even this summer. It's very hard to find appropriate gifts he will appreciate anymore, but these have hit the spot.
What about you? Comments are still open!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Blog post #100! A finished sweater!

It's a happy day here at Works in Progress! I finished the surplice lace sweater! And it fits!
  • Surplice Lace Top, from Nashua Handknits: The North American Designer Collection No. 4, designed by Gayle Bunn.
  • Size M (finished chest 38")
  • Tahki Cotton Classic yarn, 8 skeins, color #3451 (a very pale pink), and I used nearly every yard -- I'd be amazed if there's more than 5 or 6 yards left.
  • Knit on US size 3 and 4 Addi Turbo needles, almost to gauge -- I had to knit one more repeat of the lace pattern to get the right length, but my row gauge on stockinette seemed OK.
  • Yarn and pattern purchased in April at Hilltop Yarn Shop
Here's a close up of the lace pattern. I like how it's both lacey and has some nice cottony texture as well. Mostly I am SO happy that it fits. Until I wet blocked it, it looked pretty tight when I tried it on. But I was counting on the cotton yarn (and lace pattern) relaxing after washing, which it did. First public wearing tomorrow!

This is my hundredth post since I started blogging in February of 2006 (remember the Knitting Olympics?). To celebrate, I'd like to send a small surprise to one of you out there in blog-readerland. Just leave a comment between now and next Wednesday at midnight (PDT). I'll get one of the human works in progress at my house to help me pick a winner out of the hat. Of course, I welcome compliments and congratulations, but it might be more interesting if you share your most successful project of the last 18 months or so (knitting or otherwise). And I'll try to decide which knitting project I'm proudest of too!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A rocket in my pocket

And a sweater on my sofa. It's the surplice lace top -- and I'm finishing it! I can't wait. Partly to see if it fits. I've been unhappy with the fit of my last summer lace sweater (the Lotus Blossom Tank) so I chose a size to give less ease. We'll see.

Tuesday night I started sewing the overlap. Twice, of course. Rather than following the directions which have you overlap the two pieces to fit the bottom piece that you sew it on to, I thought I'd be clever and figure it out mathematically. Unfortunately, the logic of this situation was not intuitively obvious to me. There are 58 stitches cast on on each top side (plus the edging, but I'm disregarding that for now). There are 94 stitches cast off the top of the lace piece at the bottom. 58 x 2 = 116, 116-94=22

What YOU should do, if you make this sweater, is overlap twenty-two stitches from each piece. What I did was be clever and overlap 11 stitches, thinking that uses up the 22 extra stitches. But it doesn't. Trust me.

Next post, either a finished sweater, or further finishing trials.