Saturday, January 26, 2013

Alterations, Wherein I disagree with Shakespeare

The bard said, "Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,"

Which, when speaking of love, is true, or ought to be true.  But when speaking of sweaters, sometimes, love alters.

My mom sent me home a few months ago with two of the vests I have made for her over the years.  She's lost some weight, and they really didn't fit any more.

And so:
If that's not love, I don't know what is:  taking my scissors to Grant Avenue.

Parenthetically, the link to Grant Avenue shows a sweater that is much shorter (at least on the model) than the one I knit.  And is shorter than most of the ones on Ravelry.  And to the original in Pacific Coast Highway.  I'd swear I knit it as written.  Just for the record.   Also, if I need a little extra cash some day, it looks like rather than sell plasma, I'll sell my vintage Starmores.  And, again for the record, I'm not selling.

When I finished, I had this -
(Sorry for the wonky picture).  I had to overlay the placket at the hem.  However, by doing this, I didn't have to re-knit them.

Which from the inside looks like this:

Unfortunately,  I didn't take any pictures of the post-alteration try-ons, but both garments were about 4 inches smaller, and looked fine.

The other garment had side seams, so that was easier, both actually and psychologically.  It was an adaptation of the Navajo Pullover from Knitting in America (which was later reprinted as America Knits).  When it was new, it looked like this (the one on the left).
Navaho pullover vest 
(I'd knit my step-dad the actual Navajo pullover, which was always too warm, so I cut THAT down to a vest [thus my reputation as a knitwear alterations expert]).

And here is a "back-in-the-day" shot of Grant Avenue.

Marie in Grant Avenue

I'm sad to say I couldn't find a good link to the actual Navajo pullover sweater - the pictures on Ravelry are of my vest. Sadly, La Lana Wool has closed - sad for many reasons, but especially because the yarn was so fantastic. I used most of the leftovers of the hand-spun, hand-dyed colored yarns in hats in years past, but still have some of the machine-spun black left. The Hebridean yarn I used for Grant was a treat as well. Pulling out the leftovers to use, or have on hand, for these alterations was to remember some months of happy knitting.

And now, I hope my mom has some more years of happy wearing.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Because I've never knit with pencil roving

Back in October when my wonderful local yarn store, Sheep's Clothing, hosted a trunk show from Imperial Stock Ranch, one of the things that piqued my interest was their pencil roving.  Pencil roving is un-spun wool.  I think you could spin it, or use is for thrummed mittens, or you can carefully knit with it.  I've never knit with pencil roving before, so I more or less looked for an excuse to knit something from it.  Knitting for someone else is always a good excuse, so I bought the yarn and pattern for the Evening Dusk Bolero, designed by Leigh Radford.

I just finished knitting it for my daughter last night, and wove in the last ends and sewed on the button this afternoon.  Since she's going back to school tomorrow, I did a quick wash and a dry on my dryer rack so we could do a photo shoot. 
She wasn't sure, from the pattern picture, how much she really wanted this little sweater.  And I was prepared to pass it on, if it wasn't for her.  But it turns out, we both like it quite a lot.
Knitting with pencil roving is an interesting experience.  An absent-minded tug as you're knitting easily breaks the strand.  But it's nearly as easy to spit-splice it back together and keep going. A cake of this yarn has about the same weight and yardage as a yarn like Cascade 220 - but it's knit at this big gauge, so the garment is thick and warm but very light.  The pattern called for size 13 needles, but I needed size 11 to get gauge.  Knit in one piece, top-down, I finished it in a few evenings.  This was also my first top-down sweater.  We decided to add an inch and a half to the length, which we both like a bit better. 

Evening Dusk Bolero

  • Size 34
  • Size 11 needles
  • Imperial Stock Ranch Bulky 2 Strand Pencil Roving, Kingfisher Blue, color 25 - 2 skeins
  • wooden button from my button box, backed by a smaller plastic button.  (I think this button is leftover from a Philosopher's Wool kit I knit as a pullover years ago.)
  • designed by Leigh Radford
  • 6 rows added to the length (before the bottom ribbing)
  • On Ravelry here.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Oh Dear! It's a Honey!

Honey Cowl, that is. 

If you haven't heard about the Honey Cowl, the scarf that has it's own bandwagon, you can read about all the cowling on Mason-Dixon Knitting to get a bit of perspective. (Also, there are 9,483 on Ravelry.  Really.)

Anyway, the knitters in my audience will recognize this story.  My daughter's Christmas list included a request for a "blue infinity scarf".  I had actually already bought a couple of scarves of the infinite variety for Christmas gifts by the time this appeared on the list.  And then I was in Target in the weeks before Christmas, and they had just the thing -- only $19.99.  But of course, not just the thing -- cheap yarn, visible seam, and well, I just couldn't.

Two skeins of Fyberspates' Scrumptious later (and that didn't add up to any $19.99,  I'll tell you) I was ready to knit a Honey.  And now it's done.  And it is.  Gorgeous, easy to knit -- I want one.


  • Honey Cowl -- a free pattern from Madelinetosh
  • 2 skeins Scrumptious 4 ply/sport superwash by Fyberspates, knitting two strands together.  Color 309- Midnight.  45% silk, 55% superwash merino.  I would have used yarn of the right gauge in one strand, but LOVE this yarn, and this particular blue wasn't available in the weight I needed.
  • Size 8 circular needle
  • I made the longer version,  though didn't knit quite to the 12" width.
  • 10 days, and I knit slowly. 
  • On my Ravelry

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Sewing the Urban Aran - zipper and yoke


I follow the directions given in the big Vogue Knitting book to sew zippers in my hand-knits.

The first step is to pin the zipper in place, matching the two front sides carefully.  This is the last step I do, after the sweater is sewn together.  For this sweater, I'd blocked the body pieces before sewing them together.  If I hadn't done that already, I would block the sweater before sewing in the zipper.
Then I basted the zipper in place, a running stitch - by hand.
The basting is the blue stitches in the picture above.  I actually basted from the front of the sweater, since I was interested in keeping the front edges and pattern matched.

Then, I sewed the edge of the zipper tape in place from the back (see above) using a matching thread color.

Finally, from the front side, I sewed the edge of the sweater down next to the zipper teeth, using a back stitch.  The picture here is from the back, so you can see the stitches.  Sewing this by hand lets you adjust the stitches just so.
When I finished, it looked like this:
I don't have a picture of the top edge, but for this sweater, I cut the zipper tape quite close to the top of the zipper and used a small overcast stitch to fasten the top, cut edge to the collar of the sweater.  I also used fray-check on the cut edge before I sewed, as insurance.


When my son tried on this sweater, I found I was always pulling at it to get the shoulders to sit right on his body.  The deep vertical ribs in this pattern, and the very elastic yarn, combined to make the shoulders pull out of shape very easily.

I decided to line the back yoke area of the sweater to try to fix this.   I bought some cotton sateen with lycra at Joann Fabric to use as my lining.  This is not a lining fabric, but I didn't want to work with a slick poly lining.  I thought the stretch woven fabric would be a good compromise between stability and stretch, since I was lining a very stretchy hand-knit sweater.  

I used the back yoke of a shirt that fits my son's shoulders very well to cut the lining.
I pinned the edges of the shirt yoke to my lining fabric, then marked where the pins went through - and connected the dots.  I adjusted the neck edge to match the sweater  collar, which starts lower than the shirt collar did.  I did some measuring and checking, both with the shirt and sweater, at this point.  I also made sure everything was pretty much symmetrical.

I cut the yoke about 1/2 an inch bigger than the finished size I was aiming for.  Then I pressed under that 1/2 inch all around (clipping curves), and sewed the pressed edges to the wrong side (by machine).  Then I pinned the yoke into the inside of the sweater.  I sewed it in by hand along the arm edges, across the shoulders and neck, and down the other seam between the sleeve and back of the sweater body.  I left the bottom edge loose.  (Men's "unlined" jackets often have this kind of lined yoke.)

When I was  through, it looked like this:

And my son and I were both happier with how the sweater fit.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Autumn Fern Mobius

Sometime this fall, I received an email from The Web.sters, that wonderful knitting store in Ashland, OR.  They were advertising the Dream in Color October 2012 club offering - The Autumn Fern Mobius, designed by Jessica Correa.  The yarn was a merino-silk sock yarn, in a custom colorway.

It looked perfect for my youngest sister - great colors for her, and it's been a while since I've knit for her.  So I ordered the kit.  And then, in November, I drew her name for Christmas.  Yay!

Not quite so good was my idea that I would first finish my son's Urban Aran cardigan first, since I wanted it done before he came home for Christmas.

Unfortunately, on December 25, the scarf was about a foot short of done.   So, it was given on the needles, and promptly returned.  Luckily, we spend Christmas together.

On December 28, it was finished.
This second shot shows the place where the loop was grafted together, after a half twist.
I was able to deliver it on New Year's Day.
At last!
Doesn't she look great? 

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

What I made in 2012

2012 Knitting
Eleven items finished this year!   Much better than last year, when I only finished 5 things.  Two sweaters for myself, plus a hand-felted necklace.  A cowl or scarf for both sisters, my daughter, my son, and my niece.   My son really scored, with the formerly mentioned scarf, a laptop sleeve, hat, and sweater.  The picture of the blue yarn represents a Honey Cowl, which is currently on the needles for my daughter.

Happy New Year, and good knitting, in 2013!