February seems to be a month of knitalongs for me this year. For the first two weeks of this month, I banged out a sweater, and now I'm joining the Anna Vest Knitalong.
I'm so close to finishing the sweater I knit for #bangoutasweater, and yet so far. I knit a whole sweater - and then steeked it. Easy enough.
Then I picked up and knit bands from the steeked edge of the sweater. Also easy enough.
I decided I would knit the bands to be long enough so they could be folded over the steeked edge and sewn down. The knitting part was perfectly easy, but the sewing down, not so much. I left the band stitches live, and tried sewing them down against the back edge. It's a twisty, tangly mess, and I suspect this is why people don't like knitting with black yarn.
It's hard to see which purl bump goes with which stitch, and I can only stand working on it for about ten minutes at a time. I know I probably need to go back to the drawing board, but I'm being stubborn about it.
While I let these silly bands marinate in my mind, I'm moving on to something bright and shiny (and with lighter colored yarn)...the Anna Vest.
When I bought Farm to Needle last year, I knew I had to knit the Anna Vest. The fact that Karen at Fringe & Co is holding a knitalong - and there was a discount on the yarn - is what convinced me to get my butt in gear and actually knit the thing.
I'm using Thirteen Mile yarn in the light gray variegated shade. It's one strand of white and one strand of gray spun together. I usually don't go for marled yarns, but there's so little contrast between the two that it ends up looking like a silvery gray color.
This is the first time I've knit with organic yarn. This yarn is crunchy and soft at the same time. It's advertised as a worsted weight, but it really seems like more of a sock weight to me.
I was thrown for a big loop when I went to begin the Andalusian stitch pattern called for in the pattern instructions. It turns out the stitch pattern is tucked into the back of the book instead of embedded in the actual pattern itself.
I also thought I was having tension problems. After a couple of inches of knitting I had a wobbly mess, but a light steam block while still on the needles smoothed it out just fine.
The goal is to have two finished objects by the end of the month...we'll see what happens!
Even though I went down to a slightly smaller needle to get a snugger fit, knitting the sweater has flown by. It's been ages since I've knit anything with bulky wool or needles bigger than a size 6, so this whole #bangoutasweater business has gone by fast.
After about five hours of knitting, I had a sleeve. After another five hours, another sleeve. Six hours after that, I have the body done to the underarms, and once the sleeves were joined to the body, I had the yoke completed. If you don't feel like doing math, that's 20 hours for most of the size small sweater.
The color work on the yoke is most decidedly not a Stopover – instead, I used Anna's Lopapeysa as a starting point, simplifying a few of the color choices and modifying a couple of the color work patterns a bit.
If I wanted to just knit a few rounds of ribbing, I would have a sweater, and a pretty nice one at that. But no.
After I knit the collar, which is going to be taller than your average lopapeysa, I'm taking my scissors to this baby. I'm going to steek it down the front, knit on bands, and sew in a zipper.
Estimated time: unknown. Still, this is probably the fastest I've ever knit a sweater.
What's your record time for knitting a sweater?
This #bangoutasweater business is fun! The pattern is Stopover, knit with Lettlopi. My yarn was waiting in my mailbox yesterday when I got home from work.
The most time consuming part so far has been casting on - and only because I chose to do a tubular cast on instead of a long-tail one.
After about five hours of knitting, I have a size small sleeve. It's an inch shorter than the pattern calls for - I have short arms.
The Lettlopi is just a tad scratchier than I expected. I think it will be fine in the sweater, and a good wash might get it closer to my expectations.
The colors I chose are three shades of gray and a light turquoise. The two lighter shades are very close to each other. I do like the way they blend to create a gradient. The darker gray is almost black, which brings me to my next thought...
What's the big deal about knitting with black yarn?
So many knitters avoid knitting with black yarn that it's almost hard to find black yarn. Where did this myth come from that knitting with black yarn is hard to do and is to be avoided at all costs?
It doesn't seem to be all that different - especially when knitting in stockinette. I'm using a row counter to count my gauge and a stitch marker to mark the beginning of the round, but that's the same as normal for me.
This yarn (shade 005) is technically still a gray - it does have some specks of white in it, but I think it will be a great color for a black sweater. Bring on the black yarn!
I've also been thinking about the issues I have with the pattern, and I think I've made some design decisions.
I'm knitting the pattern in a size small on slightly smaller needles. This should get me to a result that is somewhere between a small and extra small. It will be snug on me, but still fit.
I'm definitely going to steek it. I'm also going to knit the collar to be quite deep, like a turtleneck. This way, when the sweater is worn open (how I normally wear them), the edges will pull out slightly. This, combined with the snug fit, will get me closer to my preferred v-neck shape without having to perform any olympics of pattern design.
I'm leaning towards putting in a zipper. That way, if I get really cold, I can zip the sweater up and be perfectly comfortable.
I'm also tempted to put in pockets, but that will depend on whether or not I have enough yarn. I should, but pockets will be a game-time decision.
The last decision I have to make is also the hardest: what to do about the colorwork pattern. I've pulled a few ideas for the colorwork onto a Pinterest board.
I'm loving colorwork these days, and wouldn't be opposed to working two strands of yarn for a bigger chunk of the sweater. But it could also be lovely to have just a tiny band of colorwork around the neckline, like a tiny necklace.
Luckily, I still have a couple of days before I have to make a decision, since I still have one more sleeve and the body of the sweater to knit....
Are you banging out a sweater? How's it going?
Kay and Ann at Mason-Dixon Knitting are basically my superheroes. My first knitting book was Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting Without Tears. My second was Mason-Dixon Knitting. And sorry Elizabeth Zimmerman, Mason-Dixon Knitting was infinitely more fun, inspiring, relatable, and knitable for a beginning knitter!
Elizabeth Zimmerman may have been a knitting genius, and I have all the love and respect for her imaginable. I love her wit, and her ingenuity. But Kay and Ann have a spark that just speaks to this digital native.
It was Kay and Ann who introduced me to Ravelry – way back in the day when you had to wait for an invitation.
It was Kay and Ann who introduced me to Alabama Chanin - a genius in sewing, design, and the revitalization of an American industry.
It was Kay and Ann who introduced me to some of my favorite knitting blogs.
It was Kay and Ann who introduced me to that wonder of knitted wonders, the ballband dish cloth.
Anyways, like I said, superheroes.
So when Kay and Ann announced their Bang Out a Sweater knitalong, I was like, “where do I sign up?” Only I wasn’t so sure about the pattern.
I’ve been fascinated by yoke designs for a while, so that’s a plus.
I’ve also wondered about that dreaded waistboob phenomenon that comes about as a result of smaller yoke designs. Will I fall prey to the waistboob monster? Or does my relatively small chest protect me from the monster’s wrath? In case you’re wondering, this is a negative against the pattern in my mind.
The knitalong’s chosen pattern, Stopover, is a pullover, and I don’t really wear pullovers much, especially not ones this thick.
I’m all about the layers that can be added and removed without accidentally taking off my shirt with them or worse – messing up my hair. Basically this means almost all my sweaters are cardigans. Luckily, thanks to Kay and Ann and Elizabeth Zimmerman, I’m not scared of steeking. In my mind, this is a pretty easy modification, so it doesn’t really affect my decision to make the pattern or not.
The thing that’s really bugging me, though, is the neckline. I am weird about having things against my neck, which is probably the reason why I own so many cardigans and v-necks. A yoke sweater will lie against my neck, and even if I steek it, those floppy bits will drive me nuts. What to do?
In the midst of all my waffling about whether or not to but bang out a sweater with my knitting superheroes, I bought the yarn. Lettlopi, 12 balls, four colors. It just sort of happened. As it does.
Now I’m watching everyone else cast on their sweaters on Ravelry and Instagram, and it looks like so much fun. I’m waiting for the mail to bring me my yarn, which will be (hopefully) today. And while I wait, I’m wondering what I will do.
So many options. But one way or another, I’m going to bang out a sweater. Wanna join?
When I got my big loom all the way back in November, I was excited beyond measure.
And then I had to set it up.
It was mostly set up when I bought it, but we had to take it apart a little bit to get it into Mike's truck, an then we had to take it apart even more to get it into my craft room. It seems that some of the door frames in our house are abnormally small.
So instead of weaving on it right away like I'd hoped, I spent a weekend putting it together. The frustrations associated with that ordeal were enough to dampen my enthusiasm.
Still, I was determined to weave on it, if only to prove to my husband that it was well worth the (considerable) price we paid for it.
I decided I would weave a rug for my office because why not. I had lots of carpet warp, so it seemed like a good idea. And just to get good practice, I warped 10 yards and enough to fit the loom's entire 45 inch width.
As I was warping the loom, a warp thread broke. Not great, but what's one thread? As I started weaving, I struggled to keep my shuttle from falling out of the warp. And then more warp threads started breaking. It turned out that one of the harnesses was in upside down.
It was miserable.
It took me almost three months to admit it wasn't working. In that time I managed to weave only five inches. A more experienced weaver would have known how to fix it, but all I could do was cut all 10 yards off the loom.
It was wasteful, but it was still a good decision.
Because I got this on the loom.
A three yard warp, only about 12 inches wide. The goal was really just to get something on and off the loom. Mission accomplished.
The warp is a basic worsted weight wool knitting yarn that was in my stash. The weft is handspun wool that was in the stash that came with the loom. I played with a bunch of different patterns just for the heck of it, which seems to be my m.o. One day I'll have to pick a pattern and stick with it, but this was not that day.
Once I got it off the loom, I wasn't really sure what to do with it. Not exactly the right dimensions for a scarf, and the gray handspun is way to scratch for next-to-skin wear.
I've been hankering for a bigger bag to keep toiletries in. I have one at home that I love, but my locker at work is an embarrassing mishmash of stuff that falls out at the most inopportune times. So I made this boxy bag from the instructions over at Purl Soho. My fabric was exactly half the width needed for the pattern, so I seamed two edges together.
I love the idea of making something useful out of my weaving samples. This bag is far from perfect, but it will do exactly the job I want it to do. And what could beat that?