Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My NEW Knitting Chair!!!

Yesterday we had an impromptu visit to IKEA (which is a four hour drive - one way) to order a new sofa as ours is starting to fall apart and is starting to be a safety hazard for the baby. The staples are falling out of the bottom (thanks to the kittens who like to crawl into the couch from the bottom and hide) and I'm so worried that Pooter will find a staple before I do and eat it. So... we ordered the Karlstad 3+2 sectional sofa in brown. I had wanted to get a dark grey, but upon seeing the fabric in the showroom, I didnt like it anymore. It just looked... tired and cheap. Like it had once been a beautiful black sofa that has sat in the sun way too long. I had wanted that fabric because it was machine washable, but the brown is drycleanable.... so... I could always Dryel a cushion cover if it gets covered in the bodily fluids of a baby. It'll be here in about 2 weeks.

I also wanted a new chair to knit in. I bought the Poang with a black-brown frame and a black cushion. I also got a matching footstool. I needed to replace the Papasan chair that I've had for about 5 or 6 years now. It's just getting a little rickety and the only one that sits in it regularly is Pooter and even he is starting to not like it anymore. I put it together this morning (we got home at about 12:30 last night and went straight to bed) and it was only a few pieces to bolt together which was nice. As you can see by the photo, Mischief and Mayhem have already made themselves at home on it:

(photo taken with my cell phone...)

Remember that chart I was complaining about making a few weeks ago? Well I finished it and have been working on the intarsia part of that sweater. At one point in time, I had 10 (? I was too scared to count) little balls of yarn attached to the back of the project. It was a tangled mess for awhile but I muddled through it:


THat's all the yarn I was working with, the chart underneath it, and the knitting a little bit behind it. I'm trying to obscure the work a bit so it doesn't violate any knitty submission laws should I decide to submit it. I'm finally back down to two colors and in a few rows I'll be back down to one color. Yay!!!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Lillian Tank top (FO)

I've been meaning to write this for awhile now and am a little backed up with writing about my FOs. The Lillian tank (designed by Amanda Reed) is a gorgeous tank with simple shaping and a fun lace pattern on the bottom. The problem is... the shaping was TOO simple and I had to modify it as I went along.

When I start a project, I usually research what other people have said about the pattern for at least an hour (sometimes more if you can believe it). What other people have said about this pattern on Ravelry was that there was a lot of stockinette on the top as the sizes got larger, which makes sense except that it was too much stockinette especially in the back as there was no bust shaping in the front. So girls that were simply busty (as opposed to just being bigger all around) had issues with the fit up top and in the armholes. I'm not necessarily busty (makes me sad to write this but after three kids... the girls kind of lose their girth) but I do have short shoulders (not sure if that's what they are really called but lets just say my bra staps are almost always as short as I can make them and I need to shorten the straps on tank tops so that I'm not looking like I work at a peep show).

Before I could even start this project with all the modifications I had planned in shortening the shoulders, widening the straps (I had noticed that the strap size is the same for all sizes and some of the Lillians made in the larger sizes had straps that were way too far out to the edge and it looked awkward), and adding short rows, I noticed an issue with the gauge. It took me days to try to wrap my head around it. Before even making a swatch, I noticed a discrepancy. For a size medium (36-38") at a gauge of 5.25 stitches per inch, you are instructed to cast on 154 sts. This equates to about a 29 1/3 " circumference. There were no increases at the bust area. There's no way that that would fit anyone with a 36-38" bust. It's not just this size. All of them have extreme negative ease. The only thing I could think of to explain this was that the designer used a cotton/acrylic blend and was compensating for a possible stretch. The other thing I couldn't wrap my head around was why the heck she wanted us to use a 16" circular to knit it. Yes, one is needed for the trim at the end around arm and neck holes but for the body of the tank that's a lot of stitches (esp at the bigger sizes).

After starting twice, I cast on for the size large (40-42" bust) to have enough to go around my waist comfortably with enough ease with a gauge of 5.5 stitches per inch on size 5 24" circs. I used Bernat Softee Baby solid in white which is a sportweight yarn.


I created my own chart for the pattern instead of the line by line instructions using this chart generator and went for it. I did a half of a repeat more than the lace pattern called for to lengthen it a bit but I wish I would have done another whole repeat as it shortens up a bit as I wear it (so I would have made it 5.5 repeats long or so).


When I got to the bust portion I added 8 staggered short rows to add an extra inch of fabric to the front. Once I got past the short rows, I followed the directions for length of stockinette portion for the smallest sizes and tried it on multiple times to make sure it was right. When it came to the straps however, I made them 14 stitches wide instead of 8. There is about a half inch of ribbing on both sides of the strap but I didn't think it be wide enough to cover the straps of the camisole I'd wear underneath as well as hide the ol' bra straps.

I steam blocked the heck out of the lace portion because I needed it to flatten out as much as possible. Turns out that I maybe should have made the xtra large size for the bottom. It fits around the waist, but I wish I had a bit more ease to hide the "baby pouch" a little bit better.

But, it's still cute, and I got a lot of compliments on it when I wore it. No one believed me that I knit it and didn't buy it at a store.

(Pic above is pre-blocking)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Is it possible to twist stitches AFTER you've joined in the round?



I've done it twice now.

I'm using 5 dpns and the stitches on the needles that are hanging down get twisted between the needles. I use dpns a lot and I've never had this happen before.

I'm working on a hat for the (big) man of the house while he is a way at a music festival. I'm using this pattern (That Chocolate's Gone Straight to your Ribs) and using Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Coal. Everything that man wants knit for him has to be black. Boring.

Because WOTA is a yarn I've been contemplating using for some designs and other projects I made a "good" swatch. (As opposed to knitting some stitches and some rows, measuring while still on the needles and saying close enough). I cast on 30 stitches, and knit stockinette for about 3", bound off, and ::gasp:: blocked it. Counting stitches and rows on black yarn was difficult but I think I got it. To prove that I actually DID do what I just said I did... I took a picture:


As I was pinning my little swatch to a folded up kitchen towel, I decided that I needed these:

... Blocking mats and blocking pins from Knit Picks. I'm half tempted to order them, but the pins are backordered a bit... and I SHOULD really wait until I'm working again in Sept.... Yes, I think that these would be a nice treat for having to deal with the kids all summer long. Problem is though, that once I'm working again, my knitting time will dwindle so I may not use them often. Grrrrr..... !!!!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Regarding My Love Affair With a Design Notebook

So... it seems that I have more fun designing than I do in the actual knitting up.

In my last post (which was... I dunno... weeks ago?), I was complaining about charting intarsia for a design I'm working on. I decided to set aside the charting and work on the writing up of the pattern so that I'd know exactly how many stitches wide and high I need my chart to be. (I still haven't finished the chart but it's coming up on the to-do list) I wrote up the pattern for a size small (with notes for an XS) and today cast on for a sleeve.

I'm excited to be finally working on this design but... I miss my design notebook, BIC mechanical pencil, and calculator. I miss swatching and measuring and deciding on needle sizes and stitch patterns.

I love you, design notebook and I promise you that when I can afford it, I'll hire test knitters so I can spend more quality time with you.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tutorial on how to chart intarsia and be driven crazy at the same time

I'm trying to work on a design (one of several) for Knitty for the Winter issue (deadline to submit is September 2. This will be my first submitted design if I can get it done. We're not allowed to post pics or anything and I'm not really going to talk much about the specific design but I just wanted to vent some frustrations on charting. Part of the design involves a bit of intarsia and charting this sucker hasn't been easy so far. I'm using excel using Marnie's tutorial and while it's easier than paper and colored pencils... I dunno. I guess my issue is that my gauge is so small and my intarsia is so big so I have a big chart with lots of little cells to fill in in the correct shapes.

I'm not at all new to making my own charts. A few years ago, Beaner and BooBoo were really into the Disney princesses. I found a booklet that had sweaters that featured three of the princesses (Ariel, Snow White, and Cinderella I believe). Beaner liked Ariel so I made that sweater. BooBoo was in love with Belle from Beauty and the Beast so I had to make my own chart of her. It took hours. It took a long time to find a pic of her in which I could chart. Then I charted her by hand. Here's a pic of the first chart and part of the sweater in progress from a few years ago.

I think what I did was I figured out how many stitches across she needed to be and also how many rows high and taped together graph paper that would be that size (I'm sure it was square graph paper... I'm lucky Belle didn't come out smooshed). I then printed out the picture that I wanted to chart and drew a grid on the picture that corresponded with the size of the chart. At this point I was ready to start coloring in squares on my chart and I did so square by square. If the majority of the square in the picture was yellow (for her dress) the corresponding square on my chart was yellow. If it was half yellow and half peach (for her skin tone) I had to judge what it would like like one way or the other. Yikes, huh?

So, I suppose I really shouldn't complain that much about charting in excel. I don't have to scrounge around for graph paper (which, one can easily get online for free now. I'm sure you could in 2005 too when working on the Belle sweater but I didn't know about it), and if I make a mistake... it's a lot easier to change the color of a cell than white out and recolor on paper. Also, since I'm going to submit the chart for possible publication, it's a lot more professional looking than a scribbled on, crumpled up paper chart (that has been scanned in on an uber cheap scanner).

So, I'll continue to plug away in excel despite my grumblings...!

Oh! Just in case you're wondering whatever became of the now famous Belle sweater... I finished it up, got the seams all woven in and nice and pretty. I picked up stitches around the neck for some ribbing and...

my bind off was too tight and it wouldn't fit over BooBoo's head.

Did I fix it so she could wear it...?

nope... and I really have no idea what has happened to it since. Ariel's missing too!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A whole lotta Mischief & Mayhem

I have been uber busy this week. Last week, my cousins came to visit and brought some kittens that their cat had had back in May. Well, let's just say that the animal population in our house grew by two. Let me introduce you to Mischief and Mayhem (the only way I could get a good photo of them was when they were asleep... they aren't named Mischief and Mayhem for nothing!)

Mayhem is sitting next to the sleeping baby and Mischief is on the black footstool in the right of the photo. They get into everything.

On the knitting front... it was Knit Picks day yesterday!

Here's what I received:
  • 2 skeins Shine Sport (1 grass; 1 green apple)
  • 3 skeins Wool of the Andes (coal)
  • 5 skeins Merino Style (grasshopper)
  • 9 skeins Comfy Worsted (October)
  • Sweater 101 book
  • Essential/Stroll color card
  • Size 5 nickle plated needle tips
  • Size 6 nickle plated needle tips
  • 24" interchangeable cable length
  • Size 3 DPNs
  • "Sweater in Progress" keychain
The Shine Sport is to make Sheldon, the Wool of the Andes is to make a hat for the boyfriend, the Merino Style is for an original design of mine, and the Comfy Worsted is to make a cropped cardigan for my daughter (Mia by Debbie Bliss in her book Junior Knits).

Besides the kittens, my knitting has been driving me nuts too. Left leaning decreases followed by a right leaning decrease (k2tog) will be the death of me. I've been working on my Lillian tank top and... I don't know. I mean, I know that no one will notice that the two decreases don't match each other (at least that's what I'm telling myself) and when I photographed it, the differences didn't really show but still... grr... Anyone know of a good knitting ocd therapist!? Do you think insurance would cover that?

The offending lace....


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

This blanket works for Voldemort...

I have been working on the OpArt blanket since friggin April (ok ok... so I set it aside a few times). Lately though, my obsession to finish the blasted thing has completely overwhelmed me. While I'm working on it, all I'm doing is counting down until I'm done (each round takes approximately 27 minutes). If I try to work on other projects, all I can think about is that I can't wait to get the blanket done. I feel like I'm under the Cruciatus Curse.

Just so we're clear... that's a 60" circular needle. As in a 5 foot needle....

And just look at all those ends to weave in!

::crawls under desk and into fetal position::

Friday, July 3, 2009

Has it really been three years!?

Yup... it has been (over) three years since I had a blog (click here to read my old blog... I thought about just reviving that one but... I can't seem to remember the password and my old email address was the one that was provided by the college and is no longer active). In those three years, I went from being very comfortable with HTML and basic blogger to... well... feeling hopelessly lost. I hate feeling that way and am going to spend a little bit of time familiarizing myself with blogger's new features. I'm excited to give it a go again!

This blog is going to mainly focus on my knitting, but will also encompass other aspects of my life. Let me introduce myself first. My name is Tara and I live in Minnesota. I have three kids, Beaner and Boo-Boo are 7 year old twins, and Pooter is my 8 month old little man. Yes, those are nicknames. I don't know why I bothered even giving any of my children real, legal names. I hardly ever use them. I guess I'm the type of mom that will let you know how much trouble you are in by the use of your real name (and if you are in super major trouble, middle and *gasp* even last name). My honey's name is Karl, and he is Pooter's dad. We will probably get married someday but not today... probably not tomorrow either. We love each other and that's enough for us right now. I do have a wedding dress already... and it's GORGEOUS... but that's another story... for a different day!

I have a bachelor of arts degree in psychology. I am currently trying to find employment doing something that utilizes my education but... no such luck (well... I should say no such luck finding something that pays more than I would pay out in daycare costs). So... for now I am a SAHM that works during tax season at a CPA firm answering phones and assembling completed returns. This year, I'm starting back at the firm in September when the girls go back to school. My boss rocks.

As previously mentioned I'm a knitter (self-taught really... I bought a booklet at Michael's that was aimed towards kids and went to it. I have a hard time teaching others because of this but... I'm more adventursome I think. I'm not afraid to read about a technique and then then try it myself without someone showing me how to do it... ). I also read. I tend to do either one or the other obsessively. I'll do nothing but read in my spare time for a month or two (and barely pick up the needles if at all)... and then suddenly switch (usually without warning). I have a kindle and I love my library!!! I typically don't combine the two hobbies but I have been known to listen to an audiobook and knit at the same time on occasion.

I'd like to end each post by reporting what exactly is in the bottom of my knitting bag (well... it's entire contents actually) and so here it is:

  • Mia sweater and pattern
  • OpArt blanket and pattern
  • 4 stitch markers
  • 2 knitpicks color cards
  • yarn labels for yan from Opart blanket
  • lamb tape measure
  • a dime
  • 3 pairs of scissors
  • random yarn scraps
  • Girls' chore charts from 2 weeks ago
  • calculator/ruler
  • ends and tightening key for a knitpicks options circular
  • cable needle
  • lone size 6 dpn