Monday, October 30, 2006

Top Secret Sweater: A "Making of" Saga, Pt. 1

As sick as I'm getting of working on one project 24/7, I have to say I'm very excited to finally see my efforts taking shape...

Saturday was my last "Make Your First Sweater" class, and I attached the sleeves to the body (see left) and began working on the chest/shoulder area. I chose this project as a first sweater project because it's all in the round, with minimal seaming (just three needle BO under the arms). All I had to do was attached the live stitches at the tops of each sleeve to the appropiate places on the body (leaving a set # of stitches for the 3 needle BO) and then I just began knitting like normal.
As I pointed out in an earlier post, I had difficulty with casting on my sleeves. The first one I did was extremely tight (probably because it was my first time using dpns in a while and I was tightening a lot to make sure there would be no ladders) and the second one is the same gauge as the rest of the sleeve. I only hope blocking will fix this!

As I mentioned earlier, I modified the sleeves somewhat, so they wouldn't be huge and ballooning but rather a bit more subdued and somewhat form-fitting. I accomplished this using the highly technical process of trying them on while knitting them and looking at myself in the mirror. :) Somehow, in the midst of this highly technical process, one of them ended up lumpier than the other. *Sigh* I still don't know how, as I did take notes and measurements while adjusting the first (and more lumpy) sleeve. Once again, I'm looking to blocking to help me here... (sensing a theme, are we?)

Here's a pic of how it all looked pieced together, before joining all the pieces and working the chest. Hopefully sometime this week I'll post the pics of the whole thing on my needles, so stay tuned!
Look - Emma's "helping" me take pictures (by getting in the way).

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Impatiently Waiting for a Winder....

At least twice a day now I'm checking for updates on my yarn winder which I ordered with a 50% off coupon (score!). Last night I spent most of Lost and half of The Nine winding a ball of Noro Korchoran (see below) by hand. *sigh* Not fun. Once I get my winder I'll be able to wind yarn super quick-like, although I still have no idea where I'm going to put the darn thing. Oh well.

One of the reasons I really wanted this winder (besides the fact that a nearby lys was going out business and not winding any more balls!) is because I recently bought some (super cheap!) yarn on and there's no way I'm winding 1,000+ yards of wool by hand. Check it out here - it's the last color on the page. I found a great v-neck sweater that I plan to use it for, after the Christmas rush, of course!

Knitty's "Top Secret" Sweater

I've been taking a "Knit Your First Sweater" class at my lys for the past month. This Saturday is the last class and I have to have both my sleeves done. So as you can imagine I've been in knitting overtime - I think I did a good six inches last night on sleeve #2. Tonight I can't knit because I'm going to a concert (Jamie Cullum!!) and I still haven't found the time to put together my Halloween costume for Saturday. Argh! Knitting on a deadline definitely makes me want to stop knitting - or at least switch projects. I bought some Misti Alpaca Bulky (softer than a dream!) and I haven't been able to start working with it because of this sweater.

But now on to the sweater. I'm doing Knitty'sTop Secret in Noro Kochoran. I've made a few modifications, like shortening the whole thing so it fits a petite person such as myself. I've also lessened the "bell" look of the sleeve - I reduced the number of cast-on stitched to 36 and reduced two stitchs at the wrist, and then increased 8 sts as the sleeve goes up the arm, in order to make it look a bit more fitted.

This is my first sweater, and I'm learning some harsh lessons about making sleeves. Namely the lesson that they each need to be exactly the same. Somehow I cast on the first sleeve EXTREMELY tightly, and then loosened up after the inital inch of purling. The second sleeve is totally normal, stretchy cast on and all. So I'm hoping (and praying!) that if I block the cuff of the first sleeve way more than the second, somehow they'll look fine. I just don't have the discipline to redo a whole sleeve, especially on a deadline!

So Saturday I'll be putting the body and two sleeves on my circs and beginning the cowl/neck/chest part. I'm actually really excited about this because that'll be the first time it'll look like a real sweater!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Psychology of Knitting 101

Strange title for a second post in a brand-new blog, I know. I haven't been knitting for as long as many people have, but I have to confess that the whys and the hows of knitting fascinate me. Why do people knit? How do knitters approach knitting?

I've stated this before, but I love to knit because I feel as though it allows me to be creative using a medium that is easily accesible. I can't draw, or compose music, so while I feel like I'm a creative person, I'm not able to use my creativity within the confines of many of the established art forms. This brings us, in a roundabout way, to the art vs. craft debate; craft (supposedly) being something that is created with a useful purpose in mind, and art being something that is created for it's own sake. I don't quite agree with those definitions, because I believe a purse (whether or not it's cabled, fair-isle, or plain old stockinette stitch) can be both a work of art and a useful object.

How do knitters knit? I don't if I'm unusual in this, or it's a symptom of my stash illness, but I almost always tend to buy the yarn before I have a pattern in mind. It's sort of like an "Ooo - Shiney!" response, and then later a "Hmm....maybe a hat?" reaction. I'm very haphazard in planning for projects (although I'm trying to be very good about swatching, especially now that I'm approaching projects where that really matters!).

One thing I hear a lot from experienced knitters is the desire to not be bored while knitting. They don't want to do a simple st st scarf or 2x2 ribbed hat, but instead seek out patterns that keep them engaged the whole time, like complex cabling or lace. See, I'm different there. What I enjoy most is watching the finished object emerge from the end of my needles. There's nothing more exciting to me than starting out the night with 36 cast on stitches, four dpns, and some Noro, and ending up with half a sleeve for a sweater. So I guess I enjoy quantity and finished objects more than the creation of them. I'm not in it for the ride, only the desitination :)

Although, part of the reason why complicated patterns aren't a "must" for me probably has to do with the copious amount of television I watch while knitting. I'll post more about this pattern later, but I have to say it sucks to be on a groove with the Razor's Edge poncho from SnB:Nation only to find I skipped a yo because something exciting blew up on the tv.

Next entry, I promise, will have pictures!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


In order to see the evolution of this self proclaimed "novice knitter" it seems important to see where I've come from. Technically I've been knitting for around two years, but the first 3/4 of that time consisted of half-heartedly attempting two scarves. Now that I've got the basics (and technique!) down, I'm just flying along. On that note, I present to you a partial gallery of my FO's (finished objects).

First, my new purse. Originally meant to be a yarn tote, by the time I finished I just loved it too much. Made of NZ wool (little known fact: the title of this blog would also work if I happened to move to New Zealand. Just sayin'...) I put a felted flower on it because every purse needs a felted flower.

My next bag, which is actually a yarn tote. And it has a flower too! Though not felted, it's made of yummy Paton's Rumors in the Heather colorway. I still can't decide what else to make with it because I love it so much. Make sense? Of course not.

And my cutie little mp3 player bag. One of the first "real" things I made, hence the design defects.

My very recent handwarmers. I found a pattern online that showed how to knit a rectangle and then seam it up, leaving a hole for the thumb. Using that idea, I grabbed various shades of Noro and messed around with broken ribbing and striping. This picture, and the ones above, prove to me that I need to take better pictures, and more closeups, when my goal is to put them on this blog.

Maybe someday (when I'm not at work) I'll post some other pictures of my first structured needle-felting attempt, and some crafting projects I've made.

*Also, ten points if you know where the inspiration for the name of a blog came from? Anyone? Ok - check out The Lucksmiths "Cat in Sunshine" - LOVE that song. It's off their first album ever, entitled (appropriately) "First Tape."