June 24, 2005

Third Smooch is a Charm

I like finishing my knitting projects late at night. As much (or as little!) as I've measured, swatched, blocked and seamed, I never really know how it's going to look until I slip it on. I prefer to do that first try-on by myself -- if it's going to look bad, I'd rather learn that on my own. If it's fabulous, I can indulge in a Minor Conceit Session in private.

Smooch was no exception. I finished the knitting and seaming (marvelling at the Hannukah yarn all the while!) long after Jason had gone to bed. I slipped it on, held my breath, and walked over to the mirror.


Let the Mild Conceit Session commence!

Some knitters expressed discomfort with Smooch's plunging neckline, but I'm of the opinion that if it looks good and you don't wear it inappropriately -- then there is no such thing as neckline too low! In other words, this Smooch by itself is a night-time tank. During the day, I'd probably layer a bit -- which is what I did when I wore it Knitsmiths a few days later, and Alison snapped this picture of the tank in all its layered glory. I do wish that I'd made it just a wee bit longer, but I'm nit-picking -- I really love it.


Click here to see the back view

Speaking of the V-neck, Sarah asked in the comments if I could elaborate on the extra-stitch technique I was using to avoid streched-out stitches at the neck divide. I'll give it a shot!

For the front, I cast on the correct number of stitches plus one. I then knit the body as directed in the pattern all the way up to neck divide. (Obviously, the extra stitch meant that my stitch count was off by one as I knit the body.) When I got to the neck divide, the pattern told me to knit a certain number of stitches (let's say 20) and turn my work to start working the left side of the V-neck. I knit those 20 stitches, but before turning the work I put the next stitch (#21) on it's own tiny stitch holder (see the picture). I put the rest of the right-side stitches on a normal stitch holder and continued knitting the left side of the V-neck. When it was done, and it was time to put the rest of the stitches back on the needles, I did not put the center stitch on the needles; instead I left it on it's own little stitch holder. Here's what it looked like after both sides of the neck were done:

Once both sides of the V-neck were finished, I used the tail from where I joined my yarn to start knitting the right side of the neck to tack the center stitch down. I began weaving the tail into the row below the V-neck divide just to the right of the extra stitch, and when I was directly below it I slipped the sewing needle through the extra stitch and then went back to weaving. I don't have a close-up of the finished front, but it looks much better than my V-necks normally do! (I also received a tip from reader Ericka on another technique for avoiding the V-neck stretch. It sounds like a good one, so I'll include it in the extended entry section!)

Ericka wrote:

another alternitve for your loose stitch issue whenever you have to divide and place stitches on a holder. this is something that i read somewhere that works great for me and it keeps those center stitches at a divide tight. find the point where you're going to seperate the stitches and put a marker there if it helps. just cross your stitches, just take the stitch on the right side of the marker and swap it with the one on the left. might be something you might want to try and it would prevent you from needing to tac down an extra stitch on the wrong side.

Thanks, Ericka!

Posted by shannon at 2:22 PM | Comments (9) | For related posts: For Mom, Smooches!

May 9, 2005

All Thanks to Mom

Happy Mother's Day!

I actually finished my mom's socks up right under her nose. I told her that they were for me, and when she asked if she could try them on I said no. Isn't that evil?

I'm sure I've mentioned before that my mom taught me to knit. She hadn't picked up a knitting needle in around fifty years, so she had to brush up on her skills a bit before giving me my tutorial. After I got the hang of it, I asked her if she thought she'd keep knitting and she said that she doubted it. Apparently three years of watching me knit has changed her tune -- she's back at it, cranking out baby hats at a mile a minute! To celebrate her return to the world of string and sticks, I added some knitting goodies from her local yarn store to her Mother's Day gift bag -- some Sol Lastic yarn (discontinued for so long, apparently, it is scarcely mentioned on the web except in one lonely eBay auction) and a set of her own circular bamboo needles.

While we're on the subject of my mother's local yarn store, I should share a description. In addition to knitting and crochet supplies, it also has cross-stitch, framing and some sewing supplies as well. I'd wager that just over half of the store is devoted to yarn, but I'd swear I've never seen such an ecclectic selection of fibers in all my days. She has everything from Lion Brand and acrylics to Lorna's Laces, Cherry Tree Hill, and boutique hand-dyed yarns from Uruguay (not Manos).

Such a wide-ranging selection is wonderful, except for the fact that it is it was all mixed together -- in baskets, on shelves, on the floor, everywhere. If you concentrate extra hard, there does seem to be a vague organization-by-yarn-weight going on -- but even that has pretty much broken down. It was pandemonium. It was overwhelming for me, somebody who knows yarn fairly well, so I can only imagine a how a brand new knitter might react. ("Retreat!") I talked to my mom later and she said that the owner ran the store as a hobby, and was content not to grow her customer base outside that which she had always had -- experienced, older knitters. In fact, when my mom told her recently that knitting has become very popular with the younger set the owner was surprised. So sad to see such potential under-utilized!

Despite these hardships, I did manage to find something for myself at this yarn store (I know you're all shocked!), something I'd been meaning to try for some time: Fortissima's Cotton Colori sock yarn. My allergy to wool is well-documented and while I don't mind wearing sock liners when I want to show off my hand-knits during the winter, it's just not going to happen in the spring. This stuff is unbelievably soft, and on the needles it feels like... well, like it has wool in it. I got the Autumn colorway, which is best displayed in Sarah's post here -- she used it for her Sockapalooza socks!

So thanks, Mom. For the knitting skills, the wedding planning, and the piles and piles of chocolate cake you "forced" on us this weekend. You're the best!

Posted by shannon at 11:59 AM | Comments (1) | For related posts: For Mom, Socks

May 3, 2005

Baby Socks for Mom

MomSock.jpg
Pink socks, to match Cherry Mango!

I'm knitting madly on the Mothers' Day socks, hoping that I'll be able to give them to my mom this weekend when we see her. The yarn is Sock It To Me! from Elann, and the color is Orchid Pink. The pattern is... well, the pattern is a hybrid.

I started out following my favorite, old stand-by pattern and knit happily along in a 2x2 rib until I felt like the leg was long enough. Just as I was about to start the heel flap, I happened to be browsing the on-line table of contents for the summer issue of Interweave Knits. More specifically, I was looking at the Better Than Booties Baby Socks (PDF!) pattern, which is posted in its entirety.

The introduction to the baby sock pattern mentions that the socks "feature Priscilla Gibson-Robertsís short-row heel and toe". I skimmed a bit further down, and saw that all of the sock variations started by casting on forty-four stitches, a number very close to the sock I had in my hands at that exact moment. Since I've long wanted to try short-row heels I threw caution to the wind, added four stitches evenly around the sock on the last round of ribbing, and dove into the heel using the instructions in the baby sock pattern. And it worked like a charm! I can't wait to try the short-row toe.

I know things have been fairly sparse around here, we've been flitting around the East Coast again. Last weekend we were in New York, where Jason's parents threw us a lovely engagement party. (One of the gifts was the vase you see above -- isn't it pretty?) Being in New York also means that we saw nieces and nephews, and that means that you can expect baby knitting pictures up next!

Posted by shannon at 1:21 PM | Comments (1) | For related posts: For Mom, Socks

December 25, 2004

Holiday Knitting

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate!

Just to keep the knitting pressure on, this post will stay on top until Christmas Day. (In other words, new content will appear below -- so scroll down!)

Done!
Mother-in-law Cowl (due date: 12/25)
--Status: Done, and headed for New York! (1/18)
New baby blanket (due date: 12/25)
--Status: Finished! (12/23)
Redskins scarf for John (due date: 12/25)
--Status: Finished!
(12/24).
Late Breaking Addition! Teeny-tiny baby sweater (due date: 12/24)
--Status: Finished! (12/23)
Yankee Swap Scarf (due date: 12/15)
--Status: Done!
Scarf for Lauren
--Status: Done!
New baby booties (to match wrap sweater) (due date: 12/10)
--Status: Finished 12/9, just have to weave in ends during the car ride to NYC tonight.
Blueberry Mango (due date: 12/18)
--Status: Finished 12/5! Done! Maybe a little too long in the arms, but done! (Pictures to come.)

Still Working On...
...nothing! It's all DONE!

Posted by shannon at 12:00 AM | Comments (3) | For related posts: Christmas Knitting 2004, For John, For Lauren, For Mom, For Shirley, For Sydney

November 22, 2004

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

In All Seasons Cotton, True Blue

A few months back, I showed my mom a picture of Cherry Picking
-- the pattern that her Cherry Mango is based on. My mom -- ever the classy dame -- fixated not on the "cherry boobs", but on the blue.

"Ooooh. You could make me another one of those in blue, if you wanted."

So began Holiday Knitting v.2004.

Posted by shannon at 10:17 PM | Comments (2) | For related posts: Blueberry Mango, For Mom

May 5, 2004

Order in the Blog!

Yes, yes, I know. Sorry about the long absence. Let's get back on the horse, shall we?

momwaikikidone.jpg

Just over a month ago, I optimistically mused "this mother's day gift may be done before April!". When will I learn not to say things like that?

Here's the quick and dirty: I finished the knitting, and seamed the tank. I got out a crochet hook to do the edging and the straps, but when I started it looked all wrong. I ripped out the edging and tried again -- still not right.

Then it came back to me. When I made my tank, I did the edging as instructed in the pattern. Then I was shown a better way to do it so I ripped it all out and did it again with much cleaner results. I couldn't remember the method I ended up using, but surely I could get help again, right? Except.... oh, yeah. The person who helped with my tank's edging was my mom.

So, with Alison as a co-conspirator, when my parents came to visit last weekend I made up a story that somebody at Knitsmiths asked how I did the edging on my Waikiki tank. Could she possibly show me again? Of course she could.

With that riddle solved, the last obstacle to completing Operation Mothers' Day Tank was removed. Nevermind that I ended up ripping back to the armholes twice in the week after I re-mastered the edging -- that seems much less painful now that it's all blocked, pretty and ready to be presented this Sunday!

Project Name: Mom's Waikiki Tank
Pattern Source: Yarn Girls' Guide to Simple Knits; Summer in the City Tank
Size: Medium
Name of Yarn Used: Crystal Palace Waikiki (Cool Jazz), MilleFilli Fine (Turquoise No. 249)
Amount of Yarn Used: 4 skeins/balls of each (I haven't done the edging and straps yet, but I've used less than three skeins/balls of each! Update: In the end, I used just over 3 skeins/balls of each.)
Needles Used: No. 9 Addi Turbo circulars
Other notions used: n/a
Deviations from the Pattern: I didn't do it on purpose, but on both my mom's and my Waikiki tank, I ignored the gauge. Usually my gauge is right on but it ended up being too big on both tanks -- I think that the weight of the fabric created by these two yarns together makes for looser stitches. Also, I crocheted two straps on each shoulder instead of just one on my tank. Time will tell if I'll do the same for my mom's! (Update: I did two for hers as well. One just seems too puny.)
Other Comments (what I wished I'd known before I started this project): I didn't get gauge using the no. 9s, but I didn't get gauge on my tank either. Since my mom wants her tank to fit her just like mine does, wrong is right for this project! Also, these yarns tend to tangle -- check them frequently while knitting before it gets too tangled to use! (Update: To paraphrase the brilliant writers of The West Wing, the total tonnage of what I wish I'd known before starting this project could stun a team of oxen in its tracks. The edging: When you knit the body, you should follow the instructions on the armhole selvedges -- as in, there shouldn't be any. Don't crochet the edging the way they say to do it [single crochet]. Rather, starting with one loop on the hook, pull one another through the fabric then pull the third from over the top of the fabric edge. Once you have these three loops on the hook, pull the first (most recently acquired) through the older two. Repeat. Be careful when choosing how often to pull stitches through the fabric, on my mom's the best interval was big hole to big hole (long-ish distance), big hole to little hole (shorter distance). The straps should still be done in chain stitch. And whatever you do, get the edging and the straps right the first time -- every time you pull out the crocheted edges, it leaves big gaping holes!)

Posted by shannon at 10:29 PM | Comments (1) | For related posts: For Mom, Mom's Waikiki Tank

March 24, 2004

Zooooooom!

momwaikikiseamed.jpg

I had forgotten how quickly this tank knits up! I started the front on the plane to Austin and all of a sudden, it was done. Fifteen minutes of seaming later, all that's left is (1) slipping it on to make sure there's no glaring problems and (2) crocheting the edging and straps. Then it's off to the blocking board!

This mother's day gift may be done before April!

Project Name: Mom's Waikiki Tank
Pattern Source: Yarn Girls' Guide to Simple Knits; Summer in the City Tank
Size: Medium
Name of Yarn Used: Crystal Palace Waikiki (Cool Jazz), MilleFilli Fine (Turquoise No. 249)
Amount of Yarn Used: 4 skeins/balls of each (I haven't done the edging and straps yet, but I've used less than three skeins/balls of each!)
Needles Used: No. 9 Addi Turbo circulars
Other notions used: n/a
Deviations from the Pattern: I didn't do it on purpose, but on both my mom's and my Waikiki tank, I ignored the gauge. Usually my gauge is right on but it ended up being too big on both tanks -- I think that the weight of the fabric created by these two yarns together makes for looser stitches. Also, I crocheted two straps on each shoulder instead of just one on my tank. Time will tell if I'll do the same for my mom's!
Other Comments (what I wished I'd known before I started this project): I didn't get gauge using the no. 9s, but I didn't get gauge on my tank either. Since my mom wants her tank to fit her just like mine does, wrong is right for this project! Also, these yarns tend to tangle -- check them frequently while knitting before it gets too tangled to use!

Posted by shannon at 9:35 AM | Comments (2) | For related posts: For Mom, Mom's Waikiki Tank

March 11, 2004

If Lovin' You is Wrong...

matchingarmholes.jpg

Looks like I got the answers to my Mom's Waikiki Tank sizing riddles:

On size: The only way, then, to know for sure was to get my Waikiki tank out of winter storage and measure it and/or count stitches... (I cast on for the medium.)
I didn't really have to count stitches (though I did)... a quick glance at the width of my tank compared to my mom's told me that they were very close. Medium it is!

On not getting gauge: I'll admit, I didn't swatch for this tank, but -- here's the rub -- I'm pretty sure that I didn't swatch for my tank, either. Was my tank "wrong", too? Or did I make adjustments in needle size?
When I laid the tanks out together, armhole-to-armhole (as above), I was extremely relieved to see that they were almost identical in length. My original suspicion was right: my gauge was pretty far off for my Waikiki tank, and it looks great. So if using no. 9 needles is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

Project Name: Mom's Waikiki Tank
Pattern Source: Yarn Girls' Guide to Simple Knits; Summer in the City Tank
Size: Medium
Name of Yarn Used: Crystal Palace Waikiki (Cool Jazz), MilleFilli Fine (Turquoise No. 249)
Amount of Yarn Used: 4 skeins/balls of each
Needles Used: No. 9 Addi Turbo circulars
Other notions used: n/a
Deviations from the Pattern: n/a
Other Comments (what I wished I'd known before I started this project): I didn't get gauge using the no. 9s, but I didn't get gauge on my tank either. Since my mom wants her tank to fit her just like mine does, wrong is right for this project! Also, these yarns tend to tangle -- check them frequently while knitting before it gets too tangled to use!

Posted by shannon at 9:01 PM | Comments (1) | For related posts: For Mom, Mom's Waikiki Tank

March 3, 2004

Long Story, Little Tank!

In honor of Alison's entry about the impending season of tanks, I invite you to sit down and get comfortable as I spin a good, long yarn about my newest tank project.

Last June, Jason's family and I threw him a birthday/farewell surprise party. I chose that special occasion to debut my Waikiki tank, and it was very well received. As I noted at the time, my mother paid me the ultimate compliment: she asked me to make her one. She offered to buy the yarn if I would provide the labor. What knitter has ever passed up such an offer?

In August, not long after Jason and I moved to Boston, my parents came to visit for the weekend and my mom and I went to Woolcott & Co. to find yarn for her tank. As you might recall, mine was knit with Crystal Palace Waikiki (left) and Filatura Di Crosa's Millefilli Fine (right).

flame.jpg mffred.jpg

Never ones to fix what ain't broke, my mom and I began our search with these same yarns. She was immediately drawn to the Waikiki in Cool Jazz, which is a groovy combination of cool blues, purples and turquoise. Now all we needed was the Millefilli Fine in a color that complemented the Waikiki.

Here's where things started to go wrong. None of the Millefilli colors that the store had in stock were good candidates and we couldn't find any good colors in substitute yarns either. Eventually, one of the store employees brought us a Millefilli color card and told us that if we found a good match we could order it through the store. We didn't just find a good match, we found a damn-near-perfect match: the Waikiki in Cool Jazz on the left, Millefilli Fine in Turquoise, color no. 249 on the right.

cooljazz.jpg mffturq.jpg

Nice combo, no? We paid for both yarns, I put the Waikiki in my stash and waited for the store to call when the Millefilli came in. About a month later, they called to tell me that they had just gotten around to placing the order (!!!) only to learn that shipping from their supplier was delayed 4-6 weeks. The woman I talked to apologized profusely for the delay in placing the order, and asked me if I still wanted her to order it. This was in late September, but our goal had always been to get the tank done in time for next summer (2004), so a 4-6 week delay didn't inconvenience us overmuch.

In the flurry of holidays and political activism, I admit that I completely forgot about the yarn. It was only a few weeks ago, while cleaning out my stash, that I found the Waikiki and recalled that four months had passed since I'd last heard from the store. One day last week, after some teasing from Jason and Alison, I looked up their phone number and resolved to call them after work. When I got home that very day, there was a message on our voicemail from the store telling me that the yarn had finally, finally arrived.

Total wait: over six months. I loved making this tank the first time, and it looks like I'll be able to get my mom's done in time for Mothers' Day. Goodness knows she deserves it -- she did teach me how to knit, after all!

momwaikikiyarn.jpg Click to make me big!

Posted by shannon at 11:08 PM | Comments (4) | For related posts: For Mom, Mom's Waikiki Tank

January 4, 2004

Pictures!

This weekend, Jason and I went to his sister's house in Dutchess County, NY to meet up with his family and throw his Dad a big ol' surprise party for his 60th birthday. My parents came up from New Jersey for the festivities, and they both wore their Christmas sweaters! And I remembered to take pictures this time!

MomSweater.jpg
Mom in her Cherry Mango sweater with Jason's nephew Henry
DadVest.jpg
Dad in his Strike Vest, also with Jason's nephew Henry
HenrySweaterDone.jpg
Baby Henry in his Christmas sweater, finished after the New Year -- yikes!*.

*You might remember that I had finished this sweater in plenty of time for Christmas, but after seeing Henry in early December I realized it was way too small and needed to be totally re-knit. I didn't have time to wash the yarn before re-knitting, so the sweater desperately needs to be blocked. I finished the sweater late last night, so I didn't have time to block it before we left but Jason's sister promised she would do it! Also, I made it big on purpose so that he could wear it for longer. And really, what's cuter than a baby in a sweater with the sleeves rolled up?

Posted by shannon at 7:31 PM | Comments (1) | For related posts: Cherry Mango, For Mom

November 25, 2003

Success!

CherryMangoDone.jpg

Yippee, Cherry Mango is finally done!

The only little thing that is sort of bothering me is that I made it a little shorter (like, a centimeter!) than the pattern indicated because my mom is really short-waisted. Only problem is that the pattern is for a cropped look. Woops.

With a little luck, my mother's as short as I remember her. If not, Alison will have to teach me how to cut the ribbing so I can add some more on!

Posted by shannon at 9:56 AM | Comments (2) | For related posts: Cherry Mango, For Mom

November 13, 2003

Back on Track

MangoBack2.jpg

After frogging Cherry Mango, and then totally reworking my plans for this sweater, I'm making progress again. I had a long trip (for work and pleasure) last week, and had hoped to get a lot accomplished en route. I was thwarted by an expectation that I would work on the train ride down (can you imagine?) and then by a pounding headache (possibly the result of a the bachelorette party the night before) on the way home.

I'm trying to make up for it now, and considering joining Alison's Holiday Gift-Along (see right column) to keep me motivated on this (and other) Christmas presents. I'm pretty sure that my tally would be similar to Dava's: 3 of "aaargh!" completed!

Posted by shannon at 1:47 PM | Comments (2) | For related posts: Cherry Mango, For Mom

October 29, 2003

Doubts

While traveling last weekend I finished the second sleeve on Cherry Mango and last night I picked up the stitches around the neck and started knitting the turtleneck. While picking up the stitches, I found myself suddenly plagued by doubts regarding this project.

With good reason, it turns out.

CherryDone.jpg

I had been worrying all along about the quality of the yarn I was using -- it was rough to the touch, and the plies separated easily. I knew quickly that the drape was going to be different than the All Seasons Cotton that the pattern(s) call for -- but I just crossed my fingers and kept on knitting.

Tonight, I finished the turtleneck and I tried to slip it over my head -- and I tried, and tried and tried. No luck, the yarn just didn't give enough. I couldn't tell if the problem was with the combination of two patterns or the replacement yarn. Either way, I had no choice but the rip out the whole thing. Grrrr.

Stay tuned for my plans to try these patterns again!

P.S. - The new book was a gift from Jason's mom, who saw it at Barnes and Noble and thought of me. So this weekend wasn't a total knitting loss!

Posted by shannon at 3:10 PM | Comments (4) | For related posts: Cherry Mango, For Mom

October 18, 2003

Cherry Mango!

As is my custom, I've gone full speed ahead on a project without documenting it very well here. Let me try and get up to speed.

I decided to dedicate some of the yarn that I snapped up at the Knitsmiths yarn swap to make a sweater for my mother for Christmas. My mother is, like me, allergic to wool so the cotton-acrylic blend that I had grabbed was perfect.

At about this time, Alison announced her plans for Sooty Mango and since I'd had such good luck with my Mango Negro I decided to do the same.

Like Alison, I'm adding sleeves and I'm going to try and change the neck as well. (The big turtleneck is pretty cool, but might be just a little bit too much for my oh-so-classy mom.) The current plan is to use the body of Mango, and then add the sleeves and neck from Picking Cherries (a.k.a. "Cherry Boobs", copyright Shannon and Alison Ann and Kay at masondixonknitting.com*), both from the Rowan All Seasons Cotton book.

mangobody.jpg cherries.jpg

Put them together and you get Cherry Mango!

05cherrymango.jpg

*Ed: In the comments to this post, Alison points out that she got "Cherry Boobs" from Ann and Kay at masondixonknitting.com, and since I probably first heard it from Alison it looks likely that I was a little overzealous in giving us credit for the clever name. :)

Posted by shannon at 1:51 AM | Comments (2) | For related posts: Cherry Mango, For Mom