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!

June 9, 2005

Christmas in June!

Just in time for the warm weather, it's Smooch!

First, a confession. In addition to the unsuccessful Smooch that I wrote about here, there was another one that I never wrote about at all. I tried again with Classic Elite Spotlight in red (the same used for the Emergency Preemie Christmas Sweater) I picked up at the Wild & Woolly sale this time last year. It, um, didn't work out. Once seamed and finished, the tank was both too loose and too short. More damning, I discovered that while I appreciated the lacy detailing at the bottom as a knitter, I did NOT appreciate it as a wearer -- yuck.

At some point after I failed at Smooch the second time, I mentioned to Alison that the only way I would try the pattern again was if I found the requisite five balls of All Season's Cotton in deep marine. But since it had been discontinued, I figured my smooching days were behind me. Wrong! Alison spotted exactly five deep marine balls in the sale bin at A Good Yarn, and gave them to me for Christmas! Leave it to another knitter to understand that nothing but just-the-right-yarn in the just-the-right-color will do.

As soon as I was sure the snow was really, truly gone I got started. This time I'm being more careful about gauge, style, and fit. I constantly measure the pieces, both with a measuring tape and against the last version (which I found balled up in my stash basket, right where I stuffed it when I realized it didn't fit!). I skipped the scalloped edging and lace pattern at the bottom in favor of a simple hem. I'm also trying something new to combat stretched-out stitches at the V-neck divide (which always happens to me whether I use stitch holders or scrap yarn to hold the resting stitches). I once read that casting on an extra stitch for the middle of the V would allow you to pull those stretched-out stitches tight after blocking. Then you can tack the still-live extra stitch down on the wrong side. You can see my extra stitch on the stitch marker in this picture.

So far, so good!

* :: * :: *

Now for something totally unrelated. When I was living in New York and at grad school in Columbia, I learned that the arrival of springtime meant that labor actions couldn't be far behind. At least once a year, usually around April, I'd walk out of class on a sunny morning to find a handful of picketing workers and a giant inflatable rat. The first time it happened, I asked Jason (who had been at Columbia for 11 years by then) why there was an enormous air-filled rodent on campus. "Springtime is here!" he responded. Apparently, this has been going on for years.

I can't really put my finger on why, but the rat always cracks me up. Don't ask me to explain, because I can't. Occasionally, we catch a glimpse of the rat on an NYC-based television show and I howl with laughter. One morning the rat was positioned down the street from my office building and I nearly drove off the rode in a fit of giggles. So you can imagine the levity that ensued when I woke up this morning, and gazed upon this through our back window:

Just seeing the picture makes me laugh (Click for big)

The giant inflatable rat was practically in our kitchen! OK, he's actually at the construction site across the street... but still. Must be springtime!

(Intrigued? Here is an explanation of why unions use an inflatable rat, and more inflatable rat pictures)

Posted by shannon at 4:17 PM | Comments (6) | For related posts: For Me!, La Gringa Habla, Smooches!

June 8, 2004


I've definitely noticed a trend -- when my knitting isn't going well, my blogging is next-to non-existent. I just logged into Movable Type, and found this draft entry exactly as I left it on May 5. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending how you look at it), I have made no further progress on this project since the picture below was taken -- so I don't even need to delay publishing this post!

Short story: Silky Smooch is no more. The gauge of the Silk Cotton was just "off" enough to throw the pattern into chaos, and my attempts to knit it with smaller needles was murder on the joints of my hands and arms. Of course, I ripped it.

I cast on for the ChicKami after taking care to do the math carefully and re-write the pattern for the gauge best suited to the yarn. You can see how far I got (below), until somebody pointed out that the yarn might be too warm for the summer. The more I thought about it, the more I realized what a good point she had -- what would be less attractive than a pretty knitted tank with sweat marks?!?

So here it sits, waiting for a decision. In the meantime, I've moved on to other (not necessarily more successful) pursuits. More on that soon, I hope.


Posted by shannon at 1:25 PM | For related posts: For Me!, Smooches!

April 13, 2004

An Offering to the Yarn Gods


Smooch is underway!

Before I started, I read through the posts of other knit-bloggers who made Smooch last summer, hoping to avoid the initial confusion over the way the pattern was written. Little did I know that such confusion and ripping is a penance that must be paid to The Yarn Gods in order to attain a completed Smooch. You cannot avoid paying your penance, and thus, I could not avoid the confusion and the ripping.

In fact, the tiny little bit of Smooch you see in the picture was not long for this world -- it was ripped. However, I'm now happy to report that all of my ripping and restarting eventually satisfied The Yarn Gods, and I've completed both the picot edging the the lace-y Vs.

I'm loving the color of the Silk Cotton Aran so far, but I have some reservations about the "stiffness". Hopefully it won't affect the drape of the tank. I should be able to tell when I make some progress, but it will have to wait a couple days while I rest these old bones. Between battling Smooch, knitting diligently on a very heavy project all weekend, and several weeks of computer-intensive tasks at work my wrists and hands (and even one of my elbows!) are killing me!

Posted by shannon at 1:44 PM | Comments (1) | For related posts: For Me!, Smooches!

March 27, 2004

Texas: Mighty Fine Knitting!*

I think I've figured out an important factor in my recent Knitting Renaissance: visiting The Yarn Barn in San Antonio. I first stepped foot in the Yarn Barn last year, and found it to be "the closest thing to knitting nirvana that I have ever experienced". I was so overcome by all of the knitty goodness that, while browsing the aisles, I came to the delusional conclusion that I could finish one... no, TWO!... no, THREE! blankets before Jason's sister's baby shower. (Final tally: one finished on time, two were still on the needles. All were in her hands before Henry arrived, though!)

It makes perfect sense, then, that since I returned this year in the throes of a knitting slump that I was rejuvenated by the Yarn Barn. It didn't hurt that they were selling a bunch of Rowan and Debbie Bliss yarn for 50% off! I hemmed and hawed -- I don't usually buy yarn without a project in mind -- until Jason got fed up with my indecision and and practically ordered me to buy something. I ended up with this:


I know I'm about a year behind on this, but I think I'm going to make Smooch! The gauge on Cotton Silk Aran seems to be close enough to All Seasons Cotton that I can fudge it with needle size changes, if need be. And I have the advantage of learning from everybody else's experiences last spring. I love my fellow knit-bloggers!

*My paternal grandfather was married to a Texan. Despite the fact that she was not my father's mother, she was the only grandmother I even knew on that side of my family. She used to call us to the dinner table for some "mighty fine victuals!"

Posted by shannon at 11:19 PM | Comments (3) | For related posts: For Me!, Smooches!