Sweater Update: shoulders and torso

I began knitting a sweater—my first sweater—at the beginning of April. (Links to the pattern and my yarn choice here.) And finals and graduation and grad school decisions intervened and I got sidetracked.

Photo2This is the pattern that I’m knitting. The model’s got a slight case of grouchy-face, but I intend to be much happier in my sweater than she.

So this week (after a friend asked how the sweater was going and I had to say “um, I don’t actually remember where I was when I stopped”) I went back to it. And I’m happy to report that it’s going quite well.

Photo5

My most recent challenges have been figuring out how to move the stitches that will be the sleeves onto waste yarn and how to cast on stitches (those four at the bottom of the armhole in the picture to the right) using the backwards loop method. Neither task was particularly difficult—so far the knowledge required for this sweater only just slightly exceeds what I already know, making it the perfect next-step in my learning process.

Photo1 (1)Truthfully, I’m a bit bored with the stockingette stitch—and I have six more inches of it to go in the body of the sweater—but I’m afraid something lacy or cabled might have made this a bit too complicated for a first attempt. My next sweater, however, will be lacy!

I like the way the colors are coming together. It’s much more distinctly striped than I thought it would be, but I think it works. I’ll be wearing this non-stop during the fall with jeans and tall boots, bag slung across my shoulder and coffee mug sloshing as I rush to class.

Decking the walls

Early last week, as I was leaving for an exam (running late as usual, juggling my thermos and travel mug [coffee is fundamentally necessary to brain function at this point of the semester], books to study from and others to return to the library, gym clothes, ipod and study snacks), I literally tripped over this enormous branch that a recent storm had brought down in my front yard. I muttered a few obscenities (as, indeed, I am inclined to do in such circumstances), dumped my supplies for the day on the car, and turned around to throw the damn thing into the bushes.

Even after my clumsy entanglement with it, the branch was seriously the most perfect shape for decorating. It is large and flat: about 6 feet from tip to end, and about the same again from side to side, but only about 6 inches deep.

So instead of tossing it into the bushes, I propped it up in the entry way, intending to do something brilliant with it once I was done with all of my insane end-of-the-semester stuff.

And here’s what I did:

 

I kind of love it. A lot.

It almost doesn’t need a tutorial, but here goes:

  1. Find a branch. Flatter is better unless you plan to put it in a completely untrafficked space.  (Else you’ll put your eye out.)
  2. I used an old spool of packing twine and crocheted around a few of the branches, letting the ends of the cord hang loose. It adds kind of a random geometric element that I find very cool. I also twisted silver florist’s wire around a few branches, which I expected to be a bit shinier than it is. It is great in a close up, but doesn’t add much when you are across the room.

    Detail of accent work
  3. Hang it on the wall. I used coffee cup hooks that had been in my apartment when I moved it and just tied it up with some more of the twine.
  4. Decorate! (If you want to. I almost didn’t, it looked so designer-fabulous before- but I like it even more with some sparkle.) My jewelry finally gets a cool display, and some of my favorite Christmas ornaments are up there as well.

I had initially seen this as part of my Christmas decorating, but I love it so much that I think it is going to see me at least through the early spring.

One of the best parts? It looks cool, but cost absolutely nothing.

Fun with next to nothing

Stuck between the John R. Rice  and C. H. Spurgeon Bible commentaries and the children’s Sunday School curricula, mom had a book titled Fun with Next to Nothing . The authors complied a bunch of crafts and projects for kids, the supplies for which (they believed) most mothers would just have on hand. (In my memory, the crafts were all really horrible–macaroni and cardboard and glue –yuck! we were always cooler than that.) I don’t think we ever actually used it–creativity was rarely lacking in our house– but given my recent transformation from the gainfully employed to the not-so-much, this idea has been frequently in mind. I’ve been experiencing the occasionally infuriating, but overall exhilarating, situation of really having to make do with what I have.

I like to shop. My brain operates as commercials try to–I see a beautifully shaped bright turquoise bowl, and instead of being a bowl, it’s an opportunity to buy a little bit of happiness–eating cereal in the sunshine out of that bright blue bowl.  Of course, I know that it’s foolishness; making myself aware of what I’m actually expecting from that bright blue bowl usually keeps it on the shelf at the store.  However, frugality-inducing mental games aside,  broke-ass window-shopping just ain’t fun, so I stopped doing that when I stopped, you know, having money.

This change has forced me to re-vamp my current wardrobe instead of replacing it. So, to that end, I’ve been donating things I never wear so I can actually see what I do have, and remaking or re-purposing anything and everything that I possibly can. This serves a dual purpose: not only do I (sometimes) get something wearable out of something previously un-, but I’m also feeling ever-so-much more handy when I use something I made, altered, fixed, crocheted, knitted or dyed.

Today’s project: (backstory here) Last year, as I was first learning to knit and crochet, I began making this crushable crocheted cloche hat incessantly (from this pattern on Etsy.) It really is super easy and (by all accounts) very cute. Eventually I got all brilliant and tried to adjust the pattern: I eliminated the brim once to make a beret, I added a lot of stitches once to make a floppier hat, I changed up the stitches once just for funsies… several of my attempts are really quite horrid.

So today I frogged the hats that were unwearable, and am starting over, thus (a) saving myself the storage space that was being wasted on all of those ugly hats, (b) giving myself the opportunity to get it right this time and make something wearable, and (c) giving myself something to do while I watch Glee tonight. So hippity hooray. Who needs money?

Crafty Stuff: Knit Lace

I’ve been teaching myself to knit over the past several months… it’s going rather slowly because my night-time knitting is usually accompanied by a glass of wine or so… and in my experience it is usually easier to learn something if you can focus on it (both mentally and optically.) But I’m learning, regardless of the vino, and to that end I am working on learning new stitches.

This is my second project where I’ve actually had to count- (my previous projects have been beginner-style scarves that I just kind of eye-balled to get to desired size.) I’m currently also working on a ribbed shawl/cowl thing about which I’ll soon post.

This is my first lace knit and the first project using anything other than knit and purl stitches.  The pattern is made by decreasing six stitches into three, then ‘knit over-ing’ in the six center stitches, the decreasing six stitches into three (you always stay at 22 cast on, it helps me to think about subtracting 3, adding 6, subtracting 3… I’m quite sure I’m describing this horribly, luckily Sweet little domestic life has much more intelligible instructions.) So, yay! I now know some more stitches.

Here’s my version:

 

I’m very proud. (Imagine it blocked–it will look much better then.)