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.

Casting On: my first sweater

After completing more scarves than anyone needs, I’ve decided to step up my game a little bit and try something harder. I chose the Amiga cardigan for my first sweater as it primarily uses stitches with which I’m familiar, but introduces a few new techniques.

Also, you know, it’s cute.

I’m using Patons Kroy sock yarn in “Clover Colors”, which is knitting up into a gorgeous combo of greens and browns with touches of orange and gold. The colors seem very autumnal, and since it’s kind of a big project, I’m not going to be heartbroken if this isn’t done until the cooler weather comes around again.

So far, it’s a perfect step up from my knit/purl scarves and my very limited lace experience. In creating the yoke and the shoulder increases, I’ve learned the proper use of stitch markers (on the needle, not the yarn. Who knew?) and how to do a kfb [knit front and back], both thanks to youtube videos. And I’ve many more similar accomplishments ahead—after finishing this part, I’ll be learning how to do button holes and sleeves—heady aspirations, but aspirations, nonetheless. Photo1 (1)

I love the way this is coming together—already I can see how the increases are creating the shape of the sweater, and the yarn is so pretty that it’s fun to work with. So yay for knitting projects!

Crafty Creations: the super easy ripple scarf

Full disclosure: it’s been so long since I’ve posted about a craft, I was thinking of eliminating that section completely from ye olde blog. Once upon a time, I thought I’d post a craft a week… now once a month seems like a stretch. However that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy crafty-type stuff when I have time. And though I really don’t have time right now (oh dear god, so much to do) last night, in between trick-or-treaters, I started a scarf. 10.31.11 001

I don’t need any more scarves. I gave myself a stern lecture on this subject when unpacking my winter clothes this year—I have lots of scarves. Beautiful cashmere ones people have given me, ratty beginner knitting projects, more polished later versions—I have more scarves than anyone really needs.  On the other hand, scarves are an integral part of my favorite cold weather look: give me some boots, sparkly earrings and a pretty scarf and I’m a happy camper.  So I guess I can always use at least one more. Besides, everything I do in life revolves around words (reading, writing, researching)–sometimes it’s nice to do something that is a bit less…well, verbal. 10.31.11 008

The pattern is the Color Wave Scarf from Simple 1-2-3 Knitting, a book I picked up a few years ago because it was deeply discounted and I had a few dollars left on a gift card. I wouldn’t recommend the book–1/3 of it is baby patterns, which I really don’t need at this point in my life (god bless Margaret Sanger); the “here’s how you do a stitch” section is pretty awful (the pictures are so complex that I forgot how to cast on and had to go look it up); and most of the patterns you can find for free online. But since I have the book, I’m using the book–and I’m sharing, so you don’t have to have the book too. 

Anyway–this pattern is a super easy version of feather and fan lace, and it knits up really fast (don’t you love those airy lace patterns? They grow so much more quickly than other patterns.) This is one of the better patterns for beginners at lace–for three rows you are just knitting or purling (and you can do that, right? remember all of those scarves?) then on the fourth row you decrease a few stitches (those knit 2 together stitches), you add them back (those yarn over stitches) and end up with the same number of stitches as you began with, but now with a lovely wavy pattern.

So… if you’re looking for a new pattern, if you’re ready to learn to knit lace (or just need a break from all of your more complex projects), I’d like to suggest the Easy Ripple Scarf. 10.31.11 005

Here’s what you need:

Finger weight yarn, about 350 yards.  I’m using Yarn Bee Snowflake Wool Blend, in Fall Kissed. Because it’s pretty and I had it in my stash.

I’m using 10.5 needles. I suspect smaller needles might highlight the pattern a bit more. But I’m kind of seriously lacking time right now, and smaller needles = tighter weave= longer knitting time, so I’m happy with this.

Here’s what you do:

Cast on 38.

Row 1. Knit

Row 2. Purl

Row 3. Knit 1, (knit 2 together) x 3, (yarn over,  knit 1) x6, (knit 2 together) x 6, (yarn over, knit 1) x6, (knit 2 together) x 3, knit 1

Row 4. Knit

Then just keep repeating row 1-4 until it’s as long as you want it to be. Bind off, weave the ends in, block.

It helps me to think about Row 3 of this pattern in multiples of 3: we’ve cast on 38, but take away the 2 end stitches (the knit 1 you begin and end with) and the wave pattern is really 36 stitches long. Of that, you combine for 3 (knit 2 togs) add for 6 (yarn over, knit 1), combine for 6, add for 6, combine for 3. The combining is like subtraction–you’re taking 2 stitches and making them 1; the adding is like, well, adding–you’re taking 1 stitch and making it 2. Since we’re not changing the width of the piece, every time you add, you subtract and vice versa, so we stay at 36 stitches–then with the beginning and end knit 1, at 38.

And voila! I love making pretty things.

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.)