Archive for the ‘Jackets’ Category

Rainbow: check!

March 11, 2009

The rainbow jacket is done save for buttons, which I’ll attach this weekend.  I have to say, it’s less garish than I expected!  Liam is thrilled with it, and wore it to school today, which is why I only have quick snaps of it as he was heading out the door.  Glamor shots must wait!

So, after all that angst on my part, this is the reaction he got when he showed it off: “Whoa, nice!  My mom is just learning to sew – she can’t make that!”

Yeah, I really had a lot to worry about.

Boy, you can sure tell he’s thrilled, can’t you?  He’s going through a phase where he doesn’t really take smiley pictures.

This was such a rewarding project.  Bringing a child’s idea to fruition is just the most wonderful feeling, and the end result, whether I like it or not, is so appreciated and loved.  And as it happens, much to my surprise, I rather like the rainbow jacket!  It’s absolutely not something I’d have thought of myself, but it clearly means a lot to Liam, and I do love the bright colors.  The pockets don’t show in this picture, but they’re one of my favorite touches.  Every child’s jacket should have a place to store nifty things found on the ground.

The rainbow is simple chain stitch in different shades of fingering weight yarn.  Liam is apparently paying attention because he asked, “Did you crochet that on?” and when I said no, I embroidered it in chain stich, he said, “Chain stitch looks a lot like crochet.”  That’s my boy!

The clouds are the part that all the kids like best.  I took some unspun Finn Wool and knotted it into puffs, and then secured it by sewing it on with a little of the Finn wool that I actually spun.  I’m not sure how well they’ll stay put, but I’m willing to work on the matter.  I was considering trying to needle felt them on later to see if that’s a help.  The clouds would be easy to replace, at least.

That’s pretty much it for today!  I’m dedicating myself to working on the Maude Louise pattern for now, and I’ll let you all know as soon as it’s done!

Rainbows and flappers

March 10, 2009

Liam’s rainbow jacket doesn’t actually have any rainbows yet, but it’s nearly done.  While he stuck to his guns on the pink edging, the actual yarn he picked out from my yarn cabinet is a bit more nuanced than I’d been expected.  It’s some lovely mohair blend stuff from Giff – she sent me a couple of skeins, and this is the last of it.  It’s more a soft red than an actual pink.  I’m not crazy about it with the colors of the jacket, and would still have preferred a gold, but I think it’s OK.

He’s given me leave to use my own taste on the rainbow, so I think I’ll pick some pretty fingering weight yarns and chain stitch the rainbow.  I will probably use some white unspun wool for the clouds.

I knitted myself the Sideways Grande Cloche from Boutique Knits.  The book was my birthday present from Mr. Kninja, but this is the first pattern I’ve knit from it.  I love the end result, but I made a lot of mods to get there.  The pattern as written will make an absolutely collosal hat.  I cast on 33 stitches, down from 42, and used size 7 needles for most of the hat, rather than size 10.  I went down only one size, to 6, for the front of the hat.

I also did the top in garter stitch, and made the cable much shorter than what the pattern called for.  I actually made it the same length as suggested, at first, and it looked ridiculous – baggy and hanging off the hat – so I ripped it down and now I love it.

The whole thing was a bit of an experiment.  I wanted to try to Louet Riverstone Chunky, because it’s a nice looking yarn that comes in a wide variety of colors for an excellent price.  Using just one skein was a good way to take the yarn for a test drive, and as it happens, I really, really like it.  It’s a plain wool, but soft and servicable, and the color is lovely.  My pictures are a little greyed out, but it’s a dark, rich blue, greener than pictured.  The other experiment was in using blue at all.  It’s a color I love, but do not wear near my face, as it often makes me look jaundiced.  This shade, however, had enough green that I thought I might be OK, and I think it works.  Nice to think I found a blue I can wear!  Between this and my O W L S sweater, I may be able to find a shade of each of my forbidden colors that looks all right.

Paulette is currently being test knit, but will be available shortly, and I’m trying to have Maude Louise II done by the end of the week.  I’ll keep you posted!

The God of Rainbows

February 6, 2009

…is what Liam wants to call the jacket I’m making him.

Back, back, back, when I was just starting to knit bigger projects, Liam designed an octopus sweater for himself.  It was, well, really something, and my execution was also really something, but man, he loved that sweater.  He wore it over and over again until it was a pilled mess that wouldn’t even fit over his head.  The experiment made it clear to me that if I let the kids design their own clothes then they will treasure them considerably more than clothes we buy them at the store.  I find it hard to knit for growing kids, though, as they, as likely as not, will have gotten two sizes bigger in the time you’ve been knitting for them.  Anyway, I never have finished poor Gabriel’s sweater, so blithely discussed in the Octo-Sweater post of long ago.

But.  I’m feeling a lot more confident this year, and also in less of a rush, as Gabriel received something like four bulky jackets for Christmas.  And so I’ve started early on next winter’s sweaters, with the confidence that I’ll actually follow through this time.  (I’ve probably just jinxed myself, and next winter you’ll find me writing about how I failed to finish the kids’ sweaters yet again.)

Anyway, back to Liam’s jacket.  He has had a vision.  He asked me for a sweater that was grass green at the bottom, that turned into sky blue above, and that had 8 rainbows with 16 clouds.  He asked me for this, and I thought about it and then I tried to talk him down a little.  We settled on either one rainbow and two clouds across the back, or two rainbows, one on each shoulder.  Then I let the idea marinate.  I figured he might change his mind within a few hours or a few days, but a couple of months later, he’s still set on the same idea.

So, God of Rainbows it is.  I told him that I’d heard of a Goddess of Rainbows, Iris, and promised to look it up and see if there’s a god of rainbows.  (Turns out, in Australian Aboriginal mythology, the Rainbow Snake is the Creator.  Nifty!)  I decided on the Tomten pattern as I could easily imagine how to make a sky on that one that would look interesting, because the Tomten is a pattern that grows with a child, and also because little boys in Tomtens look like rock stars.  I’m going to make the jacket mostly green (Liam’s favorite color), but the upper torso will be pale blue.  I’ll add the rainbow after the fact, both for ease, and in case Liam ever wants to remove it.

He chose to have pockets, so I made the linings pale blue, and I’m planning on using the light blue for i-cord edging as well.  He wants the sweater sans hood, which is a good choice for boys, I think. I may even try to do a zipper again, though I think he’d be happy with buttons.

This will be a unique sweater, but if last time is any measure, it will be a loved sweater.  And man, I love this green.  It’s Cascade 220, Palm, and it’s just delectable.  Bright, but not super bright, and just so danged happy. Whoever the god of rainbows might be, he’s one jolly dude.

Eat your heart out, Ed Wood!

December 20, 2008

So it’s not a pure angora sweater.  I still think Edward D. Wood, Jr. would approve.

Maude Louise the Second is done!  Those tricksy button bands* really threw me off, but I’m so glad I took the time to get them right, because I’m really, really happy with this sweater.

The yarn, by the way, improved on me as I knit.  I liked it to begin with, but I thought it had a very dry hand and that it didn’t have much drape.  It has plenty of drape, actually, and the dryness simply isn’t an issue in the fully knit sweater, which is very, very soft and very warm.  While it’s true that RYC Soft Lux is discontinued, there are still a number of places selling it online, and probably in the three dimensional world as well.  My advice to anyone who’s considered trying it is to snap it up now.  Webs still has a pretty good selection of colors available, and you can’t beat the slight shimmer and soft, soft feel of this yarn.  The color I used is called cashmere.

On a slightly connected tangent, “cashmere” is the name of the scent of my my Dove deodorant.  I bought it for two reasons:

  1. I was amused at the thought of a goat scented deodorant.
  2. Marketing works on me.  It’s a deodorant named after fiber!  I must have it!

The deodorant and the yarn named cashmere have this in common: they contain absolutely no cashmere, and neither smells like goats.

I don’t think I’ll get to rewriting the pattern until some time in January. Not that it’s surprising at this time of year, but it’s rather busy around the Kninja household at the moment.  Nonetheless, my notes are in really good order, and I have high hopes for getting the whole thing together.  And even taking some better pictures for the new pattern, too.  I made a couple of strategic mistakes for these.  Liam was home sick from school, so we couldn’t go anywhere to shoot, and I didn’t straighten up the backyard at all.  And also, in a display of brazen vanity, I put on mascara, even though all eye makeup hurts my eyes.  By the time many of these pictures were shot, my eyes were red and somewhat swollen and they hurt like you would not believe.  The worst part is that I knew that would happen and I did it anyway.  This is because, unlike such creatures as puppies and banana slugs, I do not learn from my mistakes.

Whatchoo talkin bout, Willis?

Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?

*In some cultures, button bands are “trickster characters”, like Raven, Coyote, Anansi, and Muhammad Ali.

Haha! Take that, foul button bands!

December 3, 2008

It’s a bit galling when a sweater of one’s own design takes up designs against one.  Maude Louise II was nearly done when I tried to add a garter stitch button band that turned out to be a Very Bad Idea.  The garter stitch was loose and floppy and moreover I had picked up too many stitches, which resulted in a very ugly, very discouraging giant floppy button band.  Somewhat daunted, I started again with a different band using smaller needles and fewer stitches.  Too small needles, actually, and too few stitches.  Overcompensation is a dangerous thing.  Button band v. 2.0 was too tight and caused the panel edge to curl into a fetching half moon.

This button band is too big!  This button band is too little!  What I needed was Baby Bear’s Just Right.

And lo, it turned out that Just Right meant picking up an in between number of stitches and knitting a stockinette button band that doubles back on itself, strengthening its edge by so doing.  No flop, and a very pretty button band that’s not stylistically at odds with the sweater.  And less seaming!  I much prefer the new button band to the old.

I’m not sure if this is de rigueur, since I’ve never actually looked up how to do this, but the way I bind off the button bands is by picking up a single stitch from the pick up edge and knitting it together with each stitch on the left hand needle during the bind off.  It neatly seams itself without any actual sewing, and you have a pretty and clean edge.  I’m sure this is standard procedure, but I felt pretty good when I thought of it and it worked.  Other such button bands that I worked in the past asked me to cast off and seam.  I mention it in case anyone else has occasion to wonder how to avoid seaming on a hemmed edge.  I’m all about avoiding seaming these days, which is funny, as I’ve gotten much better at seaming.  The original Maude was made when somehow the idea of knitting flat in pieces sounded easier to me than a seamless garment.  I think the construction works pretty well, so I’m not changing that part, but the seamed button band was too much.

So, all that’s left to do now on the actual garment is weave in the loose ends from the button bands, sew the button holes, attach buttons, and put on a collar of sorts.

I’m really very pleased with how this is going.  I’m afraid Maude I will be totally eclipsed by Maude II, at least for a time.

Check out the halo the angora makes!

Warm!  Squishy!  I am so ready to be done with this and to wear it.


November 21, 2008

Nora finally let me take pictures of her while she was wearing her Tomten jacket!  Woot!  She’s had the jacket for a year, but I’ve never gotten a decent picture of the jacket actually being worn.  Until now, that is.

The pictures are made extra precious by what I noticed a few hours after they were taken.   Namely, that someone, presumably Eleanor herself, had cut a hole in the jacket.

It doesn’t really show in any of these pictures – it didn’t really show at all, actually, until little pieces of purple yarn fell down and I noticed the holes.  They were made with scissors, but since none of the young ‘uns are fessing up to it, I think it may have been an accident that went unnoticed.  It’s altogether possible that Eleanor was cutting out a drawing and accidentally snipped her coat.

Can you see the hole in this shot?  It’s just above the blue stripes.  The yarn bits hadn’t fallen out yet, but it’s there.

Now what?  I still have plenty of the purple yarn, but the culprit snipped in such a way that a piece of a whole row is gone.  There’s a second, smaller hole further up.  I’m going to drag the whole heartbreaking mess down to my local yarn store and beg for help.  I don’t demand perfection in the fix, but I want to make sure it doesn’t open up again, and I want to make sure it doesn’t look too hideous.  If it was not an actual hole, I know I could fix it.  I’ve repaired holes in sweaters before, but they were simpler than this one is.

As frustrating as the hole is, it did mitigate my disappointment with Maude Louise.  I thought I was all done when I attached the buttons, but it was only after the buttons were attached that it became really clear that the button bands hadn’t worked out.  I was very upset at the time – I hate being so close to being done and having to rip back – but ripping button bands in an otherwise successful project doesn’t seem like such a big deal now.

So I’ve begun new button bands on Maude II, and I think these ones should work out better, but at the very least, they’re not a big gaping hole!

Sigh.  I know kids wear out their clothing, but I really didn’t expect the cut at all.  Well, I’m hoping this is the worst thing that happens for a while, because then I can count myself fortunate.  It does seem a bit harder when the problem arises with clothing you made than clothing you bought, though.

I’m sure the next post will be happier knitting news!  And even if it doesn’t look as nice after this, I WILL find a way to repair the jacket.  It’s too cute and useful to let fall by the wayside.

If you wanna be happy

February 7, 2008

Pattern: Drops Jacket 103-1 Ravelry link
Yarn: Rowan Scottish Tweed Chunky in Peat
Ravelry Link
Size Made: S
Yardage: 660 yds.
Modifications: I had trouble understanding the instructions for the sleeve caps and fudged them.

Sometimes, popularity is a bewildering riot of crazy. Sometimes Titanic is a big hit, or women decide to spray their bangs straight up with Aqua Net, or Crocs become haute couture. Sometimes the world goes collectively mad and we all just have to hang on for the ride.

And then here are things that are popular for a clear reason, like ice cream and puppies and this jacket.

I love it. Love it! It was fast, easy to make (save the sleeve cap confusion, but that worked out just fine anyway), and it’s warm and comfortable. The yarn is delightful, and the jacket makes me feel so adorable. I could not stop grinning enough to look dignified for these photos.

Happy doesn’t even have dignity’s phone number.

Now I just need to get a fabulous vintage bicycle with a basket, a kerchief, and rockin’ sunglasses in an extra wee size (I have a toddler sized head. Shuddup.) and I’ll be set.

It’s starting to get warm for the first time in ages today, but I’m so far refusing to remove my jacket.


Everyone else is

February 2, 2008

You cannot argue with the power of other people’s knitting. I realize that everyone and her brother have already knit Saartje’s bootees, but you see enough adorable photographs and you find yourself compelled – yes, compelled – to take up needles and make your own. If you haven’t knit these yet, beware. You’ll soon be sitting, working feverishly on the cutest little shoes you’ve ever seen. Let me add that the pattern is easy, fast, well written, requires very little yarn, and is about the closest to actual newborn foot size of any bootees I’ve seen. Join our zombie knitting horde. Join us!

The yarn used here is some of my left over Dream in Color Smooshy. This yarn only improves on further use, and I had kindly impressions of it from the start. I had originally used this yarn to make one garter stitch mitt, but upon realizing that I had just under enough to finish the second mitt, I frogged the whole project. This left a mess of curly ramen-esque yarn, but all it took to straighten the yarn out was a dunk in the sink. I hung it on the door knob to dry and the resulting small skein is as good as new. Not many yarns hold up to frogging.

Still on the needles is the Drops jacket that everyone else has already knit. I was late on the bandwagon. Pam at Flint Knits made a really stunning example of the jacket and that was what first brought it to my attention. When you consider the many many knitting failures of last week, I was very ready for something easy and successful. Combine fabulous Rowan chunky tweed, big needles, a free pattern, and many examples of success over at Ravelry, and you have the recipe for a happy knitter. This is whipping by like the wind. I cast on on Sunday and finished the back of the jacket the same day. I finished my first sleeve today, and expect to have the second done tomorrow. Hooray for fast, simple knits!

I used a three needle bind off for the shoulders. The very first sweater I ever knit (a wee babby sweater for Nora) used three needle bind off on the shoulders, and somehow that imprinted itself in my mind as the Right Way to Make Shoulders. It may not be the Right Way, but it sure is convenient.

Speaking of first sweaters, Maude Louise was mentioned briefly on the really fun knitting podcast Stash and Burn on their recent episode about first sweaters. I enjoyed listening to the podcast very much, and it got me thinking about what I count as my first sweater. Technically, the baby sweater I mentioned is my first. This one.

However, it was so simple, and I was such a bad knitter at the time, that I tend to think of it as a practice run that doesn’t count. The pattern, Red, Set, Go, from Monkeysuits, is supposed to be knit in moss stitch, but I hadn’t figured out how to carry my yarn at that point, so I changed it to stockinette. I hadn’t figured out gauge, but I was lucky and used a chunky enough cotton and rayon yarn that laid flat even in stockinette, and it worked out to the right size. Totally coincidental, and because it all was so random, so boxy, so confused, that I don’t tend to think of it as my first sweater.

My next sweaters were child sized as well, but my very first adult sweater was Maude Louise. In retrospect, this was a pretty silly ambition – to design my own sweater from the bottom up as my first major adult sized project. However, it was so much fun, and it represents what I like so much about knitting. There’s little risk in trying something new. I messed up dozens of times knitting Maude. Even yet, I find little things I’d change if I ever knit it again, but it’s still my most precious knit item, because it contains so much of ambition and silliness and it’s so personal. I wanted something very specific, very me, and I made it. I had to tip it out repeatedly. I had to swatch for days. But I made it. And then other people made it, too. Magic.

I mentioned in my last entry that Orata tagged me for the You Make My Day award that’s circling the blogosphere at the moment. Since then, I’ve been tagged by Elin and Wazz as well, both people who were on my list of folks to tag! I’m too slow. However, I said I’d pass it on, and I intend to. I’ve decided to give up worrying whether someone’s gotten it already or not. So, without further ado…

* Adventures in Domesticity

* Burbler

* The Cat’s Tongue

* Cotton Deer

* Expat Knits and Crochets

* Fricknits

* Lynne’s Fabulous Knitting

* Ramblings of a Knitting Obsessive

* s i x o n e s e v e n

* Whitknits

Not all of these are knitting blogs, and these certainly are not all the blogs I read – just a few that jumped out at me right now.  I have to tell you guys how very much I enjoy reading blogs.  Shamefully much.  I owe thank yous to all the people whose blogs give me such joy.  You may not know who you are, but thank you.

Something’s blocking…

November 21, 2007

Drying like the wind!

I was uber smart and went out and bought a zipper before I blocked the jacket, which is why I am now the proud owner of a too short purple zipper.  The jacket definitely grew after its bath – no bad thing, that, since I want the girlchild to get lots of wear out of it.  Bad news for the useless zipper, though, which will be taking up residence in my small sewing cabinet with an array of other hopefuls and might-have-beens.

I’m not 100% happy with my striping on this sucker.  I think I should have used more blue, and that I should have maybe even added a few more colors.  Overall, though, it’s a success.  The little hood look so freaking cute on Nora, and it fits and will wear for at least two seasons.  It’s warm and soft, and it’s in Nora’s favorite colors.   The Rowanspun is a little finer and softer than the Yorkshire Tweed, and it has a different character, but I like it a lot.  This is good, since, at last count, if I include the yarn that went into this jacket, I have 57 skeins of the stuff in various colors.

EZ’s instructions on this one were harder for me to follow than on the seamless hybrid.  I think that was more my own preconceived ideas of what I’d need to do than anything else, though, because once I was actually knitting, it always became clear.  My gauge was smaller than is ideal, so I cast on a number of extra stitches, and I had to do a lot of math adjustment accordingly.  You may remember that I was worried about this, but the pattern turns out to be very open to change, unlike many people.

So I’ll definitely have a Tomten to give to the girlchild this Christmas, which is good, and I’m done with straight garter stitch for a little while, which is also good.

In the category of handknits in action, I snapped a picture of Eleanor stepping out in her beret, which she’s been wearing a lot lately.   It’s nice and warm, and that Malabrigo is so so soft.  I had imagined that it would be similar to Manos del Uruguay, which is a little scratchy, but it’s pure blissful softness.  I imagine we’ll be dealing with pills soon enough, but hey – that’s what my new sweater comb is for.

Plugging away

August 30, 2007

When do I get that boring life I crave?  We’ve had a whirlwind of events – a wee earthquake, the boys’ advent at a new school, and dear friends moving far, far away.  In the midst of it all, I’m toting yarn and needles, just working away.

The Super Secret Project of Mystery that can’t be mentioned is done, so you shan’t hear any more about it until it will be mysterious no longer.  That’s freed up some time for new and old projects.

Nora’s Tomten has grown.

The intense purple makes the Yorkshire Tweed Sheer look like a grey-green, which makes sense and yet is so odd, because the color is actually a grey-blue, and it’s very obvious on the skein.  I like the effect, though, and the blues really do ground that purple purple.

It’s pleasant knitting in garter – no thought, no anxiety, just letting my fingers do the thinking for me.  You can’t see it here, but I’ve divided the stitches and am on the front and back panels now.   What a cool pattern.  Like so many of EZ’s designs, it’s simple, almost ridiculously simple, but the construction is so clever that only a knitting genius could have imagined it.  You probably don’t need me to praise it.  This is a time honored and well worn pattern that gets its due share of accolades.  It’s new to me, though, and I’m pleased.

I also whipped up a Christmas gift for my brother, who does not read this blog, and therefore will remain surprised.  It’s Fig and Plum‘s Cashmere Ribbed Hat in Misti Alpaca. Only, it was midnight or so when I began the decreases, and I was watching a DVD at the time, and well, it’s not the Cashmere Ribbed Hat.  I don’t know how I messed up such a simple and elegant pattern, but the thing is, my mistake actually looks fine, just not like the Cashmere Ribbed Hat.  I’m leaving it as is, but I’ll be making another one of these.  Here are some non modeled pictures – I’ll get Mr. Kninja to model this later so you can see my mistakes.

The yarn is glorious, though.  I think Misti Alpaca may be one of my favorite yarns.  It’s relatively affordably, incredibly soft, and it comes in beautiful colors.  The main color here is Peacock Melange, and the edging is done in Marigold Melange.  You can’t ask for better colors or a better feel.  I think the hat does feel like it’s made of cashmere even if I went a more economical route.

Speaking of yarn, I have more rambling Ravelry inspired thoughts.  I stumbled upon a thread about yarn disappointments there and realized that either I’m a very undiscerning consumer, or I’m an easily satisfied consumer, or I’ve had a run of incredibly good luck.  I tried to think of a very disappointing yarn I’d used and couldn’t come up with a thing.  I wonder why this is?  I think that in general, when I knit I’m ready to be pleased.  I’m pleased to be knitting, and I’m pleased to have yarn, and I enjoy even the weaknesses of one yarn or another.

I think this comes from the days of messing about with art supplies.   Until I learned what each was best for, I made a bit of a mess with each of them, but it wasn’t the fault of the material.  I look at yarns in much the same way.  Reading a bit makes me sure that there are some yarns that are unforgivably ill made, but I guess I’ve been able to avoid them thus far.

Am I alone in my general delight with yarn in all forms?  I suspect not.  Undiscerning consumers of fiber, unite!  We have nothing to lose but our cash!