Archive for the ‘Maude Louise’ Category

Still kicking

September 12, 2009

Whew.  Surfacing for a moment.  This semester is just crazy for me.  I’m taking Spanish and Statistics, which, if you’re a full time student means you’re sitting there thinking, “And?”  The and for me is that I’m just not that organized.  A mythological SuperMom would be able to parent three children effortless while simultaneously attending school full time and keeping her house spotlessly clean, her mate happy, and herself fulfilled, but I’m unfortunately a terribly human human, and this is just a lot for me.  I can simultaneously attend school part time, keep the kids fed, clean up when the mess becomes especially egregious, have clean clothes ready to wear well over half of the time, and work on my knitting when there’s a spare moment, so I’m going to count myself largely successful.  I’ve become more and more impressed over time with the women I read about who manage somehow to foster marvelously intellectual and brilliant careers at the same time as they are the primary caregivers to small people.  I’m just not made of their stern stuff.

Enough of that, though: I don’t need to feel very sorry for myself, as I’m actually enjoying myself greatly.  Statistics is math that I can really love, so far.  It makes sense, it connects with a tangible, and at the same time, there’s so much of the abstract.  There’s enough room for personal style and decision making to allow for different solutions to the same problem.  Heaven help me, but I’m considering taking more classes in this subject once I’m through with this semester.

The boys are back in school and that’s going very well for them.  While I love spending time with all the kids, the summer becomes pretty stifling after a time when we have all five of us crammed into our small apartment.  Two parents who work from home and three kids in a small space equals the makings of crazytimes.  Having a little space apart is good for the soul, I think.  So the boys are back in school and Eleanor started ballet, which makes her very happy.  Seeing a mess of three to five year olds learning to dance makes me happy.  They’re so babyish still, but also so serious about the dancing.  It’s ridiculously cute.

I’m working on the Entrechat pattern, but with my homework and the boys’ homework, I haven’t yet found as much time as I’d like, so the release date may be moved back a little from early to mid October.  I’m determined to get it out in enough time for people to start knitting before the weather gets very cold, though.

I finished the lovely Herbivore pattern a little while back.  It’s such a fun pattern, and I highly encourage people to give it a shot!  I love how the Trekking looks with the twisted stitch rib.

We’re getting into prime knitting season here, and it’s come upon us all of a sudden.  Today was actually pretty chilly for a long while.  Well, chilly as in Bay Area chilly.  I don’t wish to lay claim to more chill than I have a right to.

There has been such a spate of gorgeous patterns that have been released in the last few months and weeks.  I’m overwhelmed with the desire to knit a whole heckuva lot of them all at once, knowing, of course, that my knitting time is already severely curtailed.  I’ll get to them, though!  In time.

Oh, a last quick thing.  I’ve noticed a jump in interest in Maude Louise in the last couple of days (due, as Ravelry informs me, to a very minor resemblance between Maude and a lovely pattern in the new Knitty) and I wanted to invite people interested in knitting Maude to join the Dangerous With Pointy Sticks group, where there is an ongoing Maude Louise thread for people who want a knitalong.  I’ll be following the thread and jumping in to help out if folks want or need help, and, of course, it’s always nice to knit along with others, since they can offer their own suggestions and modifications.  I’ve started a thread for Clothilde as well, since the Fiber Fix KAL has ended.   If you’re knitting any of my other patterns and want a little help or guidance, or just to share, please go ahead and start a new thread!  I love seeing what people are working on.

I drink from the cup of glory!

March 24, 2009

Or: the pattern for Maude Louise II is now live.

I’m tempted to demand all the finest bagels and muffins in the land, but instead I’ll just wait until the kids are in bed and eat a bunch of peppermint Jo-Jos, because I can!  (And yes, sorry kids, your parents do stay up late eating candy and watching movies.  It’s exactly what you suspected all along.)

The new pattern is written in sizes 28″ bust through 52″ bust, and it has two options for button bands and collar.  I tried to include as much information as I could, so hopefully it will be easy to follow.  Download the new pattern now and check it out!

I’m keeping Maude Louise free, but adding this optional donation button.   If you find the new pattern useful, please consider paying whatever you feel is appropriate.

Thank you! If you have any questions or comments, email me. The address is over there on the right hand side of the blog.

Holy moo – I’m finishing something!

March 24, 2009

I shouldn’t get too cocky until it’s up and on the interwebs, but this has been a heck of a long project, and I can see the end now.

Maude Louise II.  Done.  I will be putting it up tomorrow some time during the day.  I’ve been working on this all day, and right now, at almost 7 in the evening, I am done save for adding numbers to the schematics and checking the pattern for typos and errors.

I have not been good at estimating how long this would take me, but I am very, very proud of the new pattern and the work that went into it.  Math is not easy for me, and the sort of graphic design required for putting all the information together is not a sort I’ve done in a long time.  I’m having to learn a lot of things at once, but it feels really good, and I think the new pattern looks really good and should be much easier to follow.

So, that’s it for now.  I’ll put the pattern up tomorrow and wait for the emails pointing out where I’ve missed a typo.  😉

Thank goodness it’s next week

March 16, 2009

Wow.  This was a crazy and very, very busy week.  I’m exhausted.

I was hoping to have Maude Louise (II) up yesterday, but things got ahead of me in the busy-ness that was the past week.  However, the wonderful Ellen at K2Tog, my local yarn store, helped me so much with the set in sleeves and sizing, and I think everyone planning to knit Maude will benefit from it.  Seriously, it was such an amazing thing to sit down and have the math explained to me in a simple and sensible way, and to walk away with a new and better way of calculating sleeve caps.

I want to reiterate an offer made earlier to anyone who wants to start a Maude Louise sweater: if you want to start now, send me an email, and I’ll be happy to send you as much of the pattern as is currently finished, as well as any help you need along the way.  By the time you get to the parts that aren’t written, the completed pattern should be up.

Paulette will be up shortly, and if you bought Pauline before it was offered as a free pattern, I’ll be contacting you to see if you want a copy of Paulette (for free).  I’m planning on offering Paulette as a paid pattern with a license allowing you to sell the hats you make on Etsy and the like.

My brain feels like mush, so I started a lovely brainless project.  I had ripped out my Malabrigo lace scarf.  It just felt like I wasn’t interested enough to finish it.  Anyway, I took the laceweight and started a simple stockinette shawl, ala Elin.  Actually, I was pretty careless and casual about the whole thing (I cast on during a 4th grade band concert) so I have no idea whether it will even be long enough to be a shawl, or if I’ve just been knitting what will be a weird rectangle of cloth, but it’s relaxing.

Despite the brain fog, or perhaps the cause of it, I’ve been swatching and sketching a lot for some new designs, and I’m very eager to get to the point where I can cast on for one of them in particular.

Hopefully my next post will be soon, include pictures, the Maude Louise pattern, and no more foggy brain.

The design process

February 20, 2009

First off, thank yous to everyone who replied to my last post.  I took all the comments to heart, and I think I have a game plan now.  My original instincts were too defensive before they really needed to be.  Anyway, I’m going to wait and finish the jacket as it is now.  Then I’ll ask Liam if he still wants a pink edging.  If he does, we’ll go ahead and do it.  If he’s off the idea, I could make him something else in pink for later.  I’m going to arm him with all the great anedotes and stories people posted so that he can use them if anyone teases him.  I don’t want to reject his idea and teach him that it’s not OK to like pink.  So, thank you very much!

Onward!  I’ve been working more on schematics and pattern writing than knitting in the past couple of days, and I thought it might be interesting to other beginning designers to hear a little bit more about how I do that and how it’s changed over time.  I’m a lot less slapdash than I used to be, though I know I still take a long time.

Most of my recent designs have been far more planned than in the past.  I’ve been sketching a lot more than I used to, and then swatching from my sketches.  However, I’m working primarily on Maude Louise right now, which has already been knitted, so let’s talk a little about grading and schematics.

Grading, for those unfamiliar with the term, is the process of taking a pattern written in one size and translating it to many sizes.  My Maude is knit in a size small, with a 32″ bust, but now I’m writing the pattern for a range of sizes, starting at a 28″ bust and going up to a 52″ bust.  I started from scratch on this process, because I wasn’t happy with the proportions of the sweater as it was previously written.

In sizing Maude Louise, I’m referring to many excellent articles by other designers.  I’m using Ysolda Teague’s sizing charts, Jenna Wilson’s articles on multisizing from Knitty, Marnie MacLean’s tutorial on creating schematics in Illustrator, and Pam Allen’s article on set in sleeves from the Winter 2007 Interweave Knits.  I’m also studying well written patterns that are designed in pieces, and that utilize set in sleeves, like Maude Louise, to see how other people handled the steps needed to create a good fit.

When I was knitting my Maude, I kept copious notes, and I tried to keep them in the form of a pattern, to save myself trouble later.  This meant that when I was done, writing up the size 32 pattern was essentially a matter of transcribing into Word what I’d already written down.  Once I had the size 32 written up, I made myself a chart and plugged the numbers in.  I used those numbers to figure out how much ease there was in each section of the pattern and to calculate the width and length for each of the other sizes.  That chart is one of my master documents now.  Based on the chart, I made a series of smaller charts calculating how many stitches and rows are required in each section and then determining how much of an increase or decrease it is from the previous section.  For example, from the waist to the chest requires a decrease in the number of stitches, but that decrease varies considerably from one size to another.

I made a schematic based on the measurements for the size 32, and have printed it out, as seen above.  I’m a visual person, so being able to plug the numbers for the different sizes onto the schematic helps me understand the shaping as I deal with different numbers of stitches to get the same basic shape.

With both old and new Maude, my bugbear is the set in sleeves.  There are very different numbers of stitches to cast off at the sleeve point, and I want to achieve a similar curve on all the different sizes.  I’m hoping again that the visual schematic will help me understand how best to manage that curve and make sure that all of the sleeves, for all the sizes, fit in a way that is figure flattering.

So that’s where that’s at for the moment.  A number of folks currently working on Maude Louise have asked about the new button bands.  I am waiting to release the new pattern until it is finished for all sizes, but if you are working on the sweater and would like instructions for the new bands, let me know and I’ll be happy to help.

Holding pattern

January 19, 2009

Two years ago, flush with the confidence and hope of a fairly new knitter, I asked for the yarn to make a McQueen Knock Off.  It’s not a hard pattern, and the yarn is baby soft and relatively inexpensive, so I had high hopes.  I made some rookie mistakes, changing some of the cables on what I decided would be the back panel when my eye wandered from the chart.  And at some point, even though the pattern was moving along quickly, and even though it was easy and well written, I lost interest, shoved the finished front panel in a drawer, and set my mind to other projects.

A year ago, as my birthday rolled around again, I remembered that I’d never actually finished knitting my birthday gift of the year before.  Back out of the drawer it came, and in very little time, I had a front panel that was free of mistakes.  Both panels felt a little greasy and itchy, though, probably from having been dragged hither and thither for a year, so I washed and blocked them and watched in horror as they grew magnificently.

Discouraged by this accident, I shoved them back in the drawer.  I’ve peeked at them occasionally since, but mostly they’ve marinated in the drawer with other languishing and neglected projects.

It’s January again, though, and I’m through with holiday knitting.  I’ve been opening up drawers and reexamining the neglected and forgotten projects and determining to finish them up even as I work on a lot of new (and mostly secret) projects.  The first neglected project to get attention was the poor languishing McQueen Knock Off.

I’m a more experienced knitter now than I was two years ago when I blithely began this epic sweater.  It took just a few days to knit up the sleeves and just a couple of quiet evenings to seam the whole thing together.  And what do you know?  The blocking tragedy?  Not so much a tragedy.  No, if anything, it fits better, because it mostly grew in length, and now the sweater fits my really long torso.

Of course, it’s not all roses.  There’s some odd bunching under my armpits and I have yet to knit the ribbing that belongs up top and keeps scandal from occurring.  And the amount of yarn I have left to do this can be seen in the picture above: that sad little ball of yarn sitting atop the sweater.  It’s not really enough to prevent scandal.  But I’ve ordered a new skein of Andean Treasure, and now all that’s left on the McQueen Knock Off is a little bit of waiting, which it can’t mind much, as it’s become thoroughly accustomed to it by now.

Also in a bit of a holding pattern is the rewrite for the Maude Louise pattern.  Now, I’m working on it, but I’m also in a bit of a quandary over it.  I want to keep the pattern free.  However, I also am becoming aware, as I’m getting more organized and practiced at pattern writing, of how much time it takes me, how much work it is, and how time spent on a pattern like Maude keeps me from doing other things I could be doing.  Since I’m returning to school this month, time’s become precious to me.  Anyway, I wanted to put forward an idea I had about the Maude Louise pattern, and any feedback you have would be appreciated.  I don’t know how possible this is, but my thought was that I would keep Maude Louise free, but with an optional donation button as well.  It seems wrong to take what has long been a free, and incomplete pattern, and to begin charging for it once it is complete and errors are corrected.  At the same time, there is a lot of work involved in writing a pattern, and Maude has a lot of variables to account for and correct for.  I don’t think I’ve seen a pattern offered in this way, and I could see some ways it could be taken amiss.  However, I wanted to put it out there and ask what people thought, because it seems like a pretty good way to me to deal with the problem of work involved in designing and still keep the pattern easily available.  Any thoughts you have would be much appreciated.  I’m not sure if the donation option is worse than charging a small fee for the pattern, but an overly small fee brings me a bad feeling of undervaluing other designers.  I’d rather offer a pattern free than undercharge for it, and thereby drive down both the price and value of patterns that take designers many hours of work, much of their own money, and that, ultimately, they are not likely to make a big return on anyway.

So that’s the quandary.  I’m not terribly comfortable talking about or even thinking about money, which probably explains why I haven’t got all that much.  It feels indelicate to broach this subject at all, but it’s a real issue, and it’s one where I truly think I’d benefit from the input of others, designers and knitting consumers alike.

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.

Nature’s first green is gold

November 18, 2008

Zombified birthday boy.

Zombified birthday boy.

Liam went ahead and turned seven this weekend.  Just before the big day, I remembered a passing request he’d made for a “jungle hat with an Ewok on it”.  I had this bee-yew-tee-full yarn that The Lady sent me in his favorite, and very jungley, shade of green, so I doubled the yarn for speed and whipped up this green gem of a basic little hat.  Then there was the untutored embroidery of the Ewok.  I love embroidering things, but in truth I don’t know how.  I’ve glanced at little pamphlets explaining what to do, but have never bothered to read them.  But it seems to me from my limited and not very skilled experience that embroidery is a lot like both drawing and painting, and that if you have any skill with either of those areas, it is very likely that you can at least make a small pictoral patch.

Mine was drawn freehand, so to speak.  I printed out a few simplified pictures of Ewoks and went to work with three colors of thread: white, brown, and navy.  Those were all the thread colors I had that seemed to work with what I had in mind.  Here’s a tighter view of the result.  It’s not neat embroidery, but I think it works as a picture.

Liam’s birthday was a lot of fun, and very low key.  We had a small family celebration, and Liam helped me bake a cake.  I’m not the world’s best baker, but my cakes tend to taste pretty good, even though they usually turn out sort of flat and sad looking. Yesterday’s cake was a minor exception to the rule.  It didn’t turn out perfectly, but it also did not look as though someone sat upon it.  We watched James and the Giant Peach and ate of cake, and then we listened to Little Richard singing Happy Birthday to Martin Luther King, Jr., because Liam wanted to hear a birthday song on the radio, and that was the most rocking birthday song I found on

It’s very hard for me to believe that my younger son is seven!  He’s built on a smaller scale than his big brother, and his developmental delays sometimes make him seem younger than he is, so it’s a little bittersweet to have him grow up.  I sound like such a stereotypical smothering mother here, but I love having him little and young.  At the same time, I am so, so proud of all the leaps and bounds he has made in the past year, and I am so thrilled at the young man he’s growing into.  Those of you who love someone with an autism spectrum disorder will understand what big news this is: he’s been making multiple friends.  On his own.  I could pop with joy and pride!

I’m feeling rather introspective, and looking back, it’s a little shocking to realize how very young I was when I had each of the boys.  Heck, how very young Mr. Kninja was, too!  It’s been amazing to watch them grow up, and terribly sobering to realize, as Mr. Kninja put it yesterday, that Gabriel is already half grown.  We’ve faced a lot of challenges along the way, but we’re a lucky little family, because every one of our children is wonderful and delightful in different ways.  Happy birthday, Liam!

In less introspective news, I have finished Maude II, save for the buttons.  I have some buttons that are the right size, and I may attach them, but Mr. Kninja thinks, perhaps rightly, that they do not look right with the yarn I used.  I’m torn.  I’d love to simply finish it altogether, write up the new pattern, and move on, but while the buttons in question are inoffensive, is inoffensive the best I should hope for with a lovely new cardigan?  The answer, as I type it, seems obvious enough, and I suppose I’ll have to seek out new buttons for Maude II.

Well, then, tomorrow will be all about the hunting and gathering, I suppose.