Monday, February 23, 2009

Baby boat-neck and matching hat

A colleague is due to have a baby and I wanted to make a little something for her soon-to-arrive bundle of joy. Imagine my surprise last Friday when I learned that her last day in the office was today, Monday. That I only had the weekend to whip something together.
(Sometimes I could kick myself -- it's not like there isn't plenty of advance notice with these things).

After work I swung by the house to grab a pile of baby pattern books and headed to the yarn store. I needed to choose something that would be quick i.e. simple, with a thicker yarn and larger needles. And something that would work for either a little boy or girl as the parents have decided to wait and see. It was the boat-neck sweater in Debbie Bliss' Baby Knits for Beginners that jumped out at me -- the pattern calls for an aran weight yarn so it is sure to be a quick knit, and suitable for either a boy or a girl.

I circled the store searching for the yarn I'd use and couldn't help being drawn to Kollage yarns' Corntastic. Although it is more of a sport weight, it comes in such lovely colours. And I've used it for a couple of other baby projects that have been well received. I decided to go for it again.

To add a little visual interest I opted to add stripes to the sweater and selected a couple of colours to put out to group vote -- the pearl, amethyst and sunstone combo won out. I think these colours are a little whimsical. And gender-neutral.

A couple of basic calculations later I started the pattern using the sportweight yarn and smaller needles. Even in the skinnier yarn this one is a pretty quick knit. To add a finishing touch I created a duplicate stitch heart in the bottom right hand corner of the front of the sweater. I like small details that set something apart, and this is a super simple technique.

Since I had yarn left, and some time before the weekend was over, I thought it would be nice to add a coordinating hat. This time with polka dots instead of stripes to play up the fun factor. I used the Simple Hat pattern (from the same DB book) as my guide, and adapted as follows:

  • Knit 5 rows for the roll brim
  • Divide the stitches on the needle into 4 equal sections
  • Sketch out a polka dot pattern that can be centered in each of these 4 sections (I decided to create 2 different size of polka dot)

  • Work 1 row, adding the large polka dot in sections 1 and 3
  • On the 2nd row, start adding the smaller polka dot to sections 2 and 4
  • Continue following the polka dot sketches until the 1st round of polka dots is complete
  • Knit 7 rows
  • Add a second round of polka dots (this time the larger dots go in section 2 and 4, and the smaller in 1 and 3)
  • Finish hat per instructions in the pattern

You'd laugh if you saw the inside of this hat -- I use my very own special brand of fair-arsia, or inter-isle, to add them in as I knitted along. (The polka dots are interarsia, but the white carries behind them like fairisle!)

Despite my less than perfect approach to adding the dots, I think the outcome is pretty cute. The recipient was over the moon too!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hourglass (NaKniSweMoDo09 - Feb)

Hourglass is finished, and I couldn't be happier:

  • Pattern: Hourglass Sweater (from Last Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson)
  • Size: 37in chest
  • Needles: US Size 8, or 5mm
  • Yarn: Plain and Fancy
  • Modifications: I added a contrast band for the hem, sleeves and neck using some Colinette sock yarn in a bright turquoise. I also added a 5 extra rows (with the alternate row decreases) to the neck after seeing that other folks were getting a flashdance-esque neck on the sweater when following the pattern. Mine still has a wide open neck - I like it that way - it's just not falling off the shoulders (or needing matching leotard and legwarmers!)

I'm probably one of the last few knitters in blogland to make one of these. And I'm soo glad I finally got around to it. I think it's a really wearable sweater, and see there could be more in my future. Despite the errata issues (check them out online before you embark on the pattern) it was a pretty straightforward knit - perfect for tv viewing, or when you want to 'switch off'. And reknitting the yoke didn't take that long - I've been full of a cold so it was a good way to keep occupied this weekend (while watching all those romance movies on tv!)

And one last thing -- I love the Plain and Fancy yarn. It is extremely soft and the colours vibrant. I picked it up at the Estes Park yarn fest last year. I'll certainly be making a visit and replenishing my stash this coming year with a new colourway. If you aren't into the variegated look and would prefer an overdyed feel, my friend Terrie made a gorgeous version in a pink colourway.

Oh yes, and as the title mentions - this is my sweater for the NaKniSweMoDo09 - February. I'm loving this knitalong. A great nudge for me to finish up some of the many sweaters I have in my queue, or various stages of completion.

Hope you all had a good valentines weekend,

Friday, February 13, 2009

Spot the Difference

I've been working on my hourglass sweater for February's NaKniSweMoDo. Whipped out the sleeves last weekend, and started work on the yoke this week. That's right the end was in sight.

But hang on a second, the instructions for the decrease rows on the yoke seemed a little funky. Should I really do an SSK, K1 and K2tog after every marker? No, no, I should follow the pattern. I've learned the 'I'm not smarter than the pattern' lesson the hard way. These people are professionals - the shaping will be just fine. Stick with it, you'll see.


Stick with it. Ha! I should have trusted my instincts. The shaping is not fine. Although the front left quite correctly points in, towards the neck, the right hand side has some flaws -- it points straight up towards the collar bone. Pout.

I tried the sweater on and gave my husband and the in-laws a modelling show to see if they'd notice, 'cos you know there are some little errors that one could perhaps pull off as a design feature. "Oh yeah, it's meant to look like that - a little bit of unique detailing". Umm yeah, there's unique detailing and then there's plain old weird. You know this falls in the latter category. No-one in this house was falling for 'design feature'.

After pouting some more, I decided I'd Google errata for the pattern. Yep seems that the instructions for the yoke shaping, in the first edition of the book, contain a few errors. So, lesson learned -- I should check for errata before I get stuck into a pattern.

...hi ho, hi ho, it's off to riiiiiiiiiiip I go.........

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mummy's little helper?

I mentioned in my last post that I've been clearing out the clutter and getting organized around the house. Seems I have a little helper...

You see I came home the other night to find a pile of my yarn on my computer seat.

Panic not. It's some leftovers that I'd been using when a pattern calls for waste yarn. I'm wondering in which 'safe place' I must have tucked it away, because it wasn't in my cubbies. But my little helper located it and left it on the computer seat for me! (As you've probably gathered, I spend quite a bit of time on the computer). This cracks me up. All I can think is that it was either a truly bizarre coincidence, or that she realized I was tidying up my yarn and that this also needed to be put in it's correct place. Too funny!

Why am I convinced that it's Bella and not Buster? Well, Bella will take it upon herself to move things around the house - for example if I go out for a while she'll drag her blanket downstairs to the window by the front door so that she can wait for me there. And well Buster doesn't do such things. He likes his humans to do it for him!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Simple squares

This year I've made a promise to myself to get organized and take control of the clutter. I decided I may as well start with something fun -- organizing the yarn stash! I was inspired Stacey's reorg by colour scheme and thought I'd flat out copy that approach! ;)

The square cubbies were kindly donated by Nachaele when she left Colorado for Wisconsin last year, as was some of the yarn. (I believe you can pick these cubbies up at Target). Thank you Nachaele, I do love these yarn cubbies.

As I was tidying through the cubbies I came across a bunch of cotton odds and ends that I wanted to put to good use. I've seen a couple of cute Granny squares on Ravelry and decided this would be perfect. I'm not overly familiar with crochet, and so using Erica Knight's Simple Crochet as my guide I tried my hand at a couple of squares this week. They each have their flaws but I love them! And with practice they can only improve, right.

The other project that was unearthed was my Colorado blanket (or rather a mound of yarn to make a blanket!). You see beyond the shopping part of this jaunt, there really wasn't much progress in the knitting department! The biggest stumbling block I'm having is to figure out how to substitute my colours for those in the original pattern. I just need to sit down with a piece of paper and some felt tip pens and map it out, I think.

But in the mean time I started with a couple of neutral squares. Neutral they are, boring they are not with their silk and sequinned bling! Maybe I need to rename this the Diva blanket?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Back to knitting

To the detriment of my knitting, I've been thorughly engrossed in reading 'A thousand splendid suns'. What a great book! If you liked 'Kite Runner' then I recommend that you pick this up. It is set in war-torn Afghanistan and touches on some of the same themes of friendship and family, this time between women.

Incidentally, I'd been using a little Christmas tag as my bookmark. This tag is near and dear to me because it was written by my adorable nephew. I was there as he was writing, and it's supposed to read:

To Sam
The Coolest
One in a million.

Turns out there wasn't space to add all the zeros for a million. So I ended up being 1 in 10,000. This cracks me up and melts my heart all in one go.

With the book completed I am back into knitting again. I've been working on Noro Wildfell jacket/cardigan which I think is going to be one cuddly cardi when it's done.

This is a stashbuster cardigan -- I had 2 different colourways of this yarn in my stash cubbies, and since Wildfell requires quite a significant amount of yarn, I needed both colourways to make it work. I think the colours are close enough that I'll be able to pull it off. The primary difference is that one has an lime green running through it, and the other a peppermint type of colour.

I'm planning on this being one of my NaKniSweMoDo sweaters. I'm not convinced that it will be February's though -- there's quite some knitting to do. Although today is the perfect day for it -- there'll be much knitting as I watch the superbowl this afternoon. Happy Superbowl Sunday to you all!