Trying Out Design

I’ve been knitting for something like 12 years now.  Somewhere along the line I started planning out some patterns on my own as well as adapting others (e.g., the Little Sailor Girl saga from a couple years ago).  Last year, my friend La, who runs Dizzy Blonde Studios, asked if I’d be interested in designing something for the Mean Girls’ Yarn Club.  I got the yarn from her at Stitches West in February and got to work.

I knew I wanted to do socks, and La liked that because most of the patterns that have been designed for the club so far have been shawls and mitts.  I knew that the theme of the package I was designing for was Single White Female.  I saw the movie so long ago, the only thing I could really remember was that the mean girl killed a guy with a stiletto heel.  Ah, the seed of an idea…

Given that the yarn La gave me was high contrast, I decided to do something with slipped stitches.  So, I knew I wanted a single stream of slipped stitches, stiletto-like going down the foot.  After playing around with a couple of ideas, I settled on this:

 

The pattern is currently only available to Mean Girls’ Yarn Club members, but will be available for purchase in about 6 months.  You can find more information at http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/stiletto.

Anyone home?

Have I really been away from my knitting blog for almost a year?  I have no idea how that happened… well, maybe a little I do.  The funding for my job was cut at the beginning of November, and I was let go.  I pretty much stopped knitting or spinning for several months as I descended into a funk.  I knit a couple of things that were requested, but otherwise I lost all love of the things I love for awhile.

I got through the holidays and the new year and started to come back to myself.  The knitting started up again.  The photo taking has been woefully inadequate, but I hope to be rectifying that soon.

Meanwhile, just here to remind myself I have a blog before things get to crazy with the training I’m starting next month.

Little Sailor Girl, Finale

The knitting went ‘round and ‘round.  I’m not entirely sure why one of the smallest elements of the sweater seemed to take the longest.

Now that the striped garter stitch edging is cast off, I must admit that I am very glad I decided to knit it on rather than sew it on as called for in the pattern.  By picking up and knitting the stitches I was able to switch directions at the collar turning, which allows the striping to be right-side out on the collar as well as the body of the sweater.  It also saved me from going loony trying to sew the edging on, trying to make the corners match up correctly with the corners of the sweater.   I am quite proud of how my corners turned out; they’re nice and corner-y, gently rounded rather than wonky, which is how I was afraid they’d turn out.

Sewing on the sleeves went pretty much the same way the whole sweater has.  The armseye seemed to be a little bit bigger than the sleeve cap, so I knew the easing in of the set-in sleeve would involve a lot of easing. Thankfully, there were a couple of points that needed to match up, which made figuring out how much sleeve there was compared to armseye easier.  I had to redo the seaming on the first half of the first sleeve 3 times.  In the end, I determined that a 1 sleeve stitch to 2 armseye rows until reaching the armseye decreases would be what was going to work rather than doing the standard 3 sleeve stitches to 4 armseye rows ratio.  This made the second sleeve go much faster.  The underarm seam seemed easy-peasy in comparison.

Blogaversary

I just realized that Friday, September 28 was the 6th year anniversary of this blog.  Oh, sure it hasn’t always been at this location.  And sure, I may have gone one of those years and only blogged a couple of times.  But it’s a little hard to believe that Knitting from Outer Space has been in existence for that long, or even that I’ve been knitting for 10 years.

It’s kind of interesting to consider how things have changed in that time.  Some of the knit bloggers that I first started reading back in 2004 are still around.  Sadly, many aren’t; they either simply stopped updating, or in some cases, deleted their blogs all together.  Ravelry sort of had the same effect on knit blogs as Facebook had on Livejournal; everyone abandoned their separate little islands to be part of the bigger whole.  I’ll admit I was one of them.  Ravelry had so much more interaction (especially after they added the Forums), then an average knit blogger like myself saw in their comments section.

I don’t know why I recently decided to try my hand at it again.  I think part of it is trying to reconnect with my own knitting in a way.  I feel like I’ve been spending so much time reading about others’ knitting or searching for patterns that just lengthen my ever-growing queue that I don’t actually sit down and enjoy the feeling of needles and yarn in my own hands.  I recently started taking a spinning class at my LYS, and it’s made me slow down my process and examine what I’m doing rather than dashing off headlong and being disappointed that things don’t work out quite as I was expecting.  It’s made me remember that I feel calmer and more relaxed when I work with wool at least once a day.

I have no idea if anyone out there is still even reading my blog anymore.  I know that as I stopped blogging, I stopped reading other blogs as much (especially when Bloglines was going to go away* and I switched to Google Reader, which only stores the previous month rather than up to 200 posts per feed like Bloglines did).  I’m working at getting back into the habit of checking my blog feeds at least a couple times a week.  Then, I’m going to work at commenting more so that other knit bloggers know there’s someone out there reading them.

Meanwhile, I’m also going to start working on my blog revamping project again.  When I first started blogging at Blogger.com they didn’t have tags or categories, so none of my posts had that information when I transferred over to WordPress.  When I moved my blog, I had to go through and change photo links (because I changed photo services at the same time); after all that work, it seemed hard to go back through and tag things.  But, now the compulsive archivist in me wants everything to be nice and tidy.

 


*Apparently, Bloglines did not go away like they said it would.  It looks like it changed hands.  Unfortunately, it’s been so long they don’t have my information anymore.

Little Sailor Girl, Part 5

The end is so close.  All that’s left is stitching on the sleeves and knitting on the striped border.

Originally, the border was supposed to be knit in a big long strip and sewn on at the end.  Personally, I just thought that was stupid, especially because sewing on the border causes the portion of the border that goes up and around the collar to be reverse and not look as nice.  I picked up the stitches from the provisional cast on I did, then picked up stitches up the front using the 3 stitches to 4 rows method.  When I got to where the collar folds over, I switched the picking up so it left the pick up seam to the back.  I’ve put stitch markers in place to show the divisions between back and sides, front corners, where the collar switches from the body, and the corners of the back collar flap.  The most important ones being the corners (so I know where to do corner increases) and the collar markers (so I know to switch from purling to knitting or vice versa).

At least it only took me 4 tries to work out the buttonhole placement.  *sigh*

Little Sailor Girl, Part 4

Little Sailor Girl’s sleeves were relatively easy.  I knit both at the same time to ensure they were the same length and the like.  Then, I had to rip one of them back to the end of the increase section because I had dropped a stitch and left it behind for 6 inches.  So, I finished the sleeve that was good to clear it off the needle before ripping back on the other.

I washed and gently blocked the body as I was finishing the sleeves so that it would be ready for the next step.  And here is where I must say that I am quite proud of myself.  :)  Because I had the shoulders and the neckline to join together, I decided to do it all together.  (And here is where I say I regret not just picking up the collar stitches from the back’s neckline to prevent one more seam, and I think it would probably lay a bit better.)  I used snipettes of waste yarn to tie together the shoulders at 3 matching points – beginning of shoulder, middle of should where the second cast off section began (i.e., the step of the shoulder), and the end of the should at the neckline.  I found the center of the cast on collar stitches and the center of the cast off back neck line stitches, and taking a long piece of matching yarn, used half the yarn to stitch on half of the seam and the other half of the yarn to do the second half of the seam.  So what, you’re thinking, it’s a woven seam.  Yes, but this one changed right sides twice and the center section joined right side of stockinette stitch to reverse stockinette.  *dance of celebration*

So, body is joined together and the sleeves are gently blocking.  Next is the border… oh, border.

Little Sailor Girl, Part 3

Where were we in our saga?  Ah, yes, fronts done up to the end of the short row instructions.  The next bit was casting on for the back of the neck, which the instructions have you do separately for each side.  What I did was cast on both sides worth of stitches altogether, joining both sides into one piece.  I still really have to wonder why the pattern does not have you do it that way.

The flap is a nice straightforward knit till it’s the right length bit of this pattern.  There was a moment of panic as I reached the correct length and showed my progress off to The Husband.  I was trying to show him how the collar would sit and somehow managed to convince myself that I had twisted the collar when I cast on the back of the neck and joined the two pieces.  Thankfully, he convinced me to put it down and look at it again in the light of morning.  The next morning I realized I had been trying to label a shoulder as the collar and that got me all turned around.  I put the live stitches at the bottom of the back collar flap onto waste yarn for the garter stitch striped edging.

The back was the last part of the main body of the sweater for me to knit, and I finished it without incident.  Of course, once I cast it off at the back of the neck, it dawned on me that perhaps I should have done the back before completing the collar pieces as I could have simply picked up the back flap stitches rather than casting them on.  Now I will need to seam across the entire shoulder/neck area.  It will either help lend structure to the sweater or it will look funny; only one way to find out.

Little Sailor Girl, Part 2

Oh, Little Sailor Girl…

I had knit a good portion of the bottom of the sweater (about 6 inches) when Tour de Fleece started.  So, the sweater was put aside while I worked on my spinning and then my Ravellenic Games knitting.

Labor Day weekend I pulled it out again.  I figured out how much the garter stitch striped edging would measure, and subtracted that from what the total length was supposed to be before beginning the armhole shaping.  Because I had cast on the sweater as one whole piece, I started with the right side for the next part of the pattern.

As you start the armhole shaping, you also start the collar shaping, which is a folded over portion of a sort of shawl collar that becomes the back flap (Is there a better name for that, does anyone know?).  Because the collar is folded over and shows stockinette stitch on the front, it gets purled on the right side of the piece.  Does the pattern mention this?  Not really.  Now I knew, because I could easily see that from the pattern photos, but did that stop me from somehow screwing up the increases in such a way that it looked like garter stitch? No.

I ripped it out and started the shaping section again, this time using a Pfb to increase.  I also switch the k2tog decreases to ssk along where the collar joins the body to get a left-leaning look.  I kept the k2tog for the armhole decreases since those should lean to the right.  Then, I find the first of several pattern mistakes.  At least I hope it was a mistake; I haven’t figure out why the pattern would suddenly have you K the collar stitches on the right side of the piece when you’ve been purling them up to that point.  The same mistake was in the instructions for the left front as well.  (At this point, yes, I went looking for errata and found none.)

The collar progressed nicely once I got to the part that just has you continue without anymore increases or decreases till it’s a certain length.  Then, the shoulder shaping was pretty straightforward.  The next step is some short row shaping on the collar, which was written out alright except for the part where it doesn’t tell you to pick up and knit the wraps when you go back over all the stitches.  This would explain why there are a few of these sweaters on Ravelry that looked like there was something odd going on with the collar at this point; wraps were probably left unknit.

At this point I put the stitches on waste yarn and went to the left front, which went smoother after figuring out the eccentricities of the right side instructions.

Little Sailor Girl, Part 1

Oh, Little Sailor Girl, are you trying to send me off the deep end?

Some background…  This is a pattern that my sister saw a sample knit of in her local LYS/fabric/craft store.  My brother-in-law being in the Navy, she thought this would be a fantastic sweater for my niece.  So, she and my mom called me up and persuaded me to knit an awesomely cute sweater for my awesomely cute niece.  Once I was onboard, my mom bought the pattern booklet and brought it home with her to hand off to me to knit for my niece’s birthday, which is in October.

I did a cursory glance over the pattern and determined that knitting a sweater for a child-who-will-outgrow-it-probably-quicker-than-I-can-blink out of the merino/cashmere/silk yarn used in the pattern was ridiculous to the point that I think I may have actually laughed out loud.  What two-year-old needs a merino/cashmere/silk sweater?  Really?  So, a trip in March to Purlescence Yarns had me swapping out the called for yarn with Cascade 220 Superwash in a bright blue with a pure white for the stripe. 

 

In June, I sat down to get started on the sweater to give myself plenty of time to get the sweater done.  I took a look at other knitters’ versions on Ravelry and began to get the sense that something was wrong with the pattern.  The major problem seemed to be that the cute little sailor flap on the back of the sweater is knit in two parts and seamed up the middle; this is not something you can tell from the pattern pictures as none of them are shot from the back.  I think the average person seeing the pattern photos would assume that the flap is one piece; I know I did.  The idea of a seam running down the middle of it just didn’t appeal.  No worries, several people had made modifications to eliminate the seam and it sounded easy enough to do.

I read the pattern through and found myself reading parts over and over again because they were confusing, and while the words were in English, they almost seemed to not be strung together in a recognizable order.  I got things sorted out by realizing that the pattern called for you to cast on the striped edging for the bottom of the fronts, up along the button bands, along the collar, and around the back flap for each side; you then cast off all but the bottom of the front portion.  The back is not as complicated, just calling for the striped section at the bottom of the back.  I cannot for the life of me figure out why they would have you knit the entire length of the stripe, then have you stitch it on.  Picking up and knitting the stitches seems so much easier of an idea.

So, the sweater was cast one, back and fronts all in one piece, with a provisional cast-on for picking up the edging stitches later.

Ravellenic Games Recap

I really did mean to keep up-to-date on posting during the Ravellenic Games, but we know what they say about good intentions.  I had two projects to work on during the games, and I managed to complete one.

I worked on the Autumn Vines Beret (RAV) first, and finished it in decent time.  I would have finished it earlier if I had really committed to the process, but there were some nights I just didn’t feel like knitting, which that will get me every time.  This was a fun pattern to knit, and one I actually think I’d be interested in doing again, perhaps with the yarn suggested in the pattern because I love the color (they had it at Stitches West 2012 and it was fabulous).

My second project was the Citron shawl.  I started it the morning after finishing the beret, but I only had a little more than a week to get it done.  I actually managed to get a good deal of it done on a trip down to San Diego to take the Academy of Certified Archivists exam.  My dad drove me, so I was able to sit in the passenger seat and knit, knit, knit.  Of course, the problem with a shawl is always the fact that it gets bigger and bigger the further you get, and I had decided from the outset to knit 7 sections rather than the called for 5 sections (I wanted to make sure I got every color of the progression into the shawl).  I got to the 7th section on Saturday, August 11.  I thought I was good to go, but then I discovered that I had read the instructions incorrectly, and that instead of having until midnight of the 12th, I only had until 4 pm my time.  I kind of gave up then.  I even put my knitting down and didn’t pick it back up for almost 2 weeks.

Maybe it’s a good thing that I put it down.  When I picked it up again, I decided to see if I could get an extra section out of my yarn.  With worry that I might run out, I knit an 8th section and started on the ruffle.  Amazingly enough I got to the end and still have a little bit of yarn left.  Now the shawl is cast off and just in need to a wash and block.  Now where did I put those T-pins….?