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.
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.
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.
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….?
I finished my spinning for the Tour de Fleece with a little time to spare. I didn’t want to go too crazy with the spinning since I’m participating in what one of my online knitting groups (Friends of Abby’s Yarns) is calling the Masochism Tango where whatever you spun during the Tour de Fleece gets knit into something during the Ravelympics Ravellenic Games. Since one of the things I spun was a skein of laceweight singles with a total of 864 yards, I knew I’d have my work cut out for me in the knitting department.
So, the final totals at my Tour de Fleece finish line are
1. (Top) Spunky Eclectic Fiber Club – August 2011 – Falkland – Change, 3-ply, sport weight, 234 yards
2. (Bottom) Spunky Eclectic Fiber Club – December 2012 – Superwash Corriedale – David’s Gift, singles, laceweight, 864 yards
Plans are still the same for the knitting up as I posted at the beginning of the Tour de Fleece: the 3-ply Falkland will become the Autumn Vines Beret, and the laceweight SW Corriedale will become a Citron shawl.
I cast on the beret Friday evening. If I had been thinking ahead I would have had the yarn balled up and ready to go to cast on while riding the bus home from work that afternoon. But I was totally unprepared for the start of the Ravellenic Games. The yarn was balled up, the pattern pulled out, and a quickie gauge swatch knit up after dinner while watching the woefully time-delayed opening ceremony (probably the only thing except for the closing ceremony that I’ll actually watch during the whole thing, I think). I am ready and willing to except that my gauge swatch might have been lying to me as I only knit about an inch or so before measuring and deeming the chosen needles good to go. But the fabric I’m getting looks good, and the hat itself does not look overly small or large.
I’m hoping to have the beret done and the shawl cast on by Monday of next week, the sooner the better obviously. I’m expecting that the shawl will go quickly since it doesn’t have the same amount of patterning as the hat; the hope is that I will be able to mostly memorize the shawl pattern and go at it like a speed demon rather than having to check the pattern every few minutes like I do with all the cables on the hat.
I chose to start my Tour de Fleece spinning with the SW Corriedale in David’s Gift. I’ve gotten the bobbin about half full, and it’s all orange. When I stopped spinning this afternoon, I had just begun to see a little of the brown creeping in. I’m a little worried about how I’m spinning it – sometimes I think I’m going too thick and other times, too thin. I have a Spinner’s Control Card somewhere, but I haven’t been able to find it. Normally, I wouldn’t worry too much about the thickness variation because I’d be plying it, and most of the time it all blends together. Since this is destined to be singles, I won’t have a second ply to balance it out. I think I’m just psyching myself out a little cause I keep thinking it’s a good weight if I were to ply it as a laceweight, but I want this to be a laceweight without plying.
Part of the problem is I don’t usually spin singles yarn. I jumped in without thinking about the thickness much at all other than knowing I want laceweight. For this single to be laceweight all on it’s own, it needs to be a bit thicker that I normally spin the singles for a plied laceweight. But when I spin that way, some part of my brain tells me I’m spinning too thick and I back off.
I guess I’ll just need to trust my fingers and understand that I can work with whatever the end result is. I am spinning this for a shawl after all and that means that a little thicker will simply give me a slightly larger shawl, which can be nice.
While drinking my tea this morning, I prepped the Spunky Eclectic Falkland in Change. I opted to divide the top into 3 even portions. Two of the portions were then split into thirds lengthwise, and the third was spilt in half; not for any particular reason, that’s just how they seemed to want to spilt. A little pre-drafting later and I have 3 fluffy balls of fiber ready for spinning.
I’m a little surprised at how much orange I have going on for Tour de Fleece this year. I’m not usually an orange person as it looks hideous on me, or more appropriately, I look hideous in it. (There are a couple shades of green and orange that have caused strangers to approach me and ask if I’m feeling well and if I need to sit down or have some water. I kid you not.) Spunky Eclectic really seems to like oranges and yellows, and while I doubt anyone will ever convince me that yellow is a nice color, her oranges have started to grow on me, especially when she mixes them with a sage-y green and a raspberry red.
Now to decide which fiber to start spinning first.
Today was the beginning of Tour de Fleece 2012. This year I’m going the Masochistic Tango version where I spin during Tour de Fleece, then knit using that yarn during the Ravelympics Ravellenic Games. I have two main projects planned: 1) laceweight singles spun from Spunky Eclectic Fiber Club – Dec 2010 – David’s Gift – SW Corriedale (pictured left) to knit a Citron Shawl, 2) 3-ply sport weight spun from Spunky Eclectic Fiber Club – Aug 2011 – Change – Falkland to knit a Autumn Vines Beret (Rav link).
Today, so far, there has not been any knitting. I’ve been working on prepping the fiber. The David’s Gift is a progression dyed fiber, and I want to maintain the color order. I opened up the fiber and did a little pre-drafting without splitting the fiber at all. I really only did the pre-drafting because the SW Corriedale can be a little sticky, and I want to concentrate on spinning it not on fighting it. For the Change fiber I’m not sure if I’m going to spilt it 3 ways lengthwise or divide it into 3 pieces horizontally. I want this one to have the colors mixed up so they don’t argue with the pattern of the beret.
My niece’s first birthday is next month, and I had decided to knit her a sweater made from my handspun. Because my sister knows how to take care of nice things, I decided that I wasn’t restricted to just superwash fibers. I selected the organic merino I got in the Spunky Eclectic club in March 2011; the colorway is Little Periwinkles, which is pastels — pink, blue, green, purple with some white. For the pattern, I choose Elizabeth Zimmerman’s February Baby Sweater from The Knitting Almanac. It’s pretty much seamless, with some lace to make it pretty.
I started by spinning up 4 oz, which gave me approximately 194 yards of light worsted yarn. I used about 30 yards knitting a swatch to determine which needle size would be best for the yarn and get me the closest to the gauge listed in the pattern (5 sts/inch). I tested out size 5, 6, and 7 needles. It was hard waiting for the swatch to dry, but in the end it told me that I could get 5 sts/inch on size 6 needles. However, I liked the fabric from the size 7 needles better, and the gauge was only 4.8 sts/inch; close enough, and would allow me to err on the bigger size for the sweater since Miss M is growing quickly.
Unfortunately, the 160-ish yards I had left were not enough to complete the sweater. I got through the yoke, the arm separation, and about 3 inches of the body before I ran out. So, it’s back to the spinning wheel for me to get more yarn for finishing up. I’ve gotten the 4 bobbins of singles done and am just waiting for them to rest a little before getting the plying started.
I must say, the organic merino is a dream to spin. I have more of it in different colors from Spunky Eclectic and am now looking forward to spinning and knitting it up. So soft.
Somehow it’s a little hard to believe that it’s been over 5 months since I last posted. I really think it’s time for me to get back to it. I’m starting with getting the admin stuff straightened out (there were hundreds of spam comments to delete, and I was behind by a couple of WP updates). So, don’t be surprise if you see some things change over the next few days (that is if anyone out there even reads this thing any more).