design, sweaters

I Heart My Dragons! Favorite Finished Object EVER. And, a Review of DROPS Air.

dragoncomplete4When you take the “softest and fluffiest yarn EVER” and combine it with the measurements from your favorite sweater and then throw in a couple of dragons… it’s REALLY hard to to wait for the finished project to manifest.

It feels like I’ve been working on the sweater forever, but looking back over my posts, it’s only been few weeks.  The anticipation has been brutal.

The end result is my favorite finished project that I’ve ever produced.  The sweater is soft, snuggly, warm and has a couple of dragons too!  Pure happiness is how I would describe my feelings about this sweater.

dragonbuttonsChoosing buttons that were worthy enough for my prized creation was not an easy task.  My preference is to take my project into the store and audition buttons.  However, the store with the best button selection (Joann Fabric around here) doesn’t carry enough cards of each button type to finish a sweater.  When you see the long aisle of buttons, it gives the false impression of ample selection.  But when you scratch the surface, you see that there’s usually only 3 to 6 buttons of any particular design.  I’d fall in love with a button and find that there were only 4 total buttons in the store- a stretch for the front of this sweater.

I finally settled on a silver filigree design with a shank.  There were only 6 buttons so I had to use a larger (but similar) button for the top.  You’d have to look very closely to notice.  And, I think folks will be too distracted by the glorious white creatures on the front to decide to inspect the buttons.

dragoncomplete3Along the way, I had to rip out the tops of all the sweater pieces because I mis-read my own directions and produced too-shallow of an armhole.  I also had to rip out the buttonhole band 4 times because my math for placement was wrong.  But, it did force me to come up with a new method for determining button placement that involves putting removable stitch markers where each buttonhole goes so I don’t have to rely on my own memory.  I cannot seem to watch TV and focus on knitting at the same time!

But I remind myself that with knitting comes frogging.  It’s inevitable.  And, I think it’s a good lesson and practice in patience for me.  Knitting forces me to take a deep breath, let it all roll off, and refocus.  I’m sure there’s another life lesson in there somewhere.

So, what was it like to knit with the “softest and fluffiest yarn EVER”?  It was awesome!  🙂  Because DROPS Air is a “blown” yarn and not a plied yarn, it weighs 30-35% less than conventional yarns which means this sweater feels light and fluffy.  Many of my sweaters weigh a ton but this one feels like wearing a cloud.  The yarn isn’t without it’s downsides, though.  It’s sticky and a bit difficult to frog.  Those alpaca hairs like to cling to each other and with the way that I seem to knit, frogging is a requirement.  However, it only required minimal scissor help to frog this yarn.  And, I was able to re-knit with the abused yarn.  This sweater consumed a total of 6 – 50g gray balls and a partial 50g white ball.   This yarn went a lot further than conventional 50g balls.

For my next project, I’m eyeballing the Hitchhiker shawl that many of my fellow knitting blogger friends have produced.  It looks like it would go very well with my hand-painted yarns and discourage color pooling.  While I mull over ideas for the next project, you know I’ll be ecstatically clad in a couple of white dragons.  🙂

dragoncomplete2

sweaters

More Mistakes but Easy Fixes. Dragon Charts Too!

dragonsSteve’s twin is complete!  But, if you look closely, you’ll see that their knees don’t match.  I have no idea what I was looking at when I knitted up the second dragon, but the two legs are fused together at the knee.

My options as I see them:

1) Live with the mistake.  (Not likely.  This little flub will drive me crazy!)

2) Over-dye the white stitches with grey (But, how do I get an exact color match?)

3) Duplicate stitch with grey over the white. (Which adds a bit of bulk.)

I’ve opted to duplicate stitch.

dragons2Easy enough.  I tightened the yarn up to get the stitches to lay flat and you can’t even tell.  Yay!

dragons3Here are the dragon charts if you’d like to use them for your personal projects (click for a larger view):

dragonchart2dragonchart

sweaters

Finished Object. (It’s a Conspiracy!)

illuminatiDoneA new sweater is officially off my needles.  It features an all-seeing eyeball floating above golden bricks.  This may seem like an odd design choice unless you are familiar with Bill Cipher from the show Gravity Falls.  Bill is an animated yellow pyramid cyclops that wears a bowtie.  We think he’s based off the all-seeing eyeball from the dollar bill and much like the green eyeball, Bill is the center of many conspiracies in the show.

This sweater is knit from the bottom-up and in-the-round until the intarsia panel.  Flat intarsia is so much easier for me than in-the-round intarsia so I was willing to sacrifice a little bit of seaming for the tidy intarsia links.  Once the body is knit and shoulders are seamed, stitches are picked up around the armhole and the arms are knitted in place down to the cuff.  The finishing of the sweater includes using a crochet chain to put in the black lining around the eyeball and the vertical lines for the bricks.  And, a tiny bit of embroidery is used for those luscious eyelashes.

My daughter is thrilled with the results.  I’m so glad she is- because the sweater was her request and design!  I’m trying to finish up the pattern so I can share it.  I’m not sure how many people are fans of Gravity Falls, but if you knit this in greens instead of yellows, it can easily become the “All-Seeing Eyeball from the Dollar Bill” sweater instead.  Who wouldn’t want that sweater?  🙂

illuminatiDone4

design, sweaters

After-Thought Set-In Sleeve Is a Success

illsleeve2For the most part, I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants knitter.  When I finally reached the arms on my newest sweater, I decided at the last minute to try out a new-to-me sleeve technique that I refer to as the “after-thought set-in sleeve”.  After seaming the shoulders, I picked up stitches around the armhole and knitted an arm in place.  This technique uses short rows to knit back and forth to create a sleeve cap before then knitting in the round down to the cuff.

Overall, the after-thought set-in sleeve is easy to accomplish but I don’t think the wrap and turns are as pretty as regular increases/decreases in a sleeve.  However, the ease of construction and the elimination of seaming makes this technique very attractive!

gravityfallsIf you are interested in the nitty-gritty details of this technique, By Gum By Golly offers a very detailed and picture-heavy tutorial that you can check out.

illsleeveThe concept art of this sweater (provided to me by my daughter) has fuller sleeves down to the cuff.  I tried to create this look in the sleeve with minimal decreases down the arm and then performing k2togs all around right before the cuff.  The sleeve looks pretty close to the original sketch, right?

I’m hoping to finish up the second sleeve in the next day or two.  Then I’ve just got to put on the collar and put in the vertical orange lines to finish the “bricks”.  Maybe by next week, my kiddo will be able to wear her new sweater.  🙂

design, sweaters

To Seam or Not to Seam- That Is a Huge Question

illuminati4I’ve had to make some difficult choices as I’m designing and knitting this sweater.  The first choice was construction.  My favorite sweater construction method is hands-down the bottom-up raglan because it’s easy.  I don’t have to plot any sleeve curves and there isn’t any seaming.  However, my daughter really prefers a set in sleeve because it just looks better on her.

It seems that there are a million new ways to knit a seamless set in sleeve.  Some of them are in the round from the top down.  I’ve tried a couple of these methods.  They look beautiful straight off the needles but then stretch out of shape over time.  Without the bind off stitches at the shoulder giving the sweater support, my sweater would stretch and sag off my shoulders.  When I first started knitting sweaters, I thought I was clever and innovative by leaving the back neck stitches live instead of binding them off for the collar.  This was a mistake because I was removing the required structure for the neckline and my sweaters would stretch out of shape at the neck.

http://bygumbygolly.com/2013/10/how-to-knit-seamless-set-in-sleeves-from-the-top-down/

With this particular sweater, I’ve made sure to bind off and seam at the shoulders.  But, now I’m trying to decide how to proceed with the sleeves.  Do I want to knit each sleeve separately and sew them into place?  Or, do I want to try a new method of picking up the stitches around the armhole and use short row shaping to knit a sleeve in place?  With my shoulder seams ready to go, I think that knitting a sleeve in place shouldn’t hurt anything.  I found a great tutorial at bygumbygolly.com.  Has anyone tried this?  I think I’m going to go for it and see what happens.  Maybe I will have found my new favorite sweater construction method.  Stranger things have happened.  🙂

design, intarsia, sweaters

Embracing Intarsia: It’s Easier than You’d Think

BlogIlluminati2With only one intarsia project under my belt, I was worried about my latest project which incorporates a large intarsia panel in front.  The intarsia-in-the-round technique that I used previously gave me wonky stitches and it was difficult for me to manage my yarns.  Plus, intarsia-in-the-round still requires back-and-forth knitting so you don’t even avoid all that purling!

My approach with this design is to knit in the round until the intarsia panel.  Then, I begin knitting flat while casting on 2 edge stitches for a seam.  When the sweater is finished, I just have one small side seam to zip up.  Easy peasy- or at least that’s what I’m hoping.  So far, so good!

ButterfliesInstead of bobbins, I’m using “yarn butterflies” that take about 30 seconds to make.  They weigh almost nothing and aren’t even that tangle-y.

For those that are newbies to intarsia (like myself) the only major rule to remember as you switch from yarn to yarn is “old over new”.  If you cross your old yarn over your new yarn as you move along then your yarns will “link” and you won’t have holes in your knitting.  If you forget to cross your yarns, you will definitely get holes.

Just for fun, here’s a gratuitous pic of my newest stitch markers.  I’m in love with these little dragons.  🙂

dragons2

design, socks, sweaters

2 Colorful Socks and an Anticipated Cast On

skewtoo1The latest pair of Skew socks are off the needles!  And, I did manage to slow down and enjoy the process instead of rushing to get to my next project- the Bill Cipher sweater.  My sock model was sick in bed so I pulled out my sock blockers to take photos.  Unfortunately, the blockers are for medium feet and these socks are for an extra wide size 9.5 foot but at least the foot shape is apparent.  🙂

Finally producing a swatch for the new sweater was loads of fun because I got to try out a new technique- instead of a one stitch intarsia for the vertical stripes, I used a column of purl stitches and a crochet chain instead!  You can find more info on the technique here.

bill6You can see in the pic that the tension comes out nice and even.  And, it looks better (to me) than a duplicate stitch.  Plus, it’s waaaay more convenient and uses far less yarn than trying to color strand to produce the design.  Here’s a peek at the back of the swatch (below).  You can see that it’s fairly neat and tidy.  Overall, I’m thrilled to have found a way to pull off the brick design at the bottom of the sweater with minimal discomfort.

bill2In between my knitting, swatching and sweater designing, I discovered the most delightful beads to transform into stitch markers for my Etsy shop.  Who wouldn’t want to keep track of their stitches with alien heads or hula girls?!?  My current go-to stitch markers are turquoise skulls but I’m thinking about switching it up.  🙂

 

stitchmarkers3

design, hat, sweaters

2 Frisky Reindeer and an All-Seeing Eyeball

RomanticReindeer5The latest romantic reindeer hat is off the needles and packed neatly into a gift box for Christmas.  All of my obligatory holiday knitting has been completed ahead of schedule and I am free to move on to other projects.  It helps that throughout the year, I keep a box of finished objects that can be gifted.  Although, some of my knitting is planned and purposefully chosen for an intended recipient.  🙂

gravityfallsAs you know, my daughter brought me a sketch of a sweater she really wants me to knit for her based on the show, Gravity Falls.  The yarn has been ordered but since the big sale week at Knit Picks, order fulfillment is delayed and my yarn won’t be here until the end of the week.  😦  I’ve collected her measurements and decided on a pieced sweater to make the intarsia easier.  I’ve been sketching out the layout and shape with measurements, but without a gauge swatch or yarn, I’m at a standstill.designFor the bricks at the bottom of the sleeves and sweater body, I was thinking of using a technique I found on pinterest that originates from yarn.com.  It involves purl stitches and crocheting the colorwork up the line of purl stitches.  This would make life much easier than attempting to color-strand the bricks.  Has anyone used this technique before?

In the meantime, I think I’ll cast on for another pair of skew with a crazy rainbow handpainted yarn!  They should be done just in time for the Gravity Falls sweater yarn to arrive.  🙂

baby, sweaters

Two Nautty

TwoNauttyAnother baby sweater is off the needles.  It’s a miniature of the first one which I named Nautty after my nephew, Nautas.   The two shown above are in size 18 mos and 3 mos. Both are knitted with backyard hand-painted yarns which makes them extra special to me and hopefully to the recipients (my brother and sister).

NauttyTwo1Missy’s Crafty Mess has kindly volunteered to test knit this new pattern and I’m planning on offering it up for sale on Ravelry in a few days.  It’s my first for-profit design and I’m interested to see how it goes.

There is another large (to me) shipment of bare worsted-weight yarn on its way to my house.  My daughter and I have been bitten by the hand-painting bug.  I’m pretty sure it’s a disease.  🙂  Since we cannot use the amount of yarn that we are painting but we don’t want to put a damper on our fun, we’ve opened up a tiny Etsy store.  There are only 7 hanks listed there currently, but there will be plenty more in the next week.  I’ve also ordered dye from a different company to see how it compares to the Greener Shades we’ve been using.  Let’s hope for some warmer weather here in Virginia since we do the majority of the dyeing on the back porch.allyarns

I’m not sure what’s up next on the needles.  Earlier this year I spent months knitting fingering-weight, color-stranded, adult-sized sweaters so I’m really enjoying these smaller, quicker knits.  Maybe I’ll knit some baby booties with the leftovers from the baby sweaters.  But it’s been a while since I’ve knit any colors-stranded projects.  Hmmm…

baby, sweaters

Nautty Boy is Off the Needles

NauttyBoy2I wish I had a baby around to model my newest project.  The intended recipient, my nephew, Nautas, lives over a thousand miles away in Texas.  I’m going to have to wait until after Christmas to post pics with a baby inside this sweater.  :/

This was created with worsted-weight, hand-dyed yarn on size 5 needles from the top-down in one piece.  It’s knit back and forth until the end of the button band and then joined in the round and knit down to the bottom.  Sand stitch was used on the front and back and the sleeves are  in stockinette.  Fortunately, I had these beautiful wooden buttons already in my stash so I didn’t have to make an emergency run to the craft store to finish this thing.

Usually, I post a free pattern of my project but I’m playing with idea of offering this one for sale on ravelry.  A considerable amount of work goes into the math and pattern writing.  I’m always happy to share with others but I’m curious to find out if I can raise a few dollars to put back into my little blog and fund my hobby.

NauttyBoy5My other sibling just found out he’s expecting his first child so I’ve cast on for another one of these in a *hopefully* gender-neutral colorway since we won’t know if it’s a boy or a girl until after Christmas.  It’s in another hand-dyed yarn from my recent dying adventures.  This colorway is one of my favorites even though it wasn’t exactly what I was going for at the time.  The dye and yarn seem to do what they want without my permission and the results are surprising.  I cannot wait to dye yarn again!

NauttyBoyNauttyBoy4NauttyBoy3