posts tagged: sweaters

lace batwing top

I finished! I finished! And I can still type, grasp the pole in the subway, hold a book—and look good while I do it.

lace batwing top

When last I wrote my hands ached and hurt so badly I didn’t even know what to do. I iced both wrists on and off for the rest of the evening and took as much Aleve as was possibly recommended. That night I slept with my only brace on, prioritizing my left hand, which is generally worse than my right. When I woke up in the morning it was better. Friends came over for brunch so I was cooking and using my hands differently. When we all sat down in the living room after we ate, I picked up the knitting and discovered that knitting wasn’t torture any longer!

lace batwing top with mom

I took it very slowly, and it was done later that afternoon. I could not believe it. It went into a tub of water and the new Soak scent, yuzu (so bright and springy!), and the sweater was blocking that night. A three-needle bind-off two days later, and I was ready for the Bridesmaids’ Luncheon the day before my cousin’s wedding! (Because I was doing a reading at the wedding, I was considered part of the bridal party.) Paired with a khaki skirt, pearls, and a sock bun, and I was feeling very appropriate for the event. The sweater was actually comfortably warm on what turned out to be a chilly, dreary day by the beach, and so soft. So soft!

lace batwing top detail

Setting aside the pain, I really enjoyed knitting this.┬áMy only modification was to do another whole round of the increase chart to add both length and width. Thanks for cheering me on while I worked my way through the pattern! As a reminder/for posterity: Pattern is the Lace Batwing Top from Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2012, designed by Brooke Nico. I knit it in Artyarns’ Ensemble Light, the called-for yarn in the color it calls for, even!

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slow, slow progress

It’s been a full month since I posted my swatch of the lace pattern in Brooke Nico’s Lace Batwing Top from the latest Vogue Knitting. And I’m pleased to report that I’m nearly finished! I thought I would be done by now but my hands are in incredibly bad shape, so I can’t knit for long periods anymore.

lace batwing top progress

Turns out I love, love, love knitting this pattern though. The yarn (Artyarns Ensemble Light) is a dream to work with (50% cashmere, 50% silk: how could you go wrong?) and, best of all, it seems, to me, to work together perfectly with the needles I’m using (addi clicks) so the experience is nothing short of lovely. However, tiny needles and fussy lace (oh how I hate ou double decreases!) mean aching thumbs, wrists—basically my whole hands.

The pattern, which at first seemed so daunting, is nearly memorizable. The only thing I couldn’t be confident I’d remembered every row was how many stitches were at the edges, outside the repeat. A quick glance at the chart was all I’d need, though. Because I hoped to finish this quickly, I employed a few time-saving measures, such as wrapping the ssk stitches backward on the plain rows, so that they are sitting on the needles correctly when it comes time to decrease them.

lace batwing top

As I type this I am taking a break from the sweater, but I’m about 10 rows shy of a completed front. I really really want to wear the sweater in a week at my cousin’s bridal luncheon, so I’ve got a deadline but I’m also trying to preserve the feeling in my hands! Wish me luck I can do both in the coming days.

WIP Wednesday?

Every year I resolve to post more WIPs, but I almost never do. This is the year, I swear! In fact, I swatched the other night so I ought to get some credit for that, right?

Artyarns Ensemble Light, Vogue Knitting Lace Batwing Top Brooke Nico

This is Brooke Nico‘s latest pattern in Vogue Knitting, the Lace Batwing Top, and I’m using the exact yarn called for—Artyarns Ensemble Light, in the same delicate blue color even. It’s been a long time since I knit any complicated lace, and whoa. The pattern has a long repeat, and while I bet I’ll eventually memorize it, well, it did not click for the short duration of the swatch. I’m going to have to employ some of those tried and true tricks for following a chart—a long Post-It should do just fine. But I’ll admit it’s kind of pleasant to be knitting something that’s actually mentally challenging as opposed to all the mind-numbing garter stitch I’ve knit of late! This one is going to take concentration.

Originally I thought I’d tweak the pattern—oh it would be so simple, I thought—by making the knits twisted. I thought it would give a little more depth, and I honestly love knitting twisted stitches. But then I started knitting it and I realized how foolish I was being. There are decreases, and much of the pattern is worked flat, and who am I kidding? That was overly complicating the lovely design, and was entirely unnecessary. I did make one small change, though: Instead of a sk2p for the double decrease, I’m doing a centered double decrease. It just seems slightly more elegant even if it’s a bit more fussy to execute.

Artyarns Ensemble Light

Knitting this complicated lace, which is going to definitely mean slower going, is going to be completely rewarded by using this yarn. You guys. I actually said to Jason that I don’t know how I’ll go back to knitting with normal yarn again. Because 50% silk, 50% cashmere? This is the stuff. I’m going to go block the swatch to be thorough, but I can’t wait to get going on the knitting. Casting on for the ribbing asap!

finished in 2012

I almost didn’t do a wrap-up this year, but I just realized that I have done one every year for many many years now and why should I suddenly stop? First up, my knitting accomplishments for the year:

finished knits

Who knew I was able to complete so much while at the same time whining about not being “able to knit” because of my thumb pain? There really isn’t such a dearth of knitting, is there? There are two missing projects: one is a design I did for a book that’s not coming out for a while yet so I probably shouldn’t show it to you anyway. I also knit a hat for a work giveaway that I didn’t document at all.┬áThose coffee cup cozies were a little thing I did for Knit Simple magazine. They assigned me cozies, and I couldn’t decide which pattern to submit, so I showed Editor in Chief Carla Scott all of them, and she said “yes! we’ll do all three!” Ha.

I like that you can see how I used the same yarn for my Buckwheat as the hat for Carol; I should start making hats out of all my leftover yarn! Thanks again are due to Caro Sheridan for the photo shoots we were able to do this year, for Buckwheat, the Bulky Topper, and the green hat!

I’d declared 2012 “the year of the quilt” and I wasn’t wrong. It was definitely a year of sewing. With my injured thumb, it was far less painful to sew, so our entire dining room area was pretty much unusable as a place of eating. (“Be careful! Don’t spill on that!” gets old fast.) Here are all my quilty endeavors (plus an embroidery project that I never blogged):

year in quilt

That lion embroidery? I made that for my dear friend’s baby; because mom and I met while taking yoga together 6 days a week for a few years, I added “simhasana” to the embroidery (the Sanskrit for lion pose) and stitched the little lion’s tongue sticking out (like you do in the pose). Just a little touch of something personal, and a really cute result. The one in the lower right has yet to be shot in daylight, but that will come soon, and the one in the middle on the bottom actually is basically finished and has been in use but has never been photographed! I need to get on that. The quilting that I did this year was mostly on my tiny machine, but I did do a mix of machine and hand quilting on the star quilt that hasn’t been blogged. I feel really confident in my skills as a quilter now, too, so I’m really happy with what I did this year.

Earlier in the year the last of my bees finished up, so I have some bee blocks in my catalog of finished stuff:

year in bees

I wasn’t good at documenting these, actually. And in fact, I may have never fully finished the Dresden plate in the bottom middle, but I don’t remember where I put the blocks-in-progress! (This is what happens when I actually clean the apartment.) I’m so glad that I participated in a total of 3 bees. You really gain so much skill and knowledge so quickly. I know that bees are tricky—I mean, you’re trusting other people to have the same standards and skills as you—but I also enjoyed being exposed to so many different kinds of blocks and ways of approaching a quilt. Actually, in my finished quilt mosaic are two of the bee quilts that I had made: the picnic blanket came from my Twitter Bee, and the stars (the unfinished one in the mosaic) was from KBeeC, a bee among my KBC friends. The third bee, the Solid 6, comprises most of my finished bee blocks in the mosaic above… But I picked a block for everyone to make that it turns out I really don’t like very much. I’m torn as to what to do with the blocks that were made for me, so I’m sitting on them until the right idea comes along.

What’s up for this year? Well, the month of January is going to be basically a rest from quilting. I’ve got two business trips, we have houseguests, and I’m just, I must confess, tired. I like having a clear dining room table! I’m enjoying just sitting on the couch watching TV when I get home—plus lately I’m so busy I get home late from work. But I’m sure when I’m back from TNNA things will come back—I intend this to be the year of sewn clothing! (Something that, despite having taken classes on the subject more than once, I am still quite intimidated by.) But I still have a bunch of quilt ideas swirling around in my brain that I can’t wait to make real. There will always be knitting, too, of course, don’t worry. Just this morning I bound off on a long-suffering project—stay tuned!

a non-rhinebeck sweater!

I didn’t make the journey up to New York Sheep & Wool this year, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t knit something just in the nick of time! About three weeks ago, when the temperature finally started to change, my need for a new sweater overcame me. I started researching colorwork pullovers (inspired in large part by Julia’s newly released Hiro) but somehow ended up looking at solid patterns and stumbled on Madigan, a Melissa LaBarre pattern for Quince & Co. I knew I had the perfect yarn in my stash, so off I went to wind and swatch.

Fittingly, I bought this yarn (Stonehedge Fiber Mill‘s Shepherd’s Wool) at Rhinebeck two years ago, when I was eager to amass more sweater quantities of yarn. I was looking for a nice, wearable gray. I found, however, this bright blue. I think, in the madness that is shopping at Rhinebeck, I neglected to think this through, so I bought it even though I couldn’t exactly picture it in a sweater. “Sweater quantity? Sold!” This electric blue haunted me from its place on a shelf in my craft corner. Nothing ever seemed quite right. Then I found Madigan. It couldn’t be more perfect.

The sweater is a cinch to knit, but that doesn’t mean I actually managed to follow the directions. You know how you read over a pattern, start knitting, and feel confident you know what it told you? Yeah, that led to varying stitch counts, some uncalled-for plain knitting in the middle of the waist shaping, and likely not as many stitches in total at the hips. But you know what else? It led to a perfectly fitting sweater that I finished the Friday before Rhinebeck. Either I was lucky or I actually can successfully improvise a sweater after all these years.

Speaking of improvisation, my friends and I improvised our own Rhinebecky day in New York City, instead of driving 2.5 hours up to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. We went to Knitty City, a crafts fair, and Central Park to approximate yarn booths and fall foliage. Just like at Rhinebeck, we took time for a photo shoot (this time Tania and Holly took my pictures, instead of Caro). But we also went shoe shopping, ate a calm and line-less brunch, and were home in time for dinner. So in some ways we improved on Rhinebeck! All that was missing were all the friends I didn’t get to hug. Next year, I’ll be back!