Using Up Stash Yarn

April 14, 2009

Even though I’ve only been knitting since January of 2008, I’ve already accumulated a ton of yarn. Most of it is in the form of acrylic or acrylic/wool blends, but never mind; I do have a fair amount in 100% wool. When I first began to knit, I couldn’t pass any store that even had the possibility of selling yarn without coming out with several skeins. It didn’t matter that I didn’t have a pattern in mind, either. The way I approached yarn buying back then is to see some yarn in some yummy color or color combination, buy at least two skeins, sometimes more, depending on price, and bring it home. The other thing I did a lot of in the beginning was to download free patterns. I have a whole 3-ring binder of free (and paid-for) patterns, each in its own plastic sleeve. It never occurred to me to first find a pattern, then buy the yarn. I finally had to buy some clear plastic tubs to keep my yarn in.

By the time December rolled around, I decided that I was going to make a New Year’s Resolution and actually stick to it! No more yarn-buying until I’ve used up most (if not all) of the yarn in my stash. Giving it away doesn’t count. So now I’m left with knitting up garments in non-wool. I’ve recently finished a sweater in an acrylic/wool blend and I really like the way it turned out, for the most part. The thing I like about acrylic and acrylic blends is how easy it is to launder. The thing I don’t like is the amount of pilling; though I have some 100% wool garments that pill almost as much.

After doing an inventory of my stash yarn, I found that I have quite a bit (1200+ yards) of Hobby Lobby’s I Love This Yarn, in espresso brown. I want to knit another sweater, this time Tang, by Wendy Bernard. I haven’t decided on the neck yet, but I have until the end of the sweater to make that choice. The original pattern calls for a turtleneck, but one of the things I like about Wendy’s patterns is the easy of changing it to suit my own wants. I may change it to a crew neck in time for Spring weather. It’s been cold here: snowy, rainy, yuck. Where, exactly, is Spring??? But I digress.

I’m really proud of myself for sticking to the no-more-yarn-buying-until-the-stash-yarn-is-gone rule. It’s been hard, don’t get me wrong, but it’s one more step to forming a wanted habit.


Finally finished Rings and Owls

April 6, 2009

Actually, I finished this a while ago, but haven’t posted the pictures. It was slow going and I had to re-do almost every part of the process at least once, but I ended up with a sweater that I like. And that’s a good thing.

I was going to over-stitch the owls eyes in gray to make them stand out more, but I had two choices: one was to put the sweater into a pile of “things that still need work” or two, wear it as is. I chose the latter. I’m glad I did; I’ve gotten lots of compliments on it.

The only thing I’ll change for next time is to add in shaping in the waist. The sweater is a tad big on me; I like things more fitted.

My Dog Ate My Sweater

March 11, 2009

My dog ate my sweater, the first one I ever knitted. Grrr. Actually, he just chewed a whole in the back. The problem is that it is a seamed sweater, knit from the bottom up, so part of the damage occurred at the cast-on edge. This event actually happened several months ago, and while I really love the sweater, I’ve done nothing about it except contemplate what I’m going to do to repair it.

One choice is to knit a flap in the contrast color and so it over the hole. Another is to pick up stitches around the hole and knit a flap to cover it in the original color. Another is to let it sit while I do nothing.

The sweater itself isn’t knit out of any great yarn, and it’s pilling quite a bit, but it’s my first sweater and I really like the way it fits and looks on me.sweater-holesweater-hole-cu1legransweater

New underarms and on to the yoke

March 9, 2009

I did rip out the three yoke rounds and began again. This time I put the 8 stitches on each sleeve and the 8 stitches on either side of the body onto waste yarn. I’m going to weave them together using the kitchener stitch when I’m finishing. It also gave me a chance to lengthen the body by another repeat of the pattern because it was a tad short.

I’ve put a marker at every repeat of the owl chart (that’s every 10 stitches), so that I don’t mess up the pattern. This sweater will have 28 owls; 280 stitches total before the decrease for the neck. I’m not going the route of adding buttons to the eyes; but instead, I’m going to duplicate stitch with gray for the eyes. I’m hoping it turns out as well as I envision it.

Gaping underarm issues

March 5, 2009

So I’m following this pattern from Knitscene, Fall 2008, called Red Rings Pullover by Tonia Barry, for the body and sleeves. The pattern calls for binding off 8 stitches on the inside of both sleeves and at the sides (where the sleeves attach) of the body. I don’t understand why because now I have bound-off gapes (gape not gap; a gap implies small, whereas a gape implies large) at the underarms. This is my first bottom up sweater, but so far, I’m not happy with the pattern instructions. Maybe it’s just me; no one else on Ravelry mentioned a problem.

I’m seriously considering ripping out the three rounds I’ve done for the yoke and trying to salvage the sleeve and body portions so that there aren’t such gaping holes. I hate seaming, but I also hate sewing up holes where there doesn’t need to be any in the first place.

Okay, I just looked up how Elizabeth Zimmermann explains her bottom-up yoke sweater in Knitting Workshop and rather than binding off those 8 stitches on the sleeves and the sides of the body, she suggests to put those stitches on waste yarn.  Then weave the seams together after the yoke is done. That makes much more sense! Just wish I’d thought to look sooner. Grr. That’ll teach me to follow a pattern blindly.

Sleeve Set Back

February 27, 2009

Last night, while I was knitting round 48 of my “two sleeves on one circular needle, magic loop style”, I made the startling realization that I had forgotten to add in any sleeve shaping! Doh! True to form, I started increasing at round 48, but then when I did the calculations on how fast I’d have to increase in order to end up with the correct number of stitches when I reached the sleeve cap (technically it’s not a sleeve cap, but the place where the sleeves join the body to start the yoke), I decided to rip it all out and start again. I made this decision based on my recent experience knitting my first top-down sweater (see first blog post). That sweater has no shaping and I really am not happy with the fit. Since I’m going to the trouble of knitting another sweater, it would be nice if I set out to make sure it fits the way I want.

I’m no stranger to ripping out a project and starting fresh. I do it quite frequently, actually. I like that ripping back helps to reinforce the new techniques that I learn and it’s a good part of my knitting practice. That being said, I do have many projects that have “mistakes” left in. Those happen when I don’t realize there’s a problem and it’s too late to go back and attemp a fix.

So here I am back on round 18. Tip: This time I’ve taken the time to write out the purl and increase rounds on a 3×5 index card that I keep with my knitting. Then, as I go along, I cross out the rounds just knitted so I always know where I am in the pattern. The only round that overlaps with both a purl and a increase is round 88, which I’ll figure out when I get there.

Rings and Owls Sleeves

February 24, 2009

As I mentioned earlier, I’m knitting both sleeves at the same time on one circular needle, Magic Loop Style. I cast-on using the long tail cast-on method, using two separate skeins of yarn (one for each sleeve). A great reference book, called Queen Kahuna’s Crazy Toes and Heels, gave me the inspiration and instructions.

In order to keep the two balls of yarn from tangling together, I put each one in a zippered plastic bag, then turn the knitting clockwise every round or so. I’ve also heard of people using the plastic tubs from yogurt or cottage cheese. Just poke a hole in the lid and run the yarn through the lid before starting the project. I can’t seem to remember to thread the yarn first, so I like the plastic bag method.

I’m on row 12, only 112 more to go!

Rings and Owls Sweater

February 23, 2009

My newest project is a conglomerate of two patterns: Red Rings Pullover by Tonia Barry, and Owls3 by Kate Davies. I wanted to make a replacement sweater for the one that my dog ate — yes, Tucker P Macaroon pays homage to the saying “My dog ate my homework”. It was my first seamed, set-in sleeve sweater that I completed after just 4 months of knitting. It fit perfectly, and I wore it often. *Sigh*. Anyhoo, after I made it, I bought more of the same yarn in a different color thinking I would make another one, but never got around to it. Now that it’s 2009, and I have the rule that I cannot buy any more yarn until I use up what’s in my stash, and I’m in need of another sweater, I’m ready to forge ahead.

I like the Red Rings Pullover because it’s knit in the round (no seaming) from the bottom up. I was all set to just use this one pattern, but then the other day I found the Owls3 sweater pattern in Ravelry and knew I wanted to make that one as well. Since I was already making a sweater from the bottom up, why not merge the two? This is mostly what I do anyway, I’ll find a pattern that I like, then as I’m knitting it, I’ll change this and that, and one thing leads to another and the original pattern has been “hacked”. Modified might be a better word.

I’m almost done with the body. I’m going to knit both sleeves at once on one long circular needle, magic loop style, then after I join the body and the sleeves, I’ll start the owls.

Pi R Squared Shawl

February 20, 2009

Pi R Square Shawl by Elizabeth Zimmermann.

I’ve recently started this project because I was in need of something to knit which didn’t take a lot of concentration (all of my other projects are fair-isle; I had three going at once, but have finished one). I belong to a knitting group that meets once a week and if I take something that needs concentration, I’ll invariably have to re-do whatever stitches I did over again, once I return home.

That being said, I had to start this project three times before I was able to get past row 4 without a mistake. I hate making mistakes in my knitting; I will usually frog back to the mistake and try to fix it, but usually will have to start from scratch if I’ve mucked things up too badly. I’ve learned to “unknit” pretty fast, though. Once I got the pattern down, and it’s not that hard, really, I plan to be working this shawl for a while. I’m using a yarn I bought in Taos, NM, but have long since lost the label. Fortunately, I inventoried my stash last Spring, so I know that each skein of said yarn is hand-painted, 100% merino wool, with 400+ yards. It’s not worsted weight, though it could be sport-weight. I’m using size 10 needles and it’s fairly loose-weave. The only variant I’m making from the pattern is to have the yarn-overs surround 2 stockinette stitches every other row. This helps me locate the yarn-overs by site without having to use markers (even though I have them in anyway).

First Top-Down Sweater Adventure

February 17, 2009

My first top-down sweater adventure began in October of 2008. In my mind I thought this would be an easy-peasy project that I could whip out in no time. *Sigh*. The sweater didn’t get finished until February of 2009!

A couple of things went awry with this project: the first being that I mistakenly thought I could use up a couple of skeins of yarn on other projects, wear them, then take out the yarn and re-use it in my sweater. Not! Another pitfall was when I hadn’t kept track of the dye lot number in my yarn, and then couldn’t find that color, let alone the same dye lot. These things are not something I ever considered.

So I started the sweater in October, and all was going along well until I joined the knitting in the round at the bottom of the armholes. That’s when I realized that knitting around and around for 14 inches was…boring! Here I thought that making a top-down sweater was going to be so cool because there was no purling involved, and no seaming, but then I realized that just knitting can be a downer in its own right. The grass is always greener on the other side!

I finally got down to the ribbing section on the body, only to discover that I was fast running out of the original color, so I knitted a 2×2 rib but didn’t cast-off. Then I got the idea to add different colored sleeves, and by the time I got down to the ribbing on the sleeves, realized that I hadn’t factored in any shaping, so the sleeves are wide. When I added the 2×2 ribbing to the cuffs, I wasn’t happy with the way the cuffs tightened, so I ripped out the ribbing and, once again, didn’t cast off. For the sleeves, I tried three endings, including bind-offs, before I settled on a 3×1 ribbing. The cuffs still curl, but that’s because I only had enough yarn to do 2 rows of the ribbing.

Once I decided on the 3×1 rib for the sleeves, I had to go back and re-do the body ribbing to match (that’s the way I am with my knitting), so I did just that until I ran out of the body color. The sweater is a tad too short, and I did find some leftover yarn in that same dye lot in the bottom of my stash, but am so done with this project!

Okay, so now I’m done with the sleeves and the body, but the neck line still needs work. I didn’t want to add ribbing, so I tried my hand with knitted on I-cord. I found some instructions for a completely different pattern that called for picking up the stitches, on every row, then doing one round of purl before starting the I-cord. But I so didn’t like the final product because the I-cord was too floppy. I then discovered another way to do knitted on I-cord, which involves picking up the stitches as I’m knitting the I-cord, not before. Also, I picked up every other row on the V portion, and every stitch around the neck. This helped pull in the over-sized V-neck.

I still need to block it, but I’m calling this one done. I love to make up a pattern as I go, but this is what happens when I do…there’s no pattern to follow!

Until next time,