The Best Rainbow Sweater

I have no idea how 29 days have passed since the triumphant return of my WIP Wednesday posts. I blinked and a month disappeared! Not ok, Universe, not ok. I originally wanted to write this post after I had measured the finished object so I could report the juicy knitterly details but let’s be real: if we wait for that, we’ll be waiting forever. Plus, we just took some family portraits for our little Hatchling’s 6 month milestone, and the sweater played a supporting role, so I have to show it off. With no further ado, I give you The Best Rainbow Sweater Ever Made.

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That’s his “Oooh, shiny object, can I have it?!” face.

LOOK AT THAT BEAUTIFUL THING, AMIRIGHT? The sweater’s nice, too. 😉 I used the Babycakes pattern designed by Laura Aylor. I modified the length of the arms and body a bit to make the stripes work out how I wanted, but otherwise followed the pattern for the 6 month size. It fit well when my kid turned 4 months old, and is still wearable now, although I find myself wishing that the armholes were just a little deeper as he’s getting bigger. Warning: if you decide to stripe like I did, you will have 42 ends to weave in. FORTY-TWO. It’s worth it, though, because he’s worn this thing all over the place.

The pattern is simple but customizable and I really like the square neckline and asymmetrical fronts. I opted against the scalloped edge and added buttonholes. The buttons are adorable little turtles from Katrinkles. I think I tried 4 different ways of embroidering them before Katy herself suggested doubling up the embroidery floss and doing a simple backstitch at knit night. Doubling up the floss made the pattern stand out much better.

The yarn is a DK-weight pastel rainbow gradient from Play at Life Fiber Arts, with a some deep green Cephalopod Yarns Traveller used for the edging. This is a great weight for baby sweaters, especially if you use them for outerwear as we do (puffy jackets + car seat = no no). It is substantial and keeps him plenty warm but it’s not so thick that it looks tight or uncomfortable. In short, I love the sweater to bits, and will be so sad when he grows out of it. Also, how did my baby get to be six months old already?!?! I am flabbergasted.

What is your favorite baby sweater? I’m thinking of knitting another Newborn Vertebrae in DK-weight yarn and larger needles to upsize it, but would love to hear other suggestions.

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WIPWed #124: Actual Knitting Content

As I mentioned in my come-back post last week, I’ve finally managed to work on some knitting while juggling my 5-month-old. By the by, props to the people who teach themselves to knit while they’re pregnant or after the baby arrives, I don’t know where they get the energy for that. I’m a seasoned knitter and when I was pregnant, all I wanted to do was sleep. And now that the Hatchling is here… sleep is still a hot commodity. However, he’s starting to settle into a routine and I’ve finally weaned off pumping in the evenings which means I get occasional hands-free time to dally with yarn again. Yay!

Green Gathered

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Cephalopod Yarns Traveler, colorway Wolcott . Click for project page.

This photo is something of a lie as this hat is done and has been worn already, but I haven’t had a chance to take good finished photos yet so I’m still calling it a WIP. 🙂 The pattern is Gather by tincanknits and I loved it. The stitch pattern is easy-peasy but fun to work. I knit the toddler size for my kiddo because he has a big head and it fits perfectly with some stretch for future growth.

Wine Toast:

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Verdant Gryphon Zaftig, colorways Kiss of Cabernet and Russian Something-or-Other. Click for project page.

Speaking of easy-peasy, this project couldn’t be simpler. I’m knitting the Toast armwarmers by Leslie Friend, which are basically just plain stockinette tubes knit in the round. I often wear 3/4 length sleeve sweaters to work and my arms get cold, plus I’m always warmer with my wrists covered, so these will be a big luxurious (worsted weight Merino-cashmere-nylon yarn, yum!) treat for me. I’m making them a bit longer so they go all the way to my elbow, wider to accommodate my larger forearms, and adding a thumbhole (but no actual thumb) so they can also serve as fingerless mitts when needed.

Hatchling’s Sky Blanket:

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O-Wool O-Wash Fingering in various colors. Click for project page.

I’ve been making very slow progress on my Sky Blanket (<– scroll to the bottom of that post to read the history of this particular project). In summary, I’m knitting 360 square that represent the sky each day (minus 5)  in the first year of the Hatchling’s life. That strip represents the first couple of weeks in July. HAHAHAHA I’m soooooo behind. The worst part is, I stopped recording the weather during the first couple of weeks in November, at least before that point I’d had everything written down. So now I’m going to have to get creative with the almanac or something to figure out what to knit for the missing dates. I WILL COMPLETE THIS BLANKET.

Is there a particular project you’ve been dragging your feet about? Holiday knitting, perhaps? Speaking of, check out the Knitter’s Gift Guide on the KnittedBliss blog. It’s a great collection of gift ideas, including a little shout out to my Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe sheep-shaped soaps in the stocking stuffer section (sooooo many S’s in that sentence)!

 

FOFri #33: Need An Extra Foot?

Somehow, even though I knit and blocked and measured a gauge swatch, and calculated an approximate length I wanted my cowl to be and cast on the appropriate number of stitches, I ended up with a cowl nearly a foot longer than I had intended.

Pre-work, dusty mirror selfie is all you get.

It’s a wee bit large: 63″ circumference, 8″ tall. I don’t hate it, though I’ll never wear it long like that. I’m currently wearing it doubled up around my neck and it has a comfortably loose drape. I can also wear it tripled for increased warmth.

My ‘almost being choked by knitwear’ face.

My blocked swatch had a gauge of 5.5 sts/inch, so I cast on 285 sts to arrive at hopeful finished length of 52″. My swatch was small, which might have had something to do with it, and while I did knit it in the round, I did so on bamboo DPNs, rather than on the KnitPicks harmony wood circulars I ended up using for the cowl. I suppose those changes could have resulted in a project gauge of 4.5 sts/inch (285 sts / 63 inches). Let this be a lesson in the dramatic difference one stitch per inch can make!

Inglenook Fibers batt spinning.

I am still spinning for #Spinzilla, but sadly had no time at the wheel last night. I’ve been piling up the singles on my Russian spindle, though! All of that is the result of just one of the eight little batt poofs (batt balls? batt sections? batt muffins?) from Inglenook. I’ve yet to spin a large project on my supported spindles, so far I’ve only just sampled and then andean plied the yarn off the spindle into a 2-ply. Does anyone have tips for singles management when you only have one supported spindle? How to you spin and organize your singles for plying for an entire project?  I need to figure something out, since promptly after shooting that photo, Darwin ran off with my spindle and tragically separated the cop from its rightful place on the shaft (bad kitty!). The single appears to have maintained its shape so I’m hoping it won’t be a total mess to wind up later.

What was your worst ever gauge miscalculation fail?

WIPWed #66: Taking the Plunge

All that dyeing over the weekend paid off, because I swatched for my Cypress vest and I LOVE IT!

Overdyed Cypress:

Woolen Diversions

BMFA Twisted, colorway Aurora Borealis, overdyed by me.

It’s dark and moody, still colorful but more subdued, and from a distance it appears to be a neutral shade that I think will make a really nice garment. I’ve yet to become a sweater knitter, but I have no fewer than 3 different sweaters on my MUST KNIT NOW mental list, so we’ll see what this season brings! I think Cypress is a good one to begin with since the shaping is simple, the texture is fun to work, and the sleeves are short — which should all lead to relatively quick turnaround (fingers crossed).

Fiasco Deconstructed:

Woolen Diversions

BMFA Sock that Rock Lightwright, colorway Sigur Ros.

Some time spent in the DMV this week means that I am now on the toe of my Fiasco Deconstructed socks! My knitting on these socks has been rather leisurely, a little here, a little there, they’ll get done when they get done… but fall is here, and my toes are cold, so I’m going to need to step it up!

Honey Cowl:

Woolen Diversions

Cephalopod Yarns Traveller, colorway Hobart, IN.

I’m still completely in love with the slipped stitch patterning on this cowl. So simple, yet so effective! I’ve somehow misplaced the other half of the yarn intended for this cowl, which I better find soon since I’m nearly done with the first half.

Earthy Bubble Crepe Handspun:

Woolen Diversions

Miss Babs Merino/Bamboo/Silk.

I didn’t have a whole ton of time to sit down and spin this week but I snagged a few moments to work on this handspun. (Also, can we just take a second to admire that photograph? Yay, new camera! *happy sigh*) I can’t believe it took me so long to attempt the little trick shown in the photo: if the take up of your wheel is too strong (which it almost always is on my Babe) you can thread your yarn across two hooks on opposite sides of the flyer to reduce the pull and allow you to draft more easily without fighting the wheel. This fiber is a little slippery and I am spinning fairly fine so it kept flying out of my hands, but with it threaded as shown, the take up is much less forceful, so that trick really works!

Super Duper Extra Mysterious and Subtle:

Woolen Diversions

IT’S A MYSTERY!!!

(I call that photo Fun With Filters, btw). The above project that was on and off my needles in a jiffy! I will reveal what it was on Friday, when I will also review the yarn and pattern I used and host a giveaway. Do come back in a couple of days, I promise you’ll be extra glad you did, especially if you love alpaca!

Check out more WIPs at Tamis Amis!

WIPWed #65: New Toy Joy

While the blog’s been a little quiet lately, I’ve been quite busy with Sweet Sheep shows, work, and grownup things like buying a new car (since ours was totaled) and official name changes (since the Fiasco and I got married and are combining our last names into one). In the midst of all the Important Things To Do, I’ve been riding a wave of creativity that has had my head going in a million directions at once: swatching! designing! new lotion scents! new product lines! dyeing! sweater-cast-on-ing! and last but not least, photography!

WIPWed #64: New Toy Joy | Woolen Diversions

Meet my new toy! Canon Rebel T3i

You might have noticed that the quality of photos on the blog has dropped since August, due to my Canon point-and-shoot dying a slow and agonizing death all summer that ended unfortunately while we were away in Costa Rica. Since good photos are such an integral part of blogging, designing, and selling products online, I figured it was finally time to spend the extra money and invest in a for-serious SLR camera.

WIPWed #65: New Toy Joy | Woolen Diversions

Darwin, looking sulky.

I’ve spent spare moments over the last couple of weeks doing some research and trying to figure out what I wanted in a camera, whether used or new was a better deal, and just what all those abbreviations and numbers really meant (still working on that bit).

WIPWed #65: New Toy Joy | Woolen Diversions

The tip of Calypso’s nose.

I found Audry’s knitwear photography blog series to be extremely helpful in providing some context and examples for what all the numbers mean and what a good camera is. I also read lots (and lots) of CNET reviews and spent far too much time on tech sites like bhphotovideo.com and Adorama.com, where I ultimately placed my order. Adorama had a great deal on what is essentially the entry level version of the higher quality camera that Audry uses, that also included a bag, an extra battery, a remote trigger, a basic 18 – 55 mm lens, a lens filter, screen protector, SD card, and a couple other things I can’t remember at the moment.

WIPWed #65: New Toy Joy | Woolen Diversions

My crazy-eyed-super-psyched face.

Basically, it was a new-hobby-in-a-box for cheaper than I could put together buying a used camera and the lens and accessories separately. To top it off, it arrived in 2 days, yay instant gratification! I’m really looking forward to getting to know all the ins and outs of this whole thing. I’ve loved photography forever (my first job was working in the photo lab at CVS) and have always wanted to improve my skills. Photography is one of my favorite art forms and I can’t wait to see what I can create with a decent piece of equipment!

Anyway, I’ve also been knitting (cue crappy photos again).

WIPWed #65: New Toy Joy | Woolen Diversions

BMFA De-Vine in Pond Scum. Click for project page.

I randomly decided to revive my hibernating Cedar Grove Shawl. It’s dropped down into the 50s and 60s here so it’s about that time where I’m too cold in short sleeves but not yet ready to commit to wearing jackets again. That’s when a big bulky shawl comes in handy as outerwear. I’m about 60% done with this and just broke into the second skein.

WIPWed #64: New Toy Joy | Woolen Diversions

CY Traveller in Hobart, IN. Click for project page.

I’ve also finally started my Honey Cowl. I’m a few more inches in than this now and it’s going quite swimmingly. The slipped stitch pattern is a real comfort to work, especially in a fun rainbow-y yarn. I’ve used the same stitch on a design in the works (sneak peak below) and plan to incorporate it into some socks, as well.

WIPWed #65: New Toy Joy | Woolen Diversions

Oh, the gorgeous up-close rainbow.

What have you been working on lately? Any new hobbies vying for your attention? Check out more WIPs at Tamis Amis!

WIPWed #63: Lessons Learned

I’ll start with the bad news… If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen this disaster:

Sock knitter's nightmare.

Oh, woe is me. Click for project page.

Yup, that’s right folks: the special, gorgeous sock that I knit on before my wedding and during my honeymoon does not fit. It fit as a cuff, it fit as a partial leg, but with the longer-than-usual leg length, the less-elastic-than-usual fiber content (BFL instead of Merino), and the smaller-than-usual needle size (US 0 instead of US 1), it just does not have enough stretch to make it over my gigantic arches and heel.  The combination of tightly-knit stockinette and less elastic wool spelled disaster for this sock, even though I added more stitches (68 vs usual 60). I’m considering this a (hard) lesson in the difference in sock yarns. While I was (and still am) excited to try sock yarn made from a longwool breed (I’m hoping the socks will hold up better over time), I now know I need to take the elasticity of the stitch pattern into account. Here are three things I could have done (coulda, woulda, shoulda) to avoid this problem:

  1. Knit a swatch. I might have knit one, but it was probably tiny, and I really don’t remember if I did or not. So knit a big swatch, in the round, and get a good feel for the fabric and its stretchiness (in addition to figuring out how many stitches to cast on).
  2. Knit the cuff and leg on larger needles than the heel/foot/toe. In general, I want the foot/sole of the sock to be super snug but the cuff/leg could use some extra elasticity.
  3. Continue the cuff ribbing all the way down the leg. The difference in stretchiness between the ribbed cuff and the plain stockinette leg is pretty amazing. Basically, if I had knit the leg of this thing with almost any ribbed stitch pattern, I bet it would have fit.

So there you have it, folks. Learn from my mistakes, please! The sock is now in time out until I have the fortitude to face frogging it.

Fiasco De-constructed:

Fiasco - Deconstructed

BMFA STR LW, colorway Sigur Ros. Click for project page.

Since sock weather is swiftly approaching, I grabbed an already-in-progress sock to continue working on while I figure out what to do with the BFL pair. (Don’t worry, this one fits.)

Sweet Codex Shawl:

Sweet Codex Shawl

SG Codex, colorway The Lioness of Brittany. Click for project page.

Because I needed a win, and because I have a wedding to attend in October, I cast on a simple shawl in one of my favorite yarns, using a tried-and-true pattern. The yarn is the incomparable Codex (52% silk, 48% BFL) and the pattern is the Sweet November Knit Shawl designed by Caryl Pierre. It’s mindless and soothing and just the thing right now.

Sweet Companion:

Sweet Companion | Woolen Diversions

CY Traveller, colorway Hobart, IN. Click for project page.

I tried and did not like the hat pattern I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. So instead, I’m designing my own hat to accompany the Honey Cowl I plan to knit with the rest of this yarn. I think it’s going to make a pretty snazzy set, if I do say so myself.

Tarnished Yak:

Tarnished Yak | Woolen Diversions

BMFA Yak/Silk fiber on my Jenkins Aegean.

I’m making slow-but-steady progress on my Jenkins Fall SAL spin. My goal is to spin 2 oz by the end of September. I have quite a ways to go yet…

Seaglass:

Seaglass | Woolen Diversions

Miss Babs Merino/Silk in Seaglass on my Enid Ashcroft Mini.

I’ve decided that bringing an itty bitty Turkish spindle to work is totally acceptable behavior. It sits on my desk and I give it a flick every now and again while I’m waiting for something on the computer to load or while my office mate is chatting. Even if I don’t spin anything, seeing it there makes me happy. As you can see by all the yarn in the temporary cop (wrapped around the shaft), spinning during those little idle moments can add up!

Phew! That WIP roundup has been a long time coming. I hope you’ve been making progress on things, as well! Check out more WIPs at Tamis Amis.

WIPWed #62: Anti-Progress

I think there must be some force in the universe that is actively preventing me from making any knitting project progress. (I suspect that force is Time, or The Lack Thereof… perhaps with a healthy dose of Indecision.) Here’s what I accomplished (ha!) this week.

Spindling:

Turkish Spindles

Three little spindles L to R: Capar Large, Jenkins Aegean, Enid Ashcroft Mini

I’m enjoying playing around with my three little Turkish spindles. On the Capar to the left is some Louet Merino/silk, on the Jenkins Aegean in the middle is a BMFA yak/silk blend, and on the mini Enid Ashcroft is Miss Babs Merino/silk. I’m amazed at how differently they each spin! The Capar feels slow and steady. The Jenkins is flighty and needs lots of attention (i.e., multiple flicks per make). The EA is easygoing and a real pleasure to use. I pick them up here and there throughout the day. I have not yet made a habit of spindling for long, productive lengths of time nor have I gotten comfortable spinning out and about (like, say, waiting in a doctor’s office) which is when most of my crafting time occurs. Do you spin in any unusual places?

Simply Royal:

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BMFA BFL superwash, colorway Royal. Click for project page.

You’ll have to pretend like that’s a current, decent picture of my sock project… because it’s not. The purple area is meant to represent the length it is at the moment. Some progress, yay!

The Project That Isn’t:

Cephalopod Yarns Traveller | Woolen Diversions

Cephalopod Yarns Traveller, colorway Hobart, IN.

Just before we left for Costa Rica (like the night before), I went crazy (“I won’t have enough knitting, OMG!!!” ha) and wound up two skeins of CY Traveller for an emergency airplane project. I had decided I wanted to knit a Brickless shawl, but then I noticed how different my two skeins were. The top skein has a much bluer/greener cast and the bottom skein is more on the orangey-brown end of this colorway’s spectrum. (In case you’re wondering, the skeins were split in half so I could force them to fit into my bursting carry-on. See: crazy.)  I tried alternating skeins while knitting and it just didn’t look tidy with the way this pattern incorporates bound off edges into the design. I knit the tip of this shawl about 4 times, each time second-guessing myself and wondering if it wouldn’t be better in a thicker yarn with some silk in it (my original plan) or at least some better-matched skeins. Then I remembered the other projects I had wanted to knit with the Traveller yarn:

Photo copyright Hunter Hammersen. Click for pattern page.

Like the Chrysanthemum frutescens hat…

Photo copyright madelinetosh. Click for pattern page.

Or the Honey Cowl. I think if I use half of each skein for each project and alternate for a bit in the middle, the color differences shouldn’t be too noticeable, more like a gentle fade in tone. I should have enough yarn for the hat and a small version of the cowl. A fun and easy fall accessory set should be just the thing to get my knitting mojo back. Have you ever had a project that just did not want to be?

Check out Tamis Amis for more WIPs!