Tuesday, July 29, 2008

This is my Gathered Pullover

Ladies and gentlemen...this is my Gathered Pullover.

This is the sleeve that I cast on in January and knit in the movie theater while watching Singing in the Rain. I kept knitting in March on the bus on the way to hockey playoffs, and I cast off the first sleeve in Princeton, NJ.

This is the body that I cast on in May during breaks, whilst my friends and I wrote/filmed/starred in/edited/premiered a movie in twelve days (really).

And that I kept knitting on the metro all around Washington DC.

This is the cable that I cabled while watching Season 3 on DVD.

(I would also like to take the oppurtunity to point out that I think my new sweater looks quite nice with my new necklace, purchased at Eastern Market this past weekend.

This is the back and its pretty spectacular pooling. I think it looks sort of cool, though, and the color difference is subtle enough that it doesn't immediately scream HEY LOOK I'VE GOT A LIGHTNING BOLT ON MY BACK. Well, I hope not. And can't you see where I used another (darker) skein for the top of the back? Oh, the joys of handdyed yarn.

This is the shoulder that I finished while watching Season 4 online.

This is also the seam that I sewed while talking to my friend Chris on the phone.

Yes, this is it...this is, finally, at long last, my Gathered Pullover!


Project Specs:
Pattern: Gathered Pullover, by Hana Jason, Winter 2007 Interweave Knits. 36" (second-smallest) size.

Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport in "Denim," 4.5 skeins. I LOVED this yarn! While I was knitting I was a little worried because it just seemed so slippery. The more I looked at finished GPs elsewhere, the more I became convinced that this sweater needs a fuzzy yarn, not a slick one. When I finished the knitting, though, I tossed it in the washer and dryer (gulp) and--miraculously--it fuzzed right up! It didn't felt, obviously (hooray for superwash), but the fibers are just the tiniest bit stuck together and there's a little bit of a halo. And it is oh, so unbelievably soft. There was a little bit (/a lot) of a pooling issue, but I'm pretty easygoing about that sort of thing. If I were more uptight (and let's face it, less lazy) I would have knit alternating from two separate skeins, but hey.

Needles: Clover bamboo DPNs, size 8, for the sleeves, and mystery metal size 8 circ (inherited from my grandmother, so maybe Susan Bates) for the body.

Start date: January 20 (ish)
Finish date: July 27 (yyyyeah, I know.)

Modifications: Made the sleeves two inches longer than the pattern called for, mostly by accident (I was watching a movie, I got distracted...) When I tried them on, they were (surprise surprise) far too long, so then I ripped out three inches and now they're good. Sheesh. Made the body two inches longer, this time on purpose. Sewed together the seam at the front neckline, like many other have.

Verdict: I love it! Oh man, I love it! I think this is the best sweater I've ever made (not that some other sweaters were particularly hard acts to follow, you say. Shut up.) I love how light it is, and I love the plunging-yet-classy neckline and I love the cable detail. All that stockinette in the round was a little bit of a slog, and partly the reason it took so long--it was boring enough that I wanted to save it for when I was movie-watching/metro-riding/etc, which during the busy semester is not that often.

But in the end?

Totally, totally worth it.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hi, I'm Rita, and I'm late to the party

So basically the point of all this is that I'm horribly uncool. There are some people who always seem to anticipate trends--they're wearing/knitting/listening to/doing whatever the Next Big Thing is, before it's even a Big Thing.

I am so not one of those people.


1) I just started watching The Office. It is hilarious! Yes, say my friends and every other college student in the world, we knew this two years ago.

2) Last week I read The Kite Runner. Bestselling, blah blah blah, came out...ah yes, the summer of 2005.

3) I am thinking of knitting a Central Park Hoodie. Wait, what is that, you say? I've never even heard of it! It's not like EVERYBODY IN THE ENTIRE WORLD has already made one, or anything.

4) And finally, proving that once again I am more that a bit behind the times...

...today I joined Ravelry! My username is RitaA. So far it reminds me very much of Facebook for knitters. Facebook and knitting are pretty much how I spend all of the time I should be doing homework, so I expect my academic productivity to decrease accordingly.

Nonrelatedly, in lieu of knitting news, here is a funny picture:

Yes, that is my face.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Gathered Pullover: so close

So, so close.

I finished the bodice:

(sorry, 1 a.m. and bad overhead lighting does not make for good photographing. But I was just so excited!)

The end was in sight. When I tried it on, though, the bottom (the cast-on edge) was really, really tight. I thought long-tail cast-on was supposed to be pretty stretchy, but this was just so binding and immovable.

So I picked out the cast-on, all 184,724 (approx.) stitches, and re-bound off with a sewn bind-of a la EZ. Stretchy, flexible, and totally worth the crick in my neck.

I really should look up a better cast-on next time, though.

Anyway, the point is that I am now So. Close.

So close.

Meanwhile, the Flamingo Scarf resists being photographed, but it is a pretty color!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

My Knitting Fantasy Life

In my knitting fantasy life, I am knitting Tempest. I even have the colors and the yarn picked out: Fleece Artist Blue Faced Leicester 2/8 (the recommended yarn, even!), in “Aurora” and “Amythest.” (link to a site that has both colors) I can see it, in my imagination—I can see how the almost-solid Amethyst picks up the purple tones in the Aurora. Since this is my fantasy and I can do whatever I want, I can also see how the sweater knits up in two weeks with no trouble at all, and how I'm not even bored with knitting an entire sweater in laceweight yarn, and how it fits perfectly and hugs my curves in a tasteful (not too tight) way. And since I’m fantasizing, I’m wearing Tempest for an evening stroll in a moonlit garden with a handsome fellow, or perhaps to my exciting and stimulating job (instead of the certain spinsterhood and unemployment that I am convinced awaits me after graduation).

I love this sweater. I love the fitted shape, the teeny little buttons, the wearability of the classic shape paired with the possibilities for wild colors. My fantasy sweater is beautiful.

Back in reality, meanwhile, there is no moonlit garden, I need to do laundry, my kitchen floor is suspiciously sticky, and I’m drowning in an ocean of denim blue and I’m worried it’s not going to fit.

I tried it on when I finished the front last night, and it sure looks like it’s going to be too big in the bodice—but it’s impossible to tell because the back isn’t finished. So I’m knitting as fast as I can, thinking in my faultless knitter’s logic that if I knit faster, it will fit better. Much like how knitting faster helps keep you from running out of yarn.

On the bright side, if it does work, I've already finished the sleeves, so I'm superclose to being done! At any rate, if I manage to pull this off and it does fit—-or if I’m going to be wearing an expensive and time-consuming sack-like object—

It is pretty! I had to color-correct this photo like crazy because um, newsflash, taking pictures at 11 p.m. does not do so much for the natural lighting, but check out how the cable turned out:

Nonrelatedly, yesterday I saw these guys singing a capella and dancing in the metro:

If you can't make it out, they're all wearing oversized Barack Obama YES WE CAN shirts. I love DC.

And finally...my Flamingo Scarf (for that, I have decided, is the best description of the color), poses in the sun on the train platform. Little does this innocent little lace scarflette suspect the massive (not really, I'm just a whiner) tinking that lies ahead. Lesson learned: don't drink and knit, kids.*

*Although as of thirteen hours ago, I am twenty-one! So said drinking and knitting, while not optimal for the chart-following, is at least now legal.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Necessity is the mother of invention

Being a poor college student, meanwhile, is sort of the mother of necessity, so does that make poor-student-hood the grandmother of invention?

Maybe. But so what do you do, poor college student, when you want to knit your pretty scarf but you can't print the chart because you have no printer, and you can't keep track of your rows because you have no sticky note?

Yes. You improvise.

Monday, July 7, 2008

How to make a sock

How to make a sock in 8,251(ish) easy steps
by Rita

1) Buy sock yarn.
2) Vastly overestimate your knitting abilities and the speed with which you will finish previous projects. Carry sock yarn all over three continents (I do not exaggerate).
3) Finally cast on (on the train from Valencia to Barcelona while listening to Harry and the Potters, which for some reason I remember very clearly. Funny, actually because it was SO LONG AGO). Decide to do a picot edge.
4) Instead of a using a provisional cast-on and then unzipping it, attempt to pick up your already cast-on stitches. With sock yarn and tiny needles. On a moving train.
5) Develop a raging headache
6) Make a bizarre twisted Mobius-looking picot edge
7) Decide you can't face doing it again. Charge ahead bravely.
8) Knit the leg on a plane over the Atlantic
9) Upon landing and unpacking, shove the sock in progress in a corner somewhere.
10) Ignore for three months
11) Dig out sock, examine.
12) Decide cannot take any more of knitting leg. These will be short socks.
13) Knit 3/4 of heel flap.
14) Get distracted by something (school? Band? Pretty new yarn? Who knows)
15) Ignore sock for five more months
16) In an effort to avoid studying for finals, dig out sock, finish heel flap, turn heel
17) Knit sporadically for a month or so
18) Finally, finally finish toe while spending four hours on a plane that's stuck on the tarmac, while listening attentively to the scintillating (rather one-sided) conversation of seatmate (age 6).
19) Decide twisted picot cast-on is just too ugly for words. Also, foot-amputatingly tight.
20) Attempt to rip out picot edge
21) Ripping is harder than it looks. I have to unpick each and every godforsaken little stitch.
22) Oh god, my neck is killing me.
23) What's happening to my eyes? Is it normal to need bifocals at age 20?
24) Screw it. Where are the scissors?
25) Yep, short socks.
26) Finally get rid of the remnants of the doomed picot edge. Decide to knit a short little 1x1 rip instead.
27) Knit ribbing.
28) Ignore sock for three more weeks (seriously, this is pathetic)
29) FINALLY work up the energy to look up a sewn bind-off and finish sock.
30) Eleven months after cast-on...

I made a sock! Now, do you think by the time I finish the second one my grandchildren will want to wear them?

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, colorway "Tuscany," approx. 3/4 of a skein for one sock.
Needles: I forget. Wooden DPNs, size 1.
Pattern: Standard flap-heel sock recipe; originally with picot edge, but, well...

If I am completely honest I am not entirely thrilled with this sock. I used 72 stitches on size 1 needles, but it's still pretty loose around the ankle and foot. Next time I might try 68, or even 64. And would you look at the POOLING! I hear Lorna's Laces is pretty bad for that, actually--although a different stitch count might help. Except oh wait, I have to make another (identical) sock to make this thing called a PAIR. Drat. On the other hand, I do like the stretchy sewn bind-off!

Midsummer Progress Report

Name: Rita
Grade: Is "college" a grade?
Subject: Achievement of Summer Knitting Goals

Category 1: Gathered Pullover
Grade: B+

Points given for successful "gathering" of cable. Points deducted for the fact that I started this sweater in January. (Sorry the picture sucks--you can actually see the cable a little better in real life).

Category 2: Trellis
Yeah. About that.

Category 3: A baby sweater. Any sweater. Just knit a damn baby sweater.
Grade: A
Body completed, sleeves on the way! The sweaters for the small people, they go fast.

Garter stitch around the bottom. Simple and cute, no? I'm going to jazz it up with some embroidered flowers around the edges. It's a little shiny right now (that would be the microfiber, I think) but my swatch sort of softened and fuzzed a little when I put it through the washer and drier.

Category 4: Finishing up old stuff
Grade: A!
Details to come...but here's a teaser. Does it...could it be...is that a sock?!

Category 5: Not starting new projects until successful completion of categories 1-4
Grade: FAIL

Um. Yeah. I would just like to say that this is ENTIRELY Rosa's fault. All of it. Why, she came right over here and put a gun (made of candy) to my head, and she told me that if I didn't cast on for a new project RIGHT THIS VERY INSTANT she would...um, she would...yeah, OK. But it's true, though, she did gift me the yarn for this project (Drops Alpaca, lovely and soft and an impossible color to describe. Is it salmon? Or hot pink? Or coral?) And she has been knitting lace and telling me all about it, and what can I say, all the miles of blue stockinette, interrupted only by tan stockinette, finally got to me. I'm weak.

The pattern is from here and looks like it will be lovely. Assuming I don't get bored halfway through, what with how I hate scarves but always seem to forget that.

Relatedly (not really, except in the category of "stuff I made"), you know what's awesome? Baking!

Before: ugly-ass "pie."

After: Crispy, peachy, deliciousness!

Seriously, this was just about the easiest thing ever. I bought frozen pie-crusts (I was very slightly ashamed of this, but then recalled that the last time I tried to make a pie I accidentally put four cups of vinegar in the crust. I am not even kidding.) Then I chopped up some peaches, added some flour and sugar and cinnamon and nutmeg and stuff, and tah-dah! Delicious.