Friday, September 28, 2012

BeeKeeper's Update

It has been a while since I've knit a hexipuff. Unfortunately, I could not remember if I knit a full round after the cast on edge or if I went straight into the increases. The answer is YES - knit a full round before starting the increases. This is part of the directions, not because I'm doing a different cast on method.  (For future reference to myself I am also doing my increases as KFB.)

Doubling up. I had made it up to this point without using any yarns twice (with one exception). I am not just trying to use some of these yarns up so I can dye new mini-skins but also so I can see how the quilt will start to fit together.

I also decided that it was time for me to make some half and half hexipuffs.  I had remnants from my remnants, too small for a full hexipuff but perfect to make a bisected one!  I will do stripes and other designs as I move forward.  

I have received some different yarns from the RAK (random act of kindness) Ravelry group.  I started knitting with some RAK yarns.  I am very excited to incorporate more different brands of yarn into my quilt!

I need more purples!  I have a LOT of greens, but I need some more purples and colors in that range.  As of the writing of this post, 33 hexipuffs have been completed.  I have a long way to go, and many more yarns to find.  Of course, I'm not allowed to buy any more yarn for a while.... BUT I did find some old remnants that may work into some awesome hexipuffs.  I love what a memory collection this quilt is coming!  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Knitting for Two

I picked up the book Knitting for Two: 20 Simple Designs for Expectant and New Mommies and Babies by Erika Knight expecting to see some cute mother and child outfits. Unfortunately, this is not the case. This is a book filled with patterns for mothers and babies, but without any coordination.

There are four collections based on color: Classic comfort, daytime chic, vintage charm and night moods.The book is proud that matching mom and baby outfits are gone, but I kept hoping to see something sweet and silly.

I hate it when the pattern interest comes from embroidery in a knitting book. Baby embroidered raglan sweater is sweet but I want something I can KNIT. (At least the embroidery instructions are provided, some books fail to do this.)

Unfortunately, most of the patterns are pretty bland. There are a few with interesting beaded embellishments or embroidery, but I continue to be disappointed by this books lack of direction. The patterns include sweaters, baby pants, cardigans, blankets. The only unifying theme is that the items can be worn by a baby or by a expectant mother.

I would rather see a book that has knit garments for a woman that can be used before, during and after pregnancy. (A nursing shawl that is also a lap blanket, a cardigan that can remain unbuttoned to let the belly through...) This would be a unique take. I see this book as a collection of patterns held together by a loose theme. Oh well. They can't all be winners!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Ombré Mittens

My Ombré Hat is one of my favorite winter accessories, so I had to design some matching Ombré Mittens! These mittens are a great way to use up remnant bits of worsted weight wool and play with color at the same time.

The mitten chart is made so you can use up to 13 different colors. At the end of the pattern there are two different three color versions: ABCABC and ABCBABCB (used in the sample with blue, purple and an ombré yarn.)

The mittens are knit on really small needles with worsted weight to give them a really tight, almost felted like fabric. Since you are knitting worsted at a tighter gauge than normal, you can easily substitute a DK or Sport weight yarn.


  • 5 - Size 3 (3.25 mm) Double Pointed Knitting Needles
  • Up to 13 colors of worsted weight yarn, ~200 yards total. The sample is knit in a three color version with KnitPicks Chroma Worsted (Midwinter) and Blue and Purple Berroco Peruvia. (Note that the Ombré Hat contains up to 9 colors.)
  • Size: Women's Small. 10.5" cuff to fingertip, 3.5" wide. For larger gloves, go up a needle size or two. You would still get thick, comfy mittens on size 5 or size 6 needle
  • Gauge: 7 sts/1"; 15 rows/2".
  • Yarn needle for weaving in loose ends.

Symbols Key

The Ombré Mittens Knitting Pattern
- In these instructions, I will include the relevant pieces of the chart. For the full mitten chart in 13 and 3 options please see the end of the pattern.
  • Cast on 48 stitches on size 3 double pointed needles with color A.
  • Join to knit in the round and knit 3 rows of 2x2 ribbing (*K2, P2* across the whole row.)
  • The Cuffs - Begin knitting Chart A, following the chart from the bottom up, right to left. The pattern is a 4 stitch repeat, and the 24 sts in the chart are knit twice.

    Chart A - Both sides of the cuff, 24/48 sts shown.
  • Round 25: The thumb increases begin. In pattern (Chart B), K23, M1, K1, M1, K24 (The first 20 sts and the last 24 sts are represented by the 4 st repeat shown in brackets at the bottom.) Continue increasing as is charted until you have completed round 38 with 62 sts on your needles.
Chart B: The "V" on the chart indicates a M1 stitch, and the color refers to the color in which you should make this stitch. The yellow box indicates the increased stitches that will eventually be set aside for the thumb. The Ω is a stitch cast on with the backwards loop method.
  • Round 39: Set aside stitches for thumb. K23 sts in pattern, slip 15 stitches (shown in yellow box in chart.) Cast on one stitch (Ω) using the backwards loop method, and then K24 sts in pattern. (48 sts)
  • Round 40: Begin Chart C. Repeat the 24 stitch chart twice. (The pattern is a 4 stitch repeat until the fingertip decreases begin.)

    Chart C: Showing half of the mitten stitches from above the thumb until the fingertip decreases.
  • Round 64 - Beginning of the fingertip decreases: *K4, K2tog* across in color pattern. The decreases and colorwork pattern are now a 12 stitch repeat. Continue the decreases as charted in Chart C until 8 sts remain (after Round 75). Break yarn and pull through remaining stitches.
  • Thumb - Place the 15 set aside stitches onto three needles. Join yarn at the first slipped stitch, K15 following Chart D, M3 (18 sts). Continue for the 14 thumb colorwork rounds.

    Chart D: The 18 sts of the thumb.
  • Thumb Round 15: Using only color I, *K1, K2tog* across. (12 sts)
  • Thumb Round 16: K across
  • Thumb Round 17: K2tog across (6 sts). Break yarn in pull through remaining stitches.
  • Weave in loose ends. Reinforce the bottom of the thumb as needed.
  • Repeat pattern once more for the second mitten.

Full Mitten Charts
I am providing additional color charts to show you how you can make these mittens with fewer than 13 colors. For each of the following charts, open them in a new window for a larger version.

13 Color Version - FULL CHART For the thumb, see chart D above.

Three Color Version 1: ABCBABCB
This version of the pattern is the easiest to adopt to a two color version (by treating the lightest and darkest green as the same color), and is the one that I followed for my Ombré Mittens. In my mittens, light green was blue, medium green was Chroma and dark green was purple.

The mittens before the addition of the second thumb.  

Three Color Version 2: ABCABC

Abbreviations Used in this pattern:

Kfb - increase by knitting into the front and back of a single stitch.
M1 (Make 1)- increase stitch by picking up yarn between two stitches, twisting and knitting.
K - knit
P - purl
I-cord - knit stitches on dpn's without ever turning the needle (effectively knitting in the round with a small number of stitches.)
SSK - decrease by slipping two stitches then knitting them together. Alternatively, you could slip one stitch, knit one stitch and pass slipped stitch over.
K2tog - decrease by knitting two stitches together.

These knitting pattern was created by ChemKnits for your personal or charity use. You are not to sell, distribute or reprint this pattern without the permission of ChemKnits. © 2012 ChemKnits

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Story of Keith's First Sweater

Sweaters are big projects. Sure, they're not all complex in the construction, but many hours and yards of yarn go into each project. This is why it is frequently recommended that you not make a sweater for your significant other until you are married (or are about to be married.) For years I have told Keith that I planned to make him a sweater after we got married. I had him look at dozens of patterns, until we finally selected the Diamonds in Relief Pullover designed by Deborah Newton (pattern can be found in: Interweave Knits, Holiday Gifts 2008.)

You can see my timeline on my Ravelry Page.

Keith's Chest Measurement: 37.5"
Sweater Size: 43" Chest * One of his favorite sweaters is 42"
Yarn: Full Circle Worsted in Ponderosa. I purchased 7 balls, but used less than 6. The sweater itself weighs 565 g, and there were an additional 3 g of loose ends that I snipped off. This means that this sweater consumed ~1250 yards.
Needles: Size 6/7

My goal is to have the swear completed by our first anniversary (certainly by Christmas 2012!)

The Gauge Swatches

I normally don't check my gauge with a swatch. For many projects (like hats) I am aware of how I knit and how many stitches there should be at each stage to make a well fitting hat. Sweaters are a different story.

I misread the needle requirements for the swatch, and I knit the first swatch on size 6 needles. It wasn't even close to being the correct gauge. (16 sts - 4inch is the goal, and I had 20 sts - 4 inches.)

I knit another swatch on size 7 needles, and I was closer to the target before blocking (9 sts/2 inch, 11.5 rows/2 inch - measuring ~4x3 in total) I blocked the hell out of the swatch to see how much memory the Full Circle yarn has (it has a lot!) I was able to block it to the right stitch count, but my row count was off. I was able to correct this by blocking the sample a second time.

I therefore feel fairly confident that I can achieve the correct dimensions. I may have to remove some rows as I work along, but I will keep careful track of my notes.

Thoughts Before I Begin

I selected a raglan sweater because I wanted to make something without seaming. Seaming is my least favorite part of any project, and I am not very good at it. After I purchased the pattern, I realized that the main pieces are knit flat and then sewn together. Oh well. (I should have paid closer attention to the notes on Ravelry!) Challenging myself is how I have become a stronger knitter and designer, so I am going to go for it.

Also, I know I will take many breaks in this project. Lots of mostly stockinette = distracted by other projects.

Notes from the Construction of the Front/Back

Rather than continually measure the sweater against Keith's back, I stole one of his favorite fitting sweaters to use as a guide as I was knitting. It lines up pretty well! Keith said that he would prefer the sweater be longer than this one, so I will take care to do that even if it means extra rows before starting the arm shaping. (I think I want to block the sweater for width since the row gauge is almost spot on. Plus, it really stinks when a sweater is too short!)

  • 12 rows of 2x2 ribbing to hit 2.5 inches. (This number includes the 1x1 ribbing and caston edge.)
  • At the same time Decreases just after the ribbing: (K3, K2tog)x6, K1, slip marker, K48, slip marker, K1, (K2tog, K3)x6. I forgot to swap to larger needles, so I had to undo this round and then knit it again on size 7 needles.
  • I used 3 additional stitch markers in the 48 sts of the cable pattern: * 8 * 16 * 16 * 8.
  • After the first 36 row repeat of the diamond cable pattern, the entire piece measures ~7.75 inches.
  • The first ball of Full Circle was finished after row 68 of the cable portion (on back).
  • Before the Armhole shaping, the piece measures 16.5 (NOT 17). Of course I plan to block the piece... I continued the pattern as written without any modifications to the pre-armhole length.
  • Row #147 of the cable pattern (#3 in repeat) K2, SSK - 3x3 cable.......... 3x3 cable, k2tog, K2. 44 sts remain. After this round only the central 32 sts of the cable pattern were knit (the 8 st borders are eaten up enough that I cannot cable outwards.)
  • BACK PIECE - 156 cable charted rows completed before the bindoff (on RS). (#12 of the repeat) The neckband stretches beyond the amount on the sketch, so we should be good for the fit. (Fingers crossed!)
  • The second ball of Full Circle was finished after row 4 of the cable portion on the Front piece.
  • The third ball of Full Circle was finished at the very end of row 94 (Row #22 in pattern) in the cable portion of the Front Piece. I didn't want to rip back the entire row, so my streak of only adding new balls of yarn at the beginning of rows has been disrupted.
  • FRONT PIECE - 150 cable charted rows before bindoff (on RS). This corresponded to #6 of the chart as the last WS row worked before BO.

Notes from the Construction of the Arms
  • As with the front and back pieces, I knit 12 rows of the 2x2 ribbing to get to 2.5 inches (inc cast on edge.)
  • Row 12 of the ribbing was a little different, because according to instructions "dec 6 sts evenly spaced on last WS row." So on this row I P2, *K2tog, P2, K2, P2* until last 4 sts, K2tog, p2. (40 sts remaining.)
  • On my counter, increase rows happen on rows 7, 13, 19 (6n+2)
  • The fourth ball of Full circle finished after row #89 of the stockinette portion on the Right Sleeve.
  • On the body pieces, there were 94 patterned rows before raglan shaping, measuring 16.5 actual (17 when blocked) inches. My first arm measures just shy of 17" after 97 rounds (the end of the increase section), and I'm going to need to knit in stockinette until the piece measures 19-20 inches.
  • At 110 rows, the sleeve measures just shy of 19". I want to block this a little more on the width, especially near the cuff so I don't want it to be too short... I'm going to try to get to 20". (I'd rather the sleeve be a little too long than too short!) At 116 rows, still shy of 20". 118 stitches it is!
  • At row 173 on the right arm, I hit 16 sts. (This is important to note for when I do the left sleeve, since the cap decreases start sooner there.) On the right arm, the cap decreases started after row 174.
  • I tied a green rubber band to the bind off edge of the right sleeve so I can tell the difference between the two after blocking.
  • I finished the 5th ball of Full Circle after row 80 of the stockinette portion on the left sleeve.
  • Success! All pieces knit at ~ 5.5 balls of yarn total.

Notes from Blocking

  • The pieces of the sweater weigh 548 g before any sewing has begun.
  • Because of the curling of the pieces, I want to block them before I try to sew them together.
  • Wet blocked the pieces. I submerged them in cool tap water for >30 min before pinning the pieces out on my blocking mat.
  • I blocked the front and back pieces to the specified measurements. The neckline is a little wider than it should be (without blocking), but I think I might make a ribbed neckband anyway so this shouldn't bee too much of a problem.
  • I did not have enough space on my blocking mat to block the arms properly. I had to overlap one of the edges when pinning it out, and even then I didn't quite get the required dimensions. When I'm done with this round of blocking I will try the arms on Keith to see if I need to re-block them.
  • I made a schematic from the first blocking. I doubt that I would make the exact same sweater again for Keith, but it would be useful to know the fit for future sweaters. (Especially since it will be hard to measure once sewn.)
  • What a difference some blocking makes. The fabric looks so much more even and feels divine!

Notes from Sewing it All Together
  • I AM SO NERVOUS! This is where I could ruin the whole project. This is the first time I'm doing a proper mattress stitch.
  • I'm not loving this yarn anymore. Full Circle has been a joy to knit with, but a nightmare to seam with. The yarn splits, and even breaks when I'm pulling the mattress stitch closed. It was pretty frustrating the first time it happened. I ended up adding extra twists to the yarn as I sewed it closed. I really REALLY hope that the seams don't split while Keith is wearing it!
  • For the raglan shaping, I started at the neck and worked down. Maybe Mattress stitching would be easier starting from the bottom up... I plan to go this way for the rest of the stitching. I figure I can hide any mistakes or misalignment in the armpits.
  • It took a while to seam up the sweater (2 days), but it went very well. Some of the top edges on the neckline aren't perfect, but the bottom edge of all sleeves and he turned out great. The hardest seams to do were the armpit because this was grafting along cast off edges rather than a mattress stitch.
  • I decided that I love the sweater, and it is super cozy. If it doesn't fit Keith well now that it is sewn together, I'd be happy using it to cuddle in. (I'm finding myself wanting to knit a baggy sweater for myself!)

Notes from the Neckline
  • By my count, there would be 102 stitches (12+12+42+36) around the neck cast off edge. I am supposed to pick up 72 stitches. The pattern then calls for a garter stitch neckline. I'm feeling more inclined to make a ribbed neckline, but I'll know more once I am able to try the neckline-less sweater on Keith.
  • I decided to pick up and knit stitches in the following way. Pick up 2, skip 1, pick up 2, skip 1, pick up 3, skip 1. Repeat. This should result in ~70% of the stitches being picked up.
  • I only picked up 69 stitches. Close enough! (The small adult size has you pick up 68.. so it should be okay.)
  • I decided to try the collar as written. If I hate it, I can wrip it out and then redo a ribbed collar.
  • The first time I bound off, I did it too tight. I ripped it out and then did the K1, K2tog-tbl bindoff.
  • IT IS DONE! The only other thing I may do at the last fitting (or after the first few wears) is tack the BO edge to keep the curl over steady.

Final Thoughts

This sweater is so cozy and fits Keith perfectly. I am so glad that I took the I am now starting to think about what plunge to knit my husband a sweater. He deserves the effort that went into this project 100x over. Now that this project is complete, I am itching to start another sweater! I think I'll wait until it gets colder outside, Keith has not enjoyed August fittings!

I think that Keith likes it!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Color Affection

I selected the
Color Affection shawl as my next knitting project (because Keith pointed out that of the patterns in my queue it is the least like anything I have already knit.)

I used size 6 needles for the fingering version of the pattern. I wanted to use Palette in Bluebell, Blue and Navy, all colors that I had in my stash from some kits I purchased on clearance for the yarn. I have 1.5 balls of Navy (83 g) 2 balls of bluebell (101 g) and 1 ball of blue (51 g) to start. Based on yardage requirements mentioned in other projects (see the bookmarks on my ravelry project page), I should have enough yarn. I will use Bluebell for color 1, Blue for color 2 and Navy for color 3. (Other reports show that colors 1 and 3 use the most yardage.) Keep your fingers crossed for me! The project consumed: 48g blue, 67 g Bluebell, and 63g Navy.

Notes on the Pattern
  • I did a lot of research before starting this pattern. Normally I just jump straight in, but I wanted to make sure that I had appropriate yardage for the project (see above.)
  • To keep things loose on the top edge, I plan to follow the most popular modification: One each row, add a YO after the first knit stitch. When you get back to it on return rounds, drop the YO.
  • Instead of M1R and M1L, I decided to use KfB (as suggested by others) for the increases. It is garter stitch, so it won't be super noticeable and as others have pointed out, KFB is much faster.
  • In the short row section, I have noticed that many finished projects have them ending a little too soon, this is because they knit 3 sts past the last color, not 3 sts past the last WRAP. (So you are going 4 sts past the previous color before making your new W&T).
  • In order to block properly, I used Jenny's Surprisingly stretchy bindoff to finish the shawl.

Notes while Construction the Shawl
  • After second repeat of rows 1-4 -> I have 27 sts. Since there are 7 sts after set up rows, and 10 sts increased from each set of 4, this looks about right. I am thrilled that there are stitch counts for between each section, I just like being able to check where I am as I go.
  • I kept track of what row I was on (1-4) using a pen and tick marks. This was only necessary in the first section because after the stripes start it became much easier to know when to do the double decreases in row 1 again.
  • I didn't check my gauge when I started, but it is somewhere between the lace and fingering gauges. I can alwasy make it a bit bigger by blocking, so I'm glad that I'm currently on the small side.
  • When part 1 is complete, it can be blocked to be 24" long with no issues and 7" wide (much larger with more extreme blocking.) I should be able to get the desired size without too much trouble.
  • I checked the stitch count after the 5th completion of 2 stripe section (rows 5-8) - 197 sts. I could have been off one when I was counting, but I am on target and am going fine.
  • I checked my sttiches again after 8th repeat of 2 stripes, and I'm still on target. Woot! 227
  • Right before the last 2 rows of MC in the 2 color section, I have 263 sts. I didn't miss any of the increases! Two more rows and then I get to finally start the 3 color section. I have not yet used up any balls of yarn, but the MC ball is looking a little low.
  • Once I finished the 8 repeats of the 3 color section, I was left with a decision to make. Should I add a half or a whole other repeat to sue up more yarn and make the shawl deeper? I'm not sure what this would do to the overall symmetry of the scarf... There are many minor factors to remember, such as the fact that doing a half repeat will make the end increases out of sync... but I think this would be really hard to notice. The only trouble is that I'm trying to finish up the multicolored portion before a road trip so I only need one color in the car. I think I will do an extra 6 rows (half repeat) and see where things stand.
  • On the last row with MC, I didn't do the double increase at the beginning. This way I would start with the double decrease in the first row of the border.
  • Looking at the schematic of the shawl, I realized that it isn't supposed to be symmetrical, so I am no longer worried!
    Align Center
  • I knit 20 rows of navy (just under 2 inches) for the border stripe before doing the surprisingly stretchy bindoff.
The shawl blocked beautifully. The only issue I had was that I didn't have enough blocking mats! I wish the shawl was a bit deeper, but it is super cozy for me to snuggle in at home. I will definitely make this again.