Loose Ends

Loose Ends

the creative impulse gone awry

Monday, October 25, 2010

Zoë loves love: an adventure in design.

New Ravelry Download: I heart Silk Garden Sock Baby Sweater

We've had this sweater (in various forms) in the shop for a while. It all started almost 2 years ago when we were writing patterns for the recently released Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders. I love the idea of taking a striping yarn and doing colorwork with it. I remember a Spin-Off cover many years ago that featured two self-striping yarns worked against eachother for a fantastic felted tote and ever since then I had wanted to do it! When the opportunity to design for this book came up, Clara was a little over a year old and I was deeply into making things for her.

The pattern that ended up in the book is the Crazy Wavy Dress that you can see in the shop and soon on Ravelry and in the book, but I had a little time before the deadline so I tried to work up another garment, this time a cardigan and with Silk Garden Sock. The results, sadly took more than one skein of yarn! So I couldn't send it in... But it looked great on Clara:

Version 2 was a quick re-write trying to get the project down to just 1 skein of Silk Garden Sock, I dropped the turned over collar and shrunk it to a 12 month size. The results would have gone to One Skein Wonders but with the re-write, we missed the deadline... but it looked awesome on my friends son!

Version 3 happened when my intrepid business partner Naomi tried to work up the pattern in a 3rd yarn (not self striping) omitting the heart pattern entirely and found the yoke to be nearly unworkable. I had recently added a 2 year size to the pattern and she was working up a sample. She ended up re-writing the pattern to simplify, removing some charts and trying to make the pattern easier! We don't have a picture of that yet, but it did work up very well in the Zauberball 6ply in the blue mix.

Now, I hate it when my patterns make people have heartburn and I had wanted to add a 6 month size at the same time. Enter my next model, Zoë! I took all of the decreasing out of the colorwork, and according to the EPS, took more stitches off under the arms (which make the yoke grand join much more pleasant) and worked all the decreases in 4 rounds. Much easier! I simplified the colorwork pattern further to remove the single color stripes (which is a geeky thing to do on a circular needle, but not the easiest thing to describe!)

The results are pretty fabulous, the sweater was a lot easier to knit and I'm really pleased. I did futz with the yarn a bit to make the sleeves match, because I knew that adding bits later would be no big deal and because I knew I would have to pick up and knit that border anyway and extra stripes make it look cool. I think I have enough yarn left over to make some booties and I would love to put the heart motif on the top of the foot. But that will have to wait for another day, Clara is in need of a sweater for winter and I'm on version 3 of that. I'm almost to the end of the body (it's top down) so I'm getting close. We're going to line this one with polar fleece or possibly some quilted fabric so it can serve as her winter coat. You'll definitely be seeing that one soon because it's really getting cold and she needs it!

Monday, October 18, 2010

you, me, and a deserted island

Everyone talks about what they would take should they ever have the misfortune of getting stranded on a deserted island. Well, frankly, I'm hoping that the island I end up on is in the arctic circle, or possibly that I end up stranded at a deserted ski resort! If so, this yarn is now on the top of my must have list. Misti Tonos worsted. holy cow do I love this yarn. It's 50/50 alpaca wool blend in beautifully tonally dyed colors. gaaaaaaaaah. it's just to beautiful for words.

When I was pregnant with the Zoughut (as we like to call her) she had this knack for picking out yarn by kicking me when i was holding it. (much like my mother reports that I picked the house we lived in when I was born!) Previous to this selection she was really into blues, but when the tonos came in last fall she fell in love with this purple. I knew that it was going to turn into her winter sweater, but I wasn't sure what sweater, or what size for that matter, so off it went into my stash until the time when it spoke to us again.

A few weeks after I returned from my maternity leave, Zo and I were hanging out on the couches teaching a class and she started staring at Cambria's February sweater. Now, the little knitting junky in my mind remembered that that was originally a baby pattern and could it work? Amazingly enough it was perfect! Right gauge, right size, true love! The pattern is found in The Knitter's Almanac and is a little hand-wavy like most Zimmermann patterns. I did have to rip out a bunch for some silly reason, but honestly the thing is so small that it hardly seems worth mentioning it. I love that the sleeves are loose and a little on the short side. She's into everything these days and it's nice that they don't really get in the way of her adventures.

I just barely scratched the surface of the 2nd ball of yarn for the sweater so my mom in law made a hat for her and her big sister out of it. She used the left overs from a hat I had made for the shop in a different color. So cute! That ends up being 3 balls of yarn for a baby sweater, a baby hat, a hat for a 3 yr old and a had for an adult. Great yardage!

This yarn is such a joy to knit and so beautiful that I've already stashed a bunch for Clara's winter sweater (that I'd better get crackin' on!) I have in mind to knit myself a sweater out of this gorg teal we have as well. I think it's my new favorite.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Clara loves green

Early this summer I decided she needed a sweater for the summer, something warm-ish for cool summer nights (like we actually get those in Providence!) or heavily air-conditioned environments. Given my profession I am lucky that I can be picky about what I knit for my girls. Sadly, we don't carry a lot of greens at the shop and Clara's favorite color for a while now has been green. I also wanted just the thing... something soft, bouncy and easy to wear and not too hot. This girl has a thermostat I would kill for and she doesn't want to wear really warm clothes.

Enter Louisa Harding Fleuris with two colors I knew my girl would just love. It's soft and just a little chunky. But that darn label says hand wash only! Now, I'm somewhat famous for making my girls things that are not machine washable.... and yes, I've felted a few items in my sleep-deprived haze. (mostly socks, they are hard to find in the wash!) But I have found that most things do just fine in a cold water wash and as long as I fish them out before they end up in the dryer I have no felting issues. LH Fleuris is one of those yarns that works just fine in the wash, but no dryer please! (we felted a swatch, oops!)

It's funny, Knitting for kids is a little harder than I thought, and much harder than for a baby. Babies are round, and largely immobile and as long as you don't put on so many buttons that the poor mother never gets them all buttoned, life is really alright. Kids MOVE and they don't like fussy things and it has to be just the right color, and there is so much size variation! Clara is normal for height but pretty darn skinny and things just don't fit her very easily. I knew it would be easier for me to do a top down pattern for her because we could try it on as we went, but the ones that we had at the shop were for bulky or for DK.... and Fleuris is a heavy worsted. I tried mucking around with the pattern, changing for the different gauge and I ended up with the top half of an absolutely enormous sweater. So I went down a size by her age for the bulky pattern and tried that. Bingo. A little extra length in the body and the sleeves and it fits her perfectly with a little room for her to get a bit bigger. The great thing about the top downs is that I can easily rip out the cast off edge and make the body and the sleeves longer. Unless she develops a taste for, say, lard in the next couple of months I'm guessing that the width will fit her for a good long time!

And best of all, she really likes it. Her next sweater will be something really warm to be her winter coat (because winter coats are too warm for her!) and she has requested "sky blue" with of all things squirrel buttons (that I have yet to find...) I'm planning on the double breasted sweater on the cover of last year's Berroco magazine, Vintage Family. In a yarn that I'll be blogging about soon...