Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Layoff Cardigan

070607 garter rib cardigan
Originally uploaded by maceknits

Ok, I didn't get laid off this year, but other people at my company did. Just before New Year's, my company tanked and I knew what was coming, even though no one officially said anything. As my co-workers and I speculated about which date would spell the end of our employment there, I started knitting this Cotton Cardigan from the Sarah Dallas Knitting book. Obviously, knitting eases any anxieties I might have anyday, but this project took on new meaning (which I didn't really recognize til I finished). I knit and knit through the layoff (early February) and finished. Finished the pieces, that is.

First off, I don't like to sew seams. It isn't any fun for me and I can drag it out. Anyway, I guess I likened this unfinished object (ufo) to my situation in life. With an unstable job, I was on the hunt for a new position, new company. And I subconsciously didn't want to finish this cardigan until I ended the unfinished business at my company. Why not finish the cardigan earlier and then hope that would translate into getting a new job faster? If only it were that easy.

To make a long story short, I'm happy at my new job and had a new cardigan to wear just days before my first day of work in June. But in my mind, this cardigan will forever be the Layoff Cardigan and will remind me of the changes I went through for half of 2007. Back in December, I had already planned to make this cardigan, but it definitely became something else.

8 balls of Rowan Yarn Classics Cashsoft DK
Size 5 and 7 needles
Garter rib pattern
what I changed: not much other than not using cotton for the Cotton Cardigan

Comments about the pattern: The pattern wasn't too difficult, other than piecing it together. Mainly stockinette stitch with a garter rib panel to keep the knitting interesting. In the end, I didn't think the fit was quite what I wanted. It's a little too boxy and the shoulders are wide. In this pattern book, I don't think any of the pictures really show off the patterns/projects, so it was a little harder to tell how this would truly turn out in the end. Still, I'm ok with my end product and have worn it a few times already.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Husband Knitwear

I'm currently knitting a plain gray wool hat for my husband. A 2x2 rib brim and stockinette to the top. The only interesting bit is the two rows of orange edging at the beginning and the rest is all charcoal gray. I offered to try out some colorwork on it (like a zig zag), but he declined. Oh well, almost done. Although I'm having fun using my new Knitpicks very pointy double-pointed needles for this! He will get to wear this new hat at our upcoming camping trip over Labor Day weekend.

Next up: husband socks! I've just started knitting socks this year and he really would like a pair. Again, it will be basic stockinette. No patterned texture, just plain. I did buy a brown multi-colored yarn (Trekking Natura wool-bamboo), so I guess that will give the socks some character.

After all these years of knitting, I've hardly knit anything for my husband. He says he doesn't really want anything. Sweaters are too hot. Not too interested in accessories. Early on, I knit him a hat (which I'm finally replacing). I also knit him a scarf that I forgot to add a selvedge edge. So it ended up rolling inwards on both sides and looked like a skinny tube, which we both agreed he shouldn't wear. I replaced that in June, two or three years later...

I did knit a sweater for him but it turned out so bad that he's not allowed to be seen in public in it. First off, it's a bad idea to knit sweaters with super chunky bulky woolease yarn. It's so thick, it's like armor. And it weighs a ton. Acrylic yarn doesn't breathe either. At the time, I thought I was clever to use chunky yarn on fat needles to make it fast. I found a few patterns that had parts of the sweater I liked, so I combined bits of each pattern and made my own frankenstein plan. When I got to the collar, it was a lot wider than I had planned but I just thought, "Hey, I can wing it." I kept re-knitting the collar but it was not to be. Way too thick and wide. In the end, this project just wasn't meant to work. When he put it on, the back rode up. Needless to say, no pictures will be posted of this, although we get a laugh out of it every now and then.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Georgie's Blankets

In my early knitting years, I accumulated a bit of worsted weight acrylic yarn. Like, the pound of yarn skeins? I had two of those in my stash. The receipt was still in the bag with these, dated 1994. And lots of other acrylic one skein wonders. Historical stash to be sure, but not what I'd want to knit or wear these days. What to do with all of this?

Pet blankets! As suggested by Nicole from Stash and Burn. Although I don't have any pets, I do know Georgie, my friend's corgi. My friend said she'd be happy to have a blanket for him. So I got to work.

Chevrons! The basic chevron stitch pattern is from Vogue knitting's stitch dictionary. I thought this would be a great idea to knit, but once the novelty of the pattern wore off, I got bored. I knew then and there that this would be a long haul to the end and that I should've crocheted this instead. I began this project with enthusiasm in March or April of this year but the enthusiasm waned by May and could've been destined a UFO (except I promised this is a gift, so it had to become an FO, somehow). During this time, I had a few other knitting projects going, so it was easy to let this one slip down the priority list. Anyway, by August, I felt guilty just looking at it unfinished, so I decided to plow ahead and focus. And I finished! Yay! I do like how it turned out in the end. And Georgie has received it already.

BUT, I didn't use up all that yarn! Georgie is getting another blankie.

I took the biggest crochet hook I owned ( size K, 6.5mm) and single crocheted away. Took about two weeks from start to finish. Could've finished in one week, but I sort of took a week off... Very quick (for me, that is; slow for others) to make, unlike the chevron blanket which took ~5 months.

It's been a good week. Two FOs! I finished Bad Penny and the crocheted Georgie Blankie.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Good Bad Penny

I finished a short sleeve cotton sweater, Bad Penny, a Stefanie Japel pattern. I love how it turned out! I used GGH Linova, a cotton-linen yarn - dark green for the main color and lime green for contrast. The colors will look better in the natural light- gotta remember to take a new picture outdoors this weekend. Anyway, I'm pretty sure anyone who's wanted to knit this pattern, did so years ago. I'm behind the times in my knitting but I'll catch up eventually.

The pattern is fairly easy; plain knitting in the round, not too challenging. I tend to wear simpler styles anyway, so this top fits right in with my wardrobe. I do feel that I knit this sweater twice, though. Halfway through (the first time), I tried it on only to find out it was too big and frogged it. Had to rejigger the math to size it down, below the smallest written size in the pattern. I'm not teeny but it was just a little too baggy. Annoying but I'm glad I did it. I'm happy with the fit.

Funny enough, the topic of proper fit has been discussed lately on Interweave's Knitting Daily and the podcast, Stash and Burn. We invest so much time and effort into knitting these garments for ourselves that we really ought to learn how to customize patterns to our own bodies. Make the sweaters (and ourselves!) look their best! Isn't it disappointing when a sweater turns out frumpy dumpy? Didn't look that way in the pattern/magazine/book photo, did it? Oh well.

Lesson learned. Take realistic measurements of myself and (maybe) save myself the trouble of knitting the wrong size.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

First Post

maceknits, originally uploaded by maceknits.

I've finally created a knitting blog. We'll see how this goes!