Saturday, March 21, 2009

Green Cabled Yoke Pullover

This one was one of those designs you fall in love at first sight: fabulous folds created by cabling, and yet, very simple in construction. It involves rectangle pieces for the body and yoke, and trapezoid sleeves. Looks more than that on the photo. I thought the yarn ought to be soft but not flimsy to show off the beautiful folds of the yoke. I knew I did not have such a perfect yarn in my stash and I was looking for one. At my LYS, I saw a swatch of a very fluffy looking yarn, CEY Lush. It was just perfect for the project I thought. It is a lover yarn with 50% angora and 50% wool.

Cables yoke has two rectangles, one narrower and longer than the other to be placed right above the bodice and the wider and shorter one to go on top of the narrower one. The original garment has a turtle neck above the yoke. It looks fine on the model, but I thought I would not like it with angora/wool yarn. It will choke me. After finishing the cabled pieces, I went ahead and completed the yoke to try on. The yoke looked a bit different depending on where you place the shoulder points along the cabled strip. I liked it when the crossing hit the shoulder points. For the neck edge, I picked up about 25% more stitches than the pattern, knit one round, purl one round, and cast off purl-wise very loosely.

For the body, I wanted the front edge to dip a bit more than the back and started by picking up stitches from the back yoke only, leaving front yoke and sleeve sections. Also, when I tried on the yoke, it felt too small to go around my body and arms comfortably. So, I decided to add underarm stitches as I knitted the back body. I could have made more difference in the front and back bodice lengths but that will be for the next version, if at all. It looks okay as it is for now. Now, the sleeves, or no sleeves? My knitting friends at Knitsmith were all saying I should just do without sleeves. I agree that it is very elegant that way. However, it is less likely to be worn without sleeves than with them, and I decided to knit sleeves after all.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Yellow Tweedy Cardigan

I started to knit this cardigan on January 1, 2009. It is knitted with about 7.2 skeins of Peace Fleece in Khrushchev Corn Yellow. I love this shade of yellow.

I bought this yarn a few years back, way before Ravelry, when I visited yarn stores in Maine and New Hampshire with my knitting friends. Ordinarily, I would not consider yellow for myself, but this one was different. I am not a color theory expert and I have no idea what makes this yellow so different from the other ones. I fell in love and bought some skeins without having a particular project in mind.

Then, came Ravelry. After becoming a huge fan of Norah Gaughan, I would look for her designs and marvel them on Ravelry. Then I happened to see Norah's Tweedy Aran Cardigan from Interweave Knit magazine 2001/2002 issue in many different yarns and colors. Some of the finished projects were actually knitted with Peace Fleece. Then, I knew that I had to knit it with my yellow Peace Fleece. Given such a useful tool as Ravelry, I started to study the finished garments. I noticed that I liked versions which looked much longer than the others. I thought the longer versions show off waist shaping better. I also looked at button choices made by fellow knitters. Truly, Ravelry adds such an interesting dimension to knitting.

Now, about Norah's pattern. I love her fancy rib stitches: very stretchy and highly textured rib stitches. I almost thought of using them for entire sleeves but I decided that it might be too much for my poor wrists as this yellow Peace Fleece was quite hard on my hands in twisted stitches and cables. The photo below shows the texture of the fancy rib stitches best.

To make my life easier in executing fancy rib stitches, I took an extra step and rearranged stitches for easier knitting: Slip the first stitch to the right needle purl-wise and slip the second stitch knit-wise. Place these two stitches back to the left needle. Notice that the right leg of the second stitch is now easier to access from the back. Proceed by knitting into the second stitch’s right leg, and, without removing stitches from the left needle, knit the first stitch’s right leg. Remove both stitches from the left needle. Note to self: Fancy rib stitches eat up a lot of yarn. Estimate more yarn if I ever knit the same cardigan and use the stitch on sleeves.

Here are the changes I made: Lengthen the bodice by about 2" and to add more waist shaping (instead of 5 times, I did 7 times). Instead of making button holes involving just one yo, I chose to use a similar method I employed for Winter Wonderland Coat and did one-row button holes over three stitches. The modification was made to strengthen the right edge of the holes. Cast off the first stitch by slipping it over the last stitch on the right needle (it looks like k2tog). The next two stitches are cast off without using the working yarn by simply slip the stitch over the next stitch twice. Turn the work around and cast on four stitches using cable cast on method. Turn the work around and knit (or purl) the first stitch on the left needle with the last cast on stitch on the right needle. For this last step, the last cast on stitch must be transferred to the left needle first.

I found nice black horn buttons with notches etched on the surface, mimicking the fancy rib stitch pattern. Overall, this was a quite satisfying project.

I noticed that it goes very well with my Noro Sock Scarf recently finished.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Crochet Noro Sock Scarf

I saw this beautifully crochet scarf in this blog sometime ago. The stitches are very interesting and beautifully executed. And the colors of the yarns ... . Absolutely gorgeous! Unfortunately, they are not available in the US as far as I know, and this is one of those cases where yarns mattered a lot. So, I just admired the work and never thought of making one myself. Then, I saw another scarf on Ravelry where Noro's sock yarns were used for the same pattern with gorgeous result. Here is her blog post on it. I happened to have one skein of Noro Kureyon Sock yarn in color 95, my favorite in Noro Kureyon colors.

This ball of sock yarn, I originally entertained the idea of knitting a skirt with it: the idea that its nylon content prevents bagging around the hip. I did not like the fabric as much and the yarn ball was just sitting at the bottom of WIP pile. At any rate, I jumped on the idea of the crochet scarf. I used the diagram from here and modified a little to make the fabric flatter: where there is one single crochet symbol, I added two more in the middle section and one more at the edge. I did five wheels per row. The wheels were crocheted using yarns alternately pulled from inside and outside of the same ball. It was quite a mess to pull yarn from the center as it had a tendency to twist, kink and knot. I ended up purchasing another ball to complete the project and it would have been much easier to use two balls alternately from the start. For the edging, I did a single row of single crochet. It is absolutely lovely!

Although it was not easy to crochet this scarf, I love the result so much and I am already working on the second one using two colors #95 and #188, just like Anne did.