FO: Stash Sweater for Afghans for Afghans

Another campaign for Afghans for Afghans is coming to a close, and I’ve got a sweater to send in, using stash yarn given to me a while back:

The yarn itself is a DK weight, which presented some issues for a sweater intended for this charity.  The items are sent to folks with little to no indoor heating, so sweaters are like jackets.  I decided to use some of the other fibers in the donated stash to warm up the sweater, specifically a boucle mohair paired with a soft angora.  Now the mohair is an incredibly strong fiber, so I figured knitting it with the lovely, so soft and very warm angora would be a good match, and putting this on the yoke would mean that where you usually want more warmth, it would be there.  I also alternated rows with the DK wool for strength – I don’t want anything falling apart.  This has turned out well, but was not fun at all to knit.  I’m not sure that I’ll use any more of the mohair/angora.

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I added a bit of the same technique at the cuff, and made the ribbing extra long to fold back on itself for more warmth.

The final feature was a knitting hem at the neckline.  I knit about 1 1/2 inches in 2×2 rib, knit a purl “turning row” then switched to needles sizes two sizes smaller for the stockinette hem  (which is a smoother finish, and a tighter gauge.  Then I cut the yarn, leaving a long enough tail to graft the live stitches to the inside of the sweater, so the bonus is that the seam where I picked up the neck stitches is now covered, which should be nicer for the wearer.  It’s double warm and a nice finish.

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The final sweater is about a 34″ chest, with a couple of added inches to the body and sleeves for Afghan modesty.  Whew, I’m glad this one is done.

Brandy and Izzie love the sweater – I’m thinking there’s something of the goat/rabbit odor that is attracting them!
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Brandy might have gotten a little too excited…

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Not Happening Here

When Prince Charles and Diana got married about 30 years ago, I was a young un just out of college and living in a group house in Washington, D.C. with 3 other women.  Yes, it made total sense for us to get up early (I remember something pretty early like 5 am), huddle with coffee and watch the festivities with stars in our eyes.  Sure, we thought Charles pretty dowdy, but Di was young and lovely, and her dress was all that the excess of those times celebrated.  I remember the gasps as she exited the carriage and that amazing train unfolded behind her.

Well, it ain’t happening again.  Combine 30 years and the fact that I now live on the best coast, and that means Prince William and Kate will be taking their vows in the bloody middle of the night.  In this era of DVRs, YouTube, and the like, I’m sure that I’ll be able to catch anything I want to see.  For me, I’m very curious about the John Rutter piece composed especially for the ceremony – I love his music!

The cats are with me in my thinking.  Izzie has decided on a calm inspection of my slog-a-long sweater for Afghans for Afghans:

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I’m hoping to finish it by the weekend – just about 1/2 a sleeve, some neckline ribbing, and the weaving in of the ends!
While Brandy makes clear what she thinks of the idea of getting up in the middle of the night to watch a royal wedding.

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(Let me assure you that no knitwear was harmed in the production of this blog post.)

See you all on the other side!

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Surprise (for a baby)

I like knitting for the little ones for a couple of reasons.  First, the stuff is very cute – you can buy yarn that you’d never wear yourself, but on a very little person, it looks terrific.  Second, it’s fast – these projects could sometimes be called “samplers” because the amount of yarn used is quite small to that of full-sized people wearing things.

This week, I’ve been knitting for a very (Very!) young mom to be who’s a family friend, who’s due in early May.  The first thought was to punch out yet another Buttons Baby Sweater, but I was kinda burned out on that pattern, and then it hit me, I had not knit another Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmermann in years.   It’s strange – I had a great time knitting it, but hadn’t returned until now.  This is the one I knit in 2007:

BSS with buttons on
This is a pretty famous pattern. Just on Ravelry there are over 14,000 projects, and since you imagine there have been so many more knit by knitters over decades before that, I’m kinda wondering why the US Government hasn’t taken any steps to limit its procreation.  I first knit one a number of years ago for Afghans for Afghans, out of some worsted leftovers.  It came out ok.

But the new baby will be living in the San Diego area, and with a very young mom, this item has to be machine wash and dryable.  So I got some lovely Berroco Pure Pima cotton in a couple of colors, added in a bit of Cotton Classic in another, and yes, we have a sweater (sans buttons at this point)

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I have to say that I find this very cute.

But in the midst of finding the pattern, and the print-out of some row-by-row stitch counts that apparently are no longer available online, I discovered that there is simply an overwhelming amount of information on this pattern.  It has its own wiki on Ravelry.  Anything you want to know – how to cast on, what weight of yarn to use, where instructions (for free!) from Meg Swanson, daughter of EZ, for a collar can be found.  Let’s just drop to our knees and experience a bit of knitterly community awe, shall we?

It’s a good thing it was garter stitch, too, because at Chez Revknits we have had illness of the messy sort – the kind where food does not stay down.  It got so bad that I went to the little ER yesterday (the basic one, at the small hospital up the road), and got some iv fluids and meds that have made life a whole lot better today.   I didn’t take my knitting, but I was glad for the iTouch so I could tweet friends that I was ok from the ER (and so big brother Apple will have recorded this visit in my data file).   Maybe it was a sympathetic Holy Week kinda thing.

Anyway, the beauty and simplicity of garter stitch was absolutely perfect.

Baby Surprise Jacket2d

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It’s an Indie World

One of the things that I love about the knitting world is that it is filled with small businesses and independent craft-folk. The entire industry is small enough that even established businesses that some consider the “big guys” are still run by the family that started them.

The book industry is going through such a remix right now that there are also a ton of new ventures.  Ravelry has made it possible for a small start-up to publish patterns and advertise cheaply, but the book market, well, that’s another story.  Cat Bordhi has helped a bunch of knitters learn how to self-publish, but that’s not everyone’s cup of tea, so Shannon Okey has come up with a cooperative press model, in which the publisher and designers share in the risk and benefits of a book, instead of getting a pittance up front and losing all rights forever to a design.

Of course, despite being a legitimate, profitable business, the banking world blanched at the word, “Knitting,” so they are having to raise capital in a more community-oriented way:  They’ve got a Kickstarter campaign going on, and they’ve already reached their $10,000 goal — you can contribute, and get some great prizes as well.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/knitgrrl/cooperative-press-indie-fiber-fashion-publishing/widget/video.html

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Scraps Make Me a Better Knitter

I have found that I am a thrifty knitter.  Well, scratch that – I buy incredibly expensive yarn.  But I am very committed to using up all the yarn that I do buy.

A little while ago, I made a baby sweater and booties for a friend’s baby – dad was very appreciative, which is always nice.  And then I found out that a co-worker at the YMCA is also having a baby.  Not a close co-worker, which would mean a special trip to the yarn store, but someone that certainly would deserve a knitted something.  So I found the leftovers and pondered.  Too much for just booties, not enough to do both a hat and booties.

Here’s what I did.  I had various scraps, so I decided to make the hat out of the leftovers, and then pulled a skein of Cascade fixation  – nice and stretchy with the elastic in it, and made the booties out of that, with the scrap yarn for accents.

One key to using up color scraps is to figure out how to repeat a pattern that will look like a design, and not an unfortunate knitting accident (UKA — I’m sure this is a real knitting acronym.  If it isn’t, it should be!)  In this case, I used stripes in stockinette, punctuated with bright garter ridges in the yarn I had very little of, to make a repeating pattern.  I also used purple at both the rolled brim and at the very top of the hat – a knitted I-cord that got turned into a small knot, and at the top of the bootie for a ruffle – these are for a girl – to pull the items into a more cohesive look, in the wild chance that these newbie parents would actually remember that these items can match for an outfit.

Baby Hat & Booties 2b

Learning to use scraps has helped me as a knitter – thinking about how to use yarn – as well as dip my toe into the world of designing.

The bootie pattern is the Karen Alfke’s Stay-On Baby Booties.  The hat pattern is a basic rolled brim – one could use this free pattern – Sweet and Simple Baby Hat – to come up with a similar result.

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