Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Frog Pond

These camera phone pictures aren't great, but they are good enough for this post. The purple sweater (top) is from the original Stitch'n'Bitch book and the blue sweater (lower) is Blaze from knitty.com.

The purple sweater is the first pattern I saw that inspired me to want to learn to knit. As I think I've stated before, the idea of knitting sweaters was what made me want to learn and this particular sweater was one of the inspiring ones. It was the second sweater I ever knit and it taught me a few things:

1 - Steam kills ribbing. This is a tough lesson to learn on a sweater that is almost entirely ribbed.

2 - Just because you get gauge doesn't make the yarn a good substitution. The pattern calls for a half wool, half cashmere yarn in worsted weight. I used a 100% wool in a DK weight. The fabric I got is bulkier and heavier than what I had anticipated and doesn't really show off the yarn well. With wear it gets even worse.

3 - An Empire waist needs to fall at the right spot. Given my figure, I really need to add short rows in the chest. At this point, the waist line falls at the widest point of my chest. If I pull the sweater down to get the horizontal line in the right place, the sweater is about 8" too long.

There are better uses for the yarn in both of these sweaters. And knowing what I know now about how I want sweaters to fit me for the most flattering look, and how to customize sweater patterns, I know that I will never wear these sweaters in their current state.

I've haven't unraveled them yet, but this fate is in their future. I love the yarn too much to give them away. So I'll take the time to undo them when I find the right project for the yarn.

Don't be sad for me. I learned a lot from both of these knits and enjoyed the process of making them. Sure, I'm sad to have two fewer sweaters to choose from this fall/winter. But I know that there will be more sweaters in my future and hopefully they will work out better because of what I've learned from these two projects!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I'm finding myself being very drawn to the idea of knitting a sweater for ME next. This is daunting because I don't often have the time to do the measuring, swatching and planning necessary for an adult sweater that fits properly. Most of my knitting time is either on the bus or hanging out with friends. The first doesn't include any table space and the second isn't very compatible with math.

I think one of the motivations is that I finally figured out why "Blaze" (from knitty.com) didn't turn out quite how I wanted. I've known for a while that I should have chosen a size with negative ease. But I figured out the rest of the equation while reading the latest issue of Interweave Knits. There is an article about alpaca, which talks about the fact that alpaca is a denser fiber than wool, and is therefore not a great fiber for ribbing or cables. It doesn't loft as well as wool and therefore doesn't "pop" or pull together when knit in these textures. Ummm...yeah. "Blaze" is covered in ribbing that zig-zags back and forth like cables, and I knit it with 100% alpaca.

I do want to make "Blaze" again, but not now. And once I do, I will be taking the existing "Blaze" apart and using the yarn for something more appropriate for 100% alpaca. Live and learn, right. There are also issues with the shoulders and neckline that I will fix with #2. I didn't realize it, but this sweater made me realize that I have narrow shoulders.

What I really want right now is a new cardigan. Probably a wrap cardigan, which gives me some leeway on fit, but still requires some planning. I suppose at the very least I can bring some yarn for making swatches to the knitting get together on Sunday, and hope that I can find some time to do some math during my week off next week.

(Yes, I still have baby knitting to do...but I have a feeling that it is a never-ending queue, so I'm not putting other knitting totally on hold. And don't be worried that Heather will be cold. Her grandmother has made her enough sweaters that I think she is set until at least spring. :-)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Back in the 'burgh

I had a great trip to Chicago last week. I don't think I can really summarize it, but I do have some thoughts brewing in my head. I will see if I can distill them into anything useful when I'm writing the seminar I have to give at work about what I learned. The end of the trip was punctuated by a less than stellar experience at the airport when we returned. Totally my own fault, but still a bummer.

We came back on an express flight, and as I was exiting the plane, I missed the bottom step. Ouch! It all happened so fast I'm not really sure how I did it. All I know is that I was so happy to be home and I was worried that a gust of wind was going to come by and blow up my skirt for everyone on the ground to see. In my hurry, I did *something* careless.

My coworker was patient while we hobbled to baggage claim, where his wife and son were waiting. He had offered me a ride home and he hadn't checked his bag. This, coupled with my throbbing foot and strong desire to see my baby caused dumb act #2 for the night. I didn't double check the tag on the suitcase when I took it off the belt. Yep, I brought someone else's bag home. :-( My wonderful husband drove back out to the airport to return the 'other black suitcase' and retrieve the one with a gallon of milk in it. It certainly could have been avoided, but I still think we need to move "luggage that is not black" up on the list of things to buy for ourselves.

Despite my troubles, Heather was thrilled to see me on Friday night. So much so that she has been very reluctant to let me put her down to sleep in the crib. I spent most of Saturday trying to get her to nap and the last two nights I've ended up bringing her to bed after nursing because she will just NOT let me leave her. I'm hoping that being home for 9 days in a row next week will help to fix some of this. Or it's going to be a VERY long week.

As Melissa mentioned, we had a lovely little knitting get together yesterday. She, Tobi and Michelle have the basics, but just need a little push into the knitting world beyond scarves...and Anna and I were happy to oblige. I found buttons for a nearly complete baby sweater and am halfway through the second sleeve of the current baby sweater (gotta love the knitting you can do during airline travel!), so I hope to get some things finished, gifted and blogged soon.

I keep thinking about writing a blog post titled "Incapable"...about how I am completely unable to follow a knitting pattern exactly as written. I was following the current baby sweater pattern to a T...until I decided to make it a pullover and added color work to the body and sleeves. And I can't even follow the pattern that *I* wrote for yesterday's knitting lesson. I was knitting along with the ladies in case I needed to demonstrate anything and I tossed the hat in my bag this morning. I couldn't resist adding cables instead of doing plain stockinette. It's a sickness, I tell you...

Monday, November 05, 2007

Almost 9 months

I took Heather for her 9 month appointment this morning. All went well and she only had to suffer through one shot this time. There will be more shots and some bloodwork at the next one, so that is something to look forward to...

We got the go ahead to try most foods and the pediatrician strongly encouraged table foods so she can be used to lots of textures and flavors by the time she hits her first birthday. She dropped a little in the percentiles for height and weight, but he wasn't worried and it makes a lot of sense considering that she is almost constantly in motion. But I also plan to start offering more food at her meals. She might not take it until she's over her cold, but I usually just stop the meal at the usual place instead of waiting for the stop signal from her.

Weight - 16 lbs, 13 ounces (10% percentile)

Height - 26 1/2" (15% percentile)

She was a bit crabby (partially because she was hungry) during the exam and mad about the shot, so she didn't wave to anyone in the office (you'd think she'd be happy to say goodbye to them) and needed her pacifier for the trip to daycare. But once we arrived she immediately started playing, she let me pop the pacifier right out and she didn't even care about saying goodbye. Back to her normal, happy self. Considering how clingy she is at home and was all weekend, I wouldn't be surprised if she never cries when she gets dropped off at daycare. :-)

To make up for my sparse posting lately, here is a photo. It's from a few Saturdays ago, before a trip to the park and the swings.

I have secret knitting underway still. But I should be able to give my current project as soon as it is finished and I have two sweaters that just need a bath and buttons and they can be gifted, too. If nothing else, I'll do some more photo-filled posts while I am off work the week of Thanksgiving!