Knitting WIPs

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I have been obsessed with this dressing gown.  I worked on it through all 3 of the last Nascar races this past weekend and then totally binged on it Monday to finish the back.  Plus some work on it Tuesday night and between cooking/baking on Wednesday. That’s right, the back is done and I’m almost halfway through the left front.

It’s also getting really hard to photograph.  See that progress keeper on the left, at the end of the sleeve?  That’s where I was last week, just less than halfway through that sleeve.  I finished that, along with the other sleeve, the back and shoulder shaping.  Then, after 4 or 5 tries at writing out the instructions until I got them right, I started the left front.  I basted the left sleeve together at the bottom just to stabilize things and minimize all the flopping around.  I’m just at knitting the sleeve, no more increases, although there are some decreases at the other side, for the v-neck.

I think I might have enough yarn made to finish both this side and the right side….maybe.  But once that’s done, I can sew it together properly, block it and wear it while I knit the collar and lace edging.  And make more yarn.

I have no idea where/how I’m going to block this.  It’s huge!  Not to mention how heavy it’ll be when soaking wet.  I think I have a blanket I can roll it in to dry it – I’d have to use half the towels we own otherwise.

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This might be sacrilege.

I don’t like knitting or wearing sock weight socks.  There, I said it. Hate me if you wish.  Think I’m insane or weird, I’m ok with that.

They hurt me to knit.  Something about the thin yarn on size 1 needles just hurts my wrists.  They’re too much work to care for.  The pairs I have are not superwash so they must be hand washed,  Even if they were superwash I’d probably not trust my washer and dryer not to felt them anyway.  The handwashing isn’t really a problem.  The problem is that they attract every bit of cat fur and my own shed hair that they can.  Which means I have to run a lint roller over them once they’re dry before I wear them.  It’s just too much work, plus they don’t actually keep my feet as warm as the store bought socks I normally wear. I get super cold feet, even with 2 pairs of socks and a pair of slippers on them.

Now I have done sport weight or heavier socks in machine washable fibers (almost entirely acrylic)for my mom.  I don’t mind knitting those so much and they seem to be holding up well for her. In fact she’s always begging for more.  So I might try those for myself.

But my dislike for sock weight socks leaves me with a bunch of yarn with no purpose.  Including 6 skeins of Cascade Heritage in black that were supposed to be tights, but between not liking to knit socks and being unable to decide on a pattern, have not been knit. Plus 8 single skeins in assorted brands and colors.

Now I need to find patterns to use them up and 2 of those single skeins are absolutely my favorite colors so must be used in something special just for me.  Does any one have suggestions for sock weight hats, cowls or shawls?  The 2 special skeins do coordinate and could be used with a black skein.  Actually I could use black with any of the 8 single skeins.  Oh and I have some assorted partial skeins of sock weight too, probably half a skein or less each.  And no, I don’t want to do a sock yarn blanket, other than my beekeeper’s quilt.

Here are the 2 special skeins stash pages.

Cascade Heritage in Italian Plum

Wandering Wool High Peaks in Deep Amethyst

BTW, the WIP post will be a day late, since I’ll be too busy to post on Thursday.  Lots of progress on the Dressing Gown.

Knitting WIPs

 

Dressing Gown – Almost halfway through the sleeve, or at least the part before I start decreasing.  The stitch markers note 50 stitch stretches.  It helps me to know when to take breaks as slogging through 252 stitches tends to make my thumb/wrist hurt.  Last Nascar races are this weekend so I’m going to have to find new time to dedicate to knitting on this.  Maybe during football, while my husband watches and I’m up in my room.  I can always use that time to catch up on podcasts.

I cast on In Between Days on last Friday.  I needed something different.  And this is certainly different.  This shawl is far more difficult than I anticipated.  It’s my first asymmetrical shawl and wow, it’s extremely counter-intuitive for me.  I was off by 2 stitches after the first repeat and that almost never happens to me.  I had to rip it out and start over.  The stitches aren’t hard, although I did have to keep a webpage up to reference how to do the M1R and M1L.  The second try went better, especially after I went and figured out the stitch count for each row.  I often do that if it’s not included in the pattern.  So far it’s keeping me on track.  By the end of the second repeat I’d caught on to the rhythm of the increases and it got easier.  But I don’t think I can leave this alone for more than a day or two or I’ll lose that rhythm.

I chose colors as similar as I could to the sample in the pattern.  The colors are really what caught my eye about this one.  That’s also a common theme.  I’m attracted to a pattern because of the colors and upon closer inspection realize that the colors are the only thing I like about it.  At least in this one, I was also intrigued by the pattern.  Pattern is well-written and laid out.  Aside from the row stitch counts, so far I’ve not had a problem with anything.

One of these days I’ve got to get back into the habit of doing a row or two a day on my more difficult knits.  I’d like to get them done sometime in the next year.

 

Unraveling Commercial Sweaters (not a tutorial)

As I said last week, no WIPs this week.  It’s been a tough week of no knitting.  The good news is that my wrist/thumb feels much better.  The bad news is that my sanity is hanging on by a thread.  I did a little spinning and assorted non-fibery things to fill the time but I really missed knitting.  I am knitting again today, trying to ease back into it by taking lots of breaks.  In fact, I am writing this post in bits and pieces on those breaks from knitting.

So to fill the gap of not having any WIPs to show I thought I’d give a glimpse into how I unravel commercial made sweaters and ply the strands to make fatter yarn to knit.  I mostly find sweaters made with cobweb weight yarn and I prefer knitting with fingering weight or more.  These pics are for my dressing gown which is DK weight.  This is by no means a tutorial, just some pics I took while prepping more yarn for my dressing gown.

The first sweater I pulled out to unravel happened to be knit with alternating strands.  What I do with this kind of sweater (and you can’t tell if it’s single or alternating until you start unraveling) is unravel it by hand.  I pull out several rows and pile them up on my knee.  The I wind one onto my ball winder and pile the other into a bin like a long strand of spaghetti.  If you’re careful and don’t disturb the bin too much you can wind from the pile without tangles.  No matter how careful I am the yarn breaks occasionally.  I spit splice (using water from a spray bottle I keep handy).  Once I’ve unraveled the whole piece I splice the end of the pile in the bin onto the yarn on the winder and wind that onto the cake.  Then it’s ready for plying.

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The next piece (from a different sweater) was single strand so I was just able to wind it straight onto the winder.  I just fold it in half, lengthwise, hold it down with one hand and wind with the other.  I don’t go too fast.  This one is cashmere and it tended to hang up at the edges a bit.  If I went too fast it would break and I’d have to splice it and that happened anyway on occasion.  Cashmere tends to be a bit on the fragile side and will break if you tug too hard.

Then I had to take a sweater apart before I could unravel it.  First I turn it inside out and remove the tags.  The the neck comes off.  I find the seam and pick and poke where it meets the sweater until I get something loose. Or I find the zipper stitch and cut a few of those until I make a hole between the collar and the main body of the sweater.  The zipper stitch shows as a series of sideways Vs.  If you clip through the Vs (and not the main stitches) and tug around on things, the collar loosens from the body.  Then you can tug and pull and find the loose strand of yarn and basically unzip the seam.  This also applies to the rest of the seams of the sweater.  There is another version that I call the locked zipper.  There is an additional stand of yarn in the zipper which basically locks the zipper and you can’t just pull a strand and unzip the seam.  The rest of the seams of this sweater were locked and I had to cut each stitch by hand with my seam ripper.  I’m fairly sure (I’ve not actually done this so I’m not positive) that the zipper stitch on the seams is very similar to the crocheting you do to stabilize the knitting before steeking.

So what I do for the dressing gown yarn is unravel a piece of a sweater (back, front, sleeves) and wind it into a cake.  The I take a cake from 8 different sweaters and ply those together on my spinning wheel.  I started with 4 grey and 4 black strands but now I’m at 6 grey and 2 black because I have more grey sweaters than black.  I can’t really tell the difference between the two once plied but I am holding the ones with only 2 black strands back to do the collar with, just in case there is a noticeable difference when knitted.  I’m hoping I have enough yarn ready to finish the body and sleeves but if not, this project will have to go on hold until I find more black sweaters.

Honestly, unraveling commercial sweater is trial and error and poking and picking until things come apart.  It’s hard to describe and there are several different ways things can be done.  First, avoid serged seams.  Usually the yarn is cut and you’ll end up with a million short strands of yarn.  If it’s not cut, serged seams are still very difficult to undo.  If the should seams are serged but the rest of the seams are not, that’s fine.  I just cut off the serged shoulder seam and you don’t lose a lot of yarn.  Take the neck off first, then open the side seams, starting at the wrists, going to the hip/waist.  Next take the sleeves off of the body.  Then the shoulder seams and then you have your pieces.

Next is getting the individual pieces unraveled.  Start at the top (the shoulder of the sleeves or the neck of the back/front).  There is usually a sort of zipper stitch along the top of the pieces that need to be undone or removed before the piece will unravel.  Then is just like frogging your knitting.  Just be careful at the edges and at the armpits (it’s most likely to be a bit felted and therefore more difficult to get apart in the armpits.)

Book Review: Hot Knits

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I’m starting a new feature for my blog: Book reviews.  This will be a sporadic thing as I don’t buy many books.  Some will be ones I get from the library or, like this one, books I stumble upon at the thrift store and therefore they will not the newest.  If at some point I am lucky enough to be given books to review I will be sure to state that fact and I will always give my honest opinion.

Hot Knits – 30 Cool, Fun Designs to Knit and Wear by Melissa Leapman (Published in 2004)

This is a book of mainly sweater designs.  Sizes run from Extra-Small (36 1/2 inch bust) to Extra-Extra- Large (48 1/2 inch bust), depending on the pattern.  There is a large assortment of patterns, from long coats to pullovers to cardigans and more.  They’re meant to be trendy (now 12 year old trends) so while there are instructions for larger sizes, some patterns may not look so good on not-skinny-not-a-model bodies.  There are cables, lace,  colorwork and simple stitch patterns so something to fit every taste.

I’m not a sweater knitter but I do like some of these patterns. A few might even tempt me into knitting them one day.

Jenny – A long coat in heavy worsted held double.  I’d not use the mohair used in the instructions but it’s a nice simple shape and it even has pockets.

Deborah – A stockinette and garter jacket in bulky weight.

Maria (which seems to have missed out on getting a pattern page) – A tunic in a simple textured pattern in sport weight.  I’d likely change it to stockinette simply because I despise k1, p1 and avoid it whenever possible.  I suppose I could substitute a simple stitch pattern that I like better.

Erin – A colorwork pullover in light worsted.  I rather like this although I’d definitely change the colors.

Marla (and you can even buy this one as a single pattern) – A bit of pretty cabled lace in sport weight.  The neckline is intriguing with the lace design continuing up both sides.

There are tips scattered throughout the book on things like avoiding pooling, carrying the yarn up the sides, adjusting the length of the sweater and more.  There are charts for all the cabled patterns as well as the lace.  I find the instructions to be a bit confusing for a beginner sweater knitter but that seems to be normal for sweater patterns in books.  I’ve had some trouble deciphering the instructions for my Dressing Gown, which is from a book.

There are lots of full color pics, including close ups of the stitches.  Each pattern has a suggested skill level.

Overall, there are good layouts for each pattern and a really lovely table of contents with thumbnails of each sweater.  A large variety of sweater types and shapes as well as yarn sizes and types.  Something for nearly everyone.

The book appears to be out of print but is available used on Amazon.  If you’d like to buy this book or anything else through Amazon I’d appreciate if you could use my associate link: Dystini’s Amazon.  Every little bit helps and eventually I might be able to buy new and current books to review.

Knitting WIPs

 

Dressing Gown – Increases for the sleeves done.  Now to knit for awhile before decreasing.

More puffs for my Beekeeper’s quilt

There will not be a knitting WIP post next week.  I’m afraid I overdid it on the dressing gown and strained my right thumb/wrist.  I’m in a brace and knitting is off the schedule for at least a week.

I did the same thing last year about this time and then I kept on knitting until I had to take a month and a half off of knitting in January.  I’m trying to learn from my mistakes.  Fortunately, spinning doesn’t bother my injury so I will be doing plenty of that.

I also spent some time making more yarn for the dressing gown and I took pics.  I’ll try to get them posted in the next few days.  It won’t be a tutorial on how to unravel and ply commercial sweaters but just some shots of the process.