Sunday, August 23, 2015

August Sweater

Hello, I'm back.
And with a sweater to report.

I know, it has been a while since my last post.  Truth be told, life is just so routine, which I rather enjoy as I'm get older.  I feel so lazy and uninspired to talk about myself and my routine life.

The one thing that's newly added to my daily routine this summer is hour long walk with Ritchie everyday. It's something we both look forward to. He has also been going on hikes with us that ranged 3 to 5 hours. Being a good trooper that he is, he just keeps trudging along with his short legs. He's more like a teenage boy compared to Cody, who was like a toddler. When Ritchie doesn't want to be patted or cuddled up, which is half of the time when he's napping, he would make grumpy noise or simply walk away. Seriously? Shih Tzus are supposed to be a lap dog that LOVE to be cuddled. But he does not likes to sit in anyone's lap at all! He's rather independent minded.  The only time he ever barks is when big dogs approach him too aggressively by putting paw on his back of sniff him for too long. He doesn't take crap from them whereas Cody would roll over submissively.  So, I'm just having a great time finding out his likes and dislikes and little antics of his, and every once in a while feeling rejected when he turns away as I am about to pat him.    

See, isn't it more fun for me to not talk about just me?
But I do have some knitting to report. So here we go.

This sweater was knitted top down in one piece from neck to underarm with raglan style sleeves. The front was knitted separately top down to underarm, then join the back in rounds from underarm to hem.  Sleeves were then worked in rounds after the body was finished.

Even though I designed some lacy sweaters and shawls, my personal daily style is rather un-delicate. So sometimes I'd design delicate stuff to satisfy my design curiosity, and other times, I designed things more wearable for me. This time I wanted something I'd wear comfortably. I was inspired by the monotonous use of textures in men's sweaters, and I wanted to design a sweater that's using the similar feel with a more feminine silhouette. After some thinking and swatching, I decided on combining 2 textures, 1x1 ribbing and twist stitches columns. And top it with the triangular, faux-shrug neckline.

The yarn I used Elann LE Lana Pura, a soft DK weight yarn from stash, and needle size #4.

It took quite a few re-dos to work out the front section, and that was not even the most frustrating part. Knitting the endless monotonous twist stitches was a big test on my patience. First, it was over 80 degrees out most of the time, and inside the house felt like 90 degrees in the afternoons if I forgot to draw the curtains earlier in the day.  And I'd been covered by bug bites the whole summer due to extra buggy this year in the woods.  Then the stitches were not exactly the fast going kind.  The twist stitches was so frustrating working with a yarn that is plied with hundreds strands (OK, maybe 50 strands.)  The yarn was great to work with in plain stockinette stitch or ribbing. But it turned in to a source of frustrating splittiness for twist stitches. Within 2 days I started to feel stress tension around my shoulders. Fortunately, I got into reading a book that I didn't work on the sweater for days. When I got back to it, I was a lot more relaxed. Somehow, the twist stitches all of sudden became tamed and flowed smoothly for the rest of the sweater.

The striping on the sleeves was an impulsive decision.  I was wearing my stripey pajamas pants while knitting, and the combination to the texture just seemed right, not to mention I was dying to do some stockinette stitches.

In the end, I really, really like this sweater. I like the way it fits, not too fitting as I gave it about 2" positive ease.  This neckline construction was experimental for me.  I'm very thrilled it worked out as I'd hoped.  Even though I doubt many knitters would want to knit endless ribbing plus endless twist stitches, I still wrote up a pattern for it, just because I really like this sweater.  I'm hoping to get it published later in Fall or Winter when it's not crazily hot to knit a sweater.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Just a pair of Socks

Nothing earth shattering to report. It's just a pair of socks I knitted.  Yarn was unraveled from a previous failed socks.  I used Artyarn Ultramerino 4, in color 154.  I have to say I really love this colorway.  I used needles #2, probably should've used #1.  Oh, well.

When I cast it on, I wanted a mindless knitting, so I just CO 60 sts and mostly followed directions in the socks book Sensational Knitted Socks for 54 or 62 sts of working from ankles to toes.  The stitch I picked was Snowdrop Eyelets from the stitch library book Super Stitches Knitting.

Yup, it was mindless of taking a stitch from a stitch book and plug it into the formula of another book. Easy peasy.

I do love knitting socks.  I don't even mind it as much knitting the second socks the way I always feel like second sleeve is such a chore.  Now I'm a happy owner of a new pair of happy socks.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


I finished this sweater over a week ago, but guess who was too lazy to take photos until now?
The yarn used was Quince & Co, Chickadee, a sports weight yarn. One of my favorite yarns for sweaters.

First I made up the stitch motif at the bottom thinking perhaps a sweater, but unsured.  Once the swatch was done, I had a fairly good idea what I was going to do with it.  I knew it would be slightly loose fitting with gentle gathering above chest line, and set-in sleeves to be picked up around armhole.

I first thought about working it top down, but since I swatched the motif from bottom up, I decided against spending more time to re-swatch and re-chart. The motif used cable and few eyelets.  

The sweater construction was seamless, worked in round from hem to underarm, then divided front and back at underarm.  There is a slight overlap at the front V neck.  I used 3 needle BO to join front and back at shoulders. Sleeve stitches were picked up around armhole, then after a round of decrease, short rows were worked to create the sleeve cap, and rest of the sleeves were worked in round. Finally, the collars was picked up stitches around the V neck and shaped with short rows.

The sleeves took me 3 tries to get it to look right. I had bulbous shape near cuff at first, and I just didn't like it, it looked ridiculous. I changed it to bell shape but it ended up too long, I had to shortened it by ripping back and redo the cuff at higher point.

How much do I like it?  I absolutely love it. I love the hem, the neckline, and the cuffs.

One thing though, I'm a bit embarrassed by my not so perfect knitting skill.  The picked up sts for the sleeves took 2 tries to make sure I picked up sts consistently from the same legs.  The way I knit creates not the most even tension fabric, hence not the most photogenic with close-ups. I knit English style but without yarn wrapping around my finger to keep even tension. Not to make too many excuses, but I have the so called "trigger finger" that my middle finger of my right hand gets locked up very often when I bend it. It's rather painful each time I forced it straight by forcefully bending it back up. But if I don't do that, the finger stays locked up for days in the bent position.
Well, and I'm not proud to say that even though I'm embarrassed, I still have very little desire to get better with knitting perfect fabric.

Can I just say I'm happier with my design skills than my knitting skills.