Sunday, February 13, 2011

Now I Get It

This yarn had been sitting in my stash for far too long.  To continue my effort with knitting from stash I decided to use it for a cable pullover.

Yarn: Classic Elite One Fifty, 7.5 balls
Needles; #4, (#5, #6 for making cowl neck bigger towards top.)

As far as the silhouette, it was pretty much decided from the beginning, cropped pullover (that's so unusual for me these days as I'm getting more and more self-conscious of my tummy being older and wider.)  I knew it was gonna be short sleeves and folded over cowl neck.  Not much improv with this sweater. It came out pretty close to what I'd planned.

I was even pretty clear on the general idea of cable placement I wanted, so I just flipped through the stitch pattern books I have.  I did a quick swatch and decided with "Wild Oats" from Super Stitches Knitting" by Karen Hemingway as the middle section, and the "Double Wrapped Braid"  from "A second Treasury of Knitting Patterns" by Barbara G Walker for the outer most cables for framing.  I love the look of Wild Oats, I think I want to make something else with that stitch pattern again.  The Double Wrapped Braid, while a lovely cable pattern, was probably not the best  choice of this sweater.  The cables seems a bit out of proportion with the rest, a bit too dainty to go well with the other cables.

I like the result.  I don't feel that it's too special since it's just a pullover with stitch pattern on it. BUT, one thing I'm sooo happy with the process of making this was that I finally figured out how to calculate set-in sleeves properly.  In the past with my own design sweaters I either use seamless construction of raglan, yoke or pick-up stitches at armhole for sleeves or I just somehow winged it with set-in sleeves by guess work and some redo, or even resort to using software programs for the calculations.  I was always a bit intimidated by set-in sleeves because I have not found any good explanations on how to calculate it, and I was never comfortable since I didn't know how the calculations works.  I almost  used pick-up stitches to do the sleeves this time, but remembering the last few sweaters using this method which all came out much wider than I'd like, I was determined to learn the set-in sleeve design.  I sat down and googled.  I found this excellent article "Ravelling on the Knitted Sleeves" published in by Jenna Wilson.  It's a 3 part articles, and long explanations.  I suppressed the urge to skimp through.  I really wanted to understand the concept and the method.  It was such a well-written explanations.  I was absolutely thrilled to finally understand how to calculate the armsyce and sleeves perimeter and curves.  It was such a great feeling when everything finally made total sense in my head.  I love Pythagorean Theorem and many thanks to Mrs. Engle, my geometry teacher, for teaching me the oh so useful theorem.  Now I no longer have to avoid designing with set-in sleeves when I really want to.  I'm just thrilled, absolutely thrilled. Next I need to learn how to sew nicely, which honestly doesn't interest me much.

A note about the yarn, the dye seemed to run forever when I was rinsing the sweater for blocking.  I do like it as a basic yarn, but the running dye thing bothered me a bit.   The sweater stretched out somewhat even though I didn't pin it at all, just laid it flat.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Yarn: Skacel Divine (11 balls)
Needles: US #4

Wrap Skirt
Yarn: Plymouth Royal Silk Merino (Main Color), Skacel Divine (Motif Color), Berroco Jasper (Contrast Band)
Needles: US #6

This truly was a project with a life of its own.  I pretty much just winged it as I knit.
Planned on a cardi knitted from top down with shaped shoulder and set-in sleeves, but as soon as I knitted the shoulders I was thinking another tunic dress of short sleeves again.  Then halfway through the body I realized I wanted bell sleeves.  So I put the body on scrap yarn and knitted the sleeves top-down to see how much yarn I'd have left. After sleeves, I had only enough for a regular length sweater. When I almost finished with the sweater, I wanted something else 'cause I was getting soooo bored.  As much as I love knitting with the yarn, I really wasn't inspired by the color. The st st just seemed to go on and on forever.  I had this idea of a single butterfly motif on a skirt.  For the longest time I'd been thinking about butterfly motif on a sweater.  But I never got around to it because I just couldn't bring myself to drawing butterflies - because that's what teenage girls draw. Then last week I read this article on NY Times about Nabokov's theory on butterfly migration. Well, if Nabokov was into butterflies too, then it can't be that silly.  I put the sweater on hold again and got busy with the skirt.

I immediately thought of a wrap skirt and honestly I can't even remember why.  I decided to knit it sideway because it gives me the chance to try it on as I go since I really don't enjoy a lot of planning when I design my own sweater.  I was determined to put in some effort knitting from my too large stash this year so I got out the light green Plymouth Silk Merino I have, also some Berroco Jasper that I never knew what to do with it.  Some improvisation on short rows at the end hoping for better fit.   When I was almost done with the skirt, I realized it can also be worn as a shawl of some sort.  When I tried it on I loved the look of shawl.

Blocking is just magic.  I did rather aggressive blocking to make it more a trapezoid shape of a skirt.

After finishing the skirt.  I finally went back and finished the sweater before I can change my mind or come up with some other ideas again. 


I've been obsessed with watching and reading the news from Egypt for the past few days.  My heart goes out to all the people in Egypt who are fighting for a better country.   I'd lived in Taiwan during an era when democracy was a something the government claimed we had but not practiced in real life.  I remember the days any opposition voice was silenced. I remember what it was like even as a little kid knowing what I can and cannot say.  I remember how presidency was held by the same leader for a long time and then passed down to his son.  I remember the oppressive social climate. 

The Egyptian protesters' will to fight for a better country is impressive.  It was truly tragic the peaceful demonstration was faced with violence against them.  I hope Egyptian people can have a brighter future very very soon without much more violence and suffering.