Month in Review: February 2012

I didn’t do a month in review post for January. Not really sure why, but there it is. Last year, I enjoyed taking a moment to review what I’d accomplished in the month before as a way to revel in my accomplishments, whatever they might be, and to get motivated for the month (and months) ahead. So without further ado, here’s a peek at my February.

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Relatively monotonous, yes? You know I’ve been working on my Larch and Delancey sweaters. I had plans to finish Larch this week, and while it’s still possible, I have to admit this picking up of the collar stitches is trying to kill me. I do feel that when I finish picking up the collar stitches, the rest of it will go fairly smoothly, even picking up the stitches for the front bands. It’s the back and forth and picking up fewer and fewer stitches each row that’s dragging out this process. But this process will be so incredibly worth the “agony,” shall we say, for that beautiful shawl collar attached to the neckline.

This year’s goals are fairly simple: don’t buy yarn, dummy, so you can go to Paris in the fall. I did sort of fall down on that goal, with the purchase of my Berroco Vintage DK for my Delancey sweater, but as you can see, I’ve been busy trying to turn skeins of yarn into a sweater, so I’m feeling okay about this small hitch in my goal.

Six Weeks yarn

Another skein of yarn also came into my house this month, but I didn’t purchase it—I won it in a drawing in the Yarn Snobs Stash Out contest! The yarn is from JL Yarnworks, in this golden-buttery Midas colorway.

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Even with the extra day this year, February is still the shortest month of the year and I think I did pretty well with my goals. How about you—what did your February look like?

Sweaterday: Nearing the Finish Line

There’s an excellent chance that I will have a completely finished Larch cardigan by the end of February.

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I won’t have finished photos of it until next weekend, most likely, but I’m inches away from finishing the bulk of the second sleeve. The sleeve cap takes no time at all. While they’re blocking, I’ll start working on the edging, and in theory, all of this could be done by Tuesday evening, leaving Wednesday evening for sewing in the sleeves and weaving in the few ends (God bless spit-spliceable yarns), and that, my friends, would be an entire cardigan finished in one month.

I know there’s people who knit a sweater a month in much the same manner that I blink, or inhale oxygen, but I didn’t think it would be something I could do. I set up the Sweater Odyssey group on Ravelry to encourage people (like me) to give ourselves a goal and a couple of months to knit a sweater. Not only has this proven to me that I can, in fact, knit a sweater in a month, but it doesn’t even have to take the entire month (since I was working on that other cardigan at the same time). And I’ve been a relative slacker this past week, only knitting for a couple of hours spread throughout the day most days (lunch time, maybe an hour in the evening; Thursday is knitting night so there was much more knitting then).

And I wasn’t knitting exclusively on my Larch either. I finished the right front of my Delancey cardigan, and started on the back.

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The goal for Delancey this week was to finish the right front and make it about midway through the back. I’m pretty sure I can finish the second sleeve of Larch today and then probably finish the back of Delancey tomorrow, but even if I don’t, I’m right on track (and planning to knit through the rest week Allyson’s planned following week 4, so I can get this finished by my self-imposed deadline).

My wrist is feeling better this week, probably because I was “slacking” in the knitting department. I know I’ll need to pause and rest throughout the weekend, but since I’m contemplating taking down my Christmas tree (don’t judge me) and have some other household chores that I’ve been ignoring, I think that will give me plenty of time to rest while still making great progress.

Whew.

Friday Finds

Last Friday in February! This year is flying by. I suppose they all do, but I feel quite aware of this year for some reason. Have you noticed this too, or is it just me? Maybe I’m just having too much fun knitting two cardigans simultaneously. I suspect I will be able to finish the second Larch sleeve this weekend—I’m over halfway there as of writing this, and will probably knit more at lunch. More on that tomorrow, on Sweaterday! For now, though, here are some of my favorite finds from the last couple of weeks—that’s right, there’s been so much awesome lately that I’m a little backed up. Keep up the great work, knitters of the world!

  • I adore this children’s Penguins Pullover (free) from Ístex. I appear to have reached that age when everyone around me has decided its time to have children, so thankfully I have a lot of options for recipients.

  • I love chevrons, and I love baby blankets, and so I love this Zig Zag Baby Blanket (free) by Elizabeth Rowen.

  • The Candle Flame pattern is a popular one, and it’s easy to see why. This versatile stitch pattern works wonders on a straight piece of fabric but adapts beautiful in this Slouchy Candle Flame Hat (free) by Sisse Holmstrup.

  • Atelier Alfa’s Wrapped Pullover ($7.50) is clever in its structure and design, with it’s slanted cable to cowl and hidden pocket.

  • Options are great, and Judy Marples’s Elowen Shawl (CAN$5) provides an option of edgings, as well as endless combinations of yarn colors.

  • Short-row shaping and subtle welts add detail to Alexandra Tinsley’s Wale and Course hat ($5.50). A pop of color along the welting adds style.

Stretchy cast-on techniques

I cast on for my second Larch sleeve, and as I was working the basic long-tail cast on, I thought about this video that Lisa showed me yesterday. Developed by “Tillybuddy” (that’s her YouTube handle, anyway), it seems to be a variation on the cable cast-on that also works like a tubular cast-on.

Here’s a video of a tubular cast-on from Ysolda Teague.

My personal favorite stretchy cast-on is the Twisted German cast-on (also called Old Norwegian in some circles). It’s stretchy but it’s not “limited” to ribbing, so it works well if you want a slightly stretchier edge to the bottom of a sweater (or a sleeve, perhaps).

I will definitely be giving Tillybuddy’s cast-on a try—it looks incredibly helpful for ribbed sock cuffs. What’s your favorite cast-on, stretchy or otherwise?

update: by request in the comments, I’m posting this video from New Stitch a Day for the knitted cast-on.

Sweaterday: Pass the catch-up!

Yeah, that was pretty awful. No, I’m not going to apologize.

So we are officially into crazy land, where I am actively knitting two cardigans at the same time. I’ll talk about Larch first, because there’s not too much to talk about. I cast on for the first sleeve last Monday and have been working away on that. Right now I’ve got about five more increase rounds to go, and my sleeve (when it’s not rolling up) measures about 10½”, so I’m over halfway to starting the sleeve cap.

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I have this dream that I’m going to finish the sleeve by the end of the long weekend. Under normal circumstances that would be totally doable, except for this little thing called Delancey.

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My yarn (Berroco Vintage DK; I’m on a Berroco kick with these two cardigans) arrived on Monday, and I walked over to my friend’s house to pick up my yarn (we’d gone in on the order together to save on shipping and to better qualify for the fantastic WEBS discounts). I swatched that night, and was surprised that I had to go up to the size 8s—again, my gauge falls to the looser side, so I usually go down a needle size at first. But this yarn is slightly lighter than the yarn called for in the pattern (Vintage DK gets 144 yards to 50 grams as opposed to Knit Picks Capra’s 123 yards to 50 grams), so I’m guessing that’s why I needed bigger needles than I expected. After washing, my stitch gauge is spot on, while my row gauge is a little bit off (my guage is 24½ rows versus the 26½ rows the pattern calls for).

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This is a pattern that counts by rows, so one would think you’d want your row gauge spot on, but I am knitting this cardigan in size about 3″ too small for my bust and the fabric is knit on the bias, so the fact that my rows are coming out a big longer than gauge will actually work in my favor.

Being that I was a little over a week behind when I got my yarn, I thought it would take me a little while to catch up to Allyson’s Knitalong. I underestimated my insanity. I cast on for the cardigan Tuesday night, and by Thursday I was joining the two panels together and closing in on the first week’s goal (row 58, for those following along at home). This week’s goal was to get to row 108, and I’m at row 76 as of this blog post, so I’m thinking I will be caught up in no time. And that makes me happy, as I’ll feel more like I can balance knitting Larch sleeves and Delancey parts and don’t have to frantically stay on top of one more than the other.

I’d really love to finish my Larch sleeves by the end of next weekend, so they can block and dry while I start to work on the edging and then concentrate fully on Delancey, but I’ve also been having little twinges in my left wrist (which makes no sense to me, because I’m a thrower, not a picker, so I use mostly use my right hand). I have found that if I rest it enough—say, knit for 2 episodes of Community on DVD, sit and rest for 1—the twinges are much less prominent or non-existent.

Also, the next person who looks at me with pity and “informs” me that English knitters are slow is going to get laughed at. (It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.)

Friday Finds

Three day weekend, ahoy! Much knitting to be done, on the Larch and Delancey fronts. I’m loving the hell out of knitting both of these cardigans, and absolutely cannot wait to wear them. More on those in tomorrow’s Sweaterday post. First, it’s Friday.

  • Stitched Together Designs recently published Lily’s Slice of Pi Shawl (£3.75), a semi-circular shawl in a gorgeously ornate stitch pattern.

  • Iolanthe ($6.50) by Mary Annarella is a super cute cardigan. Pictured is my favorite of the button options, but on the Ravelry pattern page, you can see two other options. My favorite detail is the asymmetric lace collar—so clever!

  • Homa ($6) by Kristen TenDyke features side to side construction for the yoke, and an easy lace pattern for the body. This would be a great layering piece for that winter-spring-summer transition.

  • Christine Grant’s Zig Zag Slouch Hat ($3.95) is a comfy, slouchy hat with a textural zig zag pattern, a perfect accessory with a little zing.

  • You all know how much I love Amy Christoffers’ designs and her newest cardigan, Pomme de Pin ($7) is absolutely no exception. Her classic slouchy yet detailed aesthetic shows up in the gentle shawl collar paired with a pinstripe-esque lace repeat.

  • Campbell & 2nd ($7) by Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark is a sweet little raglan tee with selective lace inserts along the sleeve cap and lower body.