July 19, 2013

4 The Delight of Packing Too Much Knitting - A WIP Tour

Let's all admit it.  When us knitters go on a one-week holiday, we pack enough knitting for a month!  Instead of using that precious suitcase space for an extra pair of dress shoes, we stuff it with extra balls of yarn. Instead of carefully stowing our jewelry and cuff links for dinners on the QMII, we carefully stow completely unnecessary packs of circulars and stitch markers in every possible pocket.  And instead of printing that all important boarding pass or hotel reservation, we manage only to remember to print at least 3 extra copies of patterns just in case one important chart blows away on the Riviera.

And even if, in the end, we barely touch even one project (because honestly, we should be sight-seeing instead), for the next trip we might just pack a little more.  Just... in.... case.

This is how it usually is for me.  (Well, minus the Cunard cruise and the rental on the Riviera, lol).  But tomorrow, I will be going on a 9-day vacation to the middle of nowhere.  

There will be no sight-seeing.  There will be no electricity, and there will certainly be no internet.  I will not see a soul except for my husband and the park ranger who visits once a day around 10:30am.  I will have 4 simple choices of things to do:  swim, cook on the gas stove, read or knit.  And (patting self on back), I can do the last two simultaneously.

Could it be, that for the first time in my life, I might actually knit all that I pack??

... oh, that's sweet to think but... NOT IN A MILLION YEARS.  Come take a tour with me through my vacation knitting basket!

First up is Anatolia by Marie Wallin, from the new Rowan Magazine 54.  I fell in love with the "Folk" section of the magazine, and this one is my favorite of all.

It uses 7 colors of Rowan Felted Tweed.  I've replaced that pink/purple color with a bright red called Rage.  This pattern is not for the faint of heart... it is stranded with 3 or 4 colors at a time!

I am knitting it in the round, and have all of my current mods on my Ravelry page, if you are also tackling this beauty.

Next up is the second of three lovelies from the same magazine.  This one has the most progress of all of my vacation projects.

This is Armenia by Marie Wallin.  It is not stranded like the above sweater, but uses intarsia.  Basically, instead of carrying the yarn along the back, you leave the color where it is, on little bobbins like these:

Instead of using Rowan Frost as called for in the pattern, I am using a delicious dark auburn brown shade of Rowan Kid Classic.  The flower accents are in Rowan Kidsilk Aura, the scraps from my epic Sofia Wrap, which left a lot of colorful fluff in it's wake.  

I think my colorway is way better than the original, don't you?

For the front, I was low on a color, so the top flower is two-toned.  I wish I had done that for all the flowers, because it is lovely!

The final piece from Rowan Magazine 54 is really going to be at the bottom of the basket.

This is Izmir, another fair-isle garment using many colors of Rowan Felted Tweed.  I won't be knitting this during the vacation, but I plan on taking my palette with me to decide what colors will go where.

I'm also going to re-design the front, as I have had too many 'natural disasters' with wrap front tops and dresses, to ever go back.

Did you think that was enough colorwork for only 9 days?  Oh, please no.  I have a project I started in August 2009 that I'd like to get back to.

This is Scales, by Brandon Mably.  It's from my favoritest Rowan Magazine #38.  It uses intarsia, as well, but you can see it requires WAYYYYY more bobbins.  This particular row has 22.

Now you can understand why it is taking so long!  I need a week-long no distraction cabin vacation just to make some headway.  I am deciding whether to just make black sleeves so I can finish this some time in the next 5 years.  ;)  Plus, it might look less busy.  I'd welcome any opinions on this.

The next piece needs so little to be finished, that I just have to bring it along.  

This is Pinion by Christa Giles, from Twist Collective.  This was my second test knit for Christa, but I only managed to get through the lovely yoke for her.  (The colored embellishment, by the way, is more of the Kidsilk Aura from the Sofia Wrap!)

I have managed to finish the body, rip the body, re-finish the body, steek and add one button band... so close, except my sleeves are wrong past the elbow and they need to be ripped, too.

I don't like forcing myself to finish something, so I'll just bring it in case I get that little tug in the back of my mind saying, 'hmm, I'd actually like to work on that right now.'

And FINALLY (can you believe we are at the end of the basket??), here is a piece that is coming with me because I want to finish it just so I can photograph it at this gorgeous little lake.

This is Marshmallow, by Julia Frank, from Rowan Magazine 53.  I'm very happy how it came out, you will see how fitted it is.  All I have to do is tack on these i-cords at the top and bottom, and I'm ready.  

The only challenge will be to look good when I've been "roughing" it for so long!  All the more reason to put this project right on top of the pile.  

Now you can't possibly feel bad about how much yarn you've packed in your suitcase.  Tell me, what marvelous projects are you bringing on vacation this summer?

July 9, 2013

4 Knit For Your Man Without Consequences! - Vidal from Rowan Mag 53

Let's face it.  A good men's knitting pattern is hard to find.  There seem to be less men's patterns being designed than in the past -- it's easy to find huge drop-shouldered intarsia wonders from the 80's with tight enough waist ribbing to make a nice beer-belly paunch.

Ok, so maybe I'm exaggerating a teensy bit, and this pattern (at least the center?) would be kind of cool in an ironic way.  But, I have a man who loves knit sweaters, and he wants them to look good.  Slim fit, no drop-shoulders, no crazy cables, thin.  Yes... something you'd buy in a store... sigh.

And I knit regularly for him... why?  Because HOW ELSE WOULD I BE ABLE TO SAVE ROOM IN MY CLOSET??  Ok, I'll admit, I get real joy at seeing him lovingly wear something I've made.  

But I don't want to knit something boring!  So I'm always sending him any kind of men's pattern I come across that I would actually agree to knit.  He liked Vidal by Josh Bennett (Rowan Magazine 53) right away.

And I liked it because it was a challenging knit -- the X is made with intarsia, a method that allows you to change color in the middle of the row.  I <3 intarsia!

Lucky me, I received the magazine AND a shade card as part of my job as a Rowan Ambassador.  I blogged about the fun we had together picking the colors, here.  To remind you, this included tearing out little strands of yarn so they would be closer to each other for comparison.  Apparently, according to my followers, this is a horrible thing to do, like dragging nails across a chalkboard.  :)  I still want to make something with that other combo...  and I never did get around to gluing them back in like I promised.

We chose the colors Eggplant and Straw (right) of Rowan Creative Linen, the yarn called for in the pattern.

As you may know, I love modifying patterns.  I changed 4 major things.

First, I really didn't like the very long sleeve ribbing... I understand the fashion concept, but in a handknit, it ends up looking like you mis-calculated the sleeve and just tried to rib until it was long enough.  I cut it down from 4 inches, to 2 1/2 inches.  This meant more stripes.

Second, there is a silly blip in the middle of the X.  Each stripe is 6 rows.  But it is physically impossible to get a single center stitch of an X in an even number of rows!  Annoying!  You can see here that there ends up being more on the top of the X in the center stripe than the bottom, and that messes with my symmetrical sensibilities.  This could have been fixed by having 7 rows only in the center stripe, or 5/7 rows in every stripe.  It was too late when I realized this blip.  Maybe I can prevent it in other people's versions!

The third thing was really big for me, but because I also realized the problem too late, I was only able to half fix it.  Do you see this side seam?  

Yeah, I really didn't like that the stripes switched there... why?  The flow of the design, to me, implies that it is the X that causes the beautiful shift, so the side seam shouldn't take away that glory!

Here was my fix... the seam is now perfectly aligned between back and front, which I love.  

BUT because I didn't think about this until the back was done, you can see that I had to start with a stripe that was the same color as the ribbing in the front.  Now, this messed with my aesthetic sensibilities.  So, if you would like to do this right, make sure to start with the same color stripe on the BACK, and then you can have everything work out perfectly in the front.  :)

Lastly, I didn't like where the collar was placed.

I wasn't a fan of it being installed in a contrast color stripe, much less after only one row of the collar.  It seemed sloppy, but I should note here that the collar starts differently for every size, so this may just be bad placement of one size.  To fix this, I started the X one stripe early, shifting the X down (it was too high anyway) and making it so that the right color ended up at the collar placement.  Love the result!

As I mentioned, the stripes are done with intarsia.  Be advised that you can carry your bobbins neatly up one side of the X, but the other side must be cut with ends woven in.

Also, if you've knit a lot of sweaters, you'll find the sleeve cap to be alarmingly shallow.  Don't worry, it works out... but I would recommend taking it in a bit more at the underarm when you sew the sleeve in, and to begin the decreases closer to the underarm.

About the yarn:  I just loved Rowan Creative Linen, which is 50% cotton and 50% linen.  It's dry to the touch and crisp, but surprisingly soft.  It has great stitch definition and feels really smooth to knit with.  There is tons of plant matter in the yarn, but I like that, because it makes me think, 'yup, they weren't lying about that linen content!'.  I decided not to pull most of it out, unless it was a ginormous branch.  ;)  B. did mention it was itchy, though... hmm...

The best thing about this yarn is how it blocks.  Holy moly!  When you pick up your piece afterwards, it's like pressed cardboard!  I've never seen anything block so perfectly into any shape.  Case and point: I blocked it wide and it totally didn't fit right... so the next day I blocked in long and it was like I had never blocked it before... spooky!

To do the photoshoot, we biked down to the warehouse district (Griffintown for those in the 'know').  To my total surprise, there was an upscale outdoor venue called "New City Gas" I had never seen or heard of... and we could walk right in!  It was carpeted in astro-turf and surrounded by metal shipping cars painted bright yellow, and advertising their favorite drink.

Our fashion shot... awesome!

I should add that it was also very hot, and B. was the best sport, ever.

I think he'll get a lot of wear out of this one!  The truth is that at this heavier gauge, wool sweaters get rarely worn... cotton is the answer to seeing a man wear a sweater.  I know I had a lot of tweaks in my version, but I highly recommend Vidal as a comfortable and highly flattering men's knit that is a lot of fun to make.

July 6, 2013

1 If you want to know a little bit about me... visit Roux Knits Blog!

I was lucky enough to meet the lovely artist and blogger Roux while she was hunting for the designer of Freija (by Mari Muinonen).  Pictures of my beloved version are all over Pinterest, but with no references!  So sad!  

I was totally honoured when she asked to do an interview of me about my knitting.  Because I haven't really said much about myself, I thought I'd direct you to her blog post!

Roux is such a fun and dynamic person, I'm so glad we have met.  Go internet!  She is especially a fan of crochet and crochet bikinis.  In the interview, you'll see we have a little something in common there...

The best part of the interview, in my opinion, is where she asks me for any funny knitting stories.  I have had some *ridiculous* moments in my knitting life... those might be worth the click, alone!

Thanks, Roux! <3

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