Monday, January 29, 2007

Fast, Easy Felted Hat

Pattern: - without the novelty yarn. Cast on a few extra stitches and decreased them evenly for bigger brim.
Yarn: Knit Picks Sierra in Pool
Needles: size 10 round and dpns

This hat was , once again, a joy to make. I made it for my sister, Candice, for her birthday. This time I was more vigilant during the felting; looking at it in 2 minute intervals. So there was no crazy stretching to do when it came out, just a little shaping. I think the bow was a cute addition - its blowing in the wind - how wintery of it!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I have found the Holy Grail of Sweater Construction

Seriously people, I’m not sure what to do with myself. After trials and tribulations with set-in sleeves ( see previous posts), I have seen the light and I am saved! Its all about Barbara Walker. She is a genius along the lines of EZ, a knitter who urges others to take control of the finished object from the very beginning. Why shouldn’t we be able to try sweaters on as we go? Why would we waste the 3 dimensionality of knitting on flat patterns? Why can’t we have a fool proof way of doing a set-in sleeve so that you know if you do one simple calculation you will end up with a perfect shoulder cap?

Finally I am able to finish the sweaters that have been sitting in the back of the closet frustrating me when I think about them. I purchased “Top Down Sweaters” by Barbara Walker from Schoolhouse Press and my life will never be the same. I have already skipped to the chapter on Top Down seamless set-in sleeve sweaters (mouthful) and have made perfect size sleeve caps for my dh’s sweater – with one simple calculation! I never thought I would reading a knitting theory book. I wanted to be spoon-fed beautiful patterns and just follow them to paradise. Well, I’ve realized that taking sweater construction into your own hands (haha) is much easier than you think if you have the theories of a genius as the basis from which to work. Oh, and don’t be scared of the front cover of the book. It is straight out of the early eighties. Also there are no pics or patterns in the book just diagrams. Trust me, you’ll understand why and then you’ll never again want to see a model carefully showing off the best angle of a flat pattern sweater that is never going to look like that on you.

So here’s the sweater – started ages ago. The first time it was “finished” the sleeves were puffy with oversized sleeve caps, the second time the sleeve was too tight with no room for the armpit and the third bowl of porridge was just perfect!

Pattern: A mixture of Ann Bud's Set-in-Sleeve pattern and Barbara Walker's info

Yarn: Manos Del Uruguay

Needle: size 9

On the same tip, here's the other sweater that I had thrown into the back of the closet until I could redo the sleeve caps.

Pattern: Rowan Magazine 37? with Barbara Walker style sleeves

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran

Needle: size 5 for garter edging and size 6 for body

Top Down baby sweater and Better Ugg Booties

Pattern: Mod from the below link
Yarn: Misti Alpaca Chunky in Brown and Bernat Baby Soft in pink for the i-cord
Needles: size 7 for body, size 5 dpns for i-cord edging
I found a great pattern online for a top down raglan cardigan( that I modified for chunky Alpaca and to which I added a knit an i-cord border; totally fast project. Actually, if you plan to do this sweater I would replace the i-cord with a crochet border. The i-cord literally took me more time than the whole body of the sweater – no joke. You’d save time and it would be just as cute with a single or double crochet. The basic design was inspired by Megan Mills of Aukland whose intelligent bootie patterns are published in the Knitting Pattern a Day Calendar.

Bootie Expose

The time has come to expose the bad bootie pattern writers that are out there making life difficult for knitters. I have never been a great pattern-theorist. I just followed patterns and hoped for the best. But now I’m pissed. I bought Zoe Mellor’s “Adorable Knits for Tots” book for the Mary Jane Booties. Here’s the problem. The pattern is completely unintelligent. After knitting for an hour or two, not knowing what shape you are striving for(because she has no schematic or explanation), you end up with a flat, strangely shaped piece of fabric that you are left to piece together and try to make decent. If I wanted to take a flat piece of fabric and put it together I would take up sewing.
Secondly, the seam is on one side of the sole, making the final product uneven looking if a baby foot is not already in it. Convenient that all of her shots of this bootie have a cute little sausage foot already in them. I was so upset with this stage of the bootie that I didn’t even photograph it before frogging.
I went online to see if the pattern had errors and found a plethora of negative reviews of her patterns, so I decided to see what else was out there. Lo and behold, there is almost the exact same pattern, but without the strap, in the Debbie Bliss Baby Book. Bad pattern writing is a virus! Lucky for me, my sister came upon a small, $3.99 book at the supermarket in Omaha by the cash register. Gotta love the Midwest for having knitting accessible, even in the most mundane places. The book, "Knitting for Babies", a special pub. from, had a Mary Jane bootie pattern that is totally adorable.
Pattern: Knitting for Babies, special pub. from (847-329-5657)
Yarn:KnitPicks Andean Treasure in Wild Rose Heather
Needles: size 3
The pattern starts at the bottom of the sole, goes up through the toe with minimal, but well-placed shaping and binds off at the ankle, ending with grafting the two sides of the cast-on sole together with kitchener stitch. Thank you Lucie Sinkler! Whoever you are, I love that you used your brain while writing this pattern. The beauty of knitting is that you can do it in 3 dimensions. Don’t take that away from us you over-published template monkeys!