Vampire Barbie Socks

I realize that I may have mentioned before but I have completed the Vampire Barbie socks! I have good photos to share with you now as well as an update of the Stripes Gone Crazy Cardigan.

Vamp Socks 1

The Vampire Barbie socks were knit entirely in tiny little pieces. Paul and I carpool to work because we work at the same company. It’s not a particularly long drive to work, but instead of just sitting there, I started working on my socks. I got a shocking amount done while making the seven to ten minute commute to work. I’ve decided any time I am a passenger in a car, I am going to knit I’ve accomplished so much while knitting during a wait time, like at the doctors office or the passport office.

Vamp Socks 2

Since I’ve finished my Vampire Barbie socks and the K/W Knitters Fair is over, there is not a while lot of pressure to finish anything with my own yarn. I cast on a sock from the Knit Circus yarns; the Greatest of Ease base in the colour Over the Rainbow. This was a special colour that was only available for about a month or two? But I heard about it on the Knit Circus podcast Jalaa and Amy do and immediately ordered a couple for myself. I am so in love with this colour way!
It’s a rainbow gradient that goes through all seven colours, yellow to green. There aren’t distinct stripes for each colour either, they are blended together so the sock slowly goes through each colour and starts into the next.

Vamp Socks 3

I am doing them from the cuff down because that is the style I am used to, but I think I might to the next pair from the toe up. It is a great yarn to knit from the toe up and I should really learn how; I’ve been putting it off for far too long. This means I will have to give things a try and figure out which one works the best for me! The gradient yarns from the Knit Circus are the perfect yarn to attempt these on. You always want to use every inch of the yarn and I have some sock yarn I bought from VKL Chicago 2013 that I haven’t used yet. I better get them knitted before the show this year.

Stripes 2

I have been trying to make it out the Purple Purl’s social knitting night because I really miss having a group of knitters to talk to. It’s like reading a really excellent book and having no one to talk about it with. I went for the first time last week and they happened to have the perfect buttons for my Stripes Gone Crazy Cardigan; I’ve never seen bright yellow mother of pearl buttons, but they are PEREFECT for this sweater. I was so happy about finding them.
I managed to get some knitting done on the Crazy Stripe Cardi; it felt like I was on the very end of the left side forever. I think I actually knit it a little too long, but I have faith I can block that out… along with the coffee stains. I did manage to spill my coffee all over the place once while working on this, on the pattern and the sweater itself.

Stripes 2

Since I am close to done the Crazy Stripe Cardi I am looking for my next project. I think I am going to knit something from the Shibui Baby Alpaca yarn I got from VKL Chicago 2013. I would really love to have most of the things I bought there all knit up for this time. That way I can go to the booths I visited last year and show them my awesomeness. I think I want to find some kind of drapey cardigan pattern. The yarn is mostly alpaca which means it is soooooo soft, but it will stretch as I wear it. I can’t do anything form fitting because it won’t stay that way. I am thinking some kind of comfy sweater that will be amazingly soft to wear. I am still searching for a good pattern so all advice is welcome. The yarn is a DK weight so a pattern calling for that size yarn would be preferable, but if there is a pattern that is perfect, I’ll do the math to sub in this yarn! Send it to me regardless!!

Technical Tuesday: Short Rows

The Stripes Gone Crazy Cardigan is one that uses a lot of short rows to get the effect of leaning stripes. I will not lie to you, my short row skills were a bit rusty before I started knitting this cardigan. It also took me a while to remember how to do them properly. Through the trial and error that is my knitting style and a couple well- that-doesn’t –look-right’s I managed to figure it out, so I am going to try to help everyone here understand them better and save yourself the horror of really ugly short rows…I am hoping I can block that out.

I took a short row class during Vogue Knitting Live New York 2014, that was really the second experience I had with short rows, but the first time didn’t count because I didn’t know I was attempting to do short rows. The VKL class was very comprehensive and covered the basics of short rows and a little bit beyond. For the class, each person had to knit their own swatch and put a few short rows in it. The end effect was a curved swatch. After this class, I would say I have a basic knowledge of short rows; I can follow a pattern with short rows and maybe figure out a short row heel for socks. I would definitely not be able to success fully add short rows to a sweater. I am sure if I knit a few sweaters with short row shaping in them, I would be able to pick it up. For now, I feel like I would probably put them in backwards.

Adding shape to any garment is usually something I highly recommend, so if I can give any advice on this subject, it would be to learn as much as you can about short rows and shaping in general. I will go over another shaping technique next week so short rows are not the only option!

Stripe or Lesion?

The anticipation can end! We are finally going to talk about how I messed up the Stripes Gone Crazy pattern. Let’s be honest for a minute though, it IS a complicated pattern and I don’t use a whole lot of brain power on the best of days.
In the beginning, the shoulders are shaped by doing short rows. Now there are lots of ways to start a sweater and I think the designer thought for a minute ‘oh, now I am really going to screw with people’ then decided to do short row shoulders, or it could have been an aesthetic thing since the sweater is already so busy.

SGC Back

As I was knitting, I was trying not to look at what I was doing, or think about it too hard. Just following the pattern was enough to think about and, like I said, I’ve been lacking brain power. The lights are on but no one is home, so to speak. I had all the markers placed for the increases and was doing them the way the pattern specified, I followed the instructions to a T. When I actually started to look at it though, it didn’t look right; I checked my stitch count. I counted the total amount of stitches and I was bang-on. There was no room for mistakes because I counted them twice and then got Paul to count them twice. At this point I went to the section break down, the part where it tells you that you should have X amount of stitches in the front lapel and X in the arm. It turns out that I had the correct amount of stitches, just not in the right sections. The front and back were too large and the arms were too small. This was not the end of the world though, the stitches were all there, just not on the right side of the stitch markers. I hadn’t gotten to the neck shaping yet, so it didn’t REALLY matter where the increases were, as long as they weren’t so close together that they create a ruffled effect.
I got all my ducks in a row and started on the stripes, this was the easy part of the stripes, you just have to make two plain ones, no increasing or decreasing, just two stripes. I had no problems here, I actually added in two more because the pattern specified If you like your long sweaters, add another couple stripes here. I had no problems separating the arms either, it was the pattern that foiled me later on.
In the pattern there are quite a few lines that tell you to go back and repeat lines X through Z. You’re not exactly reading instructions so much as thinking ‘okay, now go back and do those lines too.’ While I was working on this cardigan, I was listening to a podcast and sitting at the kitchen table thinking about how awesome I was and how awesome this cardigan was. Then I realized my stripes looked a little bit smaller than the ones in the photo. I blew it off and thought they would get bigger as the pattern goes on, you know, like a gradient…. It’s not a gradient. Instead of repeating rows 1-10 I was switching colours and starting a new stripe.
Theoretically this could have worked, because I would just have to do the same thing for the rest of the sweater. I did not want to do that much thinking through the rest of the pattern though, it looks like it only gets more complicated. So I ripped out about four inches of sweater with short rows. Heartbreaking right?

Dropped Stich Stripes Gone Crazy

I started again and I am back to where I would have been if I hadn’t needed to rip out all that knitting. I was working on it the other day and I was mentally grumbling to myself about having to rip out that knitting when I realized I had dropped a stitch. DROPPED A STITCH?! Doing short rows and colour work, I dropped a stitch. I sat there and stared at my knitting for a few minutes, then grabbed a crochet hook and brought the errant stitch to the top. Since there are so many short rows I had to hang my crochet hook off the knitting until I managed a row that would pass by that area and I could pick up the stitch.
I am not even done the sweater so let’s hope the last bit goes easy…. Even if it does look the hardest. I am sure I will be fine though, I just need some quiet time to work on the cardigan and maybe a glass of wine. Wait. Short rows in the cardigan…. Scratch the wine.

Functional Friday: Stripes Gone Crazy by Atelier Alfa

I told you the story about finding this pattern on Wednesday, and I have actually knit quite a bit of it. So far I have only had to frog it once, and I’ll let you know about that on a Monday Mishaps post. This pattern comes in a set of three, so I grabbed all of them.

Stripes Gone Crazy One

The one I really wanted to knit was the cardigan with the asymmetrical stripes. Usually asymmetry doesn’t work well with my brain, but I was looking for something different, what could be more different than a cardigan worked from the top down with stripes that slowly widen on only one side?

 

I didn’t know this when I started but the stripes are made larger and smaller by doing short rows. Now my short rows are a little rusty, but I managed to make it work. Once I remembered how to do a short row invisibly.
There are a few tutorials on the pages about how to do short rows and a couple tips that would make it easier. I really liked that Atelier added in all these small boxes with legends and diagrams to help keep you on track. When you are widening the one side of the sweater, there is a small photo that shows you what it should be looking like; it even has the stitch markers you place visible. She also puts the break down of stitches in the pattern. I could not have asked for a more useful tool.

Stripes Gone Crazy Three

I am not really sure what happened, I much have been doing my increases on the wrong side of the markers, but at some point I got off track. I was able to count how many stitches should have been in the first front piece, sleeve, back, sleeve and second front. I was EXTREMELY lucky in the face that I didn’t mess up the total amount of stitches but just managed to move them around a little bit.
One thing I didn’t like about this sweater are the short rows for the increases for shoulders. To me, this feels a bit excessive and I would have preferred to do a raglan increase or something, but I do believe I am biased on this point. This is the place where I messed up my stitch count and had to shift the stitches; and my stitches could be more even in these places. I didn’t do the best job I could have so I am mad at that part of the pattern.
The pattern is very well organized and colour coded. There were a couple bumpy spots which I am going to email about, but I really found it great that there was a clear divide between the size instructions. There were parts where the instructions were together and there had to be slashes between the different amounts of stitches. I did really like that the patterns for XS, S and M were together on one pattern and L, XL and XXL were on a completely different pattern. I feel that if they were in the same sheet, it would have been excessively long. When you buy the pattern you get all the sizes, but they are in two separate files. The math for each size is different so each size needs its own dedicated section.

Stripes Gone Crazy Two

Otherwise, I think Atelier must be a math genius because everything works out just so. This is one of the few patterns I do not dare to change… at all. There was a section that said ‘to add some length or shorten, add or remove more rows’ so I definitely added rows. Most cardigans are a little short for my liking and I always add in a bit, I am not sure about this one though, I may have needed more. I will have to wait till I am done in order to see.
I don’t want to post a whole lot of photos about it because I want to post a good finished object photo! So everyone can get the full effect all at once!

Day Four NYC

Vogue Knitting Live NYC 2014 is officially concluded! Today was long and exhausting, but it was still worth it. I am really not sure how I am going to fare at work on Tuesday… lots of caffeine perhaps….

Time Square

This morning I had a class that taught us to design patterns using variegated yarns. The instructor was Louisa Harding, and the course was geared more towards long colour shifts and creating symmetrical garments. I did pick out a few things from her samples that I can’t wait to knit. This would, of course, involve finishing off my current queue entirely… said no knitter ever. Happy thoughts though; I may be able to get it down to a reasonable amount, if I don’t eat, sleep or work for the next couple months, or years.

After class Paul and I went for lunch at the Olive Garden. Those who know me are rolling their eyes, because they know my love of bread sticks, and pasta. I returned to the hotel in a carb infused haze, and fought the itis to learn short rows. I had to run up to the coffee shop at break to make it through.

 

Short Row Saavy was with Laura Bryant, again. It was a much bigger class, but she was just as charming, if a little more stressed. I caught onto short rows fairly quickly and plan on making many a bust dart in the future. I am sure this will be one of those skills you kick yourself for not getting into sooner.

After my last class, I went back to the room and stared blankly into space for a little bit. After that I managed to compose myself enough to start this post, and picked up my socks again. The socks I am knitting with the hand dyed yarn from Chicago. I managed to turn the heel and start on the gusset. I didn’t really think the stripes through. All these classes on designing with variegated yarns and I didn’t realize that I would have much thicker stripes on the heel since I was only working back and forth. I am going to play my extreme fatigue card on that one. I brought this sock around with me for mindless knitting while I was waiting for classes to start, or in the airport.
Around 7pm Paul and I went for dinner. We decided to go to Virgil’s just off Broadway and 44th Street. I heard someone in one of my classes recommending it, but I couldn’t remember what it was called. When I googled ‘best places to eat in time square’ it was on the list and I recognized the name. This was by far the best BBQ joint I have ever been to. First of all, it took about 10 minutes for our food to come out. I wish I had timed it because I KNOW we spent longer deciding what to have than waiting for it.

 

Paul ordered oh so eloquently named ‘Pig Out’ which consisted of a little bit of ribs, pulled pork, BBQ chicken and brisket with two sides. I ordered the grilled chicken salad. I was a little apprehensive about getting a salad. Not only because there is the potential of being mocked for all eternity, but sometimes restaurants specializing in grilled meats don’t have the best salad. I fretted and worried that I was going to get a plate of iceberg lettuce with some sad looking bagged bacon bits. I was very VERY pleasantly surprised! Not only was it a mixed green salad with romaine and baby spinach, but it was huge. I actually feel quite comfortable calling it a ‘man’s’ salad. The bacon bits were square inch CHUNKS of bacon, the chicken was grilled to perfection and seasoned. There was fresh avocado, cucumber, tomatoes and grilled onion. At first I thought the grilled onion would be strange, but they were at the perfect point of not too soft and not too crunchy. Paul and I shared his platter and my salad, so I got to try all the meat. It was perfect! The ribs were char grilled, which is different from what I am used to, but amazing nonetheless. I got to try brisket, which was a first for me, and I liked it. I would highly recommend this place to anyone visiting the city.
Left: Paul and I at the M&M Store with Red Right: Swarovski encrusted leather jacket... for real.

Left: Paul and I at the M&M Store with Red
Right: Swarovski encrusted leather jacket… for real.

After dinner we walked around and picked up some souvenirs for family, stopped at starbucks and headed back to the hotel. I started hitting that impenetrable wall of tiredness in the hallway leading to our room. Paul was walking ahead of me and just kept getting further and further ahead. Either he was deliberately messing with me, or I am ready for bedtime. Without further ado, I wish to you. Goodnight!