back in the saddle

Last month I got a bit of a body blow on the crafting front. I lost my knitting bag on the subway, and it was never turned in to the lost & found.

The bag included my tools pouch, which amongst other things contained the One Perfect Tapestry Needle I'd had since I was nine years old. It came with the first needlepoint kit I ever made all by myself, and I'd been using it to sew together and darn most anything yarn-like ever since. It's hard to explain, but it was just the right size, shape, and finish to do everything from bulky sweaters to fingering-weight socks with. I would use other needles, but it was my default, and I'd used it for over half my life.

The knitting was a second pair of Space Invaders Socks I was working on for my friend Cathy, a request from her. I'd just made it past the leg and was working on the foot of the first sock, and I was already late with them.

The bag itself was a loss. It was a hand-made, hand-screen-printed promo item for Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies, a hilarious novel I picked up a couple of years ago when it was first published. The authors themselves made the bags as giveaways for when people bought two or more copies of the book.

Of course, the grown-up thing to do is chant, "They were only things, if it happened it was meant to be, you've had lots of close shaves before and it was finally your turn," but still... it's hard to get going again. Of course the day I lost the bag I was feeling physically crappy, and had had a busy day at work, and of course there was a subway weirdo near me who was being weirder than the norm and not a little scary... it was one of those perfect storm things.

To make up for losing the Space Invaders Socks, I made Cathy this Skull Cap:

It's a free pattern that Icy Sedgwick posted to Pinterest. I added the optional lining (hard to see here) in a greyish-purple colour. Despite adding some extra rows of the black lattice pattern, the hat came out shorter than I would have liked, but Cathy says she's been wearing it, so that's what's important.

The entire hat was sourced from stash yarn and crocheted in an evening. It was exactly the kind of quick, funky project I needed to get my crafting mojo back in gear again.

I also made (and managed to not lose) Cathy these orange spider socks:



These were another free pattern from Ravelry. The instructions on these were excellent — they were a lot easier to make than they look. The only real mod I made was when I was working the little spiders, but that was just to suit my brain, not because I disagreed with the pattern per se. The finished spiders look about the same as the ones in the pattern. These have been done since before December, but I didn't want to post about them until Cathy received them.

That leaves one more thing for Cathy on the needles and one new thing on the needles for me. I'm slowly getting used to my new tools pouch. But I'm still on the lookout for a new One Perfect Tapestry Needle.


KTS: beep!

I actually finished these about a month ago, but I've been busy writing up a storm for NaNoWriMo. So no blog post until now.


This is the third and last pair of socks slated as part of Knit that Shit. Like the other pairs of socks in the list, they were started just as my spine was going badly out of alignment, which is why they took so long to finish. I had to wait until I could knit without being in pain.

My chiropractor noted that I seem to be getting better at keeping my spine and other joints in place, so getting these done is a nice reward for that.

The original pattern is free online from Knitty. There were a few mods on these. I chose to use an olive instead of lime green for the bottom row of invaders, mostly because it was already in the stash. I also did my standard square heel instead of the striped short-row heel given in the pattern. Finally, I used my usual double-pointed needles instead of using circulars as given in the pattern. I know it's heresy, but I just don't find the circulars easier to work with for socks. Nothing against those who do, but I just don't.

Besides the thrill of actually getting these done, I was very pleased with the duplicate stitch "shooter" on the foot of the game sock (the sock on the left in the photo). My duplicate stitch has not always been consistent in the past, and this time I found a way to make it more consistent, which made me happy. (Turn the work upside down every other row so you always work right to left, or else switch hands so you are always working away from you.)

I've finished some other things in the meantime, but they're all Yule gifts, so they won't get posted about until later next month.

geometry

It is summer, which means that here at The Eyrea it's time for sock-making and stash-busting. Sock-making because it's one of the few projects one can work as a take-along during the summer without dying of heat exhaustion, and stash-busting because the summer always makes me want to de-clutter more.

I always seem to wind up with as many socks on the needles as I have needles to make socks with. In addition to the Space Invaders socks from the Knit that Shit meta-project (now on the second sock!), I have a pair of Double Heelix socks doing a decent job of using up some stash yarn:
The sock in the photo is done, and the second sock has the heel done and the foot about halfway done, with the leg left to go after that. These are surprisingly comfy socks (surprising because the heel is similar to a short-row heel, and those never fit me right). They have been getting a lot of positive comments from non-knitters when I work on them in public, mostly about the colour combination. Sadly, no-one appreciates the implications of the heel-out construction unless they are a knitter themselves, and even then they don't always spot it until I point it out. It's interesting: a sock that starts off as a very tricky geometric construction, but gets admired for its aesthetics!

If anyone reading this has been wanting to try to this pattern but is getting put off by the heel construction, don't be. For both socks I worked from the YouTube video, pausing it as I worked each step after watching the relevant part of the video. Once you get as far as the video takes you, it's not hard to work at all. I also made these to my usual 72 stitches, which is not given in the pattern but is easy enough to get to if you've made a few socks before.

I also used some more stash yarn to start the Carousel sock:


For this one, you knit a 12-stitch strip around the circumference of the leg and foot, attaching it in a spiraling fashion. That's most of the leg part in the photo. These are a little boring to work after you get the first round done, but are a great excuse to practise knitting back backwards.

On top of the three pairs of socks I have on the go, there's also the mitred jacket I started from leftovers. It's from the Swing, Swagger, Drape book by Jane Slicer-Smith:
That's most of a sleeve in the photo. I discovered to my horror that I have over two kilos of mismatched white, off-white and black yarn lying around, and this seemed like the most logical way to use it up. The yarns are all over the place in terms of shade and texture, but as you can see from the photo, they seem to blend well enough. All of the "white" areas in the photo are different combinations of white and off-white stripes. I'm not really following the stripe combinations in the book — just using them as a guide to make my own combinations. Although I have a lot of black, I have much more white and off-white, so that dictates the colour choices a lot.

The nice thing about mitred squares is that you're pretty much encourages to weave in the ends as you work. The two white ends at the top of the photo will get woven in once the side panels on the sleeves are completed. It makes for a tidy wrong side and, let's face it, uses up a little bit more yarn than having long runs of single colours.

Of all of these, the Space Invaders sock and the Double Heelix are the farthest along. It will be nice to start reporting some finished projects again!

KTS: reverse knitting

One of the items in my Knit That Shit meta-project is an Estonian lace shawl I started sometime in the last four years or so.

When I wrote up its entry on the KTS page, I said I couldn't remember why I stopped working on it.

More recently, I picked it up again and realised it was because it was going to take every last centimetre of yarn to finish it to the size given in the pattern book.

I had a lot of misgivings about that. Ideally I'd wanted the shawl to be a little longer than what was given in the pattern book. It also made me wonder if I'd lost some yarn somewhere along the way. I remembered four skeins, and I had four skeins, but still. The yarn had been bought specially to make this shawl, and I know better than to buy just barely enough.

So I stopped knitting, did some math, and had a good consideration of the pros and cons of continuing. In the end I came to a decision I am comfortable and happy with.

The shawl now looks like this:

The ever-perceptive J-A pointed out I should make a special effort to blog about this because, she says, people don't always realise from the blog how much unravelling I do. I think I was lucky in that the grandmother who taught me how to knit emphasised that real knitters unravel when they have to, instead of just crossing their fingers and carrying on even when every bit of reason they possess is screaming that the piece isn't going to work out.

Well, this wasn't going to work out. So I saved myself a lot of grief and time by unravelling now instead of later. I also saved myself from doing a lot of work on a shawl I was never going to wear.

What's going to happen to the yarn? The same Estonian lace pattern book has another pattern for a shawl in a similar shape, but which only takes half the amount of yarn. That's because this pattern had lots of nupps (bobbles) in the fabric, whereas the alternative shawl only has them in the end-borders. In theory, I should be able to make a nice long shawl and have a comfortable abundance of yarn to make it with. I like both patterns equally, so aesthetics aren't an issue.

In the end it will be a net gain.

knitting in blue

It's been a while since I posted anything here, but I have been making things. Or, at least, finishing off things, which is just about the same. Around here, it's even better, because it means I'm getting stash reduced.

The biggest and most recent Finished Object is the blue assymetrical jacket I made for myself, sort of as a Yule present. I finished it just in time to put it away for the summer. That's okay — it's better than having it 90% done all summer and lying around. Here's the finished jacket:

The pattern came from the Fall 2012 issue of knit.wear, and has a really cool construction method. To wit:
  • Knit the back flat from the top down, using short rows to shape the back neck. 
  • Knit the fronts from the top down, also using short rows to shape the neck. This was the first of the two mods I made to the pattern: instead of knitting the pieces separately and seaming them to the back, I picked up the stitches and knitted down. This made for a still-firm but less bulky shoulder seam, and a nigh-invisible one too. I am all about the firm, non-bulky, nigh-invisible shoulder seams. I've probably spent more time figuring out how to achieve this than any other finishing in my 30+ years as a knitter.
  • Pick up the sleeve stitches from the armholes and knit down, using short-row shaping to fit the set-in armholes. This was my second mod: I made full-length sleeves instead of the half-length ones given in the pattern. Who wants to wear a heavy worsted jacket with sleeves that only go down to the elbows? If the rest of you isn't overheated, it means your bare forearms will be freezing.
  • The sleeves are finished by casting on new stitches and knitting the cabled cuff around the bottom edge, domino-style. Then the edges on the body are done the same way. The last part involves I-cording across the top of the cabled border and then I-cording around the neck.
It's all a rather neat trick. The whole thing is held together by a single button near the neck. I haven't found the right button yet.

Here's a loving close-up of that nigh-invisible shoulder seam:
And because it has the back cast-on underneath, it won't stretch out easily. So there.

Just as I'd promised myself, I went back to the Knit That Shit meta-project once I'd done the jacket. I thought I'd line the summer purse that's been languishing, or work on the socks or the doily, but for some reason I grabbed the Estonian stole that's been sitting in its own project bag for months:
I think I know why I got discouraged about this one. It's become very evident that it will take every last centimetre of yarn to make this thing as big as the pattern book says to, and I was hoping to make it a bit larger (as with her sock books, Nancy Bush designs gorgeous stuff for short people). The ever-resourceful J-A suggested going back to Americo and buying one more ball of yarn, assuming they still carry this colour. There's absolutely no hope in matching the dye lots since I bought the yarn about five years ago, but if I use something close for the border, then I'll have plenty of yarn. It's a good idea. At this point I'd even consider a different-coloured border that looked cool.

Onwards.




photo finish

After an epic week of extreme knitting, ie: knitting every moment I was awake and not working or getting ready for work, I managed to knit the fronts, button bands, collar, and sleeves of the tiger jacket, then get it finished. It wasn't quite in the time for the nieces' birthday party, because I wound up darning in ends for almost two hours during the party itself, but at last I don't have any knitting that's on a deadline.

Here's how the final hours went down: I knitted off and on all Saturday, finally putting away my knitting needles at 3:30am Sunday. Four hours later I was up again, darning in ends and seaming. Even though I knitted in all the ends I could and clipped them off before seaming, there were still a lot of ends. I enjoy darning in ends, but it was a bit daunting on a tight deadline.

At 8:30 in the morning, the jacket pieces looked like this:

The first thing I did was a little out of the usual order — I sewed on the buttons. In this particular case, it made sense to me because it meant I could close the two fronts into one piece, making it easier to handle:
Next up was attaching the sleeves. My brother texted me that he was on his way to pick me up for the birthday party just as I had the second sleeve safety-pinned in place. I finished the seaming in the car (sooo glad it was his turn to drive this time) and started darning in the ends. The ends got finished at the party, and the finished product looked like this:
It got folded up and put on top of the toy tiger I got to match with it:
My niece seemed to be all right with the jacket (hey, she's four), but she was absolutely smitten with the tiger cub doll, and had him jumping, roaring, and talking in no time.

That's it for deadline knitting for this year. Now it's back to Knit That Shit, although the first thing I want to do is sew in the lining for the cotton purse. The knitting's already done for that part.

I finished something!

Right, so two weekends ago (oops) was a long weekend here in Ontario. I made it even longer by taking the Friday off, and it's just as well I did, because all I did that day  was knit my mum's birthday shawl.

The birthday brunch was the following day. The shawl got finished around 10pm Friday night, took a trip through a cold soak wash and a spin in the washing machine, and then got pinned out on some foam safety squares I keep just for such occasions:

The squares (you can't see them because the entire width and length of the shawl covers them) are just over 60cm wide. The shawl was supposed to be blocked out to 55cm, but I figured with the strong vertical rib, it would shrink back once it was off the blocking wires, so I overstretched it slightly.

Before the trip through the wash, I was worried that the shawl would be way too narrow. When I was working on it in public, not a few people stopped me and admired it, but they always thought it was a scarf. After washing, the fabric went "limp" (ie: none of that knitted springiness at all) and it was very easy to stretch it out. I could have gone a few more centimetres if I'd had the space.

The shawl was pinned out by 11:30pm, at which time I crashed into bed. I was (and still am) sick with a sinus/walking pneumonia thing that makes me cough and feel tired. I wound up sleeping through my weekly Saturday morning chiropractic appointment for the first time ever, but had enough time to unpin the shawl, fold it up, and toss it in a gift bag before my brother Steve picked me up so we could carpool to the birthday brunch.

The shawl is one of those patterns that one appreciates more in a finished state than in the knitting, I think, although I'm glad I made it. The secret seems to be to go like hell — go as fast as you can, working on it as often as you can, and take it anywhere you might plausibly have five minutes to knit with. Like many simple knits, it's a great excuse to push yourself to learn to knit faster.

Speaking of knitting faster, I have eleven more days until my niece's tiger jacket needs to be done, so I need to get cracking on that. And then the entire family is cut off from handmade gifts until next year!

halfway

I took this photo last Saturday, when the reversible cabled shawl was at 85cm, or almost halfway. It's just past halfway now, at about 105cm.

It's still working out to almost exactly 10cm per pattern repeat (one left cable, one right cable), but the yarn has been gaining on the pattern repeats a little bit each time. I'm estimating that it will use up about 18 skeins of the Smart by Sandnesgarn, maybe even 17.

What definitely continues to hold true is that this is one of those patterns where you have to go as quickly as you physically can. The cable rows add some interest, as does (for me) running out of a skein and splicing on a new one, but those eleven rows of plain 2x2 rib in between those two events can get to be a drag if one doesn't keep to the objective of working through them as quickly as possible.

As for the tiger jacket... I have the pocket lining and one front started, but I've been concentrating on the shawl. I'm just not into switching back and forth right now. It will be nice to get a large project (meaning this shawl) off the needles, so full steam ahead.

entr'acte

My mum requested a warm shawl to wear, preferably with cables. We sat down with some of my pattern books on Christmas Day, once the nieces had gone to bed and things had settled down a bit, and after some discussion we decided to go with the reversible cabled shawl from an old Vogue Knitting (never throw out your pattern magazines!). She asked for it to be grey, and in a more "substantial" yarn than the thin stuff they'd used for the magazine photo.

I checked Ravelry (login may be required), and people have made this same shawl in everything from lace to worsted weight. Impressively, they all look good. Different, of course, but good.

I decided to stick with a DK weight yarn, since that matched the original pattern gauge most closely, and wound up with some superwash wool. Here's what the first 20cm looked like:
I keep thinking it's too narrow, but when I measure it, it's exactly what the pattern calls for, and falls to waist-length on me when I hold it up to my shoulder. The fabric is nice and substantial without being heavy. I like scrunching it a lot.

It's taking about one skein for 10cm, so at the present rate it will take 18 skeins to get done. I bought 20, so no worries there.

The tiger jacket for the eldest niece continues as well. I got the back done:

Whenever I talk to other knitters about intarsia, there's always someone who makes a comment about "all those ends." The trick for dealing with ends to is weave them in as you knit. That way, when you're done, you can just clip them off. Here's what the back of the jacket looks like right now:
I still have to do some weaving-in at the edges, where there weren't long enough runs of one colour to knit in the ends, but compared to the original number, there really isn't a lot to do. And, unlike the intarsia knitting itself, weaving in ends on a finished piece is portable.

I suspect the shawl will get done a lot sooner than the jacket. I'm having a hard time staying motivated on the jacket. Not because it's nasty evil intarsia — I quite like intarsia — but because I have a bad feeling it's never going to get worn. We'll see.

I'm also missing Knit That Shit terribly. It feels good to miss finishing things so badly. That didn't *ahem* stop me from getting yarn for a jacket for me while I was getting the shawl yarn, but still, I would like to get back to the meta-project. Besides, the jacket for me should go quickly. Really.

happy you! a free pattern for yule/solstice

When my brother Rob and I were very little, we misheard our grandmother's seasonal greeting of "Happy Yule!" as "Happy You!". Of course we were happy — we were getting presents and treats. Does it get any better than that for a kid?

Oma thought this was hilarious and never bothered to correct us. Which, in a family where all the grownups knew at least three languages while the Canadian-born kids only had English and whatever French they'd learned at school, was pretty normal.

Along with all the regular presents we would each get a pair of slippers Oma had knitted us. Unfortunately for Oma, we learned very quickly that these slippers made it very easy to "surf" laminated flooring, so they were usually worn to holes in about a week.

This year, I've been requested to make cute animal boot cuffs for my nieces. Fingers crossed they won't wear out quickly — they have no soles, so they're no good for surfing laminated flooring — but since the design work took far more time than the knitting, I thought I would share them as a Yule present for any knitter who would like an extra stocking stuffer for little ones. Mine are of a kitty and a panda, but dogs, pigs, foxes, brown bears, and other animals could be figured out by mixing and matching different facial features and colours. I rather think the kitty's hair bow would make a cute bow tie on a bear or a dog.

I'd rate this project as beginner-level, so long as you're okay with doing a bit of free-form embroidery. If you're a knitter who only knows how to knit, as opposed to someone with a general background in needlecraft, this would be a good opportunity to stretch your skill set. The knitting part is very quick; if you're exchanging gifts on the 24th or 25th, you still have time.

Download the pattern PDF here. If you have any feedback (especially if you find something that needs correcting!), please leave a comment!

Happy Yule!

no pressure or anything

This is where the most-finished boot cuffs for the nieces were at, as of this afternoon:


That's supposed to be a panda on the left, and a Japanese-style cartoon kitty (like a Hello Kitty) on the right. I feel pretty good about the panda, but am not entirely pleased with the kitty. However, that might just be because she's not supposed to have a mouth.

The panda shows how the boot cuffs get worn — with the ribbed part around the wearer's leg and the cute animal part cuffed over. The kitty shows the full structure.

The other two cuffs are knitted, but not embroidered. I also have to knit two sets of ears (one panda, one kitty), and one more pink bow.

Then it's back to the tiger jacket, which is looking less and less likely to get done on time. Oh well, technically it's for the elder niece's birthday. Erm, which gives me an extra week.

seasonal disruptions

I've been knitting a lot lately, but none of it has been for the Knit That Shit meta-project. Why? Two interdependent reasons.

The first one is: non-knitting relatives.

The second one is: Yule.

Relatives requested that I make my nieces some stuff for Yule. That's cool; I'm into making stuff for my nieces, and I'd already figured out that I wouldn't make my initial KTS deadline of New Year's Eve (although I'm still bound and determined to finish the list!).

The stuff I'm making are boot toppers. I'll post photos eventually, but for now, be it known that I had to design these things from scratch. I couldn't find any patterns that were close to what was desired, and one pair requires some colour work that also needs to be done from scratch (again, more on that when I have something to show off).

In order to make the boot toppers, I had to measure my eldest niece's boots. The easiest way to achieve this was to get her to help me. This led naturally into her being interested in knitting for the first time (she's three going on four), so I brought some books along of children's patterns for her to look at.

We measured the boots, and we looked at pictures of kids wearing sweaters, and then we did some spool knitting (which she picked up right away, I'm proud to say). And about an hour after all of that was put away, I was working the first few centimetres of the first boot topper as we all watch cartoons on TV, and a little voice said:

"Auntie Kat, will you make me a sweater?"

It's the first request from either of the nieces (the youngest one is just starting to talk, mind you), so it was bound to be honoured. And that is why last week, in a year where I have publicly announced in blogland that I'm not buying any more yarn except to use up stash yarn, I found myself at the local Mary Maxim's picking out DK yarn to make the eldest niece a DK cardigan from Zoë Mellor's Animal Knits.

Said cardigan was moving along swimmingly, with thirty rows of seed stitch and intarsia already completed, when I took at look at it and thought, "Those stitches look awfully small."

So I measured, and discovered that instead of 4mm diameter needles, I had used American size 4 needles. American size 4 needles are in actuality only 3.5mm in diameter.

This leads to a 1.57mm smaller circumference, and a smaller stitch by the same length. That's a straight-line difference across the 93 stitches of the back of 146mm, but of course knitted stitches are formed of waves, not straight lines. Typically it takes 3-4 times the straight-line width of a row in yarn to knit that row (5-6 times for crochet). Assuming, therefore, the wave of stitches is 3.5 times the straight-line width of the row, I was using up 511mm less yarn each row than I was supposed to be. Over, remember 93 stitches.

511 divided by 93 is 5.4, and 5.4cm just happens to be almost exactly the amount I was too narrow on the knitted piece.

Which is all a very long, mathematical way of saying that a) I'm pretty sure that when I use actual 4mm diameter needles, I'll be exactly on-gauge and b) I ripped out all 30 completed rows today, so I'm behind even on the new projects. Argh.

Also, c): when oh when will Americans join the rest of the world and use metric? And if they won't, can the Canadian government at least make them re-label needlework tools for sale in Canada so that they're in metric? Please? Pretty please?

KTS: the problem with vacations

Still knitting the double-knit jacket, still blogging, but even I've noticed that it's slowed down considerably since I went to New York City (just in time to avoid the hurricane, as it turns out —  it will be a relief to hear things have gone back to normal there).

Thursday night I had a knit night at a friend's, and got a decent amount of work done on the double-knit jacket's sleeve. That's still the first sleeve, which seems to go slower the more I work on it. At this point the top of the tree is done (you know the sleeves from the shoulder down, remember), and I'm on the trunk part, which is just a straight vertical with geometrically arranged birds artfully scattered around it. I worked all evening on this thing and never even had to crack open the pattern book for a glance at the chart.

So I should just be zooming through, right? I should be, but I'm finding these "relaxing" parts freaking tedious for some reason. The parts with the charts seem to go faster, maybe because I make myself do a complete round so I don't lose my place.

Still, at this point I'm at about 41cm. Another 5cm and I can switch over to the cuff part of the chart. Then it's just the other sleeve (slog), the collar (plain stripes, but only a few rows), and the ties to keep the coat closed when I wear it.

It's like one of those dreams where the more you run, the more your goal gets further away.

KTS: still going

I didn't bring anything from the Knit That Shit meta-project with me to New York City, simply because lugging needlework along when I was trying to travel light didn't make much sense — not to mention I didn't want to check my bags if I didn't want to, and somehow sock needles are now considered deadly weapons. (And people wonder where I get my ideas for my Friday Flash stories).

Now that I'm back home in TO, I've been sticking to the double-knitted jacket, even though it is getting very large indeed. I still question the fanaticism some people have for making everything seamless and yet making the sleeves last, which means you wind up working on the narrow tube of the sleeve with the rest of the jacket (or sweater, or whatever) hanging off it. It's got to the point where the jacket can't really be worked in public anymore, because even supporting it whilst sitting in a chair gets too awkward. I pretty much need a couch or a love seat to myself.

Still, when I do sit down and work on it, it seem to go quickly — although maybe that's just because of how long it took to do the body. The sleeve was about 37cm long last time I measured it, and needs to be 50cm to be done. So I'm on the last third, with another sleeve and a collar left to do (okay, plus those ties I want to add, but they're not absolutely necessary).

So the marathon continues on.

KTS: lost the photo op, winning the war

I really wanted to wear my Central Park double knitted jacket in the actual Central Park in New York City. As Veronica in Heathers would have put it, it would have been so very. But as of today I only have about 40cm done on the first sleeve, and there's simply no way for it to get done in time. Here's how the jacket looked the last time I had a chance to take a photo (mostly it's a photo of the sleeve, of course):


Still, I've got a lot of knitting done on this jacket in a short amount of time. It will get done, and it will be worn this autumn/winter. If the Knit That Shit project means anything, it means that I'll have one largeish project completed and wearable.

One thing that's been speeding up the process is that I fished around in my circular needles bag for shorter circulars for the sleeve (the ones I used for the body are too long to use without the so-called Magic Loop method, aka pulling out the excess cord two or three times per round). I found out I have Addi Turbos of all things in the right size and cord length. I normally don't put out the money for Addis, so I must have been pretty desperate when I bought these, but they really do make the knitting go faster. Normally I don't give a rat's ass about the speed of the knitting so long as it's not mind-numbingly slow, either, but in the case of Knit That Shit, time is somewhat of the essence.

I haven't been blogging every day, just because I was committed to a strategy of "better to knit than to blog". The project still continues on, though. It's even been going at a slightly faster pace than before.

KTS: shoulders!

Last Saturday I finished the shoulders on the double-knit jacket! I went to the Purple Purl right when they opened at 10am, bought some breakfast, and stayed until I had one shoulder done — until 2pm. The exposure came out wonky, but here's the photographic proof:


What I did with the shoulders was cast off the fronts, but keep the stitches on the back raw. Then I grafted the fronts and the back together. For double knitting, each side has to be finished separately, which led to some weirdness when it was time to separate each side's stitches so they could be grafted. The results came out looking like this:


Tonight I picked up the stitches for the first sleeve. As with the shoulders, first one side gets picked up onto one needle, then the other. Currently I'm double knitting the separated stitches onto one circular needle to work my way down the sleeve, which means I'm simultaneously dealing with three circular needles and trying to keep the stitch holder with the underarm sleeves on it out of the way. This may well be the most pieces of knitting hardware I've had to wrangle at once.

The other bit of good news is that I had the penny drop again regarding which rows to remove from the sleeve chart to have it come out the right length, which means it's once again easier than I thought. I even have some wiggle room to lengthen or further shorten the sleeve if I need to.

If, in theory, I'm still going to wear this jacket to New York, I need to get just over 100 rounds of knitting done between now and Thursday. It's not very plausible, but it's still not impossible. Yet. Even if I don't quite make that goal, if I'm close enough I can knit over the three-day Canadian Thanksgiving and still make it.

In theory.

KTS: still working on it

Just briefly, since it's write-Friday-Flash night and I am still sick: because of some shameless knitting right before a house concert at a friend's house, I'm still making progress on the back of the double-knitted jacket. I'm on the row where the second-last set of birds starts, which means I'm about 17 rows from where the back neck shaping happens.

So I should really at least get a few more rows of the birds done tonight. But first, Friday Flash.

KTS: oh man this sucks

There are two more weeks and three more weekends until I head out to New York City, and although I'm still trying, I just don't think the Central Park double knitted jacket will be ready in time to wear in the actual Central Park.

Here's the most recent picture I took of it last Sunday:


What the photo shows (if you squint and tilt your head to one side) is that the two fronts are done, and the back is now being worked (on straight needles).

Now, thanks to the larger row gauge I'm working at, there aren't as many rows to do as the chart says. And, thanks to my growing panic over getting this thing freaking done already, the back section has already grown noticeably since the photo was taken.

There's more good news (if you don't mind me pausing for a moment to try to cheer myself up): the worst of the spiral branches are done, and I'm at a super-easy part where it's just branches reaching up to the sky, no spirals. In about twenty more rows I'll start the back neckline and get this piece done.

And I haven't had to introduce any of the black yarn that's half a dye lot off. So there's that.

Okay, that's all the good news. The bad news is that each sleeve is about 100 rows long (again, I'm going to have to do judicious chart-pruning to correct for the row gauge). Plus the sleeves are worked in the round while attached to the jacket, so they're going to twist and twist and twist as they're worked and I'm going to have to untwist them, which is a major pain in the ass, especially while working in two colours at once.

Oh, and I'm sick. Again. If nothing else, this blog meta-project is showing me how often I get sick. Understand well that normally I get sick about twice a year. I have a very good idea as to why this year is different, but this blog isn't the place to discuss it. Sorry. Let's just say I think people should consider working from home more often when they're not feeling well.

Where am I really on this jacket? About thirty rows from finishing the body.

It's 9:20pm as I type this. I have to go to bed no later than an hour from now.

Let's see what can get done.

KTS: almost there

I started the neck shaping on the second front of the jacket tonight. That means that I'm probably no more than an hour away from finishing the front outright, and starting on the back.

The trick, right now, will be to get the back done very quickly so that the sleeves can get started. Right now my idea is to do back-sleeve-collar-other sleeve so I don't get bored.

I just so want to wear this thing.

KTS: i'm with the jacket

It's been happening more, now that the double-knitted jacket is that much closer to completion. Today I was on the TTC, on my way to yet another dental appointment, when the woman sitting one bench away moved to the seat next to me so she could see The Jacket better. At the time I thought she was another knitter since she recognised it was a jacket right away, but now I'm not so sure.

The Jacket has been the topic of conversation in my chiropractor's waiting room, in coffee shops, and just about anywhere else I've been knitting in public with it. Mind you, any needleworker knows that this tends to happen when you're working on something interesting-looking in public. What's cool about The Jacket (I'm going to have to call it that from now on) is that non-knitters seem to want to see it as much as knitters do. That doesn't always happen. Its fully reversible fabric seems to be the object of fascination.

A few of the knitters who have seen The Jacket have made a point of writing down the name of the book and the author. It would be great if the mere existence of The Jacket were to help M'Lou Baber and Schoolhouse Press sell a few more copies. It really is a great book.

Sadly, The Jacket is getting so big now that I'm not sure its portability will be sustained through the sleeve-making process. That sucks, because it seems like the only time I ever get anything reasonable done on it is when I'm on the TTC.

It will be very interesting to see if The Jacket continues to garner this much attention in its finished, wearable state. I'm guessing not — it's been my experience that when a piece of wearable handiwork is interesting, only people who know how to make stuff like that appreciate it. Everyone else just wants to know where you bought it if they ask about it at all, and if you try to explain you made it, they never seem to know what to say.

It really doesn't take much to make people's heads explode these days.