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.

KTS: hope springs eternal

Another weekend darts in, trying to establish itself as different from the weekdays in the tiny little window of time it has to exist. Once again I have grand plans of making a great leap forward on the double-knitted jacket. It's only four more weeks until I go to NYC, after all. We'll see.

Tonight has mostly been dedicated to words, not stitches. But I want to listen to another album, so maybe I'll do that and knit some.

KTS: still here

I got some knitting done today, just because I was on the TTC for yet another dental appointment today. I reached a new level of knitting-compulsiveness, and knitted in the exam room whilst discussing my dental situation with the specialist. She didn't seem to be a knitter, but had very specific questions about the construction method for double knitting.

Still, I find myself glancing at the calendar more and more with a bit of dread. This had better be a productive weekend. Feel free to leave encouraging/nagging comments here.

KTS: here we are again

I made it to the top of the last big set of spirals on the second double-knit jacket front today, which means that I'm about a third of the way from finishing the second front and starting on the back.

Once the fronts and the backs are done, I'm going to work on the collar next, I think. Knitting patterns always tell you to work the collar last, even on projects like this jacket which use a seamless construction method (ie: you keep adding on to the main shape until the entire garment is done, instead of making smaller pieces and sewing them together). I've always found it odd that you're expected to knit ~10 rows onto something as heavy and big as an entire hip-length jacket. Doesn't it make more sense to do the collar as soon as I can — once the shoulders are done?

Some of this grousing is because now that the fronts are getting done (and supposedly the upper back right behind them), the sleeves are coming up. I hate knitting sleeves directly onto garment bodies. They get twisted as you work them in the round, so if you are having a longish knitting session you need to untwist the work from time to time. Then again, I don't understand the modern world's horror of sewing seams. Whatever works best, really. It's not like seams are difficult or anything, not compared to the hoops people make themselves jump through to avoid them.

Still, this pattern calls for sleeves knit in from the armhole down, worked in the round, so that's what I'll do. If nothing else, it will be too much time and arithmetic to do them any other way in the time constraint I have.

Four more weeks until the trip to New York City. Which really means, come this time next Sunday, I better be working on the first sleeve.

Wish me luck.

KTS: emerging symmetry

I finished the first front on the double-knit jacket this morning, and started the second front. The first front came out shorter than what I'd planned, but still within a comfortable length for good fit. The total length of the jacket is is going to be 83cm, give or take.

The second front feels better to do, probably for the usual reason that I know now how it turns out. I made it past the armhole shaping, and am almost done the most complex of the remaining spirals:

You can see in the photos that the shoulders got actually cast off. Usually I leave them raw and do a three-needle cast-off, but that's physically impossible with the double knitting colourwork holding the pieces together. So instead I'm doing a variation — casting off the fronts, and then grafting the back to them. I prefer to have only one cast-off line on shoulders — otherwise, they get too thick and misshapen.

I am so looking forward to working on the sleeves and collar.

KTS: further adjustments

Today it became glaringly obvious that the armhole on the double-knitted jacket was going to be far too long if I made it according to the chart. The original length given was 23cm, and I figured with the thicker yarn and larger needles I'm using it would come out to about 27cm. I could deal with that —  it's a coat after all.

When I started the neckline tonight, though, the armhole was already at 30cm. Add on the neck and shoulder shaping, and it was going to be 33-36cm, or more than halfway to my waist. The usual length I make my regular-shaped pullovers is 60cm.

So, after a serious engineering session with J-A, I took a photo of how the front looked when I stopped knitting:

Then I ripped back until just below the tops of the inside spirals on the last tree motif. I started the neck there, and am now working my way up (two rows short of the treetop). The shoulder shaping will take me to the top of the first bird above the tree, so I'm shifting the bird motif down a couple of rows so that there will be some plain blue rows above it. The other three birds won't show up at all.

That will give me an armhole depth of about 25cm — my favourite for a coat I'm going to wear long-sleeved tops under, and close to the original pattern length. According to the math, I should still be able to pick up 81 stitches from around the armhole to knit the sleeve with.

This is also going to change how I planned to finish the shoulders, but that's okay — I have a plan.

Tomorrow I should have a photo of the finished front done. I've lost time, but not that much.

KTS: knitting, not blogging

The good news: I made it past the tops of the trees on the first front of the double-knit jacket, and the first of the four birds is almost done now. I'm less than ten rows from the neck shaping, upon which things will speed up again, of course, simply because I'll have fewer stitches to work.

The bad news: I'm still on the first front, my NYC trip is five weeks away, and the overtime at work is not letting up. That part is discouraging.

But it is nice to be able to see the top of the first tree.

More photos in a few more rows.

KTS: reach for the sky

I'm now working on the very last set of spirals that form the very top of the tree on the front I'm working on. After that, there are four birds, but those will go faster because the neck and shoulder shaping will happen at the same time.

So there's no excuse for not finishing this part and starting the other front tomorrow. I can't wait. More photos are coming.

KTS: respite

It's the Friday of a long weekend in Canada — Labour Day Weekend, the official end of summer and the last three-day weekend here until Thanksgiving in the middle of October. I did about another row on the double-knitted jacket, but my right arm is... uncomfortable, like it's not quite in its shoulder socket. It's been two weeks since I went to the chiropractor's, so that's not surprising. It means that it's probably not a good idea to knit too much until after my appointment tomorrow morning.

Still, a row is a row, and the chart really is getting easier now — almost a little too easy. Therefore, I'm challenging myself to another sprint: the front I'm working on done tomorrow, and the other front done before the end of Monday. That's about 110 rows, but they do go quickly after the most complex part of the trees are done.

Besides, if it's the last long weekend of the summer, then the weather that I want to wear this jacket in is coming, and quickly. And even after this epic beginning, there's the sleeves on this jacket and the seven other sweater-sized projects I have slated to get done (gah!) as part of the Knit That Shit meta-project.

KTS: lather, rinse, repeat

Today I had the vending machine special at work (melba toast, individually packaged cheddar cheese slices, and a small bag of locavore white cheddar popcorn), stayed until 7pm, went home, and fell asleep. Dead sexy, I know.

Once again, all that's got done on the double-knit jacket is half a row while this computer was booting. The computer boots pretty quickly, and is long done before I get anywhere near finishing half a row, but I use it as an excuse to knit.

If nothing else, blogging this knitting meta-project is pointing out how much my schedule has sucked as of late.


KTS: argh

Today I fell asleep as soon as I got home from work, woke up four hours later, and made lunches for the rest of the week (because living on take-away sucks, and the options are worse than the usual around the office).

But that mean I only got a row and a half done on the double-knitted jacket, mostly while waiting for this computer to boot up (okay, and listening to Rosemary Clooney on Youtube. All is not doom and gloom.).

Tomorrow better be better.

KTS: zoom

Today I had yet another dental appointment (the last for two whole weeks), so I got some TTC knitting in, plus some more in the waiting room at the dentist's office. It's got to the point where the receptionist just says, "You've got your knitting, right?" instead of, "Help yourself to the magazines."

This is what the double-knitted jacket looked like first thing this morning while I was waiting for my work computer to boot and log into VPN:

To orient everyone: the right-hand side is the part I'm currently working on. You can see the two straight needles I'm knitting with right now on the right, plus the points of the circular needle that I knitted with until this point. Its current job is to hold the stitches for the back and the other front until I'm ready to knit them.

It took a while to get used to double knitting on straight needles, but I think I've finally got the hang of it. Today I got about ten rows done on just this one front, which is about the equivalent of 2.5 of the main body rows, and in a lot less time. I thought having to look at the chart after only one repeat instead of after every four would have slowed me down, but it doesn't seem to have.

The other good news is that now that I've made it this far, the chart starts getting simpler, because I'm reaching the very top of the tree. There's one more pair of spirals, then a bird and a sort of heart shape, and then the tree ends and there's four more birds and the neck/shoulder shaping.

In fact, I think it's just as well that I'm only doing one repeat (and a mirror image, at that) of the chart, because the tree got pretty complex for a while:

Each row in itself wasn't too bad, but I know just before the hygienist said it was time for my Marathon Man-style torture cleaning and disinfecting, I looked at the pattern that had been rendered so far and felt surprised that the geometry had built up so much.


KTS: finally

Today was a red letter day of sorts, because I finally got to the armholes on the double-knitted jacket (photo tomorrow!). The body from the bottom hem to the armholes is 60cm long and 420 stitches wide. Normally when I make a sweater for myself it's somewhere around 200 stitches around and 60cm long in total. It really feels like this thing ought to be done already.

I'm working on one of the fronts now. What this means is a bunch of new things are in play that I've never done in double knitting before:
  • Double knitting worked flat can have an open edge (the two sides don't connect together and are just like any other raw knitted edge), or a closed edge (the two sides connect together, typically with an edge chain stitch). So far I've only had closed edges. Now I have an open edge on the armhole side. The open edge is actually a bit easier to work since the whole point is that you don't do anything to achieve it, but I'll have to be careful not to accidentally close it by twisting the yarns together.
  • The armhole edge has decreases, which I've never done before. I managed to do the double decrease all right, but one of them is slanting the wrong way and will have to be fixed next row.
  • I'm working the front on straight needles while the rest of the jacket hangs off the circular needle I was using. I'm going to have to be careful that doesn't change my tension.
The other thing that happened with the jacket today is that I started my very last skein of matching black yarn. I figure I'll work both of the fronts first and the back last. The back will wind up being in the odd dye lot (so will the sleeves, but that will be less noticeable). I have long hair and usually wear it down, and the change will happen right at the armhole. That's as hard-to-notice as I can manage to make it.