Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Sweater Project: Day 28

Success!
The second i-cord for the Scotch Mary sweater has been completed. This was the last step for this design, which means that I reached the goal I had initially set for myself–to design and complete a sweater within the span of one month. I wasn't sure I'd be able to get this last i-cord in today because I had a gig, but... where there's a will there's a way.

Someday the sun will have to show its face and melt the snow and let me take some photos! I swear this weather is really the pits. Maybe if we all collectively do the sunshine dance we can all benefit from it! But regardless of all that, photos will eventually be coming. And when the photos are finished of course I will post a few to share with y'all, but I'm also going to go ahead and put together that booklet of the process and design of Scotch Mary. I need my mom (who is a layout editor) to help me figure out all the guidelines and bleed and that other specific printing stuff that boggles my mind. I can probably get her to help me out with that tomorrow and have the copy all done and laid out in the next few days. That will put me right back to waiting for the sunshine and some photos. I would love to go down to the beach for photos and have that scene as a background. Hmmm... and there's probably not too much snow down there. Hmmm... that would be good, then all I need is the sun part and not the snow melt. I really am just so impatient!

So this is it then... I feel like I'm saying good bye! I promise I am not. For one thing, even though Scotch Mary is designed and knit I do still need to finish up all the technical pattern stuff. And then of course there's Maggie Grey waiting in the wings to take over. Despite all the problems that Maggie was giving me those first 2 days, she has really turned into quite anther lovely lady. It was pointed out to me that Scotch Mary also was driving me a bit crazy in the beginning stages. Amazing how quickly that can be forgotten. Already I am over my frustration with Maggie and Mary. Strawberry Wine though... that one is a different story. Looking at the yarn for that still gets me annoyed. Mostly at myself. The yarn os gorgeous. It's soft, shiny, fuzzy, and a beautiful color and it's kicking my butt! I think in the end I will succeed with that sweater too, but it will have to wait for Maggie to be done and when it comes it's time again simplicity will be key. That one will be all about showing off the loveliness of the yarn.

Thank you everyone that has been following along with my blog! It was nice to have company for this sweater project journey, and, quite honestly, knowing there were people watching my progress gave me the motivation not to toss in the towel. So a huge thanks y'all!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Sweater Project: Day 27

The second to last day. Where did the time go?
I am going to have to admit, this close to the end I start to lose my focus. I have this bad habit that I'm sure I share with many other knitters. That is, once I get almost to the end of a project it starts to feel finished in my head and then the attraction to work on it wanes a bit because it's done, right? Well, not quite. I do still need that second i-cord to get finished. Other than that, yes, right, it is finished.

I desperately wanted to wear the Scotch Mary sweater today. It was sitting on the top of a box full of yarn right at the foot of my bed. I was trying to find clothing that I wanted to wear and I kept looking back over at the sweater. I'd picked out some dark jeans and the Ginger color of Scotch Mary matched so nicely with it. I would have worn it regardless of not yet having the pattern photos taken, because I don't think I would have ruined it with one wear, but... that second i-cord was missing and I didn't think I would finish 3 feet of i-cord in the 15 minutes I had no matter how fast I tried to hustle myself to work. Darn.

And speaking of pattern photos... I *really* don't want to take photos of this very cute little warm weather sweater with a bunch of snow in the background, which unfortunately would be the case right now. To top it off we have snow in the forecast for the next week. When is Spring going to be here? Does anyone know a magic dance or something that I can do to help it along? This is beginning to feel unreal. I think we've literally had the snowiest winter in my entire life this year. Too bad I'm not 10 years old again with no real obligations. This would have been the best winter of my life!

Tomorrow is the last day... Let's see if I manage to get this i-cord closer to being done. And then we are finished everyone! March begins Knitting on the Road. That should be a fun time since I have multiple gigs every weekend and of course knitting always accompanies me everywhere. It's very helpful to have when sitting in endless traffic trying to get back home through New York City. Oh my...

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Sweater Project: Day 26

Almost There...
I know, don't say it. I was a very bad blogger and didn't write a post yesterday. Truthfully my eyes were bothering me (I'm going next week for new glasses) and my knitting was completely driving me nuts, so the idea of writing about it didn't really excite me. Have no fear, though, it wasn't Scotch Mary that was driving me crazy. She is still very well behaved and awaiting the second of the i-cord ties to be finished... and then to be blocked, which I'll make a valiant attempt to take care of tomorrow.

So if Scotch Mary wasn't the cause of my frustrations, then what was? Remember I mentioned the Strawberry Wine sweater a few days back? Well, I ripped it.... many times. I lost track around 4. So instead of knitting in anger I put the yarn aside and cast on for a different sweater design, which I have dubbed Maggie Grey. As of today I have ripped Maggie Grey approximately 4 times as well. At this point I have almost knit back all the yarn I ripped earlier this morning, but man... I was not a happy camper with my designing yesterday or for most of today. Right now I think I have a handle on the design. I think... I don't want to jinx myself. {Insert large sigh here} Oh what a day.

I wish all my designs were as well behaved as Scotch Mary... Life would be so sweet. ;-)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Sweater Project: Day 24

The end is in sight...
Today I have some exciting news: Scotch Mary has been bound off! The body is done, the sleeves are edges, the ends are woven in. Now all that is left is blocking and knitting the i-cords. As far as technical stuff on the pattern all I need to do is draw those blasted schematics. That's really not so bad. I think I was overthinking it yesterday. I will plug the numbers into the schematic drawing after I have Scotch Mary all blocked out. I am so excited to have actually met my goal of finishing this project in one month! I think I will celebrate tomorrow by getting some good dark chocolate. Mmmm....

I'm hoping I can get some photos soon. However, the weather around these parts is not looking like it will be very cooperative. The past couple days it's been pouring and there's heavy rain and snow in the forecast for the next 5 days. Last I checked the chance of precipitation was 100%. Very accurate thus far. If it looks like the month will end without the sun arriving then I will make a valiant attempt to get some photos to at least prove that Scotch Mary is done even if I have to wait for the better pattern photos.

I didn't really have a whole lot of knitting time today other than what it took to finish the body and sleeves on the sweater. Wednesday's are full of music and dance for me. (I teach dance to 4-6 year olds. I don't know if I've ever mentioned that before.) Now I'm settling in for the night. I've got my jammies on and will be pouring a hot cup of tea momentarily. And then... I start putting the finishing touches on something that I can't share with you just yet. You'll have to wait another... oh, month and a half to two months until it's published. Hehehe ;-) How's that for being all mysterious? I find it very hard not being able to share *everything* that I'm designing or doing relating to designing. The next Fall is going to be very good though. As long as all goes well there will be massive amounts of patterns coming out from Fiddle Knits. That is assuming I don't get to distracted along the way...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Sweater Project: Day 23

Time flies when you're having fun.
Wow, is it really week 4 of the sweater project already? Where did the time go? My Mom was right, the older you get the faster time goes by. Hmmm...

I set out today to work up a schematic for Scotch Mary, and then I got myself really confused. I know there should be a schematic. They're very useful and like having them around on the rare occasion that I find myself following a pattern. My problem was this — The length of this sweater is very variable 1) because it is super easy to adjust the length according to your personal preference, but mostly 2) the entire bottom half is worked in a lace rib stitch. This means that the potential to block it out causes a very large variable. I made a bunch of notes about length, adjusting length, and blocking in the main notes on the front page of the pattern. So my dilemma is this — do I draw the schematic to represent the unblocked length of the sweater? I feel like trying to draw a schematic of the blocked dimensions may end up being really inaccurate. Anyone have opinions on this?

Other than the schematic problem Scotch Mary herself was very well behaved. I have exactly 4 rows of garter stitch left on the body. Tomorrow I should be blocking, although I may hold it off another day or two to see if maybe it might not be as cold and damp. Now to work loads of i-cord. I can't say I'm much looking forward to the yards of i-cord this project needs. I always seem to do these things to myself. I can't stand working i-cord. I find it completely boring, yet I use it to accent my designs all the time. One might even be under the impression that I loved it! In a way I guess this assumption would be right. I love its usefulness, though not the knitting process of it.

Since Scotch Mary is so close to being done I saw no good reason not to cast on another sweater. All I have done is knit one row to satisfy the urge to start a new design. At least that's all the physical knitting I did on it. Patternwise I wrote up a pretty solid outline for it already. This new design already has a name: Strawberry Wine. Berry will be a pullover (my first one yet) worked from the bottom up (another first). The sleeve shaping will not be raglan (I don't think), but more of a dropped sleeve look. Think comfortable, simple, with just enough detail to keep ya happy. I was toying with a hood, but this yarn is not quite the hood type, so I think I'll go with a big floppy collar instead. See this? One sweater not even completely done and already I'm in mad crazy love with another one. Boy am I fickle!

The end of the February Sweater Project does not signal the end of my more frequent blogging. I am enjoying it far to much to disappear. I am all set for Knitting on the Road in March as I travel with my family band, The Homegrown String Band. Coming on the road with me will be an assortment of hats and sweaters and I plan on blogging it all: the designing, the gigging, everything. It should be a good time. ;-)

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Sweater Project: Day 22

Short and Sweet
Today I'm going to keep my post short, sweet, and to the point...
I tried on Scotch Mary and took a good look in the mirror... I like the sweater! Very cool. And the even cooler part? I realized that I have a mere two inches left to knit on the body. Knowing this, I'm figuring (and hoping) that I can have Mary wrapped up by Wednesday. Unfortunately there's no sun in the forecast, so I'll be waiting a bit to get the patter photos taken. I get so antsy pants waiting for the photos because I always want to show everyone *now*. Patience I have not.

With this knowledge that I am so very close to the end of this sweater project (the experience of which I have completely loved) I decided to take it easy today and give my hands a little break. For now I am off to run some errands with Chris and then we're going on a dinner date. He treats me so good. :-)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Sweater Project: Day 21

Relaxation Day
Today was good. The end.
Seriously, you know how the other day I was lamenting how Chris and I hadn't been able to have an actual daytime day together to just hang? (And have it not be super late and me falling over my knitting drooling...) Well, today Chris had the day off until around 5pm, so we had a nice relaxing day. As can be expected I had my knitting and worked happily away for a bit on Scotch Mary as Chris played some
funky bass lines. Times like this remind me that life is good, and yesterday's winter blues aren't going to last. Yes!

Since Chris had to go in to work for a store meeting I was home pretty early, so guess what I did. Anyone have an idea? Yup, you got it! I put on my jammies, refreshed my podcasts on iTunes, and rescued Scotch Mary from my knitting bag. Day's knitting round two. Mary is really growing up, I can't believe how.... tall? long? she is. Unfortunately she's not long enough. That's the killer part of this design: the lace rib goes on forever. Don't get me wrong, I really, really like how it's turning out. The thing is, because I want to put the i-cord in on the sides for the ruching I have to knit the body a bit longer than I want to actual finished piece to be. Personally I'd like the shortest part of the ruching to hit me mid-hip. Tomorrow I'll be trying the sweater on again to see exactly how many inches I have left.

Really the only thing needing to be finished up on Scotch Mary is my knitted "sample" (which isn't a sample at all.... it's mine! all mine! I'm so keeping this one for myself). I have the pattern written out in all the sizes. The only numbers that are missing are the total body length measurements (so if you have an inch request or input now would be the time to voice your opinion!), and the length of the i-cords. Those numbers should be easy peasy. All the hard math got done at the beginning of the month. I like to get an idea and start resizing early in the design concept because I don't want to be stuck with something gorgeous that I can't figure out how to resize. Eventually I anticipate [hopefully] not having to worry about my own self doubt in the garment design area quite so much. For now, though, I am just getting my feet wet with sweaters. (I do already have two more planned....) I made it a goal for 2010 to do more garments. I'll still always do accessories because how could I not? They're so fun! And by now y'all have picked up on my love of hats... Speaking of which, I finished my Lute hat today. I love it! I've been so jealous of Annalee (my sister) wearing hers (the one in the pattern photos and shown at right). Within the next few days I'll try and get some good photos of my version. I knit the larger circumference to fit over my curls and went with the shorter length. I also did something not in the pattern... (yes, I even alter my own designs. Go figure. I just can't leave well enough alone!) What I did was cast on with a coordinating color, cut that, and then knit one row even before starting the seed stitch patterning for the brim band. I like the look of the accent color (light brown and then the main color is dark brown).

I think I hear Mary calling again... Time for knitting round three, some tea, and a big bowl full of mint chip ice cream... A sweet end to a sweet day. :-)

The Sweater Project: Day Twenty

Winter Blues
To be perfectly honest today was kinda rough for me. I'm not so good at dealing with the cold weather. I've pretty much suffered from the winter blues every February since I was about 14 years old. It bugs me when I can't get outside as much as I like. It's really amazing how your body, or at least mine, does so much better at functioning when supplied with regular bouts of fresh air and sunshine. I also find it extremely hard to sit still and focus when the sun is shining outside. This can reek havoc on knitting.

Despite having said all that, I did got tons of knitting done. Once again Scotch Mary made the trip with me to knitting group. She spent the entire afternoon by my side being a very well behaved lady. She's so well behaved now that I'm afraid she might be plotting something... We shall see.

After knitting group I headed over to the mall to spend Chris's dinner break with him. We grabbed burgers, fries, and milkshakes at Bobby Burger Palace. How classically American does that sound? Really good burgers and fries, but the shakes outshine it all. Of course, I'm an ice cream junky though... My all time favorite (but only at Bobby's) is the pistachio shake. It's oh wowza! good and it felt like a nice treat after being such a good knitter and staying focused on only one thing all day.

Once I got back home I went straight back to knitting. This time I wasn't as monogamous. I decided to switch back and forth between Scotch Mary and a Lute hat that I'm making for myself. I had started the hat way back when I was putting the pattern out, but I didn't calculate my yardage right and ran out on the version for myself. I finally got around to getting more yarn, and now I think I should finish the hat before it gets warm out. Not that there's a chance of that happening super fast. We've got more snow in the forecast for the coming week. Yipee....

Something else I also did was bite the bullet and try Scotch Mary on to see how the fit was. ::drumroll please:: .......... It fits! Perfectly! So happy. This will make two sweaters in a row that actually fit. I suppose it probably helps that I designed both. Maybe, maybe not. I'm gonna go with the fact it helped if for no other reason than to boost my ego and make me feel a little better. Take some serious measures against the winter doldrums!

The photo at right shows Bonnie Kate, the sweater design previous to Scotch Mary. Bonnie Kate will be available sometime in [probably mid to late] March as a download from my personal website (FiddleKnits.com), Ravelry, and through the Knit Picks IDP. This sweater was designed using Knit Picks Comfy Worsted on Ivory. It's a pretty quick knit considering it's a sweater. I'm really looking forward to both Bonnie Kate and Scotch Mary being released. My first two garment designs!

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Sweater Project: Day Nineteen

Heeeeellllllooooo Mary!
After yesterdays break from my sweater project I woke up this morning determined to make some solid progress. I dragged my butt out of bed, made a cup of tea, ate breakfast, and then sat down to work on my super secret project.... What? Yup. Only barely 30 minutes into my day and already I was going off in another direction. It actually wasn't really that bad. I was so close to finishing yesterday's super secret (for now) project and I figured that it was better to get it done and out of the way bright and early so I didn't feel like I had it hanging over my head. I've found it's always better to complete all those little finishing details as soon as the knitting part is over otherwise interest my disappear and you have this wonderful almost done project that is hanging in limbo. With that out of the way, I arranged my work space, pulled up the latest episode of Lost on Hulu and settled down to some one on one knitting time with Scotch Mary.

I spent a good chunk of the day working on Scotch Mary and being a good a girl staying focused on the task at hand. [A round of applause here please!] Later in the evening I took Mary out to play with the boys. Potentially dangerous, but we both came out of the experience unscathed. It was actually quite nice, and at this point in my knitting much needed (company and chatting to keep me from getting lost in a different design idea).

Chris has been working a lot of closing shifts at work (8 or 10:30pm depending on the day), which is good in that it leaves my daytime more open for design work, but I miss the music making/knitting sessions that get to happen when we're together earlier. By the time 9:00pm+ rolls around and we're just getting a chance to get together it's a little harder to focus on the details. I bring my knitting whenever I go to Chris's house (or pretty much anywhere for that matter) and a lot of my more recent designs were invented with him present. I really enjoy it. I love that he is creative himself (he plays drums, bass, keyboard, and some guitar, and is also getting involved in sound design) and understands and appreciates the work I do with performing music and knitwear design. It works well and gives me a good feeling about my creative pursuits and our relationship. And that is an awesome thing.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Sweater Project: Day Eighteen

I've been a very bad girl today...
You see, I got this big box full of yarn delivered... It was way to much for me to resist. A pile of extrafine merino, which is my all time favorite hands down fiber ever to work with. All different colors... How could I not cast something on? Huh? All the yarns that were delivered today are to be used in my Musical Minds collection that I plan to release in September 2010. It will be 6 hats. All designed with the menfolk in mind. Thanks to my boyfriend Chris I have tons and tons of unisex hat patterns floating around in my head. This will give me the chance to get 6 of them out. I'm breaking the collection down into two sections. The first is called "Playing with Texture." Section two is "Playing with Color." The titles refer to both music and knitting. I haven't yet decided how much I'll reveal about this collection along the way and how much will remain a mystery in September... You'll have to stay tuned in to find out.

You've probably guessed by now that Scotch Mary sat mostly neglected today. As I said, I was a very bad girl. I did do a few rows in the morning before temptation dropped on my doorstep. I keep reminding myself how guilty I will feel if I don't finish this project by my deadline. If that does happen I will admit it. That was part of the deal. Complete honesty with the successes and fails equally. Luckily I've had pretty good luck so far. Granted, I haven't actually tried the sweater on yet.., or checked my gauge mid project, both of which I really need to do. I guess I'll write that in on tomorrow's list of things I have to do. I have this habit of relaxing my gauge as I go along... It doesn't make the garment deformed, just too large for me. When things turn out a size too big they go to my mom. If I get a size too small it goes to my sister. At least someone always gets to appreciate it even if it isn't me!

If you want to get up to the minute updates on my daily design process, pop on over to Twitter and look me up there (Fiddle Knits). I generally post a few updates throughout the day... More or less depending on what my schedule is like. If I'm doing a lot of design work then it gets updated more often since I'm never far from my computer so I can add quick changes to any pattern.

Follow FiddleKnits on Twitter

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Sweater Project: Day Seventeen

Keep on knittin'
I can happily report once again that I am still making steady progress with Scotch Mary. The longer the knitting goes on, the more excited to see the end result I get. Luckily I haven't lost interest in the pattern. (Big thing for me. Everyone that knows me jokes about how easily bored I am, but luckily I'm also easily amused, so it tends to balance out rather nicely.) The lace rib is still fun, still scrunchy, and still fairly fast... mostly...

I find it absolutely amazing how much the time it takes to get across a row varies depending on time of day, mood, and other factors of that nature. This, of course, is not a phenomenon unique to Scotch Mary's pattern, but with any knitting project. Sometimes I find myself plodding along through a row that seems never ending... and then I realize I've stopped 20 times during the course of it to check Ravelry or email. Or I'll have fallen asleep mid-stitch, and at this point I grab my point protectors and pack it in before harm is done to me or my knitting. (I've almost fallen asleep straight forward onto my very nice and pointy nickel plated circulars more than once.) And then other times, when I'm actually focused, the rows zip by. I like these times. I really like these times. I should work on focusing more so I can have more of these times. I need an "off" button for the Ooo! Shiney moments. Hmmm...

In more Scotch Mary related news...
I had an idea (you might want to run away about now). I was thinking... I was thinking that I would actually get some printed copies of the Scotch Mary pattern and put it out booklet style. I'm going to offer the pattern online for download as with all my patterns, but I was thinking I might enjoy having a physical copy even if just for myself. So I found this printing option that some other designers have used and it's gotten good reviews. My full plan is thus: I'm going to take the story of Scotch Mary (parts of my blog, but without the extra rambling stuff that has nothing to do with Mary) and have a bunch of progress photos, and some extra tips on knitting, exactly what I did, and then the pattern at the back all nicely laid out. Everything will be full color. I'd take preorders, but I'm a little wary of that. Since I've never used this printer before I don't want to promise something and then end up not liking the product. Once I get a proof I'll put the printed copy option up for sale. It'll be fun, right? Right!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Sweater Project: Day Sixteen

Snow Day!
The photo to the right is the view I had today from my bedroom window.
It snowed here on eastern Long Island. Again. We didn't get much this time, but what did come down was heavy and wet. From what I could tell before it got dark out I'd say we got maybe another 3 inches. Something like that. I can't say I minded the snow today. It was actually quite nice. Since school is out this week for winter vacation I don't have to worry about needing to be out and about for teaching my dance classes or fiddle lessons. So I spent my day sitting by the window watching the snow fall, drinking tea, listening to podcasts, and, of course, knitting on Scotch Mary... and my Peppermint hat too! I refuse to feel guilty about working on two designs at once. When I first set out on this sweater project I was thinking (haha) that I would be completely monogamist to Miss Scotch Mary. For the sanity's sake I later decided that this was actually not a good idea at all. Knitters simply must have more than one project going at all times. I personally don't need many, two projects suit me just fine, but one really doesn't cut it. Scotch Mary has been great and very well behaved (despite making me do math), but we don't get along so well late at night. In the late night hours I need a little knitting candy. Yes, that was a shameless self promoting plug for my Sweet Treats Collection for next fall. ;-)

The longer the lace rib on Scotch Mary gets, the harder it becomes to resist the urge to scrunch the fabric. I'm kinda going to miss that squishy scrunch after it gets blocked out. I know that the blocked lace will be even better, but the scrunch is fun to play with for now. I'm not sure the texture comes across in the photo, but there you have it, an updated glimpse of Scotch Mary in all her current glory. It was a little rough getting the color to be accurate and the image to be clear because of the lighting (snowy gray day). I went for clear rather than color, so this isn't really a good representation of the Simply Cotton "ginger" color.

The Simply Cotton is proving nice to work with. Typically I'm not all about cottons. (Even though my last sweater was also a cotton design. Go figure.) However, the Simply Cotton seems to get softer as you work with it and there is no fuzziness like there is with Comfy. I'm not sure if it's the weight (I'm using sport weight for Scotch Mary) or what, but I'm not getting wrist pain that usually creeps up on me when using cotton. I had a horrible time getting through Petticoat Loose because my carpal tunnel was screaming at me. I found I could only work on it in 15 minute bursts or I would be in agony for hours or days. With the Simply Cotton Sport (on US size 2) there hasn't been any wrist pain. It's probably best not to dwell on it.

A few days back I was beating myself up over whether or not there was "enough" to this sweater design. Now I'm glad that I listened to myself and to other people's wise comments about doing "just enough" and not needing to go overboard. The very simply lace work will open up nicely when blocked and is simple with good drape which is perfect when considering the whole idea was for the bottom half of this garment to have a nice drape so the sides could be gathered up. And since we're on the topic of the side gathers... Length. My aim for overall length is for the sweater to end around mid-hip. Because of the ruching on the side, I will have to knit past the hips to achieve the desired end length. I'm thinking that I would like my sweater to hit my hip bones on the side at the gather, which will make the very front and back droop down slightly lower than that.

I was hoping that my buttons would come in the mail today. No such luck. I'm also hoping that when said buttons do show up they turn out to be a good size for the button holes. It's not the end of the world if I guessed wrong, but it sure would be a pain. Perhaps tomorrow I'll be lucky. I'm waiting on buttons and also a small (I think I ordered US size 2...) 16" circular needle so I can make some finer gauge hats. I love hats. Did I ever mention that? Hats and sweaters. My 2 most loved knitting projects. Both so useful and comforting. Don't you agree?

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Sweater Project: Day Fifteen

Oh dearest Scotch Mary how I love thee... No, really, I mean it. You're a very lovely lady....

As you've probably guessed, knitting has been good. At this point everything seems to be proceeding pretty much as planned with Scotch Mary. I'm a little worried I may not actually be completely done by the end of the month, but hey, I'm gonna give it a try. The lace rib rows go by fast when I'm awake. I go very slow on them if I start to get sleepy. Note to anyone that knits this, be cautious when tired! I've found myself either reverting to stockinette or randomly placing YOs and forgetting the decreases. Nothing that wouldn't happen on any stitch more complicated than garter or stockinette.

Last week sometime I received a question about figuring out sizing. If you're looking for a book on knitting raglan shaped sweaters you may want to check Knitting Sweaters from the Top Down. The sweaters shown in the books are, in my opinion, quite hideous. That is, however, just my own opinion and fashion sense. Regardless of the sweater samples, the book does provide hints on different design elements that you can use (like various necklines– hoods, cowls, etc.) and the math needed to calculate top-down raglan shaping is explained reasonably clearly. I'm not a huge fan of math and I still managed to make sense of the instructions.

There are, of course, all the Elizabeth Zimmermann books. I almost feel like they go without saying. Unless you're a nonbeliever. And now I am going to admit something... Something I really am quite ashamed of... Until a few months ago I found it very boring and a waste of time to read Elizabeth Zimmermann. I was a nonbeliever. Yes, I did just say that. I am happy to admit I was wrong and made a very foolish mistake to turn my back on these helpful, insightful reads. Anyone out there that has never read one of Zimmermann's books go do yourself and your knitting a huge favor and pick one up. There are a few very good ones to choose from. I personally have Knitting Around: or Knitting Without a License, The Knitters Almanac, & Knitting Workshop. All of them are a good investment of time. Most recently I've been reading through Knitting Around as it's the newest in my possession.

I've put several design books on inter-library loan. With luck it won't take them forever to come in and I can mention a few of them here over the next few days.

Since I've been having so much fun documenting this sweater project, I've decided to continue my regular blogging through March. However, the theme will be different. During the month of March my family band, The Homegrown String Band, will be doing a good deal of traveling. What that means for me is loads of knitting in the car and hotels. Basically if I'm not playing music or sleeping I'll be knitting. So the deal is this: I will be tracking the progress of my knitting (which will also be a Fiddle Knits Design) and talking about our gigs and adventures out on the road.

And now... Scotch Mary summons my attention once more. :-)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Sweater Project: Day Fourteen

Happy Valentines Day!
Sizing... I have heard back from some of my [absolutely wonderful, generous, and awesome] test knitters on sizing notes. It has been mentioned that sometimes the raglan shaping in the larger sizes may not fit the best due to the increases in the armhole shaping and how deep of an armhole that creates. Since I'm in the early stages of my sweater design career I'd like to hear more opinions on this. I do have the CYCA guidelines to refer back to, so I can see what the general proportions should be, but it's always nice to have input from people other than always relying on charts and what is supposed to be "normal."

In my sizing of Scotch Mary I've really been trying to pay attention to all the numbers. I wrote it out (roughly) the other day for all sizes up to the point of separating the sleeve stitches (after that the math is much simpler). I know I personally don't want huge armholes or baggy sleeves (in comparison to the body), so I worked the increases to a point to meet the armhole depth and upper arm circumference, and then worked a couple more increase rows to get to a good bust size. I'm feeling pretty good about this.

Today is a short day for knitting. I've got to go shower up and get ready to meet my honey for a Valentines evening together. :o)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Sweater Project: Day Thirteen

Scotch Mary and I went on a knitting trip today to Starbucks. I am delighted to report that both of us were very well behaved and had a nice time. No stitches were lost, no other projects were cast on. It was just me, Mary, coffee, and knitting friends for the afternoon.

Scotch Mary's Progress
The longer the lace rib section gets, the more I like the texture of it. It's so very nice and scrunchy right now. Obviously I will block it out when I'm done and that scrunch factor will be gone, but for now I'm enjoying grabbing a fistful of material and feeling the texture in my hand. When I do get around to the point of having to block it I'm going to be stretching the stitches down more than out. Right now I'm feeling very optimistic about the design. The drape of the fabric seems like it will definitely work with the idea of the i-cord lacing on the sides. Because of all the yarn overs the bottom half of the garment will be very airy and gathering parts of it up shouldn't be a problem, which is something I was slightly concerned about at the beginning of this project.

I am so happy that I remembered to place button holes in the front bands. This sweater would not do well with the distraction of button loops or tabs (as I used on Bonnie Kate). I can't remember if I mentioned it before, but I bought small mother of pearl buttons for Mary. Delicate, feminine, and pretty neutral. Overall a very safe choice.


In Other News
I'm having some trouble with my eyes recently. It seems to happen mostly when I'm tired, but I've found my vision getting a little blurry and feeling a pressure behind my eyes (toward the bridge of my nose). The pressure feels like it could be related to my sinuses, which I'd rather deal with, because I've also been getting an odd sensation in my ear as well. Eye problems kinda freak me out. My eyesight is so horrible and there is a history of eye related problems in the family, so I always feel like I've got some big bad monster looming ahead of me. I've promised myself that I will be get an eye exam (and fun new glasses!) sometime in the very near future. I'd like to say at the end of this month.

To end this day's post I have a question...
Length. I'm aiming for Mary to fall at the hips, at least for my own version. How long do you like your sweaters to be? Leave a comment to let me know! (and make sure you note what size (S,M,L, etc. or bust inches) this length would apply to.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Sweater Project: Day Twelve

Distracted
I was all over the place today with my knitting. Looking back on the day I can barely even remember what knitting I got done... except the stripes, but I'll get to that in a minute.

I started the day off with all the right intentions. While I sat sipping my morning cup of tea I knit away on the lace rib of Scotch Mary. This is going to be one of those projects that makes good social knitting. There's not too much brain power required, so you can chit chat away without worry. For me this means I start to daydream. This is good, but it's also very bad. (Quite contradictory huh?) It's good to daydream, it's good to have tons of ideas, it's not so good when the urge to go cast on for one of those ideas overwhelms me and I abandon the project in process. This is what ended up happening yesterday. You see, I have some Knit Picks Comfy Worsted left over from the Petticoat Loose Tank and the Bonnie Kate Cardi. It was sitting in direct line of sight and calling out to me. The colors are pomegranate and ivory and remind me of a candy cane gone vintage, or an antiqued Christmas look. They looked so yummy. How could I resist? So I cast on another design that will be appearing with the Sundae Break hat in my Sweet Treats Collection. (I'll probably not release the collection until next Fall. By the time I have everything together the weather will be warming up and then it won't make much sense...)

So there you have it. My determination took a vacation today apparently. Sorry Scotch Mary! I will make it up to you. I promise! On the plus side, even though I didn't actually work on SM a lot today it wasn't because something was going terribly wrong with it. Just me having an "Ooo! Shiny!" moment that was too tempting for my weak self. I hang my head in shame.... ;-)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Sweater Project: Day Eleven

Keep it Simple
I love clean lines and little details. As I sat working on Scotch Mary today I found myself wondering if it had "enough," whatever "enough" might be. Well, I know how I was defining it. It's what the pattern consists of. Is there enough detail? Enough interest? I tried thinking of details and accents that I could add here and there. What if I did this....? Or that...? Would that be better? And then I caught myself. Why do I want to add more? Why am I thinking that something simple won't cut it? The patterns I was always drawn to had very minimal detail, but were fun to work on and got the job done. So why should I feel the need to create an over-the-top-full-of-detail design? Not everything has to be about abundance. I think I need to celebrate the beauty in subtlety. Now to remember that.

I took a break from knitting to go play in the snow. Really I had to go shovel, but might as well make a boring job a little more fun, right? Kids, sometimes they really know what's best. You can't tell from this photo (and I did that on purpose, sorry y'all), but I'm sporting my recently knit Sundae Break hat. I'm happy to say that it's quite comfortable and warm. I made it large (intentionally) to accommodate my massive head of curls. I'm not showing a full, clear photo of the hat because, as of this moment (I have been known to change my mind, especially due to impatience) it's being held aside for another Fiddle Knits Designs Collection: Sweet Treats. Easy knits that go relatively quickly. Instead of ear candy or brain candy... it's like knitting candy, which, I guess, means it's also brain candy... Oh, I could go around in circles on that one.

And speaking of collections... The Sweet Sounds Collection is officially up and out on both my Website and Ravelry. The patterns in this one are:

Dulcian Fingerless Gloves
Lute Hat
Lyre Scarf
Oud Collar
Viol Neck Cuff
Mandolin Mug Mitts
And now me thinks it's time to get back to my knitting. :o)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Sweater Project: Day Ten

Snow Day!
We did end up getting snowed in today and everything was canceled as predicted. Ahhh.... a whole day to sit back and knit! I worked on Scotch Mary quite a bit (sorry I didn't think of photos until it was getting a bit too dark out). Besides actually knitting I took some time to work on writing out more of the pattern and working on sizing. Right now the sizes stand as such:

Sizes: S(M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL)
Finished bust: 34 (38, 42, 45, 49, 52)"

I think I'm going to add another inch into the 3XL size, which will put it right in the middle of the standard for that size according to the CYCA guidelines. Having some of the numbers all worked out is a big thing. The math is definitely my least favorite part. Now that I have some of it out of the way I can proceed knitting feeling guilt free. I've had this nagging voice in my head for the past few days bugging me about being organized and mapping out the pattern now instead of procrastinating, which is more typical of me. I always get what I want to get finished done, but.... I may leave it until the last minute and then suffer from near panic attacks. OK, anyone that knows me well wouldn't say they're "near" panic attacks, but pretty much full blown ones. Like it or lump it, that's how I've worked since I was a wee little kid.

I'm really excited that I get to start the lace stitch on the sweater now. I did a lot of staring at the wall today trying to project an image of a finished Scotch Mary there. There was some indecision going on in my head as to when and how to start the lace, and if I should begin it in the front and back at the same time, or just in the front and put some ribbing in at the back to pull the garment in a bit to keep it more fitted since the lace is going to make it open up. I think I had better insert a lifeline right about now... I have a feeling I may be pulling back. But hey, that's part of the process. My mom sees me ripping back plenty of designs and always wonders out loud how I can stomach it. You have to be cool with either accepting the mistakes you've made (and face it, you really are only human so there is going to be mistakes no matter how hard you try) or you have to look your knitting straight in the stitches and pull it back. As a designer you have to be even more willing to rip back, or knit several samples, because you need to know your design actually works. If I was knitting purely for myself and not writing patterns I would be the type that shrugged my mistakes off, unless they were really hideously huge, of course.

On that note... I think I'm going to go run that lifeline through good old Mary and start on the lace stitch. Good times! :-)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Sweater Project: Day Nine

Sometimes I wish my brain would just give me a break already! The problem today is that with my teaching schedule I didn't get very much time to knit. When that happens I start scheming up new designs. And then, of course, I want to drop everything I'm doing and start something new, because I may suffer a little bit from knitting ADD.... But I am going to be good. I promise. No new projects were started today. I am still right on track with Scotch Mary.

Something pretty cool I noticed today was that Knit Picks has new Spring yarn! You can see the sneak peek video on the Knit Picks blog HERE. It's not exactly a *brand new* yarn, but more of a big expansion on yarn they carry now., which is really cool. And ya wanna know why? The yarn they've expanded on is none other that the Simply Cotton I'm using for Scotch Mary. Currently it is only available in natural colors, but soon Simply Cotton will get pretty colorful! So when Scotch Mary is done you'll be able to pick from a wide range of colors if you'd like to try out the yarn and the pattern. Perfect timing! (Or so I'm hoping.)

We're supposed to be getting snowed in tomorrow. I'm half looking forward to it. Normally Wednesday is a very busy day of teaching lessons for me, so typically it's a day I get very little knitting related work done. If we get as much snow as is being predicted now (up to 16") then everything will be canceled and I can knit to my heart's content. On the flip side, I *really* don't want to have to shovel more snow and not be able to get to Chris's house. People tend to think Long Island is flat, but I live on the rocky-formed-by-glaciers north shore with twisty turny old roads, so I could potentially be stuck home for a couple days. Oh well, knitting and hot chocolate it will be. Hopefully I can block out all those other pesky distracting ideas!

Now... off to bed. I can barely keep my eyes open and my thoughts are beginning to sound incoherent in my head.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Sweater Project: Day Eight

Swatching
I've spent a good deal of today working on swatches for the bottom half of Scotch Mary. The one that I'm liking the best turns out to be just about the most simple lace "rib" that I could have possibly picked. You have to work increases and decreases on both the right side and the wrong side of your work, but it's only a 2 stitch repeat, so there's nothing huge to memorize. The very first right side row is kind of a bug, but after that it goes smoothly. The only annoyance with that first right side lace row is that you have to work knit 2 together through the back (K2tog tbl) and it feels pretty tight. However, once you've gotten that row out of the way it becomes much easier due to the yarn overs (YOs) that are present. I did an experiment to see if another decrease would work instead of k2tog tbl and if you wish to work slip-slip-knit (ssk) instead on the very first row for ease on your hands then you can go for it because it blends in rather well, or so it seems in the swatch.

Lace swatch for lower body of Scotch Mary

I'm starting to get myself distracted. I spent a while this evening pondering whether I really still wanted to work all-over simple lace with the simple side panels for the i-cord ruching, or.... if I wanted to do an eyelet row directly below the bust to run i-cord to tie at the center back and then have lace insertions down the sides.... I'm a little torn... I think I want to do both, but which one should I do now? Both have potential to be nice, or be a fail. Hmmm... I'll have to think on it tonight. I need to make a decision before I can move any further in my knitting. Anyone have opinions? Leave a comment and let me know what your thoughts are. I'm leaning toward my original idea mostly because it would mean I was actually following through on a design concept from start to finish. A lot of times when I get sidetracked by a slightly different idea I wonder if I made the best decision or if that first one might have been better. So that's another reason to want to work both designs. Maybe that could be March's project: knit sweater idea #2 for a side by side comparison.
Raglan increases
The other day I mentioned enjoying the look of the raglan increases, so I figured I'd get a photo of how they turned out. It's simple things like that that makes me smile. :-)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Sweater Project: Day Seven

Today's blog is going to be relatively short, which reflects the amount of time I had to knit on Scotch Mary... Practically nothing. During the morning I did work a few of the increase rows. (With some luck, and probably the help of a movie, I'm hoping to be done with those pesky raglan increases sometime tomorrow.) After these few rows I decided to be very greedy and took today as a day off. Really I was being very responsible. I had made plans to spend the day with Chris (my boyfriend) and since today was Superbowl Sunday... well, I think you get the idea. The idea of mixing my brand new sweater design with a bunch of guys, football, and some alcohol consumption seemed like a very bad, bad idea. Instead I grabbed a skein of chunky yarn and cast on for a cute little slouch hat that I'm currently calling my "Sundae Break" hat. I'm using a skein of Noro Taiyo (cotton/wool/silk/nylon) that has colors like Neapolitan ice cream. The yarn feels pretty good, but I think I'm mostly in love with it because it reminds me of ice cream, and ice cream is one of my most favorite things in the world. (Because come on, doesn't a bowl of ice cream always make everything a little better?) I managed to pretty much finish the Sundae hat and will probably be posting the pattern sometime in the not too distant future.

I got a few comments back on the ribbon vs. i-cord lacing on the sides of Scotch Mary. It looks like i-cord would be the method of choice for most folks. I'm going to use that as my goal for now then and start looking tomorrow at different eyelet panel options that will work best with i-cord.
As always.... stay tuned!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Sweater Project: Day Six

I'm at a rather boring part in my knitting as far as sharing any adventures, or misadventures. The raglan increases are killing me. Rows upon rows of stockinette stitch that has the nerve to be increasing by 8 on every other pass. However, those long and steadily growing rows have big payoff—no sewing in the sleeves. Seams have always been my downfall with sweater knitting, and that stinks because sweaters (along with hats) are probably my favorite knitting project. I like the reward at the end. (New clothes make me happy.)

Since I'm at a very brainless point I decided that working in company would help the stitches go by a little quicker, so Scotch Mary and I took a little trip. This was her first outing into the real world and I am very pleased to report she made it through knitting group at Starbucks without any miscounted increases or other mishaps.

Scotch Mary in progress

When I got back from knitting group I made an attempt at taking some photos. The lighting I had to work with wasn't the best, but you can get a vague idea of how far along I am nonetheless. I like how the the line of increases for the sleeve looks in this yarn. I tried capturing that in a close up, but it'll have to wait for a sunnier day. With luck that day will be tomorrow.

I was brainstorming today about how I might want to arrange that double row of eyelets on the sides of the lower body. I don't want it to look like I just threw some YOs and K2TOGs in there. It should be a nice panel... Also, instead of the ribbon idea, I started thinking about maybe making long i-cords to lace through the eyelets. That would perhaps give it a more subtle and a less overly girly feel. I don't need to make that decision at this point, though. Once all the actual knitting is done I'll experiment. Who knows, maybe I could get some pattern photos done with both options. Tomorrow will likely be a very low on the productivity scale, but on Monday I'll begin working some swatches for the lower body to make sure what I think I'm doing is actually a real possibility. Maybe I should have done that already....?

And in other news... I did get the completed PDF up on my site for the Sweet Sounds Collection. Hopefully the entire thing will be up on Ravelry within a few days. Stay tuned!

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Sweater Project: Day Five

Button Hole Blues
I really didn't get a whole lot of knitting done today. I wanted to, as always, but there was other work that needed to get done. So I spent the day mostly working on things that I had been putting off doing for my Website and laying out patterns. I figured I should probably put the finishing touches on the Sweet Sounds Collection since I had originally intended it going up in mid-January and at this rate I'll be going on a month late if I put it off any longer. I did get that layout wrapped up, so there was some success.

The Sweet Sounds Collection cover page

Another thing that kept me busy was [attempting] to create a fan page on Facebook. This should not be a difficult thing. Facebook is supposed to be user friendly. Right? Sure.... Assuming photos and links will actually upload. I spent more time clicking the "reload" button, because apparently this site has issues, than I did actually writing content. Maybe tomorrow I'll have more luck.

The only knitting I got done on Scotch Mary was early in the morning. I did exactly 2 rows. (Someone tell me why I picked the shortest month of the year to design and knit a sweater on US size 2(2.75mm) needles? Brilliant thinking eh? Better not lose the knitting mojo on this one. That's all I can say.) Those two rows took me forever. I lost track of how long "forever" lasted. It could have been anywhere from 1 to 2 hours. The reason it took so long was I had come to the placement of the first button hole. I hadn't thought that this little thing would give me such agony. I know how to make button holes. I've made loads of them recently while working on the Sweet Sounds Collection. No sweat. I wanted to place a 2 stitch button hole in the 6 stitches of 1x1 ribbing on the right front edge. I knit and ripped that button hole a good 7 times using variations on the reinforced button hole technique. The first time I thought it looked too tight, the second time was too sloppy, the third time.... well, I don't really remember. By the fourth time I was getting mad. Five, six, and seven are a frustrated blur. Take eight saved my sanity. I worked a simple yarn over. It blends nicely into the ribbing, will fit the buttons I have, and didn't make me lose the shred of sanity I still had left at this point. I know yarn over button holes aren't the most stable, and they tend to stretch out over time, but I just couldn't get the other way to look and feel satisfactory. The reinforced button hole would have had to be larger (more stitches) than I was willing to give it because the cotton doesn't have any stretch and the resulting tidy little hole would have needed minuscule buttons.

Tomorrow I'm going to try and get some in progress photos of Scotch Mary. It's been very gray here these days and I think tomorrow is going to be much the same, so I can't promise beautiful pictures, but I'll give it a shot.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Sweater Project: Day Four

February 4, 2010 ~ The Naming
I am so easily distracted. I went out this morning for my acupuncture session and decided I’d stop on the way back at the knitting shop to pick up a new row counter. I really needed a new one because of the two I had, one was in use by a pair of languishing socks, and the other apparently got up and walked away. I had a half hour drive to get there and during that half hour I changed my mind about stopping several thousand times. As I approached the yarn shop I gave myself much practice changing lanes in midday traffic. It went something like this:

Quick, I need to be in the left lane if I’m going to stop ::lane change:: But if I stop I know I’m going to be tempted to buy yarn ::lane change back to right:: I really need that row counter to track the raglan increases ::lane change:: I shouldn't be spending money and I have plenty of yarn at home ::lane change::

I decided to let my final decision be made by the traffic— After having just switched back into the right lane I had only the length of one more shopping center before I would come to the knitting store. If I could manage to get back into the left lane then I would stop. If I couldn’t.... well, then it wasn’t meant to be and I would pass it by. Of course, I might have driven a little more aggressively than usual to get back into that left lane, so in the end I’m not 100% sure traffic decided or if the need for a fiber fix was too strong for my poor mind to handle.

Standing in a room full of yarn all nicely organized is inspiration overload. I may have walked around in a daze for close to an hour (it didn't help that the acupuncture had made me pretty relaxed/sleepy). I did walk out with beautiful new yarn, and I even remembered that I'd needed that pesky row counter. When I got home I was very good. I resisted the urge to throw aside my current sweater project and begin afresh with my new yarny love. What I did was make a pile of the skeins in my line of sight, but out of petting distance and settle down with the sweater project.

I came up with a name for this sweater project design. Although I didn't have a clear idea of what this piece would look like when the name popped into my head, "Scotch Mary" was calling out to me. I think it will be fitting because if things keep up they way they've been then I'm definitely going to be needing a stiff drink with this one. So henceforth, this lightweight, organic cotton, top-down, short sleeve, raglan sweater will be known as "Scotch Mary."

For some reason today I was feeling in a very girly mood. I want ribbons and bows. I'm not usually the ribbons and bows type. I'm not sure where this urge came from and I'm wondering if I should be scared right now. Other than that though, my mood gave me an idea. Right now I'm thinking.... I'm going to keep the top of the sweater in plain stockinette as I increase for the raglan shaping. Once I move below the bustline the knitting will open up into a simple all-over lace. Panels down each side beginning just below the arms will have a double row of eyelets. Ribbon will be laced through these eyelets afterward and pulled slightly to achieve a subtle ruching and have a bow tied at the bottom hemline, one on each side. And this is another instance where drawing skills would very much come in handy... Perhaps I should get on that.

Today turned out to be a much better day for knitting than yesterday. I got some planning done and close to three inches of knitting on the top completed. Tomorrow I should get to begin working the button holes.

My First Sweater Design!

Bonnie Kate Cardigan
My first sweater design is all written up and is pretty much set to go! I'm so excited. I am definitely no Norah Gaughan. Maybe someday. ;o) Really I think the world might only be ready for one Norah Gaughan... Incredible stuff right there. But back on track... All I have left to do is weave in ends, block a little bit, and attach buttons. Not so bad. Unfortunately it's also the step that needs the most motivation to get done. I should be using the weather as my motivation... Gotta get it done and photographed before we start getting snow again. Photos of a Spring/Summer cardigan might be a little strange when taken in a snowy landscape. Just saying. I was contemplating doing the photos for this at the library. Not so sure how it would be lighting though. I really like outdoor photos with natural sunlight the best. But who doesn't? My ideal setting would be down at the beach by that huge "boat" rock. However, it's below freezing and the wind has been pretty strong for about the last week. I think it might be torturous for both model and photographer. Stay tuned and I'll keep ya posted on the progress.

In other news...
The Sweet Sounds Collection! I need to get this finished! All the patterns and pieces are done up. I need one more photo and that's been holding up the whole show. I should make it top priority to have it done and posted before the week is over. Today. I'll try and get that photo done today...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Sweater Project: Day Three

February 3, 2010
First I'm going to say it really stinks that I had an entire post written and messed up the whole saving thing, so it's gone. Poof! No more post, so I'm starting from scratch. ::grumble grumble::

I'm convinced today was jinxed. I don't know what I did to upset the design gods, but I must have seriously pissed someone off because wow was it ever a frustrating day. I found this really pretty lace pattern today, fell in love with it, figured out the number of stitches and repeats for a 34" bust size and immediately cast on. After working about 12 rounds I put my knitting down and decided to write up an outline of the pattern and figure out the starting number of stitches for a few different sizes. The end result was that I wanted to hit myself over the head with something very hard to relieve the stress. A more experienced designer could, I'm sure, have figured out all these repeats without having to barely bat an eyelash, but I was utterly confused. So much so that I fell out of love with the lace pattern. It was a very short affair indeed.

I ripped the rows [of very complex lace that had taken me quite a good chunk of time to work up] out and tossed the ball aside more than a little angry with the whole thing. Making a valiant attempt to not dwell on the frustration, I made a cup of tea and decided to look through all my stitch dictionaries to try and find more inspiration. I couldn't find any lace patterns that put me in a happy mood, so I put those books aside and decided to work out the basic math of a raglan sweater just based on the 6 sts per inch gauge I was getting in stockinette stitch. The idea was that maybe some very simple, yet helpful steps would ease the mood. The plan worked... until I took up the needles and began knitting again.

What I had decided on this time was to try another top-down raglan keeping it simple on the top and moving into an all-over lace pattern after bust (basically along the same lines I was going to do before, but starting from a different direction). I really don't want to knit on button bands after I'm done. I mean come on, once the knitting is done you want to be done, right? The last sweater (Bonnie Kate) had garter stitch edges (neck, front edges, and bottom), so I wanted to avoid something too similar. I do have to admit that I might have cast on without any real clear idea of where I was going. Knowing this should have given me a clue that there was going to be a disaster in the near future. I was, however, in design denial.

I got maybe an inch of knitting done and decided I didn't actually like the lace braid panels I'd [randomly] chosen to run alongside the button bands. (I settled on working 1x1 ribbing for the button bands by the way and I think I'll stick with that. It was my first choice when I was going to work bottom-up and I think it looks very tidy in this yarn and gauge.) Once again I ripped out my knitting. This time I came to the conclusion that I need to think about this more and meditate on the yarn. With that step out of the way I gathered a few skeins of the Simply Cotton, put them in a pile on my bed, and settled into a more relaxing mode.

For a few hours I went between knitting on other projects, fiddling, browsing the internet, flipping through stitch dictionaries, and walking away completely to teach dance class. My end thought for the day is that I still want to do a top-down raglan with 1x1 ribbing for the button bands. I would still like some lace work on the bottom half of the cardigan, and it will still be a cardigan even though I did contemplate a tee for about 30 seconds. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day all around. Today was full of a lot of personal stress which definitely showed in my knitting.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Sweater Project: Day Two

February 2, 2010: Day Two
I realized that I forgot to say yesterday exactly what yarn I'm going to be using for this sweater project. Big bit of information neglected there. Anyway, I'll be working with Knit Picks Simply Cotton [100% organic cotton; 164 yards / 50 grams] in the "ginger" colorway. I love the shade of this yarn. It's more the color of natural ginger than that pickled neon pink looking stuff you normally get with sushi.

I played around with different needle sizes last night. In the end I think I will probably be working with US size 2(2.75mm) needles to get a gauge of 6 sts per inch. Too often I have skimped on my swatching process and wanted to kick myself in the pants for being too much of a time miser, so I worked a fairly extensive swatch this time around. (Of course, the fact that I'm broadcasting this whole project to the world might be making me be a little more careful... I won't admit it though. No... I *always* think *everything* through completely before I jump in.... Ha!)

I’d love to draw some beautiful sketches to illustrate all the ideas I have in my head for this new sweater. But (and this is a pretty big but) I can’t draw to save my life. If, and I sincerely hope this never happens, it was up to me to draw a picture to save the world I’m afraid we’d all be dead. Sorry everyone. The end of the humanity? Yeah, that was my fault.

Details — The last sweater I designed was a top-down. I'm contemplating working this one from the bottom up. I still want to do raglan shaping and knitting in one piece. Let's face it, I'm horrible about sewing seams and I will do anything to avoid it. Sewing, and apparently drawing, are not my friends.

Since I have my gauge and swatches in stockinette stitch all done and over with I've spent today knitting up some more interesting stitch patterns. To me a lightweight cotton sweater screams lace. I need to find some type of openwork... I definitely will be staying away from cables (which kinda kills me because I'm in love with them, but they're not the right mood for this) and I haven't hit upon any knit/purl stitch combos that are calling out to me.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sweater Project - Day One

February 1, 2010 – Day One
Ideas are annoying. You’d think that having a lot of ideas was fun or something... Right? Well, it is, but it also means that I spend a lot of time going around in circles trying to figure out which idea to pursue first and which elements to apply to which version of this and that... I should quit my bellyaching. I love designing and when push comes to shove I even love the going ‘round in circles part, because, ya know, circles are actually pretty cool.

Originally I was planning on waiting another month before I started this sweater project idea, however, patience has never been one of my strongest virtues. I want to do this thing and I want to do it now, so look out!

When that lightbulb clicked on over my head my original intention was to make a snuggly warm sweater because at that moment I was freezing cold. However, Unsurprisingly, I'm taking a different route. I've had this cotton yarn on my hands for a few months now and I keep looking at it thinking I really need to design something, but the simple fact that it is cold has kept me reaching for my most favorite fiber –merino wool– every time. Another thing for me to consider right now is what season I will actually have this sweater designed and ready to go for. I am basically running on my own schedule, but wouldn't it make more sense to have a Spring/Summer sweater ready to publish in April rather than a Winter design? I'd say yes. And since I would like to publish this particular sweater shortly after the month-long documentation is over (and not hold it aside until next Fall) then I think this lightweight knitting plan makes the most sense. Now that I have that sorted out I should probably get to swatching.

Bobbique!

Sometimes ya just gotta get out and have some fun...

L to R – Mike, Niki, Me, & Brittany

Saturday we hit the town and went down to Bobbique in Patchogue. It's always a good time there. If you love Blues music, great BBQ, and Beer than you'll definitely love Bobbique. I think we should make it a birthday tradition...

Chris! I LOVE this! The pic... and the guy too ;o)

Back in the fall I planned an outing to Bobbique for Chris's birthday. Now we've gone back for Mike. I wanna go back there for my birthday in the summer. Gotta wait 6 months for that though. ... I'm actually pretty cool on waiting. Next birthday will be sending me into my late 20s. ;o) Not that I really think that's a bad thing, but you know, enjoy time without rushing it along or anything. Life goes by fast enough as it is.

Say cheese!

If ya ever do go.... I recommend the pulled pork. Eat, drink, and be merry. ;o)