Monday, January 30, 2012

Sweater Workshop progress--Day 4

The last "My First Sweater" workshop lesson was today. To our pleasant surprise, we were all treated with an embroidered tote bag that was personalized with each of our names. The totes were made by Sharon, one of the participants, and are perfect for any knitting WIP (work in progress). I always say, "You can't have too many projects or too many tote bags!"
The Sweater Gals (from left): Sharon, Lois, Jane and Pat.
Here is the progress made on each of their versions of the Mr. Greenjeans sweater. The cabled ribbing is textural and quite striking knit with this multi-ply yarn (Fibra Natura Sensational). Several students commented on how easy and wonderful the yarn was to work with.
They all enjoyed working with this sweater pattern. Several techniques were introduced to the first-time sweater knitter that could be mastered with a little confidence and perseverance. 
The pattern offered a challenge and held one's interest without being overly complex. If a mistake occurred along the way (we all know this can happen), it was not difficult to correct.
A 2 x 2 rib shawl collar will be added to cascade down the sweater front. The hunt for a single or multiple buttons is underway. 

The WIP shown below is mine. My students have all surpassed me on the progress. When the sweaters are complete, we'll be headed out to lunch to show them off. I can't wait to see the final outcomes. 
Beginning Knitting class starts tomorrow evening. Here's hoping there will be future sweater knitters in this class.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

ATCs: Who's who in the Zoo?

You just gotta smile at these!

The January theme for the FiberAntics ATC (Artist Trading Card) swap was "Who's who in the Zoo?" and viewing each of the cards was one smile after another.

They didn't come marching in two-by-two as in Noah's floating zoo, but the The Unicorn Song, sung by the Irish Rovers, definitely came to mind. I remember this song from a TV program I watched growing up, "Ray Rayner and His Friends," that aired on WGN in Chicago. The host, one of the pioneers in children's TV programming, Ray Rayner (who also played Oliver O. Oliver on Bozo's Circus), would feature an animal on the program in a segment called "Ark in the Park." Introducing this segment was The Unicorn Song.

So, here are the ATCs from "Who's who in the Zoo."

Left: "King of the Beasts"
Right: "I am the tallest" 
Left: "Jaguar"
Right: "The Animals are behind the Fence"
Above: "Who's who in the zoo?"
Above: The Zebra
These cards also bring back memories of going to the zoo as a youngster. I was privileged to have two zoos available to me in Chicago—Lincoln Park Zoo and Brookfield Zoo. I don't recall if either of them had a unicorn. Unicorns are magical, you know, maybe they did??

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Stash Buster Sweater Coat

Wraparound Jacket with Rowan Spray by Erika Knight.
A few months ago, I lucked up on a knitting book, Classic Knits by Erika Knight, at my local Tuesday Morning store. It was $5.99—a bargain even if I made just one of its 15 projects.

Over the holidays, I was flipping through the pages and found this pattern, the Wraparound Jacket. Hmmm... chunky yarn, big needles, quick project, yes? And, it happened to call for a yarn I remembered having in my stash for quite a while. (You know, two waves before the current extra-chunky yarn trend. Or at least since 2006 when the book was published.)

I went to my stash and pulled out several balls of Rowan Spray. Of course, I had about 4 different colorways, but not enough of any one to make the entire project (isn't that always the way??).

Taking the colorway of the called-for yarn that I had the most of, I pulled other yarns from my stash to mix with it. Seven different yarns in mostly neutral and earthy tones were initially chosen to participate. The fiber content was predominately wool.

The sample swatch using the A-B-C color sequence indicated everyone played well together.

On to the knitting: With a size 13 circular (I'm a loose knitter), I cast on for the back. The two fronts were next, followed by the sleeves. I wound the yarn into multiple balls, to insure a similar blending sequence for both the back and front. My Knitting Inspector assisted.
Left and right front sections.
The knitting went quickly—all stockinette with 1 x 1 ribbing at the collar. I was able to finish each piece in about 2 evenings. Unfortunately, the garment patterns in this book do not have schematics, and the photos did not show 1.) a back view of this sweater, nor 2.) a view with the model standing up (she was always lounging in a semi-seated position). A real disappointment. I wonder if all of Erika Knight's patterns are void of a schematic.

The partial skeins of the various yarns disappeared quickly and I needed to add other yarn when it came time for the sleeves. A blue colorway of the Rowan Spray (not shown in the original photo) was added and I unravelled a previous UFO to gain more of the variegated Reynolds Smile yarn.

Additional blue yarn and UFO that gets unravelled.
The sleeves have more blue coloring, but still blend well with the rest of the sweater. I like the bits of burnt orange and pinks from the Reynold's Smile.

All in all, the Stash Buster Sweater Coat turned out well. The sweater is comprised of many yarns. The A-B-C yarn sequence worked like a champ. The final tally of different yarns used (those that still had their ball bands, anyway) was nine. NO NEW YARN was purchased for this project (and the book was even a marked-down price). Yay!

Here is the finished piece. It is very warm and snuggly. A belt would serve it well and pockets would be another good addition.
Completed Stash Buster Coat.

Knitting Classes start Jan. 31

Beginning Knitting Classes start January 31.
Spend a few evenings and learn to knit. Join me and see what you can do with two sticks and some yarn. It's creative. It's relaxing. It's fun! Bring along a friend.

Contact Chattanooga State at 697-3100 to register.
The first class meeting is Tuesday, January 31, at 5:30 pm.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sweater Workshop progress--Day 3

The sweater knitting continues... This one is in Fibra Natura Sensational color #40839, silver gray.
One thing nice about knitting a top-down sweater is that you can try on as you go; and deviate where necessary. Like cooking, you add a little here... taste... add a little more... taste... until the soup is just right. So, here is the continuing progress of the Mr. Greenjeans sweaters. Some of the knitters have gotten past the dividing row and are able to try their sweater on.
You go, girls!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sweater Workshop progress--Day 2

China checks out my sweater.
Even though there are no "Knitting Police," there are definitely Knitting Inspectors and Fabric Testers. The Inspectors have been monitoring the progress of the Mr. Greenjeans sweater projects.

Here is my progress for the second day (days are not necessarily consecutive). I have about two more 6-row repeats before I get to the dividing row (where the sleeve stitches are put onto waste yarn). I need one more episode of Harry's Law to get to that point.

Lois is using the color #40805 Lichen (Fibra Natura Sensational) for her sweater. This is a gorgeous color! She has already gotten to the dividing row.
Lois is using Fibra Natura Sensational in color Lichen.
Lois' Knitting Inspector has approved her work.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sweater Workshop progress--Day 1

After a full session of number crunching—horizontal and vertical measurements of the Mr. Greenjeans sweater pattern—my Sweater Workshop students were chomping at the Cast On edge to get started on the real thing. The next session is in two weeks so I thought I'd keep a visual diary on my sweater's progress. Here is the first day's progress.
Mr. Greenjeans Sweater; top-down construction with raglan shaping.
Day 1: Cast on. Begin the 6 row sequence (marked with split stitch markers). Yarn: Fibra Natura Sensational, color: Anemone.
One stitch double increase at raglan sleeve lines.
I've changed the pattern's raglan increase stitch [yo, k2, yo] to something less lacy. My double increase is  [k1, k1b, k1] all in the same seam stitch. I did a bit of adjusting on the placement of the increases as the pattern's double increase occurs across 4 sts while mine uses 1. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Swatching for Sweater Workshop

Why do we make a gauge swatch when we knit? Well, in the words of knitwear designer, author, teacher and Trendsetter Yarns company owner, Barry Klein, "If you don't swatch, you get what you deserve if your garment doesn't fit."  'Nuff said?
Stockinette and cable pattern swatches for my First Sweater knitting workshop.
After taking body and Favorite Sweater measurements in our first class session, my First Sweater workshop students are busy knitting swatches this week in preparation for the long anticipated sweater cast-on. The pattern, Mr. Greenjeans by Amy Swenson, calls for two swatches—one in stockinette for the main portion of the sweater, and the other in a cable rib pattern that is used on the cuffs and lower bodice.
Workshop project: the Mr. Greenjeans raglan cardigan in Fibra Natura Sensational.
We're using Fibra Natura Sensational superwash yarn for the project. The colors they all chose are gorgeous. After a "Pattern vs. Me" assessment in our next session, we'll begin.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Knitting the Sky 2012

Take a walk with your dog(s) or just look out the window and capture the sky in your knitting. What a cool idea! I link-hopped and landed on Lea Redmond's Conceptional Knitting web site. She creates projects that, she says, embody activities that push you to be observant and contemplative and through them, create something not only functional but meaningful. So, for 2012, I am going to give her Sky Scarf a go.
Stash yarns for my 2012 Sky Scarf
The Project: First, collect yarns in the colors of the sky—light blue, bright blue, grays for the rainy and overcast days, white for clouds and snow, etc. Cast on. Go outside and look at the sky, and knit the color of the sky that day. Lea suggests knitting 2 rows (there and back) each day so you get back to where your working yarns are. By the end of the year [or season, or time whatever time period you choose] you will have created a scarf that reflects the changes in the sky.

I'm using project left-overs and yarns from my stash—mostly sock and lace weight. With 365 x 2 = 730 rows, it could get quite long with heavier yarn. The fiber content consists of superwash wool blends and some 100% alpaca.
Decide how wide you want your scarf / shawl /wrap and pick a nice stitch pattern (garter, seed stitch, a ribbing) that is reversible... or not. Here's my pattern: 
CO 49 on size 4 needles.
Row1 (RS): K3, ssk, yo, [marker] seed stitch across to last 5 sts [marker],
yo, k2tog, K3.
Row 2 (WS): K5, seed stitch to marker, K5

I'm using seed stitch over an odd number so I always start with a Knit stitch and I put a 3 stitch garter edge with an eyelet for the side borders.

What a simple, creative and meaningful project. You could adapt this to just about anything. You don't need a pattern as nature will direct your course. Give it a try!
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