Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A (small) hitch in the works.

Fyne vest07
Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
I think ones attitude towards steeking reflects a great deal about ones attitude towards life in general. I would like to think that I am a calm, collected individual with a dash of devil-may-care. That being said, I did want to have photographic evidence in case the cutting turned out to be a total disaster, so there is one pre-cutting picture on Ravelry and my Flickr page.

I used Eunny Jang's tutorial for the crocheted steek, and I love how tidy the edges are. I haven't sewn in all the ends yet but at least it's only half as many as it would have been otherwise. I wouldn't have minded seaming up both sides but the thought of dealing with all of those ends was not appealing.

I didn't have any problems with the steeking itself, but I seem to have run out of yarn for the ribbing on the armholes. I'm hoping someone will have a quarter of a ball left over from a project that they wouldn't mind parting with. We'll see how that goes.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Knitting fiend.

Fyne Vest03
Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
Let me tell you, it was a real shocker to measure the vest on a whim and realize I'm only a few rounds from starting the armhole steeks. Time to get serious! There was a tense moment where I worried about having enough rows to finish the end-of-waist increases for the bust before simultaneously needing to decrease for the arms, but I think it's going to work out fine. If you try telling me that I could have just subtracted the necessary increases from the decreases and life would have been peachy, I will ignore you. Just a warning.

Yesterday was so gorgeous I spent all morning knitting outside, on our porch, without needing a coat. Since taking this picture I've finished the large motif nearest the needles.

Funny story: I kept insisting that I didn't need anything from the yarn shop while we were nearby, but we decided to stop in anyway since it was on the way home, and it took me a half hour in the shop before I remembered I need a crochet hook for Eunny-approved steeking. I have to say, those things are handy. I have never been afraid of dropping down several rows to fix a mistake and just using my regular needles to work my way back up, but the hook definitely tops the list of "Best $3 Purchase In Recent Memory".

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Last minute change in the lineup

Fyne Vest02
Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
We have a winner! I've decided to go with the Fyne vest and join in with the Vest-uary festivities on Ravelry.

Getting past the ribbing was tough, because it was hard to feel like I was getting anywhere with it. However, yesterday I only had to go in to work for three hours, and I devoted a solid portion of the rest of the day to knitting. Although I don't particularly want to devote every waking moment to the vest between now and March 1, it now seems possible to finish in a month (as per the loosey goosey Vest-uary "rules").

I took a break from the actual vest knitting this morning to lengthen my swatch and reevaluate colors. I've decided to replace the dark forest green in the largest motif with a dark blue color of Felted Tweed I have in my stash, and switch the order of the light blue and purple so that the purple is furthest away from the center. I've probably mentioned before how I'm a bit of a chicken when it comes to changing design colors, so this decision was a Very Big Deal. I had to take a break and talk it over with Mo before I decided to go ahead with the substitution. Having that swatch ready to embroider over in the various colors was a lifesaver--I would hate to knit dozens of 200+ stitch rounds only to decide it didn't look quite how I had expected.

Every time I finish a round I think about how grateful I am that I don't have to start purling. Yay steeks!

Friday, January 30, 2009


Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
I am very, very excited to be wearing this sweater. I am also excited to have captured on film a cat toy escaping behind the door hinge.

When I wear hats and scarves to work I am often asked if I knit, but it's almost as if this is beyond the realm of what people think is possible of a handmade item. I have to admit I enjoy the attention.

Some thoughts on the pattern: If you are thinking about making this, you should strongly consider going down a size, perhaps even two sizes (as I did). I ended up unraveling the first eight inches I knit in order to start over, and it nearly derailed my entire project. I'm generally somewhere in the 37-38" bust range, and having gone down to the smallest size (for a 32" bust) this is still plenty roomy.

I did not incorporate color changes into my swatch because I was concerned about running out of yarn, and I wanted the option of re-knitting from my swatch without having to deal with a million short pieces of yarn. Although I think the sizing problem is more the fault of the pattern than my particular batch of yarns, it is possible that my swatching decision contributed as well. There was a highly variable level of twist between each color, which may have changed my spot-on gauge measurement into something a little...roomier. I relied on several vendors in order to assemble all of the colors, so I think it may simply have been because some of the yarn was much older (for instance, the now-discontinued dusty rose).

The sweater is flattering and (as long as you compensate for the sizing problems) I think the original pattern picture does a good job of portraying the type of fit--if you want to make a statement with your figure, you will need a bra with an attitude, because there is no bust shaping.

If I were to suddenly have the patience, sewing experience, and visualizing/charting/math skills to change one thing about this pattern, it would be to modify the shape of the set in sleeve. The sleeves begin farther down on the torso than I think is entirely necessary, which makes it feel slightly like having miniature bat wings. However, I know that I am not yet at the point where I want to start messing around with changing armholes, so I'm pretty darn satisfied with how this turned out.

Three last words of advice: buy (and use) stitch markers, first of all; count often; and forgive yourself if your stitch count gets off for a few rows. Feather and fan is forgiving, and I can't tell you how many times I compensated for a mistake several rows later instead of going back six rows to fix it. I can't tell you because it is practically impossible to tell without a magnifying glass and a severe case of OCD.

Working on and completing this project after more than a year and a half has greatly influenced the type of project I am interested in tackling next. For the longest time I thought I would want to work on Salina--I finished the moss stitch hem last winter and the Felted Tweed looks absolutely delicious--but I don't think that is enough of a challenge. Besides, I have plenty of classic, single color sweaters in my wardrobe already, and although they aren't hand knit I don't feel an urgent desire to add another one.

So here are the top contenders: a slightly elongated Fyne vest, with added bust shaping and steeks for the arms and neck, or a Tangled Yoke. I already have the yarn I would use for both of them, but so far it seems like the Fyne vest may be winning as I have already swatched. Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Addressing Imperfection

Red Herring01
Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
It's not perfect, and I never once considered ripping back.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Buttons, buttons, who's got the buttons?

Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
I'm going to let the buttons speak for themselves. Aren't they great? My initial impulse is usually towards a bright contrasting color, but in this particular case I appreciate the subtlety.

In other news, the purple sweater I have been working on for a year and a half is thisclose to being finished. The front and back have been blocked and seamed together on one shoulder, I've picked up and knit the stitches for the neckband, the first sleeve is finished and I've started the decreases on the second. Everything (crossing fingers) seems pretty much on track. It will be nice to get Alouette out of the sidebar and into my wardrobe.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Day in Philly

Mo is flying home today for Christmas so last night we stayed up late finishing a book we have been making for my nieces and nephew. I'm not sure exactly how to bind it but I have a grace period for sending it because they won't be home until after New Years. It's funny, I haven't spent much time in Center City and the things we wrote about are practically the only things I know how to get to. If only there were an art supply store in the Reading Terminal Market...

PS If you want to read the words, click on the slideshow and then the button that appears in the lower right hand corner. Press Esc to exit the slideshow.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
My apologies for the total silence over the last however-many days, I've been dealing with figuring out a new city, getting a job, and finding an apartment. As you can imagine, time for knitting (and blogging) has been virtually nonexistent. I've made significant progress on all three counts, but I expect updates to be fairly infrequent for a while.

One of the last things I did at home was help with a major installation of plants at my parents' house, following a design I submitted for class in the fall semester. This is a shot of one of the plantings, and I can't wait to see what it looks like when the hostas are established enough to be divided. Before this project I was never a fan of hostas, but once I started looking through the catalog at Bridgewood Gardens I was hooked. I love watering these guys, I felt like I could see them getting stronger every day. If the only thing that comes to mind when you hear the word "hosta" is a boring green plant next to somebody's driveway, take a look over at the Bridgewood Gardens website. You might be surprised.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Does she or doesn't she?

Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
She does! Finish, that is, not run out of yarn, although it was certainly close towards the end. If I had an overflowing basket of these yarns (or even just another two yards of the khaki, white and the lightest blue) I probably would have done the last few stripes differently, but I'm still quite pleased with this tidy little jacket. My cousin has a great deal of experience in designing clothes, and I was sorely tempted to gift this as an amoeba without sewing up the sleeve seams, just so she could see how it looks before hand. I will admit that it makes a much better presentation with all parts properly attached.

I couldn't find a lot of information about the best way to seam together perpendicular pieces of garter stitch, so I ended up just trying a bunch of things until something worked. The first thing I tried was stitching right behind the cast on row on the back, but because the stitching resembles a knit stitch it appeared as if there were two rows in stockinette right at the transition. I was worried that the seam would get bulky if I hid a knit row with the cast on edge, but the yarn is small enough that it didn't make much of a difference. If I have something critical to add before I find buttons I may post a close up of the seam, because I am very proud of how they turned out. If you're impatient you can just poke around on my Flickr page (click on the picture above).

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
This is a common misperception, is it not? At this point, a few rows short of halfway, I had 3.5 ounces of knit fabric, and 4 ounces of yarn. I had to rip out project to even get that much, a neckerchief that I never would have worn. I'm pretty sure that I'll have enough to finish, but there is still the question of whether I'll be changing colors in the middle of rows. I also have two untouched skeins leftover from the same sweater as all of the yarn pictured, but as it is a pastel pink it may not be the best match.

With this small sweater I have connected to the Yankee within. Knitting down each tiny skein within an inch of its life and strategizing about when to switch colors has been a true pleasure. I don't think the sweater would have been half as fun if I were working with a bountiful excess of cotton. It feels cleansing to know that there is that much more space left in my showcase box of yarn, although I'm sure some quick rearranging will fill it.