Eco Urban Aran Cardi

The first time I saw this sweater on Brooklyntweed, I knew I had to make it.

After nearly two decades together, I still had never knit anything for J. About 15 years ago, I started a cabled vest, but I hated the yarn and the pattern, so it hibernated for years. This fall I pulled it out — at the urging of my sister — to finish it. I thought I'd do it on the sly so J wouldn't know, then give it to him as a surprise for Christmas. Of course, he ended up seeing it (read: I ended up showing him), and although he was pleased I was thinking of him, he decided he didn't quite like that vest anymore. WHEW!!! Freed me up to move on to bigger and better things... and the Urban Aran Cardigan seduced me with its siren song.

This sweater is a major hit! J wears it frequently, and we get lots of compliments and questions about it. The (male and female) staff at Village Yarn & Tea in Shoreline really liked it, too. I find myself coveting it, but I have to resist: the sleeves fit Joseph perfectly but are about 1-1/2 inches too long for me (at least, that’s my lame-o excuse for not wearing it just yet!). I may have to make another one of these for myself. Perhaps...

Pattern: Urban Aran by Patons (as modified by Brooklyntweed)
Started: November 27, 2007 (while watching Charlie Brown's Christmas and the Dancing with the Stars finale)
Completed: February 24, 2008
Materials: Cascade Ecological Wool in beige, 3 skeins; 26" dual-pull zipper
Needles: US 9 / 5.5 mm (collar), US 10 / 6.0 mm (ribbing), US 10½ / 6.5 mm (body & sleeves)

The Cascade Ecological Wool really suits this pattern. I had some trouble getting gauge, so I knit much much much more loosely than I ever would normally – but when I tried going a needle size up, my rows were off. I opted to make one size larger than I otherwise would have done (in order to get width for each piece) but knitting to length per the smaller size. It was nerve-wracking to figure it all out, but I’m glad I stuck with it. It’s definitely worth it for how great the sweater looks in this yarn – and it’s so nice and squishy, too!

I have a good bit of yarn left, but I definitely needed to purchase 3 skeins.

For the front split, the medium size indicated a 100-stitch cast on. Because I added a p2, slip 1 border to each edge, I cast on 53. Worked both sides of the front simultaneously.

I could have knit the fronts and back as one piece, but I decided not to. I had some concerns about what that might mean if I made any mistakes. Didn't want to be ripping back both sides' worth of knitting if I didn't have to. Good thing I didn't, because I made a major mistake with the front: I knit the entire thing like the back — all the way up to the shoulder seams. That's right... didn't do the neck shaping. Would have been such a bummer to have had to rip the back out along with the fronts!

The other tricky thing with this pattern was getting the ribbing established above the diagonal cables. Every few repeats, the pattern has you beginning the purls on the wrong side, where you would normally be knitting stitches even as they appear. You can correct this easily enough by laddering down on the next row if you missed one. Still, a bit of a pain with this pattern, as it required you to pay close attention — every now and then — in a pattern that is otherwise intuitive.

2/19/08: Blocked the front and back so I could knit the collar and finish the sleeves. See that skein of yarn attached to the right-front (as you'd wear it) panel? I needed it to finish the sleeves but didn't want to break yarn on the front panel before knitting the collar because of the slip/knit edge. So… blocked these bits with the sleeves half-knit.

2/20/08: Spent the afternoon planning my collar modifications so the collar would fit more snug and straight than the original pattern. I looked very carefully at two sites, Brooklyntweed and Streets and Yo's, culling every last bit of info out of them that I could. This was the biggest nail-biter of the entire sweater, so you can imagine my relief when I finished, tried it on J, and discovered I'd nailed it!

Here are the details on my collar modifications so the next person doesn’t have to re-invent:

First, remember that I hadn't broken the yarn when I finished the right-front side? This was an important move. I picked up stitches for the collar using that working yarn, starting from the right front and working my way around the back and down the left front. The pattern has you starting on the left-front shoulder seam, so it's not going to help you much here!

I picked up stitches as follows: the right-side held stitches, 17 from the right front to the right shoulder seam, 4 from the shoulder seam to the stitches on the back-neck holder, 28 from the holder, 4 from there to the left shoulder seam, and 17 down the left front. Yes, we're picking up fewer stitches than the pattern requires. I really didn't want the collar to stretch down to J's shoulder like happens on some versions I've seen.

One of my primary concerns was making sure the Panel A pattern was surrounded by purl stitches. Plotting this was the trickiest part because I was also trying to build in some other strategic decreases within the collar so it would stand up and snug in better. So... I'll give the stitch order starting from the right-front (just after Panel A) and ending at the middle of the back. This is how they look from the outside of the garment:


That's just for picking up. Once you've got all those stitches on the needle, you're going to want to do your first set of decreases on the 1st round (which is the wrong side). To represent this, I'll type the pick-up'd stitch pattern again (you're going to have to do the wrong-side reversal mentally — I need to keep the pattern as for the right side for consistency's sake), this time putting parentheses around the stitches you knit together:


Now remember that you're working back-and-forth to do the collar, not in the round. When you finish this first round, with decreases, you'll knit back, following the stitches as they appear.

For row three, knit even again. For row four, do one additional decrease at the shoulder seam. Here's the entire structure one last time, showing all pick-up stitches, the row 1 decreases in parentheses, and the row 4 decreases in brackets:


The rows are as follows:
• pick-up row (RS)
• R1: decrease row (WS)
• R2: knit and purl according to stitches (RS)
• R3: knit and purl according to stitches (WS)
• R4: decrease row (RS)

As I said, this is just one half of the entire sequence. It includes the stitches from the back holder but does not include the stitches from the front holder since you're working those in whatever row of Panel A you left off on. I opted to continue Panel A long enough to have two strands of the cable pattern complete their movement. I did not repeat rows 5-8 again to make the third strand. Instead, I established the K2P2 rib to fit the pattern and match the rest of the collar.

The pattern calls for a 5" collar. I did that. This is pretty tall—you may want to try it on as you go to get the best length for you.

I recommend putting an anchor-line of crochet stitches in at the back neck (wrong side) so it doesn't start to stretch and puff out. If I do this pattern again, I will probably tweak the collar to allow for some decreases within the back-neck, too.

2/24/08: Spent the day sewing seams and installing the zipper. I went with a dual-pull zipper so the bottom doesn't get all stretched out. I've done lots of zippers on sewn garments, but never on knitted garments. I kept thinking I needed to make sure the front edges completely covered the zipper when it was closed. Just couldn't make it happen, though. In the end, I think it might be best that the zipper shows a little bit even when closed — gives it a slightly more masculine look.

I had really hoped to get the thing done early enough for J to wear it in the film he was shooting that evening. Unfortunately, I missed goal by about an hour. Would have been cool to land this sweater in the movie!


Poncho from NOLA

My sister sent C's poncho today!

She came this close to finishing it while we were in DC last month, but I had her doing too many other things to meet her goal. This is the second of two she made. The other went to our brother's daughter, who's just six months younger than C. My sister's a courageous woman — just look at all the fabric on that poncho! C was so excited that I took pictures right away and emailed them to B.

Doesn't my girlio look happy?

It'll be a week before she'll let me peel it off her!


Monkey See; (Amphibious) Monkey Do

Cookie A’s glorious Monkeys look like they were designed for the yellow-green Koigu I bought in DC.

In my enthusiasm about finding such cool yarn, I hadn't really thought about what I might make with it other than it had to be socks. I tooled around online looking for that perfect pattern, and low and behold, I found it.

After fretting for days about whether to knit these socks as written or toe-up, researching every other knitter’s toe-up versions (thank you, all you bloggers and Ravellers!), swatching the lace version with purls and the version without, and stressing size/gauge, I finally cast on February 8.

I opted to go up a needle size. The pattern’s written for 2.5 mm, but it made me just a little too nervous about fit. Don’t feel like frogging these amphibious babies if I can help it! I mean, Cookie’s so tiny, and her calves have yet to experience the expansive joys of pregnancy!!

It’s a fairly simple pattern to convert to magic-loop since the lace pattern repeats exactly 2 times over the top of foot. Just a little re-jiggering. I may write down the details so the next person doesn’t have to figure it out.

Cast on using the Norwegian method and knit one round before starting the twisted rib.

True to reputation, they work up easily. The pattern’s intuitive and simple to memorize.

Oh… and I absolutely adore the yarn! This is the first time I’ve worked with Koigu, and I love it. If only it were superwash. Alas. Can’t have everything. Hard to get a good read on the colors, but the second image best reflects the brightness of the yellows. The subtleties of the color changes work so nicely with Cookie’s pattern. No unsightly color-pooling encountered yet, and no god-awful stripy stuff, either. Yay!

See this photo? I shot it bottom-up instead of top-down.

See how totally different it looks from the other direction? That’s why I opted not to do this pattern toe-up and just let the lace be upside down. I love the chunky squishily monkily goodness – so much mooshy fun to knit! I know I’ll be a little bummed to lose some of the bumpily fun once I block them.


Migraine Prescription

I cast on this dishcloth to work when my hands don’t want to be idle but my head and eyes ache too much for anything more intricate. So far, it’s a match made in heaven. I knit as slowly or as quickly as I like, and I don’t even have to look at my hands if I don’t want to!

The pattern is called Chinese Waves, and you can find it free online here. The fabric is as-promised: nice and thick. We’ll see how it functions when wet.


Whispered Color Socks

Pattern: Knitting 2 Socks at One Time on 1 Long Circular Needle by Barb Tolleson
Started: October 15, 2007
Finished: February 6, 2008
Materials: Plymouth Sockotta Sock Yarn Eurostripe Effect
Needles: US 1 / 2.25 mm

When I started these socks, I was using a different top-down pattern that wasn’t written for magic loop… but I was working it using magic loop technique.

CO 64 stitches

Rib: 3k 1p for 7”

When it came time to knit the heel flap, I realized that translating my pattern to magic loop knit-ability would require more deep intellectual thought than my addled brain could give at 11pm while watching TV. I remembered Barb Tolleson’s pattern, which I had used for the eye of patridge heel stitch once before, and decided to switch over.

Boy am I happy I did! I adore this sock pattern. It’s a bit tricky to figure out how the needles shift at first… and picking up all those stitches for the gusset is a pain… but the heel turns beautifully and the gusset is nice and tight. NO ugly holes at the joins!!!

After that, it’s smooth sailing. I will definitely use this pattern again.

About the only thing not going for it is the fact that it’s top-down. I’ve got a bit of a nail-biter here as I wonder if I’ll have enough yarn!

Speaking of the yarn, I love the muted colorway. On a stitch-by-stitch basis, I rarely even notice when the colors have shifted. However, I have to say that it’s a bit like knitting with kitchen string. The wool/cotton ratio definitely favors the cotton, so it can stick on the needles.

Did have enough yarn. Big disappointment, though, because the socks are too short. The pattern said to stop the foot at 2.5-3 inches short of total length. I did. Unfortunately, the toe only covered 1.5 inches on my size 1 needles. I’m totally bummed. The socks are gorgeous otherwise. I know – I can always rip out the toe and re-do. I’m thinking, instead, that I’ll wait until April and give them to my daughter for her birthday. They’re still a little wide around for her, but the length is good and she likes them. We’ll see, but that’s my idea for now.


The Assassination of Jesse James Dishcloth

Pattern: eLoomanator's Diagonal Knit Dishcloth (on Ravelry here)
Started: February 2, 2008
Completed: February 5, 2008
Materials: Lion Brand Lion Cotton Solid
Needles: US 6 / 4.0 mm

I started knitting this dishcloth while watching The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Ford may only have fired one bullet to put the unarmed bandit down, but he then went on a performance tour, re-enacting the event with his brother more than 800 times for public consumption. With all the holes in the middle of this bright red cloth, I thought it a fitting metaphor for the notoriously celebrated murder of the outlaw America loved.

It would have been finished the next day, but I made a mistake in the center panel and had to rip back a few rows. Just didn’t feel like doing it right away. Then I couldn’t quite figure out the fix and it took me awhile to get back on track.

The cloth is done. I’m not 100% thrilled with it because of some gauge issues. It’s important to knit very loosely at the beginning because the center panel is quite loose!