Thursday, March 29, 2012

the cardigan of FEAR

One of the things I think is hilarious about having knit for quite a few years now is how much more fear I have now than I did when I was first knitting. You see, I learned to knit and purl (but NOTHING else--not even casting on/binding off) at age 12, but then learned for real about 8 years ago. After I made the class's two dishcloth patterns twice each, I tackled baby sweaters! I had no fear that they would come out wonky (they did, the babies didn't care). I had no fear of other people seeing my handiwork and sitting in judgement (no one looked beyond the babies!).

And now those same babies are nine and growing out of their sweaters and I am paralyzed with fear. I worry that I'll make something wonky or too big (they'll GROW) or something hideous. I have an idea in my head what I'd like to have the sweater turn out as, but I fear I won't be able to match the picture in my head.

It is a paralyzing fear.

I started this journey looking at patterns and I found one that came close: the Tomboy Cardigan. I showed the sweater to my girls and they said... but in a different color, and with long sleeves, and with different buttons! Ah the children of knitters, so confident that their wished can be made into reality.

But then my swatch didn't even come close to getting guage. So I went back to thinking about my own design. Maybe using a Raglan calculator. But then I got scared. So I swatched again on a smaller size (at this point I'm at US size 6 on worsted weight yarn) and it feels about as tight as this yarn wants to be (and still move a bit!) and I'm fearing it might not be enough. I haven't measured it though.


I think I need a big dose of confidence that I can tackle this, do the math if I need to, to make this one come out right.

Monday, March 19, 2012


It is 80 degrees. In Michigan, in Mid march. Last year on the first day of spring, we had a huge snowstorm that cancelled school and I took some beautiful snow pictures. Today, 3 days short of a year later, there are daffodils in full bloom.
And so why the weather report on a knitting blog? Well, maybe it just goes to the project I'm working on.

I wanted to make my daughters each a new cardigan. The last time I made them each a cardigan was in 2007. They still get worn but they don't really fit.

grey sweater

Purple sweater

A few weeks ago--ok a month or two ago--my daughters were wearing their sweaters to school regularly because it would often get chilly and a cardigan was just the thing. So I thought, I'll make them new ones. A search of ravelry found exactly nothing like I wanted. This doesn't surprise me, because what I have tended to notice is that you can find a TON of baby sweaters and a TON of grownup sweaters, but try to find a non colorwork sweater for a kid who wears a 10-12 and you'll find lots of I made it up myself sweaters.

Of course the purple and grey sweaters above are both I made it up myself sweaters.

So I set out to "design" my own. I'm using quotes because I am terrible at design and pattern writing. That grey sweater up there, no notes, no idea what I did, figured out how to incorporate shaping into the pattern, no idea how. Then add to that that I sketch terrible, well what you have there is a recipe for one of a kindness. (I know not every designer sketches, my favorite project runway star Mondo does not sketch and I think he's a great designer.)
My sketch:

I decided to start with my purple loving daughter--in part because the purple sweater above is way too small for her. So we have some purple yarn (Brava from knitpicks)
Anyway, what I envision is a top down raglan style cardigan. I am trying to decide which type of increases I like best. I know it needs to have some sort of collar on it, but I have no idea what that should look like. I know it needs a button band or a zipper band. I know it needs some sort of ant-curl thing on the bottom--ribbing or a pattern of some sort. I know my gauge, in that I have a swatch that I like. (running an average of 4.25 stitches an inch).

But it is 80 degrees. And I don't feel like making sweaters at 80 degrees. But now I look at the long range forecast and it says Thursday's high is 70 and Friday's is 61. Sweater weather!

Friday, March 09, 2012

knitting philosophy

I have been test knitting this week--no photos or details on that right now, but I did want to write a little bit about what I have learned about myself as a knitter this past week. So here goes.

What I have learned about myself as a knitter

* I might be a process knitter after all. For so many years I thought of myself as a product knitter. I want something so I make it. While I do like what I'm knitting this time, it isn't stuff I usually wear, and yet I am having a lot of fun knitting it.

* I am bad for gauge. I tend to do gauge swatches and sometimes decide that I like the feel of a fabric better at a different gauge and work around that. I also tend to be very slapdash about gauge for my own purposes. No wonder so many of my knitted things don't fit the way I want them to.

* I tend to think of patterns as jumping off guides. In this instance I find myself reading this pattern and following it to the letter, but several times I've had to reign myself in from going off in another direction altogether.

* I'm a loose knitter. I don't know what to say about this except I didn't think I was. Oh and we used to make lots of loose jokes at the LYS I worked at so go ahead.

* I knit faster than I think I do and I actually have more time to knit than I realize. This has been a tight deadline, and I discovered that I have more time to knit than I ever thought I did.

*I get more distracted in my knitting than I had always thought. Maybe the positive thing is that I zen out, but then realize I have no idea how I got to the point I'm at. but it leads to ...

*I'm pretty good at reading my knitting. I always thought I was, but this has helped me knowing where I need to backtrack to if I need to.

* I maybe think reading patterns is kind of fun. I realized this when I realized I know a bunch about style of language for patterns. Clearly that means I read a lot of patterns. I may or may not read patterns I do not knit. I'm not saying.

* I have a lot of yarn that I bought for projects that never came to fruition. I pulled out 400 yards of worsted weight yarn and didn't even bat an eye... one skein I could not even remember the intended project. I'm sure other people have stash issues like this, but generally I don't buy yarn for the sake of yarn, generally I buy it with a plan. A plan that may never ever see the light of day, but still. Oh yes, my yarn is totally paving the way to hell.

Overall, I've had a blast with this test knitting, I hope I get to do more in the future because I think it is having a positive effect on my knitting.