Hitchhiking to Finishedville

I finished my Hitchhiker!!!

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If you have never knit a Martina Behm pattern, you are missing out on a lot of garter stitch enjoyment. Her patterns are reasonably priced and interesting while at the same time usually pretty simple. This is the third time I’ve gone with this pattern and it probably won’t be the last. In case anyone forgot, I used Malabrigo Sock in the color way “Caribeño.” It’s a warm and soft merino wool perfect for the weather I’m experiencing right now. I will wear it a lot this month with my Levi’s denim jacket.

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WIP Wednesday: “St. Enda”

What a coincidence that today is All Souls Day and I have a Saint of my own hanging off my knitting needles! I may not be religious, but somehow I’ve managed to live a parallel life on this day after Halloween. I know! Halloween is over! Total bummer!

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I’m making a lot of progress on this Celtic saint. As you can see, I’ve got the front done and now I’m 2/3 of the way up the back. You can also observe that on the front I didn’t bind off my remaining stitches, I just left them “live.” I’m not following the directions, which instruct the knitter to bind it all off. My reason is simple: when I knit the sleeves I shall simply knit the saddle onto the shoulders. Yes, I’m an evil genius who wishes to sew as little as possible. I suppose some people take great pleasure in sewing saddles onto shoulders. I do not.

I’ve also very cleverly put garter stitch selvage edges on my pieces. I’ll do the same on the sleeves. This way, I can mattress stitch the body together very easily and also crochet the sleeves to the body. I’ll more than likely mattress stitch the sleeves together, though, so they match the body seams.

A lot of people think that crocheted seams are too bulky. This is simply not true. Mattress stitch, actually, can leave more bulk than a slip-stitched seam. I’ve experimented a lot with crocheting my knits together and I’ve discovered that if you’ve got a textured stitch pattern, like on this sweater here, a garter stitch selvage that is slip stitched together on the wrong side blends in very well. It’s far less annoying than doing that silly “fake grafting” thing on bound-off edges. It looks neat and professional, without all the “take the tapestry needle this way, then around, then that way, try fudging a little, rip it out and try again” nonsense.

The cold weather is approaching. As a matter of fact, we are almost on the verge of turning the heat on. The temperature is wicked cold in the morning, rises to room temperature or slightly less by noon, and then drops quickly back to wicked cold at sunset. Needless to say, I was very happy and content to watch Stranger Things, season two on Sunday, knitting a cowl and hiding under my bulky crochet afghan.

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I snapped the photo with my iPhone on Sunday afternoon just in case I wanted to document this WIP on the blog. You can’t see my legs because they’re under my afghan. When I finish this cowl I’ll still have plenty of purple Cascade 220 Super Wash Quatro to make a scarf for a Christmas gift. So, a long time ago I bought a ton of purple yarn, that’s for sure! I got a cardigan for myself out of it and now I’m going to knock some Christmas gifts out of it, too! By the way, the cowl is still a WIP. I started it and stopped knitting on it on Sunday.

 

I’m a copycat!

Maybe I’m now on team, “me too!” You see, I’ve been procrastinating on casting on another sock for about two months now due to indecision. Then, one day, the nothingbutknit2 blog, hosted by a very prolific writer and knitter, showed her progress on a sock I just had to start knitting right away. The best part? It turns out the pattern is a freebie, authored by a very generous person who shared her work on Ravelry. The pattern is called “Widsith,” and it features a very easy to knit slip-stitch cable and garter stitch pattern.

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So, you know, the usual: I took the cable pattern from the original and I’m slapping it onto my own vanilla sock formula. I chose this nice green color with a German sock yarn from my stash called “On line” from what they call the “trend collection.” Anyway, I don’t really care about the brand. I bought it because it was a cheap 75% wool sock yarn.

Another notable thing about this sock pattern and its ability to speak to me through nothingbutknit2’s blog is that I suggested using twisted 1×1 rib instead of regular 1×1 rib, because she was unhappy with how the 1×1 rib was coming out. I generally despise 1×1 ribbing as she does.

So, thanks, nothingbutknit2, for inspiring me to begin a sock. I’m having lots of fun with the pattern. Also, notice how I followed my advice: I’m also sporting a twisted 1×1 rib pattern on the cuff. 🙂

Sweater #10 = Done

I cannot believe I’m posting about the tenth sweater I have finished in 2017. First of all, I cannot believe I had so much yarn in my stash. Second of all, in the past I’ve always made one or two sweaters a year. Since I’ve moved to Spain I’ve added 14 sweaters to my wardrobe and 3 to José’s. It may seem like I’m a totally selfish knitter, but José actually has in total eight sweaters I’ve made for him. When I lived in the US I didn’t knit any sweaters for myself and they were all his. Once, I tried to knit a sweater for myself when I was living in the US and José talked me into giving it to him when it was finished. Another good rationalization is that I am the person doing the knitting and buying the yarn, so my hard work and investment makes me deserving of having more sweaters. Zero guilt.

The other exciting thing is that this sweater-wearing season I am going to debut a lot of sweaters. I finished most of my stuff in the “off-season.” I’m totally going to slum the knitting club this year.

Anyway, about the purple cardigan.

I decided I wanted a ton of buttons so I made 18 button holes that would fit around medium-sized buttons. The reason for having so many buttons on this cardigan is so I can change its look depending on how big or small I get this winter. At the moment for some weird reason I’m actually getting smaller. For example, remember the “Up and Down Crunch Sweater” I crocheted and designed? It fit me with zero ease about a month ago. Now it would fit me with 2″ of ease. Anyway, I’ve digressed. The buttons were a totally lucky find at the Chinese bazaar (that’s like a dollar store). In total they cost me about €1.75. They’re just the right color and they’re plastic so they’ll survive the washing machine nicely. The yarn I used was the discontinued Cascade 220 Superwash Quatro I bought four years ago or so. The “pattern” I “followed” was for the top-down raglan sweater in The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters by Ann Budd. I actually didn’t follow the directions exactly. I included the button bands in with the body of the sweater and I increased at the neckline gradually rather than casting on stitches all at once. I put moss stitch on the yoke and did the rest of the body in stockinette, which was extremely boring. I don’t think I’ll knit stockinette stitch flat ever again unless I somehow make a bad decision a second time!

I still have yarn left over from this project. Two skeins to be exact. I’ll have to figure out what to do with them. I’m pondering the One-Skein Wonders books.

I’m still not wearing my handmade sweaters, unfortunately. It’s October and unusually hot. Every day this week and next it will be 80 degrees F.

Better late than never

It’s Thursday morning. I don’t think it’s too late to share a WIP. Wednesdays for me are not ideal for blogging because I have a lot to do at work.

I finished the knitting on my purple cardigan and I washed it. Now I’m very gradually sewing the buttons onto it. With any luck I’ll have an FO Friday post about it if I can manage to get motivated to sew more buttons.

While the cardigan was drying, on the weekend, I cast on “St. Enda,” a by now classic Alice Starmore design. It looks so complicated! Forgive the bad photo, please, I have to figure out what went wrong with my camera.

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The reality is: no, it isn’t as difficult to knit as it looks. First of all, you can mostly knit without a cable needle. The only place where you need a cable needle is when there’s a fancy maneuver to cross the stitches out of order. Second of all, the sand stitch on either end of the sweater is very basic and not at all difficult to execute from memory. The honeycomb panels are also easy to do from memory. I only look at the chart for the Celtic knot panels and by now only superficially. I just follow where the purl stitches wind up on every right-side row. That’s the nice thing about making traveling stitches that are almost always paired with purl stitches. You always know that the purls are the background so you can easily figure out where the knit stitches wind up. That’s why I only have to follow where the purls are shifted to on the chart.

My favorite thing about this pullover, besides the bold Celtic knot, is the ribbing. It’s all cabled. The same happens for the collar. It’s just refreshing to knit up a ribbing that isn’t 1 x 1 or 2 x 2. I’ve waited twenty years or so to knit something designed by Alice Starmore. It won’t be the last time, that’s for sure. I suspect that I’m going to get into an Alice Starmore “mode” of sorts. I have many of her books and there are quite a few sweaters – including a really nice gansey – that I want to make for myself. The only problem is that I need to be a little less selfish and knit at least one for José. I know he wants a light blue sweater, so I’m planning my next project with him in mind. I’m trying to decide between two sweaters, one of them by Starmore and another by a different designer. We shall see! First, I should probably get this sweater done, right?

Review: The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting by Faina Goberstein and Simona Merchant-Dest

The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting by Faina Goberstein and Simona Merchant-Deste, Interweave, 2015, 176 pages. Grade: B+. Digital formats available.

The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting is a pretty good book. I must admit, though, that it disappointed me a little. I wanted more stitch patterns in the dictionary. I would say that a large number of stitch patterns have been documented in other books. On the other hand, the authors made up several of their own for this book, which is a positive note worth emphasizing and really makes this title worth having. I suppose someone in the future will need to write the definitive tome on slip-stitch knitting with every single thing ever invented in it. I would love to have a reference book on that. Anyway, here’s how this book is organized: Each chapter, following the first one about how to slip-stitch knit, covers a particular style of slip-stitch knitting, a dictionary of stitch patterns that fits in that category, and ends with some patterns for garments and accessories that use some of the documented stitches.

Chapter 1, as I’ve mentioned, outlines the techniques employed in slip-stitch knitting. It covers a lot of techniques of how to execute stitches with success, offering advice on tension and the different effects that can be achieved by slipping with the yarn in front versus back, etc. I’m pretty sure this is the most thorough explanation of every aspect of these techniques and the illustrations show what it describes very well. There is even advice on color choices, with photos of bad combinations. I think anyone who is new to slipping stitches would benefit tremendously from this chapter.

The second unit is when the stitches and patterns start appearing. This one, called “Traditional Slip-Stitch Patterns,” offers a dictionary of stitches that reiterate a lot of what Barbara G. Walker and others have documented. I think it’s good that the authors included a chapter like this, sampling some of the older and well-known stitches, so that knitters that are new to the technique can have a useful starter set. For someone like me, who has been slipping stitches since the age of the dinosaurs, this section would have stood out for the patterns. Unfortunately, I didn’t see anything I’d like to make. Maybe in the future I’ll change my mind, but for now, I don’t want to make anything here. If you’d like to see all the designs in this book you should go to its Ravelry page and see everything that this text has to offer. There is a whole lot more here for women. More than likely, very slender women, like all the models in the book. This, indeed, is another negative aspect. All the models are young and slender. I have no idea how the sweaters would look on someone with some more meat on their bones.

“Woven Slip-Stitch Patterns” is the title of Chapter 3. Don’t get confused about the word “woven.” There isn’t any weaving here. The word refers to how the stitches look, especially thanks to slipping with the yarn in front. I like a lot of the stitches and I think I’ll try some of them out in the future. Again, the patterns don’t appeal to me, but I’m a man looking for things to make for myself. Women will have better luck, I think, although I must admit I wouldn’t make any of the clothes for the women I know.

Chapter 4 is all about “Fancy Slip-Stitch Patterns” which involve interesting textures and colors. I like the dictionary quite a lot. Again, the garments and accessories are not speaking to me right now. I have to confess that sometimes I don’t like patterns at one point in time but then in the future I’m into them because something about my taste has changed or maybe I just look at the samples in a different way.

Finally, in Chapter 5 we have the long-awaited stitches created by the authors themselves. They are awesome. There’s even advice here on how to transform stitch patterns into something else more innovative. There are some patterns for clothes and accessories, here, to bring the total for the entire book to 16 patterns. Not bad, really, considering that there’s also a stitch dictionary.

I’ve given this book a B+ because I wanted it to be more than it is. I guess I just wanted more dictionary and fewer patterns for clothes and accessories. I have not given my B+ grade because of the patterns, however. I am capable of giving an A to a book with patterns I’ll never use because of the explanation of something new, or just good advice on techniques.  I wanted more stitches in one place. However, I’m really glad I got the book even though it doesn’t make me gush. I like the new inventions the authors included in the final chapter and I’m sure I’ll play with them in the future. I’m believe  I’ll at least change my mind about the scarves and cowls. I do not doubt that crafters new to slip-stitch knitting will benefit the most from this book. More experienced knitters might not need this, unless they’re willing to pay for having some new slip-stitch patterns that haven’t been published elsewhere.

Purple cardigan on a WIP Wednesday

I’ve been knitting away at my purple top-down cardigan. I’m almost done with the body and then I can get going on the sleeves.

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I haven’t knit stockinette stitch flat in years. Wow, is it boring! I really made a push on it over the weekend to try and get it all over with. I almost made it to the bottom, but not quite. I wanted a sort of plain cardigan and I’m getting one, it’s just I have to make a real effort not to yawn while knitting and purling back and forth.