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.

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Free pattern: Up and Down Crunch Sweater

If you came here just to download the pattern, scroll to the bottom of this post and download away! Updated September 27 at 12:30 AM CET. Reason: corrected instructions for foundation dc stitches. Now you are told to pm in the middle stitch of the group of three. UPdated again September 27 at 11:05 PM CET. Reason: changed wording of decrease rounds for sleeves (picky change).

Well, I finally got this crochet sweater pattern written. In the end, I decided to go with myself as the model for the small and large sizes of the sweater. My blog followers get to see and download this pattern first, before I put it on Ravelry, since a couple of people asked me to write it all up. In the pictures, above, you can see me wearing two different sizes. The brown one is size small, or 42″, with 0″ of ease (yikes, but I felt sleek in it!). The orange version shows me in the large version, or 46″, with 4″ of ease. Originally, I thought the brown one gave me 1″ of ease but I think it was a long time since I had measured myself and I’m afraid I got a bit wider! Whoops.

The sweaters are also shown with two different types of yarn. For the brown one I used El Gato Negro lana especial 4/4 C, which is a 4-ply yarn. The orange sweater was made with Cascade 220 Fingering, a lighter, 3-ply yarn. I love how both came out. In the pattern I make more yarn suggestions and even offer advice on using a 5-ply yarn.

I tried to accommodate a good range of sizes: 42″ (44″, 46″, 48″, 50″). This way, dearest women, if you want one for yourselves you can work out the bust measurements easily.

The pattern seems a bit long, but in exchange for that it is easy to read without columns or text boxes. Additionally, I wanted to explain all the little details, like clearly describing the pattern repeat and how to decrease and increase in pattern so that people will feel more confident in customizing their sweaters. I also wanted to explain the options to anyone who wants to customize it to fit their personal needs and tastes. Since this is a free pattern without any official pattern testing, tech editing, etc., I decided that I could use my liberty to innovate and leave sleeve length up to the crocheter. I found it ridiculous to give a sleeve measurement for each size. I don’t think I’ve ever made the sleeve the same exact length as indicated in any sweater pattern. So, no sleeve numbers. Make it long sleeved, short sleeved, three-quarter sleeved, no sleeved, whatever floats your boat!

Download the pdf pattern here! And, of course, have fun crocheting!

Monday OT: People can be gross

There are things often left without any explanation: ghostly apparitions, UFO sightings, Big Foot, and the like. I’d like to add to this list how an upstairs neighbor of mine throws garbage out the window.

Below, we shall find exhibits A and B in photographs of my downstairs neighbor’s garden shed:

I do not know who this nasty person is, but I have witnessed all sorts of rubbish fly past my window: bread, soda cans, and a long etc. My poor downstairs neighbor finds litter in her garden sometimes. The unfortunate women’s shed has been decorated with old yogurt cups and a sandwich, as seen in the photographs, for quite a long time now. I once theorized that the person upstairs had a vendetta against the señora below, but this is not the case. The gross individual flings the items out of the window without thinking about direction. There is a plastic bag of bread hanging from a fig tree to prove it.

I do not understand this disgusting habit. I am calling upon all individuals who throw trash out their windows to help me, answering this question: why is it necessary or enjoyable to chuck waste out the window?

Review: Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders

Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders by Judith Durant. Storey Publishing, 2012. 288 pages. Digital formats also available. Grade: A

I am sock yarn’s number 1 fan. I think it’s fun to buy a random skein of it here and there. Obviously, I had to have this book. It has not disappointed me. Although it’s true that I have yet to make anything out of this book, the time when I will in fact knit up something featured in the collection is approaching. As a matter of fact, a long time ago I bought some orange Spud and Chloe 4-ply yarn with one pattern in mind, which is the “Candleglow Scarf.”

This book is different from others in the One-Skein Wonder series because all of the patterns call for the same type of yarn. So, instead of grouping the patterns by weight they are grouped by the usual categories: socks, scarves, shawls, mittens, etc. The knitting samples are all photographed well and the patterns are written clearly.

One of the refreshing things about this title is how, although focused on sock yarn, it does not overdo the variegated and self-striping material. I think there is a good balance between patterns that call for multi-colored yarn as well as solid colors.

Also, knitters who like making children’s clothes and accessories will be pleased to find a special section devoted to this category.

Even though I’m most eager to get going on the scarf pattern I mentioned above, my favorite section in this book is the one for gloves and mittens. The designers really outdid themselves with some very original and creative glove designs. There are a good number of mittens and gloves that go all the way up to the fingertips as well as some fingerless mitts. If you would like to see all the patterns in the collection, have a look at its Ravelry page.

This book will be handy for knitters like me who tend to accumulate skeins of sock yarn. Sometimes, it can be tough to decide what to do with these little treasures we keep in the stash and an arsenal of patterns like this can help in the decision-making process. As a matter of fact, I have more than one skein of sock yarn in my stash that will probably not be turned into socks thanks to this useful book.

Review: Interweave Crochet vs. Simply Crochet

In this review my goal is to evaluate two crochet magazines in a very general way. I’m doing this mostly because I used to be a fan of magazines. I actually had subscriptions. Two years ago I canceled all of my magazine subscriptions but I still continue to buy single issues here and there of two related to crochet, which are the titles being examined here. I think it’s important to compare them because, in my humble opinion, they are the two best crochet magazines out there. I buy one of them on occasion because I just have to have such-and-such pattern I saw on Ravelry. The other one is a title I get more frequently just for fun because it has innovative designs in it. Can you guess which is which after reading this review? Can you feel my sadness of having to say all at once that these are the two very best yet not worth subscribing to?

I’m going to discuss my general comparisons according to these categories: publication frequency, price, design innovation, regular columns, and presentation. I’m not going to give them a grade because I think it isn’t appropriate in this case. Grading a whole magazine is like putting a price on a life. Periodicals have histories and go through different phases.

Frequency

Interweave Crochet is a quarterly publication. So, if you order a subscription, you only get four issues a year. The subscription is $21.95 US for the print edition and $19.95 on Amazon for the Kindle edition. Single issues cost $7.99.

Simply Crochet is a monthly publication. It costs $59.99 US for a digital subscription. Single issues are similarly priced to those of Interweave Crochet.

Price

Proportionally speaking, the pricing of both magazines is fair in the sense that they cost about the same as any old magazine. (See above)

Design Innovation

Both magazines attempt to show off modern style and trends as well as introduce readers to new techniques. Interweave Crochet has been brave in that it occasionally provides sweater patterns intended for men (no, they don’t want crochet sweaters usually, alas) whereas Simply Crochet does not (how brilliantly practical, my dear Watson!). I’d say, however, that overall Simply Crochet wins in innovation. It always provides patterns for interesting accessories and clothing that are equally practical and decorative. I often open an issue of Simply Crochet and say at least once, “Huh! I never thought of doing that!” One memorable issue has a pattern for a Tunisian crochet sweater done in the round on a cro-hook. I plan on making this sweater some day for myself, but with different colors. I might add that this is very unusual to find in a magazine. Another favorite of mine is something I actually crocheted: woven potholders. One side of the potholder is made of strips of single crochet woven together. The other side is a crochet square. The strips are held to the other side by crocheting around the edge of the potholder, not by slip stitching or sewing or other “boring” technique.

I think Interweave Crochet most often excels at publishing “viral” patterns from time to time. They are not necessarily difficult or challenging, but are popular because they’re easy to make as well as surprisingly different to look at. The Babette Afghan is a fine example of this type of pattern. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Babette. I just don’t think it’s a grand challenge to create which is why it’s so popular. In my opinion, it’s a good one to make to use up a ton of scraps, perhaps another reason why it’s gone all viral.

Regular Columns

Interweave Crochet‘s regular columns are not very interesting to me. Often, they talk about something floating around on the Internet. One of their biggest mistakes was to introduce readers to free form crochet by giving a pattern for making an object that looked free form. The author totally missed the point of what the term “free form” actually means. Another time there was a regular author who attempted to uncover the mystery behind creating interesting color designs with self-striping yarns. The goal was to “set the record straight” and help readers who might have been misinformed by untrue things people have said on the ‘net that were just plain wrong. The problem here is that Crochet Crowd had already done this and the article was available for people to see for free. Another time, one of the designers wrote about how he hated that people used a color different from the suggested one in his pattern. I mean, really, people, you have to make everything just like the picture! In conclusion, the regular columns in this magazine are not very interesting. I also call all crocheters to make all the things with a color other than the one pictured or suggested by the designer to send a bold message out there. Oh, never mind, that was already done with everything.

This is not to say that Simply Crochet‘s are any better. I begin reading one and my eyes glaze over with boredom. I can’t remember anything I read. Mostly, they are incomplete instructions for some trendy technique or an interview with somebody without asking very challenging questions.

The stories in both magazines about how crochet has helped people or charity work are very interesting, of course!

In conclusion, it seems both magazines think that people buy their issues because they want patterns and pretty pictures.

Presentation

Overall, Simply Crochet‘s presentation is a big winner. Interweave Crochet has recently tried strange photographs in which the models appear in unreal or unusual settings. Other times, they don’t show me what I need to know about the finished object. Sometimes models wear their sweaters with the sleeves rolled or riding up (shocking, yes). In Simply Crochet the photos are a little more practical. The goal, I suspect, is to give us a good view of the piece and make it pleasing to the eye with colorful props and sharp images.

Conclusion

The magazine issues I buy most often out of simple curiosity are from Simply Crochet. I buy issues of Interweave Crochet very rarely because I see a must have pattern on Ravelry. Overall, I’d suggest not subscribing to either and just buy one or two individual issues a year. In the end, I believe this manner of buying them has saved me a lot of money. I am actually very sad to say this because for me it was like Christmas twelve months a year to have magazine subscriptions. Every month somebody sent me something nice and I momentarily forgot I had paid for it. I not only had subscriptions to craft magazines. I had also subscribed to many others such as National Geographic. I really hope that magazines work out how to compete with the Internet more effectively. Right now it just doesn’t make much sense to subscribe to anything anymore. My advice to craft magazines in particular would be to assign tasks to regular contributors such as: research something unusual or invent something nobody can find on the Internet. The old way of doing it is old, you know?

Yet another sweater in progress

The year 2017 has proven me to be the sweater king. I have finished eight sweaters and I have now started number nine, a purple cardigan. The orange crochet sweater has been done since last week. I just need to take really nice photos of it to go with the pattern I’m writing up as well as to find a time to get the wearer of its brown cousin to model his sweater for me. You might recall that the brown one does not fit me in a flattering way.

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The purple cardigan looks like a crumpled blob right now because it’s yet another top-down raglan. I have been using the numbers from Ann Budd’s The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters as a guide, only modifying the button band, which I preferred to knit along with the body rather than as a final step. This has required some experimentation because I couldn’t cast on any extra stitches for the neckline as the instructions indicate. I decided to double increase along the neckline gradually. We shall see if my decision was a good one or a total fail soon enough! My plan is to knit the yoke in moss stitch and then the rest of the body in stockinette. We’ll see if I tire of purling when the yoke is finished, too.

I’ve dived deep into the depths of my stash for the yarn. It’s Cascade Quatro superwash, a discontinued item. I bought it five years ago (gasp!) and I forgot I even had it (double gasp!) As far as my stash goes, I am being a very good boy. I haven’t added any yarn to it for several months and I actually have an empty plastic container because I used all the yarn it was storing. It’s a good thing because I’ll need it to store the sweaters I’m finishing.

I’m also knitting on a Hitchhiker scarf, the now world-famous Martina Behm design. I’m using Malabrigo Sock in the Caribeño color way. This is my last skein of Malabrigo.

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I made this same exact scarf in the same color as a gift a couple of years ago. I liked how it looked so much I bought another skein to make one for myself some day. Some day is here.

Is there a “Garter Stitch Month?”

I have always loved knitting in garter stitch. Not just plain garter stitch, but also mosaic, lace, and other useful tricks with this bumpy buddy. My newest and completed garter stitch project is the Zaria shawl I need to mail to my mom ASAP.

The band of lace on this design is easy to create although it looks rather complex. This was such a fun knit. However, if I ever make this again, I’ll make it a little bit bigger. I followed the pattern yet wound up with leftover yarn for some reason. In case you’re curious, the variegated yarn is Malabrigo Sock in the color way Arcoiris and the gray yarn is Regia Sock.

As soon as I bound off Zaria I got working on a Hitchhiker for myself, yet another scarf that is all garter goodness. This has inspired me to wonder if there is a month devoted to garter stitch. I have googled and come up with nothing. So, I think somebody with some clout needs to dedicate a month to it.