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Finishing Frenzy

January 30, 2006

We’ve had another finishing frenzy Chez Pink Tea this past week. I just love that feeling of finishing off TWO projects at once, so I think when I see things heading in that direction I work toward it on purpose.

Empirical Division is finished.

I was in such a hurry to wear this one that while it was still damp I laid it on the radiator to finish the job. It’s wonderfully lightweight but also cozy. The Knitpicks ‘Elegance’ yarn is very nice. I used about 10 balls of yarn and found no knots, and only a very few little bits of spinniing errors. It blocked nicely too. You don’t think much about blocking when you’re using alpaca, but it really relaxed and smoothed out. That teeny garter stitch hem that I was sure would roll up like a cannoli lay down and behaved instantly upon wetting it.

I made a couple of changes to the pattern to suit myself. Although you could never tell from the photo Knitpicks uses in the catalogue (they need to put photos of PEOPLE WEARING this stuff), the necklne is VERY WIDE. I have quite broad shoulders for my size, and if I hadn’t done a few things to this it would have fallen right off me. When I reached the end of the raglan decreases called for in the pattern, I continued to decrease, because I was hoping for a somewhat mitered look in the garter stitch neckband. I didn’t entirely get that look, but the extra decreases were essential. I also did a crocheted chain stitch around the inside of the garter band so it would not stretch out and widen.

I liked the little garter ridges that separated the rows of colorwork on the bottom of the sweater, so I repeated them at the neckline and cuffs. I really like how that came out. And I did a double-start caston for the sleeve cuffs. It’s difficult to see clearly but it makes a lovely edge, especially on garter stitch.

This is a caston based on long-tail, but on every other stitch you reverse the direction of the tail that’s over your thumb. It makes for a nice over/under looped effect at the edge. (This caston can be found in the technical information in any Nancy Bush book.)

I stranded the color pattern instead of duplicate stitching it, because I’ve done enough stranding that it doesn’t put me off.

Somehow my sweater seems shorter than was intended so maybe I misinterpreted a direction somewhere along the line, or maybe stranding the color changed the vertical gauge enough that it shortened the sweater. But I like how it fits so I’m not worried about it. I was not expecting a sweater with patterning along the bottom half to be flattering, but somehow the way those little division signs lie is actually slimming. Go figure.

This was a fairly easy knit, except for that awkward couple of rows you always have when joining body and sleeves to work a yoke. I started it on December 9th and finished it on January 24th.
At the same time I managed to complete Cutaway, my first sweater from handspun.

The fiber was “Emerald City” bluefaced leicester from Lisa, and the pattern was from Bonne Marie at Chicknits. I knitted from two balls of handspun, switching balls every 2 rows, so that I would get a more uniform gauge and break up any color pooling tendencies.

I really like the way this came out. It’s lightweight and shiny and soft and drapey, and the color is just as luminous in the finished product as it was in the unspun fiber.

In the photo, it’s pinned closed with an old NOW lapel pin, because when I went to sew on the button, I found that the button had no back. (What WAS I thinking when I bought these buttons??) But I think it’s perfect enough for the sweater that I’m going to wait for some button backs to come in the mail from Sheila and get the button whipped into shape.

The buttonhole is a tad lower than in the picture on the pattern. This was my mistake as I was knitting the band, I didn’t correctly spot the place where the neckline decreases started. I blocked accordingly to pull the shape out a little, and it looks almost like it was meant to be that way…

I started this on November 4th and completed the sewing on January 26th. I am not sure how much yardage I used but I think it is in the neighborhold of 900-950. I actually have an entire skein left – it happens to be the one skein that was spun a little too fat, so I have 200-some yards of worsted weight in this lovely color, plus about 150 in the finer sport/DK weight. I think it will have to be a hat, but not just ANY hat, so I need to seek about for a really nice pattern for it.
I made changes to this pattern too – this is getting to be a habit. I did my provisional castons at the bottom front edges the way I normally would instead of how the pattern specified. I bound off the shoulder seams and then knitted the ribbed band in one continuous piece from bottom right up and over the neck and down to the bottom left. I also did an Elizabeth Zimmerman one-row buttonhole for the first time – I can’t say I understand exactly how it works but it makes a brilliant, trim buttonhole.

Too bad it’s going to be 60 degrees today or I’d be wearing this one.

I also threw together a cute little hat for Emily.

Isn’t it the cutest thing? It was so easy, it took about 2 weeks of spare-time knitting. I used about 1 1/4 balls of Knitpicks Andean Treasure in the most gorgeous shade of blue I’ve ever seen in yarn. This is NICE YARN. I want to think of something else to do with it. I knitted it at a pretty loose gauge but it just wanted to be cuddly and cushy.

The pattern was a very old Patons pattern that Melanie sent me – before the days when people knitted everything in the round I guess because I had to – you guessed it – change the pattern a little to suit myself and avoid having to do any seams. The principle was super-simple and the same construction as a sock heel – a ribbed neck in the round, then the center front stitches go on a holder and the back and sides are knitted up flat like a heel flap. At the top of the head, you basically do a big fat Dutch heel to turn the flap into a top and sides, then pick up down one side of the face, across the held stitches, and back up the other side and knit a ribbed circle around the face. So cute and easy. She loves it and wanted to wear it this morning even though we’re having a spell of spring. I had enough yarn left to make myself a skinny ribbed scarf about 18 inches long.

Whew! With all that stuff finished, I enjoyed feeling like I could cast on whatever I wanted. I started Eris, in my white merino handspun from last summer.

This is the first quarter of the collar. It’s really a feat of engineering. The short rows make a beautiful curve. The little slipped stitches make the neck edge of it turn under nicely. She has come up with more little ways to twist stitches while increasing or decreasing than I ever thought possible. I love how it’s coming out. It also goes fairly fast, because the longest row is only 31 stitches, and when you are doing curves, the rows get much shorter.

I also started a pair of toe-up socks in some Koigu I had lying around, which I won from Mamacate last year. They aren’t very photogenic yet. I googled around and it seemed that most people knitted their Koigu socks on size 2 needles so that is what I’m trying. I want to eke out as tall a leg as I can manage.

I want to cast on for Moscow Nights with my handspun cashmere/merino too, but I think I’ll wait until I get the Eris collar done and get into the plainer part of the knitting. I’m also questioning my plan to knit one white project and one beige project at the same time, after all my greens and purples and pinks. I can always knit socks to spice things up, I have so many lovely sock yarns.

Well, we’re all tired out here, thank goodness it’s Monday and I can get some rest at work!

14 Comments leave one →
  1. January 30, 2006 9:25 am

    I don’t know which one to start with, they’re all so wonderful! I love the cutaway – that color is great on you and the button you picked for it is perfect, even though it doesn’t work.
    Empiracle Division looks great on you – I like the length where it is, too.

  2. January 30, 2006 9:51 am

    Oh Cutaway is amazing!!! You have got to be just falling all over yourself in pride! That is one amazing HANDSPUN! sweater.
    Emperical looks like it was made for you!I bet Joanne gets a serious kick out of seeing it on you.
    Emily looks happy with her hat. That color looks so good on her and that will definitely keep her ears warm!

  3. January 30, 2006 10:01 am

    Joanne gets a serious kick out of that sweater! It looks super on you! And the Empirical Division one looks good, too…heehee. I am incredibly impressed with your productivity…Emmy’s hat looks luscious, too. I’m in a period of stalled out knitting. I feel like my knitting mobile’s gone and quit by the side of the road. Maybe your energy will wear off on me? 🙂 I’m so impressed.

  4. January 30, 2006 10:05 am

    Well now, how cool to see the Emerald Isle translated into your finished project, Miss Prudence. This colorway (Emerald City) came about because of some loud AHEM-ing from Maryland and I think that what you envisioned turned out fabdabulous! I really like this sweater shape. That Bonnie Marie is one smart cookie. Great spinning, Pru. You rock.

  5. January 30, 2006 10:21 am

    What a productive weekend you had – 3 FO’s – wow. The Cutaway looks absolutely fabulous on you. From fleece to finished – way to go!

  6. January 30, 2006 11:20 am

    wow! echoing kerry, i don’t know where to start!
    the length of empirical is perfect, love the cuff detail. miss em is adorable in her new chapeau 🙂
    but you’ve really outdone yourself with the emerald! my arm would be sore from patting myself on the back!!

  7. January 30, 2006 11:40 am

    That Cutaway is brilliant–the color, the fit! I can just see you living in that sweater–and how rare is it that we can be so completely satisfied????

  8. Sam permalink
    January 30, 2006 11:49 am

    Amazing – simply amazing! It’s all beautiful, Ms. Pru, but my heart belongs to the Emerald City. C’est magnifique. I agree with you on the Empircal, too – good length, and I love the sleeve detail to match. Emmy’s obviously just pleased as punch with her hat – what a joyful smile. 🙂

  9. January 30, 2006 12:29 pm

    Both sweaters are absolutely fabulous! Good for you!

  10. January 30, 2006 5:44 pm

    Wow, the Empirical sweater looks great (thanks for the tip on the neckline) but the handspun sweater is just priceless.

  11. Melanie permalink
    January 30, 2006 9:41 pm

    Wow, a veritable feast for the eyes! I love how Cutaway turned out. Fabulous job of spinning and knittin, and the button is just perfect. Empirical looks so comfy. Emmy is just a cutie pie. She looks so happy.

  12. January 30, 2006 10:26 pm

    Wow! What a crop of *gorgeous* stuff! I am in absolute awe. I particularly love the cutaway. It is just the absolute perfect simple pattern to show off that mouth watering handspun. Yummy yummy.

  13. January 31, 2006 9:56 am

    Thanks for all the comments! Wow it’s fun to have so many people drop by and leave a note!

  14. January 31, 2006 1:20 pm

    Late to the party, but with so much gorgeous and inspiring stuff, it’s bound to still be running.
    Yup – everything looks fabulous!

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