21
Jun

FO: Poolside Sweater

Written by Sarah. Posted in FO, knits, lace, sweater, yarn

So I’m usually not so bad at getting photos of a FO. Most sweaters I finish and I immediately want to get them photographed. (Can I tell you a secret? I plan photo shoots long before my knits are finished! My neighborhood has so many spots that I can’t wait to use for backdrops.) This time I totally slacked off so I’ve had the Poolside test knit finished for a couple of months. I even wore it for my appearance on Nora Meets the Maker. But there are real legitimate photos now.

poolside

I’m actually glad that I waited to post photos. Since I’ve worn this garment a number of times since completing it, I’ve been able to get a feel for what I like and dislike. Especially since I was trying out something new by knitting with cotton. I now have a full report!

poolside 2

First off, this pattern is gorgeous. The lace is so beautiful. I still love looking at it and I get lots of compliments. Isabell Kraemer’s pattern was a breeze to knit up. It was great travel knitting even though a few times I lost track of my lace and messed up a some spots while I was trying to keep myself from having a panic attack on the plane but I can’t even tell where that happened anymore. I’d love to make another one in a different fiber just to see how it turns out.

I’m also really psyched about this color. It’s kind of purple but not really purple but also kind of grey. Not a color I’d normally choose for myself (really the only color I wear is blue and I’m trying to change that). I’m proud that I switched it up a lot with this project.

poolside 4

Now, to get onto the stuff that I’m not crazy about.

The cotton was a great challenge for me but I’m still not really sold. Sorry, cotton, I just don’t think that plant fibers are really my thing. (That being said, the Blue Sky Alpacas is probably the nicest cotton yarn I’ve felt.) I love that this garment is summery but it’s still heavy and feels like it’s slowly stretching out the more that I wear it. Also, the stitches are still super pronounced and I should definitely have followed the rules and joined new skeins at the beginnings of rows instead of right in the middle of the chest. I learned my lesson there.

I also thought that I was being smart and knit the sleeve edges in reverse stockinette stitch in the round (purling every row) instead of doing faux garter stitch in the round (alternating between knit and purl stitches) as the pattern called for. That was stupid. The reverse stockinette doesn’t look neat and flat like the bottom of the sweater, it is all rolled and bothers the crap out of me. You can really see it in the photo below. I could’ve gone back and ripped it out but I didn’t and probably never will because I tend to never look back. Call me lazy or stubborn, I will pretend it’s some kind of life philosophy.

poolside 3

All in all, I’m super happy with the garment as a comfy, loose spring piece. It’s feminine and cute but it lends itself to my anti-fussy, easy-to-wear wardrobe perfectly. Some of the fitting issues that I have with it, I think, are really in my head. Seeing photos of the garment, it looks nice and not baggy or stretched out. Does that ever happen to you?

So, what’s your verdict? Will you ever love knitting with cotton? What fiber would you use for this sweater?

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03
May

Blocking Cotton

Written by Sarah. Posted in blocking, knits, lace, sweater, technique, WIP

I will admit that blocking has only recently become my favorite thing ever. I used to really hate it. I’ve mentioned that once or twice before. But it’s the best. THE BEST. When I finished knitting up the Poolside top, I was really excited to block it. The lace definitely needed a little relaxing and I was hoping that the stitches would lay a little bit neater.

Here’s the thing. I’m still not the biggest fan of cotton yarn. It was fun to try out a top in this fiber and the Blue Sky Alpacas really does cotton justice. It made me re-think the way that I feel about cotton. That being said, the stitches are VERY defined. It’s a nice, crisp look but it also highlights wonky parts were weaved in and where new skeins were joined. And basically if my tension varied at all, you could tell. So this guy needed a blocking.

Here’s a before shot. Don’t mind the dramatic shadows…

blocking cotton

 

It’s all pinned down but you can kind of see what I mean about the stitches being defined in the left sleeve. It’s not really meshing and smooshing together the way that wool does, the stitches just kind of sit next to each other telling all of the other stitches to bugger off.

Anyway, when I went to block this, I wanted to make sure I was doing everything properly. I think I’ve only made dishtowels out of cotton yarn and those really don’t need to be blocked. That just sounds silly. Anyway anyway, I turned to this helpful guide from Knitty. Remember, kids: Different fibers need to be treated differently! You can’t just dunk everything into a basin of warm water and Soak.

Cotton needs to be steamed. This is how I did it since my iron is a piece of crap and I don’t have a steamer.

blocking cotton 2

I took an old pillowcase and soaked it in the sink. I wrung it out a little and placed it over my sweater which was laid out on a blocking mat. (I pinned it down since I wanted the lace to stretch out a bit. Whether you pin your blocking is up to you and the way you want the fabric of your sweater to turn out. Think about that!)  Then I ironed it out and removed the pillowcase.

Another pro tip: Ask someone else to take a photo of you ironing. It’s really hard and probably dangerous to photograph and iron simultaneously.

blocking cotton 3

Ta da! That’s it! There’s what it looked like immediately after ironing. I tried it on after it dried for 24 hours. Cotton is tough. It doesn’t want to stretch out the way other natural fibers might but the neckline did kind of lose its shape. The lace, though, looks really beautiful in this color and fiber.

I’m really pleased with how it turned out and it’s always fun to try some new blocking techniques! More photos of the FO coming soon!

Have you ever blocked cotton yarn? Any tips?

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19
Feb

FO: Great Divide Shawl

Written by Sarah. Posted in accesories, blocking, FO, knits, lace, life, photos, shawl, technique

Wow! I had such a productive long weekend! While most of it felt relaxing (because I was knitting), I got so much done (mostly in the knitting department…I also made cookies). One of the things that I finished was my Great Divide shawl. And I’m in love.

great divide

Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m not really into wearing shawls. That is definitely going to change. It’s exactly what I need for chilly spring days. (Speaking of, it was way more than chilly while taking these photos. Oh my god was I freezing. Can you tell?) I’m psyched that I had these colors in my stash. I’m one happy camper.

I’ve recently discovered that I totally love blocking. I used to really hate it (I might’ve mentioned it here). In an effort to change my ways, I’ve had a tub for blocking for a while now and I bought some proper wool soap (though I’ve used Doctor Bronner’s – which my aunt Sherry said she used to use on embroideries, thanks for the tip! – the past couple of times since my wool wash was packed away and I’ve enjoyed the results!). I guess having some space in the new apartment to lay out the pieces without being totally in the way is encouraging. The blocking kit my mom got me helps too, though I’ve had that for a long time, too.

great divide 2

 

Although this wasn’t lace per se, this piece really needed a good blocking and everything opened up beautifully! I’m totally learning the merits of blocking my knits and I don’t hesitate to do it any longer!

I’m very excited about this shawl! It looks like I’m still growing as a knitter! Knitting shawls and blocking things! What a change! Maybe I’ve been replaced with an alien or a robot? I like cleaning the kitchen now, too. I’m definitely sick, guys.

Brb, going to check WebMD.

How do you feel about blocking? What’s something you made that surprised you?

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13
Mar

WIP: Pomme de Pin: Savory KAL

Written by Sarah. Posted in cardigan, knits, lace

You know what the best part about an FO is? CASTING ON FOR YOUR NEXT PROJECT!

Immediately after finishing the hamburger sweater, I set it down on the couch beside me, picked up my laptop and went through my queue on Ravelry. I guess you could say I’m a process knitter! Every time I cast on, I’m already dreaming of what yarn I will use for my next project and, more recently, collecting sock patterns I can work on during my morning commute.

This choice was kind of a no-brainer.

I’d hyped up Amy and Maria’s Savory Knit-A-Long when Amy had introduced the idea to me on Twitter. This was just after I’d posted photos of my Larch Cardigan. Not to say that I was all Amy Chrisoffers’ed-out (obivously, this is impossible) but I’d had my heart set on making that damn hamburger sweater for so long! This may have been the first time I put my foot down to interrupting the order of my knitting queue.

Well, I got that out of my system. And while I was working on it, something amazing happened! Amy came out with this Pomme de Pin pattern! I once met someone who told me that procrastination isn’t always bad. Sometimes, she told me, you are waiting for when you’re ready and sometimes awesome things happen and you’re all “Phew, glad I was procrastinating! Things worked out so much better for me!” This was kind of like that situation. (PS, I never took that as the advice she was trying to bestow upon me. It’s clearly just a really well-thought excuse for putting things off.)

So, although I missed the KAL deadline, I can participate in the did cast on in February so I’m participating and that makes me happy!

As soon as I saw this pattern, I knew I had to make it. Here’s why:
Numero Uno: Cardigans are awesome. And after riding the high of a 21-day sweater, I felt unstoppable.
2: This cardigan is unlike things that I normally wear. It would be a really fun addition to my wardrobe (Is there a bit of a product knitter in me?!)
C: Lace. The Final Frontier.

I don’t knit lace. I’ve never really tried it. It’s incredibly intimidating even though I like to think that everything is fair game in knitting. Here’s why I’ve never bothered to really give lace knitting a go: I hate shawls. I know, I know, I said, “Oh, I’ll never knit socks!” and now I’m addicted. But I really REALLY can never ever see myself wearing a lacy, frilly, light-weight shawl. If there is one thing that defines my style, the word is utilitarian. I don’t layer with scarves and I’m allergic to belts and I don’t like accessories. I don’t see ANY point in a shawl that makes me look like a grandma that doesn’t keep me warm. Even if I wear it cowboy bandana style. (Disclaimer: I hope no one is offended by how much I hate shawls. I DO think they’re beautiful and I know they take an incredible amount of work because I obviously am afraid of lace. But some things just aren’t for me. Maybe I’m being too harsh.)

I mean, seriously, we all know if I actually tried knitting a shawl, I’d probably freaking love it.

Anyway, this seemed like some entry-level lace knitting. And it is a cardigan, not a shawl.

 

Long story short, here is a photo of my swatch. Blocking really makes a huge difference. The progress I’ve made on the sleeves looks all puffy and misshappen. But I know that one day when it grows up into a nice, smooth, blocked sweater, it will be beautiful.

I’m using Blue Sky Alpaca sport weight. This color is somewhere between olive green and umber brown. I like greens but I stopped wearing them a long time ago. Maybe it’s time to stop wearing blues and greys always?

I’ll be back with more. Happy knitting and I’m seeing amazing things from the rest of you participating in #savorykal

Pattern: Pomme de Pin by Amy Christoffers
 Yarn: Blue Sky Alpaca Sport
Needles: 5 and 6
Ravelry page

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