Stephen West MKAL 2016

Yarn Choices 1-4

Yarn Choices 1-4

I have been wanting to knit one of Stephen West’s designs but have been putting it off because 1) I have so many other knits to complete and an order from a customer and 2) because there are so many good ones and I’ve had trouble deciding which one to make first! SO when a MKAL came along, I dumped out my stashed fingering weight yarns and chose several to start with.

My knitting students helped me narrow my choices to the four required in the pattern and I got started on the first clue. I love the i-cord cast on and the subsequent i-cord increases. Picking up and knitting stitches from the i-cord is simple enough and the pattern is easy to follow. I am not loving the blue in my design – oh boy, should I have chosen the bright pink? I’ll knit on a ways and see what I think as I go.

Nearly at the end of knitting clue 1 and I realized as I was switching to needles with a longer cord that I was knitting with a US3 not the requested US4. Now, one assumes that the difference between a 3 and 4 is a small one. One is right but the difference is JUST enough to make a big difference in the way the fabric feels. The US3 fabric is tight and much less flexible and flow-y than the US4 fabric.

The question now is … to frog or not to frog. The shawl has two points already against it and I’m not even finished with clue 1. I’m frogging and starting over. I’ll knit the hat for my customer and then cast on again.

Happy knitting!

I Heart Aran – Nearing the Finish Line

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I Heart Aran by Tanis Fiber Arts – blocking!

I started knitting the I Heart Aran sweater by Tanis Fiber Arts in early September. It’s a 32nd birthday gift for my eldest daughter. I’m not sure how she got to be so old when I remain young and nearly the same age as she! Kate chose the sweater pattern from Ravelry and this was the one she loved the most. This morning I finished the knitting and it’s blocked. Woo! Hoo!

I was gifted the yarn by my sister-in-law, Annie, who found it and some purple at an estate or garage sale several years ago. For ten dollars! She’s a very thoughtful person and I’m delighted to be able to make a sweater with five of the ten skeins of ivory/aran color that she gave me which leaves several skeins for me to make something for Annie! It’s Shetland by Jaeger (80% wool, 20% alpaca 100 g/166m). The hand on this yarn is wonderfully soft thanks to the alpaca. It was great to knit with – not splitty and no little bits of wool all over my dark jeans. Because it’s an Aran weight yarn and the sweater was rather small, it knit up in no time at all. It helped, too, because the sleeves and back are all a very simple, almost boring, stockinette. If I were going to knit this sweater again, I’d consider adding a cable up the sleeves or on the back or both. The stitch definition is amazing and there is enough wool so that the sweater shouldn’t stretch out (or grow!)

Superior Stitch Definition

Superior Stitch Definition

I used my good old Hiya Hiya Interchangeable needles with the US6 and US8 tips. I used the US6 tips only for the sleeve ribbing and chose to use the US8 (not the US6 as written in the pattern) because I don’t love sweaters with very tight ribbing at the waist. Hiya Hiya Interchangeables are decent needles. The join is mostly smooth. The tips could be pointier. ¬†They were ok for this project because the yarn is heavy enough and the cables weren’t too tight. I chose to knit flat on my circular needles. You could also have knitted this on straight needles.

A good set of schematics make blocking so much simpler!

A good set of schematics make blocking so much simpler!

One of the things I liked about this pattern is that it had a perfect schematic so that when I was blocking (and knitting) I knew exactly what the measurements were to be. This makes my life as a pattern-follower so much easier than when I have to go back into the pattern to decide what the measurements are – and Tanis even added the measurement that is supposed to be across the neck (3″) to eliminate any guesswork. Thank you! The directions were clear and concise.

There was only one place where I was unsure of the directions and I think it was the knitter not the instructions after a quick discussion with knitwear designer Lori Versaci of VersaciKnits.

If it says, “Dec every 8 rows”, you should make the first decrease after 8 rows. If the designers means for you to make the first dec on the next row then start every 8 rows, the directions should say, “Dec on next and then every 8 rows” or something like that!

– Lori Versaci, VersaciKnits

Fortunately, I had figured it out because the decrease instructions all happened on the RS (right side) rows which meant that it was going to have to happen on rows 1 and 9 not on row 8. Being thoughtful, taking a pause to think about my knitting answered the question for me. A life lesson put to use in my knitting yet again.

I block everything on my guest room bed. Today I have two projects blocking – a hat for a customer and the sweater. I can’t wait until it’s dry and can be assembled and I can knit the collar. Then we can choose a button on Tuesday when I’m at the yarn shop and send it off to Kate who is in rehearsal for Carousel which will open later this month at the Arena Stage in Washington, DC. I know it’s sweater weather in Maine (at least in the morning and afternoon) but I’m not sure about the Washington area.

I’ll show you the finished garment in a day or two!

Gone knitting.

The Right Way(s) to Yarn Over

My knitting classes have been asking about the correct way to make a yarn over. I’ve shown them the right way to do one between knit stitches but my answer falls somewhat short because there are several ways to yarn over and it all depends on which stitches the yarn over falls between.

I went searching for a good video tutorial and found this one from Purl Soho (see a picture of me at Purl Soho here!) that explains all of the ways to do a yarn over … between two knit stitches, between a knit and a purl stitch, etc.

This is the best video tutorial I’ve seen! But Purl Soho is one of the best yarn shops I’ve seen, too! (If you get a chance to visit, please do!)

It’s excellent, right?

Gone knitting.