“Flax” by Tin Can Knits

It’s finished and my husband wore it on Friday!

I loved knitting Flax by Tin Can Knits!

Flax is a free pattern for a simple top down sweater with an interesting and different sleeve treatment called a grater sleeve. Basically, the sleeve has a garter stitch “stripe” from the top of the shoulder to the cuff. It looks great and adds a bit of interest to an otherwise simple sweater.

That said, I’ve been knitting for over 30 years and I do not like seaming. I can do it and I can do it well but I still don’t like it. Any time I can avoid it, I will! And I did on this sweater – I win! 🙂

I knitted Flax in Ella Rae Classic Wool in a beautiful medium-blue. This yarn came to my LYS (and the wonderful place that I work) as a clearance yarn. It is 100% wool and has a good hand. I wanted to give it a try so I can recommend it (or not) to our customers. It was reasonably priced and made for making an affordable sweater for an adult at just around the $50.00 mark. I liked the yarn although when I blocked the sweater there was a lot of color bleed. I’m glad I didn’t stripe it!

This was a good knitting project and would be a great first garment. The sizing in the pattern is from baby to man or teeny to really big. Knitted in worsted-weight yarn it is a quick project, too. Not that knitting should ever be a race! It’s all about the process.

Hubby is happy and I am happy, too. Check out the beautiful patterns by Tin Can Knits on Ravelry.

Gone Knitting!

Happy Mothers/Mother’s/Mothers’ Day!

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It’s hard to imagine that nearly a month has passed (again) since I’ve posted something about my knitting life – or anything about my life. I wish that I could say that I’ve been on an exotic trip to Africa or on a tour around Europe but I’ve been happily ensconced in my normal day-to-day life in Maine, USA.

Today is Mother’s Day. I heard from all five kids and have eaten my gift of Graeter’s Ice Cream (six flavors, all with chocolate chunks) twice a day since it arrived. I’ve been knitting less and resting my hands more. Sadly, I’ve got some arm aches that lead to thumb pain on Friday and that’s enough to make me slow down.

I took my Orange Peel quilt to the long arm machine yesterday and got it about half-quilted before something happened with the machine. Initially we thought it was a band slipping but as I worked, the noise got worse and it was bad enough to stop using it. With any luck, the repair man is coming on Thursday and maybe I can finish quilting on Friday after class.

I’ve been happy at work at the Yardgoods Center in Waterville. I’m in the store Tuesday and Thursday and I teach on Friday. I love our customers and I love working with creative people. We are participating in the first “Maine Yarn Cruise” this summer and we’ve been getting our planning done. Prizes, patterns, kits, etc. There is a lot of planning to do and 19 or so shops participating from around the state. I love teaching, too. I had 20 students last week – three of whom stayed all day – and I so enjoy helping my students conquer their knitting challenges and learn something new. I also enjoy stretching my own knitting knowledge. Each challenge that students bring to me are a new test of my skills as a knitter and I realize each time that I am really a good knitter, capable of figuring out just about anything that’s brought my way. Confidence building!

I am knitting and making progress.

I cast on for the Joji Locatelli “Starting Point MKAL” and have gotten about half-way through clue number 1. Trying to pace myself. More details will follow but you can also check me out in Ravelry (lindar). I’m nearly finished with a sweater for my sweetie. I’m knitting “Flax” by Tin Can Knits. What a great garment! I’ll have to make more. “Flax” is designed to be worked in worsted weight yarn. I’m using Ella Rae Classic Wool in a really pretty blue color. My husband will look wonderful in the blue! I’ve got most of one sleeve to complete and then the ribbing for two sleeves (after it’s tried on once more).

I have two pairs of socks on the needles – one cuff-down in a speckled yarn and a toe-up pair in Heritage Print by Cascade in Christmas colors. These are the socks that I taught in my adult ed class this past session. One class turned into two … two nights of teaching each week may be one of the reasons I haven’t been posting a whole lot! I also have started another pair of Miriam Felton’s “Footie Socks”. One down, one to go.

I’ve finished husband’s scarf and several “knitted knockers” (www.KnittedKnockers.org). Have also knitted a pair of socks for my new cousin. I’m in the process of making him a flannel quilt like I made for his big sister.

Image (1) knitting-002-199x300.jpg for post 1462My little dog, Lola, has had kennel cough and is now struggling with a goopy eye. Probably spring allergies. Both little dogs are heading to a new groomer on Wednesday and I’m sure that will help – we’re horribly over due for a hair cut! I’m working on finding a new hair dresser, too!

Moving to a new place is a challenge. I’m still working on finding all of the doctors, hair and nail people, groomers, veterinarians, stores to shop in, etc. But we are so glad that we moved to Maine. We are looking forward to more time on the front porch and summer visitors!

Gone 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.

#20 Adults Aran Sweater by Yankee Knitter Designs

Love Love Love the Raspberry Stitch in the middle

Love Love Love the Raspberry Stitch in the middle

The Adult Aran Sweater has been a bucket list project for a couple of years. I love the cardigan … I love the pullover, too. There is something so classic and beautiful about Aran knitting. I have always felt drawn to the Irish part of me (yes, I am partly Irish) and maybe my attraction to Aran knitting is because of that. (or maybe not.)

Regardless, I’ve mostly completed the cardigan for myself. It has been blocked and is nearly dry enough to seam together. It should be a cinch to seam as most of the seams will be straight  and simple. That said, I will wait to finish the seaming before I go about bragging about it being easy – I’m sure to jinx myself.

This pattern was a joy to knit. I loved the pattern and it was the first time that the pattern was so well planned that it was easy for me to memorize so that I didn’t need to refer to the pattern every row. I knitted mine in stashed yarn that I have been carrying around for nearly a decade, Galway Worsted yarn in the natural colorway. The yarn is made by Plymouth Yarn Co. It’s a sturdy worsted weight wool and it should wear well. I plan to wear this sweater a lot!

I love the Galway worsted yarn by Plymouth. I bought a whole bag (or maybe two) to make the Great American Aran Afghan about eight years ago. I’ve started a square twice and never finished them. So, when I was searching my stash to make this sweater (because I am in a severe stash busting mode right now) it was evident that I would have more than enough of this yarn to complete my cardigan and I would bust my stash a bit, too! The afghan will go back on my knitting challenge bucket list for those times when I can sit quietly by myself and count all the stitches. For now, my life is too full of people and activities and that’s a good thing.

A good start - I chose to make my ribbing with the larger size needle so it doesn't get too blouse-y

A good start – I chose to make my ribbing with the larger size needle so it doesn’t get too blouse-y

I chose to knit my ribbing both on the bottom of the body and the sleeves with the same size needle that I knit the rest of the sweater with. I didn’t want it to be super blousey. I loved the twisted rib and it adds a little something special to the sweater’s edges. Otherwise, I knit the sweater as the pattern is written. I made the sleeves a little bit longer than the 20 inches called for because I have gorilla arms.

Blocking

Blocking

I always seem to block my knitwear on the guest bed in our guest room. It’s so much easier on my back! I blocked this out to the chest size that was in the pattern and the sleeves were blocked to the length that I wanted them. The only thing that would improve this pattern (and be helpful for blocking) would be to have a schematic diagram of the way that the pieces are supposed to measure. But, having a little bit of experience, I knew that the crucial measurements for me are the chest and the arm length. The rest will work itself out.

I never buy buttons until the sweater is completed and I won’t break my rule for this sweater. I imagine that I will choose simple buttons because the knitted pattern is so pretty that I don’t want to take away from it but I will cross that river when I get there. (And I will check my button stash first, too!)

Once dry, I will weave in the ends and then seam the sweater up! I can’t wait to have this one finished. And, of course, it’s now summertime and it’s going to be awhile until I get to wear it. But when it’s done, I will post photos of it all together.

Gone knitting.

“Yarn From Hell” Cardigan

Blocking .... needs the buttons and it's done!

Blocking …. needs the buttons and it’s done!

Many (MANY) moons ago in a land far away … OK, I bought the yarn at the Maine Fiber Frolic several years ago and have made two sweaters with it that have been frogged.

One was the free cardigan pattern that came with the yarn. I got all of the pieces knitted and blocked and when I went to assemble the cardigan, the sleeves didn’t fit into the sweater. Neither I nor a couple of others that I consulted knew how to fix the problem. Sweater number 1 was frogged. The yarn went into my naughty yarn closet for a long time out.

I still liked the yarn. I selected three colors of Seacolors Yarn (dyed in Washington, Maine) a coral, a green and coral mix and a blue.This summer I decided it was time for the yarn to be given another chance and settled on a sweater that was a free pattern found on Revelry. When nearly finished, I realized was going  be big enough for my whole family to wear at the same time. Huge. And I’m not a petite woman! Frogged again.

A month or so ago I bought a pattern at my LYS. (You get what you pay for, right?) The pattern, by Diane Soucy of Knitting Pure and Simple is Pattern #9725, Neck Down Cardigan for Women. A simple pattern knit in one piece. I thought this was the third time’s a charm … and, fortunately, today I finished the cards and it fits.

I had tried it on several times while I was working on it to keep checking on the fit. This is one reason that I love the top down construction of this cardigan. I did make a few adjustments (basically because I wasn’t paying attention all the time) … I used the larger needles to knit the bottom of the sleeves. I also knit the plackets before realizing that I hadn’t knit the collar. So the collar went on at the end. It looks fine and I will knit this pattern again.

I will wear it next week to work.

Gone knitting!

My intrepid assistant approves! It's a good place for a nap.

My intrepid assistant approves! It’s a good place for a nap.

Crew – A Test Knit

 

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Crew

If I show you a picture of the finished sweater, I think Lori would have to kill me. (Not really.) But just in case, I wanted to show you my progress on my test knitting project for VersaciKnits.

I “worried” about the yarn for several days and finally just “bit the bullet” and bought some lovely Berroco yarn in their Folia line (40% cotton, 30% viscose, 15% alpaca, 10% nylon, 5% wool). It’s like a mutt blend of yarn with a little bit of everything. But I liked the soft hand and the gauge looked like it would match the pattern requirements. I bought eight skeins/hanks to make the size large in the teal blue color #3856 (dye lot 83925) and, of course, neither of my photographs is color-accurate! I’m knitting with a US 5 circular needle (Knitter’s Pride Dreamz).

IMG_5188I have nine or ten inches knitted up and I am loving the drape and feel of the fabric. I guessI should recheck the gauge to make sure I’m on target. My swatch was pretty much perfect. Stitches were spot on and the rows were a tiny bit shy of what was required but I didn’t block the swatch very aggressively and I know I could have made it work. I’ll remember that with the sweater pieces before I seam!

Our timeline is to have the sweater finished in four to six weeks. We got the pattern on July 16th and have had one update since then. I’d better quit blogging and get knitting!

Gone Knitting!

 

 

I’m Not Ignoring You!

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Lilies of the Valley

I don’t want you to think that I’ve been ignoring you. I just can’t believe how busy my life has been since we’ve moved to Maine.

Mother Nature has been working double overtime to make everything around us green and blooming. The pollen has been like snow at times but it is beautiful when the wild flowers start to bloom in the woods. I saw some lilies of the valley on my walk a few days ago and our yellow iris down by the rocks at the edge of the lake are blooming profusely.

We have been to bed early and up early and have seen some beautiful sunrises. We are reminded with each one how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place. Even when it’s really, really early! IMG_4783

IMG_4798All three dogs are adjusting to living in the little guest cabin and to the noise that is our home-building destruction and construction life. Little Boq has had some wicked hot spots but we seem to have them under control again. The little dogs have been to a new groomer and will feel so much better now that they’re groomed and bathed.

I have been knitting a little. I’ve managed to finish the little pink zebra footie socks for my mentee in South Florida. She is turning 14! Yikes. I am hoping they fit and I have another whole ball of the same yarn to make one more pair to her specifications. She loves pink and zebra stripes, I thought the yarn was perfect!

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Pink Zebra Low Socks

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Two Dishcloths … one good, one not so good

I have also finished a couple of dish towels for my daughter. She sent me the yarn and I knitted her some cloths. One, I love. It’s Grandmother’s Favorite and it’s an easy knit and I love the way it came out. The second one was supposed to be a paw print. Ya know … I’ve knitted many paw prints before and must have used a different pattern. This one I do NOT like. It’s huge and not a good image of a paw print. I’m sending it anyway because she can use it for her dog’s muddy feet or something. But it will go with a note of explanation. (I wasn’t going to frog it after it was done but I’m not happy with it.)

I have chosen the third pattern for my Seacolors Yarn sweater and I think I am going to like this one much better. The pattern I am knitting is called Driftwood by Isabell Kraemer. I will not be making stripes but rather blocks of color. I’ve started with the peachy-orange shade and then will change to the green for the bottom of the body. I’ll see what I have left over for the sleeves. I’ll use the blue yarn for the edging and probably most of one of the sleeves. I’ll keep you posted!

I wore my cotton tunic to work yesterday. I love the color and the cotton yarn is perfect over a t-shirt or blouse. BUT I have always thought the straps were a bit too long. So, this morning I’m pulling the straps apart and shortening them. I would like to be able to wear it without  a shirt under it if I want … when I’m done, I’ll be able to. I got quite a few compliments on it and that always feels good!

I feel so blessed and grateful to be able to live here on our beautiful lake in Maine. It’s really a dream come true. The love of my life and I are building our home and all is right with the world.

Gone knitting.