A Very Late Christmas Post

IMG_0260

By “very late christmas post” I mean very late.  I made these Christmas tree decorations LAST Christmas and never got around to posting them.  Then Christmas came and went, and I never took a photo for the blog, and then the decorations went in a box, and the box went in the storage unit.  I got the decorations out again this year, but the holidays are so crazy that I still didn’t get around to taking a photo of them until just now.

Better late than never, no?

The trees are pretty simple to make – I just followed the directions as written.  I didn’t add buttons, obviously, but I still like the way they look.  What was unexpected was how long the project took.  It’s kind of like socks – you finish one and you have to start all over again.  Only this time I had to start over three times.

Cecilia: a conundrum

Photo on 6-30-12 at 6.25 PM #4

Oh, Cecilia, I had such great hopes.

I pre-ordered Essentially Feminine Knits because I was really impressed with the designs.  It arrived earlier than the estimated delivery date, so I was really excited to get started! Generally, I really like the book.  The patterns all seem pretty well written (of course, I’ve only done one pattern so far, so we’ll see how it goes in the future), and most of the designs are things I could see myself wearing, perhaps with some mods.

One of the big negatives about this book is (nearly) every pattern is knitted with a yarn that is either not available in North America or would be ridiculously expensive to order.

I wanted to knit Cecilia first since the lace design would be nice for summer, and I’m really liking dolman-shaped sweaters right now.

Photo on 6-30-12 at 6.25 PM #3

A few things went wrong, well, maybe not wrong, but definitely strange:

1. The pattern calls for size 7 needles for a finished S/M sweater.  I had to increase to a size 9 to obtain gauge, which I felt was strange because usually my knitting is very loose and I have to go down a needle size or two.

2.  The lace pattern was actually really fun to knit, but then I got to the “body” portion of the sweater, which is just plain stockinette stitch (st st).  At this point, I had nearly 400 stitches on my needles, so knitting in st st was about the most boring thing I’ve ever done. The pattern called for nearly 1″ of st st after the lace, which I felt like would make the sweater really long, but my gauge was right on and the measurements were matching up with the pattern, so who was I to argue?

3.  So, the “body” and “sleeves” ended at about my natural waist after all that st st-ing, at which point begins the ribbing.  And here’s the major problem – I can barely move my arms.  Unfortunate picture below.

Photo on 6-30-12 at 6.25 PM #2

4. I actually bought more yarn in terms of yardage than the pattern called for, but I still “ran out” in the sense that the ribbing was only a few inches instead of 5.5″ as called for in the pattern.  But frankly, if I did have enough yarn to keep going, an additional 3″ would be too long on the sweater as it is now.

Photo on 6-30-12 at 6.24 PM #2

Otherwise, I really like the sweater.  The lace is simply stunning.  I tried to take a close up, but since I had to be my own photog today, I couldn’t get a shot that was in any way representative of the lace.

Final thought: I think I’m going to have to rip it out at least to near the bottom of the lace pattern so I can finish the st st earlier and make the rib longer.  Hopefully, that will give me more arm movement.

I’m disappointed.  I followed this pattern exactly as written, and sometimes you just have to have faith in the patterns as they are.  I guess I should have followed my instinct and shortened the st st when I had the chance.  I’ll update if/when I am able to fix Cecilia.

Date Night

A part of Operation: Use Up Stash

Hello, date night.  This is a free pattern on Ravelry from Nikol Lohr.  I decided on this project because the yardage would use almost exactly the amount of this red sport yarn I had from Bernat.  Plus, I thought it was super cute.

A word of warning: the yoke is not quite long enough, and since you’re knitting from the top-down, I recommend adding more to the yoke while you can.  I started knitting this before there were many other projects of Date Night on Ravelry, but since then, it looks like a lot of others have had the same yoke issues as me.  I probably should have gauged more closely in the first place, so it’s ultimately my fault.  The shell turned out within tolerable tightness ranges, but it would be slightly more comfortable if the yoke were just a wee bit longer – I’m talking just like three rows more.

Neck detail

The lace detail itself, though, is really gorgeous.  The yoke and body lace patterns don’t line up, but it turned out to offset evenly and in the middle on the XS size:

Lace detail

I made the shell longer than suggested in the pattern, and finished with EZ’s sewn bind-off, which, by the way, is my favorite bind-off now.

Hem detail

And just for fun, here’s another view of the front…

Front

and the back…

Back

Avonlea Shoulder Bag

A part of Operation: Use Up Stash
(except for the part where I had to go buy more yarn, but then I ended up not needing the new skein, but I still ended up adding to the stash)

Yes, it’s been a long time, and yes, I have things to share, starting with the Avonlea Shoulder Bag. I started working on this what seems like a very long time ago – March, I think. I actually finished the knitting very quickly, but then I got to the point where I needed a zipper, and well, it took me a long time to get a zipper.

This project is free on Ravelry from Melissa Walshe. And so begins the backstory…(a point of warning – pay no attention to the excessive amount of cat hair)

Original bag

In this first picture (right), you can see I finished the bag as per the directions. The skein of yarn I was working with was from some frogged project of yesteryear, and I wasn’t even sure the brand, let along the yardage. Needless to say, it was not enough, and I ran out of yarn after completing the body of the bag. So, I found another yarn at the store that I thought matched pretty well (as long as it’s not in direct, natural light), and finished the handles as shown.

This is where I started to doubt the bag. Up to this point I was really in love with the construction, texture, size, basically everything (really awesome pattern, Melissa). The handles are double-knit, which provides great support, but if I were to wear this purse in the summer, my shoulder would be sweating in minutes. Gross. Plus, I thought the proportion of the handles didn’t work with the proportion of the body (the body ended up being a little smaller as I was trying to conserve a my yarn with unknown yardage).

What to do, what to do? I had to go to the store to get a zipper anyway, and stumbled upon purse handles, and BINGO! My answer to avoiding sweaty shoulders!

Strap attachment detail

So I cut (eek!) the handles and knitted a thick cable strap at each corner for the handle loops (left). Sorry, the photo is a bit blurry, but you get the idea.

Overall, I’m really please with the way this turned out. I still need to sew a lining, but I’m taking baby steps with this whole sewing thing. Getting the zipper sewn in was traumatic enough.

And to finish this post…a slideshow!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

View this project on Ravelry.

Cable Check Bag…or a Pillow

A part of Operation: Use up Stash

 

My last (full) skein of Caron Simply Soft!  I’ve been trying to use up this Simply Soft for quite some time.  In fact, you can view three other projects with this same yarn: $5 in Paris, Seamless Raglan, Stripped Socks.

The Cable Check Bag is a free pattern, and is obviously suppose to be a bag.  I followed the pattern, which by the way makes more sense when you do it than it is written down.  Instead of folding and attaching bag handles, I decided to sew a backing and stuff with polyfill.  Easypeasy.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

View this project on Ravelry.

Buzios Mod

A part of Operation: Use up Stash

This is a mod of the Buzios pattern (free pattern).  My goal with this project was to use up the variegated yarn that I didn’t care for very much.  I don’t have the original skein information, but if I remember correctly the yarn is a Red Heart Super Saver.  It isn’t very soft, so I thought a loose fitting tunic of some sort would be the most comfortable to wear.

The Buzios pattern met my goal of a loose lace pattern, but I wasn’t crazy about the scoop neck and short sleeves.  Below are my mods:

Follow pattern for body to the bottom of the underarms, ending with second to last round of seed stitch pattern.
Next round, continuing in seed stitch pattern, bind off 8 stitches for underarm; continue across body, bind off 8 stitches for underarm.
Work the rest of the project flat, front and back separately.
Beginning with the front, continue in lace pattern, decrease one stitch at each arm (decrease total of 2 stitches) every other round.
When front reaches desired length, place on stitch holders.
Work back same as front, adding approximately 1.5″-2″ of seed stitch past front.
Join front and back in the round, working in seed stitch for approximately .5″-1″, or until desired length is reach.

Below are pictures showing the pattern detail, decreases, and neck shaping.  Sorry for the poor picture quality – my usual photographer was not available, so I had to take them myself!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

View this project on Ravelry.

A Pillow Sweater

Sweater Pillow

When my husband and I moved across the country nearly two years ago, we liquidated…a lot…including all of our throw pillow.  One of my husband’s favorite weekend activities is to nap on the couch, which is understandably difficult without a pillow.

I made this pillow out of an old sweater.  I actually really loved this sweater in it’s heyday and wore it pretty frequently.  So frequently, in fact, it finally got a bit stretched and misshapen and there was a small stain right on the front.

I decided to make this sweater in to a pillow for my husband’s weekend naps.  First, I deconstructed the sweater.  I measured the largest part of the main body (below the armholes) and marked out rectangles on the front and back of the sweater with pins.  I didn’t want the knit of unravel when I cut the pillow, so I quickly sewed the outline of the rectangle on the sewing machine before cutting.  I sewed up 3 full sides and most of the fourth side with the two right sides facing.  Then, I turned it right side out and stuffed with polyfill.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.