Sunday, January 31, 2010

Teddy Bear Aran Part 3

Morning, Everyone!

Hope your week has gone well and you have been able to get some good knitting time in both on the KAL project and your own knitting projects. Today we're going to start on the first front for our wee Teddy Bear sweater! 

As most of you are probably already thinking, starting the fronts is similar to starting the back, with a couple of changes. First, we are going to be doing some shaping at the front neck, so the sweater is comfortable to wear and the fronts lie flat. As we are making a cardigan, we will do one front today and the second one next week. I know several of you will probably have enough knitting time to get them both done this week, but for those who have a lot of other responsibilities in your life, I'm posting one at a time to give you more time to work on them without feeling pressured. 

Start by placing the sweater on the table (or your lap!) in front of you with the back you just worked on closest to you. Beginning at the top right edge of the right shoulder strap, pick up 17 stitches in the edge stitch. Turn and knit in the front and back of the first stitch, then knit across the remaining 16 stitches - 18 stitches total. 

Set up and start working the stitch patterns as follows: 9 moss stitches, P2 K1 P2, cable 4 left twist cabling on the second right side row and every fourth row thereafter, P3. Turn, knit in front and back of first stitch, working stitches as they face you across the rest of the row. Work next right side row, cabling 4 cable stitches, finish row. Turn, knit in front and back of first stitch, finish row. Turn, work across row past cable, P2, work left twist on next two stitches as follows: knit into second stitch on needle behind first stitch, then knit into first stitch and drop both off needle, P1. Turn, knit into front and back of first stitch, finish row.

You now should have 24 stitches on the needle, right? Work across the row, doing the left twist and finishing the row with a P2. Turn, knit into front and back of first stitch, work across row. Now you should have 25 stitches on the needle. Work next side row, ending with a K1 edge stitch. Do not slip the edge stitch, as it will mess up the button band pickup process. 

Continue working until the front is the same length as the back, place all stitches on a piece of yarn, admire your beautiful knitting, and have a great week! Don't use the same piece of yarn that you already have the back stitches on, as the sweater needs to lie flat when we work on the sleeves. Have a great week!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Teddy Bear KAL Part 2

Good morning, everyone! I spent some time this morning working on a pair of Fair Isle mittens for a good friend who, after spending over 55+ years in the USA, is returning to Scotland to care for her sister. Last Tuesday it suddenly dawned on me that I couldn't let her return to Scotland without a proper pair of Fair Isle mittens! So I dug out my Hebridean 2-ply leftovers from DH's Oregon Autumn vest kit, 'Knitting Fair Isle Mittens and Gloves' by Carol Noble, and set to work. This morning I have gotten to the point where I'm ready to kitchener stitch the top of the first mitten closed, so decided to set it aside for a bit while I write this post. I know there are some folks on Ravelry who are eagerly waiting for the 2nd part of the KAL and I hope you understand my need to make some serious progress on my friend's mittens. She is planning to leave the end of this coming week, if her DH gets good news from the doctors on Wednesday, so I really need to get close to finishing them this weekend so I can wash and block them before giving them to her. 

Now, on to the wee sweater!

The first part had you cast on and knit the shoulder straps, then place those stitches on pieces of yarn until you are ready for them. The reason I specified pieces of yarn instead of stitch holders is for flexibility - it's much easier to knit on something when it will flex around your hands instead of your hands having to flex around a rigid stitch holder. Now we're going to start the back of the sweater and work it down to the bottom of the armholes before putting those stitches on a piece of yarn. 

Place the shoulder straps on the table (your lap?) in front of you with the held stitches facing to the left and right. Starting at the top of the right strap, next to the held stitches, pick up 18 stitches in the edge stitch of the strap, picking up from the right side. Turn your needle and, using a cable cast on for strength and to reduce collar sag (won't happen on this sweater but will happen on people sweaters - painful experience talking here!), cast on 18 stitches. Turn your needle again and start picking up 18 stitches in the left shoulder strap, starting at the cast on edge and working towards the held stitches. You will have a total of 54 stitches on your needle when you finish. You can use whichever type of needle works for you, straight or circular, at this point. 

Turn your work and knit back across all 54 stitches as follows: knit 17, knit into front and back of next stitch, knit 18, knit into front and back of next stitch, knit 17 - 56 stitches. I did this so you will know you can add more stitches to get the stitch count you need for your design if you can't pick up enough neatly in the shoulder straps. Set up stitch patterns as follows:

Moss stitch 9 sts
Purl 2
Knit 1
Purl 2
Knit 4 cable left (twist on second right side row and every 4th row thereafter)
Purl 2
Twist 2 left (knit into second stitch on left needle behind first stitch, then knit into first stitch on needle, drop both off left needle)
Purl 2
Braid 8 stitches as shoulder straps
Purl 2
Twist 2 right (knit into second stitch on left needle in front of first stitch, then knit into first stitch on needle, drop both off left needle)
Purl 2
Knit 4 cable right (twist on second right side row and every 4th row thereafter)
Purl 2
Knit 1
Purl 2
Moss stitch 9 sts

If you're new to Aran knitting, put stitch markers between the various stitch patterns to make it easier to see where they change. I've been knitting Arans for almost 40 years and I still use lots of stitch markers to divide stitch patterns to reduce mistakes (notice they don't stop me making them, they just reduce the number I make, lol).

Work twenty rows in pattern not counting the first knitted row on wrong side, then place stitches on a piece of yarn, sit back, and admire your work! Catch you next weekend!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Teddy Bear Aran - Part 1

This is the first part of the Teddy Bear Aran KAL that I am leading on Ravelry in the Starmores From the Top Down group. I plan to post one installment each Sunday, so folks have enough time during the week to read the post, work on their class project, and do the other things they need to do in their lives. Hope folks enjoy this introduction to doing Arans from the top down!

One skein of worsted weight yarn, I used Cascade 220 100% wool
One pair size 5 needles, I used circular 16 inch
Notepad and pencil or pen
Waste yarn to hold stitches

Shoulder Straps
Using a firm cast-on, such as Cable Cast-on, cast on 12 stitches. You want to use a firm cast-on, so the stitches don't stretch out as the garment is knit and then worn. My favorite is the cable cast-on, as it is firm, easy to do, doesn't require that the knitter try to figure out how much yarn will be needed ahead of time, and is one that knitters should have in their skills repertoire. Here is a link for folks who need to learn this cast-on.

On the first row, P1, K1, P8, K1, P1 so the stitches are set up for the edge stitches and the 8 stitch braid that will run across the shoulder and down the top of the sleeve. I have found that braids are the strongest stitch pattern to support the weight of the sweater as it hangs on the body. The many crosses that the yarn makes as the braid is worked are like a strong net. If you need to put markers in to mark the edges of the braid until it is established, please go ahead and do it. 

On the next row, begin the 8-stitch braid and do four repeats of it. This is a website that has instructions and a photo on it, please modify it so the edge stitch is knit on the right  side and purled on the wrong side to make picking up the body stitches easier.

I am enclosing links to other websites so folks can learn about these valuable knitting resources that are available online to anyone to use. There are a lot of wonderful sites out there and it's hard to learn about them by oneself, so I'm offering links so folks can find and use them. If anyone has questions about how to do a stitch, or the website instructions are not clear, please put a comment on my blog and I will answer it as soon as possible. 

When you finish four repeats of the braid, place the stitches on a piece of waste yarn, cut the knitting yarn leaving about 8 inches of end, and do the second shoulder strap. Do not try to reverse the braid, it is fine the way it is done. When you finish the second strap, you are done with the first part of this KAL and can relax until next weekend! 

Happy knitting!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Cold morning!

Got up this morning about 7:30 (benefit of being on vacation is not having to get up at 6!) and thought the house was a bit cold. But since I've got a sinus infection I thought maybe it was just because I had been sleeping under the electric blanket. Then I checked the temp in the living room and discovered it was 61 degrees - brrrrr! Tried to turn the gas furnace on and the little flame symbol shows on the thermostat but the furnace doesn't budge. Went out to the garage and turned the breaker off and on, still no furnace start up. Turned the thermostat off and on several times - no luck. So I brought the little space heater in from the garage and set it on the floor by the coffee table where I sit to use my notebook computer and knit and watch the morning news. DH is still asleep and I want him to get his rest, so when he wakes up I'll let him deal with the furnace. We had to have a shut-off valve installed this summer and I'm sure he watched the tech work on the furnace, so maybe he will know how to fix the problem without having to call in a tech. But it's about 36 degrees outside and about 60 inside, so I'm sure he'll know when he gets up that there is a problem. Needless to say, the dogs are cuddled around me on the couch since DH isn't up yet. When he gets up they'll have to get down as he doesn't allow them on the couch. But right now we're denning up to stay warm.

I added the last couple of projects I finished on New Year's Eve, two cup cozies from left over Cascade 220 Heathers yarns from my nephews' gift hats. I almost got a third one done, but zonked with just two rounds and the cast off still to be done. They got done when I got up in the morning and I finished the Jasmin Fingerless Mitts at the New Year's Day Knit In at Rose and Ram Knit Studio in historic Independence, OR. This is the second year we've done the event and, while the turnout was smaller due to University of Oregon playing in the Rose Bowl, it was still a great success and we had a lot of fun. I brought the premie caps the Salem Area Ravelers group has been making to donate to the Salem Hospital NICU. Nancy knit a cap at the Knit In to put us at 75 caps. The next day, JaKay brought a box sent to her by a friend in Utah that put us at about 100, along with a pair of mittens, about 4 pairs of booties, and a lovely little blanket. I took them to St. Joseph's Catholic Church to be blessed and then took them to the NICU. 

The nurses invited me inside the unit and looked at the hats, oohing and aahing over the pretty colors and fancy stitches that had been used. They were overwhelmed at how many we were donating and I mentioned this was our third batch in the last year. They kept telling me how much they and the families appreciate the little gifts for wee ones fighting to survive. Premie caps can be anywhere from the size of a lemon (mostly demise wee ones) to a regular newborn size, as some babies go home but then have problems and have to come back for care. They are a wonderful way to try out new stitches and color patterns in a quick project that doesn't take much yarn. A lot of us save our sock yarn leftovers to use for the caps, since the yarn is usually washable and pretty colored. 

Yesterday I finished the first of my Brigit socks and plan to cast on the second one today. Yesterday I also worked on DH's Annemor#7 gloves from 'Selbuvotter' using his handspun yarns. I'm ready to start knitting the pinkie finger on the first glove and hope to get that done today. Even with the difference in gauge of the two yarns they are working up nice and I have hopes that DH will actually wear them this winter, lol. What's causing a problem is that I seem to have pinkeye in my left eye, making it water and causing problems reading charts and directions. I think somehow the virus in my sinus' got in my tear ducts and now I have two issues to deal with. At least I'm on vacation for another week, so hopefully I will be well by the time I go back to work. 

I don't have anything to go do outside the house today so plan to get some things on my to-do list done, at least while sitting next to the heater, lol! So DH may get the whole first glove done while I snuggle on the couch with the heater and hot tea! I'm also knitting right now on my Allover cardigan, currently doing the first repeat of the body chart. Next repeat I'll see about changing out some colors to use some leftover yarns from my stash. I have yarns left over from DH's Autumn Oregon vest using Virtual Yarns' Hebridean 2-ply and I think some of those colors will work really well with the tone of this sweater (moorlands in bloom). 

Pictures are always good, so let's see if I can get some to post to share with you. Hmm, looks like Google Chrome has no function to unblock popups so I need to close here and open Firefox. Be right back!

Well, that didn't work, either. I'll need to load the pictures onto my computer before I can post them here. Right now they are on Flickr.

In the meantime, I'll post the Flickr links so you can go look at them if you'd like.

First Brigit sock 

Betsy's Mittens with Cats 

DH's Annemor#7 gloves 

Jasmin Fingerless Mitts 

Premie Caps at New Year's Day Knit In 

Cup Cozies