Sunday, March 28, 2010

Teddy Bear Aran Body and update

So, how are folks doing with their Teddy Bear Aran sweaters? Ready to start the body, I hope? I'm finally on the mend from this nasty cold combined with spring allergies. I bumped my VitaminD3 up to 5,000 units a day and it made quite a difference in how long the cold lasted and how bad it got. Really glad a member of my local Rav group told me about increasing my intake when facing a health challenge.

Okay, now on to the lesson for today! Using at least a 16 inch circular needle for comfort and reduced stress on your hands and placing markers between each section, put the 25 stitches from the left front on the needle, pick up 7 stitches under the left front sleeve, one in the side 'seam', 7 stitches under the left back sleeve, put on the 54 back stitches, pick up 7 stitches under the right back sleeve, one in the side 'seam', 7 stitches under the right front sleeve, and last the 25 right front stitches on the needle. Now take a moment and double check your stitches to make sure you have the correct count in each section. 

Turn and work back in pattern, working single moss stitch under the arms, as you did on the sleeves. If you used double moss stitch on the sleeves, do so on the body so they match, adjusting your stitch count as needed. Work 24 rows, the row count includes just the rows you work after putting all the stitches on the needle, not the rows you have worked flat. If you are knitting the sweater for a specific bear or bunny or person, work to the length you want minus about one inch for the bottom ribbing. We will be doing front bands after the body is finished, and you can opt not to do buttonholes if you choose. I'll cover the bottom decreases in the next lesson, as again they are designed to have the body stitches flow into the ribbing. It will be so exciting to see all the sweaters as they are finished and placed on the recipients!

Now I have some pictures to share of my other knitting projects that I've been working on. First, I finished the first of my Plaited Points socks yesterday at knitting and took a picture of it on my foot when I got home. I'm changing the pattern to knit them top down and have found several errors in the corrected chart for the main cable pattern. 

Next, I've finished the edging charts on my Pacific Northwest shawl and am working on the top i-cord edging. Friday night I came home from a really hectic day at work planning to knit a repeat or two of the five remaining after dinner. When I sat down and started knitting, I got in a 'knitting zone' and just kept going, until I got to the last three stitches to be used to start the i-cord. I looked up at the clock and it was almost 11 pm - I had knitted for three hours and it only felt like twenty minutes! I love when that happens!

I'm also working on a pair of socks for DH using some of his handspun yarn and am on the toe decreases for the first sock. They're a little larger than the last handspun pair I made him, and he's getting nervous that the toes look too large (when you switch from ribbing to stockinette the fabric lies flat instead of rippling) so I told him if we have to we can felt them a bit to snug them up. 

I'm also working on my Temperance socks, using some yarn hand dyed by my friend Stephania. I'm just finishing the heel gusset on the first sock. These were my entry for the February SolidSocks KAL on Ravelry but a death in the family and then the Ravelympics interrupted so I'll finish them as I can and still enjoy wearing them!

So I've got several projects that I am rotating among, to keep my interest up, to meet timelines, and to give my hands a change to avoid repetitive stress issues. Hope others do the same thing, believe me, you don't want an RSI to deal with!

I've got six peat pots in my kitchen window that have tomato seeds sprouting, one has three sprouts, four have two, and one has just one so far. I also have one of four horehound peat pots with a sprout in it, I was told they can take 4-5 weeks to sprout and they are living up to that schedule. DH and I are planning what and how we want to plant our garden this spring. We are moving towards raised beds in the garden, setting up one each year as we don't generate a lot of compost material, but we may set up one totally geared for carrots and beets this spring. That one will have equal parts of sand, peat moss, and compost in it so the roots can have plenty of soft soil to grow in. Yesterday when I was at Borders to buy a special publication on knitting, I saw Mother Earth News' 'Organic Gardening' special issue and bought it to use to show DH how these techniques are done. He hasn't done organic gardening before but wants to move that way and hasn't made raised beds before. But the idea of not having to plow the garden space every spring is very appealing to him, lol, especially since he is in his 60's now. A friend is supposed to be bringing us a cantaloupe start but we'll see if she ever makes it over here with it - she has narcolepsy and other issues and tends to fall asleep at any time and then forgets what she was doing just before hand. 

DH is currently plying the second bobbin of the silver Shetland fleece he bought at Black Sheep Gathering last summer. It's looking scrumptious and if there is enough yardage it will become a cardigan for his Mom. I'm hoping to knit Harriet from 'A Fine Fleece' for her. He's also combing locks from a Romney fleece I bought at Black Sheep Gathering 2008, dark brown with silver and tan colors. He's getting really good with his spinning and enjoys it a lot. So glad he taught himself to spin so he has an indoor hobby during the nasty weather. 

Time to end this post and get some other stuff done today. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday update - sunshine!

Morning, everyone! Hope folks had a good week and got some knitting or crocheting done. Last Sunday I finished my Amphora completely, washed her and put her on the wooly board. Wednesday I took her to work to show my friends and then to knitting on Wednesday night. Then yesterday I wore her to breakfast with a friend and DH and in the afternoon to knitting. I love how she fits and my friends gave me lots of compliments on her. Wednesday night one of the knitters said she kept waiting for a hangtag to fall out, as it looked so evenly knit, lol.

This was taken before I tacked down the sleeve, neck, and bottom facings. The hem is not rolled, that's the facings. It's warm with a raincoat over it in 50 degree weather, but comfortable inside a restaurant. 

Now I've picked up and am working on finishing the edging for my Pacific Northwest Shawl. in laceweight Merino in forest green. I started the shawl before my first DH was killed, in 2001, and now I am finally ready to pick it up and finish knitting it. Some folks don't understand why it's taken me so long, but they haven't been widowed so have no base of reference to go from. I pm'd with another knitter on Ravelry who is in the same boat and she is just now finishing a sweater she had started before her DH died the same year as mine. Many times folks who haven't lost a mate don't know how to comfort someone so they just tell them to get over it. Well, I can tell you we don't get over it, we learn to live with the loss and somedays it's all we can do just to get out of bed, even years later. No, that doesn't mean we need a shrink or drugs, it means we had a deep, meaningful, lasting relationship with that person who was part of our life for a time. Nowadays that kind of relationship is increasingly rare and I'm sorry to see that happen. Mates seem to be like cars to some people - use them for a while, then trade them in for a newer shiny model. Committing to someone for life is looked on as foolish and unrealistic, stupid even to some. Yes, it's hard work, and yes, it doesn't come with any guarantees, and yes, sometimes it ends before we're ready for it to end. But that, my friends, is real life, not that garbage on TV. End of rant and back to knitting talk. 

I have to do 14 repeats of the edge chart on the left side, then the bottom double repeat, then 14 repeats on the right side and then a partial repeat. I'm probably going to have to clear off the guest bed to block the shawl on. I had thought of using DH's triangle shawl loom as I did with his mother's mini-shawl, but it's not large enough and I'm afraid of breaking a strand on the nails. Since there is no electric blanket on the bed, I can pin the shawl out to dimension and leave it there to dry. It won't take long, being lace weight yarn. Then I will have another project to cross off on my WIPs list for 2010! 

DH is spinning a beautiful light grey Shetland fleece right now. He finished combing the locks this past week and they are all in boxes in order waiting to be spun up. When we were down in Talent for his stepDad's funeral last month, I spoke with his Mom about knitting her a cardigan using his handspun yarn and she was thrilled with the idea. I need to send his sister a chart for her to measure their Mom and write down the measurements before I can get started. I also need DH to finish spinning the wool first, lol. But probably this summer I'll get started on that sweater. 

Is anyone else knitting the Olympic Reindeer Hat from the free pattern on Ravelry? I printed out the original version, then at knitting yesterday one of the knitters told me the designer had tweaked the pattern to improve the decreases at the top, but she thought it made the hat too pointed now. She did have a pdf saved of the original pattern that she was using for the hats she's making for family. After looking at hers and the changes on the pattern, I'm using a 3 into 1 tam decrease so the decreases don't slant one direction or the other. The stitch count isn't quite what a proper tam would have to make the mirrored pattern but I don't think my nephew will notice or mind. He's 16 and a snowboarder, so I'm going to include a picture of Shawn White wearing the hat so he'll know where the design comes from. He's been wearing the stocking cap I knit him for Christmas and with the tie-in this one has I hope he gets a lot of wear out of it.

The Starmores From the Top group on Ravelry are doing the second sleeve on their Teddy Bear Arans for the KAL today. I'm eager to see how they feel about knitting a sweater this way. I know that when I took Janet Szabo's KAL on yahoo a few years ago to make a sweater and learn the technique it really improved my knitting a lot. I know a lot more about how to modify a pattern to get the fit I want. I'm eager to get started on the fall KAL on that group for a pattern from the reprint of 'Aran Knitting' which comes out this fall. Some folks are planning to buy the re-issued Bainin yarn when it becomes available this summer to knit their sweaters in, sounds luscious! But I have Cascade 220 stashed to knit my St. Enda with, to match the one I knit for DH a few years ago. So I'll be doing that, while drooling over the Bainin. Who knows, I might get enough overtime to allow me to buy a sweater's worth of Bainin for my next Starmore? LOL.

I hope folks are ready for this coming Wednesday, St. Patrick's Day! Wearing 'o the green and lots of 'Irish' jokes and accents and all the fun.

Happy knitting!

Monday, March 08, 2010

DH's Valentine's Day socks 2010

Originally uploaded by BlueDragon2
DH graciously allowed me to delay finishing these socks until I had finished the knitting on Amphora, in time for Ravelympics. So I finished these last Sunday, the 28th, and he now has nice new socks to wear!

Except that we were at Mission Mill Museum on Saturday and he found some Cascade Heritage sock yarn in variegated greens that just match the colors in his Forest for Kelly vest and bought the skein for me to knit sock for him, lol.

FIL's birthday socks, now MIL socks

Originally uploaded by BlueDragon2
These are the socks I made for my FIL, who received them the day before he passed away. They have been shortened so my MIL can wear and enjoy them now.

Sunday update and Teddy Bear Aran sleeve

Hi, everyone! A little late today with the post but this morning I was finishing up my Amphora and she is now relaxing on the wooly board while she dries and blocks - yea! So glad to finally have her completely done and am looking forward to wearing her next Saturday, God willing.

This is DH holding her for me in the back yard. Ten minutes after this shot was taken the clouds came in and it got really dark. Now, at 11:50 pm, it's pouring outside. 

FIL passed away on February 11 of heart failure, but I got his birthday socks to him in time. MIL asked me to shorten them so she can wear them and they have been done, mailed, and happily received.

I also finished DH's Valentine's Day socks but they'll have to go in a separate entry as Blogger and Flickr are not talking to each other tonight.

Has everyone recovered from their Ravelympics heroic efforts? Are you ready to start the sleeves on your Teddy Bear Arans? Okay, let's jump in! First, I prefer to join my sleeves after I have the body portion done, but some folks prefer to knit them flat and seam them later. If you want to do that, when the instructions say to join and knit in the round, continue knitting flat but cast on another stitch on either side of the sleeve to be used as a seam stitch. Knit it every right side row and purl it every wrong side row - don't slip it at the beginning of the rows! Also, the first part of the sleeve is knit flat regardless of how you will end the sleeve, as it forms the underarm part of the body, so don't join immediately after picking up the stitches!

Left sleeve - 
Pick up 11 stitches in left front, work across 12 stitches from shoulder strap in pattern (for most folks this should be a cable row and don't forget to twist the stitches to either side), pick up 11 stitches in left back - 34 stitches. 

Knit back across back and front, working pattern stitches on strap section.

Set stitch pattern as follows: P2 C4L P2 Twist 2 P1 K1 P1 Braid 8 P1 K1 P1 Twist 2 P2 C4R P2. Don't be afraid to separate each of the patterns with a marker, I do it because otherwise I would just zip down the row and forget something and have to tink back to fix it later. It may sound silly and wasteful to use markers to separate twist stitches from the framing purl stitches but it saves time in the long run for me. 

Work patterns as set to end of 15th round, place marker at end and join into a circle if desired. If continuing to work flat, add a stitch at each end of the row for seaming the sleeve section when you finish knitting it. 

The decrease round is planned specifically to flow into the ribbing, so take your time to understand how this technique works. Decrease on round 29 as follows: P2tog, K2tog, P2tog, K1, P1, K2tog, P1, K1, P1, K2tog, P2tog, K2tog, P3tog (not a typo!), K1, P1, K2tog, P1, K2tog, P2tog, K1, P2tog. If you are working flat, you will have an additional knit stitch at the beginning and end of the round that are not included above.

Work 6 rounds of K1, P1 ribbing. 

Bind off in pattern, pick up purlwise in first stitch to finish bind off. Run end in and secure. Sit back and admire your first sleeve completed!

I'm doing one sleeve per week, as spring break is coming up for some folks and others are still working to finish Ravelympic projects, so I don't want to add so much to the load. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask me on Ravelry. 

Happy knitting!