My current work in progress:

1. pour moi, designed by Lori Versaci, knit from Wollmeise Merino DK in the "Stella Polaris" colorway on a 3.75 mm (U.S. size 5) needle.
2. Outlander MKAL Shawl, designed by Rachel Rodin, knit from Lornas Laces Shepherd Sport in the "Beauchamps" and "Fraser" colorways on a 3.75 mm (U.S. size 5) needle.
3. Myriad stealth projects.

It’s Monday. Where’s the FO?

It’s Monday, and I have no FO to report.

In looking over my blog, I realized that I’ve reported at least one FO every Monday since April 12.* And today I have nothing, zilch, zero, nada.

I do have progress, though. I worked on both my current sweater projects.

He-e-e-ere’s Lucy! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist that.)

luci052304 Its Monday. Wheres the FO?

Some progress on the front.

I am really chomping at the bit to get this sweater done, because I think I’m going to love wearing it. That’s the reason I designed it — because I wanted a sweater that looks like it, but couldn’t find exactly what I wanted in existing patterns.

And here is Ingeborg.

ingeborg052304 Its Monday. Wheres the FO?

I’m finding the yarn to be rather splitty. Surprisingly so. I’ve knitted with Daletta a lot, and have never had splitting issues with it in the past. I wonder if Dale has changed the way it’s made? I need to dig out some old Daletta and compare and contrast. Perhaps part of the problem is that knitting black yarn on an ebony needle is not the smartest thing to do. So I swtiched to a bamboo needle.

On Designing mit Software

I do have some knitting design software — I’ve got Sweater Wizard, Stitch Painter, Stitch & Motif Maker, and AranPaint — full versions of all of them. The only one I really use is the Stitche & Motif Maker, for creating charts. I actually prefer to figure out designs and do the math without benefit of software.

In Spring, a Young Woman’s Fancy Lightly Turns to Thoughts of Lace

(Alfred Lord Tennyson, I apologize to you.)

And those of you sniggering behind your hands at my use of “young, ” stop it. I can see you, you know.

Why am I thinking about lace? Why am I dreaming about lace?

I went through a lace period a few years ago, when I made a pile of lace shawls and scarves.

Lately I’ve been having lacy thoughts again. What goes around comes around, I guess.

Kitty Lucy

lucy052304 Its Monday. Wheres the FO?

Getting ready for the new week! Happy Monday!

*April 12 — Colinette poncho
April 19 — Flora
April 26 — Brown poncho, Checkerboard shell, Giotto tank
May 3 — Bucket hat, Haiti
May 10 — Pink/green poncho
May 17 — Audrey

Epiphany

bulb052004 Epiphany

Every now and again the light bulb goes on, and I have a moment of clarity.

Lately I’m feeling a subtle shift in my knitting focus. I’m finding myself more interested in creating new designs, rather than knitting other people’s designs. I’ve always enjoyed designing and have done it fairly successfully on and off over the years, but I think now is the time to start thinking about doing it seriously.

What’s held me back in the past is my desire to concentrate on finishing things quickly. Designing is a slow process and I’ve always been an impatient soul. An immediate gratification kinda gal. But I think I’ve finally matured to the point that I realize that I need more of a creative outlet than knitting other people’s designs exclusively affords me. And I don’t need to be so result-driven.

Don’t get me wrong — I’ll never abandon Alice Starmore! I still have a few of her designs I want to knit, and yarn for a couple of them stashed away. And there are a few other things I want to knit, too that I’ve got lined up. I’ll always want to knit some others’ design, I just want to focus more on creating my own.

I really really really want to design a “killer” fair isle. And I have the embryo of fair isle swimming around in my head. Dunno if it’s killer, but it’s nice. Sometimes I dream about it, which should give you a clue about how exciting my “real” life is.

I also have not given up my idea of designing a Nordic-inspired two-color sweater. Got that one jumping around in my head, too. It’s getting crowded in there, because there’s also a lace sweater elbowing for room.

Clearly, I don’t have time for my full-time job.

So that’s my Friday Epiphany.

Speaking of WendyKnits! Designs

I did finish my Lucy sleeve and here it is, nicely folded in half:

luci052004 Epiphany

I cast on for and started the front of Lucy, too.

Did not a smidgen of work on Ingeborg, so my reward will be extra knitting time on her this weekend.

Fun Little Projects

And even with all this high-falutin’ design talk, I’m not averse to fun little projects!

Those of you who subscribe to the Berroco newsletter have seen this pattern for a cute l’il cellphone bag, knitted in Berroco Suede. I think it’s danged cute! I’d probably make it without the fringe, though.

Did you see there where I said “I’d probably make it”? Actually, I’ve ordered some Berroco Suede in a couple of different colors for the express purpose of making these.

Which reminds me . . . where the heck is my Berroco Suede?

It started me thinking about other yarns to use to make fun little bags. I think some of my Colinette leftovers would work great.

Speaking of Colinette, I got three skeins of Colinette Cotton DK in the mail yesterday.

cottondk052004 Epiphany

Ooh! Time to design a cute little tank!

Have a good weekend! All you in the NYC area, don’t forget the Critter Knitters Knitout on Sunday afternoon!

And do check out the blankets received page. As of May 19, 301 blankets received. You guys rock. Totally.

lucy052004 Epiphany

Lucy wants you to know that even supermodels eat sometimes.

We Have Sleevage

Or at least the start of a sleeve.

luci051904 We Have Sleevage

Finished the back of Lucy, started on a sleeve. Just for grins. It’s coming along nicely and I’m very happy with the way it’s turning out.

Ingeborg

My slow progress continues.

ingeborg051904 We Have Sleevage

It’s sort of like when you have a box of Very Nice chocolates. You ration them out, one per day (if you have any self-control, that is). That’s how my Ingeborg knitting is going. I’m rationing it out. I may only knit a little teeny bit each day. But I may reward myself on weekends with more Inge-knitting.

And an interesting comment on my front steek in yesterday’s comments:

Your motivation for your steek technique puzzled me, because I don’t think I strain the cut threads at all when I pick up stitches at a narrow steek. My understanding of the Dale instructions was to use the crochet hook to pick up stitches using a new piece of yarn along the back. When I learned to knit in Norway, I was instructed to pick up stitches by simply twisting a bit of the yarn from each of the existing stitches near the edge. That was difficult and did strain the stitches. The new thread along the back side of the work, on the other hand, makes for a very even flat band, and is a quick process. If the instructions say what the total number to pick up should be, I count the number of rows to calculate the ratio necessary. Eg, instructions say 150 stitches need to be created, and the garment has 200 rows, so I insert my crochet hook to pick up the yarn through 3 out of 4 stitches up along the steek. But I’m tall, so I sometimes make my sweaters longer. In that case, I measure my gauge vertically and horizontally, so I know what percent of rows need to be picked up. If the placket should have 30 stitches in 10 cm, I might have about 40 rows in 10 cm on the body, so I would create a new stitch in 3 out of 4 of the rows as I work my way up. Depending on the project, that ratio might be closer to 4 out of 5 (or some other easily used ratio). When you do it this way with a new piece of yarn on the back, you have a nice even line on the back to sew the folded placket edge to, as well (with exactly the same number of stitches). If you end up with a few too many stitches (compared to your pattern repeat) you can always knit two together a few times evenly spaced up the line on the first row.

Interesting! That certainly sounds like a good way to do it. I looked at the Dale book that Ingeborg is in, along with a few other Dale books, and none of them say anything about using a new piece of yarn at the back while you pick up the stitches. They all simply tell you to use a crochet hook in a size smaller than your working needle, and use it to pick up and knit x number of stitches for every x inches. I’m not saying all Dale patterns have these same brief instructions, but all the ones I looked at last night did.

Generally these instructions are in the front of the pattern book under general instructions. Dale patterns are, I think, notorious, for the sketchiness of their finishing instructions.

Something I always find amusing in Dale finishing instructions is when they tell you to sew something “neatly.” Just once I’d like to see them tell you to sew something sloppily. icon smile We Have Sleevage

Oooh! New Stuff!

Check out yesterday’s entry on the Knit Happens blog — they got in another cool summer yarn: Lana Grossa Elastico, the baby sister of Lana Grossa Point (the yarn I used for my Tina and Kristine is using for her Ta Ta Tank). I’m all excited because Kristine special-ordered the yarn for me to make the tank pictured on the Knit Happens blog, and decided to order some more colors for the shop. I’m gonna make my tank out of the copper color pictured, with the contrast in chocolate brown, which hasn’t come in yet.

My only gripe — couldn’t Lana Grossa come up with a better name for the yarn than Elastico?

Or is it just me?

Lucy in the Kitty Day Spa

Last night she was doing kitty yoga.

lucy051904 We Have Sleevage

Ingeborg — Some Nuts and Bolts

Those of you who have been reading WendyKnits for a while know that I often stray from the front steek technique as written in Dale patterns.

The pattern usually instructs you to implement a four-stitch steek for the front of a cardigan. Once the body is done, to create the front bands, you machine stitch the steek (same technique as for armhole steeks) and cut. Then, pick up stitches for the front band using a crochet hook.

I followed the instructions for a couple of Dale cardis, but was always concerned about picking up stitches with so little “real estate” in the steeks. The stitch and cut works great for the armholes, because you don’t pick up stitches around the armholes — you sew in sleeves. No strain on the steeks there.

So I worked out my own steek technique for the front.

At the beginning of the first round where you need to start steeking (on Ingeborg that’s after you complete the facing and bottom band), cast on five stitches, place a marker, knit the first round, place a marker, cast on five stitches. On the next round you join and start knitting in the round. On Ingeborg, this first round is done in one color, different from the color of the bottom band, so it’s easy to simply cast on stitches on the left hand needle, then continue on knitting the stitches already there. If there were two colors used in this round, I would cast on the stitches in alternate colors.

Of those ten stitches, the middle eight are worked in alternate colors on the two-color rounds, and the two stitches on the outer edges are always worked in the background color.

Here is my front steek in progress.

ingeborg051804 Ingeborg    Some Nuts and Bolts

Note that I’ve done my steek in stripes. You could also do it in a checkerboard pattern, which I used to do. But I find it easier to cut down the center if I’ve knitted stripes. My eyes try to play tricks on me with a checkerboard!

Once you’ve machine-stitched, cut, picked up stitches, and knit your front bands, you can trim your steeks to a two- or three-stitch width.

This method of course uses more yarn, but I’ve got extra to spare. I originally planned to make Ingeborg in size medium, but decided to make the size small (it’s that old self-image thing again — I’m not really as huge as I think I am). And I bought enough yarn to make one size up from medium, as it’s my experience that Dale patterns often underestimate the amount of yarn required.

So yeah. I’m covered for yarn!

I have been known in the past to employ a neck steek for Dales instead of casting off and knitting back and forth. I’m thinking about that now. What to do . . . I can do the neck steek and fudge the decreases, or I could simply knit up a tube and machine stitch the neck shaping and cut away the excess.

Or I could actually follow the pattern and cast off the stitches as directed and knit back and forth. It wouldn’t kill me.

I’ll decide later. And you’ll be the first to know when I do.

The moral of all this is:

Just because they wrote the pattern doesn’t mean that they know what will work best for you. Be wild! Be crazy! Be a rebel!

Over at the Ingeborg Group, one of the knit-alongers has done her bottom band in Koigu that coordinates with the colors of the body pattern. And it looks fabulous. Thinking outside the box at its finest!

By the way, Kitty Lucy was modelling Ingeborg yesterday. Her cafe au lait fur makes the purrfect backdrop, I think!

Today she was too busy sitting under the sun lamp at the kitty day spa to bother with my knitting.

lucy051804 Ingeborg    Some Nuts and Bolts

Lucy Sweater and Cotton Cashmere

Some questions in the comments yesterday about both.

The Lucy sweater will have short sleeves with the same lace around the bottom as the bottom of the sweater. The body of the sweater is regular ol’ stockinette.

Here it is:

luci051804 Ingeborg    Some Nuts and Bolts

And a lace close-up:

luci051804a Ingeborg    Some Nuts and Bolts

Debbie Bliss Cotton Cashmere. Mmmmmmmm . . . yummy. And this from a “I Hate To Knit With Cotton” kinda gal. Just goes to show that you can teach an old dog new tricks, eh?

L-B turned me on to this yarn — she’s knitting with it right now and has been waxing lyrical about it. Impressionable gal that I am, I had to buy some up to try it out.

It’s very soft, but with nice stitch definition. I wouldn’t say that you can really feel the cashmere, but it doesn’t feel like knitting with twine, like some cottons I’ve knit with recently that shall remain nameless (cough::Kolibri::cough). All in all, a very pleasant yarn to knit.

WendyKnits gives it two thumbs up!

Ingeborg, jeg elsker deg!

Hopefully I didn’t mangle that too badly.

Yes, I’ve been sucked back in to colorwork.

ingeborg051704 Ingeborg, jeg elsker deg!

The last colorwork sweater I completed was Flora, around the middle of April. Since then I’ve been happily working away on small projects and summer things. The truth is, I was not looking forward to Ingeborg as I’d gotten myself out of the colorwork/teeny needles mode.

Baby, I’m back! It’s as if I’d never left. There’s something about seeing the pattern grow as I knit that gives me that ol’ colorwork thrill. And I will be hard-pressed to stick to my resolve of only knitting on Ingeborg part-time.

But . . .

There is the Lucy Sweater

I am also enamoured of my Lucy design and am happily knitting away on her too.

luci051704 Ingeborg, jeg elsker deg!

Audrey

Thank you for all the Audrey compliments. Blush, blush — we are not worthy! For the commenter who didn’t know where to find the pattern source — look in my knitting gallery for the Audrey page (the link to the Gallery is in my sidebar). For the past couple of years I’ve listed my pattern source on my completed project page. But I’ll tell you anyway — Audrey is in Rowan Book 35. I made the middle size (36″) and it called for 7 skeins of Calmer — I used slightly less than 6.5 skeins. Calmer is high yardage. 175 yards per skein, if I remember correctly.

For those of you want to know if I’ve worn it yet, check the weather report for Washington DC. I have a feeling that Audrey will have to wait until autumn for her first outing.

I am totally impressed, by the way, by those of you who identified the purse sitting behind me in the photo as a Dooney & Bourke. Damn! You girls know your purses!

Lucy Kitty

lucy051704 Ingeborg, jeg elsker deg!

Lucy hasn’t quite figured out how to check her email.

Last, But So Incredibly Not Least

Check out the Critter Knitters blankets received page, and look at all the wonderful blankets received in Week Nine and Ten. I took some time last night and looked back over all the blankets received since we started this project. The love and kindness put into all these beautiful blankets is incredible. I defy you to go look without getting a little misty-eyed.

As of yesterday, we have 245 blankets donated. Wow. Wow.

Don’t forget — Liz is hosting a Knit-out this coming Sunday, May 23rd — check out her knit-out page for info! If you’re in the NYC area, stop by and do some Critter Knitting on Sunday afternoon.