Friday, September 18, 2015

Summer Sweater KAL Antrorse

I'm done! I'm done! I'm done!!!

I've finished my second sweater for the Very Shannon Summer Sweater Knit Along!  This one is Antrorse, designed by Shannon Cook of Very Shannon.  I won the pattern in a knit along in her Ravelry group last Christmas and thought it the perfect choice for this year's Sweater KAL.

I had initially started knitting my Cascade Eco+ pullover at the beginning of the KAL, but summer being summer, it quickly got way too hot to have mounds of warm wool piled on my lap, so I did put it aside for a few weeks while I worked on my Sunshower cardi I showed you in my last blog post.

Like Sunshower I had some adventures in knitting my Antrorse.  Not nearly as bad as Sunshower - I didn't have to reknit anything and it was certainly nothing design related, but I did get off to a spectacularly rocky start with my gauge swatch.

I spent and agonizing and hellish time trying to get my gauge to work out.  In a momentary lapse of all reasoning I actually was going the wrong direction needle size wise to try and get gauge.  I kept going smaller and smaller and gauge was getting so far off I couldn't fathom what was going wrong, I started suspecting a problem with the pattern.  Let me tell you, I felt pretty darn silly when moments after I posted something to that effect on Ravelry (wondering all the while nobody else seemed to note any problems with the pattern) it hit me that I should be using larger needles instead of smaller. More stitches to get gauge = needle too small not needle to big, obviously.  Sigh...  Oh gauge how you continually vex me so.

As soon as I got that sorted out, gauge was easy to achieve and knitting in earnest began.  No further problems were encountered other than the heat and knitting Antrorse was an easy, stress free task.  I knit it exactly as written and it turned out exactly how I hoped!

I'm really loving my new sweater!  I'm especially loving it this morning!  It was 3C when I crawled out of bed this morning.  Brrrr.  But Antrorse to the rescue.  I'm sitting here cozy and snuggly warm!  The Cascade Eco+ in the Lake Chelan colour way - possibly my absolute favourite colour way of all time - is warm but without the heavy weight you'd expect from it.  It's an absolute dream to knit with and pretty darn economical too!  Each skein has a whopping 478 yards of bulky goodness on it, which means a whole lot less darning in of ends too!  (always a nice bonus!)  I'm definitely going to be looking to add some more Eco+ to my stash the next time I have some extra yarn funds!!

So, for me, another Summer Sweater Knit Along comes to a close and I have to say it was yet again a great experience!  The knitters in the Very Shannon Ravelry group are all very chatty, encouraging and motivating, which makes the KALs held there so much fun!  I'll definitely be signing up again next year!!

Now it's time to switch gears for a wee bit before jumping into the next KAL (Andi Satterlund's Penelope KAL over at Untangling Knots Group).  I'm going to be getting a start on some hush, hush holiday sewing and knitting for the next few weeks!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Summer Sweater KAL Sunshower

I'm happy to report that I've got one finished object done for the Very Shannon Summer Sweater Knit Along.  The KAL was to officially end yesterday, but it looks like most everyone voted for a two week extension, which is all kinds of awesome, because it means there's a good chance I'll get to finish my second sweater before the actual deadline!  Whoot! Whoot!

The purpose of the summer sweater knit along is to keep knitting through the hot months of the summer so that you have a shiny new something ready to wear come the cooler temperatures of fall.  It turns out that finished project number one for me goes with absolutely nothing in my fall wardrobe, but no less than four dresses in my summer wardrobe.  Ooops!  But that's ok.  My fall wardrobe needs some boosting up anyways.  I'm sure I'll come up with something that will work with my new bright red Sunshower cardi!

(as an aside... I'm looking for inspiration in the fall sewing department!  I'd love to hear any suggestions you might have for me!  I've had a couple suggestions for Tilly and the Buttons Coco dress.  I'm thinking of Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans.  What else do you have for me?)

Anyways, back to our regularly scheduled posting about my new cardi.

Like all of Andi Satterlund's designs I've knit so far (Salt, Miette, Hetty, Myrna, Marion, Vianne and now Sunshower) it is an easy to follow pattern.  I love the way her patterns are written up, and I love the vintage vibe of her cardigans.  They're perfect for popping on over a dress too.  Did I mention this latest one goes with four dresses in my closet?!?  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that!  My only modification to this pattern was my usual one that I do on Andi's cardigans which is to eliminate some of the waist shaping so it doesn't have quite so much negative ease.

I used Ella Rae Classics in Monarch red from Webs for my Sunshower.  It is a bit scratchier than I remember Ella Rae Classic being - but then I've not used this particular yarn in about six or seven years and that was for a pair of mittens so maybe I've just forgotten.  Or maybe it's not actually that scratchy in reality and the hives that suddenly appeared on my arm this morning (what the heck?!?!) are just making me a bit more sensitive.  Who knows.  I normally wear Briggs & Little without batting an eyelash, so c'est la vie.  Scratchy or not, I think this cardigan will be getting lots of wear in the future!

Knitting of this one was a bit of a challenge for me.  Not because of the pattern mind you, but because sometimes I'm just a bit daft about things.  I posted a week and a half ago about my fudging the pattern and then having to go back and re-knit it.  Well, things like that just seemed to keep happening.  Maybe I've been distracted or maybe I've just taken leave of my senses as of late.  I am not sure, but whatever the case I was glad to finally make it to the sleeve cuffs without further incident!  I had initially planned to do the sleeve caps individually then continue the rest of the sleeve two at a time, as I normally do, but my circular needle was both too inflexible and too short for it to be a convenient method.  I was driving myself batty dropping stitches and trying to keep sorted where the centres were.  I gave up a few rounds in, put the sleeves back on separate needles and zipped through the first sleeve up to the cuff in an evening.  The next evening I tackled the second sleeve, then put them back on the too short, too stiff circ for the cuffs.  I hate trying to keep track of ribbing and I figured it was easier to suffer through the TAAT with a bad needle then count rounds.  It worked and I finished it up pretty easily a few days ago!

Next up is going to be finishing up my Antrorse!  I'm so close - six more rounds of the bottom band, then onto the sleeves.  I have a beautifully long and flexible circular needle so it should be no problem to two at a time them!

I had told myself that after Antrorse is finished I would focus on holiday gift knitting exclusively, but Andi's gone and thrown a big ol' wrench in that plan.  (Yep.  I'm blaming her.  Not my lack of will power in the face of a new pattern.  Nope. Not that at all...)  She's gone and published another cardigan pattern this week and I'm completely smitten with it.  Not only that.  She's planned a Knit Along for it.  I resisted for about 30 seconds and then decided I'll spend the rest of this month focusing on gift knitting so that when the KAL starts the beginning of October I can knit, somewhat guilt free, on Penelope.  Take a look at those gorgeous scallops and tell me that you would have been able to resist.  I didn't think so! If resistance is as futile for you as it is for me, you should join the KAL on Ravelry.  It'll be fun!  (and Andi's even got a discount for the pattern going on right now!)  I'm dreaming of colour combinations right now and thinking that I have a nice caramel coloured DK for the main colour and if it works a really nice wine colour for the scallops and the button band already sitting in my stash... Fate?  I think so!

Monday, September 07, 2015

Goodnight, Sleep Tight

Back in June I bought some fabric for pjs for the boys.  In July I bought some fabric for new pillow cases for them.  I did get the pillow cases sewn up a few weeks ago, and then the pjs just the other day.  I don't know why I waited so long, especially because I was making summer pjs, but oh well, what's the saying?  A day late and a dollar short or something like that?  Story of my life. Ha ha!

So now that the weather is cooling down, if the forecast is to be believed, the menfolk in the house all have matching short summer pj sets.  I picked up the fabric on a trip to Marshall's/Northwest Fabric in the city.  I haven't been to that store in years, mostly because the last times I've gone I've not been overly impressed.  However, they've changed things up a bit there, at least in terms of their cottons.  Last time I had been you couldn't buy less than a metre of anything, but now their minimum cut is .5m, so that's a bit better.  They also now have a huge selection of what I call "the good stuff".  Name brands - the ones I see online but can never find at Fabricland - of course those name brands come with a hefty price tag.  A lot of the prints are upwards of $18/metre.  Yikes!  But when you factor in exchange and shipping, if I was to order online I suppose it would end up probably the same, or close anyways these days.

However, I did luck in that day back in June and as I went to get a half yard cut of the fabric I'd chosen I spied a shopping cart filled with rolls of Pokemon fabric.  I asked and the clerk told me they were $5.00/m and were that cheap because they were seconds.  I found the one I liked best and took a look.   I am not sure what was considered seconds about it, the print looked good, I couldn't see any flaws, so I picked up a couple of metres.

I brought the fabric home, washed it up and planned to get started right away, but I couldn't decide on what to do about a top because I knew I didn't have enough Pokemon fabric for tops and shorts.  Plus the boys always like me to make (BF)G pjs to match theirs.  In the end I grabbed a couple of $3.00 muscle shirts from Walmart.  One in (BF)G's size for his pair and then a 3xl to cut up for the fabric for the boys.  Only the boys have grown.  A lot.  I can no longer get two shirts out of one anymore, and so I had to go on a search for fabric again. Last week I did find a shirt that I'd bought the wrong size of for (BF)G a few years ago sitting in Little Man's closet for about ten years from now when he would grow into it and decided I could sacrifice it for the pj set.  I finally got the pjs done.

They boys are happy.
I think they'd pretty much given up hope on ever getting their Pokemon Pjs

I used an older version of Simplicity #1605 for the shorts.  (The only difference between my version which has a different number and the current version is the picture on the pattern envelope is switched around and the people are different) and then for the little boys I used Fishsticks Designs free tank top pattern.  Both patterns are ridiculously quick to sew.  (Again.  Why did I wait so long to make these up????)  Since I was so late in the summer getting these done, I went with slightly bigger sizes than I might have had I made them at the beginning of the summer like I'd planned.  Little Man's are a size 8 top and boys medium bottoms, Baby Boy has the size 6 top and boys size small bottoms.  I am really hoping that means they'll still fit by the time next summer rolls around.

About a month ago I also finally sewed up the long pj pants for (BF)G that I'd bought fabric for about two years ago.  They were a disaster.  Not sure if you can see it in the photo, but there's an odd little "design feature" with the waist tie at centre back.

These will be racing right into the donation box!
(BF)G politely waited a few days before mentioning that something seemed a bit off on the fit.  I'd already noticed something looked a bit off, but after all.  It's the pattern I've been sewing for him since about 2006, so what could go wrong?  I couldn't figure it out and then he asked, "Did you sew them backwards?  They feel like they're on backwards".  Well crap.  That's exactly what I did.  The buttonholes for the waist ties are neatly sewn centre back, not centre front.  So I undid the waist casing, put a couple of properly placed button holes in and re-threaded the ties with the added "design feature" where they show on the centre back. Except the fabric - which was sold as 100% cotton obviously has a really high polyester content and has no natural give to it so they are really not very comfortable even the right way around and to top it off I made them a bit too small.  They're headed for the goodwill I think - maybe someone else in the world will find them useful.

I mentioned pillow cases.  I'm really happy with how they turned out!  I used the same tutorial I used for the boys Transformers pillow cases in the spring and it has got to be the easiest method EVER!  My only hang up is that no matter how many times I do French seams I always end up doing at least one the wrong way and sewing right sides together for the first pass instead of wrong sides together.  EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  This time I think I did two of them that way.  On the same pillow case none the less.  You'd think I'd learn.  All that aside, the end result was great, the quilt cotton is super soft and snuggly feeling (unlike the solid cotton I used for the transformers pillows that not only collect lint and fuzz like nobody's business, the boys claim that they are scratchy.)  I'll definitely be making more pillow cases in the future!  And maybe I'll even remember to do my French seams correctly the first time! (probably not, but hope springs eternal)

I adore this "Canadiana" and camping print -
although I hope that if I'm camping those creatures aren't coming that close to my tent...
especially that bear.  Stay away bear, stay away!

I was going to save writing up this blog post until I had some new pjs too, but my pjs currently look like this :
No where near done
Not even close to being finished. Or started for that matter.  I've not even finished cutting out the shorts pattern let alone chosen fabric for them.  The pattern is Purl Bee's City Gym Shorts and the top is EYMM's Everyday Essentials Cami.  The problem is the fabric for the top.  I'd bought a yard of it a few months ago from Girl Charlee intending to make another Jocole Yoga Skirt.  But then the fabric arrived and it's pretty much paper thin, with almost no recovery in the stretch.  I was pretty annoyed about it, but figured it's saving grace is that it is super soft so would be comfy for pjs, but now that I've cut it out, I've completely lost interest in the entire project because my annoyance with the fabric has been renewed.  We'll see what happens.  For the time being I think I'm just going to be putting the whole kit and caboodle into the bin on my desk I have for WIP and ignore it for a bit.  I'm going to focus on working on some different projects instead.  And maybe when the annoyance fades I'll sew up the pjs for myself.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Summer Sweater KAL Works in Progress

Let me just say, first of all, that I am in denial that it is already September.  Summer has flown by at break neck speed it seems.  This time next week I'll be getting the boys lunches packed up, making sure their back packs are ready and mentally preparing myself for the first day of school.  It's going to be an especially hard one this year given my last baby will be off to kindergarten.  What am I going to do without my littlest side kick with me?  I'm going to really miss his non-stop chatter and stories.  (He tells the best, most involved stories ever!)  It's going to be an adjustment for sure and I'm pretty sure there will be some tears involved - mine, likely, not his.

So instead of focusing on that, I will, instead, focus on knitting.  Not only does summer holidays come to an end next week, but so does the Very Shannon annual summer sweater knitting KAL.  I always enjoy Shannon's knit alongs.  There's lots of chit chat in the thread on Ravelry, oodles of motivation and inspiration and it's just down right fun.

This year I was really eager for the KAL to start because I was planning on knitting Shannon's pattern Antrorse.  I'd purchased my wool with my birthday money and was chomping at the bit to get going on it.  I dove into knitting pretty much as soon as the KAL started, although I had some issues with getting gauge to start with - only because I was being really daft and kept going down needle sizes instead of up when I was knitting my swatch.  I was getting desperate and thinking there was something really off on the pattern when I'd gone down to about a 4mm needle (using bulky yarn none the less) and still couldn't get gauge.  I even posted about it in thread.  And then felt really, really silly, when I suddenly realized what I was doing wrong about half an hour after posting.  D'oh! There are days I should just put down the needles and back away slowly.  Ha ha!

Anyways, once that issue was out of the way it was smooth sailing.  I really love the Cascade Eco+ I'm using.  It's so soft and cozy but feels light.  Winding those gigantic skeins is a bit of a beast though.  Turns out my ball winder outright refuses to wind the whole 478 yards, quitter that it is.

Really?  That's as far as you'll go??? Slacker!
I was doing really great with the knitting and it was really coming along, but then it got really hot and muggy and I just could not face having all that bulky wool sitting on my already too warm lap.  So, what's a girl to do but cast on a different project?

Deck knitting Antrorse and drinking a wine cooler
(non-alcoholic of course, because alcohol and knitting don't mix!)
My second project is an Andi Satterlund design (Of course it is!  I can't resist her patterns!) I'm working on one of her newest patterns, Sunshower, and it's so pretty.  I had really hoped to finish it last week for my girls' night out with my sisters and cousins, but alas.  No go.  I made a pretty epic mistake in my pattern that required me ripping everything out from the start of the second pattern chart at the bottom of the sweater all the way to the beginning of the left front.  Oh how that hurt.  But on the bright side I learned my lesson.  You see, I got a bit cocky with my "reading" of my lace and started thinking I was off a bit on my stitches.  Things had been looking a bit wonky for awhile, but I put that down to it being just because all those stitches were squished on my needles.  But then I started fudging rows here and there because things weren't lining up the way I assumed they were supposed to be lining up.  Of course all that fudging led to a wrong stitch count and so my new pattern chart wasn't working out.  At that point I was advised (by (BF)G none the less) to rip it out and start again. Oh how smug he is that he was right about my knitting.  Ha ha!  Long story short, I am really glad I listened to him and ripped it out, because I would've been really disappointed in the end result otherwise. I quickly realized I'd been totally reading the knitting wrong, stuck to the chart, used stitch markers with wild abandon to make sure I didn't get off track with the increases and got it done.

After all that crazy push though to try and get it done, not only did I not finish in time for girls' night out, I ended up with really sore wrists and had to take a week off of knitting to let them rest.  I'm back at it though and have just finished up the button band tonight.  Tomorrow I'll launch myself onto sleeve island.  My plan of attack is my usual one.  I'll do the short row sleeve caps individually and then put both sleeves on the needles and do them two at a time.  No second sleeve syndrome for me.  No siree!

Body is done!  Sunshower just needs some sleeves!
After I finish up Sunshower, I'm going to jump back into finishing up Antrorse.  I'm so close!  Just one more pattern repeat on the body, then the garter stitch band at the bottom, then sleeves.  I'm hoping I can get both done by then end of the KAL, but that might be a wee bit ambitious.  We'll see!

So that's what's up for me in the knitterly side of life.  I've been sewing a bit here and there too - a few new projects and techniques under the belt, but I'll save those for another day.  In the rest of life, it's been a whirlwind of gardening, canning, harvesting garden veggies, (beware of zucchini and cucumbers... if you turn your back on them they multiply quickly!  At least I think they must!), visiting, and spending lots of time with the two littlest. I've even managed to have not one, but two visits with N and his girlfriend in the span of a week (He even cooked me lunch on one of those visits - having a chef for a son has it's perks!) and then G and her boyfriend were out too this past weekend.  Now all I need to do is pin the elusive J down for a visit and I'll have it made!

Splish splash!  These two little guys and I have had a fun summer!
I guess that's about it for me tonight.  (BF)G just came into the kitchen shaking his head at me likely for being a night owl again.  (I stay up way too late, then am always so darn tired during the day.  Go figure. He thinks I'm nuts.  He's probably right in that assessment!  LOL) I should probably hop to it and get the things done that I need to do before I head off to bed for the night.

So I'll bid you adieu and hope you all have had a great summer in whatever way you've spent it!