Sunday, February 14, 2016

Knitting Ninja

A few weeks ago Tin Can Knits announced a quick knit along.  The premise of it was to take a few weeks to teach yourself a new knitting trick.  As soon as I heard about the New Tricks KAL I knew exactly what trick I wanted to learn.  Steeking...

For those of you that might be unfamiliar with the technique, let me tell you that it requires cutting the knitting you've just finished.  It is not for the faint of heart.

Here's how Wikipedia begins their definition of it:
In knitting, steeking is a shortcut used to knit garments such as sweaters in the round without interruption for openings or sleeves until the end. After completing a tube, a straight line is cut along the center of a column of stitches, in order to make room for an opening or place to attach another piece.
So, essentially, you knit your item in the round.  Simple enough.  Then you reinforce the edges.  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.  Then you cut straight up your stitches.  OH DEAR BOB! That's crazy cakes!!!

I have been looking at a few sweater patterns, somewhat obsessively, lately.  They're ones that I've looked at before and dismissed then come back to repeatedly only to dismiss them again as too hard because they require steeking and I couldn't imagine taking months to knit a sweater then potentially destroying the whole thing by cutting it up.

But trying it out on a small project that would only take a few hours of knitting time seemed a much less daunting and more manageable task.  So I cast on Steek this Coffee Cozy, a project designed for the very purpose of learning how to steek.

All knit and ready for the crazy business of steeking!
I finished the knitting awhile ago, but it's taken me some time to work up the courage to do the actual steeking.  But this morning I decided that if I didn't get on with it, the KAL would be ending soon and I'd never get it done.  I should really get my behind in gear and just do it.  In for a penny in for a pound and all that.

Crocheted chains to reinforce things
Following the tutorial on the pattern closely, I started by reinforcing my knitting with a line of crocheted chain stitch.

Take a deep breath and snip, snip, snip...

Once that was done, there was no way to avoid it, I had to grab some courage and take that first snip with the scissors.  GULP!

It didn't go too badly.  Nothing disintegrated,  nothing untoward happened at all and the earth did not shatter.  Amazing! I am a knitting ninja.

Ok.  This part is pretty easy!
Then it was onto the next step in which I picked up the stitches and knit the button bands.  That was easy enough!

I think my crochet reinforcement could be prettier, but c'est la vie.
Then I wove in all the bajillion ends, sewed on my buttons and gazed with admiration at my handiwork.  I've no idea what I'll use it for, this coffee cozy fits absolutely nothing I possess, but it was a great little project to try out an otherwise daunting new skill and teach myself a new trick.

Would you look at that?!?  All done!
If you'd like to take part in the New Tricks KAL over on Ravelry, there's still a bit of time left since it runs through until February 29th.  You can check out all the details over on the Tin Can Knits blog.  I highly recommend it!  There's nothing like a knit along to give you the motivation you need to tackle something new.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Selfish Sweater Knit Along

I'm back today with my Anouk Cardigan that I knit for the Untangling Knots "Selfish Sweater KAL" that runs through until this Sunday.

Knitting at a hockey tourney -
I thought I'd get lots done during the six game/eight hour day,
but alas eventually my fingers got too frozen to knit.  
Like many of Andi Satterlund's designs, Anouk is a sweet cropped cardi.  It features full length long sleeves and an squishy garter stitch band on the body and sleeves as well as for the button band along with a garter stitch motif at the back neckline and around the waist.  It's an easy knit - so don't judge it on the fact it took me ages to get done (I started way back on Boxing Day!).

I had knit the body of Anouk very quickly, then realized as I was finishing up the diamond motif at the waist I had mucked up the motif at the neckline.  After humming and hawing and trying to convince myself to just leave it, call it a design feature and move on, I ripped it all out and re-started. I knew that even if not one other single person on earth noticed the mistake, I would know it was there and would, as a result, never wear the cardigan.  And who wants to go to all the trouble of knitting something that's never going to see the light of day? Not me!!

Re-knitting it seemed to take a very long time.  I think once you're knitting something the second time around the motivation gets lost a bit and the enthusiasm lags.  Once the body was finally done I tackled the sleeves.  Full length sleeves.  I hate knitting sleeves.  If the body took a long time to knit the sleeves seemed unbearably longer.  I almost packed the whole thing in at one point.  I was just tired of knitting it.  Not the pattern's fault - just me.  I wasn't in love with the wool I was using - an old de-stash purchase I'd made a couple of years ago of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Superwash and I think that made it worse.

Late night knitting, wondering if I'll ever finish it.
I'm glad I didn't give up though.  I'm pretty happy with the end result.  Still not loving the Lamb's Pride, but it's slowly growing on me.  I don't currently really have any dresses to wear with the cardi - I'm in the process of rectifying that but it's not been without it's challenges as well... More on that another day.
Button, button, who's got the button?  My Anouk cardi! That's who!!
The most boring buttons on the face of the earth,
but they were the only ones remotely suitable at Fabricland.

There's not much else I can say about this cardigan - I think I'm still feeling a bit grouchy towards it for taking so long to be knit to be honest.  I had envisioned having it done in no time especially given the mindless stockinette and garter stitch.  To tell you the truth though?  I personally think lace is quicker to knit.  It keeps you on your toes, keeps you interested and just seems to move along much faster.

Now I'm off to wield my mighty stitch ripper and do battle with my Emery Dress I'm currently trying to make.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

First Sewing Project for 2016!

It's been pretty quiet here on the blog lately.  We've had a bit of a change in things around home lately which has left little time for things like blogging.  Almost a month ago, my MIL had a bit of a bad spell with her health and wound up in hospital.  She needed more care than was available to her upon her release so we invited her to move in with us.  We're all adjusting well to the new routine - she's been here a week and a half now with us - and settling in, but moving and settling takes time, especially since she lived in the same home for over four decades.  I'm very happy to say she's doing wonderfully well and getting stronger every day!  And as the business of moving gets wrapped up, I'm finding a bit more time for things like sewing and writing.  So here we go with my first sewn project of 2016!

I've actually had this finished for about a week now, but trying to get any photos of it that are fit to be seen by the rest of the world has been challenging.  I do not know what it is about the Julia Cardigan* from Mouse House Creations, but the whole reason I never ever blogged about my first one a few years ago was that I simply could not get a photo in which I didn't look like either a lunatic or an escaped convict and this one has proved to be the same.  You'd laugh if you saw the photos, but I'm afraid my ego can't quite handle it to share them with you.

So to that end, I've decided that, "You get what you get and you don't get upset" so the little boys always say in a sing song voice (usually right before they get terribly upset over what they get - the wrong colour of cup, a perceived difference in amount of cake... you know.  Things that can become tragic in the eyes of a five and six year old).   Seriously though.  Over a dozen photos and only one ok, but doesn't really show how great the cardi actually is.  So you'll just have to trust me on it.

I LOVE the Julia Cardigan.  It's really easy to sew and easy to throw on when you need an extra layer to keep the chilly air at bay.  I chose to do the double collar, just because I feel it looks a little more polished.  I shortened the sleeves by about the width of the cuff because they were longer on me than their current length with the cuff before I had sewed the cuff on. I didn't want to have to constantly be shoving my sleeves up or rolling them up.  I think I perhaps went a touch shorter than necessary, but they're still long enough to be cozy.

For my first one a few years ago (the unblogged although much loved one), I had used a lightweight blend knit.  It held up well, but a few weeks ago as I took it out of the wash I realized I could see little dots of light showing through the back of it.  Upon further inspection I noticed that light was a result of several tiny holes in the fabric.  Whether a matter of kitty claws getting it, or just plain over use, it was clearly time for a new one.  For this new one I chose a really soft sweater knit.  Again it's lightweight so it has a great drape to it, but it has great recovery, no itch to it and to top it off was on sale at Fabricland for a song when I bought it!

I'm seriously considering making a cap sleeve version for when the weather warms up in the spring.  I think it would definitely get a lot of use!  My only conundrum is figuring out what fabric to use and what colour!  Any suggestions?