Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Name That Cardigan

There's a point in your schedule at which having a whole lot of fulfilling activities suddenly becomes overwhelming, and those fulfilling activities lose a little of the appeal that made you sign up in the first place. It's like hitting peak oil: you're drawing more energy out of yourself than you can produce.

A sign that I have hit peak oil would be that I have been waiting three days to finish the final two inches of a shoulder seam on a cardigan I'm designing. I have a Netflix movie that has been sitting on our table for 9 days. The bathroom sink doesn't want to get undressed if the lights are on.

It's those final two inches that are bothering me the most.

Here's my original sketch of the cardigan:

This is my first sweater that I've designed, and it's actually gone very well, when I've had time for it. I don't have a name for it yet; I'm calling it a "Honeysuckle Cardigan" on my Rav page, but seems like there ought to be something more alluring than that.

If you're thinking of designing a sweater, here are some lessons I've learned as a first-timer:

1. Draw a sketch, even if you think you're a bad artist.
1(a). You're probably not that bad of an artist.
1(b). When you're halfway in and you're trying to remember how wide a lace panel you wanted, look back at the sketch. Things will change from start to finish, but this is how you record your original inspiration.

2. Read up on sleeves before you get too far. I am shocked that these sleeves appear to have worked out. (There's still a chance they'll fail - remember those two inches.)

3. Reduce bulk. Make a half-inch seam allowance instead of a full inch; do a three-needle bind-off at the shoulders.

4. Seam in bits and pieces to see how things are going.

5. Keep it simple. Someone (maybe Michelle Rose Orne?) said that you should focus on one inventive design element, and everything else should support that. That doesn't mean everything else is boring, just that you're creating an essay of sorts, and you need to remember what your thesis statement is.

6. Make thorough notes on your swatch. I did it on an index card which I'll probably staple to the swatch after the sweater's done, so I can have proof that it lied to me.

7. When all else fails, study the Anthropologie catalog. Those sweaters are genius.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

FO: Fishens

Before we get down to business, I'd like to bring up something. There ought to be a special word for the kind of person who plays his television at top volume early in the morning while he's in the shower and therefore can't see said television. How about... "douche-waster"?

Our downstairs neighbor has decided he'd like to be a douche-waster. So that's why I'm up this early.

I also have a list of FOs and WIPs that is beginning to make me feel guilty. That right there is not a good sign. I just started contributing to a for-profit blog (hard launch next week, I'll tell you about it then), one that requires five posts per week, and the last thing I want is for this project (slightly paid though it may be) to start gouging into this blog and my knitting time. I may not have a choice.

Quick projects are good in a stressful time, and a couple weeks ago, I finished up these baby mittens, which I'm calling Fishens for now:

I suppose the pattern is mine in that the concept is mine, but it's really a Frankenstein of two patterns, neither of which originated in my brain: Baby Mittens (which I've made before) and Wishy Washy Fishy Tawashi.

They took about two weekend days to complete, which doesn't count my false start after I decided I didn't like the colors I was using before and frogged the first attempt. In fact, if I had scrap sock yarn that was machine-washable, I would certainly have chosen brighter colors, but this is what I had, and given the state of the current embargo on yarn buying, I went with it.

I started these Fishens without a recipient in mind, but then the fella pointed out that he's subbing for someone who's on maternity leave from work, and it was a good opportunity to make nice. Turns out, she adores them and now wants pairs for all her friends.

I sure don't have time for whatever number "all of her friends" turns out to be, but it's nice the Fishens are appreciated.

pattern: Fishens, a combo of two other patterns (see above).
completed: October 25, 2009.
yarn: The Woolen Rabbit merino/nylon sock yarn (colorway: Rosemary and Thyme) and Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock Solid (colorway: chino)
made for: professional advancement
needles: size 2 dpns

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Multiplication Tables

Last night I cast on for a pair of men's gloves requested by a friend. This friend has enormous hands. His wrists are 8" in diameter. His knuckles are 9.5" in diameter. (A woman's medium is usually about 6"/7.5".) There is no one in my household with hands like that, so I am making these gloves somewhat blindly, with only my hasty measurements to guide me.

Here's the math: at a gauge of 20 sts/4", an eight-inch wrist means 40 stitches, minus the standard 10 percent for ribbing.

(Did you know you subtract at least 10 percent on ribbing, to make it snug? You do.)

I decided to cast on 36 stitches. What's 36 divided between 3 needles? Why, 13 of course.


In other news, tomorrow I'll be returning to the third grade, where we learn things like multiplication and division.

Happy Point Count: 63. I have my next yarn order all picked out, but oddly enough, we have no money. I appear to have discovered a flaw in the Happy Point system, wherein previously I had assumed that I would have least that much money to spend on yarn once I'd earned the points. In fact, income has proved to be an independent variable, and long story short, we're damned poor right now, thankyouverymuch RECESSION. (Yeah, I'm talking at you.)

But good golly, Molly. If and when things turn around for us, can you imagine the colossal box of yarn that will arrive at our doorstep? Not just yarn: books, clothes, the entire stock of Anthropologie... A dresser from Pottery Barn... My sweetie wants a PS3...