Monthly Archives: May 2011

Still WIP–Wisteria Arbor Shawl

Agony is when you have just not enough yarn to finish a project, you keep trying to stretch it out by undoing the last few rows and trying to redo them slightly differently, but still failing.

This is the state of my Wisteria Arbor Shawl.  The last part of this lace shawl was basically:

After reaching 17 horizontal pattern repeats, repeat the 12-row pattern 2 more times, then work 2 rows in garter stitch and bind off.

My problem?  By the time I finished my first of the 3 vertical repeats at 17 horizontal repeats, I only had enough yarn to do about 6 more rows in pattern before I run out of yarn.  When I tried it on, it was just too short–3 full repeats at 17 would have been perfect.  Buying another skein of this yarn is pretty much out of question–I picked it up from an odds and ends sale bin. 

As a real sock yarn with 75% superwash wool/25% nylon, the yarn was elastic enough to be stretched into a more reasonable length, but it’s still not ideal.

I’m now very close to frogging this, which is disappointing as this shawl was supposed to be my first foray into lace knitting.  I’m contemplating between redoing this same shawl pattern in needles one size up, switching to a different shawl pattern, or just do do something else with this yarn entirely.  I think the yarn–both the fiber content and the colour–isn’t very suitable for this pattern, but I really want my own hand-knitted shawl that adds flavours to a neutral colour outfit.  Perhaps I’ll dive into my book collection again and look for another lace pattern.

Latest Finished Project — Baby Surprise Jacket

The first project out of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s The Opinionated Knitter is the awesome and ingenious Baby Surprise Jacket.

I read and re-read the pattern about 5 times, before deciding to dive right into it, still without the slightest clue on how it’ll turn out.  The pattern was written in late 60’s, I thought, and it’s insanely popular, so it must work.  (Or so the thinking went.)  I had 2 skeins of each colour left over from the OpArt blanket (which I initially planned to be knitted into the larger size, but subsequently decided against), which should be enough.  (Or again, so I thought.)

Well, everything turned out OK — I had enough yarn, and the pattern certainly didn’t disappoint.  Here is what the project look like when I finished binding off:


See what I mean by ingenious?  It was knitted in one piece and didn’t resemble a human-wearable garment!  (One guess I received on Facebook was “jacket for pet.”)  

And here it is, after I sewed the two shoulder seams:



I was watching TV with Daniel when I bound it off.  I had already told him this project was supposed to be a baby jacket, but when he saw this “thing,” he was like “what the heck is it?”  When I folded it up properly, he was amazed, “you’re CRAZY!”  I promptly give proper credit to the pattern, since I couldn’t have come up with a design like this.

Almost as always, I made a few “modifications” to the pattern.  First, I didn’t do any cuff shaping.  That was totally the cuffs were knitted in the beginning of the project, when I couldn’t see how it would pan out.

The other change I made was the buttons and button holes.  The pattern called for 5 button holes, but I was slightly lazy and thought 4 would be OK.  In the end, I agree it should be 5, and should be spaced out better–to my dismay, the top button isn’t closed enough to the neck.

For the buttons, I decided to use knitted bobbles as buttons for safety reasons.  (I’m quite paranoid about choking hazards when it comes to baby garments.  Especially when it’s a gift.)


It wasn’t until about an inch after the neck shaping was done that I was finally able to visualize the finished product.  From there on, the knitting itself became automatic, but my mind was already thinking about different ways of knitting it.  (What if I knit it from the bottom up?  From side to side?  What type of embellishments and edgings would look great?  Can I use something other than garter stitch?  What about colour?)

Alas, time was tight–my target is to have 2 jackets done by Sunday, and I only finished the first one on Wednesday night.  Without fail, I immediately casted on the stitches for the next one.  (Daniel’s response was, “you’re knitting again?”  He didn’t know about my plan.)  I’m about 1/3 done now, and I have yet to decide on what customizations to make.  Hopefully I will finish it in time!


Work in Progress — May 13, 2011

Wisteria Arbor Shawl

This is my first ever adventure in lace knitting.  The pattern is from the book Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders.  Instead of using the specified yarn, I chose a random sock yarn in my stash, which happened to be a lone skein of LANG JAWOLL COLOR Aktion, with brown, 3 shades of pink, and a light purple.  Looks like ice cream and a bit too busy in colour for a shawl to me, to say the truth.  The 75% supwerwash wool / 25% nylon content seems too springy for a lace shawl.

The pattern calls for 17 repeats, and I’m at 11 right now.

Since thie shawl has no intended recipient nor deadline, I’m started to feel bored about it.

Baby Surprise Jacket

This pattern is published and republished in multiple places, but was definitely a genius invention of Elizabeth Zimmermann.  Specifically, I’m reading the pattern from The Opinionated Knitter.

The yarn I picked was some Knit Picks CotLin–leftover from the OpArt blanket.  I have no idea how much yarn I’ll need for this project, but I should have enough.

This one will be gifted next weekend.  Hopefully I have time to whip up at least one more for another upcoming baby in Hong Kong!

Longies #2

This is definitely in the UFO (unfinished object) state.  I haven’t touched this for at least two weeks.  The leg holes are sitting around, waiting to be knitted.  Because of the ginormous gauge, the body is very big.  Since the legs will be of a different colour anyway, my thought is to knit the legs in K1P1 or K2P2 ribbing, so that it looks like bloomers + leggings.  Hopefully.

Medium Soaker

Another UFO.  It really just need about an hour to finish the leg ribbings, but I just can’t find the love for it.

Sheepy Skirts

I haven’t started these yet, which are intended for the nieces.  Since the girls are leaving for Hong Kong in a month, I don’t have as much time as I thought I’d have.  (I thought I could give it to them in July!)  I’m thinking of switching one to a halter or spaghetti strap sundress, which hopefully lasts longer, size-wise…

UPDATE: The Oriental Lily Dress (found via Ravelry) is sooo lovely!  I might do this one instead.

Fresh(ish) off the Needles — Seaweed Vest and Heel Stitch Longies

Seaweed Vest

I have argreed to knit a sweater for Daniel since the Dark Ages ’90s (which was before I knew anything about sweater-knitting).  Last year, when I picked up knitting again, Daniel asked me about the said sweater.  By then, I was much wiser about sweater-knitting.  (Which was to say, “I know enough to know that I don’t know nary a thing about sweater construction.”)  I backed down and said I would knit a vest instead.

I actually finished the Seaweed Vest about two weeks ago.  I was going to take some good pictures before posting, but I keep forgetting to take the pictures, so here it is, descriptions only.

The vest I dubbed “Seaweed Vest” is a vest I knitted up with nary a pattern.  Instead, I followed the general instructions in Sweater Workshop by Jacqueline Fee — the body followed the vest instructions (which was adapted from the general sweater instructions), modified to a V-neck.  (The book, in turn, was a more descriptive instructions of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s EPS sweater system.)

I called this the “Seaweed Vest” because I used the “seaweed” pattern from A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara G. Walker.

The vest was knitted in Knit Picks’ Swish Worsted superwash merino yarn.  The main colour was Lava Heather, and the contrast colour was Gold.

The last “personalization” bit I did was borrowing the twisted rib from the Mangyle pattern from Knitty, even including knitting the ribs in a contrast colour, while interspersing 2 rounds of the bottom rib with the main colour.

Actually, I initally planned to knit the Mangyle.  However, I have since decided/discovered I really don’t like sewing the seams.  Knitting a vest flat in pieces result in a lot more seams to sew than I like.  Such strong resistance to seams eventually led me to the discovery of the aforementioned book, Sweater Workshop, and Elizabeth Zimmermann.

Yes, the resulting vest involved a lot of improvisation.  And if I eventually determine my gauge of the original yarn I bought for the original sweater, I may even restart it.

Heel Stitch Longies

The Heel Stitch Longies was another put-in-the-back-burner type of project.  Longies is essentially a pair of (wool) pants.  FBB wears specially-handled wool pants or soaker at night as diaper cover.  (A wool soaker is about the shape of a pair of undies.)

The pair of longies FBB wears most often was sewn by me, using recycled, felted wool.  (Recycled wool is a nice way of saying, “the wool sweater nobody wants — let’s try to make something out of it.”)  It do the job, but it doesn’t really fit him well now — I felted it very hard, thus it’s not very forgiving in sizing.

As a result, I wanted to knit FBB a pair of longies.

The first pair was a total disaster: my guestimated proportions/size customization was totally wrong, and I didn’t really like the way the pattern shapes the pants anyway.  It was destined to be frogged.

The second pair was another, mildly smaller disaster: I didn’t check my gauge, resulting in the body being WAY TOO BIG.  And I ran out of yarn.  It’s still sitting on the needles (well, technically, a cable), waiting for me to finish up the legs in a different colour.

The third one, I decided specifically NOT to knit it for FBB, but just to test the pattern.  As such, I knitted it–a soaker this time–in a much smaller size (“medium” in terms of baby size).  The body was shaped great, but I didn’t really like the way the leg holes were shaped.  (By then, I was much more knowledgeable about knitting to know what I like and don’t like.)  It turned out I was right: the leg holes turned out to be too tight to my liking, and wouldn’t have fitted FBB’s chubby thighs when he was that size.  (I must admit, my most intimate knowledge of baby sizes included extra chubby thighs, since FBB really meant “chubby thighs.”)  It’s now sitting around, bound off and grafted, but waiting for me to pick up the stitches and knit the ribbing on the leg holes.

By the fourth one, I have obtained the renowned A Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara G. Walker.  I flipped through the pages and decided to substitute the K2P2 ribbing with baby cable rib, and the stockinette stitch of the body with the thicker and stretchier heel stitch.  The pattern I chose was a free one called Li’l Aries Longies.

I chose some 100purewool I bought a year ago.  These are handspun, hand-dyed.  The ones I bought were the odds and ends, with only one or two skeins in each colour.  From previous experience, I picked a colour which I had two skeins of.  It was a lighter, greyish blue.

I didn’t gauge this time neither, although I guestimated it to work out fine (and I was finally right about gauge, for once).  The pattern calls for 4 short row sets for shaping in the butt, but my measurements tells me 4 stockinette rows is about 6 heel stitch rows (in my gauge, YMMV).  So I did 6 short row sets instead of 4.

I decided to use the two-at-a-time magic loop method to knit the legs, since I always seem to fail in counting the number of rows, nor do I want to count.  Having a 60″ cable for my interchangeable circular needles helped immensely in this department.  Heck, I can knit up ANYTHING with a 60″ circular needle!

Of course, I ran into some trouble with this pair too.  Namely, I ran out of yarn.

Unlike the previous disasters, at least I knew it was coming, thanks to a combination of my stitch choice and the sizing.  I just didn’t know how much I could knit in my original yarn.

In fact, the trouble started with me not dividing my yarn into two perfectly equal halves.  So one leg ran out of yarn before the other.  [Good thing I was knitting two-at-a-time, because it let me at least end the same colour on both legs at the same round.  Again, it was a calculated risk.]

I tried to rebalance the two balls, but in the end, I still needed to snip out the extra tail I had when I casted on at the waist to finish off the last round of shorter leg.

By then, the longies were somewhere between knee-high shorts and capri length.  That was not quite long enough for my taste.  I went back to my stash of 100purewool, picked out a few single-skein colours of roughly the same thickness, and eventually decided on a black-ish skein, which I thought was the best complimenting colour I have to the main colour.  I added about 3″ more, and just bind off using the Russian bind off, resulting in a rolled cuff with slight flare.

An i-cord drawstring, in the contrast colour of course, was added to the waist ribbing.

The best thing about knitting–and finishing–this pair of longies?  I let FBB watch me working on it, which obviously triggered the first question, “who’s this for?”  Of course, he was all excited when he knew it was for him.  By the time I was knitting the legs, he wanted to try it on–which, again, wouldn’t have been too feasible or at least not as aesthetically pleasing had I not choose to knit the legs two-at-a-time in a magic loop.  I let him try on a few times, giving me a very good idea on how much longer I still needed to work on.

FBB originally requested some sort of applique on this pair (since I did a very rudimentary lemon applique on the recycled one).  Hopefully he’ll accept it without one!