Knitting project updates

First, the Venezia Pullover.  We haven’t seen this in a while.  Sometime last summer I started working on other items, and this disappeared.  For some reason (being deep into winter?) about a month ago I was inspired to pick this up again.  I can’t say why–there’s no chance of me being able to wear this until the end of the year if I’m lucky, and shouldn’t I be busily knitting away on petite socks, tiny hats, and chubby baby sweaters?

Maybe, but when I felt moved to tackle this again, I figured I should listen.  If not, this could be one of those projects that lingers for years and years…

And while I’m far from done, I’ve hit some major milestones–namely, finishing knitting the body, meaning it was time to get out the scissors and start snipping into all that yarn I spent so many hours twisting and looping together.  (Essentially, steeking means I knit a tube with no armholes or even much of a neckhole.  This allows for faster knitting).

Pre-steek–or a version for a shrunken head:

Pre-steek close-up:  does your head hurt?  Can you see why I said that if I was feeling motivated to work on this ghastly thing, I shouldn’t fight it?  Here we have two sets of neck steeks and two sets of armhole steeks.  And not enough stitch holders (those would be what look like monster diaper pins).

Cut (ha ha) to a week later:  we’re looking much better.  Neckline done.  Armholes are snipped open and still raw, exposed, and threatening to ravel at any time.  (I’m not too worried.  Not only am I no longer a steeking novice (in fact, I didn’t even secure the stitches before cutting to be extra safe!), this type of yarn–shetland–lends itself perfectly to steeking.  It’s that itchier type of wool that’s not so popular–no supersoft merino here–but that same quality makes the knits and purls “stickier” and less likely to result in knitting disasters, tearing out your hair, gnashing of teeth, etc.

And:  I have started the left arm!

But I haven’t been entirely selfish–here’s my progress so far on what I am calling the “Manly” Audrey Hoodie from Vintage Baby Knits.  I am making the 6-9 months size out of Sundara yarn (Sandstone over Shell) that I bought to make a project for little E.  So, I’d really better make sure to get it done this time around.  Luckily baby knits are quick, but I fear I may be relying a bit too much on that fact as an excuse for procrastination…


Venezia pullover: as far as the waist

I’ve been working steadily along on my Eunny Jang Venezia pullover from the Winter 2006 issue of Interweave Knits.  I’m really pleased with it.  I’m a little nervous still that my gauge is off, because none of my swatches really got gauge, but as I said before, I just gave up and started it.  I’ve taken a couple measurements since I cast on and it seems OK, but the farther along I get the more scared I am to keep checking.  Well, who wants first dibs if it doesn’t fit me?

This pattern, no one will be surprised to hear me say, is fairly complicated.  It’s not so much the color pattern–once you get a few repeats in you have a little memory about how to proceed (not that I don’t look at the pattern for each row, but somehow I don’t need to look as often) and so it proceeds pretty naturally.  It’s the increases and decreases I really have to focus on.  This sweater has waist shaping, so I had to decrease at set intervals, and now increase.  Now that I’m increasing again I know I have gotten through the waist area.  I think I’ve figured out a way that keeps me from going crazy trying to keep track:  I’ve xeroxed the pattern so I can tally how may increases/decreases I have made, and write down at which row in the pattern I need to make these special stitches.  That has made it much easier than looking at the fabric itself and trying to count how far down the last increase/decrease was to see if it’s time again yet.  And it’s less likely that the waist shaping will end up at, say, the bustline, which probably wouldn’t be a good look for me.

The waist isn't that small, it's just bunched on the needles.  I don't wear corsets!

The waist isn't that small, it's just bunched on the needles. I don't wear corsets!

The worst part of this is going to be weaving in all those ends…I have tried doing it as I go but it’s too annoying (then I pay later).  Oh well.  Once I get to the armholes it won’t be so bad.  But then there’s the sleeves…

Venezia's closeup

Venezia's closeup

In other knitting related “news”–I’m all for recycling, but this is just too much for me!

Venezia Pullover: the beginnings

As you might imagine, it took me a long time to get this started.  First I had to wait for all the yarn to come in (the supplier was backordered!), then there were swatches made which didn’t really settle the question of which size needle to use, so I just picked the size I thought would be easiest to work with (2.5mm addi lace) and crossed my fingers.  Then the first time I finished casting on (using a method I am new to and which is therefore a bit tricky for me) and joined, it turned out I had twisted the join:  this error is unfixable so I had to rip it all out and re-cast on 296 stitches.  I realized this after 9 repeats.  Yes, ugh.  But finally, we got going.

Venezia Pullover WIP 1

The hem, you may be able to tell, is self-finished:  I knit 14 rows, folded it in half, and then knit the cast on edge together with the live stiches to create a very prettily folded-over hem.  The nice thing about this is it completely hides the first row which is a bit untidy at the join.  It’s now on the wrong side!  The cast-on edge was actually not a traditional cast on but a lace-type cast on done over a piece of waste yarn.  This allows you to join that edge together with the live stitches while still keeping the fabric flexible (a technique I appreciate after the sad fate of the baby norgi neckline).   I think, however, that the lack of rigidity in that cast on contributed to the problems in my initial join:  the second time I cast on over two pieces of waste yarn to stabilize it a bit more.

I’ve been wanting to make this for a while.  I finally feel confident enough in my fair-isle and steeking ability to go for it, especially after finishing the Ivy League Vest by the same designer (Eunny Jang, an amazing designer/knitter/ blogger who is now editor of Interweave Knits–how’s that for a career trajectory?).  This one has sleeves as well so it will be slow going to finish this, but seeing the pattern emerge on fair isle makes it kind of addictive and a little harder to put down than other types of knitting for me.  So maybe it will be able to debut by next fall.  There are several other Eunny Jang patterns I want to get to as well, after all…

The nice thing about this is I was able to purchase most of the yarn using credit from reteurning unused yarn from the Ivy League Vest:  the store was so nice to let me do it, 9 months after the yarn was purchased!  So I didn’t even have to totally break my rule against buying more yarn this time.

Baby Norgi–So close, yet so far

The last time we visited the baby norgi (a project I have a had a long love-hate relationship with) the neck opening wouldn’t go over little E’s head.  I figured, if I can steek the armholes, I can steek the neckline to make it a bit bigger.  Out came the sewing machine again, and out came the scissors:

Cutting (again)Re-steeked necklineAnd, it fit over E’s head!  I was quite pleased with myself and my solution.  So I did all the finishing, weaving in the ends, sewing down the collar…and when I went to put the finished product on so he could show it off (at playgroup no less) it would not go over!  Karen and I realized that sewing down the collar had the effect of removing all the elasticity.  Foiled at the last minute…I had been so proud of my steeked neckline too.

So I suppose I could rip the neckline out again but I just can’t bear to look at it right now.  This is what I typically do when I am having major problems with a project–we have a cooling off period and then I go back to it.  The problem now is that E will grow out of it by the time I “make up” with this little sweater.  I have ripped out the neckline so many times though I think if I start yet again, I may just keep ripping out of annoyance.  In addition, I was never all that thrilled with the yarn I used–the white is simply too slippery to knit with and not good for colorwork as the blue yarns carried in back show right through–in fact it was the reason for my initial procrastination with this project.  It just doesn’t look all that great (though the blocking did help quite a bit).

One of the moms at the playgroup suggested putting it on a stuffed animal–that way it does get worn and on what’s more, it always stays nice!  I think that may be the best solution. 

So, to sum up the Baby Norgi experience:  I learned a little about yarn selection for fairisle projects (when not using the recommended Dale Babygarn which would have been great) and I got a little more practice sewing and cutting steeks, got to do a little improvisational problem solving (with the extra neckline steek, not per the pattern), and had a lesson about elasticity of the knitted fabric vs. seams.  All on a project that only had a limited shelflife anyway.  So, there’s the bright side for you!

Baby Norgi…still not done

After getting around to steeking after several months, I thought I was nearly done with the Baby Norgi sweater.   Steeking involves knitting tubular fabric and then cutting armholes, neckholes, etc. into the knitted fabric.  You generally use a sewing machine to sew up and down the sides of the steeks so that you don’t have it unravel (though depending on the yarn, it’s not necessary, nor is a sewing machine absolutely necessary; as I’ve done it by hand before I owned one).  Though I’ve successfully steeked a few times, I still get nervous about it.  Anyway I finally hauled out the sewing machine last week and sewed and cut (took all of 10 minutes). 

Here's the freshly cut armhole (you can see the thread in white averting disaster)

Here's the freshly cut armhole (you can see the thread in white averting disaster)


I figured it was as much as done from there…I sewed in the sleeves, and picked up the neckband.  And it was way too tight.  I thought it was because I might have knit through the back loop when I picked up (just as I generally do as it usually closes up gaps) so I ripped and re-knit.  Better, but when it still doesn’t go over the baby’s head, “better” hardly matters. 

The problematic neckline

The problematic neckline

So the new plan is–steek the neckline to make it a bit bigger.  If you can do it for sleeves, why not for the neck?  I will make a placket on the back so that it can get over little E’s apparently very large noggin.  Hopefully my guesstimate about how much to open up the neckline is going to work, otherwise I don’t know what else I’m going to do.  Third time’s the charm, here’s hoping.