Covered in Cables

The sweater has finally found its way back to Quebec. It is most likely adding  cabled comfort to a very studious S. He told me he loved it, and I believe him, since he wore it pretty much everyday the week he was here. Although he also told me that it was a good thing it turned out so well, otherwise he would have had to wear an ugly sweater all the time. I think there’s a compliment in there somewhere.

Anyway, I made him model it like he promised, and after some silliness I managed to get this shot. I think it’s really handsome, although I’m certainly biased, both about the sweater and the man.

Knitting Sisyphus and the Boyfriend Sweater Curse

As a knitter, you often hear tales of superstitions associated with knitted gifts. Or, if not, you have at the very least experienced the dread that the item you’ve dedicated countless hours of your life to, sacrificed your already dwindling sanity to, lovingly donated blood and tears to, might just be under appreciated by its intended recipient.

Back in September, I decided to knit a sweater for my boyfriend as a Christmas present. S is very deserving of a hand knit sweater. I figured that four months would be a fairly generous amount of time in which to complete the project, and since S lives in a different province, I didn’t worry that I would have to lose time “hiding” my knitting.

Now at this point, for those of you who are non-knitters, I will tell you that the “boyfriend sweater” is a cursed project. Knitting lore has it that knitting your boyfriend a sweater will bring about the dissolution of your relationship, and that somehow, the sweater itself will be instrumental in this dissolution. The only thing I found “cursed” about this sweater was the process. And all of the issues, every last little one of them, well now, they were my own fault (*grins sheepishly*).

I could have helped myself. I could have made it so this project didn’t turn me into Knitting Sisyphus winding a giant ball of yarn up a hill, just to have it unravel down the other side.

For starters, I could have helped myself by choosing a less complicated pattern, but I have yet to discover a Brooklyn Tweed Addicts Anonymous group out there to help address my addiction.

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The sweater pattern I chose was Jared Flood’s “Timberline” cardigan, from the BT Men collection. I really love how every pattern in the BT collection has little details that teach new skills, and make the finished products absolutely stellar. For “Timberline”, the tubular cast-on and I-cord edging make everything look so finished, but the complicated cable pattern does make it difficult to “mindlessly knit” the thing quickly.

My second issue was with my yarn choice. I selected Briggs & Little, and since I find that BT’s Shelter tends to be a bit thicker than most of the worsted I generally work with, I picked their Light Grey “Heritage” yarn, which is actually an aran-weight yarn.

I ordered it off the Internet, which meant I didn’t actually “feel” the yarn before a sweater’s worth ended up on my doorstep. When it arrived, it looked perfect, but was stiffer and scratchier than I imagined it would be. After washing, the wool will soften, but as I discovered while knitting the first sleeve, the stiffness and thickness of the wool, combined with the fact that my gauge required me to work on needles a half size smaller than the pattern recommends, means that the cables were incredibly difficult to work, and that my hands suffered painfully. I had to purchase replacement yarn.

The second yarn I selected was Cascade Yarn’s Eco +, in colour 8401, which is another light grey. The Eco + is also an aran-weight, but has more give, and is a lot softer than the Heritage. It made things much easier to work with, and in the end, probably stopped me from getting arthritis.

My next issue was actually the fact that I entirely lack the ability to say “no”, and tend to have a bit of knitting related ADHD. I want to knit all the things.

  • People having babies? – Must knit them sweaters and blankets.
  • People want help with their knitting? Hold on, don’t touch anything, I’ll be right over.
  • People want to give hand knit gifts as presents? Hold on, let me grab my needles.
  • New pretty projects on Ravelry? Oh, it’s only commuter knitting.

I am such a knitting pushover and self-enabler.

My last major issue was what I’m calling “the Cable Debacle of 2015”. After completing the body of the sweater, I noticed what I had failed to recognize as I was knitting. I had crossed a cable the wrong way in an early repeat of the pattern. Now, I’m fairly proficient at fixing things, but there were a number of factors that made it impossible to just drop back those six stitches. The only way I could see to fix it was to rip back to the error…40 hours of knitting ago. At this point S was texting K, my housemate, to physically restrain me from doing so.

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I felt the bitter taste of failure at that point. After putting so much time and effort into the sweater, knowing that that one cable was amiss was horribly disappointing, and I really didn’t think I could handle ripping back to fix it. I whined about it on Instagram, and then some other knitter – like an angel garbed in his very own “Timberline”– gave me the solution. He sent me a link to I need orange’s blog post on fixing incorrectly crossed cables by cutting them in the centre, and then kitchener stitching them back the correct way. New skill acquired, and thank you kind stranger wherever you are, you have saved my slightly deranged sanity.

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I did not finish S’s sweater in time for Christmas. Nor did I finish it in time for his birthday. It wasn’t even finished for Valentine’s Day when I went to visit him. (Instead he got a shirt, and his very own knitting lesson.) I finally sewed the buttons on at midnight on Friday. He is coming to visit next weekend, and will finally get his long overdo Christmas sweater. He’s promised to model it.


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In all, I can’t say that I believe in the “curse” so to speak. I certainly wouldn’t have knit a sweater; especially one that gave me so many difficulties, for someone I didn’t think would appreciate it. But I’ll let you know what he says when he gets it…or if he ever puts it in the dryer…DSC_0016 1

The Guelph Vacation

Oh my goodness! I have a lot of things to talk about this week.

*Let’s get this out of the way first, because it’s depressing me: the cable cowl pattern I mentioned working on has gone completely awry and I’ve discarded the project in favor of more pleasant pursuits. If you were holding out for it, I am sorry, but (hopefully) I will have a very cute cable braided headband pattern to share with you soon.*

Now…I have had the most fantastic weekend that I need to tell you about. (It is relevant to knitting, I promise.)

This weekend I traveled to Guelph, Ontario, for a friend’s birthday. Of course, I don’t enjoy going to birthdays empty handed, especially as a knitter, so on Wednesday night, I broke out my circs and dove into the leftover half skeins from the “Christmas Hat Collection” and cast on Jared Flood’s Turn A Square. It was a quick knit; I had it done in the morning on Friday. I didn’t have any “boy” colored self striping yarn, so I just used the ends of three different colored alpaca tweed yarns I had, and I think it turned out fabulously. If you’re looking for a quick, stash busting knit, I highly recommend that one. I’ve posted some photos, as I remembered to take them before I gave it away.

On Friday night we went to the Wellington Brewery for a tour. They had these cute quarter-pint sized glasses to taste all the different drafts. I’m not really a huge beer expert, but I really enjoyed their Arkell Best Bitter. I also have to point out that I was a huge fan of their draft taps, all of the Wellington beers have British “Wellies,” for handles, the bar had cute miniature rain boots along it. (I guess the fact that I was amused by the décor and cuteness factor will tell you about my interest in different types of beer.)

On Saturday morning we went to the Guelph Farmers’ Market. My friends that live in Guelph were a little disappointed with it. It was in a new building, and the layout and lack of amenities made it difficult for people to get around, or for past vendors to sell some of their things because they didn’t have the right cooling or cooking equipment there. I, on the other hand, was in heaven…because…well…I found an Alpaca farm booth, and had a good chat with Kristi who ran both the booth and the Harmony Meadows Alpaca farm. Of course once I get my hands on anything alpaca I’m loath to part from it…so I walked away with 50gm of lovely Natural Dark Fawn Alpaca Roving for my drop spindle, and a skein of 2ply lace weight alpaca yarn dyed the color of “Rust.” I saw the color on the table, and its sort of a dark orangey-red color, and thought to myself, “Self, that would look really nice as some sort of lace shawl,” I’m thinking probably the Echo Flower Shawl if I can manage it.

My Saturday was very “yarnful.” After we visited a cute coffee shop, we made our way to my friend’s LYS, All Strung Out. That’s the name of the store…not our mind frame, for the record. I got to do some “Knit Geeking,” as I like to call it, and talked to one of the instructors. My friend (pictured below in the really cute coffee shop) had asked me to knit her a cabled headband, so I had her pick out the yarn for it. She chose Cascade Yarns Eco Duo; it is nice and super soft, made from baby alpaca and merino wool in different shades of gray. I’m working on the pattern now, and will post it when I’ve finished.

Well that was a long one, hope you made it through…here are some apples for your staying power…I hear they keep the doctor away.

Leigh

Cables and the Bowl that is not for Soup

I went to the library the other day and found some wonderful books that had cables and techniques for cabling in them and I’ve been trying to come up with a cabled cowl pattern. I’m almost done, but I’m not quite happy with it yet, so it may be a while yet before I post pictures and the pattern. I’ve almost completely ruined the first part of the ball of Malabrigo Worsted Merino because I keep changing my mind and ripping back.

So, tonight’s post is going to be about a fantastic gift that I got for Christmas. I guess that with moving back home to work, my parent’s have now come to realize the scope of my obsession and passion for knitting. My father has often commented on the way that balls of yarn escape me and roll about the room in which I work. So, for Christmas, he and my mother surprised me by getting me a hand crafted yarn bowl. I’m in love with it, and it does stop the problem of balls of yarn escaping around the house. It’s actually quite handy, and it has a neat little spiral cut out to pull the yarn through. But like every good gift, it is really the thought and motivation behind it that counts.

I can’t say for certain, but I’m fairly sure, that my father has never been in a yarn store without me being present, so trying to figure out how he managed to even know about the existence of such a thing had me flabbergasted, but apparently on a weekend when we had gone to see a play in Stratford, he had doubled back to drop things off in our hotel room, and snuck back into the yarn shop to get it! The story just makes the whole thing so much better!

I’ve taken a picture of it so you can see my new favourite toy…

Sickness, Soup and Sock knitting

Happy New Year Everyone!

So, since Christmas I have been a little ill, which means I haven’t had the energy to participate in any sort of festive fun since Christmas day. But it has meant that I have been able to do a little selfish knitting project of my own after all the hats. Months ago, I purchased two skeins of Malabrigo Sock in the colourway Lettuce to make a baby blanket for an expecting friend. I’ve discovered, if I am to be honest…I’m not really a fan of knitting baby blankets. I realize that they are small, not as big as if I were to make an afghan or something, but it was pretty boring going as the pattern I chose was just done in a basket weave type stitch pattern. Anyway, to save my mind, I switched to a worsted weight yarn, and that was that.

So, I had this additional Malabrigo Sock Yarn. The first skein of Malabrigo I used to make Damson by Ysolda Teague. The project is on my Ravelry account projects page as Hoodedfang’s Damson. And now being sick, I’ve decided I would make myself a pair of socks with the remaining skein. I chose Eunice by Cookie A. from her pattern book Sock Innovation. Really the knitting was wonderful, I really like the cables and the colour, and the first one fit perfectly. Actually so does the second one. I think you may be able to sense that there is a ‘but’ coming along.

But…I’ve been knitting, while mostly lying down…and watching BBC Period Drama’s on Netfix…see if you can spot the difference..

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Absolutely right…I forgot to cable on the second to last repeat of the pattern chart on my second sock! What a knob I am…and I didn’t notice til I had finished it. Now I have to undo the Kitchener Stitch, and rip back, carefully. I’m still sick, by the way, so mostly I am inclined just to leave them as they are, since they’re for me…but really! How disappointing?

Hibou

So a while ago I mentioned that I was designing one of the hats for Christmas Dinner myself. It was made for Kate, who loves owls, and also speaks French…hence the name “Hibou”. It was my first attempt at designing any kind of charting, but I think it turned out just fine. I think the owl is ADORABLE…but I might be biased… here is the pattern if you’re interested: HibouHat

This is the photo of it: