2013 Spring Cleaning #3

HoleySocks

These socks have been sitting in my mending drawer for many years. I know I’m never going to mend them. They are now in the garbage can. They never made it back inside the house after the photoshoot.

Majority of these are Koigu socks. I love Koigu but they don’t make long wearing socks, at least, not for me. The few pairs of hand spun socks in there were painful to toss as well, but they gave me lots of pleasure from spinning, knitting to wearing.

What do they all have in common, aside from the holes? They are all 100% merino. ‘Nuff said.

2013 Spring Cleaning #2 Update

Grace wasn’t sure about the contrast between the 2 different yarns. Here’s a picture of 2 bitty scraps, one from each yarn.

SC2Scraps

Pretty darned close, no?

There are color overlaps between the two yarns that make them nearly indistinguishable from each other. The second yarn is mostly black based, but the color sections are similar in hue and value of the darker sections of the rainbow yarn. I think it will work. If it doesn’t? There’s always a dye bath.

2013 Spring Cleaning #2

SC2

No before picture for today’s installment. I came across a partial top down sweater while digging through my stash. The last time I remember working on it, we were living in the little Zen tea cottage* when we first moved back down to California — in 2004. I didn’t have enough yarn to make the sweater I originally intended. I wasn’t happy with the fabric. I should have gone down one more needle size, but that meant I would need even more yarn than what I had available. So it sat. For 9 years.

Last weekend, I pulled it out of the UFO box and ripped the sweater. I had thought that I could make another vest. That was a surprisingly wearable and comfortable vest. I wanted more.

But last night, I finished the last hexagon on my crochet hexagon shawl/blanket thing. Except it wasn’t large enough.

Hexes1

The current size is 15″ deep by 40″ wide. The width is workable — elbow to elbow on me. But 15″ doesn’t cover enough of my back to keep it warm, just the shoulders.

A light bulb turned on. Perhaps I can use the yarn from the former top down raglan to frame the hexagons to make it larger all the way around. I think I even have enough to turn it into a shrug.

Hexes2

Here is the hexagon piece on top of the shrug. The shrug is folded over so the hex piece is about 1/2 of a shrug. I weighed everything. The hex piece weighs just under 8 oz. The former sweater weighs around 9 oz. I definitely have enough to turn this hex piece into a shrug.

The shrug will be colorful. It will be wild. It will most definitely not be everyone’s cup of tea. But it should definitely keep my back warm while I sit and drink a cup of tea.

2013 Spring Cleaning #1

The next few posts have no photos because they’ve already been ripped out.

I started Tea Leaves last summer and finished it in time to wear at SOAR. It should have been the perfect fall cardigan to wear all California winter. A fabulous mid weight sweater to throw on over T-shirts or turtlenecks. I even received some beautiful buttons handmade by Denny that would have been fabulous on the sweater.

Except it wasn’t.

Even after careful measurements, the sleeves were 2-3″ too long. I don’t know how that happened because I measured several of my favorite top down and yoked sweaters and used those numbers as my guidelines. It’s possible that I forgot to account for the nearly 3″ of garter stitch cuff.

Even if the sleeves had been of the right length, they were too tight. So tight that I wouldn’t have been able to comfortably wear anything other than a tank up or sleeveless shell under it. I might have fooled myself into thinking it was okay if the sleeves weren’t too long.

The sleeves were no only tight at the upper arm, they also sat right under the arm pit. There is no room for any shirts underneath to bunch up. You know what I’m talking about — the inevitable extra fabric you get when you wear a top with some ease. So, if the under layer has ease, the top layer needs ease too. This didn’t. It had negative ease. Not only was it uncomfortable, it was unsightly. After a perusal of the discussion forums on Ravelry, I found that a lot of people had issues with the too snug sleeves and added stitches to make it wearable.

Lastly, I wasn’t too fond of how low the neckline is. It felt like it was falling off my shoulders. Of course, it wasn’t because those darned sleeves made sure nothing moved.

So, there they sat. Washed, blocked and lonely since the end of September. Last week, the cat found it and decided that it is the perfect cat bed. Before she had a chance to circle once as a precursor to settling in for a long nap, I made the decision to rip. She was not a happy kitty.

While ripping the sweater, I started my research on how to fix this sweater.

Sleeves

I already knew I needed more sleeve stitches to start, but how many? I pulled out my notes from Janine’s EPS Yoked Sweater and crunched some numbers and compared them with the written pattern. I was stunned. Absolutely floored!

I knitted the 40″ sweater. For a 40″ sweater, the pattern instructions had an upper arm circumference of 11.4″ inches. Seriously. 11.5″. No wonder my arms were protesting. I can’t fit into that even without a shirt underneath.

According to the EPS calculations, the upper arm should be anywhere from 33% to 40% of your finished chest circumference. With a 40″ chest, the range is from 12.6″ (skinny narrow) – 15.2″ (loose), with the average in the 13.4″ to 14.4″ range.

2″. The sleeves are too narrow by two whole inches. On Ravelry, I see many knitters adding “a couple” of extra stitches. I don’t see how a couple of extra stitches at 5 st/in is going to help. Many of these people also said “blocking” and lots of it.

Neckline

Vicki did a fabulous review on her Tea Leaves Cardigan in Episode 12 of her podcast. She talked about the short rows she did to have the sweater fit better on the shoulders. She also pointed out that the pattern discussed the short rows! I completely missed it because it was not in the main section of the sweater pattern but in the notes section under gauge and notions. Thank you, Vicki!

Decision

Well the decision has already been made. The sweater has been ripped all the way back to the last ruffle and yoke increases. Some people added the short rows in the stockinette stitch sections between the ruffles. I couldn’t face the ruffles again right now so I will be putting my short rows after the yoke section. I already added one set of short rows. I will knit a few rows plain and then add in another set of short rows. Each of these sets is 2 short rows, if that makes sense.

I will be adding 2″ to my underarm for the sleeves, once I get to them again. I am hoping that the short rows will give me extra depth in the sweater as well so that it will not be sitting right at the arm pit. I’ll try it on as I go and decide if I need a bit extra depth. I couldn’t use the EPS calculations for the yoke depth because this sweater has a low neckline to start.

Of course, those 2 extra inches for each sleeve means that the body will be 4″ larger in the circumference. I will need to try on as I go and decide how to manage all that extra girth. I can turn it into more of a swing coat by adding even more stitches or do some waist shaping.

Lessons Learned

I buy and used published pattern because I want mindless knitting. Just follow the written pattern and turn the brain off. Unfortunately, this pattern didn’t fit the bill. For the next sweater I knit using a published pattern from a new-to-me designer, you can bet that I will double check all the numbers at critical points to make sure that the fit works for me.

For this sweater, I would have been better off making it up as I went, using only the rough instructions for the design elements that I like. In this case, the ruffles.

Last lesson? Try the sweater on as I go. Seriously. I know better.

Ghosts of Spring Cleaning Past

The last time I posted about my spring cleaning effort was back in May 2009. I think it’s high time to go through it again.

Let’s start off with a walk down memory lane with the status on the projects I identified back in 2009.

  1. Unspun Silk Scarf. This was finished during the effort but worn very infrequently. I don’t know why.
  2. Rugs. Still love them. I’ve washed one of them again since because Waldo threw up on it. Unfortunately, I left it out in the sun too long and it faded. Boo.
  3. Pinwheel Shawl. Finished but never worn. The arm scythe isn’t placed properly. It would work for someone with a smaller shoulder span. I really should donate it but it looks nice draped over the back of the rocking chair or foot of the guest bed.
  4. Anarchy Sweater. It turns out that I’m not such an anarchist after all. I gave the whole mess to Grace to salvage the yarn. I have no idea what has become of it. In any case, it is no longer my problem. Update: Penny has shared her Flickr stream for the Tree Costume using the repurposed yarn.
  5. Squirrel Mittens. Still not done and I’m starting to run out of niece/grand-nieces/grand-nephews of the appropriate size. It’s this year or bust.
  6. Clapotis. Frogged. I still haven’t found a project for the yarn. But now it’s just stash, not an unfinished project. I can live with that.
  7. Victoria Shawl. Still in the same, sad, forgotten state.

Score? Of the 7 projects, 2 still remain unresolved — after nearly FOUR years!

71%, or C- on a straight grading scale. Thankfully, we are not counting successes here; otherwise, the score would be even lower. I wonder what it might look like on a curve if we were to take into account of all the fiber artisans/crafters. Would I move up in the B range or down into a failing grade? I suppose consideration should be made that these were already in trouble to begin with, and not representative of my collective works. It’s a small consolation and sounds like a weak defense/excuse, even to my ears.

In any case, it’s not up to my standards. The only thing that I’ve ever scored this low was my Statics and Strengths of Materials course in college. This is why I don’t design bridges. However, I’m not ready to give up on my fiber related pursuits.