Sticking the Landing

The knitting part of my Knitting Olympics project is complete, so I’m down to all the fiddly bits of finishing. I don’t plan to block the entire sweater as the size is good as is, and I’m afraid blocking will stretch things out. I do, however, want to steam block the trim along the bottom of the sleeves and the hem as it tends to puff up a bit, and I’d like it to lie nice and smooth, flush with the garter stitch sections. After that, I’ll kitchener the sleeves (a benefit of the sideways design of this pattern: no lumpy sleeve seams) and sew the underarms shut. Then it’s grossgrain for the button bands (my bind-off band is always longer than my cast-on band, and the grossgrain helps them hang evenly, along with preventing stretching our from wearing the piece buttoned), sewing on the buttons, and I’ll be done.

When I started this project I had no idea it was possible to knit an entire sweater in such a short period of time. A big lace project? Maybe. But a sweater? Who knew? Mind you, I’m using aran-weight yarn and biggish needles. Nonetheless, I’m feeling empowered to try other sweater patterns, without experiencing that lurking sense of if-I-cast-on-this-thing-it-will-still-be-on-the-needles-when-archaeologists-from-the-third-millennium-dig-up-my-fossilized-bones. In particular, I’m thinking of Mel Clark’s Swing in some yummy Elesbeth Lavold Baby Llama a college friend bought for me. (BTW, Little Knits has this yummy yarn on sale right now for only $32.99 a bag. It is a miracle of softness with a wonderful shine. I strongly recommend yielding to temptation and buying some.)

And the Games Go on…

I’ve knitted all the way around to the left front of my Vine Yoke Cardigan. Sixty-five rows to go, but I’m losing steam. The yarn is gorgeous, the pattern fun—but I want to do a bit of lace knitting. So in one of those what-is-she-thinking-about? moves, I’ve cast on for Percy, a sweet little knitted shawlette that I’ve been eying for a while.

Is this folly? Is it a brilliant master strategy that will confound the competition? Will it serve as cross-training and improve my speed on the Vine Yoke? I did do some work on the the cardi yesterday, but I’m also up to row fifty-five on Percy now.

So many knits, so little attention span.

Progress Report

I have bug #3 of the winter: the mildest so far, but it feels worse than it is because I am absolutely at the limit of my patience in the health category. The problem with being a teacher is that it pretty much requires being around students, who live in dormitories that are great cesspools of disease, and those students, they do insist on breathing, and, with air circulation and all, you have no chance whatsoever of remaining healthy come winter.

I have, however, persevered, and between opening new boxes of tissues, I have made it about two-thirds of the way around on my Vine Yoke Cardigan. Right front, done. Right, sleeve, done. Back, done. Left sleeve, in progress. I am so delighted that the sewing-up at the end will be minimal.

Knitting Olympics

I’ve signed up for the Knitting Olympics over at the Yarn Harlot’s page. My project: Ysolda Teague’s Vine Yoke Cardigan from a back “issue” of Twist Collective. I’m using two bags of Sierra Aran in a deep, deep heathered purple that I picked up from Elann. I’m a bit nervous about whether the circular yoke will make my shoulders look big, but I’m hoping the dark color will help minimize that possibility.

I’m knitting a size up, hoping that will make the sweater a bit swingier. By my calculations, I’ll need 16 skeins for the project (91-yard skeins), which means I’ll need to knit a bit more than a skein’s worth a day to have time for finishing before the flame is extinguished. I’m almost to the point where I’ll be starting skein 4, so things look good.

I’m enjoying this project immensely. No stockinette! Interesting sideways constructions, with a lace stitch at both ends of the circular needles to keep things interesting, and regular wrap-and-turns to accomplish the shaping. The pattern is very clearly written—and in a huge range of sizes. I can recommend it without reservation. Ysolda Teague is absolutely brilliant—I can imagine working up one of these in one’s own size. But to write it up in 14 different sizes? Wowza!

Springtime: When Knitters’ Thoughts Turn to Blocking

We had a bit of sun at the end of January, so Chris and I were quick to pull out the pins and blocking mats. Blocking on the porchGoing clockwise from upper left:

• My Aestlight knit in Crazy Zauberball, the teal/brown colorway—this picture doesn’t do the color justice. We’ll have to do another photo shoot now that it’s unpinned to share it in its full glory.

• The Saroyan I knit in Outback Wool for my mom as a Christmas gift—which has become a Valentine gift since I’ve been sick all winter.

• A cozy little ruffled moss stitch shawl in a pattern I made up off the top of my head last January, while we were on our road trip delivering Penny to her new home. The yarn is from a small, independent dyer out of Fresno—Barking Dog.

• Chris’s Labyrinth—a magnificent piece of work and an exercise in faith, as she knit the whole thing from written instructions and couldn’t really see whether the pathway was correct until she finished. It was!

None of these count for 10 Shawls in 2010, but I did finish a piece that will count as shawl #2: an Autumn Lace Scarf in Malabrigo Sock.

Blocking the leafy scarf

10 Shawls in 2010

Ok, I’m jumping on this bandwagon late, but I’m jumping on it. I suspect that ten shawls won’t be all that much more than I usually go for—and if I don’t make the goal I’ll have had fun anyway. (Sorry if that kind of statement is disappointing for all the Type A knitters out there.)

This year, I’ve already knit Justify, a cozy mobius wrap, out of Noro Kochoran (a sort of aran-weight version of silk garden) that is doing me all sorts of good as I try to recover from this whatever-the-hell-it-is-mucus-and-cough-of-doom thing. I worked the main body of mine in garter stitch to make the seaming less noticeable. Going through the various versions of this piece posted on Ravelry is fun. My personal favorite has the main section worked in reversible cables, a la Palindrome.

Chris and I have started working on Spanish Armada as a private KAL. We’re hoping to work together on some projects that can be learning tools for us both. This shawl is designed by Mmario, who is one of the great, unsung (or not sufficiently sung) geniuses of shawl design. He publishes all his patterns free of charge via a Yahoo group ( We’ve both just made it past round 100, with another 50+ rounds to go.

Even Melissa has gotten the shawl bug, albeit a minor case. Last night as I looked through all the finished projects from the participants in this Ravelry group, she mentioned that, really, she might like a shawl herself, so long as it wasn’t too fussy. At the moment I’m thinking maybe Victorine.