Monthly Archives: November 2005

Life isn’t all peaches

Warning: picture-less post. Lots of rambling. I attempt to crack jokes, but it’s bad, real bad. Lots of opportunities for all of you who seem so invested in the project to give me advice, though :).

Contrary to what you might imagine based on my typical jovial predisposition (ahem), Grumperinia is NOT the land of milk and honey. We have issues here, serious doubts on a regular basis, and I don’t have to tell you that the MO is grumpiness. We make wrong choices, and sometimes we stick with them for far too long – Adrienne Vittadini sweater, anyone? Curlicue? latest pair of socks for grandma? I’m notorious for picking really difficult projects, giving them a run for their money, but eventually deciding that they aren’t going to work out.

And so with my latest obsession, the Kimono-inspired sweater. I’m really excited and inspired by all your enthusiasm, flattered by your claims that this will come out “just perfect,” and surprised by premature pattern requests (Uhm, maybe I should knit a swatch first?). But I can tell you right now – I’m getting myself into a pickle, a really big pickle, and although I have the absolute best intentions and will give it my all, as I always do, I do not exclude that this will be a short-lived dream.

And it all has to do with gauge.

As all of you know, and as I painfully learned when knitting the orange Filati sweater, lace stretches during the blocking process, and in fact should be gently encouraged to stretch in order to open up and look pretty. Now, combine that with my desire for a well-fitted sweater and you get what I call obstacle #1: this project needs serious, diligent swatching in order to account for the stretching the lace will do when blocked. And this is NO easy task. If not done properly, I will knit something that grows to potato-sack size upon first contact with water (like those little foam animals that I used to get from the 25¢ toy vending machine).

Preliminary results indicate an 18% stretch in both directions, but I need a bit more time to have a firm number. In any case, yes, the lace will stretch significantly. I’m very worried about bound edges – the stitches at the edges of the sleeve cap and along the neckline, for instance. How will all that expanding lace be accommodated within these physical boundaries? (I learned to worry about this from the Curlicue, of course).

Moving on to obstacle #2: a lacey pattern knit with fingering/sportweight yarn looks remarkably dissimilar to the original sweater, which is knit in something closer to laceweight yarn, and much more tightly. As June pointed out, “yarnovers in thicker yarn are huge – big enough to get fingers stuck in the holes when you put the sleeves on, etc. It’s fine for wraps and stuff, but I personally would not knit lace for clothing using anything bigger than a US 3 needle.” I know, June, I realized it as soon as I swatched with a US 4 needle.

I have since moved down to a US 3, but I’m still only approximating what the original looks like because the yarnovers are much more noticeable in my version. I’m not sure if they are big enough for fingers to get stuck, but they are big enough that I’ll have to wear a camisole beneath this sweater. I’m willing to entertain that idea for now, but there’s also

obstacle #3: this stitch pattern bores me to tears. Oh my God, does a more boring pattern exist? It’s complicated enough that I can’t knit without looking as I do for stockinette and ribbing, but boring enough to put me to sleep. And, hello, did you notice that I’m swatching this on US 3s, assuring me that this won’t be a quick knit? Mama mia!

So, we’ll see. I’m swatching diligently and deciding if this lacey fabric will work for an entire garment. If not, I may keep the beautiful sweater shape but knit it up in simple stockinette. I just don’t want another Adrienne Vittadini disaster – not being able to finish that thing upset me for like months (did I tell you I cried over it? I cried. So much work, a ton of pressure, such high hope, and at the end, bubkes) (didn’t cry over the Curlicue – that just caused pure and unadulterated rage).

Oh, and I’ve decided to use the light blue Lana Grossa Cool Wool 2000, absolutely contrary to all your votes. Like Claudia, I’m typically in the minority. This yarn is like little angel baby kitty bunny goodness foofoo, if that makes any sense :).

I’m feeling a bit Japanese

You know, sometimes stupidity happens, and you don’t even want to blog about it.

Example 1: deciding that the easiest way to take apart my Niddy Noddy was to hold one wing between my knees, and pull on the other. Evidence of stupidity: Niddy Noddy-shaped welt on my chin. Ow! Example 2: deciding that I desperately need to start knitting a sweater right now, and going forward with this decision… without much any thought. Evidence of stupidity: several balls of frogged yarn.

So, let’s take a step back, and while we will not discuss further the odd bruise on my chin (ow!), we will take a moment and talk about sweaters.

I’ve been on an odd streak of sorts. Look over at the FO gallery on the sidebar, specifically at everything after the orange Filati sweater: Candy footlets, dog bed for Annie’s book, cream-colored socks for grandma, Sharfik for my dad, and Grumpecue. In the near future, the secret sewing project, another pair of socks for grandma, and mom’s Leaf Lace Shawl will join the FO ranks.

I have a problem – I haven’t knit a sweater in forever! I’ve been stuck in some kind of accessory rut, and it’s time to, well, change that.

As soon as this realization firmly set in, I cast on with some soy silk yarn from the stash. No, there wasn’t much thinking or planning. I may or may not have measured the circumference of my neck, and I may or may not have written it down in my notepad as 31″ (it’s actually 13″). Perhaps there was a gauge swatch, maybe not. The whole experience was sort of embarrassing and, like I said, stupidity is sometimes not worthwhile reporting – don’t want to give others any “brilliant ideas.” :)

But something about the experience was very satisfying, and I feel ready to actually sit down, think, sketch, measure, and knit with some sort of plan in mind.

And what I have in mind is this Kimono-inspired sweater:

(click here for a mannequin shot)

I don’t have to tell you – it’s from that store, and I think it’s gorgeous. Maybe it’s the release of Memoirs of a Geisha as a movie (the book is one of my all-time favorites), or maybe it’s my constant fascination with Asian cultures, but this jumped out at me as soon as I saw it. The sleeves are my favorite part, no question about it :).

But this sweater can use some “improvements,” so I won’t be buying it from the store. For starters angora content is not acceptable to this allergic girl! Also, I’m not crazy about cardigans in general, and specifically cardigans held together in the one place where buttons don’t like to meet for me :).

But imagine that same sweater, minus the angora, and as a pullover with what I think is called a Mandarin collar. I’m diggin’ it!

Now, to create (recreate?) the pattern.

The great thing about the Anthropologie website is that you can zoom in pretty close on the texture of this sweater. Check it out!

My juvenile lace skills jumped into action, and I came up with the following chart for the pattern. I would greatly appreciate any lace-knitting gurus (June?) checking it for accuracy:

ETA: chart shows right-side rows only. All wrong side rows are purl each stitch. I determined this by realizing that each diamond has twice as many Vs in the vertical direction than in the horizontal direction. Thanks, Emily for reminding me to include that info.

Next I have to pick a yarn and do some swatching. I have three candidates in my stash; all are 100% superwash merino wool, approximately the same gauge:

From left to right: Rowan 4 ply soft in Rain cloud, Louet Gems Opal in Crabapple Blossom, and Lana Grossa Cool Wool 2000 in the creatively-named 430.

Which will it be? I would say, “you decide!” but that would be disingenuous. How about, you vote, I listen, but when all is said and done, I decide? :)

The poll has now been closed! Thanks for voting :). Here are the results:

Ahhh! Blog background color back to normal :)