Marsha Knits

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Name: Marsha Brofka-Berends
Location: US

Marsha knits . . . and reads and cooks and edits and gardens and hikes and thinks and eats and photographs and sings and writes and travels and plans and hopes and . . .

04 June 2007

Pinwheel sweater

Last Sunday afternoon I decided I really wanted to knit a child-sized pinwheel sweater using the free pattern from Elann. I'd never made one of these before (though I'd seen a similar one, based on a Vogue Knitting pattern, worn by an adult friend), but I'd come across the pattern the day before and found myself possessed by an insane desire to knit one of these things immediately. The pattern calls for Elann's own worsted-weight 100% wool yarn. I've never used it before, but I did have several balls of KnitPicks Wool of the Andes worsted on hand. So I planned what I hoped would be an eye-pleasing combination of colors and cast on. A few hours later, I was already in the middle of the third "donut," right at the spot where the first armhole is created. For some reason, the pattern tells you to start a new ball of yarn here. I couldn't quite understand why, but I did it...and then once I had cast on stitches for the other side of the armhole, I realized that starting a new ball of yarn was completely unnecessary. So when I got to the second armhole, I just kept plugging along with the ball of yarn I was already using, and everything worked out just fine. I did have some trouble with the crochet provisional cast-on, though. This was the first time I'd ever done one, and when I went to pick up the stiches for the sleeves later I found that I hadn't cast on to the correct loops of the crochet chain. So instead of unzipping like the top stitching on a big bag of rice (anyone out there know what I'm talking about?), the yarn refused to budge. I had to remove each loop from the crochet chain separately. Fortunately, there were only eighteen loops, so this didn't take very long. This is a very interesting sweater. The child-sized version is supposed to fit someone as small as six months old to someone as large as four years old. My daughter, who's modeling the sweater here (with some coaching from her dad, who helpfully shouted, "Now point to the stove and the refrigerator at the same time!" as I took the first photo), is two years old. You can see that the sleeves are rolled up a bit, so she's got plenty of room. (And because the bottom two-thirds of each sleeve is done in k1p1 ribbing, it stays put when it's rolled up--very helpful if you want to put it on a short-armed baby.) The sweater has eight sections, and the sleeves are separated by two sections one way and by four sections another. (This layout is very visible in the third photo here.) So, depending on how the sweater is put on, you get either a long sweater with a short collar (the first photo) or a short sweater with a long collar (the second photo) that could even be used as a hood for a small baby. In both orientations, the sweater kept sliding off of Sylvia's shoulders--especially in the long-collar-short-sweater direction. (Note that this sweater has not been blocked. I guess it's possible that blocking might help with this problem.) So I'm thinking about putting some I-cord ties or maybe even some sort of button in the front. If I stick a closure right in the middle, across from the armholes, it should line up properly when the sweater is worn in either direction. This sweater was a pretty fast knit in #9 needles (#8 for the ribbing on the sleeves). I started it on a Sunday afternoon and was finished (including weaving in the ends!) the following Saturday evening. It also didn't use much yarn: I used less than one skein each of the red, blue, and white and just under two skeins of the gray. Wool of the Andes is $1.99 per skein, so this sweater cost under ten bucks to make (and there's still plenty of red, blue, and white to knit a donut of each in another sweater!). (I should point out, though, that I decided to omit the funky I-cord loop edging that the pattern calls for. I seems like the sort of thing a toddler would get caught on everything and end up pulling on the sweater.) At the end of the photo shoot, once Sylvia had finished identifying all the major appliances in my kitchen, I spread out the sweater on the floor for one last photo. Sylvia rushed to get her own camera and lent me a hand!

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28 May 2007

Sock update

I did it! Earlier this month, I finished my first pair of socks! I used Simple Stripes from KnitPicks--a yarn that they've discontinued, which is unfortunate because I think it has a beautiful pattern. These were done in the toe-up pattern that my friend Pat taught me. (She is blogless but really ought to get blogging, because she knows a lot about knitting and is a a great photographer. She's knitting a pair of socks each month this year--among other projects--and you can see her progress here.) Aside from a little wonkiness on one heel flap (I somehow picked up ten extra stitches on the first sock, but everything came out perfectly on the second), I think these turned out nicely. Well, except for one thing. Look closely. See the complete and utter lack of ribbing on the top of the sock? Yup. Once I got past the heel, I was so relieved that I just kept knitting merrily along. I should, in my defense, point out that most of this ribless knitting took place among fellow knitters who didn't say a word to me about it. Not that I'm trying to blame them. I just think it's funny that about ten of us failed to notice or realize what I was doing until I had bound off both socks. The socks are a little "slouchier" than ideal. And, as it turns out, they are also a little big for my feet. So, as much as I'd like to keep them for myself (I love this colorway...and they are my first socks), I'll be giving them to someone else. In the meantime, I've started my second pair of socks. And you'll see that no only did I remember the ribbing, but I started it (on the instep only) right after the toe increases. Gotta make up for all that ribbing I left out of the last socks...

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06 April 2007

A week of knitting

Last night my local knitting ground met at a coffee shop for our first-Tuesday-of-the-month not-at-the-community-center get-together. (On the third Thursday of the month, we are at the community center.) I had finished the heel flaps on both of my toe-up socks, so I was all ready for Pat to help me through the next step: picked up stitches on the sides of the heel flap and making the ninety-degree turn that makes sock knitting so freaky and mysterious. It went quite well...or so I thought. When I came home, I finished up one sock and discovered that I'd picked up about ten more stitches than I should have. Oops. I sent Pat a "oh crap, what do I do now?" e-mail about it this morning, and fortunately she was able to tell me how to fix it by decreasing before I start knitting the round top part. I'll have to be extra-careful when I do the heel on my second sock, now that I know that my subconscious wants to pick up way more stitches than are good for me. These socks aren't going to be a perfectly matched pair...but hey, they are my first real socks, and besides, all of these "idiosyncracies" are what make handknits so charming, right? Right? Yesterday I also finished up the front of the pullover vest I'm knitting for a baby that's due in mid-June. The top part looks kind of weird to me...like a halter top gone bad or something. I'm supposed to block it before seaming, and I'm wondering if blocking will smooth out the profile a bit. But I'm also wondering if I should rip it down to the base of the v and try again, this time modifying the pattern a bit to get wider "straps" up the sides. (I followed the pattern exactly as written this time.) What do you think? Any suggestions?

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