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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29 May 2007

My stash

My SP10 hostess, Kerry, has asked everyone in her group to post a stash photo. Here's mine, arrayed on the futon in our guest room. It's not huge (certainly not compared to some people's stashes...ahem!), but there's more yarn here than I remember owning. Well, that's no entirely accurate: as I unpacked the giant plastic box where I store this stuff, I remembered each ball of yarn as I encountered it, but I couldn't remember all of it without seeing it. Does that make sense? Everything is kept in ziploc bags, mostly so the balls of yarn don't agitate each other and start to unravel and get tangled (yes, the use of ziploc bags here was the result of a Bad Yarn Experience). I thought about it organizing the yarn by type, but then I realized that if I did that I'd have one pile with three sets of sock yarn (I have thus far managed to avoid the Sock Yarn Lust that usually afflicts sock knitters) and a big jumble of Everything Else.

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08 May 2007

Happy birthday to me

Yupper, today is my birthday--just two days after Sylvia's. Two years ago, when we were anxiously waiting for her to hurry up and get born already, Jan and I were worried that she'd end up sharing my birthday, which also happened to land on Mother's Day that year. Talk about a triple whammy. Fortunately, she arrived two days earlier (one week after her due date), thus ensuring that she gets her very own birthday--which I think is important, since it's awfully nice to have a birthday that's your own special day, don't you think? In addition to the niceness of having family around to celebrate my birthday, I was also fortunate enough to receive several wonderful gifts, many of which were knitting/craft related. Simple Sewing: Patterns and How-To for 24 Fresh and Easy Projects by Lotta Jansdotter and Knitted Flowers by Nicky Epstein now grace my bookshelves, and a tote with seventeen (yes, that's right--seventeen) pockets on the outside alone will insure that I don't lose my crafting supplies. My friends Gina and Todd gave me a Louet kit for handpainting sock yarn. It contains some incredibly soft wool sock yarn (enough for a pair), three different color-coordinated dyes, and--thank goodness--instructions. I am very much looking forward to trying this! Last but not least, my Dutch father-in-law gave me a terrific set of knitting supplies. He doesn't know anything about knitting, so he went to his local yarn store, a place called Charmant that's in the next town over from his, and said, "I want to get something for someone who knits." Fortunately, he was helped by someone who knew what they were doing (though I'm not surprised--I've been to this shop and was very impressed by how knowledgeable the staff were). She guided him toward the spring/summer 2007 issue of Babymode (Phildar No. 465), a set of 3.5mm needles (which is what most of the patterns call for), and twelve balls of a very soft cotton-acrylic blend Dutch yarn that's pretty indistinguishable from Rowan All-Season Cotton. There are lots of great patterns in here. I'm especially looking forward to making the two-toned cardigan with the tomten hood. Unfortunately, all of the written instructions are in Dutch--which I don't read or speak. But I'm hoping that with the help of the pictures and schematics (not to mention Babelfish) I can figure them out!

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19 April 2007

Speaking of friends...

By happy coincidence, I have reason to write up another "wow, my friends are great" post. In this case, the friend didn't give me much-needed decorating advice but sent me yarn. About two weeks ago, Beth, my roommate from college, called to let me know that her local yarn store was having a mega-sale. Would I like anything? she asked. I was sorely tempted but opted to save my pennies this time. Apparently, she decided to take matters into her own hands: in the mail a few days ago I received a package full of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. Now, I love this yarn. I've raved about it here before, and Beth and I have had extensive discussions on the subject. And now I have a lot of it. In addition to the four skeins of peach, two skeins of sage green, and two skeins of chocolate brown that Beth sent, I have one skein of chocolate brown (leftover from the cardigan I made for Sylvia) and three skeins of red (from JD). That's twelve whole skeins of this stuff! So what should I do with it? I'd love to hear suggestions! I think it would be fun to use it all in one project (though I suspect the red may be a bit too bright to go with the others). A striped sweater? Some sort of intarsia thingamabob?

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24 March 2007

SP10 just launched...

...and look what's already happened! A few days ago, my SP10 sent me an e-mail warning me to watch my mail. When yesterday's mail arrived, I could see why: she sent me a package! Yes, that's right--sock yarn! Her accompanying note reads "I love making socks, so I thought I'd encourage your new foray into knitting them as well!" Along with two skeins of Cascade yarns Sassy Stripes superwash (in an oh-so-fun blue-green colorway) she included a great toe-up sock pattern. (Question to my Secret Pal: did you send this pattern because I'm learning toe-up socks now or because it's one you like a lot? Just wondering...) Thank you, SP10!

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