Sister-in-Law in Sweatery Goodness

I’ve just returned to Chez Kate after a lovely, albeit overcast, weekend at the Tickle Pink Inn in the Carmel Highlands, one of my favorite places on earth. Check out the photo gallery on the website and you’ll see why. On my way, reluctantly, out of town, I snapped this photo of my SIL, Karen, wearing the sweater I made for her as a Christmas gift:

Sister-in-law in Sweater
Sister-in-law (and little niece on the way) in Cable Panel Pullover

It’s a good thing I made this sweater a little big to make room for my little niece on the way. And Karen was such a good sport for agreeing to have her picture taken outside with wet hair!

The End of a Long March

Well, it’s the last day of March and here’s what I’ve accomplished stitching-wise:

1. “Everything Bag” from Suss Cousins, Hollywood Knits Style (k)
2. “Breast Cancer Ribbin’ Scarf,” my design (k)
3. “Granny Square Scarf” by Suss Cousins, navy (k & c)
4. “Granny Square Scarf” by Suss Cousins, claret (k & c)
5. “Cardigan for Arwen” by Kate Gilbert in Interweave Knits, Winter 2006 (k)
6. Aran Sweater for SIL, from Ann Budd’s amazing Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns (k)
7. “Ewe & Eye Needlecase” by Heart’s Content (xs)
8. “Corinthian Ribbed Blanket,” my “design” (a simple ribbed blanket) (k)
9. “Drizzle” by Anna Tillman for Rowan 38 (k)
10. “Ballerina Top” from Zoe Mellor, Adorable Knits for Tots (k)
11. “Aran Wrap,” my design (k)
12. “Felted Sashiko Chessboard Cover,” my design (k)
13. Jord (that’s the name of the yarn) handbag, my design (k)
14. Chair cushion cover, from Suss Home Knits (k)
15. Blue Basketweave scarf from Vogue Scarves book (k)

Although it looks like a lot of projects have been crossed off, I was miffed to discover that my percentage is only 73%–a lousy “C.” And here I am feeling like I killed myself to get this much done!

I’ve decided to put the Ballerina Top on hold for now since the “baby” it was intended for is now a toddler and, frankly, I just can’t stand to look at it anymore. I’ve also decided to end the blue basketweave scarf where it is–it became slightly felted when I washed it, and I’ve decided that it’s good enough as is. I’m following the old motto “There are no mistakes, only design choices” (sometimes “design elements,” but you get the idea) and accept what I’ve got.

The Breast Cancer Ribbin’ Scarf  and the Sashiko Chessboard Cover will be finished soon. Really. The Ewe and Eye Needlecase may take a bit longer–I spent quite a few hours on it this month and here’s a photo of my disappointing level of progress so far (to check on my previous progress, go here):

Ewe & Eye Needlecase WIP

And here is a picture of my brand new Everything Bag in all its glory:

Suss Everything BagWhile I more or less followed Suss Cousins’s pattern, I made up my own mixture of yarns. The original pattern called for Suss Charm, which is a mixture of three different yarns, including Trendsetter Flora. I used one strand of chocolate Suss Bomull (2 skeins total), one of sand Suss Twisted (3 skeins total), one of ivory Suss Perle Cotton (2 balls), one of mushroom Suss Perle Cotton (2 balls), one of Elsebeth Lavold’s Silky Wool in a kind of brick red (2 skeins), and one of “olive medley” Trendsetter Charm (4 balls total). Phew! Can you spot all the different yarns?

Suss Everything Bag, Button DetailIt’s like a yarn version of Where’s Waldo?! The lining is a groovy mod design from IKEA in ivory, brick red and beige–very cheap and very sturdy. I made some interior pockets, but I’m not entirely happy with the final size–a little too narrow and too deep to be truly useful (something to keep in mind in the future). However, considering my extremely limited sewing skills and fear of the sewing machine, I’m pretty proud of myself. I think I’m in bag love!

Everything Bag Interior

March 2008 goals, four weeks later

And four weeks later:

1. “Everything Bag” from Suss Cousins, Hollywood Knits Style (k)
2. “Breast Cancer Ribbin’ Scarf,” my design (k)
3. “Granny Square Scarf” by Suss Cousins, navy (k & c)
4. “Granny Square Scarf” by Suss Cousins, claret (k & c)
5. “Cardigan for Arwen” by Kate Gilbert in Interweave Knits, Winter 2006 (k)
6. Aran Sweater for SIL, from Ann Budd’s amazing Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns (k)
7. “Ewe & Eye Needlecase” by Heart’s Content (xs)
8. “Corinthian Ribbed Blanket,” my “design” (a simple ribbed blanket) (k)
9. “Drizzle” by Anna Tillman for Rowan 38 (k)
10. “Ballerina Top” from Zoe Mellor, Adorable Knits for Tots (k)
11. “Aran Wrap,” my design (k)
12. “Felted Sashiko Chessboard Cover,” my design (k)
13. Jord (that’s the name of the yarn) handbag, my design (k)
14. Chair cushion cover, from Suss Home Knits (k)
15. Blue Basketweave scarf from Vogue Scarves book (k)

Only one finish this week, although I have made considerable progress on the Everything Bag (#1) and I anticipate finishing it by the end of the month. The Ewe and Eye Needlecase, as Anna of Stitch Bitch so wisely predicted, is more than a one-month project, even with the bit of a head-start I had going into the month.

But let’s concentrate on the small victory for now–here, making it’s professional debut, give a Lyf So Short welcome to the Jord handbag:

Jord Handbag

Cable Panel Pullover Sweater for SIL finished!

Karen's Cable SweaterIt’s hard for me to believe, but I’ve finally finished the Cable Sweater for my SIL, Karen. This sweater started as a Christmas present for 2006, so you can get an idea of what a saga it’s been. Obviously, I didn’t get it finished for Christmas 2006, or her birthday in February 2007 (that was plan B), or Christmas 2007, or her recent February 2008 birthday (Plan Z?). Fortunately, although she’s notoriously difficult to shop for, she’s a very understanding and patient gal who doesn’t hold it against you if you’re late–very late–with gifts.

And, with this sweater, I think I’ve found the perfect present. She almost always wears dark grays and blacks, so I chose this great Rowan Yorkshire Tweed DK (color #354, “Gust”), a dark speckled, tweedy charcoal gray. When I began this sweater, they had just discontinued Yorkshire Tweed so I almost felt like I was racing the clock trying to get this sweater done before it became completely impossible to obtain any more balls.
Of course, as time passed by, my calculations indicated that I was going to run out of yarn with about two inches left on the funnel neck collar. D’oh! Several searches on the internet came up with the friendly people at Hampton Knitting Yarn who were able to send me not only a ball of 354, but also a ball of 352 (“Goose”) to finish the Cardigan for Arwen.  Thank you, Masked Knitters!

Karen's Sweater Collar Close-upTo the right, you can see a picture of the results (pardon the shadows). The extra balls matched perfectly for both projects–talk about great dye lot karma!

The pattern comes from Ann Budd’s extraordinarily useful book, The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns. I can’t say enough about this book! If you are interested in starting to design your own sweater patterns, or in gaining a better understanding of how sweaters work, this would be a great place to start. I consult this book all the time in my professional pattern-writing work since it provides instructions for the basic configuration of all kinds of sweater types (different sleeves, different collars, both adult and children’s sizes).

Karen's Sweater, Cable DetailIf all the patterns are as clearly written as this “Cable Panel Pullover,” you shouldn’t have any problems at all following them, even if you make modifications as I did. I decided to change the sleeves from modified drop shoulder sleeves to set-in sleeves and I had no problem recalculating the pattern since Budd walks you through every step for every gauge and size. The diagrams are also extensively annotated. As if all of that wasn’t enough, the book is designed like a spiral-bound notebook so it lies open flat while you’re working. Very convenient.

Now keep your fingers crossed that it fits!

March 2008 goals, three weeks later

Drizzle ScarfIn terms of actually being able to cross things off my list, I haven’t made as much progress this week as last, although I have made significant progress on several projects and I’ve managed to finish the Drizzle Scarf at least (pictured to the right). Mmmmm… so soft and purple….

Because I like longer scarves than most designers seem to think appropriate, I doubled the called-for length of each of the light purple and beige stripes on the ends of the scarf and lengthened the solid purple middle section too. The fuzzy effect is created by mixing Rowan Yorkshire Tweed (sadly discontinued now) with one strand of Rowan Kidsilk Haze (fast becoming one of my favorite yarns) in the “dewberry” color. Here’s a detailed close-up of the striped section:

Drizzle Scarf Close-upThe pattern, in Rowan 38, calls for a bunch of shell buttons to be sewn on the ends of the scarf, but in the interest of getting all of this done for “stitch or cut floss” March, and, more importantly, because I really didn’t think they would add much, I decided not to go with the buttons. However, I do want to go on the record as saying that my administration has always had a firm pro-shell button agenda.

Here’s how I stand with the list so far:

1. “Everything Bag” from Suss Cousins, Hollywood Knits Style (k)
2. “Breast Cancer Ribbin’ Scarf,” my design (k)
3. “Granny Square Scarf” by Suss Cousins, navy (k & c)
4. “Granny Square Scarf” by Suss Cousins, claret (k & c)
5. “Cardigan for Arwen” by Kate Gilbert in Interweave Knits, Winter 2006 (k)
6. Aran Sweater for SIL, from Ann Budd’s amazing Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns (k)
7. “Ewe & Eye Needlecase” by Heart’s Content (xs)
8. “Corinthian Ribbed Blanket,” my “design” (a simple ribbed blanket) (k)
9. “Drizzle” by Anna Tillman for Rowan 38 (k)
10. “Ballerina Top” from Zoe Mellor, Adorable Knits for Tots (k)
11. “Aran Wrap,” my design (k)
12. “Felted Sashiko Chessboard Cover,” my design (k)
13. Jord (that’s the name of the yarn) handbag, my design (k)
14. Chair cushion cover, from Suss Home Knits (k)
15. Blue Basketweave scarf from Vogue Scarves book (k)

As soon as my roommate’s midterms are over and she sets up the sewing machine for me, I should be able to finish nos. 1, 10, and 13. #1 needs a lining, #10 needs the pieces sewn together, and #13 needs both.

Here are some pictures of the current state of #6, Aran sweater for SIL (the book that the pattern is taken from, by the way, is the amazingly useful Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns by Ann Budd, and the pattern is titled “Cable Panel Pullover”). The yarn here is also the late, lamented Rowan Yorkshire Tweed:

Karen's Sweater Pre-Assembly
Pre-Assembly

And here’s a close-up of the sleeve opening and funnel neck (inside-out, of course):

Karen's Sweater Pre-Assembly, Neck and Sleeve hole
Close-up with sleeves pinned, inside-out

And here’s a close-up of the sleeve seams (baskstitched):

Karen's Sweater Sleeve, seamed
Sweater Sleeve, seamed

And the wrist:

Karen's Sweater Sleeve, Close-up
Sweater Sleeve, Close-up

I’m planning on finishing this up in the next couple days, so that should be one more in the “finished” column. Yay! Stay tuned. Same stitch time, same stitch channel.

March 2008 goals, two weeks later

I’m making some progress! The projects that are crossed off are completely finished:

1. “Everything Bag” from Suss Cousins, Hollywood Knits Style (k)
2. “Breast Cancer Ribbin’ Scarf,” my design (k)
3. “Granny Square Scarf” by Suss Cousins, navy (k & c)
4. “Granny Square Scarf” by Suss Cousins, claret (k & c)
5. “Cardigan for Arwen” by Kate Gilbert in Interweave Knits, Winter 2006 (k)
6. Aran Sweater for SIL, from Ann Budd’s amazing Handy Book of Knitting Patterns (k)
7. “Ewe & Eye Needlecase” by Heart’s Content (xs)
8. “Corinthian Ribbed Blanket,” my “design” (a simple ribbed blanket) (k)
9. “Drizzle” by Anna Tillman for Rowan 38 (k)
10. “Ballerina Top” from Zoe Mellor, Adorable Knits for Tots (k)
11. “Aran Wrap,” my design (k)
12. “Felted Sashiko Chessboard Cover,” my design (k)

13. Jord (that’s the name of the yarn) handbag, my design (k)

14. Chair cushion cover, from Suss Home Knits (k)

15. Blue Basketweave scarf from Vogue Scarves book (k)

Technically, I decided to frog #11 because it just wasn’t working out, but that counts as finished since I won’t have to think about it anymore. Cardigan for Arwen is turning out to have some fitting issues, so I won’t be talking about that right now.

But here are some pictures of the granny square scarves. First, in navy:

Granny Square Scarf, Navy
Granny Square Scarf, Navy

And in claret (for both scarves, I used Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick, one of the softest wool/acrylic blends you’ll ever work with):

Granny Square Scarf, Claret
Granny Square Scarf, Claret

If you’d like the pattern, email the Suss Design people–and tell them Kate sent you!

And here’s the World’s Most Beautiful Boy Cat (commonly known as “El Guapo”) making himself comfortable on the Corinthian Blanket:

Corinthian Blanket and Cat
Corinthian Blanket and Cat

This blanket is based on a blanket pattern I wrote for the Suss Cousins Wedding Knits book, the Soft Monogrammed Throw, except I used Rowan Chunky Print in the “Corinthian” colorway (hence, my name for the blanket). It’s a simple four-by-four rib stitch on size 13 needles (the recommended size for Chunky Print), but I think the effect is spectacular. And clearly, El Guapo does too. Warning: if you want to make this blanket yourself, it uses 17 balls, however, since Chunky Print is discontinued, you can pick up balls really cheap right now online.

Update 01/25/11: Suss Design is now out of the handknits business and Suss is concentrating all her efforts on her fashion lines, which are now even being featured on QVC. She continues to design knits for films and television as well. However, if you are interested in the pattern for this Granny Square Scarf, you can email me directly and I can arrange to get the pattern from them.

March 2008 Goals, One Week Later

These were my monthly goals as of March 1st:

1. “Everything Bag” from Suss Cousins, Hollywood Knits Style (k)
2. “Breast Cancer Ribbin’ Scarf,” my design (k)
3. “Granny Square Scarf” by Suss Cousins, navy (k & c)
4. “Granny Square Scarf” by Suss Cousins, claret (k & c)
5. “Cardigan for Arwen” by Kate Gilbert in Interweave Knits, Winter 2006 (k)
6. Aran Sweater for SIL, from Ann Budd’s amazing Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns (k)
7. “Ewe & Eye Needlecase” by Heart’s Content (xs)
8. “Corinthian Ribbed Blanket,” my “design” (a simple ribbed blanket) (k)
9. “Drizzle” by Anna Tillman for Rowan 38 (k)
10. “Ballerina Top” from Zoe Mellor, Adorable Knits for Tots (k)
11. “Aran Wrap,” my design (k)
12. “Felted Sashiko Chessboard Cover,” my design (k)

It’s a week later and here’s what I’ve finished:

Brown Crocheted Scarf
Brown Crocheted Scarf with fringe

No, this wasn’t on the list. Frankly, I forgot about it until it was time for SnB today and I needed a crochet project. Did you know that it’s National Crochet Month? The fabulous Ellen Bloom was there giving out crochet tips and tricks. She is definitely the expert!  I learned, among other things, the “half-hitch double crochet” (OK, I may not have gotten the name right but it’s basically a technique to avoid that little gap/hole in between double crochet stitches).

Unfortunately, I’ve discovered other projects to add to my list. Here goes:

13. Jord (that’s the name of the yarn) handbag, my design (k)

14. Chair cushion cover, from Suss Home Knits (k)

15. Blue Basketweave scarf from Vogue Scarves book (k)

If they weren’t all so close to being done, I’d really despair.

March 2008 Goals

I am officially declaring March 2008 to be my “stitch or cut floss” month (doesn’t that sound much nicer than “_____ or get off the pot” month?). But what does that mean, Kate?

I’m glad you asked, gentle reader. “Stitch or cut floss” means that I will, come hell or high water, finish all my UFOs by the end of the month. I will start April 2008 UFO-free!

In no particular order, these are the projects that I need to finish–“k” indicates a knitting project, “c” indicates crochet, and “xs” indicates cross stitch, of course. Here we go:

1. “Everything Bag” from Suss Cousins, Hollywood Knits Style (k)
2. “Breast Cancer Ribbin’ Scarf,” my design (k)
3. “Granny Square Scarf” by Suss Cousins, navy (k & c)
4. “Granny Square Scarf” by Suss Cousins, claret (k & c)
5. “Cardigan for Arwen” by Kate Gilbert in Interweave Knits, Winter 2006 (k)
6. Aran Sweater for SIL, from Ann Budd’s amazing Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns (k)
7. “Ewe & Eye Needlecase” by Heart’s Content (xs)
8. “Corinthian Ribbed Blanket,” my “design” (a simple ribbed blanket) (k)
9. “Drizzle” by Anna Tillman for Rowan 38 (k)
10. “Ballerina Top” from Zoe Mellor, Adorable Knits for Tots (k)
11. “Aran Wrap,” my design (k)
12. “Felted Sashiko Chessboard Cover,” my design (k)

Since I finished all those old cross stitch projects, I’ve been trying not to start a new one until I finish the Heart’s Content Needlecase, so that explains the huge discrepancy in the ratio of knitted to stitched projects. I promise to “correct” that in the future. Tomorrow, I’ll fill you all in on how pathetically close I am to finishing all of these. Sigh.