Still Life from Quimper

Still Life from Quimper
A shot of an almost-completed still life needlepoint

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So very happy you came to visit. Now, pull up a chair, pour a glass of your favorite beverage, and read on about adventures in needlework.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Beach Sweater is Done!

Yes, yes, at long last, this beautiful sweater full of bright turquoise-y green and deep blue, colors I saw and loved and bought on an impulse, is DONE! And now I can show a picture and blog about it:

Lovely front of lovely Beach Sweater

Two of the details on this simple sweater are right there on the photo - the slight V-neck with the foldover collar (I guess in fashion circles it's called a "Bistro collar") and the slight flaring of the sleeves so that it covers things like bra straps and is not a true tank top. Which is good from my older POV.

The sleeves are easy to expand - you simply Sl1, M1, K2, Sl1 to increase at the start of the sleeve shaping, and the slipping of a stitch (Sl1) from the left-hand needle to the right-hand needle gives it that little bit of raised look. Which is an effective design technique when you are using a combination of yarns or when using a yarn that has a nub or a slight pattern to it, because it is subtle enough to attract the eye but does not overwhelm the yarn you are using. And the M1 increase happens every 4 rows, just as you're getting bored with knitting stockinette stitch.

The collar option is also quite easy - it calls for picking up and knitting as you usually do when doing a collar (after the sleeve seams are sewn, you then create a collar on those two otherwise plain pieces of knitted fabric). But again, the designer has you do the Sl1, M1, K2, Sl1 to create flaps on the front of the sweater while you make a collar that folds over the back of the sweater like a traditional collar does.

Here is the back of the Beach sweater. The roll at the top
center of the back is the collar that rolls down like a
traditional collar.

Another design change I made on this sweater was to increase the length. Partly because of my bust size and partly because I'm not young enough to want to have my belly button showing when I raise my arms up, I increased the length to 16" rather than the recommended 14 1/2". And that extra inch and a half really, really made all the difference. It also meant that I had to spend a whole lotta time with the measuring tape, measuring the back on the floor, then the top on the floor, then the top on top of the back, then the back . . . you get the picture! But the extra effort was worth it and this sweater is quite wearable.

And really, sewing the side seams was not that difficult. Just a basic mattress stitch that you can do in front of an old movie (yes, it can be a Bette Davis murder mystery - there's no counting, just sewing). I'm not one of those knitting purists who has to knit every single sweater in the round, modifying any sweater pattern that says differently. The way I look at it, sewing side seams is the easy, fun portion of the knitting - it lets you see how the sweater looks from all the knitting you've done. On the other hand, I hate knitting in yarn ends. THAT's the part where I pour myself a glass of wine and grumble my way through that onerous task. I don't know why I hate the yarn ends and ease into the side seams of knitting, but there you have it.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had knit this sweater when I saw some Rasta yarn by Berroco (now discontinued. Of course. They were notorious for that.) in another local yarn shop. I had gone shopping with friends K&A near their hometown knit shop, and we brought the boys into shop with us. The boys got a whole new eye-opening experience, and we girls got to shop. Rasta is considered a heavy cotton, knit on size 10, and what was especially lovely about it was it was not a twisted cotton yarn with nubblies on it: it looked like the kind of cotton strips you use for a woven rug, with the nubbly bits all twisted onto it.

This first sweater I knit fairly quickly, as it required less stitches to cast on and I was lazy and went with the pattern directions. It looks great, and it's the perfect cotton sweater to wear with, say, khaki pants or even light colored jeans. The color of the nubbly bits just jumps out at you, and the background is neutral enough for just staying in the background. It's just a little short for my long-torsoed figure, but the pattern is easy enough to increase prior to the sleeve increases.

Here is the almost-completed sweater (the ends need to be woven in, and the bow on the top RH side of the collar is holding the live stitches).

Bistro shirt made of Rasta cotton yarn

Just so you can get an idea of how the Rasta yarn looked when it was in production, and why I jumped on it when I found it at a yarn shop and bought up all they had of the dye lot, here is a close-up of the yarn and its texture:

Align Left
Rasta yarn in all its glory, with old-fashioned
plastic needles that made this cotton yarn
really fly, with just enough give for my hands

I really, really enjoyed knitting this sweater the second time through, and have already worn it out to friends' house. I think it will be one that is classy enough I can wear it to work. Both sweaters, really. Not that I'm a fashion plate, but it definitely has classic lines that fit with a "business casual" environment.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ongoing Projects

First, my intricately cabled sweater made from Blackwater Abbey Yarns using the pattern Brambleberry to make a nice, pretty, long-sleeved, warm sweater. I've knitted it for the past 3 Mountain trips, and I'd like to bring a new sweater along in February. Which means I need to finish it and sew the seams together (not necessarily an easy task, as the cables will need to match up, but it will be worth the work), and I'll probably sew the seams while listening to a book on tape to keep my mind focused.

In the meantime, I just have to say . . . I am so tired of these darn sleeves! I mean really! I'm at the point in the pattern, the sleeves, which seem to be the longest part of any project. They just keep going . . . and going . . . and going. And I'm bored with the pattern, and I just have to keep knitting and remembering to decrease on every even row, and I'm so bored!

To give you an idea, here's my previous blog picture of the sleeves from earlier this year:

Brambleberry Sleeves, about half-way finished

And as I said before, I'm knitting the sleeves at the same time so that all the increases are the same, decreases are the same, possible mistakes are the same . . . and that basically the sleeves match. All well and good. And it's not exactly mindless knitting, even though I'm only cabling on R2 since I've decided not to do the cable pattern underneath my arms because really, what would be the point? I know that the pattern has this lovely cable that floats along around the arm, but there's also a lot of bulk that way and this sweater is going to be bulky enough with the yarn being what it is. Plus there's the lack of being able to see the cables when wearing the sweater, and the yarn will be rubbing as I move my arms which will make the cables less pristine.

So, with a spring of knitting and knitting, and seemingly endless more knitting, and working on two socks for a knit-along on Ravelry, I've procrastinated these sleeves till now. They're almost done - I'm on the last decrease row before I bind off. And then my wish will be fulfilled: my sleeves will be done!!

Here they are as of last night (picture taken this morning):

One more row . . . that's all they need . . .

Which I think I can accomplish tonight while I catch up on Season 6 of "Lost" (I watched most of it but not all, and I was driving back from New Orleans during the final episode) tonight. And then there will be much rejoicing!! Hurrah!

Another piece that I'm working on is a companion to my completed Wren in the Furze and the Blue Tit, both Eva Rosenstand kits. I think I started this little bird last year, and it proved to be a great piece to bring while I was relaxing in Asheville a month ago. In fact, I stitched most of the green that is the setting for the wild rose that will be the floral portion of this design.

I haven't quite figured out what kind of bird this is. There's a lot of pink on it, but then again, it may be that the designer wanted to highlight the pink of the wild rose and so invented a bird with pink in it. If anyone knows northern European birds . . .

You know what I find interesting about this design is the amount of yellowish green that the foliage calls for. I'm not a huge fan of yellowish green - I can't wear the color, it makes me look like I'm about to become violently ill.
Regardless, it adds the shading to the foliage that a lighter green just won't capture quite as well. And you can tell the amount of the yellowish green from the colors of thread that come with the design. You can also see the several shades of pink that will become the wild rose. For this piece, I chose to stitch the bird first (cuz he's so much fun and I like to complete one motif before going on to the next), then I'll do some greenery, then finally on to the rose. Kind of brings order to the chaos.

It really was nice this summer to sit in a comfy chair, talk with friends and husband, and just sit and stitch during daylight hours (I somehow didn't need my reading glasses!). We were in the shade, I won't lie about that, but there was no pressure to finish anything, and I was able to listen to the conversation and stitch something just because it was beautiful.

OK, well, have to upload some pictures of some patterns that I forgot to upload when I entered these patterns onto my website last week. *sigh* At least that gives me time to procrastinate my sleeves!