Sunday, August 24, 2008

Goodness, gracious.. I got it DONE!

Last week I had a very nice time working on a couple of projects while my DH was away on business. It was a fortunate happenstance, in that I over-committed myself to Ravelympics projects, and having several hours a night to myself to knit made it possible to finish my booties, hat, shawl and washcloths.

That left the sweater.

I originally added the sweater as an afterthought on August 7th (all projects needed to be in by August 8th) as a "just in case" idea. After that I figured I should have added my Christmas knitting as a "WIP Wrestling" entry and finished it up. But as I had not, and this was in the queue, I went for it instead.

Striped Cardigan
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
The yarn for this project was purchased at Stitches With Style in Newark, Delaware. If you're ever in the area, GO THERE. It is a wonderful store with a huge selection and crazy-friendly people. I had a great time knitting there while we were visiting our family. (I was given a "mom's afternoon off" and that's where I chose to go--a lucky pick on my part from a Google search on the area.) At any rate, when browsing through their selection I came across a pile of kits put together in Ziploc bags. Each included a book (Baby Cashmerino 2, by Debbie Bliss) and enough yarn for a particular project out of that book. In this case it was three balls of cream and three balls of coral-pink Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino yarn (Merino, microfiber, cashmere blend). And this stuff is just dreamy to touch.

I had knit up my practice-socks from Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters using a ball of periwinkle-colored Baby Cashmerino I had picked up on sale, so I knew it was lovely and fun to use. I also want to knit a couple of sweaters for myself, but I'm leery of starting one while I'm still loosing weight. A baby sweater seemed like a fun place to start, and the price was right for the kit.

I used a cabled cast-on to start each piece. After knitting the back, I realized that if I "cheated" I could save myself some weaving in of the ends. So on subsequent pieces I cast on and then knit the first row the opposite way instead of exactly following the directions (knits for purls and vice versa). When done this way, your first row is actually the right (front) side of the work, rather than the wrong (back) side.

This let me slide the whole thing across my circular needle and start again with the right-side-facing on the second row. This is important because on the second row, you switch to the main color and knit five rows. If you don't get tricky like I did, your two ends of yarn are on opposite sides and you'll have to cut the CC to start the next row. Instead I was able to bring the CC up the side and just begin knitting the stripes.

The back, left front, right front, and sleeves are knit separately and then joined together with mattress stitch. I was pretty pleased that I wove in ends and blocked as I went along. Basically each day I knit one section, wove in ends as I went along wherever possible, and then soaked it through and stretched it out to block overnight. I ended up with a towel filled with pinned-out pieces all ready to be put together.

Once the front and back are joined at the shoulders, you pick up the appropriate number of stitches and knit the collar and button-band, then set in the sleeves. The "appropriate number" of stitches is a pain in the rear to spread out evenly across the front of the work. I resorted to math and a spread-sheet to plot out when I needed to skip a row in picking up stitches to make it all match up evenly. Then I had to DO it and that involved pulling out picked up stitches a few times until I got everything even.

I moved the button holes up two stitches from the bottom because it felt like the lowest one fell awfully close to the edge of the work. We'll see how that works out over time.

And last, I ended up ripping out my collar's bind-off. I tried a lace-bind-off first. After laying out the completed cardigan I was extremely unhappy that the very-stretchy bind off was bulkier than the ribbing, and made it fan and ripple. I went back and put a simple slipped-stitch bind off instead. It's very clean and looks lovely.

I got done just under the deadline to finish things for the Ravelympics. My post is up, and my Olympic knitting is done! Now back to our scheduled projects for the year!

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