and then, slowly…

…it started resembling a cardigan!

Wooooohoooo! Top-down cardigans are such magic, being able to try it on to make sure it fits as soon as you’ve finished the yoke and separated the sleeves is brilliant! I am in love with this technique!

I’m leaving the photo headless, though, because (trust me on this one) I’m not a pretty sight at the moment. I was wondering yesterday why the guy who served me my coffee had given me such an odd look, but then I glanced at my reflection in the lift mirror and understood his feelings completely. I think zombie is the word he was looking for… A few more days, I can do it! Right? Ummm… :P

Oh, and while we’re at it, all this trying out of Liesl at such an early stage has made me think that I should reconsider boleros/shrugs. I’ve always thought of them as rather useless items of clothing, more accessories actually, and never felt quite right when I tried to put them on. But this image is making me think… :)

Do you have an opinion on boleros/shrugs?

pushing onwards

When I wrote the last post I still wasn’t even completely sure I had the right yarn.

But at some point I couldn’t put it off anymore and had to cast on with what I had.

I undid the swatch and cast on. After I knit the first row I realized I hadn’t cast on enough stitches. So I ripped and cast on again. Just be persistent, you have to do it, cause it won’t do itself.

I started knitting and at first it all looked like a big mess. But I pushed onwards and after about 10 rows I actually thought to myself: “Wow, this is starting to look good!” Another five rows down and I shot a quick glance over what I had achieved thus far. Disaster! I had made a very obvious mistake several rows before, one that neither I nor others assessing my work would be able to forgive. No choice but to rip. Pick up the live stitches. And get on it again.

The process of making Liesl or the dissertation? Who could tell the difference anymore?

roll, baby, roll

Yesterday I had one of those everything-goes-wrong days. To be honest, the day gave me some clues about its plans for me pretty early on, when, having just arrived to work, I spilt coffee all over myself and my chair. And so it began. Luckily, this little thing was close enough to provide the much-needed respite here and there throughout the day (and far away enough to avoid getting a coffee makeover!).

It’s the right front of the Minimalist. Look at that texture, I love it! Obviously the front is progressing quite fast, since there are much fewer stitches than in the back. It’s kind of like knitting a scarf (there is very little shaping involved) yet knowing it will become part of a cardigan some day. :) I have to admit, the width of the front looks frighteningly tiny in comparison to the back – I guess I’ll just never know if any part of this cardi is coming out right until it’s finished!

Oh yes, and the edge rolls.

When I started the Minimalist, I came upon this discussion of the rolling edge. I must admit I was one  of the people who had not noticed this feature of the design at all, from the photos I kind of thought that the stockinette edge is knit up double width and then folded over and sewn, so that it would be kind of double stockinette. I might try doing that on some other occasion, but for now, I’m rolling with the pattern (heeheehee).

look!

Another perk of my new place – the wash basin in my room is big enough for blocking even large items, like the back of my to-be Minimalist Cardigan! :) Please ignore the rust etc. – it is a student residence after all… :)

Doing this is long overdue – I meant to do it just before I set off to Paris so that it was dry by the time I got home. However, as I am the master of putting things off until the last minute (I started packing at about 7pm on Sunday evening, we were leaving at 5am in the morning), certain things simply didn’t get done. Oops! :)

I’m considering this a sort of a test-block, so I didn’t pin it out or anything, I just lay it flat on a towel on the floor, I want to see how much it will grow and whether I’ll need to rip and make a smaller size. It definitely feels too big already, but then again – I’ve never made a cardigan for myself and I don’t know how the pieces are supposed to look before you put them together. The measures seem to be just slightly off from the pattern, so maybe it’s ok after all? We’ll see. For orientation purposes, you get a(nother) nasty photo. My feet are included for size estimation! ;)

Oh, and Paris, you ask? It was lovely. Lovely! I was so sad to have to come back to London, and the obligations that come with it. I definitely needed a longer vacation… But I’ll stop moaning about that and very soon I’ll share with you lots of yummy photos of the trip! Watch this space… ;)

unravelling and debating

Debating more unravelling, that is. I haven’t had much time to devote to knitting in the last few days, though I stuff my Minimalist-in-Progress into my bag everywhere I go, just in case a brief window of opportunity opens up. Last night I got an unexpected night off so I settled into my armchair, put my knitting in my lap and browsed the BBC iPlayer for some good TV to accompany my knitting, as it really requires no thinking at this point. They had Casanova with Heath Ledger, so I thought: ” just the perfect kind of senseless easy movie I need!”

Well, as it turns out, even senseless movies can distract! As I was watching it, I got to the shaping of the armholes on the back, and misunderstood the pattern – it sure seemed odd that I would be doing the final two rows of decreases on one side only, but with the movie making noise in the background (and Heath drawing my eyes away from the pattern ;), I decided not to ponder on it to much and assumed it was some secret ingredient of sweater knitting that I had not discovered yet and that made sense in some way which I didn’t understand. Only after I finished the decreases and counted my stitches did I realize that I had two extra stitches. Then I read the pattern carefully and realized it had called for decreases on both sides of the needle on right side rows. Yeah, go figure. Let’s just blame Heath for this outburst of daftness I exhibited.

Luckily, I just have two rows to unravel, though stitch-by-stitch even that is annoying. It’s also reminding me of a fact which I have been trying to supress for a while – that the back is already coming out 2.5cm wider than it was supposed to (despite my spot-on swatch!), and that I have been told that this yarn expands a lot in blocking. The current extra 2.5cm should be ok since I had chosen to go for the smaller size (remember my in-between-sizes dilemma), but if it expands a lot more in blocking, I’ll be in trouble.

Nonetheless, for now I’m ploughing on as it is, and we’ll see how it goes. The ripping debate is on the NO side at the moment. But tell me one thing – why on earth does a sweater knit 95% in seed stitch call for a swatch in stockinette? I feel like my dilemma may have been alleviated had the pattern given instructions for swatching in seed…

the sound of knitting

I’m alive! :) It just dawned on me that you might be thinking my move ended fatally, since I’ve been quiet much longer than is normal for me… :) But no worries, I’m all good, it’s just that there’s been a lot going on… Lots of moving activity, going away parties, football, birthdays, walks in the city, dinners, hanging out. It’s all been wonderful, but it also left me craving a little bit of being in one place and with one person (me!).

And there’s no better way to regain that sense of calm and quiet than with knitting. :) I’ve been sneaking away with my Minimalist every chance I get… And this morning, as I did a little bit of knitting before delving into some more serious business, it struck me that knitting can be pleasing to a completely unexpected sense – that of hearing.

Yes, we’re all used to enjoying knitting primarily tactile-y (see photo) and visually, sometimes even the sense of smell comes in (c’mon, don’t be shy, you know you’ve sniffed the occasional hank of yarn!), but listening to knitting – I never really thought about that before. These needles I’m using now produce such a perfect clickety-clack, quiet enough to not bother someone napping in the room, yet loud enough to create a pleasant rhythmical cue for me. I’d say the sound is at least half the reason why I’m enjoying knitting this so much.

Do you know the feeling? Or do you think I’m crazy? I’d love to hear about your experiences with the sound of knitting…

heaven

Someone asked for in-progress photos from the project I wrote about starting yesterday. Little did I know that I would have some progress to show today already!

This shows about half of what I have (if you look closely, you’ll see it’s folded over) – a good chunk of the back. I just couldn’t stop! As you know, by now I’m pretty used to working in k1p1 for long stretches, so getting into that rhythm wasn’t an issue at all! And I’ve found I don’t mind purling, when it’s combined with knitting. What I really dislike is just endless rows of purling only. That tires me out.

But the reason why I’ve made this much progress in one evening is something else, I think. The needles. When I had just moved to London, and Ysolda (who is having a 25% off sale today only!) had just published her Snapdragon Tam pattern, I was dying to make it asap! I bought a wonderful yarn, but I couldn’t get the correct gauge with the needles I had – everything indicated that I needed a 4.5mm needle. But that seemed to be sold out at whatever store I went to. Finally I found Loop, where the lovely shop assistant spent quite a bit of time digging through their needle stash to find me the right size. The needle she found was kind of short, and I wasn’t sure if the cable length would be enough for a hat knit in the round, but she worked with me and was really nice and knowledgeable.

The needle was a Hiya-Hiya. I had never tried them before and was a little suspicious, but she recommended it warmly and I decided to trust her. I am so thrilled now that I did! This needle is a joy to work with, it’s very light, the cable is nice and flexible, the joint between the needle and cable is not at all noticeable, the needle is slippery enough to let you knit fast yet sticky enough to not make yarn fall off the needle on its own. And let me say it again – it’s very light. I didn’t think this would mean much, I mean how much does a needle weigh anyway, but I can really feel the difference when I’m using it!

I have also used Addi needles since, but I wasn’t as thrilled with them. That doesn’t mean I disliked them, I think they are very high quality and if you want a reliably good needle, they are highly recommended. But the Hiya-Hiya gives me that extra thrill! Let me say that this could also be biased by needle size. The only Hiya-Hiya I have is 4.5mm, and that is arguably one of the most comfortable needle sizes generally. But I still think I’m onto something here and I’ll definitely be buying more Hiyas in the future!

Oh yeah, and Hiyas combined with this amazing blend of wool and acrylic just takes me straight to heaven! I think this cardi might be knit up sooner than any of us expected! ;)