theraineysisters knitting and so much more

January 4, 2008

From Sally — Spinning, and not in the good way

Filed under: Cats & Mice Blanket,Pearl Buck Swing Jacket — surly @ 12:31 pm

I’ve been having a really hard time figuring out what to knit next. It’s not for lack of yarn, “head start projects” already on needles, or even ideas. I just don’t know what it is I want to work on right now. Lace? Fair Isle? Something mindless? I started my Betsy cardigan, but realized I was not of a mood to knit any seed stitch, so that is going on the back burner. (I’m going to periodically try to knit a few rows of the seed stitch here and there so it will suddenly be almost finished when I least expect it.) I picked up Rosarie. I’m almost to the underarm. Meh. Not in the mood. I thought about starting the Paisley Shawl from Fiddlesticks or a Niebling doily. Nah. I also had an idea for something I want to design, so I’m spending time drawing (poorly) and crunching numbers. But what to do with my hands?

I finally settled, somewhat ambivalently I confess, on the Pearl Buck Swing Jacket from Interweave Knits (reprinted in their best of Interweave Knits). Here’s what it is supposed to look like:

I’m knitting mine from Cascade’s Venezia worsted, which is a 70% merino 30% silk blend. I purchased this at A Good Yarn in Baltimore on impulse. It’s wonderful to knit with, although the many plies can split if you’re not careful. I’m using an Apple Green (color number 125). I haven’t gotten very far yet.

I’m making one fairly significant change to the pattern. I’m inverting the back pleat, instead of having it fold the way it does in the original. I think that inverting the pleat will make the jacket hang better, at least on me. I don’t have quite enough knitted to fold it properly, but this will give you an idea. (I also liked the idea of letting the diamond pattern on the back “peek out” as the jacket moves.) I have a lot of yarn since I didn’t know what I was going to make when I bought it. I’m planning on lengthening the sleeves, and should have lots of yarn left over.

* * * * * * *

Thank you again for all of your comments on the Cats and Mice Blanket.  First, a photograph of the entire back. (I do love this pattern, though — it’s so pretty in person. My little assistant is asleep on my lap, wrapped in the blanket, right this minute.)

Some of you wanted to see more of the back. The back ain’t that great, people, but here you go.

A close up of the writing on the back:

A close up of the mouse hiding in the corner:

Some of you had questions mixed in with your comments on the Cats and Mice Blanket, which I’ll try to answer here:

1. Here’s something I wish you’d put under your Knitting Tips and Tricks. Your stranded knitting is always perfect. It’s neither too loose on the back or too tight. What is the trick for getting it right?

I don’t have any special trick. What I try to do is prevent the stitches that I’ve just knitted (the ones that I will be stranding over with the next color) from being bunched up. I try to keep the last few stitches knitted (now on the right needle) slightly stretched out so that they are the width they are supposed to be. That way, when I strand the next color, the length of the strand equals the width of the stitches it needs to cross. If you make the strand too loose, your first stitch in the new color can get too big and loose. If you make the strand too short, the stranding is too tight and the fabric will pucker.

I don’t think a lot about this while I’m doing it; it has just become second nature. If you look again at a close up of the stranding, you can see that the strands are the just the width they need to be. (I think it’s a mistake to try to knit loosely in order to keep the strands loose — Fair Isle looks better in my opinion with firm stitching and it is necessary to get the gauge required).

2. Okay, did AS send you enough yarn — or did you have to go to your stash of her yarns?

I had enough yarn for the blanket, and enough of the dark reddish brown (Tormentil) for the facing. I did have to dip into my personal stash of the lighter yarn (shade Spindrift) to finish the facing. (I did have enough of it for the first few rows.) I was concerned about yarn, but I had left over of almost every color. I do think they cut it close enough that if your gauge is at all loose, you are in danger of running low. Even when your gauge is spot on, it can be worrisome. I did run out of one color on my Widdicombe Fair. The first time I knit it, I had plenty.

3. Is there a pattern I can buy for this somewhere? and Where is the pattern for this blanket and the one with the horses??? How did you pick those colors and where did you get the yarn.

I bought the Cats and Mice as a kit from Virtual Yarns. This particular pattern requires you to own the book A Children’s Collection, which is where the chart is located. Carousel (Widdicombe Fair) I also bought as a kit, so I can take no credit for the color choices. (I don’t think you need a separate book for that one.)


December 28, 2007

From Sally — While the Cat’s Away . . .

Filed under: Cats & Mice Blanket — surly @ 7:20 pm

Yes, as I am sure many of you suspected, my stealth Christmas knitting was the Cats & Mice Baby Blanket: a gift for my little assistant my daughter.

As usual, my assistant was always ready to help.

Inspired by our longtime reader, Kim, I chose to use a facing on the inside of the blanket to cover the steeks. (Because the blanket is knit in the round, and then cut, there are steeks on the long sides of the blanket.) I decided to repeat the “line and square” motif in the blanket in the facing, and so I knit the facing in the round. First, I picked it up through the same stitch I used to pick up the border. I picked it up this way because after doing some experimenting, I knew that I would get the flattest facing; the facing stitches would naturally turn in the direction I wanted them to.

I used two steeks to “jump” the gap between the short sides of the blanket (the top and bottom) where there were no steeks I needed to hide.

The way that I picked up the stitches meant that the right side was facing the wrong way — it was going to be on the inner, stitched down side of the facing. So, I reversed knitting direction in the middle of the first steek after picking up all of the stitches so that my knitting was going the direction I wanted it to. I then had to be careful when I sewed the facing down. I just “caught” the floats instead of sewing the facing to the actual fabric so that there would be no line on the right side of the blanket. (For more information on this topic, see Susan’s post here.

See the facing design? Isn’t it cute? On the other side, I knitted in the words “Christmas 2007.” There’s also a mouse in the corner. I can’t take a picture of that part of the facing right now because “someone” is sleeping on it.

Just for fun, and because I enjoy photography, I took some “artsy” pictures of the blanket. The first one shows the colors as they are. The second and third are black and white, except for one color tone in each. I think they’re kind of fun.

I really enjoyed knitting this blanket, at least until I got to the border. (It was a bit slow and tedious.) The recipient is happy; I would knit this again for someone special.

Oh! For those who like to see the stranding:

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