Monday, December 31, 2007

Mr. Greenjeans Sweater, Attempts I, II & III

In the last three weeks, I've completed two mr greenjeans sweaters, frogged one and am about to start number three (which is actually a remake of number two). I love the look of this sweater, the clarity of how the pattern is written, and the fact that it is knit in one piece, from the neck down. I am determined to have a mr greenjeans sweater that I am proud of and comfortable in and that I will wear.

Here's the backstory: I started version number one with yarn that I've had in my stash for a while, Plymouth DK Encore Colors, an interesting red-based tweed. It is a lighter weight yarn than called for in the pattern, but hey, that's never stopped me before. I worked on the sweater for a few days, taking it with me up to the mountains, and then I started thinking that maybe the lighter weight wasn't really going to work. Within a day, I had convinced myself that it wasn't working and that I needed new yarn to start another version.

I found that my local yarn store had just gotten in a tremendous selection of Cascade 220, almost too many colors to choose from. But I chose and started right in on mr greenjeans number two. The yarn worked up beautifully and the knitting just sailed along. Before I knew it, the sweater was finished. I tried it on and discovered that the sweater just didn't fit me right--the stockinette stitch part of the sweater was just too much, too baggy, there was excess fabric under the arms and around the chest.

The beauty of today's knitting world is the Internet: I found a multitude of blogs and KAL's and, most importantly, photos of other people's mr greenjeans. All the sweaters that were well-fitting were modeled on women with boobs. I don't have boobs.

So I went back to the first version that I had abandoned just after picking up and starting sleeve number one. It didn't take long for me to finish both sleeves, and today I finished the buttonband/neck ribbing. I think that the lighter weight yarn, which made a tighter fitting sweater, will work on my shape. Right now, the sweater is pinned to the guest bed for a little bit of blocking. Tomorrow I can try it on and see whether it fits the way I want it to or whether it will find its way to the bottom of a large trash bag.

This afternoon, I frogged the entire Cascade 220 mr greenjeans and re-wound all the yarn. I think to make it fit my body, I need to make the sweater smaller. Whether this means scaling the entire sweater down or just the yoke/sleeve area remains to be seen. I also need to take another look at what needles I'm using. I used a size 7 and found that I really ended up with three different gauges: working back and forth on the yoke gave me the loosest gauge, the sleeves worked on a circular needle gave a slightly tighter gauge, and when I switched to dpns to finish the sleeves, it was an even tighter gauge. I need to look at the pattern and crunch the numbers and also really pay attention to gauge.

The other thing that occurred to me was to make the sweater as a pullover--that's another interesting thought that I'm going to explore.

Monday, December 24, 2007

I Didn't Know that I am a Home-Wrecking Hussy (or, put down the gun, Robin)

I had no idea the power I have over men other than my husband until this morning, when I retrieved five voice mails on my cell phone. They were from Robin who identified herself as the "partner and fiance" of D**. She wanted to know why my phone number was on their caller ID and why D** had called me. She knew what city I live in. She wanted me to call her back.

It took me a few moments (senior moments, that is) to remember who D** was. And no, it's not because I had drunk so much I blacked out or had such a wild night that I couldn't remember which one D** was. Those days are a good thirty-five years in the past, and even then, I was never that wild and crazy. It took me a while to remember because, believe it or not Robin, I'm approaching sixty faster than I would like (and I'm not talking about speed limits, honey).

And then I remembered. Last week, I had gone up to our get-away place in the Pocono mountains and had needed to have our driveway plowed so I could actually get in the house. D** was one of the numbers given to me by the office personel who keep a list of people who do various jobs up there. I called, left a message, he called back about five hours later, I said Forget it, no problem, I had parked by the lake and walked a mile back to the house. We talked for a couple of minutes about how deep and hard the ice in the driveway was, and how it held his weight, 200 pounds that he is. That was it. That was as personal as it got. Or so I thought. Robin obviously thinks it was more than that. I'm going to be looking over my shoulder for a while in case she heads south.


As a member of AKD (Association of Knitwear Designers), I get to participate in making up swatches for the GWOY (Great Wall of Yarn) for TNNA(The National NeedleArts Association) convention that meets in January. Trendsetter Yarns sends me a box of usually 8 different yarns, and I get to make swatches so that people in the industry can see what the new yarns look like worked up. The majority of the yarns in my box this year were novelty yarns, something that I rarely, if ever, work with. Making the swatches in these yarns was a challenge.

So, here are the swatches I finished yesterday.

A Nylon/Cotton/Rayon blend in a colorway that I found a little sickening, but physically, it was a nice yarn to work with: a ribbon yarn alternating with a matte, almost suede-like yarn.

A sock yarn that is 100% merino--I could knit a pair of socks in this and then felt them just like I did this weekend with another pair. Honestly, this was a very nice yarn, much more to my liking than the novelty yarns. And since I'm currently in a sock craze/phase, this was right up my alley.

A blend of Silk/Viscose/Microfiber, this felt a little creepy on the skein but actually felt very nice knitting up. Very clear stitch definition.

Not to dis this yarn company, but I think the term for this yarn is "clown barf"--too many different yarns tied together in a jumble.

This absolutely the worst to swatch in. A very fine Rayon yarn with sequins strung along it, finer than sock yarn, I guess lace weight would be the closest? In any case, the sequins catch and pull and I have no idea what use this yarn would be except to carry it along with a heavier, smoother yarn. Beats me.

Yet another joyful mess of a yarn: a curly rayon yarn with big fat slugs--I mean slubs-- in it. Again difficult to work with as the slubs kept catching and being difficult about being made into stitches.

When Allie saw this yarn, she said it looked very Renaissance Faire-ish; maybe the colorway should be called Huzzah.

This one was hard to knit and hard to scan. It's a ruffle and the yarn is cotton/rayon/metallic. Yet another of the My Little Pony yarns that I had to knit up.

I'm interested to see what yarn I get next time.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Time Flies...

...and we're having a good time.

Right after my last post, our knitting/crochet class at ASB held a fashion show at the in-house ASB Volunteer Recognition event. And it was great. I'll post photos when we get them developed. Many of the clients participated and showed off their items---sweaters, pillows, blankets, an Einstein jacket---very impressive work. I'm very sure that next time there's an event like this, we'll have even more participants. It all does my heart good.

And I sold my first design. Previously, any designs that I've had published have been gratis, which is fine since I get exposure in exchange for having my designs published online (ie, For the Love of Yarn). But this design I sold to WEBS for their Valley Yarns, and I am very much looking forward to seeing it in their print and on-line catalogs (next edition, please please please!). And since I got paid with a gift certificate to WEBS, this means that I can buy more yarn for the ASB class when we need it since I have so much yarn in my own stash it would greedy and kind of disgusting to buy more yarn for myself (at the moment).

And I'm pretty much moved into my new workroom: out of the basement and up on the second floor where there is light and there is air. The move has meant sorting through all the crap that I accumulated in the basement and much, much throwing out. The upside is that only what I need and use has come upstairs with me; the downside is being overwhelmed with how much stuff I ended up throwing away.

And I sent the book out to the publisher and am waiting to hear from them as to what needs to be done. I had a major anxiety dream the other night about this, coming on the heels of Michael's office party where I drank too much and ate beef for the first time in almost six months. Bad combination.

And I've put my hat patterns in pdf book form, available for download, and have also put together a calendar with photos from the up-coming book on each month. So I've been mastering all kinds of computer/techie type things, which makes me feel smart. Wow.

And I have a new friend, Joan, who has joined our volunteer teachers at ASB, and she is definitely a great asset: very down to earth, very dry humor, and she taught middle school students for years so she's very good at cutting through the crap. I enjoy her company very much.

And I've been making socks--oh, god, do I love making socks! I'm working on pair for Allie using some of the Jojoland yarn that I got at Stitches this year--they're turning out beautifully: little cables up the front of the sock and 2x2 ribbing on the back--really nice.

And I'm working on my swatches for the Great Wall of Yarn for TNNA. This year, I received eight yarns to swatch, and six of them are novelty yarns. This has been a challenge for me, as I'm not at all a novelty yarn person. It's very difficult for me to look at a fancy, "My Little Pony" yarn (as Allie called them) and think of a stitch that would look good. To me, novelty yarns look like dog barf when knitted up. I'm on my last novelty swatch (saving the smooth yarns that speak to me for last), and I realized that I really don't care what it looks like--not the right attitude, I guess, but as long as it's worked up, that should be ok. I mean, if the yarn company is going to conceive of and manufacture some stupid, hard to work with, ugly yarn, they can't be disappointed or surprised if the finished product is stupid and ugly.

So that's what's been going on in the last month. Sounds like a lot. It is a lot.