Monday, October 10, 2011

"The Hardest Button to Button"...whatever that means.

Well, a milestone for me in knitting. My first adult size sweater. This has been a learning experience for me, and I've watched plenty of youtube tutorials for it, but very excited to have it blocked and the sleeves set in.

My man trying out his new sweater on a beautiful fall day in Gamla Stan, Stockholm.

I had a minor panic attack when I realized AFTER I blocked the pieces that the sleeves were 4 inches too long! They were the proper gauge, the body all measured out, I followed the pattern to a T, and even charted my progress so the sleeve increases and decreases would be identical...I don't know. After reading tip after tip, and forum after forum on I decided that I would frog 3.5 inches from the under arm down and reknit with new yarn the shoulder cap from that point, (luckily I had extra). I lightly blocked the newly knit shoulder cap and everything measured out perfectly according to the specified chart. My first sweater avoided catastrophe, but just narrowly.

Button hunting turned out a little more challenging than I thought, the first store I went to was closed, and the local craft store, Panduro, had packets of colorful 'crafty' buttons. Ugh. Lucky for me that day I had to buy a snow suit for my son, and call it fate but I just happened to pass by Mattssons Band, on Kungsgatan. I took a double take and couldn't believe my eyes. It's one of those stores that is an interior designers dream, with more trims and fringes that you could ever imagine, and never even wish to buy in the States without an designer purchasing them from their showrooms only accessible to the trade. Not to mention the wide variety of beautiful buttons. Sadly these kind of stores are disappearing. Walking in there was like stepping back in time, 100 years in time.

So, here it is. Hopefully one of several more to come.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The 3 Needle Bind-off Challenge.

#17 Man's Cable Cardigan
Design by, Josh Bennett for Vogue Knitting

It's one of those days, sick at home with a cold with my two little ones who are also sick with the same cold. As it turns out, yesterday was an exciting day for me in the progress of my hubby's sweater, (as pictured above)! It's beautiful isn't it?! I'm very excited about this project.

I finished the front sections of the cardigan that divide off of the underarms and up to the shoulders. Then came the part in a pattern that I dread -- the part where I don't know what the heck a term or abbreviation means. You know what I'm talking about. The project comes to a screeching halt, and I am pouring through finishing books and the internet for a tutorial or explanation. In this case it was the "3 needle bind-off", (used particularly for joining seams in shoulders). Sounds daunting doesn't it? Lucky for me, saved the day and provided a great explanation.

I'm a visual learner and do much better seeing it accomplished in action. I am also left handed, so I knit "backwards", this presents a challenge for me every time I start a project. I usually stay away from lace since that is particularly more difficult to figure out in the reverse due to all the SSK's and knit two together's that always angle the wrong way and decimate what would be a beautiful lace pattern.

So armed with the proper equipment, and having counted and divided my stitches for the shoulders and leaving live stitches on a holder for the neck to be attached to the collar later I now have two beautifully joined shoulders, and trust me it is a beautiful sight! Now on to the sleeves.

Using the newly acquired skill! If you are trying this at home the image would be in the reverse for all you right handed knitters, i.e. the vast majority.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Gifts That Are Dear.

I have dear memories of my mom slaving away at the sewing machine, making our special home made 'Cabbage Patch', and 'Raggedy Ann' dolls for my sisters and I. I was so excited that she let me choose the hair color. I still have them stored safely away for my daughter and son to play with some day.

This Christmas the hubby and I decided on our meager family student budget to focus on sentiment rather than quantity when it came to gift giving this year. After going through dozens of patterns on for toys, sweaters and other possibilities I came across this darling Lamb pattern by Susan B. Anderson. It’s a free pattern on the above mentioned website, and was published along with other irresistible toys in her 2009 book Itty-Bitty Toys. I think there is a project waiting for me in the near future with the darling giraffe.

While I was at the local HEMTEX buying the pink sheets that were on sale for our guests, I was totally shocked to find a mohair bouclé yarn there in a bin labeled crafts, after I had spent the morning with a patient friend dragging her through shop after shop looking for the right weight of bouclé yarn, (of course it was the last store that had it). Fast forward to yesterday, I started knitting. As the little body took form, initially I was a little freaked out by how much it really did resemble a sheep. I caught my 2 year old running away with the “sheep” (at that point just the unknit ball of yarn), and giving it a special place tucked away in her tent. If she likes the actual finished toy as much as the ball of yarn, I think I made a good choice.

Having never worked with a bouclé before, there were some characteristics of that fiber that made it a little challenging. I had to be careful to not be fooled by the extra loops that appear naturally in that kind of a yarn and not mistake them for actual stitches, which happened quite a lot at the beginning. Also those loops also made it a little more challenging to pull the yarn through easily as I knitted. But the overall product is proving to make this well worth the occasional discomfort that I might experience.


Two years later I finally finished this sampler blanket my mother and I started for my daughter. It still needs to be blocked, but I am happy to have it all together now.

Special knits. My sister and I wearing hats Nanan, my great-grandmother, knitted for us. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

My love affair with fine fibers revealed.

What started as an innocent trip to Blazing Needles in Salt Lake City, UT. with dear friend and knitting mentor Sue, quickly turned into an infatuation with a blend of mohair and silk lace yarn that I had never worked with before. That paired with the perfect pattern for a scarf and I knew what would be my favorite accessory this fall.
The green scarf was the first of the two. I used one skein of Alchemy's Haiku silk and kid mohair yarn, in "Good Earth". All I can say about this yarn is the sheen is DIVINE.

I took the scarf with me to work on, on a recent trip and had people coming up to me in the airport asking what I was knitting with, it's that beautiful. An older woman stopped, came up to me and without a word started stroking the scarf, gave me a smile and thumbs up just before her daughter came to yell at her in what I think was Mandarin. The poor lady took off to grab the carry on that she had left close by in the airport as they ran down the terminal together. I'd like to think that it was the yarn that distracted her. It really is irresistible.
I loved the scarf so much, (and because I ended up giving it away on that trip to my sister as an early Christmas present), that I decided to make another for myself. This time in Rowan's Kidsilk Haze Yarn, in "Hurricane". I used two full skeins this time to make it longer to get a looser drape when wrapped around the neck.

The pattern: by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas Mohair Bias Loop, is easy enough I think for beginners, and is completed in the kitchener stitch, grafting both ends of the work together, leaving no seam. That, and the stitches that all slant on a bias...I was sold.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Husband's Sweater. A work in progress.

I have quite a few ongoing projects. This is a Josh Bennett design, #17 Man's Cable Cardigan, from Vogue Knitting. The pattern design is brilliant. I'm loving the way it's knitting up so far...more pictures and progress to come!

Never Say Never.

Hello my name is Julie Ann. I like to knit, cook, design, and anything else musical or visual that captures my interest. This is my story.

Having not even started this blog I am already going through a bout of writers block. Emma Thompson’s character in “Stranger Than Fiction” comes to mind. However I don’t think I am going to take up smoking, or stand on tables to have a stroke of genius.

I’ve avoided blogs like the plague, and swore I would never start one. So here I am, after being coerced by my sister, receiving tech support from my husband, and several Ikea bags full of yarn and projects later.

I’m an amateur knitter with a passion for great design, fibers, and textiles (thanks to my Interior Design background). I knit left handed and continental style, so if you are coming here to look for tips on technique, you are at the wrong blog! On the other hand, you might find here in the mix of things that inspire me, something that in turn might inspire you.