Sunday, February 26, 2012


After the lull of finishing the sweater earlier this week, and while waiting for some yarn to arrive in the mail, I’ve been able to knuckle down and get a few more Christmas Balls off the needles. 16 finished so far – right at 30% finished!

As of today, I’ve finished the four balls in the chapter called A Ski Sweater. This chapter  features designs based on motifs commonly found in traditional Norwegian sweater patterns. The first, called Christmas Stocking, is a pattern often found on Norwegian stockings, and, according to the authors, on Latvian mittens. This was an unusual pattern in that the hanging loop doesn’t match the fabric from which it emerges. Turns out the rule is that the cast o-on color at the bottom of the ball dictates the loop color, because of the way the loops are attached.

The second two designs in the chapter are variations on the traditional X’s and O’s commonly found in Stetesdal Sweaters – a term that was new to me. Do an image search on the web, and you’ll get it right away.


The first variation here has a lice pattern in the increase and decrease sections, while the second is solid red. The middle sections are identical, although I changed up the bead colors and placement for a little variety.

The fourth and final design in this section is called Halling Border, and is from a design found in the book Norwegian Knitting Designs, written by Annuchen Sibbern Bøhn. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to represent anything specific, or if it is just a pleasing abstract design. It kind of reminds me of an open book.

When I finished this ball, I had about 8 inches of red yarn to spare. I have a second ball handy, but it appears I’ll need to order at least one more – possibly two, just to be safe. I’m really enjoying this project. I’m getting much faster at these, and it’s always fun to figure out whether and where to insert the beads. I’m starting to worry now about getting done too quickly!

I probably just jinxed something by writing that…

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Men’s Sweater Finale

It’s done!

I can’t tell you how much I love this pattern. I can’t vouch for the other sizes, but the XL version is just the epitome of symmetry. All the 6x1 ribbing matching up all the way around – for those drawn to simplicity, and, well, a sense of pattern in their patterns, this is just about as good as it gets. The only downside was having to model it this afternoon in 76-degree weather. That kind of sucked.

The knitted in zipper has stayed in, and so has the little bit of piping that I sewed around the neckline to give the sweater some scaffolding to hang from. Really, for a sweater with no sewing, I did manage to work with needle and thread a lot. That usually intimidates me, but it was all voluntary and all worth it. Thanks, Staci, for such a cool pattern and for the bits of free advice.

And to all the people who suggested I go for the blue – and you know who you are – thanks.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


This weekend, I finished up the sleeves, blocked and knitted in the zipper on my Men’s Sweater. I LOVE it.

I first read about knitting in a zipper, rather than sewing it in with a needle and thread or on a machine, in an article in the Winter 2010 issue of Interweave Knits. Staci shows how to do this in the video that goes with the pattern.

I had a bit of drama around the whole zipper issue. First of all, I thought the space at the top of my sweater was 12” long – a standard zipper length. But after measuring post-blocking, I realized it was actually 10”. And the first zipper I bought was too narrow – and despite the navy assignation, a bit too purple-y. After doing some yard work this morning, I ventured out and bough a chunky dark blue zipper. The shortest I could find without going under 10” was a 14” zipper, but I learned from the package that you can just whip-stitch some thread around the length you want 8-10 times, and then cut the zipper a bit below that. Who knew? Probably everyone but me.

For this technique,one uses a tiny little latch hook to build a little crochet chain on one side of the zipper tape (the opposite side of the one showing here). The chain is built on the same row gauge as your knitting, because you use your actual knitting as the template for marking the stitch points on the tape. Genius! It was a little tricky – I had issues with the tape bunching a bit, but I relaxed, and things got a bit smoother. The setup of creating the chains takes a while to do, but the sewing in takes no time at all, and it turned out marvelous!

So let’s call this sweater done. I didn’t finish until nearly dark, so you’ll have to wait a bit for pictures taken in daylight. Here, Kate shows us all what a little sunshine can do for one’s outlook. We suffered through some wet and stormy days this week. The yard love it, but the dogs, not so much. While I worked at the bamboo and other pesky weeds that are threatening to become sentient, Pona and Kate took advantage of today’s abundant sunshine. I think I may have to put this sweater away until next year, at this point.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sleeves Perceived

I’ve had a bit of time to work on the Men’s Sweater, and I’ve all but got the body finished.

Just about an inch more of regular knitting, then I think I’m going to take the short row tail-lengthening option, and then it’s on to the sleeves. I’ll have about 5.5 balls out of my original 16 left at that point. I’m a little worried that I’ll have enough to finish, but I had breakfast with the designer this morning (I love writing that!), and she assures me that I’m good. Fingers crossed. This fits me about like I expected, although it’s a good thing the 6x1 ribbing provides built-in give. I don’t really need it right now – but it’s nice to know it’s there. Ahem.

I’ve only finished one more Christmas Ball since the last post – Handcraft Border. It’s the second in the chapter called Tradition. The description says that it reminds the designers of patterns in Eskimo sweaters. I can kind of see that. It also has a bit of a runic look to me. For such a simple design, I made a LOT of mistakes while putting this one together. I always seemed to be getting a row ahead before realizing that I should have added beads, and right here in this picture I can see a white stitch that is terribly distorted. Still, I’m having lots of fun making these – they only take a few hours each, and I’m a little ahead of my one-a-week schedule despite my slow start. Maybe after I get the sleeves started on the sweater I’ll tackle another one.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Ball Bearings

I kind of lost them a bit today.

I was distracted this afternoon by the episode of Dr. Who I was watching while knitting this drippy Sunday afternoon. I mean, really, can one be expected to pay close attention when listening to such riveting dialog as this, spoken by a Dalek to his minions in the Empire State Building: “The pig slaves will take the lift!” I’m hoping at least a few of my readers understand.

Turns out I was thrown off to the tune of an entire row – that’s right – I just skipped one – and managed to do so for the entire round. At least I was consistent! I didn’t realize my mistake until I had finished the entire ball, stuffing, hanging loop, and all. I can’t believe I got that far without noticing. I thought for a moment that I might just unravel the whole thing, but I’d done such a good job of weaving in all my ends, that in the end it seemed it would be less frustrating to just start over. So I did, and I’m glad.

I think my tension was better the second time around, and the second version seems, overall, rounder. This pattern introduces the chapter called Tradition, and is called Secret Rose. Now that I’ve confessed my secret, hopefully this won’t happen again. But on the up-side, I will have knitted an even number of balls when I finish this project. Assuming I don’t do this again.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the old one. Keep it as a spare? Keep it handy as a reminder of the dangers of knitter’s hubris? Or I could just get rid of it. It is inferior after all. Exterminate! Exterminate!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Special Delivery

A package came in the mail today for me, filled with knitterly goodness.

I’d set out to get some green sock  yarn to use for the one tri-colored pattern from 55 Christmas Balls to Knit. Since I was using KnitPicks Stroll for the red and white, I thought I should stick with it for the green. I found this nice Aurora Heather color. A nice deep green with some highlights, I think it will work great. I’d also thought it might work as a good toe and afterthought-heel color for some Felici sock yarn I have called Green Veggies – but it might be too dark. We’ll see about that later.

But I didn’t just want to order one ball of yarn. So, to make the shopping and shipping worth it, I got a copy of Clara Parkes’ The Knitter’s Book of Socks. After reading Janelle’s glowing review, I knew I’d need to get it eventually. And it was on sale. Then, I remembered that I hadn’t been able to find my retractable tape measure for a while, so I had them throw one in.

Other than that, I’ve been focusing on the Men’s Sweater. I’ve put the sleeve stitches on waste yarn, and I’m to the endless round-and-round of 6x1 ribbing. But I’m making progress.

Oh, and I bought some yarn for a super nice project for me – but more about that later. It’s time for me to make supper. Kung pao!