Autumn Sweater Success !!!

(  Autumn Sweaters 2011 in same location click here  )

My nieces in their new Autumn Sweaters.  We photographed in the same colorful Calistoga nooks we seek out each time we do the Equinox Sweaters.  In front of Calistoga Coffee Roastery, in front of the mint-green building on the corner of Lincoln and Washington streets, against the terra-cotta painted wall outside Brannon’s restaurant, and the best, the most amazing painted mural in the alley across  Lincoln from the coffee roastery ! These places just never get old, and they will be the back drop every time we photograph the Equinox Sweaters.

” Happiness is a new sweater knit especially for me ! “

Sweater success !

Luckily they fit, and luckily the yarn which I over-dyed became colors they both approved of !  Oh, and can you believe we were having a major heat wave of the Indian Summer?  I wanted to get the pictures taken before it got too hot,  and the unrelenting sun was bleaching bright, and nipping at our heels the whole way. . .

Autumn Sweaters 2012

(( Compare with two years ago ~ click for  Autumn Sweaters 2010 ))

And now, for a slideshow of the fun sweater frolick we had in Calistoga . . .

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 You may see all posts on the progress of the Autumn 2012 sweaters by clicking  here

Knitting details about sweaters are posted over on Ravelry here.

Berry Smoothie & Woodsy

After the finishing touches ,

and sewing on the label . . .

I am done with the Nieces’ Autumn Sweaters !

I always like to give a sneak preview before lifting of the veil so to speak,

which is scheduled in Calistoga this Sunday morning , photographing my nieces modelling them.

( I can’t wait ! )

Let me introduce to you

 “Berry Smoothie” and  “Woodsy”.

Knit with  c r a z y  hand-dyed yarns by me !

here and here )

Woods Knitting

I took my knitting outside, one of the sleeves. I walked about, holding it up to the woods, against Madrone trees, against Bays, against the span of the woods, to see if it is indeed a woodsy colorway. I think that it most definitely is! So it is decided, this sweater will be named ‘Woodsy’.  The camera’s eye isn’t detecting the third color very well, there are three distinct colors here.

Woodsy on the bench…

Woodsy with Emma…

Woodsy down the road…

Catching up today with things In The Woods. I think I will be doing a knit-and-walk a little later (down that very road).  I am thinking it’s highly possible, that if I don’t put my knitting down for any significant time,  I could finish the nieces Autumn sweaters easily by the Autumnal Equinox. Easy peasy.

A blurry glimpse of my Emma & me (in the woods)…DSCN7209

Woodsy

Over-dye madness.  Insanely intriguing varigations.

Here I have heaped the over-dyed green yarns for my Nine Year Old Niece’s sweater on top of the finished and waiting sweater for my Twelve Year Old Niece.

 The ‘bug-guts’ yellowy green has over-dyed

ever-so-nicely into a color

which reminds me of golden green tips of bright moss !

All the colors of the foliage in the forest are running through these four yarns in a very earthy woodsy colorway.

 I have roughly 200 grams each of four different greens, each with many varigations in their various journeys from dye bath to dye bath.


I’m not exactly sure what I am going to do with all of the crazy varigation.  Yesterday was all about dominating the yarn, now that I’ve had my way with the colors, not exactly sure.  I think I’ll let them dominate me for a while. At least until I get the sweater cast-on.  I actually love the challenge of listening to my instincts , and the yarn.  Sometimes this whole business of dying, knitting, and improvising is just  downright delicious  & fabulously exciting !

What I Want It To Be

(The original sale yarn ready for dying.)

Here I go again . Ripped out what I had started on my second niece’s sweater, I just couldn’t handle the ‘bug guts green’ color any more. (see over there, in the sidebar, under the text entitled “On My Needles”)   The yellowy bug-gutsy green which was so neon that it scared me,  from overdying ‘bright yellow’ over ‘sky blue’ in a very saturated dye bath. What was I thinking? One Autumn Sweater named “Berry Smoothie” for it’s likeness, the other I couldn’t not call  “Bug Guts” .  Also, the deep grey overdyed with spruce is a little too sophisticated for the colorway “Nine Year Old Kid” that I had in mind.

Changing course is good.  It just has just got to be work sometimes.  And that work not always accepting It being what It Wants To Be, nay, sometimes, this year, this lesson learned, the work will be in making it right,  of it being what I want it to be. A mountain of work to save a few dollars from some sale yarn. Risk factor high. I may have to go buy new yarn , in the end, but, I’m giving it my best shot.  Oh, and in the process of taking dye out of some yarn the first time around,  the bleach bath absolutely ruined the yarn, and it seized up… like melted chocolate getting cold water poured into it. After rinsing all that mess out,  the yarn was hopelessly tangled, and I threw it in the waste basket.  However, after a short talk with myself I realized that Waste Not Makes Want Not, and I took it out of the waste basket, dried it out on the line, and then promptly hid it somewhere not to be seen,  in order to avoid embarrassment of my bad impulses.

So here I am now,  untangling that whole mess of yarn.  I will soon be winding into new skeins on the niddy noddy and dipping into a fresh bath of dye, on a Saturday morning, while watching the fog rise from the valley and drinking really good coffee.

Percentage Systems

Rip…rip…riiip…

I would love to discuss the established Percentage Systems of Seamless Yoke Construction. Anybody game?

Here’s the deal,  the sweater heaped on the chair, getting ripped back was because I mistakenly went along my merry way starting the decrease rows from the method I’m use to , a ‘percentage system’ of a kind that I came up from the charts I’ve used,  completely forgetting how this time I wanted to try out strictly Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Percentage system.  (no hybrid!)  Feeling a little bit unsure with the over-all fit of another way, I am trying to anticipate the difference.  I’m laying the math out and taking a close look.

Elizabeth’s Percentage System, or cute little title of “EPS” as it is known among the Zimmermaniacs of the Modern Knitting World, I will extract from her book which I bought recently (used) called “Knitting Around”.  In EPS, the depth of the yoke is to be approximately half of the width of the main body before the sleeves are joined on (not circumferance, but laid flat, measured-across-width-wise measurement~  and then half of that is the “yoke depth”).  After joining the sleeves to the body, all on one circular needle, EPS has you knit up half of the entire yoke depth before beginning the first decrease row, and continueing with only 3 decrease rows total, dividing the upper half into halves, (quarters of the total depth, actually) with the third and last decrease at the neckline.

EPS is roughly as follows: On the first decrease row , the total stitches are decreased by 25% , with *K2,K2tog* repeat. One knits up to I suppose about another quarter section of the whole yoke depth (perhaps after a decorative pattern allows), then begins the second decrease row, where the new total stitches is decreased  33.3% , with a *K1,K2tog* repeat.  The last and third decrease, right before the short-row shaping at the back of the neck, is a decrease row which is a *K1,K2,K2tog* repeat which decreases the new total of stitches 40% and which then leaves the remaining total of stitches to be finished off method of choice.  The last remaining stitches also is around 40% of the original casted-on total of stitches.  That is roughly, a condensed summery I think, of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Yoke decreasing which I am about to try for the first time.

Now,  the other yoke-decrease method , percentage system if you like, that I’ve been using up until now, is what I’ve come up with by following the instructions of the charts of the book of Ann Budd’s called “Handy Book of Sweater Patterns”,  a great book loaded with charts so one can design just about any kind of sweater from any yarn and needle combination (within reason of course).  This book has been my ‘bible’ up to now,  along my adventure thus far of seamless yoke sweaters.

It goes something like this : The total yoke depth is likely the same as EPS,  but one begins the first decrease row after only about 1/4 , or less, of the total yoke depth (instead of half). If you factor in the fourth decrease row at the neck, you’ve got the whole yoke depth divided into thirds, with the last and fourth decrease being at the neck. So far , are you with me ? That’s one extra decrease row than EPS,  but different ratios of decrease.

The way I’ve managed to figure the math from the charts , and from my own ‘imaginary sweater’ which employs the EPS as a template ~ has had the first row decrease of 20% total stitches, with a *K3,K2tog* .  The second decrease row , about half way up the yoke,  decreases the new total of stitches  25% with a  *K2,K2tog* repeat.  The third decrease row about 3/4 or thereabouts up the yoke depth, (depending entirely which pattern one might design into the yoke) decreases the new total of stitches  33.3% with a *K1,K2tog* repeat.  The last decrease row, just before the short-row shaping at the back of the neck opening,  repeats the *K1,K2tog* pattern to arrive at the final neck finish total of stitches.

Are you still with me?  Have I made any outrageous math mistakes yet? (If so, please point them out).  So what I’d like to know, is if there are any of you reading, who has tried different yoke shapings, and can enlighten me to how the end result actually fits being worn.  Until then,  I will finish off my nieces Autumn Sweaters using completely Elizabeth Percentage System, and see for myself.  I will no doubt, be anxious to spill the beans when the finished sweaters are all blocked out.    I have a sweater which I haven’t finished (haven’t steeked yet) which is shaped through the decreases from the Ann Budd charts to compare the EPS yoke shape to.

Sit tight, and see me get giddy with my newly discovered math abilities (Yes, I’m suggesting that I always was a very bad math student).  I’ve quite astonished myself actually !  See you back on the subject in a few posts.

My Favorite Mistake

Now this is my favorite mistake .

I ask myself , how many times can I do the ol’  “accidentally grab the wrong needle end and knit backwards into the row the other direction” mistake ??? Obviously more times than I can count.  Yet each time it happens,  I’m a little dumbstruck that I just did it again. Then I laugh, and think to grab the camera and let you laugh too.  I’m glad *somebody* is getting entertained.

This sweater I’m naming “Berry Smoothie” for my eldest niece who asked for ‘light purple, and maybe also pink’.   The overdyed purply pink and pinkish purple,  I achieved on the yarns was by a very light dip in the dyebath.  No saturation what-so-ever.  The story reads this way:

For Purple : Woman dips grey heathered wool into dye, then yells  ” Oh blast !… this is waaaaaay too dark… quick, out with it ….. fast …. and rinse it out  !!!! ”

For Plum :  “Hmm… I wonder if this little bit of Jacquard Pink left in the container is enough for these five 50g skeins?”  Woman dips light blue yarn in dye bath… exhausts the dye-bath to clear in less than one minute.  Oops, not enough. Hence uneven dyeing and ~luckily~ interesting variegation.

Well, at least I did look at the colors on the dye packets, and I did pre-saturate the yarn in a diluted vinegar rinse before the dye bath dip.  Result was delightedly ‘unsaturated’ variegation of color. I normally prefer the ultra saturated dying, because protein fibers do that so well, and so well attain a depth of richness which exudes such sensuality (I think) and is unmatched by non-protein fibers.  A skein of wool (or silk) yarn only needs to look at a packet of dye to change color. Who said I am an Intentional Dyer?  Not me, the intention is never there.  At best I am a Hopeful Dyer.  I think I’ll write a book ” How to spin, dye, and knit completely by accident “.  Best-seller ?  Not.

But really,  I do love the color variegation !

A quick thanks to friends for  the comments of previous post, for setting me straight. I do think I’m going to do work on taking more thorough paper notes, and swatching, in the way of scrapbooking for a project, and maybe virtually too in some capacity ~ incorporating the old-fashioned and modern.  And, I think I will really work hard at learning to write the text for what I just knit (call it a pattern if you will)…. but…. I’m not going to lay down any rules !

Just doesn’t seem that important. I’m over myself today. Thanks friends !

On Becoming An Intentional Knitter

Here we have a keeper, finally, after the fifth start. The fifth.

More and more lately I find I must cast-on in a sequence of attempts before the project finally ‘finds its feet’.

Not a bad way, but it takes a lot of time.

Wanting to learn to be an Intentional Knitter I am considering laying down some guidelines for myself,  and not allowing myself to touch the needles until I have drawn out completely what I intend to knit, and mentally gone over each step.   Afterall, is my  knitting a means-to-an-end, or  merely a past-time ?

Wanting to speed things up ~ knit faster, cut corners, grow into my skin a bit more (a lot more) I’m going to have to just quit with the lazy ‘whatever happens will happen’ way of knit design.  I want, no, I need to create a system for myself by which I can go from concept to satisfaction of a finished knitted project. I need to:

1. Sketch and confirm the intention of what I want to make, regardless of skills I don’t yet know.

2. Assess the skills I need to learn, and have resources ready at hand to apply them.

3. Write as I go, take detailed notes (because I intend to learn the skill of pattern writing.)

4. Stay to the plan ! Do not stray  (the hardest part, as I am so squirrelly by nature).

5. Finish, and write the pattern, for the sake of practice.

These are my thoughts as to how to go about the knitting in the future. I’ve already started these Autumn Sweaters for my nieces, so I can at least follow steps 3, 4, and 5. This committing aspect of design, is not for pansies, and I find myself up against a limitation of doubting in my ability. I must go deep within myself and draw on determination and faith in my ability, and to have higher perspective when to stay on course, and when to make an edit ~ and there between is a very fine division.

Autumn Approaches

 

Beautiful cascades of yarn I’ve over-dyed  plum and purple, to Eldest Niece’s specifications, for Autumn sweaters.  Jacquard acid dyes : pink dyed over light blue yarn, and then lavendar over heathered grey.   The over-dye and the original colors will make a lovely subtle  varigation in the stockinette fabric that I just can’t wait to see, and since there are two nieces, there will be Autumn Sweaters  (x 2) .  Take a look at the  other colorway  overdyed from the same yarns which I bought a boat load of in a closeout sale.   Superwash 100% Merino wool.  Drinks in the dye, and exhausts the dyebath so nicely ! But committing to overdyed colors , I have found,  is strenuous at times, because there’s no “I’ll just exchange these 5 skeins for another color” sort of thinking. Nooo… I have to make it work, in a sort of determined marriage to the yarn.  So far I’ve casted on after switching needle sizes and swatching four times !

*    *    *

Meanwhile,  Classic Socks pair number two continues to grow.

(Yes… more purple.)

Sneak Preview

Unlikely colorway?

Yes, but of course ! I want to think that somehow these colors are destined to match up, perhaps something more like disagreeable neighbors, but I have faith that it will finish harmoniously.   A stretch of my imagination, maybe, but to be an Intentional Dyer is beyond my ability, and ‘I’m okay with that’.   I often settle with leaving colorways up to the Sisters of Fate, and to just let the sweaters be what they want to be.

I managed to find some one-hundred-percent superwash merino wool yarn in DK (double knitting) weight, on close-out discount, and bought a lot of it.  Light blue and a heathered medium grey.  Over-dyed dramatically,  to create one-of-a-kind colorways in my nieces’  favorite colors, for what will in a couple of months’ time ~ my nieces Autumn Sweaters.  There’s actually really nice and subtle varigation from the original colors and the over-dyed colors… exciting !

What you see draped over the chair is for one of the sweaters, the younger of my two nieces. The other will make an appearance later, in a second colorway, in a second sneak preview. So here I go, winding off a gazillion yards into balls…