Archives for category: lara

The other knitty thing chemgrrl and I did on Saturday, aside from walnut dyeing, was a little photoshoot for my Lara sweater in the pretty grove of trees beside her house.

You can still see some collar screwiness in the back view where I couldn’t get the collar extensions to quite lie flat, but it’s improved, and I’m happy with it now.

One of her kitties wanted to help.

Pattern: Lara, from Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk

Size: Small (40″). That’s 8″ of ease, people. 8″! Or 20 cm, as I now know from many a ball band! It makes for a roomy, comfy Big Sack sweater.

Yarn used: 11 or 12 skeins of Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran from I used their free shipping sale and got an extra skein through their Fuzzy Dozen discount. My notes say I used 11 skeins, but I only seem to have one skein left over, so I may have forgotten to write one down. The color is 110 Opal.

Needles used: Size 8 Boye Needlemaster. I have no idea what cable length I was using.

Started: 9/13/07

Finished: 9/26/07

Mods: I used a provisional cast-on to start the first sleeve at the stockinette portion, then knit the ribbing on both sleeves at the same time, so I could make them longer as necessary. I should have done the same for the front ribbing sections, but I was lazy and instead used a suspended BO in 2×2 rib on the one side, and a cable cast-on on the other. I think it looks fine, as evidenced by the photo below. (Isn’t that a neat pin, by the way? It’s an antique Art Nouveau pin showing some flowers on a crescent moon)

Notes: The cuff-to-cuff construction of this sweater was really interesting. (Check the archives in the Lara category for more of my notes about this) The sweater got really huge after I blocked it, but I’m still happy with it, and this yarn is to die for–so amazingly soft and squishy, and it looks really high-quality, with a subtle sheen from the silk. No pilling so far, but we’ll see how that goes… I’ve heard this yarn doesn’t wear well. The stockinette has an interesting rippled texture, as Clara notes in her review on Knitter’s Review.

Dolman sleeves are not terribly flattering in general, but it’s OK in this particular sweater, I think. You can see the excess fabric kind of flopping around a bit in the shoulder and underarm area.

The ginormousness of this sweater, coupled with its luscious softness, has already made this my go-to sweater for cuddling up in when it’s a little chilly in the house.

Verdict: Project Starfish Pig is a success! (It is my goal to become the #1 listing on Google when you search for “starfish pig.” I am currently #4, behind a couple of pages about dissections and a page containing an email forward of humorous animal facts coupled with sassy commentary. Starfish pig starfish pig starfish pig.)

My boyfriend finally gave up the data transfer cable so I could get pictures off the camera (and free up the memory card of the 130 MB of squirrel videos we took last weekend). The pictures are pretty crappy in general, mostly snapshots taken indoors at 11 PM with the flash, but I’m excited I have something to show.

First up, the undergarments you’ve all been waiting for: Yes, it’s The Hideous Panties, Unveiled!

Like something out of a Hitchcock movie, aren’t they?

Next up, Lara, aka The Big Gray Sack. Better photos soon, but I’m just excited at the moment because this has become the perfect soft, warm, cozy, knock-around-the-house cardigan and you can really tell from this photo that I am 1) excited about my sweater 2) comfortable and 3) have obviously just been knocking around the house all day.

Now some photos from the field trip to the shearing at Schacht. Elli has more on her site, so I didn’t put up the photos of chickens and naked sheep and such that were essentially the same as hers. But I have photos of a sheep being sheared! And Elli and llamas!

And last but not least, some Selbuvotter pictures! They’re still damp, but I couldn’t wait to take a few progress pictures.

Some bullet points today, because I feel like listing things:

  • Jess II: The Re-Jessening continues apace. I finished the back during my lunch break today. I tried short-row shoulder shaping for the first time and it seemed pretty good, except I had some issues with the short rows worked on the wrong side, and got all confused, and had to redo that side. It looks mostly OK now. For future reference (i.e. in a day or two, when I end up doing the the matching short row shoulder shaping for the front), I went and read nona’s short row tutorial again, and looked again at the lovely explanations on let me explaiKnit and knitty. And I looked, but to my surprise, there’s nothing about short rows on TECHknitting yet.
  • I wasn’t entirely sure if I should be trying to knit in pattern when I did the last row to knit up all the wraps. Perfectionists, avert your eyes–I think I ended up doing one side plain and the other side in pattern.
  • I am now 8.5″ into the left front. Hurray for size 11 needles!
  • I used a backwards loop cast-on for the back, and knitted on the cast on for the front. The back looks tidier from the inside, but I think I’ll use the knitted cast-on for the rest of the hems. It’s much less of a pain in the ass to knit into the cast-on row, and it’s harder to pick up and match the stitches to the live stitches when you’re knitting the hem up.
  • I love my ball winder. I’ve been winding all my skeins into double-stranded centerpull balls to avoid having to knit from two skeins (the first pair flopped around and got all tangled). And then, after I finished the back, I rewound my loose little heap of leftover yarn into a nice firm ball of merino/alpaca/silk goodness again.
  • I re-seamed the collar on Lara. It’s still not perfect, but the little blip of excess neckband is at least at the back of my neck now instead of hanging out at the side.
  • I received Knitty K8’s stitch markers in the mail–forgot if I mentioned that already. They’re pretty! I haven’t had a chance to use them yet.
  • I’m baking a dish from I’m baking a dish from Lindsay Bareham’s Supper Won’t Take Long right now, called “Brown Tom.” More here. It’s a lovely feeling to have a casserole baking in the oven, and know you’ll have a hot, savory dinner soon.

There. Done with listing off all kinds of boring stuff for my own benefit.

Damn it! Lara turned out huge. Yes, I did wash and block my swatch. Hmph.

I knew the sweater would have 8″ of ease (I don’t quite know what I was thinking with that, either) but as it turns out, the sleeves and body gained quite a bit of length during the blocking process. So now the sweater is kind of a big gray sack.

The drape has improved, so I’m trying to think of it as a large, cozy, kimono-type garment rather than the more fitted type of cardigan shown in the book.  I do think I’ll have to fix the collar, though; it still looks bumpy.

I’ve been a sweater powerhouse lately! I finished the Tilted Duster in two weeks, Lara in two weeks, and I just cast on for Anna Bell/Amelia Raitte/My Fashionable Life’s Jess, which I hope to finish in two weeks as well. It’s become a routine, with all the reading I’ve been doing: cast on at knit night, knit for two weeks, finish by the next one. I might run out of steam soon, though. I guess I should have plenty of one-skein leftovers by that point, perfect for Christmas gift knitting.


Lara origamied up into a passable cardigan (phew!) She looked like poo when I tried her on pre-blocking. Lots of wrinkly excess cloth in the armpit area, and she made me look decidedly pudgy. I’m hoping blocking will help the fabric drape better. It might also help to not wear a second sweater underneath.

I clipped Lara together with binder clips to keep her in place while seaming, and it worked pretty well, except at the collar, where I had to kind of squish the last little bit in. I’ll see tomorrow if blocking helped that part lie flat, or if I should rip out and re-seam.

Pictures soon, hopefully.

Jess II: The Re-Jessening

…is what I’ve decided to christen my jacket project. I knit Jess in this same yarn (Queensland Uruguay DK, double-stranded, $25 a bag at Littleknits) on these same needles (Boye Needlemaster size 11) for my stepmom this spring. Hers was a sage green color, mine will be a rich burgundy. I loved working with the yarn and I loved everything about the pattern. So despite my general aversion to making the same pattern twice, I decided to go ahead and make the exact same jacket in a different color, and it’s rather liberating–I know the number of skeins I’ll use (I bought one extra just in case), the proper needle size, the mistakes in the pattern, the things to tweak this time around (fewer buttons, longer sleeves, different bindoff for the collar). I knitted on the cast-on stitches and this left nice big loops for picking up and knitting in the hem.

Instead of repeating my thoughts on the pattern, here are the notes I posted on the Craftster knitalong about the original Jess:

“Well, I finished Jess last week, but forgot to take a picture before sending her off to my stepmom! Sad

I used 11.5 skeins of Peru Luxury DK/Queensland Uruguay DK, a wonderful, shiny, bouncy merino/alpaca/silk blend in sage green, double-stranded, and I sewed on wooden buttons instead of doing the crocheted button covers.

My stepmom says it’s too narrow around the chest, but it seemed to fit me fine when I tried it on first, and I think I’m about the same size as her–she probably just likes more ease in her sweaters. The basketweave fabric with the Peru Luxury DK is surprisingly heavy and stretchy and REALLY warm. The sleeves require much more knitting than you would think to get to the proper length–I think they have a tendency to ride up because of the basketweave. I lengthened them to wrist-length instead of having 3/4 length sleeves.

I realized after knitting this that although it’s a jacket, I think it’s a good idea to use something like merino as she suggests, because the basketweave makes the jacket really cling to your arms and I think it could easily get very itchy and uncomfortable if you used a less-than-luscious yarn.

If this makes a difference in your decision to buy or not buy her patterns, they are mostly very clearly written, but I’d say they’re not for beginners (based on looking over Flicca and knitting from Jess)–they’re very concise, and there are some things taken for granted, like that you will know what decreases to use in which situations (I used paired k2tog/ssk decreases worked a stitch in from the edge, and knit a one-stitch garter selvage on the edges to be seamed), or that you will know how to maintain the stitch pattern when increasing or decreasing. Clearly, since I’ve bought two of them already, I think they’re worth the money, but your mileage may vary Smiley

Jess is a really nice pattern overall–it does go so quickly on the size 11 needles (the fronts are only 28 sts each in the smallest size!), the basketweave pattern is easy to memorize, and I love the details–the slipped-stitch edge, the buttonholes, the knitted-up hems. If you’re wondering, the collar is knit in seed stitch with a slipped-stitch edging, which wasn’t entirely clear to me from the pattern pictures. I would totally knit this jacket again.

I found a couple of possible errata in the pattern on the smallest size, but I could have just made mistakes myself, since I was usually doing something else while knitting.
– I think the instructions for the setup rows on the basketweave pattern for the back are incorrect–the structure of the pattern should be pretty obvious after you’ve swatched, so no big deal, but I believe the (WS) instructions should read P1, (K2, P2) to last stitch, P1.
– I think the shoulder shaping is reversed–when I started on WS or RS as instructed, I ended up with shoulders slanting upwards away from my neck instead of slanting downwards away from my neck. I had to rip and reknit a few times because I kept following along with the pattern and then realizing after binding off that I had done it backwards.”


I also cast on for a pair of Selbuvotter mittens, NHM #7. Terri Shea’s Selbuvotter book is phenomenal–the author reverse-engineered mitten patterns from samples found in various Nordic museums, and has reprinted them, in all their intricate, monochromatic glory.

The charts require all my concentration, which is why I needed to cast on for Jess–the mittens will decidedly not be my brainless pattern, but will be one step below.

I’m knitting them in Knitpicks Telemark in black and cream, on a US 1.5/2.5mm 24″ circ, magic-loop (I can knit only one at a time magic loop with this length needle, unfortunately). I don’t have appropriately sized DPNs (though I didn’t take a gauge swatch, so these may be wrong anyway) and two circs seemed way too fiddly this time around.

Stashing and Destashing

I’ll have to count using up yarn as “destashing.” I used up 11 or 12 skeins in the past two weeks on Lara. Yay!

Then I went and bought more stuff. Argh!

I tested some stitch markers for a woman on Ravelry a month or two back, and now she’s opened up her own store–Knitty K8’s Stitch Markers. I wanted to support her (and I got a discount) so I picked up a set of gray freshwater pearl stitch markers.

Jannette’s Rare Yarns was having a limited-time sale on Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Chunky at a price I couldn’t refuse: $50 for 10 100g skeins. She usually sells them for $70. MSRP for a bag is $159.50. This yarn is discontinued, and I loved working with the DK version so much, I decided I’d try the Chunky. I happened upon the sale when there were only 4 days left (3, now), and decided, after some deliberation, on Damp, which looks to be a slate gray flecked with blue and green. I was thinking of getting Coast, a mid-blue color flecked with brighter blue, but I think the gray will be more versatile. (What does the Chicago Manual of Style say about how to treat yarn color names? I went for italics this time.)

And my mom brought me 6 skeins of Patons SWS and 2 skeins of Patons Nuance when she came to visit last weekend–she wants a cardigan or a vest of some kind. My plan is to exchange the Nuance for more SWS so I’ll (probably) have enough for a garment.

In other news, I saw Stardust last night and I want to move to Stormhold. Or maybe Wall.

The Lara sweater has grown in a peculiar, puzzle-like way–right front cast on and knit for a ways, joined up with the stitches held on the back and knit along for a while, with many stitches bound off sharply and the right sleeve then knit with decreases where the left one had increases–thrilling, those rows getting shorter and shorter! But maddening, the huge and twisty pile of knitting in your lap, dangling from your needles. It’s more annoying than a top-down raglan because it’s not worked in the round, so it feels incredibly long and floppy, with sleeves or fronts or backs all dangling off to the sides like octopus legs. In fact, I think this passage from Alice in Wonderland perfectly describes my feelings about how it feels to work on this sweater:

“Alice caught the baby with some difficulty, as it was a queer-shaped little creature, and held out its arms and legs in all directions, ‘just like a star-fish,’ thought Alice. The poor little thing was snorting like a steam-engine when she caught it, and kept doubling itself up and straightening itself out again, so that altogether, for the first minute or two, it was as much as she could do to hold it.”

Then the baby turns into a pig.

Insert “awkward pile of knitting” for baby, and hopefully I can soon also insert “elegant, urban, and sophisticated cardigan” for “pig.”

I haven’t really stretched everything out to verify that it will fold itself up in the right way–I really hope I followed the directions properly, because despite the interesting construction, this was really completely mindless stockinette and ribbing and I didn’t think about it much at all while I was knitting it. I worked on it constantly as I did my readings and caught up on videos for class, watched TV, and talked to my mom while she was visiting last weekend.

I finished the right sleeve decreases today and once I get home I’ll take the provisional CO off and work ribbing on both sleeves at the same time. Then comes blocking and seaming. I anticipate using up a total of 11 skeins of yarn on this, i.e. 1023 yards.

If I can finish this by Thursday (I think I can) I’ll be on a roll–cast on for one sweater at knit night, knit like crazy for two weeks, finish it by the next one. My next queued sweater, Jess, should be a snap to finish up in two weeks, although I may get sidetracked by mittens or slippers in the meantime.

Anyone else have an opinion on a periwinkle Flicca? (aka Dusk, Pantone 17-3812) I know you may be thinking “if I don’t have anything nice to say, I won’t say anything at all” but please rest assured that “holy moly, don’t do it!” is definitely an acceptable answer.

Debbie Bliss’s Lara proceeds apace. To my immense surprise, I suddenly found I was done with the back, instead of with the right front as I had somehow assumed. Thus I have gone far enough that I think the construction is as follows:

Knit sleeve up from left cuff.

Increase sharply for front and back.

Begin knitting only on back stitches, and knit all the way across back. Put the back stitches on hold.

Cast on stitches for a ribbed collar extension, then knit across these in rib, knit back across the left front in rib, and continue ribbing until the left front is done. Sew the collar extension to the back left neck.

I assume something symmetrical will somehow happen to the right front–knit collar extension, knit rib, attach to right front, knit sleeve. However, since I’m knitting like a Blind Follower on this project, there are bound to be further surprises.

Elizabeth Zimmermann would be ashamed, but there are Thinking Projects and there are Mindless Projects, and giant swathes of stockinette fall into the latter category for me and are quickly finished in comparison to the Thinking Projects, which tend to fall by the wayside because I can’t knit them while doing other things.

My newest mindless-stockinette WIP is Debbie Bliss’s Lara, from the Alpaca Silk collection. It’s an interesting sweater–you cast on at the left cuff, knit up the sleeve, increase sharply on both sides for the front and back… and that’s as far as I’ve gotten, and I know vaguely what’s supposed to happen next, but I’m enjoying letting the pattern’s mysterious construction unfold as I knit it. I used a provisional cast-on starting at the stockinette for the sleeve; I plan to unzip this at the end and knit ribbing on both cuffs at the same time, to ensure that they’re the same length and that they’re the proper length for my arms.

I’m knitting this in Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran in color 110 Opal, a dark gray color, bought on sale from Fuzzy Mabel ages ago, for relatively cheap–it was $4 a skein, during their free shipping month, and they throw in a 13th skein free if you buy 12.

It’s incredibly nice to work with, thick, buttery-soft, squishy, and bouncy. I keep getting yarn crushes and wanting to fill my entire house with a particular yarn. A couple of months ago, it was Rowan Calmer, a couple of weeks ago, it was Rowan Yorkshire Tweed, a couple of days ago, it was Knitpicks Palette (well, my house is already full of this at the moment), and right now it’s Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran. I can’t wait to finish Lara so I can wear it. I have visions of a hand-turned smooth wood hair pin to fasten it, and have been browsing Etsy and Purlescence with no success so far.

I think my next sweater might be Jess. I’ve already made it once in the same yarn, and it’s a quick and enjoyable knit. I should probably make a pullover or two after that for the cold weather that’s coming soon. I also want some new mittens, some new gloves, some new fingerless gloves, and maybe a new hat and scarf, if I can muster the interest. I have other things I need to be working on.

Bloomington’s gotten cool pretty fast, like a fever breaking. The temperatures were in the 90s a couple of weeks ago and suddenly, the next thing I know, it’s 65-70 degrees out and I start wanting to wear all my handknits at the same time, like a small and enthusiastic child playing dress-up.