Lost

I own this top that has lace for the upper part (neck to chest.) To my horror, even with the gentlest of rinsing, the lace tore at places. I didn’t want to replace it with more lace, and instead, thought I’ll make something of my own.

I went with crochet, and thought of keeping it hole-y (I don’t wanna say lace, because it’s not πŸ˜€ ) at the neck and getting more solid as it progresses. This is where I am so far.

Lost with lace

And now, I’m lost. I don’t want to continue with the solid section, because the piece is becoming thicker than I like. To make it thinner, I’ll have to add more airy stitches, and I don’t want that. I’ve also made some bad increases that results in some frills. I don’t feel that keeping on moving ahead will help.

Yup, I’m lost, and I think I’m gonna undo the whole thing and start over. Maybe with knitting this time, so it’s light and yet solid. I really had my heart set on crochet, though. Such a conundrum, isn’t it!

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Autumn leaf top

I’ve always fretted about not being good at coming up with lace patterns. Cables were something that I managed to get better at with practice, and with practice, I managed to turn out good stranded knitting projects too. Lace patterns were somehow, incomprehensibly, not speaking to me at all. Regardless of what I tried, I would come up with something dumb. Most of my learning so far had comprised of eyelets and simple lace patterns. They taught me decreases and yarn-over basics, but they weren’t enough to come up with patterns that bring the lace concepts in my mind to life. I needed more to understand lace at deeper, stare-into-its-soul level. It was when I made the Ashton shawlette for my mom that I came across different lace stitch nuances, and how different stitches work together to give the look one is aiming for.

Yes, yes, I’m getting to the autumn leaf top…

My sister had wanted a loose lace top, and I’d bought some yarn in a color she liked. I decided to put my lace learning to the test, and though I had to experiment quite a bit, I finally managed to come up with a pattern that I’m proud of. Now I’m out of my very own lace box of shame! πŸ˜‰ (Well, I’m actually a bit scared, wondering if I can ever outdo this one, hehe…)

Autumn leaf top

Autumn leaf top

The pattern has some nice texture to it too, which reminds me of leaves in autumn. (Coincidentally, the yarn is yellow as well! πŸ˜› )

Autumn leaf top

The top is knit top-down in two pieces — front and back, and is exclusively composed of the lace pattern, except near the seams (shoulders and sides.) Seams have a few rows / columns of stockinette stitch to give some stability to the structure of the garment. I’ve used grafting (shoulders) and mattress stitch (sides) for the seaming; the neck, sleeve and bottom is 1×1 ribbing in a larger needle size.

Here’s my sister wearing the top —

Autumn leaf top

This top has given me a firm push into the ‘I should write a pattern’ zone. It’s mind-boggling how much good patterns need to include these days — right from the gauge to schematics with measurements. I mean, if the gauge and the number of rows and stitches are provided, it’s not difficult to figure out how much the piece measures. πŸ™‚ Anyway, that’s for me to figure out when I finish writing the rest of the stuff in the pattern, and I haven’t even started… πŸ˜›

Ashton shawlette (or Happy Mother’s Day!)

I finished the Ashton shawlette for my mom a couple of weeks ago, and eagerly awaited her return from a vacation to surprise her with it. And was it a pleasant surprise or what! She loves the colors and the lace in the shawl. πŸ™‚ It’s not as drapey as I would like, but it’s definitely pretty cozy. My mom thinks she’ll use it to keep warm during her next vacation. πŸ™‚ Though today is not the day she received the shawl, I’m writing about it today, so I’ll consider it my Mother’s Day gift. πŸ˜‰ (Alright, alright, I presented it to her on the eve of my parents’ wedding anniversary, so it did end up as a gift, albeit for a different occasion. And today, we gave her handmade cards.)

Ashton shawlette

I spent quite some time blocking the shawl, and the lace opened up really well, but the points are still not to my satisfaction. (Remember that I had the same problem, but much more intensely annoying, with the Lemony shawl? These points are definitely much better than the almost-non-existent ones of the Lemony shawl.) I used the super-stretchy bind-off described in the pattern, and I used larger-sized needles for it. It looked fine while blocking, but did I need to knit the bind-off stitches still looser? I’m thinking of blocking again, because the edge has slightly curled up. (My mom keeps insisting it’s fine.) Maybe that’ll help?

The pattern definitely has been a good learning experience with different lace stitches. I’m more confident with lacy patterns now, and managed to designe a pattern of my own for a top that my sis asked me to make! Yay! It required a lot of testing to get right, but I did it, I designed a lacy pattern. So yeah, yay! πŸ™‚ (I’ll upload photos when I click them.)

Now to tame those pesky points…

Bubblewrap

Yeah, that’s what I’m gonna call the cardigan that I knit for my friend, KG. Did I mention it’s done? ^_^ I gave the cardigan to her this week, and she likes it, hurrah! [Sigh of relief] The colors look nice together, don’t they?

Bubblewrap cardigan

In the past few weeks, I managed to knit quite a bit, spurred on by the fact (or fear? πŸ™‚ ) that KG’s vacation is fast approaching, and that I’d promised to knit her this sweater for the vacation… I finally cast off this Sunday, blocked the garment and weaved in the ends. KG had no idea how the cardigan would look, and I was hoping it wouldn’t be a shock to her when she finally saw it. This whole secrecy was a first for me too, because I usually make my ‘customers’ (my mom and my sis so far — and of course, yours truly too πŸ˜‰ ) wear the project-in-progress now and then to check that things are fine, and course-correct if necessary. It was only when my course corrections reduced to almost-zero levels that I decided to knit one for KG. (She’d been pestering me for a while.) Still, I was apprehensive until the very end about how it would fit her and whether she would like it, and it really was a huge relief that it looks okay and more importantly, that she seems happy with it. And I too am happy that my stranded knitting has improved much.

Bubblewrap cardigan

Thanks, KG, for lending me this photo! πŸ™‚

Now that this sweater’s done, I’m back on the shawl that I started for my mom, and it’s coming along nicely. I’m following the Ashton shawlette pattern — this pattern has a few types of lace designs, and it’s helped me understand the workings of lace a bit more. Alright! The next pattern I come up with will be a lacy pattern! πŸ˜› (And I made a stitch marker for this project! I made quite a few of them actually, and I’ll talk about them in my jewelry blog soon, but here’s this marker hard at work. πŸ˜‰ )

Ashton shawlette with Stitch marker

The next step for me is writing a pattern. I’ve been thinking and talking about it, but haven’t really done anything on it that I can call progress. I’ve seen a lot of patterns by now, and I’m pretty sure I can come up with one.

Lemony shawl

It’s Lemony because of the beautiful bright-yellow color of the yarn. I started this project because I wanted something different to do while I was trying to finish other projects. πŸ˜€ Some of those other projects are still not done, but this wrap finished up pretty quickly.

Lemony shawl

I first started with the top-down approach without any pattern in mind, working short rows coupled with increases until I reached a decent height, and bound off, only to realize that the yarn is pretty heavy, and it stretched the shawl so much that it looked like I was wearing a python. :-/ So I frogged it and started afresh, this time quite narrower.

I still wanted to stick to the top-down construction, and started off with a simple lace pattern at the top. This time, I thought of looking for some inspiration for a lacy bottom edging that I could play with. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not great at designing with eyelets and laces, and I thought I could practice a bit now. I came across the Annis shawl pattern by Susanna IC on Ravelry. The instructions were for a bottom-up shawl, though, so I thought this is my chance to try to convert it to a top-down one and see if it looks the same. I tried and tried with quite a few combinations of yo, k2tog and ssk, but it never really looked the same. Sigh! I’d had enough of searching and experimenting, and just picked the best-looking one from amongst my tries — I had already made much of the shawl and didn’t want to frog it all over again to restart it bottom-up.

Though it doesn’t look anything like the Annis shawl πŸ˜€ I’m still happy because (a) it doesn’t look half-bad, and (b) I learned quite a lot about eyelets from those experiments. It’s at least got me interested in experimenting with more lacy patterns to understand them better. There’s also more to pointy ends than I have read about — they didn’t come up right even after blocking, and have receded back into the body now…

Meanwhile…

My friend KG has asked me to knit a sweater for her. I’ve not worked on a large project for someone who’s not immediate family, but thought I could see how it goes. I haven’t blogged about the sweater’s progress, though, and KG checked with me last week about it. She’s given me a deadline, you see… πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜€ Now that most of the difficult initial work — thinking of a pattern, swatching, designing parts from reference measurements — is done, the actual knitting is coming along… slowly. I don’t do things for long periods these days because my eyes feel the strain and fatigue at times — my day job also involves staring at a computer screen most of the time.

I like the color of KG’s choice of yarn. (Lavender? Lilac? I’ll just call it some kind of blue.) There’s also one ball of white yarn for some stranded colorwork. And hello, the background polka dots in the picture are also blue-on-white… Coincidence? πŸ™‚

Lavender cardigan

I don’t want to post too many photos of this sweater and spoil the surprise (or shock?) for KG, though, so I still won’t be blogging much about it until she’s seen it. Take note, KG! πŸ˜›

Lacy diamonds top

Remember the Lacy hearts cardigan that I ended up frogging? I used the same base pattern to make a top this time, with the same yarn that I used for the textured shawl that I posted about recently.

Lacy Diamonds Top
I knit two pieces for this top — the front and the back — and used whip stitch to join them. The top is a bit loose at the armholes, but I’m going to do some more sewing to tighten it up. (I’ve gotten a bit lazy and haven’t finished tightening yet.) The hems of this top are garter stitches, with the bottom edge being wider than the rest.

Lacy Diamonds Top
My original design had much shorter lines of diamonds, but I’m glad I decided to make them this long. To remind me of the Lacy hearts cardigan, I also added one single diamond on the back, in between the shoulder blades. I’m so elated that I finished at least one Lacy hearts project! πŸ™‚

Lacy Hearts cardigan — the back

I’m done with the back of the lacy hearts cardigan, and just like I mentioned in my previous post of the series, I added a small lacy pattern detail at the top of the back. A wise creative decision πŸ˜‰ since it makes the piece look not-so-plain. Check for yourself —

Lacy Hearts cardigan -- back

Lacy Hearts cardigan — back

I’m going to sew up the three front and back pieces at the top by making knit stitches with the sewing yarn. I’ve bound off all of the topmost stitches in all the pieces, but if I didn’t bind off the stitches that will need to be sewn up, it’ll probably make the sewed edge look a bit nicer. I’m not going to undo the bind-off this time, but this is something I’ll remember for my next knit-in-pieces project.

To join the pieces at the sides, I’ve decided to use the mattress stitch — I’ve never used it before, and all my sewed edges so far have been very visible. That’s one of the reasons I don’t like knitting bottom to top in pieces.

The other reason I’m not too fond of knitting in pieces is the sleeve shaping, which I’ll have to embark on next. It goes great from the cuffs till the armholes. Then comes the tough part of knitting the sleeve to fit the sleeve hole correctly. I did the calculations by myself for just one project, and I was not pleased. That was for a super-lacy project, though, so the holes in the lacy pattern kinda masked the results of incorrect measurements. I can tell you that the calculations seem easy in theory / in my head, but for an amateur knitter trying to create her own pattern, it does get messy at times.

A simpler method, of course, would be picking up stitches around the armhole and knitting from top to bottom, but I want to figure out those sleeve-shaping calculations, so the difficult way is probably what I’ll go with. One has to keep trying and learning from past mistakes, or how will great things come about, right? πŸ˜€

Anyway, wish me luck for the sleeve shaping, and as always, I’ll let you know how that (mis?)adventure goes.