March 13, 2013 § 4 Comments
I saw my friend Nicole the other day, an impromptu meeting at her house. She showed me a herringbone cowl that she’d just finished knitting. I saw it hanging on the hook by the front door when I walked in, and just glancing at it I thought it was actually white “camo” fabric. She showed it to me, as we show each-other all of our knitting projects, and explained to me just how, and why she hated it. We gave each-other that look, as anyone who has ever made things for themselves well knows, the “I spent so much time on this, and it is terrible. Now what do I do with it look.” Oh the frustration, the disappointment! Do you just toss it? Donate it? Or the standard, just keep it and hope that someday you’ll change your mind about it, even though you know better.
That is how I felt when I first started my Coachella tank top. I first found it back in 2010 on Ravelry, and added it to my favorites. In the beginning of September 2011, it officially went into my queue on Ravlery, a sacred area I use for that literal purpose of lining up the projects I actually want to do. So many others just use it as a bookmark. On September 12th, 2011 I found the yarn I wanted to use, on clearance at Imaginknit in San Francisco, Lana Grossa New Cotton Seta, but sadly, they only had 3 hanks it was discontinued. I worked my little tail off to find three more, and once I found them, quickly, I began knitting my swatches. Problem was, I hated, HATED the way that felt knitted. The yarn was so soft when just wrapped in the skein. I couldn’t understand how anything with cotton could be so soft. This particular cotton is 60% Rayon, 20% Cotton, 20% Silk, so I guess it is hardly “cotton,” but rayon is wood pulp, and only 20% silk, still I had a hard time believing that it could be so soft. So the yarn isn’t long fibers twisted together, they are sort of braided together, and when knit, you feel the “harshness” off the braiding. Or, at least that is what I thought. I started the gauge swatches about the time I started feeling the morning sickness from the beginning of my pregnancy, and instead of looking at that as the hold-up, I decided that this yarn I had worked so hard to find, and finally got from a little yarn store in Massachusetts was the culprit, and quickly wrote off the entire project.
Now that the move is in full swing, when I had to go through my stash last week to look for two
missing not purchased skeins of yarn, I found my six skeins of Lana Grossa New Cotton Seta, with my printed out version of the pattern stuffed in the bag, and long forgotten. I knew it would be a quick project. I decided I didn’t want to try to use the yarn for anything else and so I got it out, put it on the couch, and once I determined I in-fact didn’t have the yarn to finish my Cara Cara tank, I started this, and it flew off the needles. Even with the packing and the baby I finished it in 4 days, and a strange thing happened: I LOVED the way that it knit-up! I just couldn’t believe it.
Way back when I originally found this pattern I also found Roko on Ravelry, a knitting force to be reckoned with. She knit this top twice, and did it in merely 1 day the second time. I don’t know how this woman knits so fast. Most of her work is in seductive greys and blacks, which are hard to see and dull to look at for mile after mile of yarn yardage. She’s cute, does beautiful work, and seems to have no idea just how special she is, making her that just much more special.
She simplified the Cochella pattern, originally published in Knitty in 2007, widening the back so that it is not a skinny piece requiring a halter-esque undergarment, but so that it might be more comfortable for the average, or more modest wear-er. Her pattern modifications looked so flattering and were so, SO simple that this is the exact route that I decided to go. I didn’t even have to adjust the number of stitches that I cast-on. My gauge was a little larger, which resulted in a size more appropriate for me.
- Her gauge was: 26 sts and 40 rows = 4 x 4 inches on size 4 (US) needles
- My gauge was: 22 sts and 28 rows = 4 x 4 inches on size 6 (US) needles
- Of the six skeins I had of Lana Grossa New Cotton Seta, I only have about 20 yards left, meaning I used about 700 yards.
So, as follows is Roko’s pattern (click here for link to her original) with my modifications as my gauge was different:
- Cast on 160sts, pm, and join to work in the round.
- Work in stockinette st for about 2 inches.
- Divide the sts for the front—120 sts—and the back—40sts, work front and back separately
- For the front, with RS facing Dec 1 sts on each edge as foll: k1, ssk, k across until 3 sts rem, k2tog, k1. Work 1 WS row. Work Dec 5 times, work 2 rows even. Rep Dec plus 2 rows 3 more times (20 decreases, total)-80 sts
- For the back, with RS facing Inc 1 sts on each edge as foll: k1, kf/b, k across until 2 sts rem, kf/b, k1. Work 1 WS row. Work Inc 5 times, work 2 rows even. Rep Inc plus 2 rows 3 more times (20 increases, total)—80 sts
- K across front, PM for side, seam, join, and k across back, PM for beg/end of rnd
- Work in St st for about 4 inches
- Inc 1 stitch every 8th rnd 3 times at both side of M,
- Inc 1 stitch every 10th rnd, 3 times at both side of M (184sts).
- Work 10 rnds even.
- Bind off all sts.
- Crochet edging: 3 rnds of single crochet, then completed crochet edging
I washed the top in my sweater-tub which is now being used as a box for packing things for the move on Friday. I dried it in the sun, on-top of the barbeque as the weather is getting so nice out. The once again experienced the magic of blocking and I didn’t even have to press my little crochet hem down, so that it woudn’t roll up from all of that stockinette stitch. Then, I put my Roko-chella on. The yarn is amazingly soft. I love the weight of the plant fibers in the yarn. It has structure and drape. This is the most even I have seen my tension since I changed from English style knitting to continental. I just love, love, love it. I think I am going to be wearing it every day, and I even wore it out for yesterday in the 75° heat (I know it’s not that hot, it’s still Spring‚ but I was happy and cool—and comfortable—as a cucumber. (Cucumbers look comfortable, don’t they?) I’d like to go on and on and on about how much I love this yarn, but sadly there is no point as it is discontinued and it was practically unobtainium a year and a half ago. I’d like to make another, but I’ll have to find a different cotton (based) yarn to work with.
The only thing I don’t like? WHY THE HELL DIDN’T I MAKE THIS TANK-TOP SOONER? I guess I just expected to be disappointed. I think that this goes to show that sometimes when we get results that we find less than satisfactory, we shouldn’t just write off the project.
So, I’d like to say: Nicole, your cowl may come in handy, but maybe for something you haven’t even thought of yet.
Wait, did I just promote hording?
August 30, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I’d like to tell you about my special friend, Lamborghini, who I have had the pleasure of knowing since she was drinking from a bottle (please note the tail nubbin):
Well, Lambo’s all grown up, and back in April she gave me her fleece, as she was getting too warm.
Lambo in March:
Lambo in April:
So kind of her, but of course I had to hide it from my cats until I get it cleaned up, sorted out, and ready to go. In order to do this, I must do two things:
Step 1. Figure out exactly how much fleece I have
Figure out what in the hell I am going to do with it.
Oh oh oh! I have the answer to Step 2!
So, I have done some research and Lambo is a Suffolk sheep, which are mostly used for their meat, not their fleece. Their fleece doesn’t make great wool for spinning and knitting because it is made up of short fibres, not the sexy long ones that your merino sweater is made of. However, it I can make wool roving from it. Well, I don’t mean me I’d have to send it out to be processed, but none-the-less.
About a month ago when surfing the Ravelry.com world, I stumbled across an absolutly amazing blanket, Giganto-blanket by Laura Birek. In doing so I think I have figure out just what to do with my own fleece! I bought the pattern last week through Laura’s Ravelry shop last week (she sells it on ETSY, along with the actual finished blanket, too), and I have started doing even more research, and I am even more excited, because this is a knitting project that Ramon will get to be a part of, in helping me to make my PVC knitting
I can’t wait to start this project! It is so unique, and amazing… but I am getting ahead of myself. What about Step 1?
So, First part of Step 1 is to weigh the fleece. I have learned that when you have a whallop-o-fleece that what you will get once it is doing being processed will be about half of the weight that you started with. Why?
No, really, Poop! Well, Manure, and other things, like hay, natural oils, and, well, basically everything from Lamborghini’s home.
So, once I figure out what I have, then I need to send it out to be processed, which includes (I am no expert, but this is what I have found so far):
- Washing, Scouring: The step in which the fleece is cleaned and the oils are removed.
- Picking: The process by which the fleece is put through a machine to open the locks and prepare it for carding
- Carding: The mechanical proccess by which locks and unorganized clumps of fibres are aligned so that they are parallel with one another.
- Roving: A long and narrow bundle of fibre which is usually used to spin into yarn. In this case it won’t be spun into yarn though.
At which time the wool would be returned to me, and I’d need to get my other fun tools ready. I will list only the ones I have never encountered in a knitting pattern before, oh wait, that is ALL OF THEM:
- 6 pounds superwash wool roving
- 10-foot length of 1 1/2” PVC pipe, cut in half
- Duct Tape
- Drying rack
- 2 Flat Queen-sized White Cotton bed sheets
- White cotton twine or yarn -Scissors
- Clean rubber rain boots
- Liquid laundry detergent -Washing machine (optional, but EXTREMELY helpful)
- Needle felting kit (optional)
As you can see, this is CLEARLY no ordinary knitting project, but I have a feeling that I can’t go wrong when the pattern involves Galoshes.
Oh Little Lamborghini, this is going to be fun! Thank you for your fleece!
June 11, 2011 § 11 Comments
Even though this sweater takes me but two days two knit, I have spent well over a month working on this. After two samples in two sizes, I finally feel ready to present my pattern to the world.
A sucker for all things cute, I changed the stripe colors from the gray and white used in the adult version of the sweater, to Kangaroo browns and added the knit Kangaroo ears for a playful, and snuggly little sweater. Knowing that mommies don’t have time to hand wash, this pattern utilizes Berroco Comfort, a machine-washable, super-soft, worsted weight yarn making this sweater quick to knit and easy to care for.
The ears in this pattern are very easy to make, and with a little experimentation of the ear shape and size, as well as with the plethora of colors this yarn is made in, the possibilities for animals this little sweater become are endless: kangaroos, bunnies, kitties, puppies, armadillos, bats, foxes, owls, horses, dragons, tigers, piglets, monkeys, lambs, buffalo (horns and ears), bears, lemurs, zebras the list goes on and on … You could even add a tail.
As I am always working to improve my patterns, and create new things, I welcome all feedback. Please feel free to email me questions, errata or feedback at: projecthallway AT gmail.com or leave a comment on my here on my blog.
Baby & Toddler Sizing
6-Month (12-Mo., 18-Mo., 2T) , 3T
4/5 6/7 8 9/10 11/12 13/14
- Color A, Berroco Comfort #9745 “Filbert Brown”
- Color B, Berroco Comfort #9727 “Spanish Brown”
- Color C, Berroco Comfort #9705 “Pretty Pink”
- US 7 (4.5mm) 24″ Circular Needle for Hood Ribbing.
- US 7 (4.5mm) 24” Straight needles (or Circular based on preference) for Ribbing on Back, Front, Sleeves and Pocket.
- US 8 (5.0mm) Straight needles or Circular needles based on preference. It is easiest to use a circular needled for the hood.
18 stitches and 26 rows equals 4×4″
- Tapestry Needle for weaving in ends, sewing Pocket to Front and for sewing Ears to Hood.
- 2 Stitch Markers of different colors
©2012 Julie LeFrancois. All Rights Reserved.
Please respect copyright law and Do Not Reproduce in any form. Duplication & distribution of this pattern in any form without express permission of the author is a violation of copyright law: You may not make multiple copies of this pattern, reformat it for commercial use or resale, or sell items made from this pattern. Your respect for coypright law allows me to keep bringing you new and interesting designs. Write with feedback or errata via my contact page. Thank you.
October 19, 2010 § 2 Comments
I have knitter’s elbow, and wrist! I have been helping out some friends for the past few days, but there is a lot of waiting involved. My arm literally hurts from knitting. So, I have designated tonight a (k)no-knitting-(k)night. I was hoping to get some time in my sewing room, but it looks like I lack the energy and the time for that.
This weekend I finally bit the bullet and finished of my block pattern. ‘Bout Damn Time! I had been putting it off because I needed more measurements of my back, one of the things that is just about impossible to measure all on your own. Ramon has been so busy with his own project—his race-car—that he hasn’t had a spare moment either. Alas without help, I decided to go it alone. It took a solid two days, but I got it sorted, drafted, and squared. I felt that it was really holding me back not having this done, and it was. I started on some dress patterns as soon as I got the block finalized, and it is coming along nicely. A little McQueen, and a little Halloween.
On the topic of Halloween, since this is the very first time that we will actually be home over Halloween weekend, Ramon and I are getting candy, dressing-up, and carving pumpkins. We also going to a Halloween party the night before. So, we need Halloween costumes. I am knitting this for Ramon’s.
Yesterday I tried knitting this same item, and got the blue and the red in the wrong places. To my horror, it wasn’t just Ramon’s Halloween costume part, but everything I knit yesterday had to be frogged. I started knitting the lace sweater directly from the pattern published in the book, and the whole time I was thinking … this doesn’t seem right. A mere four hours in, I decided to check ravelry to see if other knitters had experienced the same problem with the pattern. They had. In-fact, there was HUGE warning on that pattern’s page, saying that the entire pattern was wrong, and it was mis-printed. Lesson learned? Always check the ravelry pattern BEFORE beginning a project to look for comments and posts about weird goings-on.
So, a cookie to anyone who can guess what Ramon is going to be for Halloween.
Due to my large quantity of on-going projects, I have limited this costume to a one-day creation adventure. Project Runway style, what am I going to be, you ask? You’ll just have to wait and see.
I was happy to see it finally start raining on Sunday. I don’t know what it is, but this year, I was very happy to see the rain come in. I like being all snuggled up inside, and I guess with so much knitting and sewing I felt like I wanted the visual cue of the season that it was time to be inside, snuggled and warm, busy as a little bee. I did decide to go out on Sunday to take advantage of the 50% off any regularly priced item coupon I had acquired from Joann’s. Buying a bolt of muslin for $1 a yard is awesome. Having the poor girl at the counter have to measure all 25 yards because the bolt has been opened, and we’re not sure if cut from, not so awesome. Sorry! After the muslin bargin bang I headed over to my local yarn shop, as I figured out how many skeins I will need for my McQueen blue sweater dress. 15. Running through the rain, I noticed Oktoberfest going on, on the main downtown street. Soggy beer and pretzels for everyone! Oh wait, those both contain wheat. Another bummer, I get to the yarn store and it is … CLOSED! Feeling bummed, but eager to get on with knitting my project I searched the farest corners of the interweb to try to find Cascade Cloud 9 in Blue (colorway 140). No dice. Not one skein. Not one. Anywhere. How can this be? I know the yarn store had quite a bit of it, so how can there be none anywhere else int he world? Oh no! And I won’t be able to make it to the store again until NEXT weekend. How can I possibly wait another week? It could all be gone by then. What if they’re already all gone? I find this yarn I love, and this yarn that is perfect for the project … oh, unnecessary anxiety attack, I feel you approaching. Damn you festival, why do you create enough cause for my yarn store to be closed?
Ramon calmly asked, in my hysterics, “Do they keep your customer information? Like, do they have a file for you?” I respond, “Yes.”
“Well, if they have you on file, they have all of your yarn purchases on file. Why don’t you call them, leave them a message, tell them what you are looking for, tell them you want to pay over the phone, and have me pick it up for you?”
Brilliant. Plan worked. The accounting lady actually went in on Sunday night to pick something up, listened to the messages, and took care of the yarn over the phone. They had all 14 (more) skeins. Knitting like a little beaver, I am almost through with the back “skirt.”
I know I say this all the time, but oh how I love yarn people.
Oh, and I couldn’t leave this out. Thunder says, “Hello, I am Thunder, and I am a laundry-basket addict. I don’t care about fur-ing up the warm clothes, I just can’t get enough of the baskets. I know I have a problem.”
September 20, 2010 § 1 Comment
Speaking of learning, I am not sure that my pattern-making class is all that I had hoped for. See, I thought that pattern-making and pattern-drafting were the same thing, but I may have been confused. My pattern-making class doesn’t actually go over any actual drafting. We merely take existing, correctly made pattern block sets, trace and , cut them out, and manipulate them. Granted this is extremely useful stuff to know, I just hoped their would be a little more meet to the class, like Gaga’s dress: a big fat steak to-go hat and everything. I don’t want to learn to just manipulate, I want to make! I guess any teenage girl knows that both are useful skills. I think I missed that step. Where was I? Oh, I think I was making things.
So, maybe my having taught drafting classes at a college level before isn’t helping me either. The fact that I can get through the entire week’s worth of homework every week, in just under and hour, while everyone else is struggling to do it in 8, says something. Are my expectations to high? Am I used to the Academy of Art’s rigorous training programs? (While it might be easy to get into, it’s awfully hard to stay there). So, as Jury Duty approaches next week, followed by my upcoming contract, I may have some decisions to make.
Out of respect for Lee McQueen, and his memorial service today, I wore my McQueen brass square-toe, patten leather, pink leather bottomed pumps to class today. An act which was lost on just about everyone there, though I got, I dare say, a lot of looks. Come on fashion students!! You should be able to name the designer, name the season, and name the collection, all while knowing which other designers were influeced by THESE VERY SHOES, and what seasons they came out with their interpretations!!! Again, maybe my expectations are just too high.
Though, I am startled and surprised—in a good way—about a few of my class-mates, one in particular. She’s from the UK and is interested in making childrens’ garments. OH HOW LOVELY, and what a task. Those rolly-polly little suckers do a lot of squirming around. Seems like it would be hard to get measurements off of them, but I think that once you did, you’d be set for a least a month, or maybe three-weeks, until they grow again. My class-mate has a particular toddler sweater that she loves from J. Crew. Well, after a quick search through one of my favorite websites, ravelry.com, I came across a pattern that is quite similar, though sized for a baby, and not a child. Would be pretty simple to change, oh, and I found the book, and the pattern, on Amazon.com, too. Thank you very much “Look Inside” feature!
Ok, ok. I guess I should get cracking on the website so that I can get back to sewing. I am dieing to get two pairs of leggings drafted and made ASAP. (Insert laughing at, not with, here).