the list

Posted on 7 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, home and family, projects

every time i complete a new sweater, the last finishing task i take care of is to give it a nice bath. for the natural, undyed yarns that i love, this means a good long soak in hot soapy water—sometimes twice!—to bring back the fiber’s natural shine and springiness, dampened by spinning oil and handling. i like to wash my larger items—sweaters, blankets, large shawls, etc—in our washer’s hand wash cycle. it does a lovely job; light on the fabric yet rinsing and spinning well, so my garments are easy to reshape and dry quickly. usually when i have a new sweater ready to wash, i run around the house, pulling out several more to wash along with it and make a full load (my drying area is large enough to lay out seven or eight sweaters).

and what i’ve noticed these last couple of years is that, while i fully recognize that a good wool sweater does not need to be laundered after just a few wearings, some sweaters end up on the drying field often. because i wear them more than a little—i wear them a lot. in fact, i’m not ashamed to say there are a few that i wear several time per week and a couple that i would wear every day if i could get away with it (if i worked in a locked attic, for instance—which possibly i should). david and cardigan are fortunately quite blind to what i’m wearing so some weeks, i actually do get away with a lot, clothes-wise.

this small group of go-to garments are more than just clothing—they are friends! i don’t open my sweater drawers and ask, “what goes with the jeans/sweatpants/loungewear i’ve got on?”—i ask, “what do i feel like today; which of you will make me feel strong/comfy/happy?”. and then i choose the one i need. some of them never leave the top of the drawer.

in fact, i’ve got a list going of frequently worn sweaters that i need to knit again, if only to have a backup when i’ve worn the first too many times lately or if it’s in the wash.

#1:
my dock and cabin sweater is a good example—it’s been off the needles for about eighteen months, i’ve worn it endlessly, washed it half a dozen times at least, and and it looks as beautiful as the day i finished it. knit in good, soft, tweedy yarn (stone soup fingering, pumice), it is light but cozy, easy to wear, and incredibly durable. here’s a much nicer photo:

i want to knit another one just like it—same yarn and size, in a different shade (you know, to make it clear that i actually do change clothes once in a while).

#2:
while deep dive is a newer design that i haven’t been able to wear as long or as hard, i already know i’m going to need another. for one thing, my original sample has made its way to the shop, never to return (or at least, not for a while). it’s about to go on tour through the summer sheep and wools shows, so i likely won’t be wearing it much.

but that’s ok—i’ve been coveting one knit in stone soup fingering yarn and have gotten it on the needles in the rich, dark river rock shade. i cannot WAIT to get this one done and wear it.

those cables will be like ribbons of glossy chocolate in this black/brown tweed. ok, so i’ve only got one sleeve done, but i’m setting my sights on finishing before we leave for maryland in two weeks.

#3:
and then there is my argyll pullover, sister to the subterraneans cardigan that appeared in the fall 2017 issue of interweave knits (click here to view/purchase pattern in the interweave store), knit in stone soup fingering yarn (granite shade).

due to space restraints, they didn’t publish the pullover version along with the cardigan, but those of us who have knit it (me, barb, and cherie) consider it our current favorite. we’ve knit it in a variety of yarns and we have plans for more.

the pullover sample—which i wear very often—is knit in cozy, better breakfast fingering yarn (muesli shade); it’s the absolute perfect pullover to toss on for everyday wear. The fit is loose and casual enough to look great with sweats and jeans, but the fabric texture lends it a tailored, more formal appearance when paired with skirts and trousers.

i have three skeins of stone soup fingering yarn in slate lined up for another one of these, but would also love one knit in ghillie sock yarn. barb and i agree—when you hit on a perfect sweater, you should make at least three!

she laughs at me and my list though, because current design projects are always nudging things around. but i manage ok and i think that, by the time this design is available for general release, i can get at least one more knit, fresh for fall wearing.

#4:
ivar, short or long is another indispensable favorite (i’m wearing it now!), once again knit in stone soup fingering yarn (shown above in the slate shade, tunic length). i love this longer version to wear with soft knit pants or when it’s extra chilly around the house. this cardigan is five years old now and has nary a pill on it. as much wear as it’s seen, the elbows are not thinning nor has it lost its shape. SSF—as we lovingly call it—is truly a yarn for living in. light and breathable, yet warming; it’s wonderful stuff. and its natural shades blend with everything.

i’ve always wanted to knit another one of these for myself but then i remembered—i do have a second—this hip length ivar sample knit in better breakfast fingering (mocha shade) by my friend cherie. it’s a shop sample, but it reminds me that i like the shorter version as much as the longer one and that i don’t have a pullover, so maybe i need one of those in this length. this is down on the list a little further because i keep thinking i might just steal the store sample for myself.

#5:
but before i can spend any considerable time on any of the above, i really must complete my sea fret cardigan prototype (pullover pattern is through tech editing and almost ready for proofreading and test knitting, yay!).

i started the first sleeve last wednesday and got the cuff completed before knit night began, which left me free to coast along in stockinette stitch while chatting with friends.

based on the response as i passed my swatches around the office and the knitting group crowd, i went with our 2-ply cooper sport, which is spun from 100 percent springy, lustrous coopworth lambswool, produced by carol wagner on her wisconsin farm.

i’m excited to be knitting a garment with this yarn—i’ve knit a number of accessories with it, but never a sweater. and the sea fret cardigan is a great project for it; my aim is a light, summery wool cardigan that will transition from spring (if it ever gets here) to summer and then from summer through the fall.

but hey—it’s still snowing here (as i write this),  so if i’m quick, there will be plenty of opportunity to wear it right away. by friday i was on to sleeve number 2, which i made short work of in the few hours i had to knit over the weekend. in this case, the sleeves are knit first and end at the underarm to be picked up later and worked into the yoke.

yesterday, with my chapter deadline met and delivered, i was getting ready to go for a long walk, but cardigan was feeling lazy and decided she wanted to knit all afternoon instead, so that’s what we did. seriously—when i asked her if she wanted to go for our usual outing, she just looked at me, then at the sofa and hopped up. who could argue with that?

i plugged in my earpiece and called katharine to chat while i knitted and the dog snoozed. by the time we needed to leave for our tuesday night movie date, i was through the hem and had two pattern repeats completed. it goes SO quickly with this stitch pattern to work along with an interesting, single breed yarn.

where a springy merino yarn, with its tight, frizzy crimp, will do well on the needle size stated in the pattern, i found that i need to go down a needle size in the coopworth yarn. it’s crimp is much rounder and the fiber stiffer, so its spring manifests itself by opening the stitches up wider (think big, adult jumping jacks, compared to little kid ones). to get the same gauge and a fabric that felt equally dense, the smaller needles worked better. that’s why we do gauge swatches, right?

well, i’ve set out a pretty busy personal knitting schedule here; do you think i can do it? i’d love to have the sea fret AND the deep dive done before maryland—that’s two weeks away. and one of them is just a lone sleeve at the moment, so i force some mad knitting over the next little while. if i do manage it, maybe i can treat myself by casting on an argyll pullover as a travel project . . .

i think i’ll go knit now and watch the snow fly.

fretfully cozy

Posted on 10 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, home and family

i know this looks like a pile of clutter i should clean up, but i’m pretending it’s a terrarium. i’ve never been able to keep one alive but somehow, i’m managing this time . . .

thank you for your nice notes to cardigan over the last few days; she is so tickled that you enjoy her posts. she is busy making notes for the next one . . .

her adopt-i-versary is this week—one year since we first brought her home. and every day since, i’ve been  awed, charmed, and reminded of the power in positive reinforcement—even when progress is slow and frustrating, she is a patient, kind teacher who does not give up on me.

so, what has everyone been up to? i’ve been working on some secret stuff for the next installment of our pairings club, but also on some new designs for regular publication. i think i mentioned that we want to produce a small collection of spring and summer knits—a few garments, a couple shawls and some accessories—ideas i’ve been eager to work on for a while.

the red sweater i knit for david a while back is a prototype for a slightly lighter-weight version with a bit of detail he didn’t want.

i cast on for mine immediately after finishing his—i was excited to knit myself a casual pullover and to play with BNWs patchwork natural gradient yarn in fingering weight. we’ve had this yarn since late fall, but i’ve not had time to indulge myself with it.

i must excuse my lack of early project photography by saying that pullover this knit up fast as lightening—i’d knit two sleeves and started the body before i realized i did not have even one photo. the idea was to get the first sleeve on the needles in preparation for a road trip to see my mom for her birthday at the end of february.

(THERE are the sleeves!) but that trip got cancelled due to the first snowmagedden of march along the east coast and since i had finished up all my work on our 2018 ensemble collection in order to travel, i was suddenly in a position to give myself a four-day, all-expenses-paid weekend to stay home with david and cardigan, watch the snow fall, listen to audiobooks, and knit (well, that’s what i did with it anyway).

and by the way, i highly recommend this strategy for dealing with inclement weather. and also this yarn—it is the coziest, softest, most cuddly yarn; it’s the chubby, warm, roly-poly puppy of yarn. plus, it’s got awesomely interesting coloration; completely random, but so soft and gradual that it is easily nudged into a pleasing composition. i had chosen four skeins in a range of light print shades; one skein was lighter and more brown, two skeins had more gray and less white, and the fourth skein was a slightly darker mix of gray and brown (if you want some and need us to put a set together, just add a note to your order at checkout). my idea was that i’d be able to knit from the bottom hem in lighter shades up to the darker shades at the neck and shoulders, but you could also get skeins that “match” more closely for a more tonal, allover effect like the one i knit david.

i don’t like to manipulate these types of yarn a lot because i want to show a completely honest result—what you can expect when using it at home straight from the box, so to speak. but i do organize my skeins before i start and plan out a loose sequence. the one spot where i might wind off a bit to get an exact match is where the sleeves are joined to the body—i don’t want a visible line there to mar the overall effect (and that’s not cheating, just being practical). in this case, i had a naturally exact match at the top of one sleeve but at the other, a bit of a jog. but since i had left my yarn supply attached to each sleeve, i was able to alternate skeins for the first few rounds of the yoke to blend them and it worked out well.

in no time it was off the needles and blocking—i didn’t finish it completely that first weekend, but it was washed and drying by 3/15. with just the neckband and two short underarm seams in the way of finishing work, it really is a speedy knit.


i do like the added narrow cable, detailing the side seams and raglan lines—it’s small but adds a lot of definition. i think even some die-hard anti-cable stalwarts might agree . . .

(sorry for the smudged blocking photos—our third floor is seriously light challenged and well, the snowy skies don’t help).

here are  a few better photos; we will, of course, get some much better modeling shots later on with actual models.

this is a sweater i’ll wear ALL the time—in fact, i am already planning a third one, this time a round-neck cardigan, maybe in stone soup fingering, color slate (but i’m considering ghillie sock as well; it would be so soft and durable in light, springy cheviot wool and i haven’t knit with that yarn in a  while).

in keeping with the theme of my small collection i think i’m going to name it Sea Fret.

but before i get ahead of myself, i have one more finishing detail to complete on this sample—since i’m pretty sure i’m going to wear it a lot and that i’ll want o wear it for many years, i thought elbow patches would be a nice addition.

and with the plain stockinette sleeves, it’ll be such a cute detail if they’re knit in the body pattern. so while we were driving to dayton last weekend, i knit a couple, using leftovers.

yes, i like! i think these are just the thing; what do you think?

there’s a bit of interesting finishing work involved in getting them attached, so i’ve written up a post that i’ll publish tuesday with the details. don’t worry, it’s not difficult or even very time-consuming but i thought maybe a few of you might avoid trying these—even if you love them—because you don’t know how to get them attached nicely. and i’ve got some tips to share so meet me back here tuesday, okay?

dayton, by the way, was completely lovely—the dayton knitting guild is one of the most active and friendly that i’ve met, with  a large mebership of over 200 knitters. they have stuff going on ALL the time and everyone is welcome—if you live in the area, consider joining; it’s  great social and educational resource. ellen and i had a wonderful stay and enjoyed meeting about half the membership.

for this quick, overnight trip, i decided i would be disciplined and not bring the usual four or five different large-scale projects. i packed my supplies for knitting elbow patches and then a simple stockinette sweater that’s secret knitting (not secret from you, but from someone else).

after knitting my elbow patches (which took almost no time at all), i reached for the stockinette sleeves i packed, only to realize i had grabbed the wrong project bag and instead had the one with my nearly finished till cowl—just a few rounds to go.

oh for heaven’s sake. well, that took no time at all and soon i was without knitting.

seeee!! this is why i always overpack my knitting; mistakes are made in the rush of getting ready and i always end up unprepared for something—unless i’ve come prepared.

so i took the leftover bits and bobs of patchwork yarn from the elbow patch bag (which are really the last leftovers from my pullover) and i started a coordinating hat. i really didn’t have any intention to design a hat, but hey, it’ll be cute, it’ll fit someone, it’ll be a great way to swatch for the sweater, and it’ll use up the leftovers so they don’t become part of my terrarium. what’s not to love? and i think i’ll call it Haar.

ok, with that i’m going to tune out now so i can finish tuesday’s post and maybe even start on thursday’s. also time to take the dog out!

the size of the fight

Posted on 26 CommentsPosted in designing, home and family

“What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”
– Dwight D Eisenhower (former president of the United States)

hello doggie fans, i’m back!
anne was telling me that some of you have been asking and asking how i’ve been doing and that you miss my posts and since she was gone to a teaching gig the last couple of days, i decided it was probably time for me to dust off my paws and type up a blog.

first—thank you so much for thinking of me these last few weeks; i have been doing really well. this is a picture from the morning that i got my fixator out; i didn’t know it was THE DAY, but anne was up extra early, telling me we were going on an adventure.

now, i don’t know about you, but i’ve come to be a bit suspicious when she starts throwing around that word—it could mean something fun, but it could also mean something i’m not quite prepared to do. i mention this because i see her using it to describe some of her “work”, so i think you know what i’m talking about.

anyway, i also found out that the “adventure” would involve a ride in the car—i love the car! so far, so good. it was very cold that day, so we bundled me into my puffy vest and cowl and brought my favorite blankie along.

next thing i knew, we were back at the hospital where i spent a few days in november.
RUH-ROH—i told you there was reason to be suspicious!

that said, the waiting room was simply filled with interesting creatures! and SO many of them were doggies; i couldn’t get enough. we walked the whole place several times to introduce myself around, even to the ones i could barely see, hidden inside their carry boxes (i love other doggies; more on that later).

pretty soon a really nice vet tech came out to see us and chat a little. she took all of us into an exam room and then she took me by myself into the back room and there was dr. collins (he’s a REALLY nice man who calls me “cutey-patooty”—a little geeky, but i might have a bit of a crush, hee-hee).

i don’t know what happened next because they put me to sleep, but while i was going under, i heard them talking about an x-ray.

anne and david waited for me long enough to start a sweater and knit the hem! to be honest, i’m not sure what happened to me for the next 45 minutes or so—i was knocked out cold, but i’m always happy to find out that somehow i helped with getting some knitting done.

the next thing i knew i was stumbling around, following dr. collins. anyway, he brought me back to exam room and everybody swooned over me. they were all very excited and i got nervous because i could only see double like; i tried to follow him back inside but i bumped into the door. then i heard anne’s voice and i went to her instead. she took some pictures and cuddled my face and that’s when i realized that the stupid fixator was gone—woo-hoo! my head felt two pounds lighter.

it must have happened while i was sleeping, because i don’t remember giving anyone permission to touch me. and also, my nails were cut and i definitely didn’t agree to that.

what happened for the next few hours was a bit of a blur; i couldn’t walk straight to save my life and my face felt funny and was puffing up like a football. i was leaking blood where the pin tracks were opened up again and i remember everyone laughing because i pooped and peed in the waiting room three times while we were leaving (SO embarrassing; i never do that at home).

and the next thing i knew, we were home and i was in my bed. and also on the sofa. anne stayed very close by the whole time, watching me; i guess i was acting pretty dopey.

man, i was so high. i did NOT feel normal. but then everything about that day was not “normal” as i had come to know it. for instance, i was not at all hungry.

anne and david had to go out for a couple of hours in the evening so i slept and slept and when they got home i surprised them by being mostly back to my old self. i jumped out of my bed and did a dance and drumrolled my feet in front of my food bowl. they were so happy they fed me a nice big meal.

by the next morning i was well enough to go to work, even though my face was very swollen. dr. collins had explained that i still had a couple of fractures showing in the x-ray which needed to heal, but that they would mend without the fixator, as long as i continued on soft food and was careful about playing with friends and toys.

my face was very puffy and tender for quite a while actually; i was starting to feel sad that i’d never be back to 100 percent again. but little by little it healed. and in a couple of weeks i was ready for the paparazzi.

here’s my “before” photo . . .

you might not notice this, but the surgery actually corrected a little overbite that i had and now my lower jaw is set a bit further forward and my teeth line up the right way. this makes eating much easier and much less messy; no problem picking up tiny bits of food now. it’s a small change but i’m glad they took care of it while they had the chance.

and here’s my “after” photo

my favorite thing about having my mouth free again? we got right back to to regular toothbrushing at night!! a lot of people who know me might assume i’d hate toothbrushing, but i actually love it and i really missed it those last couple of months; i am not proud of having stinky dog breath . . .

i had to continue eating a soft diet for quite a while though after, i was able to eat it on my own. i didn’t mind—anne makes some pretty yummy combinations with all the new foods i now enjoy. she promised to continue those delicious soft snacks and also my soft food mix along with the crunchy food when the time came.

we never stopped our long walks, even when it snowed a lot. but they sure felt lots better without that freezing metal brace weighting down my head! and that week after the removal surgery, we had some spectacular weather for february.

that made me feel well in a jiffy and soon i wanted to begin visiting friends. we started with the gentlest and smallest ones . . .

here i am with my friend zippy, who is a cairn terrier. can you believe how warm and sunny it was that day? 73 degrees!

zippy’s mom, linda, is one of my favorite humans. she can pet me any time, because she knows not to go over my head and to start along my back. her real talent lies in ear scratches though—she’s got something special there.

plus, she is SO entertaining! her house is a treasure trove of doggie delights; all sorts of bones and toys that zippy knows how to play with. i’d be jealous but i honestly don’t get the toy thing; i just love watching zippy go crazy with that stuff. the games involving treats though, are definitely interesting—zippy tries to teach me how to use them, but i always end up retrieving the rewards she forgets about and being happy with that.

sigh, i wish it would get that warm again, but actually it’s snowing like december right now. it’s hard to get around on my short legs in the snow, but we always go out anyway.

there’s plenty to sniff and i don’t want to miss any of it.

having my nose and mouth completely available again is like heaven.

which reminds me—i have finally figured out that treats are highly desirable and that a great way to get some is to work on my new year’s resolutions, which are challenging.

as i mentioned, i just love other doggies and especially my neighbors, like booker here and emily, his human. that said, for some reason i had developed an over-excited reaction to seeing them. i am fine indoors, but once we leave the house, i become a wild, unrecognizable creature upon seeing a dog or person from blocks away. it was making the walks not so much fun for anne, with all the pulling and barking.

she would try to take me someplace nice and i would be unbearable! plus, i still wasn’t really down with being petted, even by friends i see all the time. so we started working a lot harder on that, which is where the treats come in.

now, when i see booker and emily from down the block, i still get excited, but anne tells me to look at her and holds a treat up and if i can walk all the way to them without going berserk, i can have it!

of course i ham happy to share.

this has led to meeting SO many more doggie friends. this is macy; she is actually even crazier than i am, but lots of fun. and we have coordinating jackets, which i find completely cool. she lives at the end of a road near a lake and doesn’t get to play with many other kids so our visits are much appreciated.

my best friend casey still likes me too, but lately, he’s been acting somewhat aloof and i’m wondering if he’s jealous when he smells macy or booker or zippy on me. i know i can win him back when the weather warms up and we get to see each other more often.

when i’ve had an especially good walk, i get a big treat like a trip to the dog park, where we can walk in the woods which are fragrantly sniffalicious.

of course i didn’t just magically take a turn for the better; we actually started working with a new friend named jerry, who is a dog trainer that barb knows. we’ve only seen him a couple of times and already his method is helping us a lot.

at first he came to our house to get to know me, because he heard i was so shy. after two times, he invited us to his place, which is in the country. i didn’t know it, but he has a kennel and when we arrived, there were about TEN dogs there, including a wolf dog!!

oh my, it was like being at the dog park, but in a house. the other doggies were so friendly and we had the best time running around and playing chase, which is just about the only game i know well.

then we went to a dog park that’s not our usual one and it was amazing.

our park isn’t open in the snow season, so this was loads of fun; it had been months since i was off-leash to run around with the other guys. i always chuckle a bit when the big dogs realize how fast i can go; i sure can give them a run for their money—except of course, the one that got me that time, but he came from behind which was no fair and he wasn’t playing around.

after the park, we went to the hardware store to walk around and see how i reacted to the people and carts and displays. we opened and closed cabinets, talked to the store workers, and went up and down stairs. i helped pick out seed potatoes.

some of the people wanted to pet me and i let them. i’ve been enjoying that more and more at home and at work—lillian, ellen, and megan are all very patient and generous about it and i love to go over there for a visit. doug is rooting for me too, though he prefers not to pet me if possible (hee-hee!). i completely understand—it’s not personal.

and a couple of weeks ago, our friends from pittsburgh came to visit and when they arrived, i braced myself and ran right up to the man to say hi and then to the lady; OMG, i was scared, but i did it!! and without treats, too! we didn’t get photos, but it was a red letter day, nevertheless.

even at home, where i feel the safest of all, it has been a process. while i’ve been enjoying lots of scratching and petting and face cuddling with anne at arm’s length, i was still pretty skittish about hugging real close. that, however, has changed.

now we have several times each day when i go in for the hug and each night before tooth brushing, we have a few minutes of close embraces. and i actually like it; when i get pulled in, my body relaxes and i can see what the attraction is. it feels warm and soft and loving.

well, i’m afraid i have to stop now—we are going to visit a new vet today and i have to get ready. i hope you enjoyed my update story; i’ll be back in a few weeks with more; spring is coming and i’m sure there will be plenty to report.

anne says to tell you that she finished her sweater and will be back tomorrow with an update; i gotta tell you that i really like this one, so don’t miss it.

 

 

un-hibernating

Posted on 11 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, home and family

oh these little breaks that tell us spring is planning to come for a stay! we had the most beautiful skies this past weekend—blue, blue and clear. we don’t get many of these during any season in ohio, so a short string of them feels like a big treat. the temperatures are still low, but it was excellent water for long walks and we took advantage of it.

back lit tips of emerging bulbs are glowing (hyacinth, i think? if not, then tulips).

and thick clumps of daffodils, growing slowly because it’s still very cold, most days.

and then there’s today—nature trying furiously to make a blizzard and throwing one last winter tantrum to do it.

we just have to ignore these kinds of days and think about blue skies. fortunately we have knitting to curl up with and if we’re lucky, a warm cuddly doggie.

for all who have asked, we are so warmed by your kind, thoughtful wishes—cardigan got her fixator out at the end of january with a bit more mending to do, but has progressed remarkably well. i have an update planned for the next blog, maybe even cajoling her to write along with me.

back in december i started a sweater for david, a very simple design tailored to his specifications. i think i had the sleeves nearly complete when i last wrote a post (i know; i’ve been horribly negligent, ugh), but much progress was made after that point.

i’m knitting with festivus 4.0 sport—a soft, springy, 2-ply merino that is spun from several natural shades, light to dark. festivus 4.0 is overdyed in the cranberry crush colorway by julie asselin and knits into a soft, flannely fabric with lots of squish factor. the random arrangement of the underlying shades creates a softly shifting gradient pattern—this is the same yarn that we sell undyed as our patchwork fingering (more on that later).

the day we went in for cardigan’s x-ray and surgery to remove her fixator, i cast on the for sweater body in the waiting room and worked on the hem ribbing. we had quite a wait so i was able to complete all of that by the time the doctor came out with an update.

afterward though, it appears that the knitting on this moved forward at a turtle’s pace, because i had only completed a few repeats of the body pattern by the time the olympics began.

i did take a timeout to complete some terrifically fun colorwork projects for our february pairings club installment. i love knitting colorwork and i kind of fell down a rabbit hole with these, knitting more samples than i really needed. in fact, i still have one till cowl on the needles and another one planned.

i just can’t get enough of this project—the yarn, the pattern (super easy to memorize), and the speed with which it can be knit are all enticing. it made me want to pair the gradient colorway with several different shades of kent DK, some subtle and some more contrast-y. so fun! i do like the tide pool shade best with the feederbrook entropy yarn (custom dyed in the sweet corn colorway for our club), but the rest are close runners up for  me and here i have it paired with mussel shell for maximum contrast.

anyway, by the time i took a bit of a breather, the olympics were about to begin and ellen started a KAL in our rav group. i was ready to switch gears and knit something simple and soothing—binging on colorwork in DK weight yarn was making my hands a little sore.

i didn’t reach far to pick a project—for me it was getting ahead on the red sweater and with any luck, finishing it (because my original goal was to complete it by valentine’s day but that would be a real stretch). no worries about sore hands here—this yarn couldn’t be cushier; it’s so soft and easy on my hands, yum. and the design is partly mindless; an intuitive knit/purl pattern for the body, egging me on to finish another eight row repeat. it really goes fast!

the olympic KAL (officially known as the ravellenics) must’ve been just the kick in the pants i needed. suddenly i was making grand progress. there were snowy days when i’d make huge leaps in the length of the body, sometime neglecting other duties. but a guy sweater really demands a certain commitment, being at least one-third larger than the size i’m used to knitting for myself, hehe.

another thing that kept me knitting steadily was watching the gradual color changes in the fabric—they are so subtle and ethereal, more like washes than stripes or banding. you almost can’t see them most of the time in the skeins that david chose. of course there ARE skeins with more contrast and activity, but he’s attracted to quieter patterns.

and look what cardigan and i found on valentine’s day, right in the middle of sweater construction—the perfect natural expression of what i was knitting! she wasn’t as excited about our find as i was, but she pretended to be, sniffing deeply when i pointed them out.

i’m kind of kicking myself because i can’t remember exactly where we saw these and now i’m wondering if they would produce a nice dye. i think i know where to look for them again; i’ll let you know i find them.

cardigan was still mending some last fractures that showed up in her jaw x-ray and waiting for the swelling to go down, so between excursions out of doors, she slept a lot and enjoyed having me nearby, knitting and listening to books. within the first week of the olympics, i had the body knit to the underarms and was able to take some photos with the sleeves arranged next to it.

this was my first chance to see how my color shading was working out; i wanted to make sure that when i got to the sleeve/body join, i would be knitting with yarn that was approximately the same shading all around. i’d left the yarn attached to each sleeve so i could decide later which ball would join the sweater pieces.

finally it was long enough to join—but that’s when the real challenge begins because the rounds were SO long—around 400 stitches at the start of the underarm. i remember that i started the yoke during a wednesday knit night at the shop. suddenly progress slowed to a snail’s pace and at the same time, i had to take care of some other work that i’d been procrastinating on. by the next tuesday, i was only a few inches past the underarm with only five days to go til the end of the olympics.

but my deadline had been met, so my knitting time was freed up to finish.

by saturday night, the yoke was complete and i grabbed a quick photo of the finished body on sunday morning, once i had some light. i still had to knit the neckband though and got busy right away.

this is always such a nail biter for me; while i can make pretty good estimates about how many sts to pick up, i never know until the band is complete and off the needles whether it’s just the right fit—and so much depends on it being correct. the band is the final and most visible finishing detail; if it’s loose and crinkly, it won’t just look bad, it won’t maintain a nice tension around the neck either and the sweater could slip around. the added structure of a firm-fitting neckband is especially important on a seamless raglan like this one. but if it’s too tight, it will pinch the fabric unattractively and possibly not fit over the head.

it’s not uncommon at all for me to reknit bands—even a couple of times if i’m not happy. but man bands? the thought of it exhausted me.

fortunately, i got lucky and the band worked out perfectly and i had a finished sweater by early afternoon on sunday. AND david says he likes it (i know that might mean he doesn’t really like it, but i prefer to live under the illusion that it’s true). he tried it on and it fits really well. we washed it and it barely changed size, growing just a little in length; similar to the results with my swatches. he hasn’t worn it yet, but i’m hoping i’ll see it on him soon.

i think he’s afraid i’ll stalk hime with the camera if he puts it on, haha.

david’s red version is really a prototype for a final design that will be slightly different—he wanted his sweater completely free of details, but i like the idea of a narrow cable defining the body and raglan lines.

so i’m in the process of knitting a second sample in the “real” design, this time using the undyed patchwork fingering yarn (i selected the light print option). i’ve got my sample nearly done and i’m SO in love with it. the pattern will be forthcoming as part of a small spring collection i’ve been working on—more on that in upcoming posts.

well, the skies have brightened a bit but the snow is still drifting down and it’s windy and COLD—just 24 degrees, brr. i’m not sure spring is in the air just yet (but just a few days to go before it’s supposed to show up so . . .).

i have to stop writing now, because cardigan and i have an adventure planned. we’ve been working with a trainer a bit and today we are going to his place to meet his dogs and do some socializing. it’s been quite a while since she had an outing with other dogs and i think it’ll be a lot of fun; we’ll be back in a couple of days to share all of her latest news.