The Sweater Hack

I’ve been knitting away on my Lace & Fade Boxy sweater in the evenings and debating my choices and decisions. I had 4 skeins of a special edition yarn that was a collaboration between Madelinetosh and Shibui in the colorway Ironwood. I really liked this yarn because it was a great neutral that would go with everything… kind of a smoky brownish/black with tiny hints of violet. I fell in love with the Lace & Fade Boxy pattern by Joji Locatelli and debated different strategies to knit it. Should I use another color for the lace insets? Should I buy the matching Shibui lace yarn for the lace insets? Um… I’m in a destash and I want to get rid of yarn! Besides, how rugged will this sweater be with that thin lace yarn? Knit the whole sweater in the neutral yarn and use some snazzy color in a I-cord bind off on the edges? So many possibilities…

In the end I knitted the whole sweater in the one yarn and color.

Here it is, late at night in my bathroom, just off the needles. The sleeves still need to be done, and there is also the neckline finishing to do.

I was pretty sure that the sweater would grow significantly after blocking, but it is also pretty darn saggy up there around the neck. I decided to block this puppy and finish up the neckline before making any more decisions.

Okay, here it is a few nights later.

The neckline is now finished, and the sweater is blocked; it is absolutely too short. I need to do something to add length.

I knit Swoon a few years ago from this book. I love the lace. This lace is knit on size 5 (3.75 mm) needles and the yarn is laceweight.

That lace was knitted and then sewn to the bottom of the knitted piece. The picot hemmed edge was a pain to knit, and I kind of felt that the edging would be too much to carry off at the bottom of this boxy sweater. I wanted functional and hard-wearing, not cute frippery, for this sweater. Obviously, this lace wasn’t quite right, but it would add the length that I wanted. I did like the garter in the lace and felt that it could be a nice flat panel for the bottom of the sweater. Knit from the bottom up, this original lace has peaks along the bottom. I decided that if I knitted it from the top down, which would reverse the decreases, it would create a straight bottom and the puffiness would block out. I worked out the stitch count that I would need, picked up stitches, and the sweater hack was on!

Look! A flat bottom edge.

This lace isn’t as open as the one knitted on the larger needles with laceweight yarn, but it works in this application. I fussed around with different bind offs until I found one that created the smooth edge and fit the lace: 2 stitch I-cord bind off. There was puffiness at the top of the lace, but after the steam blocking it settled right down and is playing nice.

Finished sweater!

I debated about how to handle the sleeves and finally decided to just duplicate the bottom of the sweater. I picked up the sleeve stitches, knit 7 rounds and then 8 rounds of the ribbing, did a slight decrease to get my stitch count, and I loosely bound off. (I know… I didn’t want the ribbing to stretch, and I had that puffiness of the lace to control, so I did it.) I picked up the stitches for the lace panel and knit it exactly like I did the bottom of the sweater. Look… I have 3/4 sleeves that work with my sweater.

So, there it is. My hacked sweater, made by modifying the Lace & Fade Boxy design and incorporating a lace idea from Swoon. I made the decisions late at night, gazing at what I had so far in the bathroom mirror, based on what I had on hand and what I envisioned for the final sweater. I wanted a sweater that would be warm, comfy, easy to layer, and hard wearing with some lace.

Nailed it!

I have just enough yarn left over to make wristers for cold days.

Hannah and the CoalBear: Caturday Catch-up

Hi. I’m Mateo (AKA the CoalBear).

I’ve been helping the Mother of Cats with her knitting this week.

Hannah has been getting all of the attention for weeks and weeks while she was flying around on Sharon Air, so the Mother of Cats has been spending lots of time with me since Hannah came home from her adventures. She has been knitting and knitting on a smoky brown blob of yarny *something* and I have been extremely vigilant about attacking any stray ends that try to get away from her. I mean, I have sat by her side for hours watching intently… this is just exhausting! Finally, the Mother of cats got all of the stitches off the needles this afternoon and I could take a little nap while she tried it on.

Whew! She is pretty happy with how it is going, but she says that she needs to block it to see how long it will be. Whatever. All I care about is how long I get to nap before she puts this sweater monster back onto her needles. Oh, yeah. This sweater is called Lace & Fade by Joji Locatelli.

The Mother of Cats has also been busy sewing this week. Hannah decided to help her with this, which was totally okay with me because I think that the sewing machine is a little bit scary. Hannah kind of likes it and always spends all of her time in the sewing room when the mother of cats is busy in there.

Anyway, I hope that you can understand what this sewn stuff is. I think that it would be good if Hannah adds some notes here, so here she goes:

Hannah: Okay, here are my notes on the sewing we did.
  • The first picture is of the bedside caddy that the Mother of Cats and I sewed a few weeks ago. It is sewn to a towel that goes under the mattress (MY IDEA!!) and those nice pouches hold lots of things for the Mother of Cats.
  • Last week the Mother of Cats sewed the little caddy (middle picture) that is designed to hang from Command hooks on her bedside table. Isn’t it nice? The little pouches hold her glasses and phone, and the back pouch is exactly right for her Kindle tablet. It works great, but she is still thinking of how to improve it.
  • The last caddy is much larger, has two larger pouches at the bottom, and is kind of a mix-up of both bedside caddies. The Mother of Cats sent if off to her sister this week. The sister plans to do some trickery with grommets and stuff to hang it onto her bedside table.
Mateo: Hannah is asleep, so I’m taking over again.

The only other stuff that is going on around here is that trip the Mother of Cats took to the local garden and farm store. She came back with some crazy stinky roasted green chiles and also a funky pumpkin. Hannah and I stayed completely away from the kitchen while the chiles were roasting away in their boxes, but we did check out the pumpkin.

This is one ugly, scary pumpkin!!! Hannah and I don’t understand why this came home to stay with us. The Mother of Cats put it on the table with some other pumpkins and stuff. The Mother of Cats says that this is all about Halloween, but we just want our table back! Hannah likes to take naps up there, and now there is this stoopid, lumpy-ass pumpkin in the way…

It’s okay. I’d rather nap on the bed anyway. Also, soon there will be more knitting, too!

Happy Caturday, everyone!

This is Mateo, the CoalBear, signing off.

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

It is green chile season!!! Every year I get a bushel of chiles roasted and then I freeze them to use all during the winter. This year I bought two different types of green chile peppers and made two trips that netted me a total of a bushel and a half of peppers in the freezer.

If you’ve never done this, the process is really simple. The chile peppers are grouped by how hot they are… I buy chiles that are mild and avoid ones that have names like Ghost or Dynamite. This year I got a bushel of Ancho chile (the meaty green ones) and a half bushel of Marconi chile peppers. The peppers are washed, then dumped into a rotating drum that is turned over a flame until all of the skin is blackened and the peppers are roasted. They are then poured into a heavy plastic bag and packed into a box that is taken home to continue roasting for the next few hours. When they are finally cool enough to handle, I put 6-8 peppers into a freezer bag and then these are moved to the freezer when cooled. This year I froze 24 bags of chili pepper. I sure hope that’s enough to get through the winter. 🙂

When I use the peppers later on that blackened skin will just wash off, but the smoky flavor will linger. Green chile is good stuff; versatile, anti-inflammatory, and extremely addictive. I’ve already eaten two of my cached bags of chile this fall…

Green chile is also serious business in this part of the country. There is a rivalry between the governor of my state (Colorado) and New Mexico’s governor over who has the best chile crop. We do, of course. Pueblo chile forever!!

That pumpkin is called a Warty Goblin pumpkin. I think that they are so ugly they are cute!!

Hannah and the CoalBear: Hannah Earns Her Wings!

Hi. I’m Hannah.

Do you see this?

There were lots of adventures on the flight back from Japan (well, I slept through most of it because… I’m a cat) as Sharon threw a gobshite passenger off the plane (with a parachute, of course), discovered Chad that Golden-Bag-of-Cat-Treats-Thieving Worm hiding in the wheel well of the plane, took a nap in the catnip-scented oxygen of the cabin, and then finally tackled Chad off the plane in a butt-waggling zoom of epic proportions that allowed her to recover the priceless bag of cat treats while Chad fell through the clouds. She did throw Chad a parachute and an inflatable raft, but we kind of don’t care what happened to him because there was sushi and Meow Mix for all of us on the flight. Did I mention that there was catnip-scented oxygen in the cabin?

(Okay, Sharon did post a photo of Chad falling through the skies in his parachute, so he did get it on and hopefully landed safely…)

Anyway, the Mother of Cats finished the shawl, and I got my wings!!

I’m adding these wings to my passport!!

Now the Sharon Air MKAL is over and the Mother of Cats has returned to knitting a sweater that had been hibernating in a bin for the last few weeks. I still have my blueberry box from the flight, and since I returned in Cardboard Class I brought my blanket and all the wonderful yarn that I bought the Mother of Cats in Japan home with me with no problems.

Mateo: I’m helping the Mother of Cats with her sweater!

So now the Mother of Cats is happily knitting away on her new sweater (the Lace & Fade Boxy sweater by Joji Locatelli) with Mateo (the CoalBear) and I’m catching up on my sleep in my blueberry box. The Mother of Cats taped my wings to the box, and I’m still dreaming of all the places that I visited during the MKAL adventure. Cairo. New Zealand. Paris. Istanbul. Japan. So much fun!

Do I look sad? This is just my dreaming of catnip face…

Now it is fall outside and the flies seem to have vanished with the backyard robins but there are crickets and bunnies. Luckily it is cooler so I can play with the CoalBear in the daytime, and I’ve started sleeping on the bed with the Mother of Cats at night again. The Mother of Cats bought me and the CoalBear a lot of new toys, and we are playing chase-chase through piles of crunchy brown shipping paper. I’m returning to my old routines and I’m actually glad that my adventure is over. It is good to be home.

This is Hannah, signing off.

Down the Fiber Hole and Other Essential Updates.

If you have been keeping up with the adventures of Casa Hannah and the CoalBear you know that I have been feeling just freaking wonderful for the last two week and getting more done than at any time in the last two years. I’ve been planting lots of new plants and getting all the gardens into order (for the first time in years because… next door pit bull who has now left the scene… yay… adios, pit bull…), and dragging out lots of things to get working on that have been languishing for years. The garden is starting to produce some color with the perennials now which is awesome as I’m seeing hot pinks and purples. Lavender, bougainvillea, and sage. Perfect!

Um… and then the party came crashing to a halt a few days ago as I started weaning myself off prednisone (marvelous stuff, prednisone!) and I got a little dizzy, and I… fell off the stairs. I literally realized I was going to be airborne at the last second and managed to push off enough to twist around and land on my feet in the living room where I pretty much crashed landed into the couch. Sad outcome. Did you realize that you can actually bruise your lungs? Okay, my lungs are less than pristine, but still… my ribs aren’t too happy, either. There was some talk about my liver… I had to stay indoors over the weekend and go back onto daytime oxygen.

That, however, did not stop me from going down the fiber rabbit hole!!

I finished the first silk/yak roving from Greenwood Fiberworks and am ready to start on the second.

I’ve been considering how to attack the variegated roving. Should I separate the colors? Do pencil rovings down the length of the larger piece? Just take it off in strips and let the colors end up however? Still thinking about this one, but I am tending towards pencil rovings.

I made some really good progress on my Salty Air Tee.

I love, love, love the yarn that I am using for this sweater. Isn’t that the perfect color for summertime knitting? This pattern is racing right along and I’m racing to get it finished because… some new patterns dropped on Ravelry and I am dying to knit one of them.

This is the Lace & Fade Boxy by Joji Locatelli, and that first picture is swiped off the Ravelry page and has her copyright. I have four skeins of a dark grey fingering yarn with smoky/woody tones that I am dying to use for this sweater. My first idea is to knit the entire sweater in the main color (lace and all… ignore the fade, we don’t need no stinking fade because I have four skeins of this color…) and then go back and knit I-cord trim at the neck, bottom, and wrists in that really cool multi yarn. That will look awesome, right? On the other hand, if there is enough yarn, I can do the lace in a fade with the pink yarns. I only have just over 100 yards of each color, so that may not work, but it might look pretty cool. I really am tending towards doing the whole sweater in the solid fingering. I have knitted two boxy sweaters in the past (the Vneck version) and I know them to be comfy layering workhorses in cold weather.

Then there is the crocheting. I haven’t crocheted in years because of my dodgy wrists, but I loved this bag (Square Scramble Sack) on Ravelry so much I bought the Noro yarn a week ago. Like I need more yarn, right? I had to order the crochet hooks from Amazon and then I was off to YouTube to learn how to make the puff stitch… that first little square has too many puffs in it, but I felt pretty successful and I’m now making a few squares every day that I don’t fall off the stairs.

There are two more sweaters that I want to knit, but I’ve got them on the back burner at the moment because I’m so far down the fiber hole at the moment I am just focusing on working steadily on each project for a few hours each day. Or maybe every other day so I don’t wear out my hip (spinning) or wrists (crochet). So far I’m making progress and I’m recovering from the fall okay at the same time so all is good. Except… the days of prednisone wonder are coming to an end as I feel the energy and the good times fading away. I start the lowest dose tomorrow and after a week it will be over.

Still, if you look at all those pictures that I put into this post, the days of color continue. Yay! My gardens have been returned to some semblance of order, I am making good progress on a number of projects, and I also got some chores done.

Hannah: I was put into the carrier and then put into the car and then taken to the vet and then I got cat-handled and there were some shots and would you believe that the vet said that I was slightly pudgy

Seriously, PUDGY!!!

Hannah: Now I have to eat Indoor Cat food and the Mother of Cats has cut back on my cookies. Ugh.

That was my week. 🙂

You all watch out for those stairs!!!