Raspberry Ropes Cardigan

Junebug finally has a handknit sweater to call her own!  She’s pretty happy about it, mostly because she picked out the best buttons ever–according to her, they are the reason that this sweater is better than all the other sweaters in the world.

Pattern:  For the most part, I made this baby up!  The cable pattern is “Overlapping Ovals,” from The Harmony Guides: Cables & Arans, edited by Erika Knight.  I also spent some quality time with various cabled yoke sweater patterns around the internet to get a feel for how they went together, notably the “Cabled Knit Pullover” found for free on the Patons Yarn website.

Yarn:  Cascade Yarns 220 Tweed in Color 7608.  (Junebug calls it the “Minnie Mouse Rainbow Yarn.”)

Needles:  US 5 for the ribbing, US 6 for everything else.

Notions:  Six 1.75″ gingerbread buttons from JoAnn.  (The buttonholes are enormous!)

Obviously, I’m proud of this sweater.  🙂

Lessons Learned
Knit the top yoke up to the neck and then start the neck ribbing.  As you can see in this picture, the ribbing and top yoke grew because of the pull of the horizontal cabled section.  I now understand why almost every yoked sweater I saw had a vertical cabled top yoke–cables don’t tend to stretch like plain knit stretches.  However, I still like it and she’s going to grow into more over the next year or two, so I don’t consider it a failure.  Just a design element…yeah.

Junebug will change her mind about everything if you give her the chance.  When we first started planning her sweater, it was going to be “aphid green” with “dark grass green” trim and little handknit ladybugs stitched all over it.  I drew up a little sketch, colored it in and we set off for the yarn store with our idea on paper.  When we stepped into the yarn store, she immediately changed her mind to a black and red sweater with ladybug buttons, to a brown sweater with gingerbread man buttons, to the final “Minnie Mouse yarn with rainbows in it” yarn–with white polka-dot buttons like Minnie Mouse.  I put off buying the buttons when I bought the yarn, and when we went to the JoAnn store to pick out buttons, she was immediately swayed from her polka-dot buttons to these giant gingerbread man buttons.  If I was the sort of person who required everything to match, it would bug me.  However, I think that kids should be allowed the freedom to completely design something for themselves every now and then, so I’m not bothered by all the decision-changing.  (And it was rather amusing to watch her give herself whiplash in the yarn store…)

Sweet girl, growing up so fast.

Enjoy your Minnie Mouse sweater sweater with gingerbread man buttons.

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Yarn Along: "The Giver" series & Knits for the Family Unit

I now know that it is a cold that I am battling, not allergies.  (Which, in a funny way, is really awesome–no allergy attacks this autumn, so far!)  Penguin succumbed on Monday, followed by Michael and Monkeyboy on Tuesday.  Here we are on Wednesday–a big bunch of sniffling, coughing sickies, too worn-out to get much done at all.

However, there was a perk to this illness:  It only made you want to die for about two days.  Days Three and Four are mostly just about being tired, having a nagging headache, and having too sore of a throat to accomplish anything that requires you leave your bed.  And now that I’m on Day Five, I’m feeling like I’m gaining ground against this nasty little germ, and that I may just survive this yucky little ordeal.

But you saw that, right?  Two whole days of being able to sit up.  That translates into reading and knitting.  Big time.

How many of you read The Giver, by Lois Lowry, back in the day?  (And if you haven’t–tell me your secret of how you managed to avoid all the hoopla surrounding that book.)

Yes, I read it myself, sometime in middle school.  A few years ago, I found out that there were other books that followed The Giver.  I was intrigued, but was also expecting another Brookelet at the time, so the information never really gained enough hold upon me to necessitate tracking down said books for reading.

Well, I happened to stumble across that information again last week, AND found out the fourth (and final) book of the series was being released this week.  So I figured I’d indulge and read the middle two books and be prepared for the arrival of the fourth.  Books Two and Three (Gathering Blue and Messenger) were devoured on Sunday, and Book Four (Son) was consumed yesterday after it arrived upon my doorstep.  [insert blissful sigh here]  I enjoy receiving a book the day it’s released and then spending the day reading it cover-to-cover.

I think I will assign some or all of these books to my children for school.  I especially like The Giver for its ability to talk about agency at an appropriate age-level, Messenger for its symbolism of the Atonement, and Son for its treatment of the topic of evil and love/Satan.  I like Gathering Blue for its beauty in describing colors, and I guess it would prove valuable in discussing the value of human life and how imperfection didn’t automatically denote lack of value.  Actually, now that I think more about Gathering Blue, the more topics come to mind–it touches on quite a few, so I didn’t come away from the reading with as much impact in only one area as I experienced with the other books.

The knitting this week is all centered on my own family unit, with progress made on Junebug’s cardigan, and that pair of socks that I started knitting for Michael nine months ago.

I am pretty stinkin’ pleased with how this cardigan is turning out.  Aside from the cable pattern, I’ve come up with everything for this pattern on my own.  I’ve crunched so many numbers, knit a fair share of gauge swatches, and then just sort of threw it all out there and hoped that my calculations were correct.  It makes a person feel like they are freakin’ amazing to sketch up a pathetic rendering of a idea in their head, measure the way stitches line up in a 4″ x 4″ knitted square, do a lot of math and then use all that information to create a tangible object that does indeed look like (well, honestly, looks much better) than those scribbled drawings.  Fuh-reakin’ ah-mazin’.  All that stands between this little cardigan and its aspiration to be a finished little cardigan are two button bands and some buttons.  Oh, and grafting two little seams in the underarms.

Of course, in order to knit up those two button bands, I have to cut up the front of the cardigan.  But I’ve done it before on Penguin’s cardigan, so I’m not even scared of the process.  (I just added the emphasis to add a little spice to your lives, dear readers.)  Before I can cut the cardigan, I do need to sew some safety seams along the proposed cutting area, and that requires using my ill-tempered sewing machine, and I just didn’t have the stoutness of heart needed to embark upon any task requiring its frustratingly stubborn intent to sabotage anything I try to sew cooperation.  Perhaps, as I find myself in better health as the week progresses, I will shore up the fortitude required to patiently handle that tempermental piece of crap little machine.



The socks that never end.
I gave ’em a little more attention.
It doesn’t feel like they progressed any further towards completion.

And yes, the Michael Socks earned a period of parole from their imprisonment on the second craft shelf in the closet.  (The second shelf is not a happy place for works-in-progress.  Very little stands between a project and frogging when it finds itself sitting upon the second shelf.)  I could frog them, but I have put a lot of work into them and at this point I’d just be throwing all that away.  A pair of relatively nice socks can emerge from all this, so I will continue forward with the sluggish progress.

I have a feeling though–these socks are gonna bite me in the butt in some fashion.  My gauge will be off or the yarn will do something weird–something’s not right, but I’m going to push forward with it anyway, which is insane.  I guess I’m just too curious about finding out what exactly is wrong to stop knitting.  We’ll commisserate and laugh about it together, when they’re finished.  (And no, that’s just the first sock.  I’m not even halfway done with the pair.  Gah.)  But, on the bright side, Michael says that they are very nice to wear, so far.  They’re bunching a little at the back of his ankles, and the heel is a touch too narrow, but he insists that they feel pretty good.

Hopefully next week’s post can feature a finished object?  Hmmm?

Yarn Along: Raspberry Ropes & No Idle Hands

The sunflowers are in bloom as the temperatures stay high, and I’m knitting away on a wool sweater for my Junebug.  I’ve picked up the stitches along the cabled “scarf” portion of the yoke, did the arm increases and now I’m just motoring away on the body.  That’s about 7.25 inches of body there, and I’m going to keep going until 9.5 inches or so, when I’ll start on 2 inches are ribbing.

I’m a little anxious over the yoke and its fit.  I was smart this time and added a few inches to the measurements so that there would be some “give” in the garment, but the cabled yoke on this may not have needed any such give.  We’ll see.  Don’t make fun of me if this ends up fitting Bluebird better than Junebug.  (It would get more wear that way…but then I’d have to turn right around and knit up another sweater to fit Junebug because that just would not be fair to the poor girl!)

The book this week is No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting, which I’ve been working on since last summer.

I love this book, as it combines two of my favorite things:  history and knitting.  It starts off with the Colonial Era and guides you through American history via the knitting habits of the times.

I’ve made my way to the beginning of the Second World War, and all this reading about women rallying their domestic skills to support the troops just invokes a strange nostalgia in me.  I don’t want war–it’s the idea that a generally feminine vocation was needed during those times.  (Well, not as much by WWII, but definitely during earlier wars.)  Knitting has been all but relegated to the world of hobbies and amusement, and it used to hold such an important place in the daily lives of women.

It’s hard to explain the pull of wearing clothes you made yourself, or eating food that you grew in your backyard, or just fixing something without having to pay a professional to fix it for you.
Personal satisfaction with a job done well?
A feeling of success?
Whatever its name, I like to do things myself, and I find myself yearning for a time when people truly understood the significance of knitting sweaters for your children, instead of quipping, “You know you could buy that at Wal-Mart for way less, right?”  A time when everything wasn’t going so fast and you could attend quilting bees with your friends and talk to your neighbor over the back fence before heading in to fix dinner.  I love having a washer and dryer, and a dishwasher and all those modern-day conveniences; but I sometimes wonder…
Maybe Little House in the Big Woods is a dangerous book for young children to read, as it fills their heads with the idea of personal industry and self-reliance.  I am so interested in that lifestyle and I totally blame Laura Ingalls Wilder for planting the idea in my heart!

Regardless of which century I’m living in, I can always knit and it will make me happy.  I’m very excited about how this cardigan will turn out!  Who can resist such a happy tweed?  (Actually, that would be me.  It seems I’ve done a lot of knitting with very bright pink yarn in the past year.  I have a secret little hope that the girls will branch out in their color preferences over the next few years, despite pink being one of my favorite colors.  It’s a whole lot of pink.)

Reading about interesting times and knitting for a spunky little girl–there aren’t a whole lot of other ways to pass one’s time more pleasurably.

Join the Yarn Along at Small Things.

Yarn Along: Sugar Plums & Raspberry Ropes

This week I’ve been pre-reading At the Sign of The Sugared Plum by Mary Hooper, and I started knitting up a cabled-yoked cardigan for Junebug.

The book is about The Plague in London during 1665 and I couldn’t tell from the reviews whether or not it would be appropriate to include on our literature list for school.  Some reviewers have said that it’s too graphic for young children, others have said that it’s just fine and that it paints a vivid picture of seventeenth-century London and The Plague itself.  I can’t pass up such a possibility, so I ordered the book in order to form my own opinion:

I love it!

However, given that it’s written for the middle-school crowd, I read it with pencil in hand to mark passages that I will omit when I read it out loud to the girls.  I’m of the opinion that an eight year old and a five year old girl don’t need to hear about prostitutes, the king’s mistresses, or wallow in any romantic passages.  I will leave out seven different selections throughout the book.

There’s a sequel to the book, Petals in the Ashes, that deals with The Great Fire of London which happened in 1666.  I’m thinking of buying it as well.

The cardigan for Junebug has been long in coming.  I stitched up sweaters for both Bluebird and Penguin last year, and promised Junebug that I’d make hers when I was finished with theirs.  Here we are, a year later, and no sweater for Junebug.  While we were out Yarn Questing a few weeks ago, I told her that she could pick out any yarn she liked best and that I would make it into a sweater for her.  After many almost-choices, she chose this “Minnie Mouse yarn with rainbows in it” and has requested a cardigan with white buttons.  I’m adding the cables because I need a little something in the design to keep my interest.

See more books and yarn at Small Things.