Monday, July 30, 2012

At Long Last, a Knitting FO

The City Cardigan is finally done.  And now it comes back to me why I don't like to hand knit cotton yarn.  Cotton yarn with big rayon slubs.  Cotton yarn with big rayon slubs that also splits like crazy -- you get the picture.

As mentioned previously, I changed a few things.  I'm happy with the way the collar/neckband looks by not picking up the band stitches as directed in the pattern -- much neater.  I'm also glad that I moved the shoulder line in (maybe about 2 inches?), as this pattern is quite wide in the shoulders -- and I'm not.  Changing the three buttons to one large one?  That change I'm not so sure was my best bet.  But, it's done now, and I won't be ripping out and re-doing that.  One change I wish I had made but didn't would be reducing the depth of the armhole.  I don't need the extra room there, and I think it makes the sleeve too large.  I was happy to have added extra length to the body.  I also added short row bust shaping in the fronts, and while I'm glad I did, I may have added one set too many.  I really need to re-think just how much extra to add now that I've lost a little weight.  All in all, I'm pleased with the final result, but as always is the case -- it could be better.  But it's done, and I'm moving on -- time to start thinking autumn, no?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Such a Cutie!

Apparently I've developed a bit of a reputation as a collector of vintage sewing machines -- I can't imagine why.  So, when local Fiber Diva Extraordinaire Margaret was looking to declutter when knee-deep in home renovations, she asked if I'd like to provide a home to the little toy Singer pictured.  Would I?  The Mingling Yarn Home for Wayward Vintage Machines is always open!

She joins another little vintage toy Singer that I had found in an antique mall in Cape Cod, and after a little cleaning and oiling, has settled in just fine.  I was even able to get her to stitch for a bit, which I had never accomplished with the other machine. 

Not sure on the age of either machine -- their bodies are the same, although there are slight differences in the seam guide and tensioning parts.  I had thought the first machine was probably from the 50's, so perhaps this new one is too.  In any event, she's a welcome addition to sewing room decor -- thanks Margaret!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

NOW it's summer...

...and this is what Mr. Mingling Yarn waits for all year.  Those first luscious tomatoes from the garden made up into his favorite no-cook pasta sauce. 

It's been a while since I've posted the recipe, so here's a LINK.  It's tasty, it's easy, and did I mention?  It's no cook!  Well, you do need to cook the pasta -- but I'll bet you could sweet talk someone in your house to do that for you; I know I sure can.

Addendum:  Carol mentions in comments that her hubby prefers a meat sauce.  While I wouldn't add meat to this one, I do have a favorite cooked sauce that could take on some meat quite nicely.  It's an Alton Brown recipe for ROASTED TOMATO SAUCE.  If I were to make this for a carnivore, I would saute up some Italian sausage (or ground meat, whatever), drain it, then return it to the pan and add the sauce to cook for that last 5 minutes the recipe calls for.  Easy.  Confession time:  I love this roasted tomato sauce and even planted plum tomatoes so I can make it more often.  However, I take the easy way out and just puree the cooked veggies in the food processor, not a food mill.  I'm sure it's more elegant milled and skins removed, but hey, we need that extra fiber!  Also, this works just as well with a smaller number of tomatoes -- just adjust your oil amount (they need to be nicely coated, not swimming in it) and likewise the onions, etc. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

City Cardigan

One of my favorite reasons to cruise through blogland is to get new ideas for projects.  I hadn't done a lot of knitting lately, and was looking for some inspiration, when I saw this design on Kristin's blog k-line.

City Cardigan to Knit -- a pattern by Val Love at Dovetail Designs, available through Patternfish.

One of the reasons I enjoy reading Kristin's blog is her thoughtful approach to the things she makes.  This knitting project was no exception, and the design challenges she mentioned got me interested in trying this pattern out for myself.  It didn't hurt that I could use a warmer weather cardigan either. 

This is a cropped length, worked from the top down, short sleeved cardigan with a small shawl collar.  As written, the instructions have you cast on at the top of the back piece, knit down to the bottom of the armhole, then put these stitches aside and knit the front pieces down to the same spot.

I also followed this path, but decided to change things up just a bit.  Here's where I am now, and the changes I've made --

I started from the back neck cast on, but decided to give a little shape to the shoulders by short rowing them.  This also meant that the back neck would dip down, and not be straight across -- a look I prefer.

Because I have narrow shoulders, and Kristin had mentioned that the pattern's shoulders were wide, I brought them in a bit.  This meant that I would need to add the stitches removed from the shoulder line back into piece at the bottom of the armholes.  You can see how this curves the armhole from the photo I think.

Once the back piece was done to the armholes it was time to pick up stitches for one of the fronts.  Again, as written, the pattern called for picking up a certain number of stitches for the front shoulders, then casting on additional stitches for the twisted rib border -- from there you would be knitting downward, as you had done for the back.  When it came time to knit the back of the collar, you were instructed to pick up the twisted rib stitches from the initial cast on and then rib up to the mid-point of the back neck.  It is extremely difficult to pick up ribbed stitches cast on in one direction, then knit them up in the opposite direction and not have some line of demarcation, no matter how neatly you perform the operation.  The reason is the structure of the stitches themselves -- when picking up and knitting in the opposite direction you will always be one half stitch 'off' -- not quite as noticeable in plain stockinette, rather more so in ribbing.  Mosey over to Tech Knitting for a better description of the whys and wherefores -- in fact, spend some time there and you'll learn quite a few things about improving your knitting.

In any event, to avoid having a "blurp" no matter how small, I decided to instead cast on for the back neck ribbing, knit down, then pick up the shoulder stitches for the front.  This way, I will have a seam at the back of the neck, but nothing marring the front.  I decided I would sew this seam, instead of casting on provisionally, as I thought it would look just fine with a neatly sewn seam, it's fairly standard construction, plus I really didn't want to try grafting twisted rib!

So, here I am, finished with the 'armhole up' sections of the back and both fronts.  Extra stitches were cast on for each armhole edge, and the whole thing has been joined together and will be knit as one piece down to the bottom (waist edge).  I'll be throwing in some short row bust shaping -- not as a wedge-shaped dart, but as separate short rows placed at (somewhat) regular intervals.  I'm hoping this will give me the extra length needed for a fuller bust, yet not be as noticeable as an "all at once" dart.  We'll see.

Still trying to decide on the button closure.  Brave Kristin went with a silk ribbon faced, machine sewn buttons.  I'm thinking I may just do one larger button -- maybe one of these?

Probably will do a standard buttonhole, but truthfully, I haven't thought that far ahead.

The yarn I am using is an oldie from the stash -- "Believe" from Classic Elite.  Because of the yarn's texture, I decided to forgo the slight textured stitch of the pattern (Lazy Seed Stitch).  It didn't show up that well in my swatch with all the little nubs and lumps of my yarn, so why not speed things up with plain stockinette?  This yarn is just splitty enough that knitting into the back of the purl stitches is not much fun, but the stiletto points of my Signature needles does help a bit with that. 

So, will I finish this before we head into cooler weather?  Time will tell!