Cabled Sweater for Ze Hubby.

Don't you just love new projects?

Thank heavens for kitschy television programming. Last Monday rendered a woefully B-ish yet wonderfully nostalgic double whammy blast from the 80s: Staying Alive and Flashdance, back to back. Four straight hours of reliving poofy hair, shiny pink lipstick and ripped sweatshirts. Just like yours truly wore in the 80s (why, God, why?) because I wanted to be hip in highschool. Yes, I cringe at the memory.

But I'm offing on a tangent...that double feature provided four straight hours of enjoyable non-stop knitting time, which were spent starting a new project: a cabled and ribbed sweater for my husband. Did I mention that this will be the first sweater I've ever knit for Monsieur Le Hubby? Moreover, he picked it out himself from Phildar's Hommes Fall/Winter catalog for 2002 (very fabby, by the way) and came with me to the yarn store to choose the color. Spiffiness factor on that is quite high, I think.

Anyway, this sweater is in a heathery-gray worsted wool called Pegase, knit on 4mms circulars (although I'm knitting flat, not in the round) and I've used my very favorite cast-on technique for the bottom edge: the stockinette tubular cast-on for double rib, as illustrated in Montse Stanley's Knitter's Handbook. Similar to casting on in kitchener rib for 2x2 rib as described by Katharina Buss in Big Book of Knitting, but stitches aren't crossed. I did try Katharina Buss's technique, but felt that first row of ribbing didn't slant as much when I used Montse Stanley's method, which I highly recommend. And now I've got an "invisible" foundation row that blends in with the ribbing. Oh, how fancy!

Go, go Speed Racer.

Status on hubby's cabled sweater: The back was finished last weekend. Surprisingly, I knit through it rather quickly despite its many cables, ribbing and my insistence to use short rows to create slanted shoulders. Must be because I find cables and ribbing just fun, fun, fun! My only gripe is that I have to lie my work flat and stretch it out a bit with the aid of pins to measure while knitting (and this, my friends, is another reason why I love my circular needles). The center cables are large, so I am using a cable needle for those, but all the small cables are made simply by crossing stitches. Looks the same, and it's easier and quicker to work. The slanted shoulders took a bit of effort (two attempts, to be exact), because I had to short row between purl and knit stitches at some points while making yarn overs to avoid holes, and yarn overs between purl and knit stitches vary depending on the location of the stitches. The shoulder stitches have been placed on stitch holders and I'm going to block soon, which should be easy as the piece was already at the required measurements when I pulled it off the needles because I've learned (unfortunately, the hard way) that constantly measuring one's work is a good thing, particularly before starting any shaping. My reward was when my husband saw the completed piece set out on the table and asked me when the sweater would be ready, so he could wear it. Awwwwwww.

Status on Rowan raglan project: I'm about halfway through the sweater. Priority is now being given to this piece because I must meet a deadline to finish it. I feel like Speed Racer on the needles right now.

Viva chart patterns!

I'm halfway through the front of my husband's cabled sweater, and am making smooth progress. I long memorized the chart pattern just by working it, so this project has become practically "mindless" and is my favorite thing to knit while watching television. If it weren't so big, I'd be hauling it all over the place so I could get my quick fix of knitting at intermittent times. And that, my friends, is why I love chart patterns. Some knitters don't like chart patterns, but prefer to follow written instructions. I personally find those more difficult to follow when dealing with certain jacquard, intarsia or complicated stitch patterns as it takes me more time to search out my place in a paragraph instead of simply glancing at a chart. It's my own personal preference, but then again, what do I know? I'm just a bozo corporate lawyer who taught herself how to knit from the internet like an "amateur enthusiast". [Cough.]

In other knitting news chez skinnyrabbit, I've been practicing the tubular bind-off for double rib when knitting in the round so the top of the neckband (when it comes time to knit it) will match with the tubular cast-on for double rib of the body of the garment. I'm so glad that I decided to practice on samples first, instead of waiting to try it on the neckband itself. My first attempts at this type of bind-off looked like, in a word, crap. But after working a number of samples I really got the hang of it and was even whistling while I did it because it looked so neat! Samples are my friends.

Sleeves mean I'm 3/4 through. Oh yeah.

It's interaction time! I've now started on the sleeves of my husband's cabled sweater and need to make single paired increases at both ends every few rows until I shape the sleeve cap. I cannot do fully-fashioned increases for these particular sleeves because I must "reconstitute" the pattern after each increase, so the increases must be right next to the selvedge stitch. Further, the sides of the sleeves are in 4/3 rib, so there will be some times when I'll need to create a purl stitch and other times when I need to create a knit stitch, and we'll have to take into account that the stitches lying next to the increase will also vary - sometimes there will be a purl stitch and other times there will be a knit stitch. I once did a cabled sweater with seed stitch that required the pattern be continued this way when making increases, and I used the old knit into the same stitch/purl into the same stitch twice method. It looked like crap! So I ask you, talented reader, to suggest an increase that will look snappy on this type of pattern. It doesn't have to be invisible, but all I'd like is that it look good, create no holes, and not be a pain in the arse to seam. Ideas?

Reason number #1,950 why I adore my visitors.

Thanks to input from my talented readers, a little light bulb flickered on my head and I immediately knew how I wanted to do the increases for the sleeves on my husband's cabled sweater. I liked both Carolyn's and Janet's idea to use the M1 increase but I wasn't too sure about doing them one stitch in from the edge. But after reading that Patricia does her sleeves in the round so that that "the first and last stitches are always knit, which forms a 'rib' all the way up to the armhole" I got the idea to do the same, even though I'm knitting flat. The bottom hem of the sweater is already in 2/2 rib, each RS row starting and ending with k2. So, I've adapted the pattern to knit my first two stitches and last two stitches on the RS. This way, I'll be continuing the rib "all the way up to the armhole". This allows me to do the strand increases (which I'm doing twisted, to avoid the hole) two stitches in from the edge, and it'll be easy to seam. Further, continuing the rib all the way up will make the finished garment look more polished, in my opinion. So yesterday evening I ripped out the 20 rows I already had done on both sleeves (it wasn't so painful this time, really) and restarted. I'm now about 1/4 through on each sleeve and am really happy with the way it looks so far.

And that, my friends, is just one of the many reasons why I adore my visitors. Chocolate froggies for everyone!

Strawberry Shortcake.

I finished my husband's cabled sweater! Frankly, I'm incredulous. It's amazing how little knitting I'm really able to get done during the day what with looking after the toddler-child (also known as Captain Destructo) while trying to crank out some work (web-related) and even more work (non web-related). But Saturday and Sunday evenings were spent seaming the sweater, and yesterday afternoon was spent knitting a 7 cm mock turtleneck on a pair of 3.5mm circulars, and then casting it off using kitchener stitch for 2x2 rib, which has got to be one of the most tedious things next to removing old wallpaper with a spatula. But, my efforts were rewarded because within ten minutes of casting off the neckband, my husband arrived home from work, saw the finished sweater lying on the table bathing in its own little aura of light from heaven with shouts of "Hallelujah" from Handel's Messiah, and immediately pulled it on. It looked great! I really wish I could show pictures of the sweater now, but my husband has gone to work wearing it today! That, to me, is the ultimate compliment. (I'll have pictures for you in a few days.)

But we do have knitting pictures. Here's a strawberry fruit cap (the yarn is a wool/acrylic blend called Climat. Super warm, yet machine-washable) I knit for a friend's child:

These caps are kitschy-cute, and very easy to knit (I recommend this pattern to anyone who wants to try out circular needles and stranded knitting). I'm ambidextrous and use both hands equally, so I had no problem catching on with the two-handed method of color knitting. My floats were way too tight on the first row of green dots, though. When the hat was stretched, the green dots would nearly disappear! I had to use a tapestry needle to loosen them up a bit. And I couldn't find all five of my 3.5mm double points, so I had to do the decreases of the top part of the hat using only 4 needles, which made progress a little slow. Oh, and working with one less needle doesn't make it any less fumbly, either. I always feel like I'm playing a game of pick up sticks whenever I use double points.

Je suis trop sexy pour mon pull...trop sexy pour mon pull...

Here it is: The ribbed and cabled sweater I knit for my husband. I'm very happy with the way it came out, and it's a great fit! This sweater is, without a doubt, the garment in which I have invested the most time and effort, ever. I used the tubular cast-on for the sleeves and hem. I short-rowed the shoulders instead of binding off for shaping. I picked up stitches for the collar and knit it in the round, then used kitchener stitch to bind off the collar. Steam blocking and finishing took days, literally. If I could bill the hours I spent working on this sweater like the way I did at the firm, I'd be getting a whopping productivity bonus at the end of the year. But I'll settle for a trip to Tahiti. Honey?

As I've taken a few days to upload pictures for you, I decided to compensate by uploading a number of them. (Which means that unless you've also got a DSL connection, this puppy might take a few minutes to load due to the number of kpbs on the page. But pictures are always fun, so it's worth it.)