"Pull Regate"

Starting new projects makes me go, "Oh yeah!"

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Is this a new project I see before me?
[Click here for a closeup of the fabric.]
P.S. Someone received her new camera!*


As my son has just started school for the first time, I think a preppy little sweater is in order. Fall weather is almost here, and he needs a sweater in cotton that I can layer with other clothes for those cool yet sunny days. Helllooooooooo, adorable v-necked striped sweater knit using three different colors of Bouton d'Or Balzane ribbon cotton. Oh, how extravagant! And just look at how pretty this yarn is. Think Rowan Cotton Tape with small amount of polyamide for elasticity. And it knits up so nicely! But remind me not to let my son eat ice cream while he wears this sweater and don't worry: I'm making the 6-year-old size, ferpetesake. I broke out into a sweat when the good lady at the store happily rang this one up, so I need to aim for maximum wearability here.

Other news: The swatchy project is nearly on its way to being a blanket! Nearly all the swatches are sewn into strips (here's a sneak peek for you) and after that, it's only a matter of sewing those together. I do need to knit up a few swatches in simple stockinette or garter stitch, using neutral yarn such as cream or white. I need to fill in a few spaces in those strips. After I knit up those additional squares I'll sew the strips together and show more progress shots.

That's all for today!

You ask: But where is your pretty cotton jacket?!?

I reply: Oh, it's here. All seamed up, complete with neckband. But it's ETERNALLY blocking, thankyouverymuch, and seems to be taking its sweet time to dry. Clearly, putting Aviso cotton knit up into bobbles and cables through the cold rinse cycle for blocking purposes requires a lot of patience. Wish it would hurry up and dry so I can wear it, already. (Pictures later this week, promise.)

*After two months waiting for new stock to arrive, an expired credit card while I was on vacation, a rushed check, a typo in the delivery address and much nail-biting from frustration, my long awaited Nikon Coolpix 3100 FINALLY came in. I actually danced a happy jig and sang out repeatedly, "C'est mon appareil photo! It's my camera! It's my camera!" when it was handed to me. I've been playing with it all weekend and am still learning how to use it, but thus far I give it a great, big round of applause. (I still love my Aiptek, though, so "still" shots will be taken with the Nikon and dancing shots will be taken with the Aiptek.)

Bring in the clowns.

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He said: "Hey! You takin' pictures? Take my picture!"
So I did.


What a day! I made up for my inactivity* last week by cramming everything into yesterday. I took the kid to his first catechism, visited my local Plassard boutique, ate lunch at McDo's (and I think I'm still digesting it), bought boots for the kid, got my hair cut, and visited a small fair set up around the statue of Jacquard in the plaza in the Croix Rousse. At the fair I ate too many churros (I think I'm still digesting those, too) and while I was taking pictures of the kid on one of the rides, a clown ran up and screeched at me to take his picture. Then he posed for me while I snapped the shot, and took a moment to admire the photo of himself in the viewer. Quite possibly the strangest encounter I've ever had with a clown, French or otherwise.

The fair was fun, but more fun was had during my visit to Plassard in nearby Champagne de Mont d'Or. Oh, Plassard! How I am newly enamored of thee! I felt almost disloyal to Phildar and Anny Blatt as I leafed through Plassard's latest pattern book and fondled a skein of Folie yarn like an addict. I am planning on going back to pick up yarn for a project, but I couldn't just leave there without getting something. So I did! Plassard variegated Merinos. I keep pulling it out of the bag to look at it and admire it. Such a yarn addict.


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See the candy in the corner? Candy was my incentive.
[Thank you, Amy!]


Current project news: Considering the gauge and needle size on the preppy sweater I'm doing for Captain Destructo, I should have it blocked and seamed by now. Unfortunately, due to the what has got to be one of the Nastiest Flu Bouts I've Ever Suffered*, I didn't knit more than a few rows last week. On some days, no knitting at all! I've got a bunch of projects I'm keen to start so now that I'm feeling better, I can get this preppy sweater finished and commence work on some new things. As of now I've finished the back piece and am about to start neckline shaping on the front, and if time allows I'll start on the sleeves. Despite my pokiness at getting this sweater done, it really does knit quickly and Balzane is such a great yarn.

*Thanks to the kind neighbor upstairs (the one for whose baby I knit these booties), my son had a ride to and from school so I could get uninterrupted rest during the day while I was sick. (Bless her!) I was feeling pretty awful, and my throat was so swollen I discovered that I SNORED while I was sick. Oh, the number of times I've told the husband some mornings, "Didn't get much sleep, unfortunately, 'cause you were snoring again last night. Sounded like a DRAGON was wheezing in the house. Thanks a lot, hon!" Lovingly, of course, but always smugly because I [usually] don't snore. But on Friday morning I got my comeuppance when the husband calmly told me, "Your throat must be really swollen. From the way you were snoring last night, I can imagine how sore it must feel." Then he proceeded to "imitate" me by snoring like a phlegmatic old man. Argh! The humiliation!

Schwarzy, neck shaping, and how to make your own stitch holders, dammit.

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Stitch holders? We don't need no stinkin' stitch holders.


Before I go on further re the wonders of Balzane yarn and how much I love knitting this cute little preppy sweater, let me just say this: I'm not sure I like the neck decreases as instructed by the pattern and as featured in the photo above. As a matter of fact, I was unsure while I was doing them, but I still knit on grudgingly while I said to myself, "Don't like it. Should do the decreases another way. Uh-uh. Just. Don't. Like it." Usually I rip back before finishing and try something else, but this time I knit on through, perhaps with the false hope that once I finished the shaping I'd miraculously like it. Well, I don't. And once I get over the shock from learning that Schwarzy* is now governor of what used to be my home state and stop wondering who in the hell voted him into that position, I think I'll rip out the neck and redo it another way. For pete's sake.

On another note, you might notice that the shoulder stitches are still open. Mostly because I had a feeling I'd be ripping out and redoing the neck, and also because I might be doing a three-needle bind off (my preferred method of joining shoulder seams) for the shoulders. I'm still undecided as to how I'll seam the shoulders for this sweater, but I'm probably going to bind off and join using backstitch. Sometimes with ribbon yarns I prefer to bind off shoulder stitches and sew them together, because I notice that the stitches at the shoulders of garments knit in ribbon yarns stretch more when joined using the three-needle bind off.

Quick tip: I have all kinds of stitch holders, but I never use them because I've discovered that they stretch out stitches during blocking, or if the stitches are left on them too long. I like to use waste yarn, either in the same gauge or at a lesser gauge than the yarn I'm using for the garment. When it comes time to place stitches on stitch holders, I simply thread an embroidery needle with my waste yarn, and pull it through the stitches while I take them off the needle. Then I tie the ends of the waste yarn into a bow or loose knot. Voilą. DIY stitch holders.

*Years ago, when Ah-nuld hooked up with Maria Shriver and was mostly known from Pumping Iron and Conan fame, my father told me, "That guy wants to be a politician. I just know he'll run for office someday. Mark my words." When my father told me that, I didn't believe it! Well, Dad, go ahead and pull out the bullhorn so you can shout, "I TOLD YOU SO!" into my ear. I know you wanna.

Joining new yarn, raclette, and progress on preppy sweater.

Quick entry because it's almost dinnertime* and I gotta go yank out the raclette grill. I have lots of progress on my son's preppy sweater to report! I'm back from the frog pond and reknit the neck, working decreases that slant against the edge. I also knit one sleeve, and am now working the last rows of the second sleeve (look here for progress pictures). The sleeves went really quickly - I knit one in a single evening. Metal addi's and Balzane ribbon yarn make me want to head on over to the Alps and just yodel.



No chance of this sucker coming undone.


Someone asked me how I join new yarn. I always join new yarn at the beginning or end of rows, and usually leave a tail if I'm planning on using the main yarn to seam the garment. Instead of weaving in all ends, I'll use a few of them to seam. When I join new yarn, I knit the first stitch using BOTH the old yarn and the new yarn. Then, when I get to that stitch on the next row, I'll knit them together. It may sound bizarre to those who prefer granny knots but it's always been easier and more secure for me to do it this way.

*Speaking of the Alps and one of the reasons I love cold weather: Raclette! A lazy cook's dream come true. Boil potatoes. Place cold cuts on plates. Slice stinky raclette cheese. Pull out raclette grill. Melt cheese on raclette grill. Pour over potatoes. Yum! And there's very little cleanup. Granted, the apartment reeks to high heaven afterwards as a result of the stinky cheese and we have to air it out for hours, but mmmm boy. Send noseplugs.

Joining new yarn, raclette, and progress on preppy sweater.

Quick entry because it's almost dinnertime* and I gotta go yank out the raclette grill. I have lots of progress on my son's preppy sweater to report! I'm back from the frog pond and reknit the neck, working decreases that slant against the edge. I also knit one sleeve, and am now working the last rows of the second sleeve (look here for progress pictures). The sleeves went really quickly - I knit one in a single evening. Metal addi's and Balzane ribbon yarn make me want to head on over to the Alps and just yodel.



No chance of this sucker coming undone.


Someone asked me how I join new yarn. I always join new yarn at the beginning or end of rows, and usually leave a tail if I'm planning on using the main yarn to seam the garment. Instead of weaving in all ends, I'll use a few of them to seam. When I join new yarn, I knit the first stitch using BOTH the old yarn and the new yarn. Then, when I get to that stitch on the next row, I'll knit them together. It may sound bizarre to those who prefer granny knots but it's always been easier and more secure for me to do it this way.

*Speaking of the Alps and one of the reasons I love cold weather: Raclette! A lazy cook's dream come true. Boil potatoes. Place cold cuts on plates. Slice stinky raclette cheese. Pull out raclette grill. Melt cheese on raclette grill. Pour over potatoes. Yum! And there's very little cleanup. Granted, the apartment reeks to high heaven afterwards as a result of the stinky cheese and we have to air it out for hours, but mmmm boy. Send noseplugs.

All this for a preppy sweater, people.

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Why, it's a seaming party!
[Turns on a karaoke machine.]


Seaming of my son's preppy sweater is now underway! I spent the afternoon at the shops in La Part Dieu mall*, which is located above the train station in Lyon, for the sole purpose of searching out embroidery floss to seam the sweater and a fancy collared white shirt for my son to wear under it. The mall is very shiny and very nice, and is always filled with smokers who carry around stinky black-tobacco cigarettes, teenage kids who act obnoxious and tourists who browse the shops even though they're carrying around hulking backpacks that knock into fellow browsers. All this makes, of course, for really fun shopping.

At the first craft store I visited I found embroidery floss in all the colors I needed (and they're perfect matches, too!), but the white shirt proved more elusive. Why is that when one goes to children's clothing stores, one never finds what one is specifically looking for? Baby Gap. Catimini. Okaidi. Galerie Lafayette. Not one shop carried a plain white shirt in size 3T. If a white shirt was found, it just had to be in the wrong size because that is one of the rules of shopping. Success was had at Zara, and I was thankful to finally be able to head home because if one more tourist accidentally bopped me with his/her hulking backpack while browsing the shops, I probably would have just thrown up my hands in the air and gone out for a few kir royales and some really bad karaoke, or something.

P.S. I had considered using the yarn to sew the sweater pieces together, but it's too bulky and I want to avoid thick seams on such a small sweater. It's a ribbon yarn, so splitting it - something else I've done to create less bulky seams - is impossible.

*Check out the shot I took (with my trusty little Aiptek spy cam) of the fountain in the middle of La Part Dieu mall. When it's lunchtime, people sit around the fountain and eat their French baguettes cut in half and filled with tomato and ham.

Such a preppy at heart!


Why, it's a spikey-haired kid in a preppy sweater!
[Click me and I will give you another view.]


My son's preppy sweater is finished! And the kid, who is growing increasingly picky about what he wears, likes it! I sized the sweater for a six-year-old, but it's not outrageously large for him. I did have to modify the pattern, though. I lengthened the torso, and I found the neckline to be too large even for the six-year-old size, so I sized it down both width-wise and length-wise. While I like 2/2 rib on the hem and collar, I do find it to be too inelastic for such a large-gauge cotton ribbon yarn that is Balzane, so I decreased a few stitches on the neckband facing as I bound off. Shoulders were short-rowed and bound off, and sewn together using backstitch because I don't think a three-needle bind-off is the way to go for this type of yarn. All in all, we're happy with the way the sweater came out, so there are lots of pictures for you today. Above are the obligatory "still" pictures of the knits, and here are a few additional action shots* for you:




*Taking pictures of the kid has become a big production, as he refuses to stand still for longer than two seconds. He'll make a wacky face or dance around, then ask me to show him the pictures I took in the viewer. In order to get him to stand still long enough for me to take a decent shot of the knits, I asked him to talk about his friends at school. So in the "still" shot he's actually blabbing away about Benoit, Antoine and Clara, and in the "action" shots he was acting like the ham that he is :-)