Yep. I done gone started a new project.

I couldn't help it. There have been so many wonderful additions* to my stash that the temptation to start knitting one of them was just too strong to resist. Yesterday evening, after I bound off the shoulder stitches of the right front piece of my husband's Manly Jacket [the front piece is all finished...see?], I pulled out the Rowan Plaid and some 8mm bamboo circs, said "Giddy-AP!" and got knittin'. In my eagerness, I didn't even bother to swatch! Just started in on a sleeve and figured I'd rip if the gauge was too far off. Looky here:

[Click here to zoom out.]
[Here's a closeup of the stitch.]

And this is what I am knitting:

(Running on the beach optional.)

Rowan calls this design "Thunder". I call it the "PULL PONCHO"**, otherwise known as a poncho sweater. Why? Because last year I fell in love with this "Pull Poncho" from Anny Blatt/Bouton d'Or's Catalogue 79, but never got around to even getting the yarn for it. It's been on my wishlist ever since, though. So as soon as I saw Thunder in the Rowan Plaid Collection I immediately pictured myself wearing galoshes, a slick beret, and a Rowan Plaid Pull Poncho while jogging on the beach. Well, maybe I wouldn't wear the galoshes.

I started knitting about eight-thirty p.m., got lucky with the gauge, and knit more than halfway through the sleeve before I went to bed. I was slightly tempted to put on a pot of coffee and pull a few more hours of luxurious knitting, but the fact that I need to get up by seven in order to get my kid ready for school made me stop thinking foolhardy thoughts. But Rowan Plaid is just soooooo soft! It's gotta be the alpaca. Yarn that contains alpaca is so soft it's addicting. I literally had trouble putting my knitting down last night; I kept thinking, "Just one more row, just one more row" as my needles clicked furiously, wooden splinters practically flying off the tips. I want a pet alpaca now. Santa?

*And the stash additions continue! Sally in New Zealand [!] gifted me with some beautiful yarns and I received some Calmer in trade from Heather. [Follow me here to see it all!]

**Hear that? That's the sound of my butt as it lands on the Poncho Bandwagon. (Well, partly. This isn't really a poncho. It's a wannabe poncho. But even if it isn't a "real" poncho I'll still look like I'm wearing one!)

P.S. I finished The Last Juror a few rows into the Pull Poncho, and started in on Amy Tan's The Opposite of Fate.

If Monty Hall were a knitter...

Yep. Still like to play with the camera.
(Just inside an entrance to Parc de la Tête d'Or.)
[Click to make big!]

On Saturdays and Sundays this area of the park is swarming. But if you walk through here on a weekday (on your way to the Musée d'Art Contemporain*, as was the case here) it's nice and quiet. Perfect picture opportunity. So there you go. [Don't mind me, I'm just a camera-happy tourist lady!]

As for my knitting, I've kicked into serious multi-project mode. So that means that it's time to play "Let's Click a Thumbnail". Go one:

fall2004_tweedgarn_back_thumb.jpg fall2004_manlyjacket_front3_thumb.jpg fall2004_ponchopull_sleeve2_thumb.jpg

1) I started another project. But with good reason! My son saw the Manly Jacket I'm knitting and the Pull Poncho I've recently started, and with the beginning of each project he's asked me (hopefully, I might add) if what I'm knitting is for him. [Awwwwwww!] There's going to come a day when Captain Destructo will think that wearing Mommy's hand-knit sweaters is beyond dorky, so I've got to take advantage of his yearning for knits while I can. To the rescue is a quick sweater: Pattern 19, the "child's tweed sweater", from Rebecca 24 using honkin' big 9mm needles and GGH Sierra. I'm not a big fan of bulky but this yarn is so fabulous I'd knit bulky more often if all bulky yarns were like this one. Very soft and creates an even fabric. I cast on for the back on Sunday evening and finished it while watching the Sunday night movie. (See, I told you it was quick!)

2) Manly Jacket: Two gorilla arm sleeves - check. One right front piece - check. Beginning of left front piece - check. [Scroll to the right to see it.] I started the left front piece yesterday evening, and completed the ribbing before I went to bed. Now it's all straight knitting until I reach the armhole shaping. Sounds monotonous, but this is my favorite kind of knitting because it means that I get to drink a kir royal before dinner and chat the husband's ears off without making mistakes.

3) Pull Poncho. Late Friday afternoon, while knitting with my friend Christelle [coucou, Christelle!], I finished one sleeve of the Pull Poncho and immediately cast on for the second. By the next morning I had finished the second sleeve. And now I see, my friends, why some knitters like big honkin' needles and bulky yarns. The knitting satisfaction one gets from completing something so quickly is so keen it's almost sinful. I think I'll ask Santa to put some 15mm needles in my stocking this year. And some more yarn with alpaaaaaaca.

*One can see the Musée d'Art Contemporain from the window of my apartment. It's in the long orange/glass building (La Cité Internationale de Lyon), partially hidden by the trees. Behind it is the lake seen in the photo of the park above. (And doesn't it look like we're having nice weather? Well, that photo was taken on Sunday. Today it's raining.)

Complete Pull Poncho Back Piece - Check!

I crossed this cable while riding in the car.
(Yep. Been knitting in the car again.)
[Click here to see the whole enchilada.]
[And don't miss the car knitting slideshow!]

I got to work on my Rowan Plaid Pull Poncho this weekend. Let's see...Saturday morning: Got up. Had some coffee and chatted with the husband while the Captain watched cartoons. Decided to cast on for the back piece of the Pull Poncho and before I knew it, I had a tiny little "V" that looked like - in my husband's own words - "the front piece of a pair of knitted bikini bottoms". [Haha! Wishful thinking, maybe?] Put knitting down. Got ready. Headed out and had myself a little car knitting frenzy in between a visit to the yarn store*, lunch, running errands, and shopping**. And of course I documented the car knitting for you in a slideshow:


By the time I returned home I had completed a few of the cable pattern repeats. On Sunday evening, while watching Along Came Polly and Romy and Michelle's Highschool Reunion [viva 80s music!], I finished the back piece. Oh, size 8mm needles and alpaaaaaaaaca yarn, how I love thee!

*You just know that I managed to stick some YARN SHOPPING in among those errands, don't you? Some lovely fluffy yarn and other goodies! Follow me here to see what I got.

**How not to spend a Saturday afternoon: Fighting the mega crowds during some pre-vacation promotions [magic word: sales] at La Part Dieu. Yikes. Pushing through the mall was like running with the bulls of Pamplona. (Next time I'll take my knitting needles with me.)

On a scale of one to ten, I give this boo-boo a NINE.

I'm knitting the Pull Poncho neckband. Again.

She likes me so nice, she knit me twice!
(Refer to Bonehead Moment #3 below)

I hereby present to you:

The Biggest Bonehead Moments in Skinny Rabbit Knitting History!

1) When I trimmed off a yarn end near the seam of one of the first sweaters I ever knit for my son and accidentally CUT the selvedge stitch instead. I screamed, "NOOOOOOOOOOOO!" as I watched the lower half of the back piece of the sweater become undone. Did I mention that I had snipped a selvedge that was near the cast-on edge? Argh! Had to reknit the whole back piece.

2) When I failed to measure before binding off the armholes of a raglan sweater and ended up with a garment short enough to play the peek-a-boo belly button game. NOTE: Blocking a sweater knit in cotton in an attempt to get more length out of it does not always work. And I know this, because I blocked the dickens out of that sweater in an attempt to get it to "grow", and it "grew" for about an hour, and then shrunk back to its original length.

3) When I completed both the back and front pieces of my Pull Poncho, joined the right shoulder seam, meticulously picked up stitches for the neckband, worked 26 [!] freaking centimeters of the neckband, bound off such neckband, joined the left shoulder seam, and then managed to incorrectly weave in a yarn end at the shoulder seam so that the knitting became undone. In other words, I unwittingly wove the yarn end OUT of the open loop through which it had been pulled when I cast off, and then watched helplessly as my entire 3 needle bind-off unravelled at what seemed to be the speed of light taking with it, for good measure, about 4 rows at the neckline area. Pulling out a crochet hook to try to repair the mess would have been laughable. We're talking gigantic crater-like hole at the left shoulder, and there's no way to fix that other than rip out the entire neckband and reknit the lost rows. And all because I wasn't paying attention when I was weaving in the ends! Send a dunce cap, pronto. [Moral of the story: Don't be in a frenzied rush to weave in ends, even if you're all excited because you finished a neckband.]

Bonehead Moment #3 occurred yesterday, so some distraction is in order while I try to recover from my finishing fiasco. Like, some stash enrichment!


12 skeins of Flamme purchased at Anny Blatt/Bouton d'Or a few days ago. I don't know what I'll knit using it but the price was so nice and the yarn is so soft I just couldn't resist. Maybe a turtleneck sweater with some shaping (to avoid that Michelin Man look)?

And in the "me so spoiled" category, I got some goodies in the mail that are too cool to not share here:

From my pal Maud: A copy of the latest Novita magazine and some Finnish candy! I really have fun looking at what other people are knitting and my Finnish neighbors are knitting some great things, like Chanel-inspired jackets and felted holiday decorations.

From my pal Wendy: A hank of Noro Transitions [limited edition!] in shade 1, two hanks of Alchemy Reservoir in "A Breath of Fire", and a gorgeous silk needle case by Lantern Moon! WOW. The Noro Transitions and Alchemy are even more beautiful than what I've seen in photos online, and the needle case is very swanky and has lots of room inside for my knitting tools and needles. Neat!

(Nothing like some spiffy stash additions to recover from the knitting boo-boos, eh?)

Complete Neckband - Check! (Here, have a margarita.)


I finished the neckband* without flubbing it up again!
[Passes around margaritas.]

That's right. I finally got around to knitting the neckband again, and second time was the charm. Best of all, all the ends got woven in and I didn't create any crater-like holes while doing so. But! Before you scroll down this entry in the hopes of finding finished Pull Poncho dancing pictures, you'd better cool your jets. Even though I've completed the neckband, I've just barely started sewing the sleeves onto the Pull Poncho. Literally. This is what I was doing about an hour ago:

It's the beginning of a seaming party!
[Refills everyone's margarita glass.]

A few finishing notes are in order for this one because i) the schematics of the pattern are lacking [unless the width of a sleeve cap and the length of an armhole aren't important], and ii) the instructions do not indicate where to mark the armholes for sleeve placement. Even if it is a Pull Poncho, I don't want my armholes down to my hips. So this is how I placed my sleeves:

1) I measured the top of my sleeve. It is approximately 61 cm wide. I divided by half and rounded down to 30 cm.

2) I calculated that 30 cm at a row gauge of 15 rows per 10 cm square equals 45 rows. So starting at the shoulder seam, I counted down 45 rows and used a split ring marker to indicate the beginning of the armhole. I did this for both sides of the shoulder seam.

3) I joined yarn at the shoulder seam [note: I split the yarn and used only one strand to avoid a bulky seam] and worked down. As the top of the sleeve has 68 sts, I'll need to sew 34 sts to 45 rows along the armhole of one side of the sleeve seam. (I used the other half of my sewing yarn to work the opposite side.)

4) Sewing 34 sts to 45 rows means that there is a two-three ratio between the stitch and row gauges, so on every third stitch of the sleeve I took in two horizontal bars of the armhole instead of one horizontal bar. And I'd be lying if I said that I didn't have a happy little seizure when I made it to my marker at the very last stitch of the sleeve seam. I felt like I had hit a bulls-eye with a nice even seam to show for it.

[Excellent references for sewing in sleeves with straight cast-offs: Nancie Wiseman's Book of Finishing Techniques and Katharina Buss's Big Book of Knitting.]

All I need to do now is join the rest of the seams, weave in ends (without creating any crater-like holes), and then I'll be a-fringing. A pitcher of margaritas will be required for the fringing, of course.

*The photo above doesn't seem to properly reflect the actual size of the neckband. People, this neckband can only be described as The Incredible Giant Neckband of All The Land. I tried it on after I (successfully) finished it off, and wearing it felt almost neckbrace-like without the "Hello! I can't turn my head" feeling. Not unpleasant at all, thanks to the softness that is the alpaaaaaaaaca. But there will be no chance of my neck getting cold when I wear this Pull Poncho, I can tell.

I think I shall call it the Birthday Poncho.

Why, it's a finished Pull Poncho!

Happy berzday!*
This is the stand-still-like-a-mannequin shot.
[Click here for the "I love my Pull Poncho" shots.]
[P.S. Don't miss the "Look, Ma! No hands!" shot.]

Project details: Pull Poncho, otherwise known as "Thunder" from Rowan's Plaid Collection. I made it in XS size, using Rowan Plaid in Lavender Mist. Things I had initially considered changing but ended up NOT changing, and was very glad that I didn't when I wore the Pull Poncho outdoors: Make the turtleneck smaller and the sleeves shorter. Keeping the turtleneck big and the sleeves long (for maximum neck and hand coverage) is recommended if you'd like this poncho to wear like a mini coat, which is what I wanted. This is something that you can't wear in heated indoors for too long, though, because it's so warm. I had to open the windows in the apartment for the shots taken indoors! But as a cover-up for weekend promenades in the cold outdoors...ah, that's something else. As it turns out, I got to wear my Pull Poncho for the first time on Sunday for a visit to Vaulx en Velin and Miribel. [BONUS: Action shots of the Pull Poncho at the open market in Vaulx en Velin and with the swans at Miribel!]

The shot above was taken at les plages - the beaches - at Miribel. And as there is sand and water there, you just knew that I'd have a running on the sand shot for you, didn't you?

Run, Rabbit, run.
[Don't forget to look at the rest of the bonus snapshots!]

One can't tell from the shots, but it was cold outdoors. I, however, was nice and warm in the big ole blanket that is my Pull Poncho. I love it.

*I debuted my Pull Poncho on the day after I turned 37. Thirty-seven years old! Send botox. (Okay, I'm kidding about the botox.)