I love me a good stripe pattern.

I really love a neat stripe pattern.
[Click me for a closeup of the fabric.]

The weather here has gone from dreary to downright HOT. (Check out the view outside my window now. Helloooooooooo, gorgeous skies!) I've put away the boot cut jeans and pulled out the capri pants. I've also put aside - just for a bit - all the ribbing I've been knitting. I got tired of knitting ribbing and besides, I want some STRIPES this spring. Colorful, bright, hello kiss me it's springtime stripes. Just like the ones in the striped sweater from pattern 8 of Rebecca 22, using Estelle Young Touch Cotton. Magazine courtesy of Janet, yarn courtesy of Alison G. (I got great knitting buds.)

Knitting this top is fun! I cast on for the back piece of the top on Monday evening and worked the first pattern repeat. Yesterday evening brought me past the armhole shaping, and I should finish the rest during this evening's knitting. I knit more quickly on finer gauge yarns because I have better control of the needles. It's just plain stockinette, but I don't get bored because I have fun working stripes. Only downside to working stripes [enter scary music]: the ENDS I'll have to weave in. I only carry the yarn up the side when the stripes are short and close together. If I have to carry a yarn up for too many rows, I prefer to cut it and weave it in afterwards. Yeah, I'm a cutter*.

On another note, I've got some new toys to share:

Thoughtful Claudia sent me a Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival tote! I appreciate that Claudia thought of me while visiting the festival, and shared it with me by sending me the tote, which I'll now use to carry around my knits. (She had also sent me something from Rhinebeck last year. And that is why Claudia is a golden goddess.) Athena, who I'll get to meet in just a week [wheee!], kindly sent me the latest Gedifra and Rebecca magazines, and there is some really cool stuff in those. Like I said, I got great knitting buds.

In addition to my new tote and mags, I've gotten some - get ready for this - BEADS. Oh beads! How I love to go into La Droguerie and look at you! Every time I've gone into La Droguerie, I've drooled helplessly over the beads, staring at them inside of their glass jars like they're candy. So, I've finally decided to take a dip into beading by trying my hand at making stitch markers. On Monday I met fellow knitter and Lyon resident Michelle for lunch, and we went into La Droguerie where I picked out beads and bought myself some dangerous-looking pliers with a built-in cutter. My first crafty pliers, ever. They make me feel like Martha, before her insider trading stunt. I'll be investing in a glue gun next.

*I thought of the movie Breaking Away when I wrote that. Hehe.

Grafting, grafting, bay-bee!

So. Where am I on the Rebecca 22 tutti-frutti striped Estelle Young Touch cotton sweater?

The sweater that launched a grafting party.

Okay, here's the deal. As I substituted the yarn required by the pattern, my row and stitch gauge were off. Not much, but enough to make a difference in the length and fit of the sweater, so I reworked the pattern (including armhole depth and sleeve cap shaping) to accomodate the difference. [Sigh*.]

Anyway. I managed to achieve the above successfully. See? Here are all the pieces I had completed, looking all rumpled and indecent with their ends hanging out. I'm on my way to seaming, right? Er, no. Because when I finished the second sleeve I realized that as a result of my reworking the pattern, the bottom of the sleeves had more green rows than the bottom of the front and back pieces. Argh. Just by four rows, and I know that there are people out there who would leave it like it is and not let that bother them, and to you and I say: Hurrah! But I know myself. Seeing that wee difference would have irked me into the ground, every time. Oh, if I could only add four measly green rows to both the back and front pieces!

So I did. I pulled out the scissors, some Katharina Buss, an embroidery needle, stuck Shrek into the DVD player and had myself a little grafting party this afternoon.

(And don't miss My Totally Excellent Grafting Adventure.)

Katharina Buss' Big Book of Knitting (pages 184-185) has some instructions on lengthening and shortening pieces. I didn't follow her written instructions to the letter, but I used her excellent photos as a guide. What I did was snip the selvedge of a row at the LEFT end of the piece using scissors. Then I used the tip of an embroidery needle to gently pulled out the yarn, undoing the row stitch by stitch. This separated the work in two, and I placed the open stitches of the BOTTOM piece (which contains the ribbing) on a needle so I could work the additional 4 rows in green on that piece. The row I had cut and ripped out had been a knit row, so I joined new yarn and started knitting on the right side of the work. I worked the four rows, ending with a purl row. Then I joined the open stitches of the bottom piece to the open stitches of the top piece by grafting. And just for you, here is a little photo display of my mini grafting adventure.

I've joined pieces by grafting before, but this is the first time I've taken scissors to knitting, lengthened a piece and then joined via grafting. I liked it! Seeing that little row of grafting bring those pieces together seamlessly made me want to sing like Donkey from Shrek. Danke, Katharina Buss!

*Fact: I don't particularly like reworking and/or drafting patterns. I am Lazy (yes, with a capital "L") at doing the math, which is why I love knitting from patterns. Pulling out the calculator just makes me want to yawn. Which is funny, because I have a specialization in financial tax law. Hahahaha!

Additional things worth sharing re grafting:

As in free-loop backstitch (which is just as FUN, oh yes it is!), I find that holding the open stitches down with a thumb while pulling the yarn through keeps them from stretching out.

I found it easier to keep the stitches of the top piece OFF a needle and the stitches of the bottom piece ON the needle. The stitches of the top piece didn't come undone because they had been knitted for a while, but the stitches of the bottom piece had just been added on so they probably would have come undone if I had pulled them off the needle.

Working the new rows on the bottom piece meant that I got to keep my selvedges as they are, so seaming will still be a breeze. Working new rows on the top piece would have shifted the stitches over by half a stitch.

I would only do this sort of cutting and grafting on pieces knit in stockinette stitch. Maybe garter. But anything else? No, gracias!

That's all I can think of for now, and dinner's a-callin'.

Viva le grafting!

Sick, but fun stuff makes it all better.

Saturday was spent out of doors at the kermesse* at my son's school, and on Sunday I was feeling too lazy to do anything other than read. And this morning I woke up with a head cold. Ugh. Still, I decided to take a moment to knit up the neckband on my tutti-frutti striped sweater.

The first round was purled.
P.S. I used a crochet hook to pick up stitches for the neckband.

It was really fun until I worked about 4 cm of the 2/2 ribbing. Working the remaining 8 cm (yep, it's a turtleneck) took some self-motivation because knitting 2/2 rib in the round using a short circular needle has the effects of a valium.

Incidentally, I use a crochet hook to pick up stitches for neckbands. I used to pick up stitches using the needles but I once read in a knitting book that using a crochet hook makes it easier and you know what? It does. But I've discovered that you need to check if the stitches are twisted when you place them on the needle, because in my case they usually are. I just work the stitches of the first round through the back loops to untwist them.

*My son was in a school pageant for the kermesse, and the sewing gods took pity on me by not requiring that I sew a costume for him to wear. His part in the show was being "a tourist on a Caribbean island", so his costume consisted of a beach hat, shorts, sunglasses, and toy camera. Heck, he wore that last month when we went to the beach. So that's what I put on him. And just because, here is a gratuitous shot of him wearing his "costume" while he rides a pony at the kermesse after the pageant. [Awwwwwwwww.]

P.S. My husband bought me a new computer and monitor with a flat screen for Mother's Day, and just finished hooking it all up. Everything looks so darn SPIFFY I couldn't resist sitting my woeful pajama-ed self up here and updating with an entry for you. And the icing on the cake: He changed my ADSL connection to an XDSL connection. People, it was speedy before but now I feel like I'm driving a Ferrari full speed down the internet highway. I love being married to a computer geek. Three cheers for the hubby: Hip hip, hooray! Hip hip, hooray! Hip hip, hooray! (I think another hand-knit sweater is in order...)


Why, it's a completed tutti frutti striped top!

Look, Ma!  A finished object!
This is the stand-still-like-mannequin shot.
[Click here for the really big sweater picture.]
[Bonus: Action shot of the sweater walking the dog.]

Project details: The pattern is from Rebecca 22, but I adapted it for Estelle Young Touch Cotton yarn and further customized it to fit my frame. I used Addi Turbo 3.5mm's for the body and Clover 3mm's for the neckband. Fun, fun, fun was had while knitting this top, as I had cut both the back and the front pieces before seaming in order to add four rows above the ribbing at the hem. The pieces were then joined by grafting. [Here is a closeup of the piece where the rows were added and the grafting took place.] Danke, Katharina Buss!

Of course, there are whack dance rabbit shots for you. Notice how some magazines of late are reflecting the "vintage look" trend by showing off their knits in black and white photography? Well, me too:

I was dancing flamenco. (Yes, for real.) Olé!
[Click here for "swan lake" in color.]

This sort of top is perfect to wear on its own or under a denim jacket when the days are sunny but chilly, and winter clothes look out of place. As it turns out, we are having this sort of weather lately, so hellooooooo, bright stripes! I got to wear the top on Sunday (when the pictures were taken) for a walk with the dog, and I think I'll wear it again today. I was happy to discover that the turquoise stripes match perfectly with my turquoise Dr. Scholl's. Man, I love those shoes. The sound of the soles on the ground make me feel like I'm wearing Japanese geta.