The call of cotton for Spring is strong.

No, it's not "startitis". I call it "eager knitter-itis".

3x1 rib.
(Bet you thought it was stockinette.)

Yeah, yeah. I barely finish seaming the Kid Mohair cardi and I've already gone off and started a new project. I couldn't help it! The call of the cotton was too strong. So I decided to just go ahead and delve into some cotton while finishing up my current projects. Me so weak.

What I started: My son's ribbed cotton jacket with the asymmetrical zipper. Ah! The feel of cool cotton racing on Addi circs! I swatched one evening, cast on for the back the following evening and thought, "I'll knit a few centimeters just to get it out of my system." Well, I kinda knit more than a few centimeters. Like I said, me so weak.

[Footnote: I'm using the two-tail cast-on for the jacket. I like to call this cast-on "Old Faithful". It works for almost everything.]

But! Kid Mohair cardi is not forgotten. Look what I photographed before I headed out this morning: The front bands! That's right. I did not procrastinate and knit those suckers up in an evening. Gimme my gold star. (Note how the front bands look like hockey sticks. Short rows can do some funky things, people.)

In other miscellaneous news, I can't help sharing a recent discovery:

Guess who had a bagel and cream cheese for lunch today?

A place called "Best Bagels" that just opened a month ago. It's located on Rue Lanterne near Place des Terreaux. I saw it by luck the other day and nearly tripped over myself as I ran eagerly through the door like some starved individual. It's got nice deli things like bagels, pastrami, cheesecake and cream cheese. There's also junk food goodness like A&W root beer, Oreos, nachos and...get ready for this...Pop Tarts. My sweet tooth is now praising the sugar gods for putting this place on the bus route I ride the most. Friends, I beg you: If you are in Lyon please go eat in this place so that they will stay in business. I need a Pop Tart fix every once in a while or I get twitchy.

Before you start thinking...

...that I was neglecting my son's cotton jacket with the funky asymmetrical zipper, looky here:

We got fronts, bay-beeeeeee!
[Wanna zoom out? Sure you do. Click here.]

One can't tell from the photo above, but the left front piece (pictured at right) has neck shaping, too. I tried to photograph it but the edges kept misbehavin' by curling insanely inwards. Shall I block the dickens out of it? I think so. [P.S. That was a rhetorical question. Wacky curling edges or not, I always like to give my knits a spot of blocking. Such a blocking 'ho.]

And of course, before I even started the fronts, I had completed the back. All 42 centimeters of it in 3x1 ribbing on size 3.25mm needles:

We got back, too.
[Wanna zoom out? Sure you do. Click here.]

Coton No. 4 creates a gorgeous, glossy fabric but there should be a little disclaimer on the yarn label that reads, "Hi! This is pretty cotton. 100% pretty darn fancy French cotton, to be precise. The fabric created will knock your knitter's socks off, but please note that chanting mantras and wishing for a hand massage may occur after you work 5 straight cms of ribbing. A hand massage given by, preferably, Alan Rickman, Keanu Reeves or the guy who comes out in those Hugo Boss cologne commercials."

Now that I've got two fronts and a back, I will not dawdle over the sleeves even though they are also in 3x1 ribbing. My son is so eager to wear this jacket I refuse to let the month end without my finishing it. Every time I completed a piece I showed it to my son, and he'd get excited and run over so I could hold it up against him. "Mommy! It's gonna be cooooooool," he said. That was so sweet it actually made my heart hurt. People, I would knit my kid a TENT in this cotton because that's how much he manages to wrap me around his little finger with his enthusiasm for my knitting.

In other news, stash enhancement (well, kinda) time!

With a surprise treat of chocolate! Sarah rocks.

I had 20 skeins of Rowan Calmer in Calm, and my friend Sarah W. across la manche kindly swapped 10 of those skeins for 10 skeins of Calmer in Khaki so that I could vary the look of my projects. (Sarah always comes through for me; last year she traded me some Rowan Felted Tweed and Kidsilk Haze so I could knit Elfin, and went to the trouble of shopping for it and picking out the color combo for me. Merci encore, Sarah!) With these 10 skeins of Calmer in Khaki I want to knit the cardigan with tucks - called "Whisper" - from Rowan's Calmer Collection. I can't wait to start this! It's been on my wishlist for over two years now. That's some serious want.

P.S. Speaking of want, I'm still trying to decide if I'm going to knit a project from Rowan 37 this summer. I like Pippa, Elspeth, Jenny and Gemma from this issue, but I've still got my eye on a couple of designs from last year's summer issue 35: the Iris bolero and China. And then Kim Hargreaves goes off and creates Glint in Rowan Summer Tweed. If I could, I'd knit them all. Ah! The agony of trying to decide. I should be given a quota of browsing only two mags per season in order to avoid Greedy Knitter Syndrome.

See? I told you I wouldn't dawdle.

Tada! The beginnings of the second sleeve.

That's right. You're looking at the beginnings of the second sleeve of my son's cotton jacket because I finished the first sleeve already! It was completed over Thursday and Friday nights, which makes me rather proud as I rarely get a chance to knit on Fridays. I take dance classes on Friday evenings (and again on Saturday mornings), and don't get home until 9:00. I'm usually too tired to think about anything other than putting on my jammies and reading a book before crashing for the night. But I am determined to finish this jacket, I tell you! So on Friday night around 9:45 I picked up the half-completed sleeve and decided to knit the whole thing through in a fit of frenzied knitting. It was fun because I felt like I was running a ribbing marathon: "Just 10 more rows till Rabbit makes it to the sleeve cap shaping! But it's all 3x1 ribbing in slippery cotton...will she finish the sleeve before her hands give out? Apparently not. She's just turned the corner and has started the sleeve cap shaping. But it's tough, folks. She looks like she's ready to call it a night and go to bed. Wait...what's this? Reruns of dubbed versions of Nip/Tuck? She's just gotten a second wind! Knit, Rabbit, knit!"

Block me! Block me!
(The sleeve cap is shaped via double decreases.)
[Click to see the whole sleeve!]

I managed to finish the sleeve right before I started seeing double and decided to stumble to bed. I'm going to have to find a way to knit on Friday nights from now on, though. Reruns of Sex and the City come on after Nip/Tuck and that would make a nice lineup of cheeky t.v. knitting.

Saturday was a no-knit day because Monsieur Le Hubby and I decided to have an evening out: Dinner and drinks at a restaurant in Vieux Lyon. It wasn't raining so we left the car parked in the Place des Terreaux parking lot and walked across the bridge to Vieux Lyon. Just because, here's a night photo of the bridge I took while walking back from Vieux Lyon to Place des Terreaux:

Click to ENLARGE.

I wish I had pulled my camera out of my handbag earlier. About twenty minutes before I took this shot we had crossed paths with a group of young guys. One of them was dressed exactly like the alien from the French movie La Soupe aux Choux, and was making the same strange noises the alien in that movie makes. And much earlier in the evening, when we were walking to the restaurant, we saw another group of guys and one of them was dressed like a black and white cow, complete with ringing cowbell. We always see groups of kids walking around like this, and one of them is usually wearing a wacky costume. It's like Mardi Gras, everyday. I love living in a city full of university students.

Why, it's a block party.

Oh, block us, already.
Slideshow, slideshow!
P.S. Look at all those ends I have to weave in.
Don't you feel just awful for me?

Get out your calendar, friends, and circle this day using a great big red marker because I finished knitting the pieces of my son's cotton jacket and immediately starting blocking them! I didn't procrastinate, and I certainly didn't start a new project even though that's what my impatient self usually does. As soon as I pulled the second sleeve off the needle I slapped the pieces onto the blocking board, pinned them down and gave them a steam boost they'll never forget. (And blocking "board" is a term I mean literally as my blocking board is a recycled cardBOARD box that I cover with used plastic and a smooth bath towel. It's the same board I've been using for the past couple of years. D.I.Y, bay-beeeeee!) And speaking of which, I've got a slideshow showing exactly how I put together my fancy blocking board and how I blocked the pieces. You know, 'cause I'm a blocking 'ho and all.

Next up after blocking: Seaming, picking up stitches for and knitting the collar, then on to the zipper with its zipper bands. Ay, the ZIPPER. My fingers ache at the memory of the last zipper I sewed in [my son's boyish jacket, remember?]; after sewing in the zipper I meticulously stitched on some ribbon to hide the zipper and it seemed to take forever. All those little stitches! My index finger and thumb looked (and felt) like I had spent the afternoon poking my fingers with toothpicks. Send thimbles.

In the meantime, I've been enjoying the spurts of good weather we're having here. Sunny days with no wind or rain means it's time to head out and get some air.

Partial view of Lyon from Fourvière.
[Click to ENLARGE.]

I took this shot as we walked out of Fourvière Aventures urban forest park, where I got to pretend I was Tarzan by swinging from tree to tree:

Rabbit on a wire.
What's that? Photo not BIG enough for ya?

In the photo above I was zooming down a cable while hanging onto a pulley and I was, of course, yelling like Tarzan because it was part of the moment. Other activities consisted of moving from tree to tree by swinging from ropes, climbing through nets and walking on tightropes or wiggly ladders. [Yes, Mom, I was strapped in a harness.] I haven't had this much "look how high up I am" fun since I went rock climbing and rappelling in the Grand Tetons. Are we gonna go back and do it again? Heck, sssshhhhYEAH!

Seaming, neckband, facings...I'm on a roll, bay-bee!

River to the far left. Opera house to the far right.
I took this shot while backstitching shoulder seams.
(Doesn't everyone seam in the car?)

Sometimes I get the most knitting done while sitting in the passenger side of a car. If I'm going to be sitting in the car for longer than 15 minute stretches I can be sure that I'll have uninterrupted knitting time because i) I can't get up and do something else, and ii) I don't get car sick. Excellent knitting time guaranteed.

Last week Monsieur Le Hubby took a day off and we drove out to Vienne to visit Aunt Josephine and Uncle Pierre. 40 minutes of car knitting* while I sang along to the radio like bad karaoke! This time I took all the pieces of my son's cotton jacket so I could seam it in the car. [Here's a peek at me backstitching the shoulders. And the eagle eye will notice that I'm wearing something I hand-knit for myself. Can you guess what it is?] How I seamed: I backstitched the shoulders (no three-needle bind-off this time; I have a feeling this cotton is going to grow with wear), joined the side and sleeve sleeves using mattress stitch, and then picked up stitches for the neckband, which I then worked in ribbing. [Wanna see a picture of the neckband while it was still on the needles? Oh, go on.] I then knit the zipper facings, which are not knit into the jacket. They're knit separately and later joined to the front edges of the jacket.

So. Seaming is complete and I'm a happy knitter. Time to sew on the zipper and zipper facings, already! But for some reason, I felt the need to throw the seamed jacket - along with the zipper facings - in the gentle cycle of the wash before sewing in the zipper. I didn't want the zipper facings to act strangely AFTER the zipper was sewn into them and the jacket was washed for the first time, so I decided to wash it all before sewing in the zipper. I always give my finished knits this sort of final blocking session before their first wear anyway, so it wasn't lost time even though the pokey drying cotton took two days to dry on the blocking board:

Shh...jacket's drying.

Now! Here comes the part that really rocked my socks: Sewing in the zipper. I simply pinned the zipper into the facing, basted, and then sewed using backstitch:


From this moment on I will try to ensure that all my zippered knits have facings similar to these. Sewing the zipper into them first is easier and less tedious than sewing a zipper directly onto the fronts of a jacket. I sewed the zipper into one facing in less than half an hour, and did it while watching Forrest Gump on dvd. Run, Forrest, Run!

[Zipper facing footnote: I simply followed the directions in the pattern for knitting this facing, but I've seen a similar zipper facing in Katharina Buss's Big Book of Knitting under the "zippers" section. The facing is doubled, just like the one I used, and is also in stockinette stitch. Refer to her book for instructions.]

Next up: Sewing the facings (with the zipper already in them), onto the jacket.

*I only work on my knitting on our way to Vienne, but never on the way back home. On the way back I just sit in the car like a satisfied greedy gut and digest all the wine and good food Aunt Josephine serves.

All Captain, all the time.

Somebody got to wear a new cotton jacket this weekend!

We call this the "Mini GQ" shot.
I couldn't resist including it.
[Wanna see CLOSEUPS?]

Quick project details: Design 11, "gilet asymetrique" (asymmetrical jacket) from Phildar Pitchoun Spring/Summer 2005. The jacket is in 3x1 ribbing and stockinette stitch. I knit the 6 year old size, using size 3.25mm needles (addis, bay-bee!) and 10 skeins of Phildar Coton No. 4 in "JEAN'S". [Note: This color FADES in the manner of jeans after it is washed. It creates a nice faded denim effect which, unfortunately, my camera is refusing to pick up properly and is showing as a striped or variegated effect instead. Grr.] The fabric created has a slight sheen to it that makes the 3x1 rib and double decreases show up really nicely.

This is the TRYING to stand-still-as-a-mannequin shot.
It took me forever to get this shot.

I did not change the sizing on this jacket. My son is four and a half years old (he'll be five in September), but I knit the six year old size in the hopes it would come out a little big so he'd be able to wear it a couple of seasons. However, it's not too large for him to wear now. I think it looks cuter this way, actually. It's the baggy look, dude.

[Footnote: While I didn't change the sizing, I should mention that I did change the pattern a bit in technical terms. Looking at the photo above will show that the ribbing at the hem blends into the ribbing on the side panels of the front pieces, like the way it does in the photo of the pattern book. But if I had blindly followed the pattern instructions the 3x1 ribbing at the hem of both front pieces would NOT have corresponded with the 3x1 ribbing at the side panels because the pattern drafters were being naughty when they wrote the pattern. The pattern instructions for the 6 year old size had the ribbing at the hem and the ribbing at the side panels completely and pitifully off, most likely for purposes of the double decreases at the armhole shaping, which need to begin within a purl stitch of the 3x1 ribbing a few stitches from the edge. I disregarded the pattern instructions and reworked so that the ribbing at the hem would continue into the ribbing at the side panels while still being able to work the decreases where they belonged, but this did not change the size or measurements of the pieces. End of blabby footnote.]

And! The jacket is a hit with Captain Destructo. [BONUS: Silly shots of happy boy dancing in his jacket.] He's really happy with it and could hardly wait to debut it, which he got to do this weekend. One of the first places the jacket got to visit was the AQUARIUM in Lyon:

Sunday afternoon outing at the Aquarium.

Thankfully, the visit to the aquarium was also a hit with him. We went to Sea World when he was a baby, but he was too small to enjoy it. And last year, he got to visit the aquarium at the Beauval Zoo at Saint Aignan, but he was so tired out after walking through the whole zoo (enormous...there are several hectares for the elephants alone) that the aquarium wasn't enjoyed. This time he got a chance to leisurely watch all of the fish and got a kick out of touching live clams and starfish. [BONUS: You knew I was going to include a slideshow too, right?]

The jacket at the turtle tank.
Slideshow! Slideshow!

Final finishing notes on this jacket: I'm really happy with the way the whole jacket turned out, especially the collar and zipper facings. I've sewn zippers [see a zipper slideshow here] into jackets several times, and have covered up the wrong side of the zipper using ribbon or knitted [see hooded vest] facings. This, however, is the first time that I knit double facings separately, sewed the zipper into them and then sewed the facings to the fronts of the jacket. [BONUS: Look at how I sewed the facings onto the jacket. Incidentally, I used the yarn itself, not sewing thread. I simply split the yarn and used a single strand of it to sew on the facings.] HELLO! Not only was it easy and quick, it makes the zipper - from both sides - look neat and polished, which is a plus as my boy likes to constantly open and close zippers on his jackets. If I weren't so tired from snapping all those aquarium shots, I'd be sticking this jacket with its fab zipper facings on a flagpole and waving it around while I run around the block triumphantly.