Vest for the Pater Familias

Welcome to the Valley of the Looooooong Rows

You wanted something big? I got your big, pally. Go on, click a thumbnail:

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That's right! We've kicked into major multi-project mode like a mad, mad knitter Chez Skinny Rabbit. And it's all BIG! BIG and bad! Every knitting session is like a wrestling match with long rows and even longer circular needles. Neely* should have been clever enough to pick up one of these knits every evening:

1) Weighing in at 10 balls of Calmer in shade 474, light khaki, and 95 measly stitches for the back is "Whisper", from Rowan's Calmer Collection. Oh Whisper! How I've been wanting to knit you for the past two years! Why I procrastinated, I do not know. But procrastination is no more and I'm going at the Calmer like a starved knitter. One evening I cast on and flew through the tucks like they were a batch of Grandma's cinnamon cookies. [Cooooooookies!] And don't the tucks at the hem remind you of a melted candle? Yeah, me too.

2) Weighing in at 10 skeins of Phildar Quietude in heathery gray and 120 sts on an Addi circular is a Papa Vest. Yes, a Papa Vest. Remember the vest I started working on while I was on vacation in La Loire? Well, I bet you thought that I had hidden that under the bed and tried to forget about it. Haha! I did not. I worked on it while I was visiting my friend in the country. The seemingly endless rows in 5/2 ribbing make it easy to blab and knit at the same time. A good part of the back piece of the vest was knit while sitting outside and chatting with my friend, while our respective Messieurs Les Hubbies grilled every meal. As my Dad is a barbecue fiend connoisseur himself [five custom-made smokers and grills, anyone?] I'm sure he'll appreciate the barbecue smell that seems to have impregnated itself in this particular piece.

3) And the granddaddy of them all, weighing in at 9 balls of Phildar Auteil and 162 stitches [!] on a Clover bamboo circular, is my "Wrappy Jacket" from Phildar's Fall 2005 pattern book. Knit in one piece from side to side and taking up all the space in my knitting basket, this piece requires multi-tasking or it has the effects of a Seconal. I also worked a few rows on this piece while I was away, and now that I've returned I've been knitting it while reading the latest Harry Potter. [Thanks, Carolyn!] The looooooong rows in stockinette stitch make reading, watching dvds or otherwise watching Captain Destructo race around the playground like he's got a jet pack stuck to his back easy.

Speaking of loooooong rows, and to further prove how serious I am about my stash housecleaning (yes, there's more up), I'm putting to rest a project that I'm sure will remain unfinished. Out with the old and in with the new, and all that jazz. Say your goodbyes to:

R.I.P, Twisty Kimono Sweater

Thanks for the [looooooong] memories.

The twisty kimono sweater that made me weep a thousand tears while watching Seabiscuit. I've been reluctant about putting this project to sleep over the last year, thinking I'd eventually want to complete it, but truth is I probably won't. Yes, yes. I know the final result would have been fab. But the color and endless repetitive cables have the effects of a valium and a fab final result is not enough incentive for me to get past a sleeve. No ifs, ands or buts about it. I've already returned the unused balls of yarn to my local boutique, have kept a few for another project and remain with this woeful lonely sleeve as a souvenir. Woeful and lonely, no more. It will be ripped out and recycled, and maybe made into a long scarf with a more complex cable pattern. Hasta nunca, amigo.

In other news, I'd like to give a big public thank you to my pal Sarah R., she of the witty commentary in my comments box, for thoughtfully sending me a goodie package of treats for the Captain and some knitting magazines for me. The knitting magazines, of course, mean that I've now reorganized my entire fall knitting lineup because I fell in love with several projects in the mags. [Read: stash cleanup will continue.] My knitting pals are serious enablers, let me tell you :-)

*Come on, this is an easy one. Name that movie!

Gee, I always wanted a ribbed mini dress!

I'll also be knitting myself some go-go boots and painting on my eyelashes, just like 60s model Penelope Tree.

Just kidding.

I finished the back piece of my dad's vest, and as I look at it now I give a hundred thanks for Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amelie Poulain on dvd (with a bonus dvd!) and Encore Provence by Peter Mayle. Without those two to keep me entertained while knitting this piece, all that ribbing probably would have made me want to throw my Addi Turbo circulars up on a telephone wire like a pair of forgotten sneakers. Yes, even if they are Addis.

On another note, I regularly receive e-mails from visitors that contain the same question:

Dear Skinny Rabbit,

Where in the world do you find the time to work on all those projects?

Curious Knitting Friend

Dear Curious Knitting Friend,

It's simple! I have two little Things named Knittie 1 and Knittie 2, and they knit for me during the day, 'cause I very rarely get a chance to even pick up a knitting needle during the day.

Kidding again.

Actually, it is true that I rarely pick up the needles during the day, unless it's vacation. Most of my knitting is done at night, usually between 9:30 p.m. and midnight. I also knit in the car on the weekends, if I'm going to be sitting in the passenger side for more than 20 min stretches. It's amazing how much I can get done in those pockets of time.

(But wouldn't it be neat if I did have two Things named Knittie 1 and Knittie 2? If I did, they'd do all my blocking and seaming for me. And I'd want them to walk the dog, too. Oh! And maybe do dinner when it's my turn to do dinner, because I don't like to do dinner.)

Night Knitter Rabbit

This is, like, a very blabby post.

( the links and thumbnails or you'll miss the visuals.)

So! This is how my Wrappy Jacket looked for the past two weeks:

Photo entitled: "This is what happens when Rabbit decides to go back to school."
(To be viewed while listening to lyrics of song "I'm so lonely" sung in a funny helium voice.)

All blocked and nowhere to go but in a waiting pile of lonely non-seamed knitted pieces. For two long weeks Wrappy Jacket remained untouched! However, I'm happy to announce that this past weekend was spent finishing Wrappy Jacket, and she's ready for a debut this week (hopefully tomorrow, which is a holiday) so photos will be forthcoming. But before I can even think about showing you a finished knitted object, I must bring you up to date on activities the past two weeks:

School. I had three school assignments due over the past two weeks, which is why Wrappy Jacket remained so neglected. One of those assignments was in pattern drafting (construction of skirt from start to finish, with accompanying visuals and documentation), and this is how my apartment looked for a good part of that time. I felt like a one woman sewing sweatshop! Thankfully, the project has been turned in and Skinny Rabbit Sewing Sweatshop is hoping for a satisfactory grade.

[Footnote: The observant may notice an addition to the Skinny Rabbit Sewing Sweatshop. That's right; it's my new SERGER. I call him "Boxy", and oh how I love him.]

Captain Destructo. To add to the busy-ness of the past two weeks, my boy decided that it was high time he got the chicken pox. Boy stays home all last week and binges on A Bug's Life on DVD and games of "Go Fish" while my husband and I manage to perform juggling of schedules and "I'll take the morning off while you take the afternoon off" negotiations. Boy gets to wear staining red medication that he happily says makes him "look like a clown". Today, after almost 10 days of recovery, he's more than well enough to go trick-or-treating and I don't think he'll need a costume thanks to red medication.

Knitting. Shockingly, I managed to get knitting done even though seaming on the Wrappy Jacket took a back seat. I nabbed some rows here and there on a few projects currently in the making so it's basically, like, total multi-project mania, dude. Really, it is.

Go on, click a thumbnail:

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1) Butterfly camisole. Oh la laaaa...the Kid Silk Haze, she's like an early morning drug. I still get up 20 minutes earlier so I can knit a few rows on Butterfly while drinking my morning coffee and trying to clear my bedhead. Early morning knitting on Butterfly works, as I've completed the back piece and have started the front piece. The end of November will not come without my wearing a finished Butterfly, let me tell you.

2) Captain Destructo's "Letterman Jacket" from Pitchoun Hiver '05. How could I let fall go by without knitting this cute jacket for my boy? I have a free hour every Monday at school and this is the project I'll work on during that time. The hem and sleeve cuffs have striped ribbing that is worked on size 3.5mm needles, and the rest is worked in another yarn using size 6mm needles. It's a pretty fast knit thanks to those size 6 needles. Last Monday I started the back piece and finished the ribbing at the hem. The project remained untouched for the rest of the week, and last night I knit through most of the back piece while watching Star Wars (the very first one, with Carrie Fisher and her side buns hairdo) on DVD. (P.S. The first time I watched it: When it came out in theaters way back when. Hello! My age is showing again.)

3) The Gigantic Knit Otherwise Known as Papa Vest. Bet you thought I had given up on those seemingly miles of ribbing on my dad's vest, didn't you? Haha! I didn't. I started the front piece (back piece is completed, remember?) and in this very photo I'm just 30 rows shy of the armhole shaping. Looks like my dad is going to be wearing a handknit ribbed vest this winter. Who loves ya, dad?

But wait, there's even more: A big thank you to my friends Nancy and Mrs. Pilkington for keeping me in happy snail mail. On Saturday I received packages from both of them, and that made my weekend! Nancy thoughtfully sent some Noro goodies, a vintage "how to knit" book (I *love* that kind of stuff) and some Halloween treats for the Captain. [See it all here.] Mrs. Pilkington, who always knows just what I need, sent me some gorgeous fabric, some hard-to-get-here candies, a 70s sewing pattern for a sewn telephone and trucks, and a 70s book entitled Creating Body Coverings that is literally FULL of wacky ideas I can use in my projects at school. [See it all here.] Wow! I'm very touched and want to give a big public "thank you" for their thoughtfulness and generosity!

A few knitting things I plan on doing this Sunday:

1) Get off slothful when-it-comes-to-finishing bee-hind and start (I said start...key word, that) seaming my Butterfly camisole, already. Really! I ain't lying. Look:

Look, Ma! I'm grafting! (Again!)

Fun, fun, fun. Har! Grafting Kid Silk Haze makes me want to drink a margarita. Two, maybe. Lampshade on head optional.

2) Finish knitting the second sleeve of my son's Letterman Jacket:

Ze sleeve, it is not alone.
Look at ze first sleeve I knit already. C'est chouette, no?

Yep. Second sleeve. This is the SECOND sleeve because I already finished knitting the first sleeve during free moments nabbed at random times while at school. Look, just look at them both! And I admit that I'm happy that they're in contrast colors because it made knitting one sleeve after the other so easy. No procrastination, bay-bee! I love how the Captain chooses flashy knits.

3) Start blocking the front piece of the Papa Vest. That's right, friends. Your eyes do not deceive you. I finished knitting the seemingly miles-long front piece of my dad's vest! Here it is posing with the completed back piece:

[Click here to see the front piece on living mannequin. Hee hee!]

[Monsieur Le Hubby consented to acting like a mannequin by modeling the front piece for me even though he's about 40 pounds shy of being able to wear it. Dad used to be a weightlifter and is built like a rugby player. Good thing I knit the vest in stretchy ribbing, eh?]

Steam-blocking of both the back and front pieces began today. And you know what this means, don't you? There's another completed knitting project on the horizon. Woot!

I don't know about you, but I feel like celebrating with the current knitting productivity happening at Casa Skinny Rabbit. Go on, have another margarita. Dancing on table optional.

Rabbit very busy...

...but I still took time to take a picture of the Cité Internationale with all its fab Christmas lights:

I've got a small apartment.
(With a really great view.)

I also took the time to work on my boy's Letterman Jacket:

Doncha love my fancy d.i.y. blocking board?

I finished knitting all the pieces and am now blocking and seaming. Woot! But that's not all the blocking and seaming I did. Oh, no. I also blocked and seamed both pieces of my dad's Papa Vest. And before I could even say "Rabbit on Big Time Finishing Kick" I picked up stitches for the armbands and knit them on like I was getting paid for it:

I love you, Dad.
But boy, oh boy do you have really big arms.

Yep, I see another finished project on the horizon. Looks like it's going to be a very Knitted Vest Christmas for my dad after all.

And I know that you're thinking, "But hey! Where's Butterfly?" Well, I'll tell you. Butterfly is finished! I worked the picot edges around the armholes and neck Sunday, knit the straps on Tuesday night and...get ready for this...was so impatient to give it a debut that I wore it to school the day after where I got Big Head for a while because I got some nice compliments on it. I know, I know. Pictures of finished Butterfly are very much in order! I will show pictures soon. All I need now is some free time [I am on two weeks' vacation after tomorrow] and a bit of decent lighting for picture taking. In the meantime I distract you with a totally gratuitous picture of a wacky jester-inspired Winged Insect Light costume I and a second year student designed, sewed and constructed together using two types of mattress foam [!], vinyl fabric, wire, velcro and toy stuffing. We also designed and engineered the light system for the costume using 12.0 amp rechargeable batteries, LED lights, strand lights, plastic gardening tubing, metal wire and double faced tape. (Pity the wings - which are a riot - and lights don't show in the picture.) The costume was one of 40+ light costumes made by the fashion design students at my school as a collective school project, and it was worn for a light parade and show on December 8th for the Fête des Lumières. (I would have taken pictures of the parade, but I was too busy acting like a wacky jester-inspired Winged Insect all lit up for the holidays.)

It's gonna be a Very Knitted Vest Christmas:

I finished my dad's Papa Vest*. Go me!

This is the stand-REALLY-still-like-a-mannequin shot.
[Wanna see the Mannequin Dance? Sure you do.]

*That's my husband, a.k.a. Live Mannequin, modeling the vest.
It's three sizes too big for him.
Ain't he a sport for modeling it for us?

My dad's Papa Vest has been completed and has already been sent to him so he'd have it for Christmas. Ho, ho, ho!

Details: Papa Vest, or Debardeur Encolure Ronde pattern 9 from Phildar's HOMME Hiver 04/05, using Phildar Quietude. I knit the XL size and did without the stripes because my father said that he wanted something in a solid color. (All that 5/2 rib, in dark gray yarn. Who loves ya, Dad?) Side seams were joined using mattress stitch, and shoulder seams were joined using three-needle bind-off. I picked up stitches for the armbands and neckband, and knit them on in 1/1 rib. [See closeup of armband and neckband here.] My dad has big shoulders and arms, so I picked up more stitches than required for the armbands. In order to keep the armbands from flaring up at the shoulder area due to the additional stitches, I decreased a couple of purl stitches in the ribbing as I bound off the last row. I blocked the whole thing when finished by throwing it in the delicate cycle of the wash and pinning it to measurements on my d.i.y blocking board. [Here, make your own d.i.y. blocking board.] Sometimes acrylic is gooooooooooood.

But that's not all the Christmas knits I'm doing. I'm on a race to finish my son's Letterman Jacket:

Give me a neckband, already.
And trim those ends while you're at it!

I'm finishing up my son's Letterman's Jacket because I am determined that he wear it tonight when we celebrate Christmas Eve with family. Captain Destructo WILL wear a completed Letterman Jacket today, oh yes he will. Even though I still have a Nochebuena Salad to prepare and I'm sitting here in my pajamas and morning bedhead.

Captain Destructo in pajamas tries on jacket.
[Zoom out for a gratuitous rare photo of boy in his Clark Kent glasses.]
(He wears them to watch morning cartoons. Awwww!)

I picked up stitches for the neckband and am halfway through knitting it. The yarn used for the neckband is much smaller gauge than the yarn used in the body of the sweater and I am making the neckband large enough to fold over and sew down inside the jacket, so knitting that ribbing is a party. When that's done I still have to sew in the zipper [previous zipper slideshow here] and - if I have time - sew some ribbon or knit facings to hide the wrong side of the zipper. Oh, zippers! How I love sewing you in! If I didn't have to have this jacket ready by today I'd just knit the neckband and leave the jacket out with a plate of cookies and milk in hopes that Santa would get an elf to sew the zipper in for me. But I'll get it done!