Tweedy Coat.

Oh new projects, how I love thee...

I've started a new project! I'm turning some skeins of oh-so-lovely Legende into the child's tweedy coat on page 23 of Phildar's Tricotez Calin. (Surprised it's Phildar? I surely hope not). I'm using some brand spankin' new Crystal Palace bamboo circular needles that are so much fun to use, I feel like taking them everywhere I go, waving them in people's faces and saying, "bambooooooooo, baby!" Okay, I joke. But it's no joke that I love these needles - the stitches don't slide around and each stitch looks so perfect. Knitting with these needles makes me feel like trilling out a chorus of "the hills are aliiiive, with the sound of music". Just like Julie Andrews, but tone deaf.

the hills are aliiiiiiiiive...

I swatched, got the gauge on the first try, reworked the pattern lengthwise to suit my son's whopping 7 cm above average height, and have knitted halfway through the back. Alison from the blue blog (whom I have to thank for my fabby bamboo needles, by the way) is making the project doubly fun by doing two of those jackets for her twin boys along with me. Be sure to check hers out as well!

Think hee-haw, but with knitting.

The tweed coat I'm knitting for my son is so much fun to knit! I'm loving it. I've done the back, one of the front sides, and the sleeves. This jacket is asymmetrical, and requires so much shaping (particularly for the right front side) that I feel like I'm doing a square dance with squeaky violin accompaniment and a caller twanging out the instructions. "Swing your needles round and round, round and round. Make your buttonholes nice and neat, nice and neat. Now decrease five times to the left, to the left, and shape the raglan at the right, at the right..."

The best part of it is that I had to reconstruct the pattern completely in length, and rework increases for sleeves, decreases for raglan shaping, placement of buttonholes, as well as the shaping to create the curving right front side. I don't know how my mathematically-challenged brain did it. I'm not talking one cm here and one cm there - I had to add on a considerable number of cm in length throughout the jacket, but leave the pattern as is width-wise. Why? Because after a visit with the pediatrician on Wednesday, I've discovered that my son is no longer 7cm above the average height for toddlers his age, but a whopping 10 cm. He's 29 months old, but the same height as an average 3 and a half year old kid! Yet his weight is the way it should be for a 29-month-old toddler. Which means that I must rework all patterns to suit his stretchy, lanky frame. I think I've given birth to Lurch.

Frogging freak.

Went to the yarn shop yesterday! Saw several things: i) The shop owner's eyes get flashing euro signs when she saw me walk in the door, and ii) Phildar's brand spankin' new collection of yarns for the warm season. Lots of new cottons, sheer ribbon yarns and thin variegated yarns, including one called "copacabana" and another called "scoubidou" (which is the French phonetic spelling for "scooby doo"! Don't you just love it?). The new yarns are gorgeous! Quite naturally, I went bonkers and bought some to feed my ever-hungry stash. I also looked at Phildar's new women's wear catalog for spring, Tendances Printemps 2003, and discovered that it had became attached to my fingers and wouldn't let me put it back down. "Let me go home with ya!", it screamed. So it did. Ha cha cha cha.

Speaking of projects, I did something entirely whack early this morning. After having finished the second front half of my son's tweedy coat, I decided that I didn't like the way the buttonband was divided into two parts; one on the left raglan sleeve, and the other on the front half to later be sewn together. So I ripped out the front side up to where the buttonband facing began, and instead of binding it off to shape it I worked a dart and kept the stitches on a stitch holder. Then I ripped out the raglan sleeve up to where I had started the buttonband facing on that piece, joined the front side to it, and worked across all stitches. Which meant that I had to recalculate decreases and binding off stitches for shaping. I know this might sound like incoherent blab, but others who have seen this pattern will get what I did and probably think that I am nuts for having ripped out so much work. But! The buttonband is now in one entire piece and knitted directly into both the front side and the left sleeve - no sewing required. It looks very tidy. I think I deserve a gold star on my forehead.

Last but not least and for those who are still reading, I present you with a little something that's been dying to get itself out of my stash. (Wear sunglasses - those bright colors might burn out a pupil or two). That's right. February = screaming pink. Oh. La. La.

Ah, Intarsia. I like you, but not the weaving.

Look, Ma! I did intarsia!

please block me
Pardon me, my sides are curling.

Ah, 3mm's and a little block of intarsia to create a giraffe on the pocket of my son's tweedy jacket. Unbelievably enough, I did most of the pocket while drinking a kir and watching a tv replay of the horrific Jeanne d'Arc [and the Oscar for best over-the-top performance goes to...Milla Jovovich for The Messenger! Nice acting, babe. Don't stop modeling for Armani]. And there are no errors! Clearly, knitting + wine is not such an undesirable mix.

(See, Patricia? I drew the little critter!)

Knittin' blab.

I promise I'm not procrastinating on seaming my son's tweedy jacket. Me? Procrastinate? Never. We all know that I just rushed to sew that jacket up, because seaming is like number one on my list of Top Ten Favorite Knitting Things of All Time. Right up there with ripping out entire garments knit in mohair.

Meanwhile, I've been working on a surprise scarf for a friend that should be done this evening. I've also swatched some of the pink yarn I had in my stash and boy, oh boy does "pimp coat" come to mind when looking at it. Still, it's neat in a fluffy, valentine pink way. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

In other news, my dear sister - bless her heart - got another of her stories published, and had the publisher send to me her earnings in a gift certificate from Part of it will be used for one knitting book off my wishlist because, well, I just can't seem to get enough of the knitting lit. I'm considering i) Simple Knits for Cherished Babies by Erika Knight, ii) Knitting Around by Elizabeth Zimmerman, iii) A Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara Walker, or iv) Dogs in Knits by Judith Swartz (I've been dying to knit another sweater for my lawyer pal's pug dog and this book seems to have a lot of neat designs). Any feedback on these books is welcome.

Backstitch collars on the brain.

My son's tweedy jacket is seamed and almost ready to go! All I have to do is embroider the pocket and sew it on. The collar was finished last weekend, and was sewn onto the jacket using free-loop backstitch. I bet you're thinking, "but for heaven's sake, why would you do a fool thing like sew on a collar when you can just pick up stitches and knit on the collar in the round?"

When I first learned to knit, most of my garments were finished using backstitch because that's the way I was instructed to do it by the patterns I was using. I later saw the technique described in Katharina Buss' Big Book of Knitting (pages 70-71), but I had taught myself how to do it just by following the dinky little illustration that comes in all Phildar catalogs. Now that I've attached neckbands, buttonbands and other facings onto garments using various methods - including knitting-on, grafting and backstitch - I've discovered that sewing on neckbands using backstitch is good for several things:

1) When you want the edge of the neckband to match perfectly with the cast-on rows of sleeves and hems. For example, did you do a tubular cast-on for double rib, but don't know how to bind it off using kitchener stitch for double rib? You can make the edge of your collar match with the hem of your sweater by doing the same cast-on for the collar, leaving a row of open stitches after you've worked the double rib, and then sewing these open stitches onto the garment using backstitch.

2) Stretchy collars! Collars are usually stretchier when sewn on this way because the edge of the neckband is the cast-on edge, not the binding-off edge, and this is good for children's sweaters. That's why I still sew on all the collars to my son's sweaters using backstitch. (You can take a look, if you like. Many of them are featured in the gallery of this site.)

3) Did your neckline edge come out like crap? Sewing on a collar covers it up, and we all know that knit-on collars don't usually do this.

4) When you don't have an appropriately-sized circular needle to knit on a collar in the round. The bulky sweater I did last fall on size 5mm's has a turtleneck collar that was sewn on using backstitch because I didn't have a circular needle short enough to knit on a collar.

Most of all, it's a neat thing to do! Here are some snapshots of me sewing the collar (with its row of open stitches) onto my son's tweedy jacket using backstitch. Doesn't that look like fun?

Say it with me now, "tweeeeeeeeeedy coat!"

Here it is - my son's tweedy coat! (Click the thumbnail below for pictures.) It's a bit large now as I had resized the pattern; the largest size in the pattern is for two years but I added on a number of centimeters in length because my 29-month-old child, or "Stretchy Boy" as we like to call him, seems to want to tower over kids his age so he keeps growing at scary rates. While I was knitting it I was a little worried that I hadn't enlarged it enough, but now that the coat's finished I'm really happy with the way it came out, and am even happier that it'll fit him in fall. Best of all, he loves it! That adorable "coloring book" giraffe in intarsia on the pocket really makes him want to wear the coat. So much so, that he insisted on wearing it indoors for about an hour despite our 75 degrees brought by the wonders of central heating. Let's hope he never outgrows that desire to wear Mommy's knitted garments! (Sadly, he probably will. But I can dream, can't I?)