Ribbed sweater for ze hubby

Is this a new project I see before me?

Is this a new project I see before me?
[Click here for a closeup of the stitch.]

I think it's about time I knit a sweater for the husband. He really deserves the knitting love because thus far both sweaters I have knit for him are being worn into the ground. How about...a ribbed sweater in blue variegated wool-acrylic yarn called Pegase? (Pattern is from Phildar Les Essentiels 2003.) I used this same yarn for the cabled sweater I knit last winter, and I won't lie: I didn't care for the slightly sticky feeling of the high-content acrylic while knitting. However, the sweater has really held up well, because I wasn't kidding when I said that Monsieur Le Hubby is wearing it ragged. No pilling, and it's retained its shape through washings. So it's Pegase for this sweater, too. Wool-acrylic blends can be a very good thing*.

I cast on for the back piece of this sweater last week (while waiting for my blasted skein of Phil Ruban to come in for the poncho), knit a few rows every evening and before I knew it, I was up to the armholes. Quick knit! I like.

Hello! Please block me.
[And don't forget to click here for the whole enchilada.]

Last night Shanghai Noon was on channel M6, and I picked up the sweater and knit while watching Jackie Chan kick around and speak in a dubbed French voice. Bizarre, but excellent knitting television. Right at the scene where Owen Wilson* comes out unscathed in a shootout and calls out in the church, "C'est un miracle!" [it's a miracle!], I was short-rowing the shoulders and shaping the neckline. Just like that, I finished the back piece without interruption. C'est un miracle!

Hm...three-needle bind-off or backstitch?
(I'm still deciding.)

*I admit, I like me a fancy yarn. But I certainly won't discredit a yarn just because it costs under 3 bucks a skein and has high-content acrylic. Hell, I'll knit it if it results in a good garment. Bring it ON.

**That actor has a bit of an odd nose, but for some reason it works on his face. There's something about Owen that I find very "rawr" à la Lex Luther from Smallville, although the blond hair he sports just doesn't do it for me at all. Yep. It must be that nose. And while we're on the subject of "rawr", the model wearing the ribbed sweater in this photo reminds me of Ken Watanabe.

Of anniversary presents and chocolat...

Happy Easter weekend! My husband has been on vacation since Thursday, and we've taken in an old-fashioned puppet show (the "Moisson d'Avril" puppet festival in April...if you're in Lyon, check it out at the plaza in La Croix Rousse and the Guignol Theater. Make reservations!), visited family in Vienne (we're going back for Easter Sunday), and decided to give ourselves an early anniversary present by buying a new DVD player. Hello home movies in English! And speaking of anniversary presents, I cast on for the front piece of my husband's ribbed sweater:

All that ribbing has the effects of a valium.
Watch Chocolat.

I cast on and knit a good part of what you see above while watching Chocolat (dubbed in French) on Thursday. Boy, oh boy was I thankful I had the movie to watch because all that 4/2 ribbing is one great, big valium. Monotonous as can be, but coupled with Johnny Depp, Juliette Binoche and spicy hot chocolate, the back piece became a party. And wasn't Johnny perfect for that role? He probably schleps around the South of France looking like that all the time. I bet he didn't even have to come in early for makeup and costume; he probably got up everyday at 8, dressed, put his hair back in a ponytail, had his tartine and café, kissed Vanessa and the bébés good-bye and headed off to the set ready to shoot his scenes.

But wait, there's more...

I love backstitch collars when it's a worsted cotton.
P.S. The rows in contrast yarn were provisional.

Get ready for it: My son's sweater traditional Easter sweater for this year is finito. Terminado. Fini. All done, bay-bee! The above shot shows how it looked right after I sewed on the collar using free-loop backstitch (hence the contrast yarn), basted in the zipper, and had a kir. Now the sweater is seamed, zippered, blocked, and ready to wear tomorrow. As it turns out, Easter Sunday will be a double Mommy knitwear day: He'll wear his fancy Bouton d'Or sweater for church (so glad I knit it in a large size!) and his red sweater for the afternoon in Vienne with family. The day will include, of course, lots of chocolate Easter eggs brought from Rome by the church bells. (No Easter bunny over here. Hippity Hop!) And yes, there will be pictures.

Happy Easter to all who celebrate it!

Of butter cookies, spring weather and ribbed sweaters.

Place Bellecour lookin' good in spring...

Spring weather made a big appearance yesterday. Captain Destructo was home from school [no school on Wednesdays in France] so we headed out for a haircut, a lot of scooter riding (with me jogging behind...I ran around the plaza about 20 times. Hello! My butt hurts today), and some french fries. It's hard to believe that just two months ago we were having this "Oh, snow! How pretty! Better stay inside and knit" weather. Yesterday it was like "dancing through a meadow with butterflies" weather. Just look at the leaves on the trees outside of my apartment! Looks like I'd better finish up my cold weather projects before the weather gets too hot to knit them. Like my husband's ribbed sweater:

Knit me some sleeves, already.
[Click to view a full shot.]

Good thing is, I've finished knitting the front piece. When my husband saw it, he got very happy and then asked, "Where are the sleeves?" Oops! Er...still sitting in skeins in that plastic bag over there? Must start sleeves next. In the meantime, I decided to distract my husband from the absence of sleeves by making about 5 dozen butter cookies following the butter cookie recipe from Melanie Falick's Weekend Knitting. Hellooooooooooooo, delicious! Very yummy, and worth the two enormous cement blocks of butter required in the recipe. I could feel my arteries harden as I creamed the mountain of butter and sugar together, but mmmmm boy. My husband took a batch of the cookies to work with him so I think I have managed to buy myself some more time to finish the sleeves on his sweater.

Ze plane, ze plane!

Welcome to Sleeve Island!*

I am Dance Rabbit, your host. Please join us on a short tour of the only things I seem to be knitting this week: Sleeves.

Oh, finish me already.

Our first sleeve wishes to reach sleeve cap shaping, because we have grown tired of knitting 4/2 ribbing in acrylic/wool even if we are using zippy Addi Turbo needles. We knit each row lovingly as the sleeve is for a sweater destined for The Husband, but as we trudge through all that ribbing we find ourselves lamenting the fact that The Husband, in spite of his many good qualities, appears to have been born with Gorilla Arms. Either that, or it is simply taking us ages to knit this sleeve.

DVD watched while knitting this sleeve: Part of A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. We saw this movie in the theaters while visiting London back in 2001, and we wonder now why we decided to watch it again on DVD. The three hours of the film seem no shorter even if one is watching it in the comfort of one's home.

I'm about to knit on stitches for the body.
It's going to be slooooooooooow.

Our second sleeve is of the year-long sweater we commenced a few months ago, and it is moving along at a nice, relaxed pace. However, this sweater is knit sideways in one piece from sleeve cuff to sleeve cuff, and we are about to reach the body shaping which requires that we cast on about 10,000 stitches at both ends. That means that this project, which was crawling along when we had shorter rows to work, is about to hit the same speed that our knitting took while knitting the chocolate Phil Ruban poncho. Alert Tita.

A good part of this sleeve was knit while waiting for oatmeal cookies to bake and at various sporadic times while riding in the car. This is our multi-tasking sweater. And the oatmeal cookies came out pretty good, thanks.

This is the sleeve to Audrey.
(A spot of blocking wouldn't hurt.)

Our third sleeve is completed, and we were almost sorry to cast off that last row as knitting Calmer has got to be among the most Luxurious Knitting Moments of All Time. We are thankful that we have stashed up on Calmer because we feel that knitting with it is even better than chocolate. Really, it is.

Thank you for visiting Sleeve Island. And I have no idea why I used the royal "we" throughout this entry. There's no one here but me and a bag of tortilla chips. Oh, and a couple of sleeves on needles.

*Remember Fantasy Island? If I could go to Fantasy Island I'd ask to be let loose into a yarn emporium for 48 hours straight with a credit card that has no limit. And Mr. Roarke would foot the bill.

I finished the sleeves. Alert Tita.

We got Gorilla Arm Sleeves!
[Cheers all around.]

This weekend I finished up the second sleeve for my husband's ribbed sweater! They look rather small in the photo, but each sleeve required over 3 skeins of yarn. (Look at all the ends I'll have to weave in! Don't you feel simply awful for me?) After working all that 4/2 rib on those looooooong sleeves, I cannot begin to describe how happy I was to bind off the last row on the second one. I'm so glad that I finished I feel like putting the sleeves on the ends of couple of long sticks and waving them around like they're banners while I run around the block. Okay, I'm kidding. Maybe I'll just walk very fast.

I'm now leisurely steam-blocking all the pieces to the sweater, and if I finish doing that by the end of the week I'll be having a seaming party during the weekend. Kir royal, anyone?

To further reward myself on completing all the pieces of Monsieur Le Hubby's sweater, I decided to go yarn shopping. My latest acquisitions:

I love me a good yarn expedition.

Clockwise from top right: Anny Blatt/Bouton d'Or's latest pattern book for spring/summer 2004, Bouton d'Or Mango in Alouette, Phildar Coton Microfibres in white, and Phildar Phil Ruban in Cuivre. With the exception of the Phil Ruban, the yarns I got are pretty fine gauge, particularly the Mango. Earthy colors, some pinks, reds, and ocean colors seem to be in at the moment. Lots of lacy tops, too. Not pictured but also acquired because Phildar goes bonkers when it comes to issuing pattern books: Phildar's latest summer pattern book. Bright colors in that one, as well as a lot of white. Lacy is also in as well as some 80s-inspired designs. I think I'll pass on the 80s-inspired designs, though. I wore them once, back in the 80s where they belong, and...well, I don't think I want to go there again for fear it will encourage the comeback of poodle-permed hair which is, quite possibly, the worst thing I have ever done to my straight hair. Ever*.

*Oh, wait. I forgot about the Sun-In. [Enter scary music from shower scene in Psycho.] Remember Sun-In? Yikes. If you sprayed Sun-In on your dark brown hair while at the beach and gave it uneven streaks and patches of bright ORANGE instead of "natural highlights", raise your hand. [Raises hand.]

It's a seaming party!

Gee...thanks, Hon.
I always wanted a poncho.

There was a seaming cocktail party chez skinny rabbit on Sunday afternoon! Kirs were had, saucisson was eaten, and ponchos were worn. After I joined the shoulder seams and sewed the sleeves to the sweater, I couldn't resist asking Monsieur Le Hubby if he would try it on, just to get an idea of how the finished sweater was going to look. As soon as he pulled it over his head, he asked, "Is it a poncho?" Funny guy. In order to avoid further seaming and weaving in of those gazillion ends, I replied, "Yes!" The ends could work as fringe. And both Monsieur Le Hubby and I insist that you hum the music from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly while looking at the photo above.

I was kidding about it being a poncho, of course. I seamed the sweater, the gazillion ends were woven in and the sweater is now having a nice little final blocking session. Finished sweater photos soon.

Quick note re seaming* this sweater: You might recall that I had contemplated doing a three-needle bind-off to join the shoulders. In the end, I decided not to do this. I bound off the shoulder stitches and joined them using backstitch. It's a relatively heavy sweater, and my husband wears the sweaters I knit for him into the ground**, so I felt that the shoulders joined using backstitch would make a stronger seam.

*Again, a couple of my favorite references for seaming: Katharina Buss' Big Book of Knitting and Nancie Wiseman's Book of Finishing Techniques.

**He likes that I knit things for him. Awwwwwwwww.

We've got a finished ribby!

My husband has been on vacation for the past two weeks. He's a busy worker bee by nature, so vacation time for him means that he gets to do busy worker bee things around the apartment. Namely, the room where I have the computer. This room, previously known as "The Catastrophe Room", was my own little personal cave where I played on the computer, stored a good part of my yarn stash, and kept some folding tables on which I blocked knitted pieces. Thanks to the previous occupants of this apartment, the room was also home to the tackiest striped wallpaper on this side of the pond. Well, the hideous striped wallpaper is no longer! Monsieur Le Hubby has spent the last few days repainting and rewallpapering the room. The only downside to this is that I haven't been able to play on the computer, have fun looking at my yarn stash or block knitted pieces. Soon, soon. And sans that hideous wallpaper. Woot!

Meanwhile, my husband has taken a few moments to model the finished ribbed sweater I knit for him:

I call this the "Almost Michelangelo's David" pose.
My husband calls it the "Hurry Up and Take Picture" pose.
(And here's the "show us the back" photo.)

Again, pattern is from Phildar's Les Modes Essentiels 2002/2003, and yarn is acrylic/wool Pegase in Aviateur. I seamed the sweater using mattress stitch for the side and sleeve seams and backstitch for the shoulders. Stitches were picked up for the neckband, which was knit in the round. In order to keep the cast-off edge of the neckband from flaring out, I evenly decreased two purl stitches at the back as I bound off. We're very happy with the way the sweater came out and the fit is great. (The original pattern called for the body of the sweater to be really long. I removed six cms from the body length, but left the sleeves as are.)

As always, there are action shots. Monsieur Le Hubby sports some major vacation stubble and my son makes a cameo appearance.

P.S. The action shots were taken a few days ago on the grounds of our apartment complex and both my husband and I are positive that the neighbors think that we are a couple of whack dancers who get a kick from wearing hand-knitted garments while busting a move in public.