March 26, 2007
Pattern Notes: Marseilles Pullover
Marseilles pattern notes at last! I've been done with this sweater for two weeks and have worn it on several occasions already. At this point it feels more like an old friend than a new sweater. Sunday was Moxie's birthday, so we got up at a decent hour and immediately packed the Zosh into the car and headed over to Eaton Canyon in Pasadena for a morning hike to the waterfall. If you are ever in the area, this is a great hike if you prefer less strenuous activity and gorgeous scenery. It starts out in a sunlit wash full of wild flowers and cacti, and then moves through a wooded canyon along a stream for about half a mile to the waterfall. The most difficult aspect of the hike is navigating back and forth across the stream. It's accessible enough that a lot of families hike this trail. At the end, you can sit in the shade and enjoy the beauty of the waterfall.
Marseilles on our hiking excursion to Eaton Canyon with Zosia.
In both dk and aran weights of RYC cashsoft, the neckline was too wide for Laura and I. The instructions have you bind off the center neckline stitches and reserve the shoulder stitches on stitch holders so that you can do a three-needle bind-off of the shoulders when both the front and back are done. Since Laura warned me that the neck was too wide, I opted to keep all the stitches live until both pieces were done, and then played around to see how many stitches I needed to bind off to make the shoulders the perfect width for me. [Go to one of my previous Marseilles posts for photos of this process. Notice the two circular needles hanging from the neckline.] My definition of the perfect width is the point where the sweater is still technically a boatneck, but you can't see my bra straps hanging out. On the size 38 sweater that is twenty-four stitches per shoulder. The original pattern would have you use thirteen stitches per shoulder, so rule of thumb if you want shoulder-width like mine is to add eleven stitches to the number suggested for your size in the pattern and tweak from there. Once you've done the three-needle bind-off on the shoulders, you can simply cast-off the neckline stitches in the round.
One neat technique used in this sweater is a garter-stitch seam. It's interesting because it is very, very simple to seam, and the resulting seam is loose enough that if you leave extra-long tails on either end, you can stretch the seam after you finish it, so that it has the same resilience as the knitted portion of the sweater. It's also very pretty and decorative. Although it wouldn't work for me in every situation, here it mirrors the garter sections within the the cable diamonds nicely.
Here's a good tip: Use a crochet hook as a cable needle. This is my new thing. When you screw up the garter segments inside the cables you can just whip out the crochet end of the needle and ladder those stitches into the correct orientation.
Possible substitute yarns:
Tips & Tricks: Although there really aren't any errors that I could spot in my size, I do have several suggestions for making your Marseilles Pullover successful:
Blow up the cable chart, make several copies, and code and color the copies if it will help you. I did. The set up row is tricky, and I find that it's easiest for me to just write out the number of knit and purl stitches to work for that row across the bottom of the chart. I still had to knit each set-up row twice, but I would have had to knit them about five times if I hadn't written out the stitch counts for myself.
Use a crochet hook as a cable needle. This is my new thing. When you screw up the garter segments inside the cables you can just whip out the crochet end of the needle and ladder those stitches into the correct orientation. I made much use of this trick. The fact that the cables have garter inside in some cases makes this pattern a little challenging and unintuitive to work in the beginning. You will have to reign in your instinct to purl every time a purl stitch pops up in the row below in those sections. It's tough!
Some Parting Shots:
March 17, 2007
What's that, Marie?
What's that you said? You're done?
Let it never be said that I am unwilling to do silly, or even stinky, things for the blog. I am really busy with work right now and find myself without daylight hours in which to do a Marseilles Pullover photo shoot, so to feed my blogging buddies I threw the Marseilles Pullover on over my cycling clothes after I got home from the gym Tuesday and took a few silly shots very quickly so as not to befoul my new sweater. See how much I love you guys?
It will be a little while before I can do a proper photo session, since I will be spending the weekend in Phoenix showering the baby to be of my good friend Ellen and I sincerely doubt that I will be able to wear it there. (Who knows, though? Maybe early in the morning?) Happily, my serendipitous knit-along buddy Marie decided to put together a little teaser for you, using my sweater, Laura's, and her own in a lovely montage. Enjoy!
March 11, 2007
Marseilles Finished; Tuna Gets Some Play
Marseilles in Repose
The Marseilles Pullover is all finished and fabulous, but you're going to have to take my word for it that it looks great on, because we are having a record heat wave and I'm not so sure that I can brave the elements to wear it! I predicted that this would happen. The temperature has an inverse relationship with whatever I happen to be knitting. No sooner did I get the Daktari Skirt off the needles then we had a little cold snap. I had about a week to wear it and then I had to shelve it until now.
The shot above was actually hard to get, because a certain someone kept inserting herself into the pictures. She likes new things, but she's also kind of a ham. I realized that I should probably have more pictures of her around here, lest you think I have only one little stinky orange cat. I think there are two reasons that I don't have many pictures of Tuna. The first is her coloring. She really is a challenge to photograph, especially on all the dark furniture that we have. The second reason is that it's hard to photograph Tuna in "action." If Townes is a doer, Tuna is a "be"-er. She's a little buddha kitty with exactly one pose:
And here it is...
I wasn't kidding....
March 10, 2007
I've mentioned several times that my best friend Laura and I knit Marseilles together. Laura finished first, which was a huge advantage for me, since I knew that the neckline would be too wide in advance and was able to remedy that issue along the way rather than having to undo the seams later as she did. I've been bothering Laura for Marseilles pictures forever, and she has kindly obliged.
I'll do a comparison later, but for now I'll just let you enjoy these pictures of my beautiful friend in her beautiful sweater. I'm so proud when I look at these. We've been best friends for 17 years now. She's an amazing person and a wonderful mother.
I am so, so lucky to know her.
March 05, 2007
Another Morning, More Marseilles
A little clarification on why I referred to my mornings as goofy in my last Marseilles post: This is what I do from 4:30 a.m. until a little before 7:00 a.m. Not exactly typical knitting or waking hours, but I do what I can to make sure I get my knit on. These photos were taken on Sunday morning - same time frame! She is an early bird, that Hoolia....
The Marseilles Pullover is trucking along. Although I've actually done the knitting in a very short period, it feels like it's taking forever. When I started it back in November last year I was in a frame of mind where I needed something mindless, so I began with a sleeve. That has turned out to be a great choice. The body on this sucker takes a long time to knit and with my gauge modifications it takes even longer. I am so grateful to just have one sleeve to slog through now, rather than two!
Here are my tips on knitting this pullover so far:
LENGTH: Whether you knit it loosely or tightly the pullover will grow in length, so make sure that you either plan to avoid this by making a big swatch and blocking it properly or that you incorporate it as a design element. The sleeves will not grow nearly as much as the body, so the swatch that you make to get gauge (which is just the sleeve pattern) will not really tell you how much length you'll get for your buck. I don't usually get surprises when it comes to length and blocking, but in this case I'd say that the sweater gained about three inches in length and I was anticipating it would grow by about two inches. The sweater is designed to be knit in a worsted weight yarn and I knit it rather loosely in a dk weight, but I'm not sure if you would have much less growth if you knit more tightly in the worsted, because the added weight of the bulkier yarn would also have an effect on the length. My best friend Laura knit Marseilles in an aran weight, so I'll be sure to ask her what kind of post-blocking growth she got on her sweater.
I love the longer length of my sweater, so I lucked out. I'll note the measurements in the pattern notes so that others making it have a ballpark figure to work from.
BOATNECK: In both dk and aran weights, the neckline was too wide for Laura and I. The instructions have you bind off the center neckline stitches and reserve the shoulder stitches on stitch holders so that you can do a three-needle bind-off of the shoulders when both the front and back are done. Since Laura warned me that the neck was too wide, I opted to keep all the stitches live until both pieces were done, and then played around to see how many stitches I needed to bind off to make the shoulders the perfect width for me. [Go to my last Marseilles post for photos of this process. Notice the two circular needles hanging from the neckline.] My definition of the perfect width is the point where the sweater is still technically a boatneck, but you can't see my bra straps hanging out. On the size 38 sweater that is twenty-four stitches per shoulder. The original pattern would have you use thirteen stitches per shoulder, so rule of thumb if you want shoulder-width like mine is to add eleven stitches to the number suggested for your size in the pattern and tweak from there. Once you've done the three-needle bind-off on the shoulders, you can simply cast-off the neckline stitches in the round. I hope this helps!
March 01, 2007
The Goofy Shit I Do With My Free Time
A morning in the life of the Hoolia.
So I've been seeing all these beautifully photographed posts of other people's "studios" and days in their lives and feeling kind of envious. I love doing those kinds of posts, because I like letting you guys in a little on what my life looks like - mostly because I love it when other people do that. But after checking out several of these, I realized that in my current phase of life the only way I could give you a high-falootin' look at chez Hoolia would be to clean up the joint, style the furniture - or maybe just throw it all out and buy some new furniture - and create a big fat lie. Instead, here is my morning exactly as it really is: hair and teeth unbrushed, glasses smudged, trying on pieces of knits and taking photos of myself using the self-timer and the mirror. Ah, the glamor.
The Marseilles Pullover is coming along quite nicely. In the photos above I had the two body pieces on circulars and was using a little trial and error to figure out how many stitches to three-needle bind-off for the shoulders - I settled on twenty-four. One of the genius things about knitting this behind my best friend is that I know its "issues." There's only one and it's simply that the pattern makes the neckline too wide to stay on the shoulders well or hide bra straps. Binding off twenty-four stitches hits the spot.
My excitement for this evening was pinning the front, back and single sleeve that I have finished together and trying it on for fit. It's looking good. Life is so wild I can barely stand it. *smile*
January 23, 2007
Marseilles Pullover: Back at it
December and most of January were a period of slowing down for me - adjusting to the new pup, traveling for Christmas and battling several colds occupied the little spare energy that I had, and the knitting was restricted to work on a small item for publication (with a large dose of help from my knitting angel, Marnie). Now as the days are slowly growing longer and Zosia is becoming the wonderful companion we always knew she would be, I'm regaining my energy and embracing my knitting once again. The object of the most love and affection of late has been the Marseilles Pullover. What a treat. Miles and miles of cables that don't disappoint.
This is a sweater that Laura, my best friend from college, and I decided to knit together. I finished a sleeve and most of the back in a period of about 6 days, most of which were spent with Laura and my other college girlfriends in the Outer Banks. Then December hit with its many deadlines and the Marseilles Pullover got cast aside while I finished other projects and rested. Just recently I picked it up and found it mesmerizing once again. I'm now about one third of the way done with the front. Laura, being the prolific knitter that she is, finished hers long ago. I'll have to bother her for a picture of it to post to the blog.
One of the most interesting things about our twin sweaters is that mine is made using Rowan Cashsoft DK and Laura's is in Cashsoft Aran. Both are knit with US7 needles. Laura is a tight knitter and I knit loosely, but don't worry - that doesn't account for all the difference - our gauges are different. Laura's is pretty close to spot on, and mine is a bit small. Naturally, I made a few adjustments to my sweater. Laura's is in the smallest size and is cushy and cozy in the way that I usually think of a good Aran sweater being. Mine is in the next size up, and also adds a half repeat vertically. If all goes well it should have a bit of drape and elegance that will make it more office-appropriate. We shall see. It was nice to see the back pieces side-by-side and get a real feel for how differently the same pattern could be knit up changing only color and yarn thickness. I love both versions and may find myself needing a cushy cream-colored one for the weekends.
I know the dog-lovers out there will want a little update on the Zosia. I'm posting this picture because it is so darn cute, but you have to know that she is about two months older now and much bigger. She has reached her gangly phase, and is long and lean with big feet. I think she'll get even taller in the next month and fill out not long after that. I'll be sure to post some current shots soon.
Zosia on the trail at Griffith Park.
Zosh is absolutely amazing. For the first month of her stay here I really thought she was going to do us in with her insane energy levels and teething. Then when we went to Boston for the holidays she had an incredible transformation and somehow became the perfect dog. She fit in well with my in-laws' pack of three dogs and one cat, and she was wonderful with my nephew and nieces as well. The baby could crawl over her and take her toys without concern. Zosh is also an amazingly fast learner and has picked up commands and hand-signals quickly. If anything, we have to be careful of what we teach her, because if you slip and show her something naughty once, she remembers it and will repeat it in the same situation. She's become a member of the family, and I know if our sweet Caia were here she'd love her.
P.S. Thanks to Tola for the sweet comment on Marnie's blog. If you've read me for long you'll know that I take unannounced months off almost every year in the winter or spring as sunlight wanes, but I'm always back eventually. I couldn't miss my community of knitters for too long.
November 15, 2006
Weekend with Friends
The Outer Banks, North Carolina
I had a lovely weekend with my college girlfriends: knitting (the pink Marseilles back above is mine), quilting, drinking wine, soaking in a hot tub under the stars, goofing off in the surf. I'm so glad to have such wonderful people to surround myself with, if only once a year. Now it's back to the grind. Man, I miss that hot tub.